#theAdventure; Ostuni, Italy

The two year anniversary of the hashtag #theadventuresofpennylane was on March 26, so I thought it was only fitting that the trip that inspired it, should be my next post.

IMG_0986A year after I started my first job in television, I would be on my way to Italy. As I mentioned in my introduction post, I was told at my holiday party that I would be traveling for the first time for the show. I was ECSTATIC. I can honestly say my wanderlust was born from this job; working in different parts of the world, even from a desk in New York City, opened my eyes to the fact that I had seen such a small part of the world. Given the opportunity to travel and get paid for it went from a novel idea to the goal in life (more on that to come). With my excitement, though, came fear. At the time I had traveled a bit throughout the US, but had only been out of the country once. One stamp in my passport. I was a baby deer wobbling around on new legs. The fear was mounting. Traveling to a place I had never been before, a language I don’t speak, for a relatively new job. And then I had a moment…WHAT DO I PACK? What was the weather going to be like in March? What do I wear on set every day? What if it rains, should I bring Wellies? Are we going out some nights, do I need a dress? So many questions and not an iota of experience. Luckily, my production manager at the time, swooped in to save the day and my sanity. We talked it out and she helped me create lists. All the lists. It was manic and nerve-wracking. But once my bag was packed and I felt relatively confident that I had everything I would need, I started doing a bit of research on the place I was about to visit.


Ostuni is a delightful small seaside city, named ‘La Citta Bianca,’ (The White City) situated atop a hill in southeastern Italy (picture the heel part of the boot). As a coastal community, the population can be relatively small in the off season, but swell to 100,000 during the summer (source; Wikipedia). Being there in March, it was clearly the off season which I quite liked experiencing with less people around. The most important information to know about Ostuni or Puglia (the region Ostuni is located) is that there is a lot of wine (specifically Primativo) and olive oil made in this region. I am a wine drinker. A red wine drinker. It could be 100 degrees on an August day and I will opt for the red wine, all day every day. The idea that I was going to Italy’s second largest wine producing region, just blew my mind. And had me even more ecstatic about going on this trip.

Penny Lane’s first glass of Italian wine in Italy; Photo Credit Dave Powitz

What to know about Italy…
Italians are the most friendly people I have encountered in all my travels. Welcoming, friendly, a hug and a kiss. So pleasant. I was very surprised by how many people spoke English in this area, but I did my best to speak as much Italian as I knew, which was not much. Ciao can be hello and goodbye. Grazia means thank you and Prego means you’re welcome. Currency is the Euro. At this time, almost $1 = E1, so the exchange rate is not that different. Still helpful to have xe.com on your phone for those large purchases, to double check the estimated exchange. They don’t have paper notes for 1 or 2 euros, so that was something I had to be aware of, not to toss the change away since it can add up to a fair bit of money. You do not need to tip 20% on your restaurant bill, however leaving the change from your payment is fine. As an American who worked in bars and restaurants through college, it’s hard not to leave 20%. The difference between us and them, is that their waitstaff and bartenders make a normal hourly wage. I still find it very hard to walk away without leaving a good tip, so I usually do anyway. The climate is very similar to ours in the Northeast, US. So in March the temp was a bit chilly, especially since Ostuni is on top a hill, it was windy which made it seem a bit colder than it actually was, but no snow or frost…wasn’t that cold. When the sun was out, it was warm and comfortable.

Hanging around; Photo Credit Marcello Maggi

FLIGHT. One of my favorite parts about traveling to Europe is the free wine. Yup, I said it. Fly from NYC to Italia and you get free wine, which is exactly what you need to put you to sleep on an overnight flight. But seriously, Alitalia was a great airline. A bit more expensive because of the airport I traveled in to, but got me to Ostuni with more flight travel time and less ground travel time. There are a lot of airports in Italy, however you will find some are less expensive than others. Why? Size of airport and volume of flights. As a production coordinator, I am looking at several factors when booking a flight for my crew and they are the same factors you should consider as well. Direct flights into one airport might be cheap, but then you have to drive 3 hours to get to the town you’re actually traveling. Flying into a smaller airport will likely mean a connection in a major city (Rome) and limited flight times. Look at all airport options before you book and use Google Maps. It may not be 100% accurate, but will give you an idea how far / close you are to everything.

