Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Last Day In The Cinque Terre

Well today I woke up and felt pretty rough. We got up and got out to eat breakfast around 9. We decided to try a restaurant instead of our hotel. It was pretty good and it was called Fast Bar. It was basically a diner.

Fast Bar-Great for breakfast!

You could get your pretty standard breakfast here so I had bacon, eggs and toast. Then I couldn’t decide if I wanted soda or a coffee so I got both a coke and a cappuccino. It was a good combo because I quickly started to feel better.

It started raining after breakfast but it quickly stopped. We wanted to take a boat tour or do the water taxi but since the water was rough they had canceled all of the boats. We decided to take the train to the first town, Riomaggiore, because we had not been there yet. Riomaggiore was very beautiful. It was also very quiet, probably because the rain had kept many tour groups away. We walked around the town and took pictures. We also had a snack here of fried anchovies, fish, and octopus. Riomaggiore was very nice; every town has it’s own charm it’s hard to pick my favorite!

I really wanted to go back to Manarola and today was our last day so we decided to go.  There was a restaurant in Manarola that I had read about called Nessun Dorma that I really wanted to try so we went there for lunch. The restaurant is high up along the water on the North side of Manarola, so the views of the town were amazing. I had a really good strawberry daiquiri and Don had a pina colada. For my meal I had a sandwich and Don had a salad. I am not sure if the dinner menu is larger or larger portions but I would say if not then this place is better for a light lunch. Everything was very good and I would definitely go back.

Amazing view of Manarola from Nessun Dorma

After lunch I was so tired it was crazy. I felt like I was just going to fall asleep standing up. All I wanted to do was sleep. We were trying to figure out what to do and Greg had texted us about a wine walk in Manarola so we decided to try it out. It was kind of hard to find where the wine walk started and we were also confused because we though it was a guided tour. But if you follow the main street into the town it will curve around and just before you get to the church you will see a wine bar and if you look up you will see a path above you that you can take stairs to. The wine walk is basically a little trail that goes along the top of the town. There is an area you can climb stairs to get a panoramic view which includes a view of Corniglia. If you have Rick Steve’s book on the Cinque Terre he gives details about this trail and how to get there. We were lucky enough to find it without the book and I also got  a second wind on the hike. The views were amazing. At one point on the hike we were above the restaurant where we ate for lunch. We rested there for a bit looking down at the restaurant and we saw a marriage proposal happen! It was exciting to see everyone react to it.

On the wine walk
The crazy, scary stairs on the way up to the panoramic view.

After the walk we decided to have a glass of wine at the wine bar near the entrance of the walk. It was a cool place, very chill and relaxed. The owner even brought us some bread and cheese. I wish I could remember the name of this place but you will see it if you’re in Manarola headed towards the church.

After the wine we headed back to the train for our final night in Monterosso. We decided to have dinner with Greg and Erin. We ate at a pizza place that was recommended by the guy at Greg’s hotel. I believe it was called Ristorante Pizzeria Da Ely. We were able to sit outside and we each had our own personal pizza. It was delicious!! I really enjoyed this place. After dinner we went to find some gelato and then we went back to hotel so we could pack and get ready to go to the villa in Tuscany!

Cinque Terre-Corniglia to Vernazza.

Today we had breakfast at our hotel, Hotel Souvenir. The breakfast was ok but nothing like what we had at Hotel iQ Roma!

After breakfast we took the train to the town of Corniglia. We wanted to do a trail between two of the towns but many of the trails between the towns were closed. The one between Corniglia and Vernazza was open and it seemed to be a good trail for us. Originally I had not planned or wanted to see Corniglia because it was very high up and required climbing about 300 steps. This did not sound appealing but we did it. When we first got up to the town it did not seem that impressive, especially compared to Manarola, but it was cute.

Me not wanting to climb the stairs.

But the views were awesome.

We walked around a bit and got some focaccia for a snack. Then we decided to do the walk to Vernazza. The walk at first was pretty hard because a lot of it was up steps. It was also a bit crowded at times. We made a lot of stops to take pictures and look at the scenery. There were really cool views of Corniglia from the trail. It was much prettier to look at from afar.

