Neglect.

When I moved to Napoli I had a range of things I was pretty set on. That’s part of the reason I started the blog, to share my experiences and use it as a little online diary for myself and to share tips for places I’ve been to.

I wanted to throw myself into learning Italian. Run or exercise every day. Be a more conscious eater. Drink less. Cook more and use my phone less.

My Italian comprehension isn’t too bad, I can stumble along through ordering, answering questions, but I really haven’t put the effort in. I guess starting two new jobs and adapting to life in Italy has taken up a fair bit of time.

I’ve definitely increased my alcohol consumption and the food has been too good not to indulge and enjoy. I have cooked more and following my holiday in August, I am now ready to wipe the slate clean and exercise more.

I was without a phone for around three weeks (it was stolen) and it was astonishing how much free time I had on my hands. Now, I obviously had that free time before I was phoneless, I just chose to scroll mindlessly through ‘content’, skim reading articles and watching countless videos of cakes being iced.

I’ve neglected myself, my learning and my writing. I’ve always been pretty terrible at keeping New Year resolutions, so instead of the Gregorian calendar, I’m going for the academic year approach… wish me luck!

Cibo, Caffè e Spritz.

Italy is the nation of incredible food, coffee and wine. Naples is the capital of pizza. I’m very happy here. Molto bene.

Naples is awash with caffès, trattorias, pizzerias, food stands, pasticceria and more. In the short time we’ve lived here, I’ve eaten very well. A little too well. Below are my highlights and I’ll be adding to these as we go along.

 

Pizzas: expect to queue for all of the below…

Sorbillo: Via dei Tribunali. The most famous of the Sorbillo family pizzerias. It’s not my favourite,  but it’s good.

Zia Esterina: Try Sorbillo’s Pizza Fritte. I love the Provola e Pepe, which is smoked cheese and pepper. Wash down with a Nastro in Piazza Plebiscito.

Di Matteo: Forever in my heart as it’s the first Neapolitan pizza I tried. Don’t expect silver service, but do try the Arancino. The Salsiccia e Friarielli pizza is A+++.

Da Michele: You’ll see a few pics of Julia Roberts, she visited this pizzeria in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. A Neapolitan institution. You can order a Margherita or Marinara here. Nothing else. It’s worth the wait.

La Notizia: Of all the pizzas I’ve had in Naples, La Notizia took me by total surprise. I wasn’t quite expecting the incredible flavour combination of the Santa Lucia. Anchovies, black olives and tomatoes. Utterly delicious. We also may have tried the dessert pizza – dark chocolate melted in a folded pizza base. Oh wow.

50 Kalo: Oh yes. A carbonara pizza. Incredible.

Concettina ai Tre Santi: The yellow tomato pizza is unreal. Oh, try the Genovese Frittatine too.

Da Attilio: The star-shaped ricotta stuffed crust pizzas are exceptional, this place isn’t nearly famous enough.

Attanasio: If you’ve never heard of a Tronchetto pizza, I urge you to go here and try it.

 

Restaurants.

Da Nennella: utterly frenetic, the food is very rustic, but its really good fun and costs very little.

Nanni: a wee gem we found on a Sunday. Most places were closed, but this place was full of Italian families having a Sunday get together. Beautiful food, fantastic service and super prices.

Trattoria Medina: Scarpetta, Mozzarella, Arancino… Pasta, provola e patate… Wow. Service is world class too.

La Taverna di Santa Chiara: a gem in the Historic Centre. Beautiful little place, delicious slow food. Incredible meatballs.

Tandem: THE place to get Ragu or Pasta alla Genovese.

Puok: Tommi’s in Copenhagen is absolutely superb, but I don’t think the Django will ever be beaten in my best burger books.

Prosciutteria: From Tagliere to Paninis, really delicious, simple food with an excellent wine list.

A Figlia da Maruzzara: Spaghetti Vongole and superb service. Not to mention perfect Pastiera.

Pescheria Azzurra: A fish stall in Pignasecca market with a small restaurant attached. Fresh seafood and perfectly al dente pasta. An absolute bargain.

 

Coffee.

The Neapolitans are particular about coffee. Preferably no sugar (amaro), definitely no milk, and the cup must be hot.

Passalacqua is my favourite brand, served in Mexico Coffee Bars around the city.

 

Sweet Treats.

Pintauro: The home of exceptional Sfogliatelle. I prefer frolla (shortcrust pastry), while others prefer the riche variety (filo).

Mary’s: In Galleria Umberto you’ll find Mary’s. Always with a substantial queue and for good reason. Their Zeppole (the ridged fried donut with creme pat) are fantastic. Zeppole are traditionally given and eaten on Father’s Day.

