Domodossola Revisited, and Tips for a Comfy Train Ride to Italy from Switzerland

I always love coming back to Domodossola. I enjoy waking up early to catch the train and eat my breakfast on the go. Sometimes I snooze or get some serious reading done on the way.

I like to pack these items listed below to insure a comfortable train journey.

- A bottle of water and some snacks.

- Some music and good headphones. Mandatory if you want to drown out noise.

- A novel, or some kind of reading material.

- A jumper or a lightweight infinity scarf. Essential for covering up your ugly sleeping face, or to simply stay warm.

- And ladies, this will save you from a lot of public toilet traumas. Believe me. It’s a life saver. For my Swiss readers, you can get it here.

I’ll also make sure to look up when my train leaves in the afternoon so that I don’t have to run down the street like a crazy woman.

I highly recommend reading up on what you’re allowed to bring back from Italy, and of course, the quantities too. Lastly, always remember to ask for and keep the receipts of whatever you purchase in Domodossola.

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A Weekend Getaway in Colmar, France

When we were preparing for the big move to Switzerland four years ago, we decided to forgo buying a car upon arrival in favour of travelling abroad more.

Back then I used to panic at the idea of not owning my own car because I didn’t know anything else. I started driving when I was 15 and drove around everywhere ever since.

The public transport system in the area where I lived ticked on its own clock, and I didn’t have monster calf muscles strong enough to cycle up and down the hills of Auckland.

I had to part with my beloved station wagon when I moved. I was absolutely heartbroken when I had to say bye to it because it was such a good car. I used to be able to fit my entire life into it and feel invincible.

So far we’ve done pretty well. Switzerland’s public transport system is so great and reliable that I actually don’t mind being on buses and trains. I hardly ever felt the need or urge to go out and buy a car … well, until one particular weekend in February when we had a car long enough to use it beyond necessity and drove to a beautiful place for a weekend getaway for no other reason than ‘just because we can’.

This little town was called Colmar of the Alsace region of north-eastern France, and the architectural landmarks had me practising tai-chi at a distance with my camera.

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Fun fact: If you’ve watched Howl’s Moving Castle, you’ll love walking around this town even more : )

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Baked Coconut Bites Dipped in Dark Chocolate

These are actually what people call bite-sized coconut macaroons, but since you don’t need to fuss around with the egg whites and just mix everything in a large bowl, I’m going to call them baked coconut bites instead.

Sometimes I crave Bounty bars but I stopped buying them when I picked up jogging last year. This doesn’t mean I’ve divorced sweet things (I still love you Nutella), it just means I calculate how hard I’ll cry after I down something I know will take me ages to burn off on my next jogging session.

So I made something similar at home that tasted just as good as the real thing. Plus, I don’t need to cry so much every time I eat a couple in one sitting.

These dark chocolate covered baked coconut bites are slightly crisp on the outside with a brownie-like texture in the centre. They’ll keep well inside a tin for up to three days, so don’t worry about the leftovers.

Coconut Macaroons/Coconut Bites Dipped in Dark Chocolate

(for approx. 24 pieces)

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Near Perfect: Naples, Florida

Sometimes I dream about leaving where I live now for somewhere else, somewhere far away, somewhere with warmer weather, waves, sand and a lot of stars in the night sky. Not for forever but a prolonged stay – maybe for a few years then return again with a newfound appreciation for things that have become invisible due to habit.

That place as it exists in my mind is not a tropical island type of isolated getaway, but a sophisticated seaside town not far from urban life. It’s similar to where I grew up in New Zealand, only much larger and located not so far from the rest of the world.

I unexpectedly found this place I’ve been envisioning on our recent trip to Florida. I know some of you might raise an eyebrow at this, but Naples had me in a heartbeat.

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I stood on the pier and fell in love with what this place implied.

I didn’t mean to Benjamin Button my Florida trip for three months. I’ll end it with this post to forever remind myself and S how happy our time here in Naples made me.

A Night in Downtown Miami

Downtown Miami was surprisingly nice. We parked our car near one of the Metromover stations and took that to the waterfront. I like going on elevated monorails because they usually give you a great overview of a city (e.g. like Sydney), but unfortunately we couldn’t see much out of the windows. At least the rides were free.

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It felt a tad bit chilly by the waterfront, but wearing a hoodie and jandels don’t really qualify as being “cold” in my dictionary anymore. Swiss winters will do that to you. I miss Auckland winters!

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S spotted dolphins here so we stayed a little longer while I miserably failed to take a single photograph of them jumping out of the water.

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So we headed towards the Bayside market place and strolled around the shops, bars and restaurants before calling it a night.

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I’m sure that like every city, downtown Miami also has some dodgey areas that tourists should stay clear of. We were only there for a night and did not venture far enough to say how things could be at night. However, for the parts we were at, we felt safe using the metromover at night and walking along the waterfront too.

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I would have liked to have stayed a little longer, but there were too many places we wanted to see in Florida. It was short but sweet, Miami!