At one point we met a Giants fan and we talked about the Cubs. She also told us we were getting close and the rest of the walk was easier for us because it was downhill. We made it to a cafe the woman told us about and I got an iced coffee and Don had a lemon slushy. The views from here were beautiful and we were so happy we had completed the trail!

After our drinks were finished we went outside and were a bit confused because after walking more we were not seeing Vernazza. Don looked at his map and come to find out we were only half way! We had already been on this trail for an hour! The entire trail was just over 2 miles and should take about an hour haha. But we had more to go. It wasn’t that the trail was hard we just were taking our time and taking in the scenery. This did not make me very happy because I was getting hungry. Luckily the rest of the walk was downhill.

Once we got to Vernazza it was very busy, but pretty. We took a lot of pictures and decided to have lunch near the water at Ristorante Belforte. Their kitchen was closing soon for the afternoon so we ordered quickly. We tried some more anchovies that were prepared differently: fried, salted, and with lemon. I had a spaghetti with meat sauce and Don had pasta with mussels. We both enjoyed our meal a lot.

After lunch we took the train back to Monterosso. After a small nap we heard from Greg that him and his friend Erin had arrived in Monterosso.  We decided to meet up for drinks on the rooftop of their hotel. They were staying at Albergo Stella della Marina and it looked very nice. We had some wine and an appetizer at Enoteca Internazionale. This place was closer to our hotel but I had a recommendation for it and it looked so cute! We had a meat and cheese plate and it was delicious. Why is food so good here?!

We needed some real dinner though and Greg’s hotel guy had recommended a few places so we tried out Trattoria II Piccolo Diavolo. It didn’t look that great but the food was awesome! I really enjoyed my food. I had a pasta with red sauce and a pesto sauce; it was amazing! Don again had the mussel pasta and he said it was better than the one he had at lunch.

After dinner we continued drinking and went to a bar called Enoteca Da Eliseo. It was very fun and our waitress was awesome. We had a variety of drinks here, which resulted in us probably drinking too much. Pretty awesome day here in the Cinque Terre.

 

Italy-Day 3-Cinque Terre

Today we had to wake up super early because we had an early train to catch to go to Cinque Terre. Our train left Roma Termini at 6:50 am. It was sad to leave our hotel in Rome so soon because we really liked it, but we were excited to see what the Cinque Terre was like. The Cinque Terre is made up of villages on the coast. The towns are built into hillsides so it’s very rugged and steep. The five villages are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The Cinque Terre is an unique experience because there is a train line that runs between the 5 towns, there are hiking trails between each town, and there are boats you can also use to town hop. So it’s very common for people to try to experience each village. Most of the villages do not have cars either so that is cool. I really wanted to stay in Manarola because from pictures it seemed the most beautiful to me, but most of the hotels were booked. We ended up staying in Monterosso, which was probably the best situation because out of all of the towns it is the most flat, so we didn’t have to trudge our luggage up too many crazy stairs.

I had purchased our train tickets online previously so they were fairly cheap; I think they were about $40 for the two of us. The train went from Rome to La Spezia, the biggest town just South of the Cinque Terre. Once it got to La Spezia we would have to switch to the train that went to the five towns of the Cinque Terre. We picked up sandwiches and coffee from a shop inside Roma Termini and got on our train. It was very nice. I wish the U.S. had a train system like Italy. We both had windows seats because we sat across from each other with a table in between us. It was really cool to see the country side. As we got closer to La Spezia the train got way more crowded. Switching to the train to Monterosso was pretty easy, it’s crazy how easy and convenient the trains are here.

Once we arrived in Monterosso it was very crowded. Right when you get out of the train station you are on the boardwalk for the beach. There were people every where, it was crazy. I think we were both surprised at how crowded it was and we both questioned if this was going to the nice quaint place we had hoped for.  It was only around noon when we got there so after walking from the train, which was about 10 minutes, we found a restaurant for lunch. We ate at Ristorante il Moretto. We had a nice salad to start and then we both had pasta. I had spaghetti; first spaghetti in Italy! It was very good. Don had pasta with seafood I believe and he really enjoyed it also. We sat near an older man who went to UIUC and knew exactly where Champaign-Urbana was so that was funny. He started talking to us because I was wearing a Cubs shirt. I also saw my first cat here!

