Last Day in Italy

After some deliberation, on our last day we decided to explore some additional ancient ruins in and around Rome (as opposed to a day trip to Naples/Pompeii) since we enjoyed what we saw so much on the previous day. Before this though, we tried out Italian McDonald’s for breakfast. As in other European countries that I’ve seen, McDonald’s tends to be much nicer than in the US, and is more of a cafe with pastries and espresso drinks. They only had one breakfast sandwich (eggs, bacon, and cheese on an English muffin), and one other uniquely Italian sandwich (an inside out toasted bun with prosciutto and cheese) that we tried.

We first saw the remains of a Roman bath complex called the Baths of Caracalla, a little further away from the city center. We decided to take the metro there, as the extensive walking has started to add up. The metro system in Rome is not as extensive as you would expect for such a large city. This is because the city is so old that it has been rebuilt many times on top of itself which means there are old ruins basically anywhere you dig (exemplified by the multi-layer church we visited yesterday), so it’s impossible to construct and underground subway line.

Because the bath complex is a bit far away, it was not busy at all, but people are missing out because it is quite incredible. The complex is absolutely massive, and the main walls of the 2nd century buildings are largely in tact along with some marble and tile floors. We rented a VR headset guide which was actually pretty neat; in addition to being a regular audio guide, you could go into each room in the complex and then look at a reconstruction of the what the room would have looked like using VR. It’s nice to see this kind of technology being put to good use (this is Davis if you couldn’t tell)! We saw various rooms that used to be gyms and swimming pools where Romans would exercise and relax. On edge of one swimming pool, you could see an ancient Roman board game carved into the marble where they used to sit along with some jokes written in Latin which was funny to see.

We next continued on the metro to an even further edge of the city to an aqueduct park nicely tucked into a suburban neighborhood. It was just like a normal park – you could freely walk in and there was plenty of green space. It seemed like a popular area for runners and walkers. However, the park is quite unique as it’s littered with a number of ancient aqueducts that used to supply Rome with water. Some of the aqueducts are nearly fully preserved and it was amazing to see the ingenuity that the Romans employed in their civil engineering. Allie had been insistent on seeing aqueducts even before we arrived in Italy, so she was ecstatic to finally get to see them. She says “seeing aqueducts in the flesh….was amazing”.

We wrapped up the day by traveling back to the city center and getting some shopping done (another things Allie was insistent on doing). The city center has a ton of shops and everything was nicely decorated for Christmas with lights and trees everywhere. Throughout the trip we had also noticed many signs for Black Friday or even “Black Week” sales in Italian shops, so I guess this American tradition has become popular internationally.

We tried some more traditional Roman dishes for our final dinner. Allie had ravioli while I had oxtail and artichoke. The oxtail (which is just bits from the tail of a cow) really just tasted like normal roasted beef with a lot of bone to avoid. Artichoke is very popular in Rome and in season right now; it was heavily soaked in olive oil and not my favorite thing, but to be fair I’m not usually that fond of them.

Yesterday we made the long trip home which involved basically every mode of transportation possible (taxi, plane, bus, train, and an Uber). Though it seemed like the longest day ever, we have finally made it back to LA. This trip has been amazing for us, and we hope you enjoyed following along!

 

Exploring Ancient Rome

Our favorite day of the trip so far was spent exploring numerous ancient ruins in Rome. The day started off leisurely (Allie was sleepy) and we ate breakfast and meandered to the main ruin area. The first site we saw was the Coliseum. We bought the audio guide and wandered around with the rest of the tourists to see the sites. It was pretty cool to see- it was in more ruins than we expected but still very large- who knew they could potentially fit up to 70,000 people in the building at once. We were very glad we went on a random Wednesday in December as it was still packed. After this we went to find food- Allie ate a large pizza as seen in the photo.

The second stop we made was the Roman Forum. This is a collection of buildings (lots of basilicas and various churches) from ancient Rome 200 BC-400 AD that made up the ancient center of the city. We also bought the audio guide for this but they limit you to a two-hour rental and we felt rushed. There is lots to see here and it was all really interesting! The forum was a lot bigger than we thought and there were many active archaeological excavations occurring.

The third stop was Palatine Hill which is just off of the main Forum area. Unfortunately, because we were so intrigued by the Forum (and only really saw half of it) we did not have much time left for this part because the sun was already setting at 4 PM. They had gardens and ruins of many emperors including Nero’s palace. Lots of things were also in tact here including a horse training area, underground tunnels leading to rooms in the palace, and many other things that apparently were very extravagant for the time but today just appear to be brick walls/arches.

