Travelling in Capri: Tales from Our Trip Part 3





Wow. Possibly the word we used the most in Capri – or ‘Cah-pri’ as the Italians say – and can you blame us? That water. My goodness. Heaven on earth has been located, friends. The search is over.

We arrived in Capri by ferry from Sorrento, and I actually gasped out loud as we inched closer to this magical island paradise. The Marina Grande, full of day-trippers and boats of all sizes, billionaire-owned superyachts hanging out in the middle of the ocean in that aloof way they do, and the sun shining bright, there’s no denying it: the place is ridiculously good-looking. When you see it in all its wonder, you can’t really blame celebs and high-rollers for making it their Mediterranean playground.

We were there for two days to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and Ramai made an amazing call with the accommodation, the Capri Inn, which had freaking insane views (see the pics above, a sea-view room is a must) and was run by the lovely Bea, who fed us every morning on the rooftop terrace and gave us the full rundown of where to go and what to do.

Total winner. Capri Inn, and Bea, made the trip for us. Our favourite saying of hers, which we couldn’t stop repeating, was OCK-AAAY-IE (okay).

What is it about getting fixated on words from other languages when you’re travelling?













I wanted to know a bit more about Capri when we were there, and if you’re interested too, here’s a snippet from the best article I’ve found on the place…

“The island’s first tourists were the Romans, who were attracted by its ravishing scenery and its aura of refinement as a former Greek colony. During the second century B.C., the entire Bay of Naples blossomed into a seaside resort. Roman aristocrats, including the emperor Augustus himself, would travel by horseback or wagon to Sorrento, then sail the three miles to Capri to escape the summer heat and to indulge in otium, or educated leisure — working out, swimming, dining and discussing philosophy.”


“In 1826, August Kopisch, a young German writer touring Italy, heard rumors of a sea cave feared by local fishermen. He persuaded some boatmen to take him there. After swimming through a small opening in the rocks at the base of a towering cliff, Kopisch found himself in a large cavern where the water glowed, he would write, “like the light of a blue flame.” It made him feel as if he were floating in an “unfathomable blue sky.” Further inspection revealed the source of the light: an underwater cavity that allows sunlight to filter in.

Kopisch described his explorations in The Discovery of the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri, which tapped into the Romantic era’s interest in the spiritual and healing powers of nature. Soon travelers were arriving from Germany, Russia, Sweden and Britain to revel in natural beauty and escape conventional society. At the time, Capri had fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, whose traditional rural life, punctuated by religious feasts and the grape harvest, added to the island’s allure. Affluent foreigners could rent dirt-cheap rooms, dine under vine-covered pergolas and discuss art over light Caprese wine. In the village cafés, one might spot Friedrich Nietzsche, André Gide, Joseph Conrad, Henry James or Ivan Turgenev, who raved about Capri in an 1871 letter as “a virtual temple of the goddess Nature, the incarnation of beauty.”

Perfect description.








One of the best things we did while in Capri was journey up to Anacapri (“above Capri/ Upper Capri”), which in itself was an adventure – a bus trip that takes you on a tiny road with hairpin bends and a drop below of about 187543 kilometres. (maybe not, but believe me, that’s what it feels like when you’re standing up on the bus and it twists around the curves dangerously close to the edge).

The weather wasn’t great but we decided to go up on the single-seat chairlift to the top of Mount Solaro anyway, the highest peak in Anacapri (1932 feet), and we felt that same intense feeling of being incredibly high and incredibly expanded as we had in Positano. The chairlift is a 10 minute, cruisy ride up but there were definitely a few moments, especially when it tilts upwards towards the end, where I felt my heartbeat speed up. Heights, and any fears around ‘getting high,’ were certainly thrust into the spotlight on this Euro trip – busting ’em seemed to be the theme for the whole month!

At the top of Mount Solaro, we found a restaurant and 360 degree views that blew our socks off, so we hung out for a while taking photos once the clouds had cleared and the wind had died off. Highly recommend getting your butt on the chairlift if you ever head to Capri, totally worth it.





‘Best gelato in Italy’ is a pretty bodacious call, but at Buonocore Gelateria it’s warranted. Smooth and creamy-but-not-too-creamy, layered with flavour and served in just-made, warm waffle cones, trust me when I say your tastebuds will get their rave on like never before when one of these babies enter your mouth.

Go there.

(I had the Nutella/ hazelnut (nocciola) flavour. Best.)












Because we didn’t have much time in Capri, we made the decision to go on a boat tour around the whole island instead of visit the Blue Grotto on Day Two (we did go past the grotto though and saw enough – that thing has turned into a crazy tourist attraction!)