Poppella: Fiocco di Neve ‘til I die. The most heavenly little cream bun. Try the original flavour, a very light donut filled with sweet ricotta and cream.

Menella: In my opinion, the best gelato in Napoli.

Casa Infante: A close second to Menella, particularly the Fondente.

 

Aperitivo.

Enoteca Belladonne: Fantastic wine bar in Chiaia with hot and cold bites.

Gran Bar Riviera: Truly quaint cafe bar and fantastic value for money. 

Barril: An outdoor / indoor sort of set up. Delicious (and generous) aperitivo. 

Intra Moenia: A Parisian feeling to this Piazza Bellini based bar/publishers. 

Ceraldi Caffe: Pop in for a Spritz post Via Toledo shopping and be spoiled by the plate of bites.

 

Bars.

Liquid Spirits: Charming bar just off the madness of Piazza San Domenica Maggiore. Downstairs is a fantastic event space with a view of Roman walls. 

Libreria Bresario: 5€ Amaretto Sour – best I’ve ever tasted. Cocktail bar in a book shop. Thursday is jazz night.

Cammarota Spritz: Not for the faint-hearted. 1€ Spritz, not of high quality, but it’s all good fun and next door to Nennella.

Spuzzule: Great wine bar off Via Toledo. 

Oak: A plethora of beers, board games AND free clementines. 

 

 

Neapolitan Love Letter.

Naples has been home since the 18th January 2018. I moved here with my boyfriend having never visited the city before. I had been warned of crime and danger, but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with lively Napoli.

Life oozes out of every cobble, window and alleyway this city has.

The sad thing is, Napoli’s reputation precedes it and it’s often far from positive. Tourists flock to the handsome and refined neighbours; Amalfi coast, Capri and Ischia; bypassing Napoli completely. Or a day trip to Pompei and Vesuvio, ignoring the history and wonder of the New City.

I’m guilty of this. I’d always wanted to go to the Amalfi coast, the allure of Positano and Sorrento. Not to mention the glamour of Capri. Naples hadn’t even crossed my mind. I’m grateful for the opportunity, because it’s a special place. It’s the most ‘Marmite’ of all cities I’ve ever visited, I’m firmly in the love camp.

Vibrant, exciting, passionate and beautiful. Napoli has captured my heart.

Jeg o’ Bru

The UK isn’t unfamiliar with deposit return schemes. I’m sure the majority of milk drinkers remember the excitement of peeling back the foil top on a glass bottle in the morning to pour on your cereal, or in your tea. You prayed that a bird hadn’t poked the top of it and that the contents had resisted the harsh British winters’ frost. At the start of the year, milk deliveries in glass bottles were up 25% with the sight of milkmen returning to the streets of London. An astonishing 94% of all milk was delivered in glass bottles in 1975, however by 2016 this dropped to just 3%.

Those who grew up in Scotland will be familiar with the term ‘Jeg of Bru’ – I remember being given a Barrs bottle to return to the shop now and then. I’d get a 10p mix or a Taz/Freddo chocolate bar with the fee!

Bill Bryson called for the return of the bottle deposit scheme almost eight years ago with a very pertinent point;

“What sensible nation would not want to capture and recycle its precious and finite resources? What discerning people would not want to enjoy a litter-free environment?”

I spent some of my childhood in Norway. My sister and I were quite the entrepreneurial duo (thieves). On Sunday mornings, we’d wander around our neighbourhood collecting bottles that had been discarded/left outside for return after a Saturday night of entertaining. We’d pop to the shop and return the bottles, making a tidy little profit for not a lot of effort. When we visited Copenhagen a couple of years back, any bottles we bought were returned to the shop, just as we had done in Norway.

In 2003 a deposit return scheme was introduced in Germany. A staggering 99% of all plastic bottles are recycled. In the UK that figure is just 43%.

I fully support the deposit return scheme, but I’m also not naïve to the cost of implementation. I hope that smaller businesses will be given the appropriate support in order to make this a success for all.

Pretty Praha

I’ve known the ‘Murano Girls’ since September 2004. I love them to bits and we try and meet up when we can, which can be a bit tricky as we currently span the globe. The ladies from Paris, Inverness, Aberdeen, West Linton, South Cave and Napoli navigated their way to Prague at the start of March. Hannah and Carrie couldn’t join us, due to the sheer distance they’d have to travel! Hannah is in Melbourne, and Carrie is currently making her way home from 18 months on Bird Island in the South Antarctic!

We didn’t plan anything, other than to talk, laugh, eat and drink. My favourite thing about Prague? Wandering around the stunning architecture and being wowed round every corner.