The fourth stop was to a church that our pasta chef from last night recommended- it was a three level church:

  1. First floor was the current church built in 12th century
  2. First level underground (-1) was a church built in the 4th century but it was not discovered until the 19th century and had the tomb of St. Clement
  3. Second level underground (-2) contained some buildings from the 1st century that had flowing spring water and and housed the cult Mithros before Christianity became a thing

It was cool to see all the layers as the street level has changed over the years. And because the older levels were buried underground, they were all very well preserved and we could walk around each floor in its entirety. After the church, we made the long trek back to our house to find where we wanted to eat dinner. We went to the Trastevere neighborhood which was just across the river on the south west side of the city which is supposedly the cool new upcoming place in Rome. We had a nice pasta dinner (of course) and ended the night with some gelato as we deserved it (we walked over 13 miles).

Vatican City and Pasta Making

We started our first full day in Rome with an extremely early tour of the Vatican. They allow guided tour groups to come in earlier than the general public, so our tour which met at 7:30am got to explore many of the main attractions with relatively few people around which was great. Our tour guide was also extremely knowledgeable and had even written a book on various pieces of art within the Vatican. We weaved through buildings looking at many historic statues, paintings, and tapestries. Finally, we reached the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s masterpieces. The Sistine Chapel is in its own building (I had thought it was part of St. Peter’s Basilica, but this is not the case) and is absolutely covered in amazing frescoes including very famous ones like The Creation of Adam. It is still considered a holy place so we were not allowed to talk our take pictures. For part of the time, there was even a priest leading some prayers and offering confessions.

The last stop on the tour was St. Peter’s Basilica, the massive main church of the Vatican. It was absolutely stunning. We’ve seen many many (many) churches on this trip, but this one made our jaws drop immediately and stands out from the rest. It is absolutely enormous making it hard to fathom – it makes you feel so tiny. Allie described it as majestic and awe-inspiring. There are many different sections and chapels inside that were interesting to see. We saw more masterpieces by Michelangelo and went down to the lower crypts of the church where the tombs of many Popes are kept. Just outside the Basilica is the main plaza of Vatican City. It was being prepared for a public appearance by the Pope which was happening the following day. Apparently, he does this most Wednesdays and every time the main square is nearly full and can even spill out into the streets of Rome.

After visiting the Vatican, we hit a number of big sites in Rome throughout the afternoon. We saw the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and more. We definitely got our steps in for the day as Rome is relatively walkable.

In the evening we took a cooking class and learned to make some classic Italian dishes which we enjoyed for dinner. Us and 4 other people went to the apartment of our host and teacher, Alessandro, who lives very close to the Pantheon. He was a lively guy with a very interesting background (he was a professional chef that had worked at a Michelin-star restaurant and been the private cook for the Mercedes-Benz CEO, he was also an olive oil sommelier, and before that was a world-champion diver). We made ravioli and fettucine from scratch and he showed us how to make a classic Roman dish called carbonara. Carbonara is a very traditional Roman dish which contains spaghetti or rigatoni mixed with egg yolk, guanciale (pork cheek which tastes a bit like bacon), cheese, and a ton of black pepper. We left extremely full and inspired to get our own pasta maker when we get home.

Road Trip to Rome

We’re a few days behind on blog posts, so this was actually a few days ago. We’ll try to catch up soon – there’s just so much stuff to see!

Today was mostly driving down to Rome from the San Gimignano area, which was mostly uneventful, but we did make a few fun stops along the way. We really loved our little winery cottage, and were sad to leave, but definitely we’re excited to see all the great things in Rome.

Our first stop of the day was another medieval town called Volterra situated on a hill in the countryside, quite close to San Gimignano. The little town was actually quite similar to San Gimignano as I believe they peaked at around the same time in history. But Volterra did have some very neat first century Roman ruins that you could get a panoramic view of from the city walls. This included a large amphitheater nestled into the hillside with a stage that looked over 2 stories tall, all of which was actually in pretty good condition. It seems crazy that these kind of things could be built so long ago, and it’s really making me excited to see the ruins in Rome.

