Do what you love

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Spend more time doing what you love.
I love the beach.

That’s where I wanted to end this post, as I thought it said enough 🙂

Go on, write down the 10 things you love doing, outside of work and the everyday necessities.

If you need a bit of encouragement, get out a pen and paper and let’s do it together. Off the top of my head, I’ll write down the first 10 things that come to mind (I promise I won’t edit this later):

Going to the beach

Watching MasterChef

Making coconut date balls

Visiting cafes and bookshops

Listening to Music

Eating different foods

Journaling

Researching my purpose

Going for picnics

Drawing funny abstract characters

Okay, so there you go. How did it go? I really hope you did this exercise. It’s meant to be a simple way to start getting in touch with what you love doing outside of the normal must dos. It makes you look at life a little differently, and connect with what really makes you come alive.

For this blog post, I want to focus on the first one. Visiting the beach.

There is just something about it that makes me so happy. Every time I come home after a day on the beach I feel like a new person. There is something about it that connects me to something special, perhaps my inner child.

Do any of you feel something similar?

At the beach, especially the quiet spots we find, it’s just the ocean, the sand, the breeze. There is such a wonderful quiet. Sometimes I feel like we’re on an island, and the crazy world we live in disappears, and I’m left to just be me. Free, barefoot, curly sea-ified hair, like I used to spend so many seaside holidays as a kid in Plettenburg Bay.

We’d been in Rome for about 3 months, and only then did we start really thinking about the beach. I remember one day, during one of Luca and my city missions, we’d been researching how far the beaches were and so on, and suddenly we realised that it was, in fact, a totally doable day mission. It was a bit of a revelation for us, both being beach-lovers, we were pretty excited.

There have been 3 stages in our beach journey so far.
(I’m going to have to do a separate review of the beaches near Rome as a separate Travel Post, but for now, here is a taster)


Part 1:
Our first beach adventures: Discovering Santa Severa

That first beach mission was epic.
We got up at 5am, got the bus to the train station in Trastevere. We hopped onto the 6:30am train taking us straight to Santa Marinella. We were off! The sunflowers were beautiful that day, and I was stoked to of caught a photo as we whizzed by.

Rome Trastevere to Santa MarinellaAbove: Our trip from Rome’s Trastevere Train Station, to Santa Marinella.

Do-What-You-Love-02Above: The train ride to Santa Marinella: Sunflowers out the window; Arriving at the station; The main beach at Santa Marinella – Still early and quiet, the umbrellas just waiting to be opened up for the summer crowds.

Arriving in Santa Marinella, we had a fresh cornetti and caffès at a little cafè by the sea, overlooking the main beach. It was only 8:30am by that time, so it was still very quiet. But looking at this main looking beach, we knew that in a couple hours it’d be jam-packed. This wasn’t our thing, always preferring quieter spots.

So… We jumped back on the train and went one stop back, to Santa Severa. Here we would find our next beach spot (or more accurately, rock spot) for the next many, many Saturdays.

The one side of Santa Severa gets pretty packed, but if, when you get there, if you take a left around the Castle, away from the main beach, it gets quieter. We discovered a section of rocks a little out, that we’d make out Santa Severa Island.

Do-What-You-Love-03Above: Our Santa Severa Island; My first time in the Mediterranean Sea; Our new Havaianas basking in the sun.

The first time here we didn’t think of bringing a picnic, and went off into the little town to find some food. Most of the restaurants along the beach strip were pretty touristy, making it a little difficult to find what we were after.

To get out of the sun, we decided to follow one of the backstreets, and off the main strip. What a great idea! We ended up in a lovely part of  Santa Severa away from the crowds, and found a sweet restaurant where we indulged in some amazing seafood and other treats, wow!

Do-What-You-Love-04Above: Our first time in Santa Severa, and the glorious lunch we enjoyed.

By looking for somewhere to eat, somewhere non-touristy and peaceful, we’d discovered such a wonderful part of this darling little seaside town. Sweet little back roads, pink and white flowers, birds chirping, little squares – one with a fresh fountain and benches in the shade where we could hide out from the blazing sun – cafès, gelaterias (ice cream shops), bicycles, kids playing soccer, quiet town life.

We’d come back here many more times.
And even though we pack picnic lunches now, we still pop in for a caffè or a gelato in the afternoon.

Do-What-You-Love-05Above: Freezing grapes before our day trip; Our first beef-pepper-onion kebabs, homemade the night before; On our Santa Severa rock island, playing backgammon while chomping on frozen grapes.

