Ballin' On A Budget: Cinque Terre Edition

Ballin' On A Budget: Cinque Terre Edition

When you're traveling for an extended period of time, the most important thing to do is to keep a budget, because without a budget, traveling for an extended period of time quickly becomes "traveling for a short period of time and then going home and living with your Mom for a few months while you continue to post old pictures on Facebook to make it seem like you're still out there". But you will still want to visit some of the most expensive destinations in the world, because, let's face it, they're expensive for a reason. Some of the most beautiful places in the world are no longer inaccessible for the budget traveler, there's always a way to get there, you may have to just give up a few things. Unless you're George Clooney (or insert a better reference if you'd like, Cloons is just my go-to for a rich person that likes to travel), you can't spend every night in the Ritz Carlton and dine by candlelight overlooking the Mediterranean Sea for every meal. Plus, candlelight for breakfast? That's just a little decadent, don't you think, George? Give us a break. 

The first place we're going to be exploring on our "Ballin' On A Budget" series is Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe. Cinque Terre is a six-mile stretch in the Liguria region of Italy containing five gorgeous towns literally built into the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corneglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore were, unbelievably, not that popular for tourists as recently as twenty years ago, but the advent of the internet (Damn you, Al Gore!) and the surge of travel writers (Damn you, Rick Steves!) has made it one of the most popular destinations in Italy. Cinque Terre is now officially on the beaten path, and while the beauty is still there, but it is no longer untainted by tourists. And the prices are showing it. With UNESCO now limiting the number of tourists allowed to visit the area, it's about to get even more expensive, so let's see how you can visit Cinque Terre without being the charming prankster who gave us the criminally underrated One Fine Day

SIDE NOTE: Don't feel like these tips are only for the long-term traveler. If you have been aching to spend a week in Cinque Terre, get out there! Let's just do some planning first.

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Ostia Antica: The Perfect Rome Day Trip

Ostia Antica: The Perfect Rome Day Trip

Rome has a ton of old shit in it. There are thousand-year-old ruins awaiting your eyeballs literally around every corner, and you can't swing a porchetta without hitting the facade of a beautiful cathedral built when the years only had three digits. Looking for paintings that came from the hands of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? They're all over Rome, many of them in off-the-beaten-path churches and piazzas strewn throughout the Eternal City. But if you're interested in learning what life was like for Ancient Romans, your options are limited to The Roman Forum and a few other small sites throughout the city, as most of what remains from centuries past is constrained to the two G's of Ancient Rome-God or Government. If you're interested in what your average Orange Julius did on the daily, you're going to have to take a day trip, and most people will take the 2.5 hour, €60 train down to Pompeii. Then they'll pay €20 to enter the archaeological site, or maybe even spend up to €100 on a private tour, and that doesn't make sense if you're on either a time or money budget when you're in Rome. If you're on a trip to Rome with no budgets, by all means, spend your time in Pompeii, and also let's be best friends. But for most, a day trip to Pompeii is unnecessary when they could have gone to Ostia Antica

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Learning To Make Pasta Like A Roman

Learning To Make Pasta Like A Roman

Everyone wants to come home from vacation with a souvenir. The type of souvenirs change throughout your life; as a teenager you're apt to be wearing a foreign language Budweiser or Coca-Cola logo-ed t-shirt for a few years, as a twenty something, most likely you'll have some sort of knick-knack collection (I still have a "Cleveland Rocks!" shot glass somewhere in the annals of my packed up kitchen boxes), and now, you FedEx Moroccan hand-stitched rugs to your house to be a "statement piece" to revolve the room around. But what if you could bring home a skill from your travels? What if your exposures to other cultures and activities could translate into experiences in the future? Can you take the vacation home with you? 

That was our thought process when we signed up for a pasta making class with Walks Of Italy in Rome. 

When we learned that my Mom was going to meet us in the Eternal City, we thought that the opportunity to learn from a real Italian chef the true way to make pasta and cook Italian  with our own two hands might actually change the way that we cook once we return to the States. We hoped to have a real life version of one of those Food Network shows where Bobby Flay teaches you how to become a better cook, with less yelling, more mother-son-daughter-in-law bonding, and much, much more Prosecco, and that's exactly what we received. 

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Parmigiano, Prosciutto & Vinegar, Oh My! Eating Our Way Through Emilia Romagna

Parmigiano, Prosciutto & Vinegar, Oh My! Eating Our Way Through Emilia Romagna

Think back on your travels. The very best experiences you've had throughout your visits abroad or otherwise. The "check this off my bucket list" travel activities. Or even glance back over your life as a whole. Have you ever done an activity or been involved in something that has made you say, "There is no way I could picture ANYONE not liking this?" Something probably has jumped into your head, like the time you jetskied across the lake while fireworks exploded over your head last Independence Day. Or the first time you saw the Grand Canyon. Perhaps it's just stepping out on the ledge of a castle of a place you didn't think could possibly exist in real life. Well, I've got some bad news for you. That time you went real fast on a jetski while America celebrated by blowing things up above you? My Dad wouldn't like it, his bad knees make a jetski untenable. The first time you saw the Grand Canyon? I'm scared of heights, plus it's too hot in Arizona. Lake Bled? Ask a Slovenian, they'll tell you Lake Bohinj is better. I'm basically Abraham Lincoln-ing you. You can't please all the people all the time. There is no activity that EVERYONE will like.

Except for the Italian Days Food Experience

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The Issue With Venice

The Issue With Venice

Slow travel is the new buzzword in backpacking. Slow travel is the absolute best way to experience a city, they say. Live like a local, they say. Paying to go on a tour while you travel is the epitome of lameness. If a restaurant is listed on TripAdvisor and you eat there, YOU SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND KILL YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU'RE JUST A DUMB TOURIST PUT A CAMERA AROUND YOUR NECK AND PUT THE MAP ON THE GROUND AND GET IN IT!  God forbid you only spend a few days in a destination, you may as well have just stayed home. But what happens when you don't need two weeks to see a city? What happens when you arrive in a city that is hundreds of years old, absolutely beautiful, steeped in history, but the entire city is just one large area with the popularity of Times Square? And everything in the city is priced accordingly at Times Square level insanity? How do you live like a local when the locals number only fifty four thousand and the tourists number have grown to over thirty million a year? Do you stay for a week in the name of slow travel? Or do you try and fit as much into a one night stay because you basically blew your budget on a small room a forty minute bus ride from the city center? 

This is the issue with Venice.

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