We next made our way down to the west coast of Italy and stopped in Castiglione della Pescaia, a seaside town that contains a medieval fortress. The fortress was largely similar to previous medieval towns but was located on top of a hill that gave spectacular views of the ocean and surrounding areas. The city was basically a ghost town, we concluded it’s more of a summer beach town, so not many people hang around in December. But it was nice as we got the fortress to ourselves (besides a few stray cats). We managed to find the only restaurant open in town for lunch and enjoyed some delicious pasta (to continue our streak of pasta every day since we arrived). I got some delicious spaghetti with clams in the spirit of the seaside town, and Allie ended up with a spaghetti bolognese after an exchange in Italian with the waitress that we didn’t really understand. Our Italian has improved slightly, but definitely not great… Either was it was tasty.

The rest of the afternoon was driving down to the Rome airport to drop off the car. We’ve concluded that the drivers here are on the whole not great.  I got passed on the shoulder a number of times which can’t be legal, but I guess I’m not sure. To be fair the roads don’t help a whole lot; the main highway to the airport which was about 4 or 5 lanes wide had no lane markers at all for many kilometers. But it was fun to try and see how things are different here, albeit a bit stressful.

After a train to Rome and a subsequent taxi ride (in the pouring rain) we arrived at our Airbnb where we’ll be until we leave. It’s an incredible apartment, definitely the coolest place so far. It’s on the top story of a building built in the 16th century and is way bigger than you would expect for a big city like Rome. Being on the top floor, the ceiling in the family room and bathroom is pitched which is terrible for my head (this is Davis writing) but it does look cool.

Quiet Day in San Gimignano

Today was a rather quiet day in the Tuscan countryside and the medieval town of San Gimignano. We started out this morning by discovering the incredible view from our Airbnb room located on a local winery. The property sits on a hillside overlooking the nearby town of San Gimignano which contains 7 large stone lowers that rise above the countryside full of vineyards (apparently there used to be many more towers in the city in the 13th and 14th century, but now only 7 remain). We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast prepared by our Airbnb hosts of bread, cheese, jam, and croissants while taking in the view.

We decided to take it a little slow today and enjoy the Italian countryside. In the morning and afternoon we went into the town of San Gimignano and saw I think every museum that it contains. We climbed 200-some steps to the top of the largest of the 7 towers (Torre Grossa), and saw many beautiful fresco panels in multiple churches within the city. Italy has a lot of churches turns out. This town, which is end-to-end walkable in 10 minutes, contains at least 4, all of which are hundreds of years old. We enjoyed a classic Italian lunch of paninis (which really just means sandwiches with some sort of meat and cheese, not the toasted version we expect in the US) and of course had to get some gelato afterwards.

In the late afternoon we came back to our Airbnb winery and did a wine tasting with a sommelier that works on the property. It was probably the best wine tasting I’ve ever done, not only because the wine was good, but because it was very personal and fun. We sat at a table with our host and chatted while enjoying the various wines, cheese, bread, and olive oil (which they also made here). He has never been to Napa and Sonoma before! So we told him about our experiences there and how it seemed to compare to Italian wine country. This region is very well known for a white wine/grape called Vernaccia, which I had never heard of before, but is really good and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.

We had dinner at a quiet restaurant back in San Gimignano which was located in a kind of cozy underground stone cellar, and now we’re in the process of planning our journey to Rome tomorrow where we’ll be spending the remainder of the trip. It’s a relatively long drive, but we plan on making a few stops to see some more ancient towns and interesting seaside cities along the way.

Day Two (and a half)

Today was another busy day for team honeymoon (this is Allie speaking as you can tell). We started off our day by visiting the Duomo in Florence. Our morning workout consisted of climbing 462 stairs to reach the top of the Dome which is by far the highest spot in Florence. We took in the sights but there was a layer of fog on the city from the surrounding hills which created a neat affect. We also visited the Baptistery and Tower which were included in the ticket as well. Both were neat but the Dome was the most exciting.

Next we started our adventure to Sienna, a town approx 1 hour away by car. In order to pick up the car we had to go to the Florence

airport via train, take a shuttle to the car rental office, then start our drive. This was Davis’ first time driving abroad and so far all is well! Luckily offline google maps still works as there were many roudabouts on our journey which would have proven challenging without our friend Google.

Sienna is a hilltop town with many medieval characteristics including city walls. Unfortunately for me (Allie) my foot was hurting so luckily Sienna has an escalator embedded on the hillside to take you from the parking lot to the town- pretty modern! We walked around the town and saw the Duomo and ate a lunch of pizza and focaccia. We found there were far less Americans in Sienna than Florence but luckily most still spoke English.