Sleepy cat in the restaurant.

After eating we went looking for our hotel, it was just a short walk from the restaurant and we were able to check in. The room and bathroom are very small but it is nice enough. We are staying at Hotel Souvenir. The outside patio is very nice here.

Once we got settled in we decided we should explore Monterosso a bit. So we walked around and then went down by the water. We felt the water and it was pretty cold, but also the beach was all pebbles so it was hard to walk on. We decided to get some ice cream and cappuccino. The place we got ice cream at was called Nuovo Eden, we chose it because it had a really nice outdoor seating area. It was pretty good. While we were here we decided that we should check out Manarola tonight.

We took the train to Manarola which is the second village in the Cinque Terre. It was also the place I wanted to stay for our time here. It was absolutely beautiful. So picturesque and quiet. We did figure out that by late afternoon all the day trippers and tour groups had left the villages so it was much less crowded.

I had done a lot of research on Manarola so I had a restaurant in mind called, Trattoria dal Billy. It was a hike to get up to it, Manarola is a lot more steep than Monterosso, but it was definitely worth it! We got seated outside on one of the balconies with a nice view of the sunset. We decided to try anchovies here because that is one of the foods of the Cinque Terre. I was pretty hesitant because they came as full little fish on a plate with olive oil and lemon seasoning. It was intimidating but I did it and they were good! Especially good on bread. I ordered the pasta with pesto because the Cinque Terre is known as the birthplace of pesto. It was delicious! Don had calamari and shrimp. We basically ended up sharing everything and it was delicious. We both loved this place and we also had our first wine in Italy here!

After dinner we walked around more. I found another cat on a rooftop behind the church. Don tried to take a picture of it and had his flash on and it totally disturbed a couple making out on the other side of the rooftop. We couldn’t stop laughing!

We walked down by the water and found another one of the restaurants that I wanted to try, so we definitely have to come back to Manarola! It was so amazing. Here’s some night time pictures we took.

We had fun taking pictures on the way back to the train also. There was a long tunnel with some weird art and writings.

Italy Day 2–Rome–The Colosseum.

Today we woke up and had an amazing breakfast at our hotel, iQ Hotel Roma. There is a rooftop restaurant here with nice indoor and outdoor seating. The views are not great because it is not that high of a building but it was nice to sit outside. The breakfast was a buffet but it was the best breakfast we both have ever had while traveling! The eggs, sausage, and bacon were great! There were so many options: cheese, fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice, and many styles of coffee. It was very good.

After breakfast we walked to The Colosseum; it was only about a 20 minute walk from our hotel. It opened at 8:30 and we got there around then. I read the lines can get really long so I’m really glad we got there when we did. I had already bought tickets online so we didn’t have to wait in that line.  Tickets were only 14 Euros per person and they are valid for 2 days. With these tickets you can visit The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. You can only enter the sites once, but these tickets are nice that you get 2 days to see the sites. Here’s the link to the ticket site if you are ever interested:

Colosseum Tickets

We did all three sites at once because this was our last full day in Rome. Getting to the Colosseum early before the crowds was essential because we had great views and we could take pictures easily. I think that going here early is key, because within a half hour to 45 minutes the tour groups started pouring in. We did not do a tour but we did buy an audio tour when we got there for 5 euros. I really enjoyed seeing the Colosseum, it was a really cool. It was very pretty and just hard to believe these ancient ruins exist in a city.

After the Colosseum we walked across the way to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The Roman Forum was basically an ancient marketplace. Within the forum there were ruins of old government and public buildings.  We walked around and then made our way to Palatine Hill. From what I understand Palatine Hill was the home to many emperors of ancient Rome. It was a desirable place to live and overlooked the forum. The views of the city were fantastic. It was also very cool to see the Colosseum from atop Palatine Hill. We did not explore Palatine Hill as much because we were getting ruined out and we wanted to see more of Rome.

We made our way out of the ruins to look for some lunch. We chose a place called L’Archetto. I was still craving pizza so I ordered a pepperoni pizza, which really turned out to be a cheese pizza with red and yellow peppers on it, haha no pepperoni. So now I know! But it was delicious, much better than the pizza we had the night before. Don ordered what looked like a spaghetti with hot dogs in it. He said he really enjoyed it. It was definitely the best meal so far here in Rome.