Do-What-You-Love-06Above: A beautiful Italian calabrone (bumblebee) in the flower bushes you walk past on the way to our Santa Severa rock island; On our island – It’s actually a pretty small rock island almost level to the water, this photo just makes it look so much bigger with more of a drop to the water 🙂

Do-What-You-Love-07Above: A pano from the rock island. The main beach is on the right of the pic, and the Castle is behind me.

Do-What-You-Love-12Above: This is not the first guy we saw walking on water along the coast 🙂


Part 2:
Getting a Scooter: Going exploring, further!

After a few of these train-trip-beach-Saturdays to Santa Severa, we added a new member to the family… A Scooter! Oh yes, we had wheels!

Geepers we were excited!
Coming from South Africa, the public transport system is awesome in Italy. However, after a few months, there does come a time when having your own wheels starts crossing your mind.

Now, we could just go, stop whenever, do whatever… Oh yes, our beach days would be taken to the next level!

Do-What-You-Love-08Above: Our wheels; Our whole new route we would now try for our upcoming beach Saturday – South from Rome to Torre Astura.

Our first scooter beach trip was to a totally new place, with the end destination being Torre Astura. Torre Astura is a peninsula in the comune of Nettuno, on the coast of Latium.

This turned into quite the adventure.
From Rome we headed to Torre Astura, passing through Ostia (which seemed rather busy), to Anzio (sweet quieter area, with a nice little beach), and then to Torre Astura.

It turned out to be a pretty long drive, but we eventually got there. The adventure wasn’t over. From there, to get inside, we needed to climb over a pretty high gate, so we joined some other youngsters who were doing the same. I love this sort of thing!
Once over the gate, you walk for quite a bit, through a cicada forest, and then out the other side you can find spots of chill by the sea.

Do-What-You-Love-09Above: Our day spot in Torre Astura: Watching a small group of Italians tying their little boat to the rocks – Just loved their yellow umbrella propped-up in it 🙂 Luca, exploring the sea-life, looking at urchins.

Luca had gotten a supercool TriBoard EasyBreath snorkeling mask, with the googles and snorkel made into one piece, so we were excited to find a spot to test it out. We found another secluded little island of rocks, and there we hung out for most of the day. Eating our tasty homemade chicken kebabs, and soaking up the sun. From there, we walked down a little further, finding another slightly more populated beach where we could have a swim before heading back towards Rome.

Do-What-You-Love-10Above: Luca testing out his new snorkeling mask; Our tasty Alici Fritte (fried anchovies) in Anzio; Torre Astura with all it’s boats.

It was a seriously jam-packed day, wowza!
We got back to Rome at about 10pm, both completely bushed. A little red from the sun, overdosing on adventure. Definitely not complaining though.

Always happy to put in as much effort as is needed for the things I love, like time on the beach.

After the big mission, we decided to take it easy for a bit. We’d been so excited about having a scooter that we’d done a lot of riding, and a 2-hour trip each way, especially driving on the highway, was a bit much 🙂

So, we decided to head back towards Santa Marinella, and hang out at our favourite little Santa Severa rock island. Playing backgammon, eating kebabs, swimming in the warm calm water.

With the scooter though, we’d get out of the sun by 2pm and go exploring, around the town of Santa Severa and Santa Marinella, all the way to Civitavecchia.

On one of these ventures, on the hunt for a quiet beach, we’d finally find the ultimate spot for us, one we are still going to now.


Part 3:
Finding our special spot (for now at least): A quiet little beach we’re still loving

Luca, being seriously observant, said he’d spotted what looked like a little pathway opening from the side of the road, and he’d seen a car parked nearby. So, off we went, back to where he’d seen it, in search of these potential hidden treasure.

Do-What-You-Love-11
Above: Going exploring on our scooter, from Santa Severa to Santa Marinella, all the way to Civitavecchia.

Do-What-You-Love-13Above: After our lunchtime kebabs, off we went exploring; The Santa Marinella promenade with a little graffiti of course; On route, stopping to admire the view and clean sea water.

We found the spot Luca had seen as we’d whizzed past previously, and we stopped to check it out.

Do-What-You-Love-22

Right on the side of the road, we saw an overgrown pathway opening, with steps. Steps that would lead us down to a lovely little beach, where only a few people were chilling.

Do-What-You-Love-15Above: Discovering our darling little quiet beach, finally! From the road; Looking down at the stairs through the overgrown entrance; What awaited us at the bottom, the sea, ah! Tranquillo e Bello! (tranquil and beautiful)

We just stopped at the bottom of the stairs, with the sea right in front of us, and smiled at each other. Oh yes, we’d found our resting place for the rest of the day, and for the next countless Saturdays to come.