  • NOTE: You will need to go through border patrol when connecting in Rome. I had to wait in that horrific line to get my passport stamped before I could connect to my next flight to Brindisi. Not every country operates the same way, so always give yourself enough time to connect (no connection under 1.5 hours, 2 hours if you’re at CDG Paris). You don’t want to miss your next flight because you’re waiting in line. Although, if you let people know you’re connecting and need to jump the line, USUALLY people are cool about it, but don’t expect it. It’s these moments I would give my right arm for that red passport (EU). Seriously, the quickest lines ever and they walk through all smug! Someday I’ll have that passport too 😉



HOTEL. Just like any seaside area, the off-season is a cheaper time to stay. Hotel Rione Antico La Terra was a great price and we literally had the entire place to ourselves. Towards the end of the week, a few more guests checked in and we had to be mindful of others while in the common areas, but it was pretty amazing to have the whole place to ourselves. Centrally located, there were boutiques, restaurants and everything you’d want, close by. Rooms were a good size, some had balconies. European beds can be tricky. Sometimes it’s actually a double bed and sometimes it’s two twin beds pushed together. Unfortunately, you can specifically ask for a double bed and they will still give you two twin beds together. Not a huge deal for me, but I’m only 5’1″ so I can sleep on any sized bed!


  • NOTE: Hotels charge city tax which will need to be paid upon check out. It’s not a lot, but be aware it is required. Even if you prepay your booking on a site like hotels.com, on the confirmation email you receive there will be a note regarding how much in tax you will need to pay.


TRANSPORTATION. I arrived after the rest of my crew, so I took a taxi from the airport to Ostuni. I had a moment of panic as I got out of the airport, walked up to the taxi stand and realized they may not speak English! I had the name and address of my hotel pulled up on my phone so I could point! It really is disconcerting to not be able to communicate, but you figure it out!

  • NOTE: Google translate has an app, but BEWARE. Google translate is great for quick thoughts; where is the train station? how much does this cost? etc. If you need more complicated thoughts translated, Google Translate will work, but it will be grammatically incorrect. It always is. For the most part anyone you’re talking to, will understand you don’t speak fluent Italian and likely get the gist of what you’re trying to say.


SITES / ACTIVITIES. Unfortunately, I was unable to do much exploring on my own, so the only activity listed was something we did as part of the show. Ostuni is situated on the Adriatic Sea, so beaches are a huge attraction. But not in March…

Seriously, look at the color of that water – Adriatic Sea

Olive Grove. The Puglia region of Italy produces two things, wine and olive oil. In March, the olives are barely visible, as they won’t be harvested until August. No olives to see, however there was plenty of olive oil to try. I’ve never seen so many different types. Of course I brought some home with me and was devastated when I used the last drop.

FOOD & WINE… MY FAVORITE PART ABOUT ITALY! But that should be no surprise. I actually took a lot of photos of food and wine on this trip (WAY TO GO PL!). You will not find a Starbucks, McDonalds in this town. This was one of my favorite parts of Ostuni. The food I ate was Italian. The wine I drank was Italian. The coffee I drank was Italian. The shops I visited were Italian. When in Rome…or Ostuni…do as they do.

THE best red sauce I have ever had in my entire life. I actually lost 5 pounds on this trip, because I was eating less, whole foods (and working 12 hours a day on my feet didn’t hurt either). They don’t process the shit out of everything like we do and much to Olive Gardens dismay, the portions are small, but filling.

We drank as much wine as possible, because it was cheap and delicious! No hangover because it doesn’t have preservatives. It was literally the most perfect drinking and dining experience of any country I have been to thus far.

Gelato, pizza, espresso and limoncello…the great wonders of Italia.

Ostuni is a quaint little Italian town that I highly recommend you visit if you have the chance. As a tourist, I have yet to feel as welcomed anywhere, as I did in this place. I would love to go back during the summer to see just how different the city feels bustling with more people.