Despite two modes of transport into the city from the airport, it’s both easy and super cheap. You’ll get around 25 Koruna to the £1 and the journey cost 32. Bargain!

Some highlights from the trip…

FOOD

  • Husinec: traditional Czech fare, great cabbage, sausages and more creamed horseradish than you can shake a stick at. Order the Tank Beer 👌🏻
  • Cafe Colore: beef is luscious gravy, crisp white wine and an eye watering selection of austro-French cakes.
  • V Kolvovne: my 7th, 8th and 9th sausages of the day. Venison, smoked pork and beef, absolutely divine! I ordered the Goulash as a starter and it didn’t disappoint. Rich and the still-warm pretzel was the perfect accompaniment.
  • Trudlnik: you’ll find these sweet twirls of joy all around the city. A cross between a doughnut and a bagel, available filled with sweet or savoury.

TO DO

  • CASTLE: it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours, but unless you really want to see inside the cathedrals, Golden Lane and the castle, you can walk about free of charge. Be prepared to queue for security.
  • TRAMS: old and new, the trams of Prague are a fantastic way to see the beautiful scenery.
  • CHARLES BRIDGE: Made famous by Mission Impossible, walk across this both day and night to see different sides of the city. The small lanes next to Charles Bridge are quaint and host a range of brilliant independent shops including the intoxicating gingerbread shop!!
  • WENCESLAS SQUARE: a lot of people told me it’s like Disney for grown ups. It’s incredibly pretty. The famous clock is under repair at the moment, so is covered in scaffolding. You get a pretty spectacular view of the city from the tower though.
  • SEX MACHINE MUSEUM: eyes were opened. Make sure you check out the vintage cinema 🙈
  • GOAP: luckily for me, three fantastic exhibitions were on when I visited. Salvador Dali, Alphonse Mucha and Andy Warhol. Flawless layout and complimentary lockers.

TIPS:

  • “Tip not included” isn’t passive aggressive, it’s a friendly reminder that’s more than likely borne from many rowdy stag parties!! 
  • As soon as you’ve finished your glass, wait staff will ask if you want another.
  • 24hr travel pass is a bargain at 110k (even works out to the airport)
  • Carry your passport – police may stop and ask you to show it and if you can’t, you may be fined…

LANGUAGE:

  • Prosim: you’re welcome / please
  • Djakuji: thank you
  • Ahoj: hello / goodbye
  • Ano: yes
  • Ne: no
  • Pivo: Beer
  • Prost: cheers!!

 

 

 

 

Coping in Copenhagen.

I’m not referring to ‘coping’ in a negative sense here, but in a positive one. Copenhagen is brilliant. I’ve been three times and there are still things I’d like to see, do, eat and drink.

My love for Copenhagen has grown over the last few years due to Borgen, The Killing and The Bridge. I’ve mourned the last episode of each one and I doubt anyone will surpass Saga as my number one female lead.

So, a few tips! Apologies in advance for the lack of Scandi vowels.

 

Food

Mother: Great pizza, reasonably priced and fantastic atmosphere. Book in advance if you don’t fancy an hours’ wait in a small bar.

Relae: Local ingredients, unusual flavours, special experience. Go for the early dinner tasting menu to save some pennies. If you’re a fussy eater, I’d give it a miss.

Manfreds og Vin: 90-100% organic restaurant, also fantastic for a glass of wine if you’re that way inclined.

108: En route to Papiroen, don’t forget to stop for a coffee and a mind-blowing pastry.

Tommi’s Burger Joint: You won’t regret it. Right next to Mother in Kodbyen sits Tommi’s, home to the best burger I have EVER eaten. Condiments aplenty and perfect chips. Go hungry!

Hot-Dogs: You can buy them pretty much anywhere. On the side of the street, in train stations, corner shops… They are the perfect meal on the hop.

Aamanns: I visited the one in the airport where I ate a delicious rye, beef, remoulade and crispy onion smorrebrod, washed down with a glass (the size of my head) of Jacobsen’s Brown Ale. What a treat!

Torvehallerne: I argued with myself about putting this in ‘Food’, ‘Drink’ and ‘Stuff to See / Do’. A beautiful big food hall. You can buy food to take away, food to eat onsite, have a coffee, drink a glass of Cava while having a couple of Croquetas… I love it.

 

Drink

Lidkoeb: A boozy townhouse tucked away through a courtyard, serving up delicious cocktails and a whisky bar in the attic. What’s not to love?! I drank the finest cocktail on my 30th birthday.

Mikkeller: There are heaps of Mikkeller bars in Copenhagen, each serving up a range of fantastic beers. Warpigs is another one, situated in Kodbyen.