The boat ride was epic. We saw castles owned by the rich and famous and weaved our way between rock formations in the middle of the ocean, oohing and ahhing over the colours. I loved looking over to Ramai and seeing him sitting back, taking it all in and truly appreciating the beauty of this place. Straight to the memory bank for those visuals.

A final note on Capri – it is definitely an ‘older person’s vacation spot’ (actually, most of Italy is – expect lots of middle-aged couples if you go) and I reckon two days is the perfect amount of time to kick back, see the sights, devour the gelato and hang out with the crowds in the main piazza. Failing that, definitely take a day-trip across from Sorrento or Naples if you’re in the ‘hood. Be prepared to pay more as well – it’s tailored to affluent travellers and the prices reflect that.


Have you been? What did you love? Did you gobble down the gelato too? Share in the comments. 

Travelling in Positano: Tales From Our Trip Part 2




“I love you like this.”

“Like what?”

“Inspired. Alive. YOU. It’s awesome.”

My man was right. Ever since we’d come around that treacherous Amalfi Coast bend to Positano (if you’ve ever visited, you’ll know what I’m talking about – let’s just say HAIRY is a pretty apt description) and I’d caught a glimpse of the glittering seas below, I’d felt myself slipping back into my body. I could feel the energy. The spark was… sparking. The switch: back on, bay-beh.

Before we left for the trip, I’d been feeling a little jagged. There had been some delayed emotions around leaving the corporate world – not in the sense of missing the work, more in the sense of diving straight into my biz without time to recalibrate, and going at it hammer-and-tong – and it was most definitely time to “chill my balls*” as my beautiful (funny) friend Mel would say.

In Positano, I felt my cells expand again. 

I’ve written in my journal from the day Ramai declared I was “back:”

I feel like today was the massive mental shift I’ve been waiting for. The tap has been turned back on. The inspiration is flowing. I can feel with every fibre of my being – not just my head that thinks I should feel inspired 24/7, 365, but ALL layers of me – that I’m ready to:

Shine brighter. Recognise, then release what doesn’t work for me. Make an effort, style-wise – there doesn’t need to be an occasion for dressing up. Do it for me, purely ’cause it feels good. Set audacious, big-ass goals. Write. Write. Write. Get my butt out of retreat mode and reconnect. Be in the world. Move more throughout the day – walk outside. Breathe in. Do that often. Read fiction to lose myself in stories, for fun. Embrace adventure and weird stuff. Love every minute of it.  

I credit Positano and its 1000’s of steps, turquoise waters and gorgeous, chilled vibe for reigniting that flame o’ inspiration in me.

Read all about it below.

* FYI, I don’t have balls. Ha! 














Colour. Positano: you’re doin’ it right. From the over-sized lemons (the region proudly champions its Limoncello), the pastel hotels carved into the hillside, the flowers and the looks-Photoshopped-in-real-life ocean, there’s no denying this town is a spectacular place to snap a few gazillion photos. It looks different every day.

I think John Steinbeck said it best in the 50’s when he described Positano as “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”. I wholeheartedly agree with that. She’s a total charmer, and I know we’ll be back.

A few recs for you from this time ’round:

We stayed at Palazzo Marzoli, which was a fab boutique-y hotel, and given it was quite high up, had awesome views (awesome views = lots of stairs to walk, so take note if you’re looking for somewhere to stay and you’re not a fan of steep steps. Seriously though, your butt will thank you!)

On the eating front, our best find was the gorgeous cafe Casa e Bottega. I’d been craving a smoothie and a salad and this place delivered, not only with great food but with stunning decor and super-friendly owners. Oh… and I can’t go past mentioning the gluten-free choc mud cake. Divine.


We also had a lovely dinner at Ristorante Mediterraneo where the gregariousness we hadn’t come across in (who we found to be) the more reserved Romans was ever-present.

The place was pumping and the manager brought Prosecco to our table as we arrived and bid us farewell with a shot of Limoncello. A lively muso belted out Italian love songs as we ate, the atmosphere was light ‘n’ right, and we spent most of our dinner laughing with (and… kinda, at) the ultra-tanned, super-OTT Candy and Bruce from Texas who were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Bruce looked like he was straight out of Miami Vice and Candy, Studio 54. Picture it. Yesssss.


Delicious food and bold colours aside, our favourite part of the stay in Positano was definitely walking The Path of the Gods. 