Adriatic Sea feet

Season of visit: Spring (March)
Airline: Alitalia
Hotel: Hotel Rione Antico La Terra
Duration: 6 days
Purpose: work

Crew Photo; Photo Credit Unknown

Each post of #TheAdventuresofPennyLane will strike a balance between how I perceive traveling from a work standpoint and how I perceive traveling from a tourist standpoint. Being a production coordinator for an international television show has helped me be a better tourist because I know more. My goal for this blog is to pass on a bit of the info I have collected along the way, so if you have questions or want more info about a specific trip please email me;  erica {at} breakingheadsproductions {dot} com.

All photos take by me, unless otherwise credited.


#theAdventure; Reykjavik, Iceland

I am about to embark on another adventure in a couple days and should have finished this post two weeks ago, but here I am just posting today. I should also probably write about my trips in chronological order, but I enjoy being unpredictable and procrastinator doesn’t even begin to describe most of my personal life, so there’s that. I decided on the previous post of my trip to Seattle to warm me up to writing about my travels. I enjoy writing, but I since I don’t do it so often these days, I feel I’m a bit rusty and could use a little practice. This time I thought I’d dive right into a recent international trip…

Look at me, I’m fabulous; Crew E. Noel & D. Gambuto – June 2016 – Photo credit Brian Flynn
Crew E. Layton & me – September 2016 – Photo credit Elizabeth Layton

My job took me to Reykjavik, Iceland twice in 2016; one day middle of June and a week end of September. I’ll be honest. I didn’t know too much about Iceland before this trip, other than it is the birthplace of Bjork (see, everything comes back to music) but I was incredibly excited to go to a country that was so different from any other place I had visited to-date.

One our way to Blue Lagoon – September 2016

Traveling for work is a bit different than traveling for pleasure. For the most part 14 hours of each day is accounted for straight away. I do my best to make time to see things on my own time regardless of how tired I am because I have no idea if I will ever get back to this place again. (I still regret not going to the Penis Museum…for so many obvious reasons)

June 2016

I’m lucky in that the type of show I work on there is a fair bit of touristy type activities included in the work part of the day; so two birds, one stone. On this particular trip, we were going to get a full day off before work, so we did have a chance to plan a fun activity out of the city to see a bit of the countryside.

September 2016

Iceland is an absolutely beautiful, underdeveloped country. What I mean by that is, in the city there are no skyscrapers, no Starbucks or McDonalds and no malls. Most of the commerce you’ll come across are Mom + Pop shops, stores and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, there is the equivalent of Seven 11 (1011), North Face (66 North) and Anthropologie (Geysir), but the difference is the three equivalent examples I provided are all Icelandic companies. It isn’t that they don’t want outside influences, it’s just that they’d rather stick to their own. And I don’t blame them. They’re pretty fantastic.

Crew photo – September 2016

A few things to know off the bat; Icelanders are a bit like Europeans in that they are not a hugely emotive bunch. Likely the person you are talking to is interested in your conversation, however he or she will not exactly exude excitement. To be fair, I have been told as an American I am far too expressive, but I own that shit. I am not just an American, I am also a New Yorker, so you never know what you’ll get out of me. Icelanders are a helpful, genuinely nice, very polite, but tell-it-like-it-is people. They speak English, but as a culture so determined to hold on to who they are, throwing a ‘takk’ into your conversation (which means thanks) will make them smile and appreciate your presence. Which I imagine they cannot say for all who visit. Give their language a try; if you learn nothing else but please and thank you it will go a long way. The time difference is not too terrible for those of us on the East Coast as they are only four hours ahead, for the Brits they are only one hour behind. Situated north of the UK, Iceland is a great place to schedule a stopover, which I will get to later, if you’re on your way to Europe. The currency is the Icelandic Kroner. The conversion can be a little tricky because $1 USD = approximately 109 ISK, so when you pay 870 ISK for coffee and a muffin, it seems like you’re paying a fortune! But it’s actually only $8 USD. Which still might seem like a fortune, so be prepared, everything is a little more expensive in Iceland. Download an app like xe.com for a general idea of your daily conversion. If you have a credit card with chip, some retailers can actually charge you in USD which saves on the conversion but of course some do not, so be prepared for conversion fees if your credit card or bank does not give you free international spending. And of course there is a currency exchange counter at the airport should you want to spend cash.