Coffee Collective: We visited the one in Torvehallerne. If carefully crafted coffee is your thing, enjoy.

 

Do

Bycyklen: Hire a bike. It’s a great way to get around and to see a lot of Copenhagen in a short period of time. Bycyklen bikes are fully adjustable, have satnav and are electric. Vroom.

Den Bla Planet: Use your Bycyklen and cycle the 12km out to the Blue Planet – Copenhagen’s beautiful aquarium where you’ll find Nemo and a bunch of other sea creatures.

Tivoli: The number one thing I’d recommend – make sure you visit Copenhagen when it’s open. Buy an unlimited wristband and if possible, visit on a good weather day (unless you plan on going in the evening). We had around four hours and I really wish we’d had more time. It was wonderful and I’ll definitely be back. Prices for food and drink are on a par with the outside world.

Nordic Noir Tours: We did The Bridge tour, but sites from Borgen and The Killing were also pointed out along the way (bonus!!). Wrap up warm, wear comfy shoes and make sure you’ve got enough memory on your camera.

Louisiana: If you’ve got a Copenhagen Card you get travel and entry for FREE. Set by the Oresund Sound in Humlebaek, it has a brilliant selection of modern art, and the grounds are stunning.

Botanic Garden: Foliage and Filters your thing? Get yourself to the Botanic Gardens and enjoy all the succulents and selfie opportunities.

The Round Tower: Round and round and round. Brilliant view of Copenhagen from the top (when it’s not raining and blowing a hooley). Just don’t drop anything spherical on the walk up or down.

The Zoo: There’s not really a lot I can say. If you like animals (Polar Bears and Monkeys in particular) give the zoo a visit.

Underground Art Gallery: Not your usual stark white gallery. An underground reservoir with changing exhibitions. Eerie.

Carlsberg: It would be remiss not to recommend the Carlsberg Experience in this section. The old brewery, stables where you can see the horses and carts used to deliver the Tuborg Christmas beer and a great bar at the end of it. Try the Jacobsens Brown Ale – I am a BIG fan.

Illums Bolighus: A department store on the long pedestrianised shopping street Stroget, is packed to the rafters with home-ware, textiles, accessories… the lot. N.B. I can’t be blamed for your credit card bill.

Boomerang: Want a fun Insta? Visit the street trampolines in Nyhavn.

Christiansborg Palace Tower: If you’re a fan of Borgen, you’ll want to visit the Tower and get a photo on the steps. Bonus – you get beautiful views of the city.

Design Museum: All things Danish design. An Insta-fans’ dream.

 

2018. A year of change.

Last year wasn’t unkind to me. I had a lot of positive experiences, one of which was a ten day holiday to Italy. Towards the end of the holiday I thought “wouldn’t it be ace to live here?!”. Five months later an opportunity came up – Adam was alerted to a research position at a University in Napoli and he was offered the post. Molto bene!

As fate would have it, I was in talks at the time with my employer about a change in role, one that in theory, could be a remote post. I floated the idea of a move and there was pretty much no resistance. Working remotely would mean missing out on Friday drinks and the inevitable karaoke, Piggy Palace pork avalanche rolls (best in the biz), DR’s Radio Shan and the bantz about the ‘trips to the lock up’. However, what it has given me is my verve back. I feel more productive, focused, creative and balanced.

Last year was also a bit odd. I hadn’t been myself for a few months and it wasn’t until two people, one a close friend, the other a new one asked “Are you OK?“. I’d always been an anxious soul, a real worrier, to the point of obsession. I’d had a fuzzy head for months – a never-ending foggy, heavy head – I felt lacklustre and lethargic. I’m a fairly positive, enthusiastic person normally and although Adam had suggested that I was maybe not myself, I put it down to work, being pre-menstrual, the winter… Everything but a chemical imbalance in my brain.

I visited the Doctor (who was very sweet, understanding and didn’t rush me out the room like others have in subsequent visits) and he prescribed 20mg of Fluoxetine once a day. After about three to four weeks I started to feel a bit more balanced again and with the re-invigoration, I threw myself into work. Silly. Thankfully, at the time, I worked with a close friend / all round brilliant boss who noticed that the only way for me to take some time for me was to have an extended break from work. In my month off, I took the holiday to Italy, visited a great friend in Manchester, enjoyed a wedding in Yorkshire and while there got to see a Uni pal who is undertaking an exciting self-build. It was a day wandering, listening to podcasts and enjoying the sunshine on the beautiful city of Edinburgh that I started to feel more like me again.

I’m still on Fluoxetine, but a frequent dose of Neapolitan sunshine and a different approach to working life is helping hugely. I’m feeling pretty positive about 2018 and it’s been a brilliant start so far…

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