We had an exceedingly long break between our spring and summer terms, and in those five weeks I was lucky to be able to do a lot of traveling. I went home to California for three weeks for some much-needed re-charging and relaxation with loved ones. I spent some great time in San Francisco with my sister, and we went on a gorgeous cloudy day hike on Mount Tam with views of all the surrounding hills, the city and the Bay in the distance, the Pacific, and the Golden Gate Bridge. I got to do a lot of walking around the city in some gorgeous weather, and we visited the newly renovated SFMOMA, which has some really thought-provoking exhibits on at the moment.
We went on a beautiful 8-mile run in the Berkeley hills as well, talking, sweating, saying hi to cows, and admiring the views. We're both going through some big life changes right now and she inspires me every day, making me feel like everything is going to be ok. She is the best adventure buddy!
After flying back to England I prepped for a trip with friends! We flew to Pisa and took the train to a friend's family house in the Cinqueterre area, which is a network of five towns in southern Italy, on the gorgeous coast. There are well-worn hiking trails in between each town, and we spent an incredible day hiking from Vernazza to Corniglia and finally to Manarola, stopping in each town for some gelato or some fresh focaccia.
The town we stayed in was called Levanto, and was a beautiful, quiet, sleepy, welcoming beach town with gorgeous houses and views.
The vistas from our hike were absolutely unbelievable, and each town we stopped in had its own character, with tiny crooked alleys and meandering streets packed with locals and tourists alike.
The ladies I went with are friends from my course, and are some of the most fun-loving, brilliant, adventurous, and loving people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. It was such a joy to explore this part of the world with them!
We topped off our 8 hours of hiking with a mouth-wateringly delicious dinner and one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen, to which no photo could ever do true justice.
We ate fresh seafood (frutti di mare), the best pizza I've ever had, and even though I'm not a huge ice cream fiend, I discovered that gelato really is one of the best-tasting things on this planet.
After Cinqueterre, Paulina, Katie, and I went on to stay in Innsbruck, Austria with Katie's family. To get there we took the train from Levanto to Milan, a city that feels like a cat stretching lazily during a nap.
We got a few hours in Milan after getting breakfast and leaving our bags at Ostello Bello, recommended by our friend Silvia, which was an excellent stopping place. Although we didn't stay the night, I highly recommend you check it out if you're traveling in or near Milan, whether you're on a budget or not. Friendly staff, good cheap food, all day breakfast and coffee that you can drop in for, great atmosphere and the chance to meet other interesting travelers. After our time in Milan, we got on the FlixBus to Austria--it was a long ride but the bus was surprisingly comfortable, with lots of room, big windows, and good wifi. I listened to the podcast S-Town on the ride, which is addictive and engrossing, although a little unsettling and even disturbing at times. The views from the bus out of Italy were spectacular, which I was not expecting.
Innsbruck was a big change from Italy, and was just as beautiful in its own way. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains on all sides, often shrouded in mist and clouds, and with a bright turquoise river running through it, it felt a little bit like something out of Lord of the Rings--but with historic houses and buildings dating all the way back to the 17th century.
Katie and her family were so lovely and welcoming, and she showed us around Innsbruck like a pro. She also took us to one of the city's hippest hang-out spots, Café Moustache.
Katie's family also just got a new Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, who is quite possibly the cutest, sweetest ball of fluff I have ever encountered.
We headed from Innsbruck back to London for the start of term, rested and relaxed and excited to start our last term of classes!
To see some more from our travels, check out the video I made about our trip, with some tips that I find useful when trying to stay active while on vacation!