Contributor JORDAN ADAIR bagged herself a three-night bargain break to Naples…
Now-a-days £230 doesn’t get you too far when it comes to booking a break for two… It can get you a mid-week stay in a top Belfast hotel or even return flights to Alicante – but every now and then a deal pops up so good it couldn’t possibly be true, then again maybe it is that good. That’s what I got with a cheeky Travel Solutions deal. £230 got us return flights to Naples from Belfast and three nights 3-star accommodation right in the heart of the city. Yes, you read that right, a three night European city break for £115 each!
The great thing about Travel Solutions is they do everything for you; I booked the trip back in April and apart from send them my passport details I didn’t have anything else to do. They sent me my booking confirmation, boarding passes and hotel voucher, all I really had to do was pack and turn up at the airport and for me that is the perfect way to book your holiday. No stresses just go.
Lovely afternoon easyjet flight got us into Naples at 7.30pm and with the hotel being only a twenty-minute taxi journey from the airport, a quick check-in and we were out exploring by eight o’clock.
When you’re on a city break a hotel doesn’t have to have much as with all you have to squeeze in, you’re never really in it. The Hotel Colombo ticked all the boxes; friendly staff, very clean room and right where you needed it to be. As the hotel is only a short walk from the Piazza Garibaldi, our first taste of Naples was not hard found.
Along the Piazza are lots of authentic Neapolitan restaurants and for us it had to be La Cantina De Mille as friends of ours had been there just a few days before. I have been to Italy a few times and its is my food happy place, though for my other half this was his first experience. Of course as a pizza lover this is what he had to have first. In our three years together I have never worried but that night the look on his face after that first slice told me that he was leaving me to run away and marry whoever had constructed this masterpiece of dough and cheese. To be honest I would have completely understood.
We had dedicated our first day to wandering and exploring. The hotel staff gave us a great map and explained exactly where we needed to go, but one wrong street by us and we were lost. The great thing about Naples is that its easy to find your way again but when you are lost you can’t help stumbling upon a great find. For us that was the Domenico Maggiore, a beautiful spot for a coffee and pastry pitstop. Sit in the sun with a café latte and just watch the world go by.
That day we walked the entire historical district of Naples, through the Piazza Gesu Nuovo with the incredible Santa Chiara, to the Piazza Municipio, the Castel Nuovo and right down to Santa Lucia. Every street you turn down in Naples had a gorgeous church, a towering monument or another picturesque view. Photograph storage is a must for this trip. After two hours of walking around the city an Aperol Spritz was needed and along the bay you will not be stuck for a seat with a view. Sea directly in front and Vesuvius looming in the distance, the photo you take could easily be from Google images.
While doing a city break one of the best things to do is a local tour, no way to see the city better than through the eyes of those who walk its streets every day. In Naples the one to do is the street food tour. Booked through TripAdvisor, I couldn’t recommend this tour enough but make sure you come hungry because you certainly get fed.
We met our tour guide Sara in the Piazza Dante and she took us on a cultural tasting experience that left me full in more than my stomach. With every turn Sara described the history of the area and influences on food before taking us to a perfect local hidden gem for a tasting. With a traditional margarita pizza to start, a stop at a delicatessens owned by Antonio for some mozzarella, on to a tiny ‘fast food’ spot for some fried pizza and pasta (I know how it sounds but it is a must try), a tour of a Limoncello factory with two shots of their beautiful creation, a rum soaked Baba stop for desert and rounding the most incredible dining experience off in the only way it can be done in Italy, Gelato. For £32 each this tour is a must, you will not be disappointed with the off-textbook history you learn while indulging in the best the city has to offer.
Another must while visiting this part of the world is Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius. You can visit both yourself but we opted for a slightly more expensive seven hour tour. Also booked through TripAdvisor for £80 you are collected from your selected pick up point whether that’s your hotel, train station or port if you’re coming off a cruise and you will be returned to that point after the tour. You have a two-hour guided tour around Pompei, lunch at a local restaurant and then you are taken to Mt. Vesuvius to hike to the top.
This was such an incredible experience and I would 100% recommend it. For Pompeii a tour guide is a must as it is very easy to get lost in it, plus it is a city in ruin you really do need someone to tell you what you’re looking at. Our guide Francesca was fantastic, with eight years’ experience she knows everything and took as to all the bests bits while treating us to story or two along the way. There was a short time after the tour to grab the must needed trinkets to bring home and it was off to lunch.
This is definitely the spot all the inclusive tours use so it is a busy place, in saying that the food was lovely and it gave us some time to have a chat to the others in our group. We were taken on the drive of our lives after that, up to Mt. Vesuvius. The whole journey was narrated by Maria who filled us in on all the Vesuvius information we could ever possibly need, she was also a fantastic distraction from the scariest bus ride I’ve ever had. Let’s just say the corners are a bit tight and the edge has an epic drop. We were given an hour and a half to climb to the top – a one mile hike, doesn’t sound like too much but it is at a steep enough gradient. It is so worth it!
The day we were there, there was a slight mist over Naples and the view was still breath taking so I can only imagine what it is like on a perfectly clear day. To top off the view there are three bars at the top of the Volcano so Carlsberg may not do Mondays but Peroni do and they are at the top of Mt. Vesuvius. I will say I was surprised to see steam pockets at the top as this is slightly more active than I like my dormant Volcano’s to be.
Our final night was spent in Santa Lucia, along the bay, in one of the many restaurants there which have a view I wish I could eat all of my dinners looking at. A sharing platter of cheese and meats with a bottle of Chianti was the only way I could imagine ending this trip.
When heading to Naples one of things people say to you is to be careful as it is a dangerous city, I can confidently say that throughout my entire trip I never once felt unsafe. Naples is a beautiful city with unbeatable food and I will definitely be back. The only things you need for this trip are comfortable shoes, an empty stomach and lots of storage for photographs.