We decided to catch the bus to Praiano to start our walk because we wanted to finish back in Positano, and once we were on the track, we knew we’d made the right choice as the views facing back towards town were seriously incredible.

The Path of the Gods hike is BREATHTAKING for two reasons:

(1) The jaw-dropping views.

(2) It’s straight up. Stairs, a vertical path. You will puff in parts. You will get high in ze sky.

This ancient pathway dates back to the Middle Ages and was used by mules to transport goods between villages. Halfway up you’ll find yourself at the abandoned 16th century Convent of St Domenico, where the caretaker supplies fresh lemonade and you take a breather. Continuing on towards Positano, you’re literally ‘in the clouds’ as the mist zooms quickly up the side of the mountain from the valley below.

You actually can’t capture this kind of magic on camera. None of the shots you see above and below do it justice, so if you go to the Amalfi Coast, I highly recommend taking a day out to do it. You won’t be disappointed.

On the way home, we were meant to stop at Nocelle and get a bus back to Positano, but somehow missed the sign which meant descending 1700+ steps, and another hour walk around the sides of the bendy road (there is barely enough room for cars, and no such thing as a “pedestrian lane”)

We arrived at the hotel tired and hot, but deliriously happy.














As I lay in bed that night, somewhere in the abyss between fully present and dreaming deep, I kept feeling myself walking the trail. I was up very, very high and everything was magnified. Huge. Much bigger than reality actually, a ginormous expanse. It was not dissimilar to that feeling you get when you’ve been at a theme park riding rollercoasters all day, and when you get home and you’re lying in bed, you feel like you’re still on that rollercoaster (know what I mean?)

Freaking loved it. There’s just something about mountains.




We caught a bus to Sorrento on day four. Here’s how it went, in short form.

Lemons on steroids.

Lots to see with no shortage of shops to pick up a a kitschy souvenir (or a designer something).

Loads of Aussies.

Great restaurants.

It was raining the day we went, so hard to make a fair comparison but I think would be the perfect place to base yourself if you wanted to “be more in the action” but we thought Positano was the more picturesque of the two.

For those that have visited, what do you think? 




I’d been wanting to try stand-up paddleboarding for ages.

“Experienced?” the lady from the hire company asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Oh yeah. Yep. Totally,” we both nodded, although, in truth, I’d never attempted SUP before and Ramai had only given it a crack once (granted, he surfs) but on the scale of ‘challenging activities’ it ranked pretty far down the list. Piece of cake, no?

Uh, yeah. We found out why she asked when we got down to shore. Massive. Dumping. Sucky. Shorey-wave. And choppy seas. FUN!

The first humourous thing: trying to get out into the water without being chewed up and spat out by the shorebreak. Look natural, Rach. Just glide into it ever-so-casually… Errr.

The second humourous thing: trying to, y’know, stand up (we gave up eventually and perfected the art of “sit down/ knee-boarding-with-a-paddle” instead because the water was too freaking cold to fall in to time and time again).

Last (and least) humourous thing: getting back to shore while 5 local surfy looking dudes watched the ‘experienced’ Aussies wrangle massive stand-up boards, paddles and that hideous dumping wave with aplomb. Or not. Grateful my bikini top didn’t go flying off and hit one of them in the face, just to add to the hilarity of the whole experience.










Dolce Far Neinte. The sweetness of doing nothing.

One day, I spent from early morning to night reading (two) books in bed (when I’m onto a good thing, there’s no stopping me). Another I sat silently watching the marching band from the balcony, and that night, marvelling at fireworks with a wine in my hand and my man by my side.

When you’ve been living from to-do list to to-do list, there is something so extraordinary about slowing down the pace and practicing the ‘sweetness of doing nothing.’

Thank you Positano for reminding me how powerful that can be.


There you have it! And now it’s your turn – have you been to the Amalfi Coast/ Positano? Thoughts, experiences, fun times? Share below! 

Travelling in Rome: Tales From Our Trip Part 1




“Roma is shit. Many, many shit.”

We laugh at the grinning 6ft-something Italian standing before us on the metro platform because his bold declaration sounds like something we ourselves had uttered on Day One of our long-overdue honeymoon.

Except he’s not talking about the city.

The Roma our Italian buddy is talking about is a football club, one who had just been beaten by bitter city rivals Lazio who subsequently took out the Coppa Italia title. This was big news, evidenced by the stream of frenzied Lazio fans in the streets and the animated group of males we’d somehow befriended at the station.

Ramai was in his element, talking sport, squeezing out all the important details, and the guys were loving it just as much.

“Where are you from?” the chattiest of the bunch asked.