Our next stop was San Gimignano, another ancient city. We stopped for hot chocolate and dinner, both were quiet yummy. We had pasta for dinner for the third day in a row. We made our way to our AirBnB for the night which is a beautiful family farm that grows grapes and olives for wine and olive oil. Our apartment is very cute and the host already made us feel at home. Tomorrow we will be wine tasting and exploring more of Tuscany.

Benvenuto In Italia (Welcome to Italy)!

We made it to Italy! After a long 12 hours sitting on what felt like metal bars (a.k.a. an Alitalia built in the early 90s) we landed in Rome yesterday afternoon. We immediately caught the next train to Florence (called Firenze here), and have been exploring the city since. Yesterday was mostly fighting not to fall asleep due to the jet lag, but we managed to do a few fun things. We checked into our Airbnb in the heart of the city and wandered around the surrounding area. We visited a Christmas market and saw a number of famous city squares, all of which contain spectacular cathedrals. The city is completely decked out for Christmas with every street and alleyway covered in lights. Florence is an incredibly historic city; it’s impossible not to run into something built before the Renaissance after walking just a few blocks. In the city center, streets and sidewalks are one in the same. They’re so skinny that you’re forced to walk in the street and periodically dodge oncoming traffic. But the narrow cobblestone streets look exactly like the pictures and what I thought Italy would be. For dinner, we got our first taste of Italian pasta – I had gnocchi and Allie tried the ravioli. It was tasty, as we hoped.

After sleeping for over 10 hours to get rid of the jet lag, we were ready to take on the city. We started bright and early with a unique walking tour led by a local Florentine. As tourist season is coming to an end, we were luckily the only people on the tour, and got a very personalized experience that was fun despite the frequent rain showers. We visited the duomo (a big church) and our tour guide was somehow able to sneak us inside during mass before it technically opened to tourists. So we got the place to ourselves for a bit, until the security guard realized we were a tour group and swiftly escorted us out. We slowly meandered through the city learning a lot about the history and local life. We met a local leather craftsmen, saw a church built around the year 1000, peeked inside a tower where Dante lived, and learned about a number of masterpiece statues which populate one of the main squares in the city. We finished the tour with a delicious cup of espresso.

After a quick sandwich for lunch, we spent the majority of our afternoon in various museums. We visited the Uffizi Gallery which holds a huge collection of amazing art from Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael, Donatello, Ruben, Rembrandt, and others. Following a gelato stop, we crossed the river to the Palazzo Pitti which is a humongous palace once owned by the Medicis.  It was extremely elaborate, full of art (less famous, but still pretty), especially ornate ceilings and tapestries. We ended the afternoon by hiking up a small hillside to Piazzale Michelangelo which has a panoramic view of the city.

We have discovered Italians eat dinner very late; most places don’t even open until 6:30 or 7pm, so we rested for a bit in our Airbnb then went out for an evening stroll and pasta dinner. For dessert we had gelato (for the second time today – Allie really likes it). Tomorrow we wrap up things in Florence and head to the Tuscan countryside for the next few days!

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Last Day in England

For our last day in England we decided to visit the historic town of Arundel which is located about 10 miles northeast of where we were staying on the coast in Bognor Regis. The town contains a huge castle and cathedral that was definitely worth the visit. After making the 20 minute drive from our Airbnb up to the castle we got tickets to see every part of the estate and then spent the better part of the morning and afternoon exploring the castle and town around it.

The castle grounds had multiple gardens to see, most of which were open to us. We went to these first, as most of the castle didn’t open until afternoon because people still actually live there (it is the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk). The first was a small rose garden, but the second was much larger with a huge variety of plants. The garden was exceptionally well-maintained; we saw peach trees, tomato plants, rhubarb, spinach, thyme, and plenty of non-edible flowers and plants. There was also an abundance of water features which were my favorite. One of the coolest was a spigot shooting water straight up atop which a crown was balancing. The water had such a high pressure that the crown was hovering, held up by the water, about 6 or 7 feet off the ground.

Near the gardens was a small chapel that seemed more like a cemetery than an actual church. It contained numerous tombs inside, all of which were covered with detailed sculptures of the people within. The chapel was built in the 1300’s, though it has obviously been renovated since then because it is in fantastic condition, but the architecture was very interesting. The ceiling was entirely made of wood and covered in intricate carved beams. The chapel, along with the big cathedral in the city, is catholic, which I believe are the first catholic churches I saw on the trip. All of the other ones I saw in Ireland and England were Anglican.