Do-What-You-Love-16Above: Our new discovery, a lovely little hidden beach in between Santa Severa and Santa Marinella.

I lay there on my sarong after a swim, staring up at the sky. There was a lovely breeze and the leaves of the trees were swaying and rustling.

I love these moments, when I truly feel so content. So happy with the simplicity of the moment. Beach, breeze, sunshine, water. Tranquillo e bello!

Do-What-You-Love-17Above: Love the sand on this beach: It’s not really sand, it’s lots of little stones that feel so nice and smooth on the feet, and such pretty colours. Nature is an incredible thing!

Do-What-You-Love-18Above: At our most recent beach spot: Trying to take a selfie (haha I’m not particularly good at selfies, but I’m practising so that I add a little more of ‘me’ to my posts, we shall see); My feet, chilling in the sand; The leaves rustling gently in the breeze.

The last time we visited this awesome spot, we managed to get there pretty early (before 9am). The water was so clear, it was incredible.

Do-What-You-Love-21Above: The clear gorgeous water.

It turned out to be an extra special day because we rescued a little bird.

Do-What-You-Love-19

Along the wall we’d lie near, there were little empty pipes within the stones of the wall. We’d heard a whole lot of tweeting while we were there, and noticed that a mother sparrow had her babies safely in one of these pipes, which was about a metre from the ground. She was getting them food, and flying down to them with it, and they’d come close to the edge of the open pipe and she’d give it to them.

However, at some point, one of the little babes fell out, landing in the sand a metre or so down from it’s safety. This was all happening only a few metres from where we were sitting. We could hear the mom and baby, and could see that the baby was trying to get back up. There was just no way though. The baby couldn’t fly, there wasn’t really anything they could do. The mother kept flying down, now a little frantic. The baby eventually waddled over a bush and the mom was coming down and giving it food.

I just sat there, and couldn’t think of anything else, feeling terrible for the baby and the mom, how awful! The baby would surely die! I’ve heard, at some point in my life, that you can’t help little animals in these situations as you put your smell on them and then they get rejected anyway. But, Luca and I decided to quickly do some research of our own on our phones, and discovered that this was a myth.

Always do your own research, don’t take ‘they sayers’ for fact, check for yourself.

As soon as we knew, we jumped up and went searching for the little bird in the bush. Eventually we found it, quietly sitting, not making a peep. Luca picked it up, and we slowly carried the little thing back to the pipe in the wall, and put it inside to join it’s siblings. It was a funny moment, because it turned around at the edge, just looking back at Luca. Haha, I think it was in total shock, perhaps thinking it was dead or something!

We waited anxiously to see what the mother would do. It seemed that she hadn’t seen all this happen, and suddenly we could see her flying around the bush seemingly looking for her baby. She must’ve gotten a fright, thinking he’d been taken already! Eventually, after a few minutes, the rescued baby started tweeting from the nest, and eventually she’d find him back home safe and sound. She must’ve been completely perplexed! Either way, it felt so good to watch them eventually carry on as normal, mom feeding her babies, and knowing they were safe and sound.

Gosh that made me so happy to see.
It felt like I’d been a part of something really meaningful.

In the late afternoon, we’d ride back towards home, and stop over in Santa Marinella where we’d discovered a wonderful Gelateria Passion Fruit. Such a cool little spot, a colourful gemstone with super tasty ice creams!

Do-What-You-Love-14Above: At Passion Fruit, getting a refreshing afternoon gelato. One scoop pistacchio and one scoop coconut, with the normal Italian add ons: A crispy wafer and a topping of panna (whipped cream).

From there, we’d head on home.

The more you do anything, the better you get at it.

We’d gotten lost and taken wrong turns on our first beach trips, but by now we’d found the perfect route – Off the highway, peaceful, safe and pretty.

We’d struggled to find food on the first day, spending hours walking around in the sun getting burnt to a crisp. But now, we had an awesome system, of tasty picnics and afternoon ice cream stopovers.

We’d spent quite some time looking for a quiet beach, and now we have a spot we’re happy to go to over and over again.

Do more of what you love.

Put in the time to find your happy place.

Mine is on the beach, and I can’t wait to have the time to go and explore the beaches further down South. Now that I’m a working girl (*happy dance*) I’m going to need to wait a little bit for that.

But, at some point, in the next couple years, I want to live by the sea in the South of Italy. Working remotely is huge nowadays, so living 10min from the mediterranean sea seems more than doable.

What do you love doing?

Go back to that list up at the top, and choose one of those things to do on your next weekend. Take the time out to really enjoy it.

The more we do what we love, the happier we truly become.

Love it, enjoy it!

 

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