“Oh, Australia. Very lucky. Very beautiful. Rome – is nice to have holiday, but to live, is hard.”

It wasn’t the only time we heard that in Rome. I’m hesitant to make any sweeping statements, but what we picked up on (our opinions) is that this is one deeply complex city – chaotic, tough, interrupted by tourists, yet dependent on them, stylish but old-school… all at the same time. Easy isn’t a word that springs to mind when describing Roma.

But sometimes the richest experiences aren’t the easiest.



The ecstatic crowd celebrating in Piazza del Popolo after Lazio’s defeat of Roma. The Polizi hung out in big vans just out of the shot, not looking terribly phased by the fireworks being let off left right and centre and the revellers boozing on. I’d hazard a guess that they were probably loving the vibe as much as we were that night (more on that later). 



“Rachel and Ramai MacDonald. Please come to the Terminal 3 service counter. Mr and Mrs MacDonald.”

It’s been a while since I’ve been called for a flight – I spent a couple of years doing the Usain Bolt down corridors in heels and a suit when flying for business with a boss who loved staying at the airport bar for “one more quick drink” – and given we were about 4 hours off departing for Rome, my only explanation was that they were paging us to tell us we were far too awesome to travel in any class but First had forgotten to do something. Or had broken some kind of protocol.

“Mr MacDonald, would you like to go direct to Rome from Singapore? We move you to faster Singapore Airlines flight if you wish.”

Well, actually, we were really looking forward to that 12-hour layover at Heathrow Airport, especially after spending 7 glorious hours here, so we might pass on that one and enjoy some more precious airport time if you don’t mind… said Ramai never. 

“Ahh, yes, that would be BRILLIANT.”

Turning to me, he mouthed B O O M, and as would become our little ritual along the trip when blessing rained upon us, we low-fived behind the counter, squeezed each others hands and grinned as we said softly in unison yaaaaaaay.

Rome, here we come.




You never know who you’ll meet when you travel.

In the potluck that is an international flight, you could find yourself seated next to a couple jetting north on their honeymoon (like, say, two lovers we know), a businessman making the weary trek back home after a full-schedule of meetings, or a conductor from Sydney who’s been living part-time in Rome for the past 7 years and travelling around the globe on the regular to… conduct.

You know, with the best symphony orchestras on the planet.

(In a moment that can be explained by “34 hours of travel” we totally forgot to grab the name of our buddy in the window seat but a quick Google search tells me he’s Daniel Smith, and he is kind of a conducting superstar).

Anyway, chatty, friendly, and full of local knowledge, Daniel gave us the rundown on Rome (“No-one orders cappuccino’s after 11am, and lattes – no” “Don’t wait to cross the road, just go or you’ll be there forever” “Giolitti for amazing gelato, Dagnino for mind-blowing coffee”). Meanwhile, I buzzed him on his job, because I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a conductor before. Fascinating stuff.

Daniel’s biggest tip – one that definitely seemed a little extraordinary for a bunch of Aussie’s whose last two overseas trips were to the notoriously-hard-to-get-into U.S. – was that we’d be lucky to get a stamp on our passport when we went through Customs in Rome.

Surely they’re not just going to let us saunter into their fine country, passport unseen, no arrival card, just like that?

“Australia, United Kingdom, Americano – this way” said the Customs officer, ushering us into a line where I expected to be questioned by the man sitting in the booth.

All I got was a quick head nod and a hand signal to keep walking.

Imagine that happening at home.

“Italy’s loose,” Ramai laughed. “I love it.”





















My favourite memories of my childhood are going to stay with my Aunt and Uncle at their property in country Victoria.

My cousin Mark had this incredible illustrated set of Encyclopedia Britannica books that I adored and if I went missing for an hour or two, you’d generally find me tucked away in the loungeroom, feasting my eyes on the history sections (and probably plotting a way to inconspicuously stash the Britannica set in my backpack to take home with me).

For a while there, I had an idea that as well as being a journalist – my forever-dream – I could become an archaeologist too, so you can betcha Rome and Egypt and any other locations with “really old stuff” topped the list for this wannabe-archeologist-journo.

Before we took off for our honeymoon, friends had told us to book some tours (something we’d never done before) so we could get the full experience of Rome’s hotspots like the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and The Vatican (Sistine Chapel – we missed St Peter’s Basilica as our tour finished late and we thought it was included).

Good advice friends, good advice. I don’t think we would have gotten nearly as much out of those days of monument cruising if we didn’t.

More photos to come of The Vatican. 