Next, we went into the actual castle. Though the Duke and Duchess currently live there, about half the castle is open for touring which is still a gigantic area. The castle has been constructed in parts over the years, but the oldest part is the medieval keep, which contains parts dating back to the 1100’s. Outside the keep, the castle is newer (relative to other castles in England) undergoing construction or repairs in the 1700 and 1800’s. Throughout the self-guided tour we got to see the medieval keep, the beautiful private castle chapel, the armory, the great hall, the dining room (which is still used today on special occasions), and all of the guest bedrooms in the castle. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the castle itself. It was amazing how freely we could walk around the castle and how much we were able to see, though. The entire estate is massive, and I can’t imagine actually living there. Everything seems so historical and fragile, like a museum, I would be scared to touch anything if I lived there. We learned that only the Duke and Duchess actually live there, as their children are now all grown up; seems like an excessive place for just the two of them, but I suppose they are royalty.

After the castle we explored the town around it a bit. There was a nice river-side walk that went through the middle of town and led to a field of sheep and a tiny plot of land being plowed when we walked by. It was pretty funny to see this red tractor riding through a small plot of land with a giant medieval castle sitting in the background. We grabbed lunch at a small cafe near the city center. I had a “toastie” with Brie and bacon. I had seen these toasties on many menus so I decided to try one before we had to leave. Turns out toasties are just basically a grilled cheese sandwich so not too exciting. Also their definition of bacon is nowhere near the American one: it’s actually just a thin piece of ham, pretty much the same as Canadian bacon. After lunch we walked past the city center and up to the Catholic cathedral which lies just outside the castle walls. It was free entry and cool to see. Even though it was obviously a spectacular piece of architecture, I think I’ve started to take these cathedrals a little bit for granted. There are just so many beautiful cathedrals (nearly every middle-sized town has one), it’s hard to be blown away by all of them.

After Arundel the rest of the day was not as exciting. We quickly ran back to Bognor Regis so Allie and I could pick up our bags, then drove to a hotel very close to Heathrow Airport where Allie and I stayed the night for our early-morning flight to Dublin (and then Chicago). Mike, Kim, and Scott didn’t fly out until much later in the day on Friday, so they stayed in Bognor Regis for an extra night after dropping us off. I’m writing this back in Chicago where we’ve all made it back with no issues, so this is my last post of the trip! It was a fantastic adventure and I’m so glad I could see (and taste) so many new things and countries. I am definitely interested in returning and seeing some parts of England and Wales that we didn’t have the time to get to, along with Scotland and Northern Ireland which we didn’t see at all.

 

Exploring the South Coast and Seven Sisters Cliffs

Yesterday was spent day tripping to areas on the coast to the east of Bognor Regis (where we’re staying). The highlight of the day was easily the Seven Sisters Cliffs, a series of chalk cliffs which overlook the English Channel about 50 miles east of Bognor Regis. But we did make a few stops on the way there and back to get a glimpse at other cities along the coast.

Our first stop was the little town of Angmering where Allie’s grandmother used to live. We got to see where she went to school while living there. It was a historic building constructed in 1833, and interesting to think about what everything in the town may have looked like when she was going there in the 30’s and 40’s. Though we didn’t stop there, we did get to see a bit of Brighton, a pretty big city on the coast. We just drove along the edge of the city, but we did get to see the stadium of the Brighton and Hove Albion soccer team which is really new and very cool-looking. The area around Brighton is very stereotypically English. There are massive rolling hills covered in green grass and tons of grazing sheep. The hills are much bigger than I ever expected and lead right up to the sea, creating the chalk cliffs that we went to see.

Eventually we reached the cliffs at a point called the Birling Gap. I expected the area to be similar to the Cliffs of Moher that we saw in Ireland, but I was pleasantly surprised how not touristy it felt. Though there were some people hiking up and down the rolling hills to peer over the cliffs, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I expected. Though a bit smaller than the Cliffs of Moher, the Seven Sisters Ciffs were still absolutely beautiful. They are perfectly white due to the chalk that make them up. The chalk being eroded by the sea also causes the cliffs to recede by almost half a meter every year, which made walking along them a little scary. Standing and looking at the white cliffs, it didn’t feel at all like I was in England. This is what I envisioned for some coastal city in Greece, not England. We were also lucky enough to get perfectly sunny weather to view the cliffs. It was actually a little bit warm hiking around in the mid 70’s.