After lunch we took the bus so we could get closer to Trevi Fountain. The fountain was so crowded, but it was very beautiful. We took some pictures here and had some gelato.

Then we walked more and found The Pantheon. That was pretty cool and free to enter.

 

After that we kind of just wandered around and ended up looking over the river. We were both getting tired of walking and wanted to find a place to chill. Don looked up a cool bar and so we headed towards it. On the way we found the Piazza Navona, which is a city square with some pretty cool fountains. There are also a lot of restaurants and bars surrounding the Piazza Navona.  We decided to take a rest and have a drink at a place called Caffe Nettuno. It was a nice place to relax for a bit and people watch. On our way out of the square we saw a pretty good Micheal Jackson impersonator.

We were still determined to try out this micro brew bar that Don found so we headed towards that. The place was called My Ale Craft Beer and Food. It was so cute! I tried a Weiss style beer and a Saison Fragola, which was a strawberry flavored beer that was amazing. Don had a scotch ale and a coffee stout. We ordered a meat and cheese tray. Everything was so good! Now this was our favorite place in Rome. The guy working there was pretty nice and he even gave use some free bread later on. If you’re in Rome and you like beer and delicious meats, cheeses, and sandwiches definitely check this place out!

Afterwards we hopped on the city bus again back to the hotel. We went up to the hotel bar to have our free drink. Don had a prosecco and I had a cappuccino. We ate some paninis and played scrabble. It was a really cool place to hang out at the hotel. We then had to get ready and pack to leave for the Cinque Terre.

Cemetery Tour

Today we got up to get ready for our Cemetery Tour with French Quarter Phantoms. Our tour was at 11 am, so we set out to find some breakfast. We ate at Cafe Fleur-de-Lis. It was pretty much just a standard breakfast diner, but the menu was very small. We both agreed it was not great but we just needed somewhere for food and coffee.

After breakfast we walked over to The Voodoo Lounge to meet up for our tour. Again we were able to get 2 for 1 Hurricanes but we both did not feel like getting them so the bartender offered me an extra large mimosa and Don got a big vodka red bull.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. We met with our tour guide and walked over to St. Louis Cemetery #1 for the tour. The tour was very interesting and we both really enjoyed it. Lots of crazy looking tombs and a lot of history.

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After the tour we walked through Louis Armstrong Park because the guide kept talking about a gumbo festival going on there. It was so crowded though so we didn’t stay long. We were a bit hungry, but we had reservations at Cochon at 4 so we didn’t want to get anything big. We stopped at a hot dog place near the park called Dreamy Weenies for a New Orleans Style Hot Dog. To me they were pretty much just like hot dogs with a million choices in toppings. They were ok for a snack.

After eating we decided to go back to the hotel for a bit because we were so tired. We had a couple of things on our minds that we could do like the WWII Museum or the Insectarium, but we basically just took a nap. Then we got up to go to Cochon. There are too many things to do here so we are gonna have to make a trip back!

Cochon is a highly recommended restaurant in New Orleans so we made sure to make reservations and 4:30 was the only time available. We were able to walk over there and it was good walk. We got to see a different part of NOLA. When we got to Cochon it really wasn’t that crowded. I ordered an old-fashioned and I can’t remember what Don had. The old-fashioned was good, probably the best I had in NOLA. We ordered the fried alligator with chili garlic mayonnaise to start. It was pretty good. For dinner I had the beef brisket and Don had the Louisiana Cochon. We also had the mac and cheese. Overall, we liked Cochon but thought it would be better. Our waiter wasn’t that great and we thought the food would be better. Maybe we went on an off day, but it definitely was not our favorite meal in NOLA. It was worth checking out though.

After Cochon we walked back to the quarter. We went to a few bars, listened to some live music, and then later found a bar with a little balcony that wasn’t crowded so we went to it. It was pretty cool. We felt like at any moment the balcony could break off the building, but it was fun. The waiter talked to us a lot. He told us about Frenchmen Street and we had not been there yet. It was getting late and we had an early flight back tomorrow but we decided to go check it out. It was pretty cool but very crowded. We didn’t stay long…and this concluded our trip to New Orleans. We had a good time!