The Pigneto area is described as the ‘Williamsberg (Brooklyn) of Rome.’ No questions there. I’d also say that it’s uncannily similar to The Mission District in San Francisco, the East Village in Manhattan, and has a generous helping of Melbourne’s Fitzroy thrown in for good measure.

So you can probably picture it, right? Urban. Grungey. Graffiti-laden and apparently a haven for creatives and hipsters and non-conformy types. Also home to a melting pot of cultures, with immigrants from Sengal, Bangladesh and China making up a large chunk of the community.

When we arrived at Rome’s Termini (central) station from the airport, we discovered that the buses and trains were on strike for the rest of the afternoon, and given the taxi line was absolutely bonkers, we decided to walk to our hotel. Couldn’t be too far, right?

Ha! Wrong, sleepy, desperate-for-a-shower travellers! 40 minutes, 4 heavy bags – one that was brand new on arrival in Rome and now sports some serious Gutter Wounds – and thsweaty pair finally rolled up to the hotel.

Pigneto, in a very teeny nutshell:

The good 

The hotel was modern, clean, comfy, had a gym, more than did the job.

The fresh market stalls in the street just down below us. The strawberries in Italy… OH MY. And the tomatoes. Wow.

The not-as-good

Ahh, I hate saying this but the reception staff at our hotel had serious ‘tude. Asking a question was mostly met with an exasperated sigh that said “You effing stupid Aussies!”

Pigneto was also a bit out of the action and if we go back, we’ll stay on the other side of town for ease.

* Oh, wait, I forgot something! The best part, and this will sound random but I’m serious, was when we were woken up on the first night but the thunderous sound of what we think was amped-up bongo drums being played on Via Pigneto below (our street was definitely where the party was at, but we were too tired to go join ‘em.)

I’ve never heard a beat like it in my life. Bom-ba-bom-bom-bom! Jungle electric. Someone needs to sign whoever was playing those drums to a record label, pronto. So clever.

















The day we fell in love with Rome.

So I mentioned above that for the first day or so, we thought Rome might not be for us. Let me explain that a bit further.

What I’ve come to realise with travelling – always in hindsight – is that there are a few variables involved when you make a decision on how you feel in your bones about a destination.

These are:

1 // How mentally ‘right’ you are (how healthy you’re feeling, which is usually ‘not very’ after a super long haul flight).

2 // What you’re comparing the place to (another city, your home, that place you fell in love with at first sight).

3 // Your expectations, how you want the place to be, and whether or not the reality matches the story (these expectations are generally formed by what other people have told you about a place you’re seeing for the first time).

4 // The people, and how they compare to the kinda peeps you’re drawn to in your day-to-day life.

5 // Your perspective (are you open or closed? Refer to point one about mindset).

There are more of course, but you get the picture. With most of those in play, I’ll admit it wasn’t love at first sight for us with Rome, but hot damn, did we grow to absolutely adore it after a couple of days. The city didn’t change, but we did (basically, we got some sleep and some exercise. Ha). Importante.

One of the many stellar calls made by Ramai was to take the open-roof hop on and hop off bus around the city to get the ‘lay of the land’ (‘specially as we were staying out of the main bit). In doing that, and seeing both the enormity of the place and how majestic the architecture is, we couldn’t help be swept up in the incredible history and culture of this ancient city.

But wait! Here’s the bit where I wax lyrical on the power of positivity… 

After the bus tour, when we’d gone from ambivalent to AMPED, we caught the metro over to the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) area which was seriously beautiful. Designer boutiques for those wanting a Gucci coat or Prada bag, and all the goodness of Zara, H & M etc for those will slightly smaller budgets on the shopping strip via del Corso.

We had no idea where to go to dinner in the area, so I popped on my manifestation hat and said “Universe, lead us somewhere amazing. Give us a night to remember.”

A few minutes later, we turned down a random street and saw Ristor Arte Il Margutta. A vegetarian restaurant and art gallery combined? GET US IN THERE, IMMEDIATELY.

I’ll let the photos above do the talking but I have to mention that the service was also spectacular.

(This was the night we found ourselves in the Piazza listening the the Lazio chants and met our friends at the train station).

We went home with our appreciation of Rome cemented, our bellies full bellies and our hearts overflowing.


Phew! If you’re still reading by now, I’m high fiving you through the airwaves, because that was mammoth.

More photos and stories to come, but before that, I’d love you to leave me a comment to tell me what you think. Have you been to Rome/ Italy? Planning on going? Any burning questions you’d love answered? Can’t wait to hear from you.