We hiked along the cliffs from the Birling Gap to near Beachy Head, which I think is the tallest point along the cliffs. The hike offered some fantastic views, and sitting on top of a peak staring over the ocean with a gentle breeze was rather relaxing. The grass was also like the hike the day before, basically a golf course fairway. And we saw plenty of creatures along the way like cows, sheep, seagulls, and even some snails. After walking along the cliffs we went down a tower of stairs that led to the beach under the cliffs. Beaches in England are not like what I’ve seen other places: they are completely covered in rocks, no sand at all, and terrible to walk on. It’s no wonder England isn’t a popular beach destination.

After the cliffs we went a little further east to drive through the city of Hastings, and the area where the battle of Hastings took place which contains a very old castle which dates back to 1066 in some parts. Hastings was a really neat city, much bigger than Bognor Regis, but still right on the ocean. I would love to come back some time and see these bigger coastal cities like Brighton and Southampton. Unfortunately it was a little too late to tour the castle, so we just got some coffee at a local cafe then went back to the Airbnb. For dinner we tried an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood which was delicious. I had a linguine which small shrimp in it. I’ve been trying to eat as much seafood as possible before having to leave it behind. While eating and after dinner we watched the Europa League championship game which was on.

Today was Allie and my last day in England sadly. I’ll make sure to write a post about it tomorrow on the plane.

Malvern Morning and on to the South Coast

I guess I’m consistently running one day behind schedule now, so even though I’m posting this today it’s about what we did yesterday.

We started out the morning with breakfast at the hotel. Even though it was a buffet, they had all the components of a traditional English breakfast, which I was happy to dish up. It seems that there are only a few additions to the English breakfast which differentiate it from the Irish version that I had last week: a scoop of baked beans. Otherwise they’re identical. Although I think there are many permutations of all the ingredients that can make up a traditional English or Irish breakfast, so they’re basically the exact same thing (and both delicious).

After breakfast, we set out to hike a part of the Malvern Hills which our hotel was situated in. There was a trail head right next to the hotel which led up to a ridge which you could hike up to multiple peaks from. It was a cloudy but warm morning, which probably ended up being better than sun since it was a steep and strenuous hike at times. I definitely worked some muscles that haven’t seen action in awhile. From the trail head we went straight uphill all the way until the ridge when the scenery changed from forest and foliage to wide open green grass hillsides. The grass was peculiar, because it appears like it’s a perfectly groomed golf course fairway, but it just grows this way naturally. From here I believe we hiked up to the top of Sugarloaf Hill (according to Google Maps anyway, I didn’t see a sign when we were there). Even though it was a little misty and cloudy, the peak gave a spectacular view of all of Malvern and the valley below. It was really cool because being at the top of the very steep hillside it looked as if you could just fall off the edge down to the town below. The backdrop of Malvern and the valley almost looked fake, like we were standing in front of a green screen. This could have been because of the misty weather, but it was a neat sight.

After making our way down the hillside we piled in the car and headed to the south coast of England, where we’ll be for the remainder of the trip (I can’t believe it’s almost over already). This time we didn’t take any detours (although we did catch a glimpse of some neat bigger coastal cities like Southampton and Portsmouth), and by mid-afternoon we had arrived at our Airbnb in the little seaside town of Bognor Regis (yeah it’s a weird one…I believe the pronunciation is bog-nir reej-is). The cottage we’re staying in is very cute and only a minute’s walk from the beach. The town has a promenade that runs its entire length next to the ocean, and it seems to be a popular vacation spot for Brits to come when they get sick of all the clouds and rain up north. It was even sunny all day! It does feel like a beach town with little snack shops all along the promenade, a pier, some arcades, and of course a mini golf course, but I don’t think the town is really in full summer vacation swing yet. At the moment, it seems pretty empty and a little sad but I assume once the British children get out of school and its a little warmer the place will become more populated.

After arriving, we got settled in the cottage, walked along the promenade for awhile, and found dinner at a nearby pub with an outdoor patio and view of the ocean. In a drastic turn of events, I got scampi and chips for dinner. Much different than fish and chips, the scampi alternative contains small fried shrimp rather than cod or haddock. It was good and I’m glad I tried it as I’ve seen the dish on multiple menus now, but it’s not as good as the fish and chips.

Today we did some daytripping to some awesome areas on the south coast which I’ll talk about in my next post! We were also very lucky to see some fantastic weather – sunny and mid 70’s – for our outdoor adventures.