September 2016

I felt the weather and seasons deserved their own paragraph, because…damn. It’s pretty cold just about every month of the year but June, July, August. I was there for one day in June and it was delightful in the sun, around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius), which was shining at it’s fullest all day until about 5 – 6 PM and then on that particular day it became overcast, the sun went away and the temp dropped. Iceland is pretty far North, so during the summer they get loads of sun and during the winter they don’t. During the month of June, the sun actually never fully sets, but sort of dips for a minute (or what seemed like a minute) and then pops right back up. On the other hand, in January the sun may shine for only three to four hours before it sets. When I went back in September the weather was cold. Each morning started at about 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius), warmed up to maybe 40 degrees (4.4 C) in the afternoon and then back down in the evening. Daylight hours were more in line with what I was used to, so it was no different than September in New York.

That is a general overview of Iceland / Reykjavik, giving you a good idea of what to expect from the locals, the time difference, currency and weather / seasons. Let’s get on to the nuts and bolts, the logistics…

Crew; N. Thompson, P. Mash – September 2016 – Photo credit: Jon Bertholon
June 2016

FLIGHT. I found Icelandair to be relatively inexpensive; seats and one bag were included for each economy ticket. It’s a quick flight of about five hours from the East Coast. As mentioned earlier, they have an amazing option called the stopover. If you were traveling to say London, you could book your flight through Icelandair, with a stopover in Iceland for up to seven days without additional airfare cost. Since all flights on Icelandair layover in Reykjavik regardless of final destination, why not stay a bit and explore Iceland? Brilliant idea.

Keflavik Airport is an absolute delight. Clean, well organized and easy to navigate. Loads of shops and typical airport style food vendors. Border patrol is very easy and everyone is friendly and speaks English. Come prepared with your passport, which should have at least 90 days before expiry (which is typical for Europe), as well as your hotel information.

  • Notes: Icelandair tends to nickel and dime passengers with food/snacks as the only thing they provide for free is water. They accept cards and I believe they accepted USD / ISK / EURO cash, but double check before purchase. They also do not provide blankets for overnight passengers in economy, so I would suggest bringing layers to be sure you are warm enough. Or you can do what I did, bring a blanket from a previous Aer Lingus flight. Take that, Icelandair!
June 2016

HOTEL. We arrived to our hotel around 1 AM. Reykjavik Lights Hotel staff was incredibly helpful and pleasant even at such a late hour. The rooms were slightly smaller than I had anticipated, however for one person I thought it was fine. Comfortable bed, comfortable linens, spacious bathroom, work station and loads of windows. Lovely breakfast included in cost. Small bar in the lobby was nice however the front desk clerk acted as bartender as well as tending to guests that came to the front desk so that was a bit annoying at times. As a bit of an Anglophile, I loved that the television in Iceland was primarily British TV, with an occasional Icelandic channel thrown in for good measure. Can’t understand a word, but it became a game to see if I could figure out what was happening without reading subtitles. The warm water sometimes smelled a bit like rotten eggs, but I pretended I was at a hot spring spa and just dealt with it.

  • Notes: When I was there end of September, having all the windows was lovely. One night the Northern Lights were so vivid, I sat in my room with the lights and TV off just so I could watch them. When I was there in June, I found my experience to be completely different. As mentioned, the sun doesn’t really set, so when sleeping “normal” hours from say 11 PM to 8 AM, the sun might be out the whole time. Felt a bit weird to be walking back to the hotel at 1 AM after a few beers with the crew and the sun was still out. Be sure your hotel has blackout curtains. They may not completely block the sun but it will definitely help. 
September 2016

TRANSPORTATION. Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, etc are all available at the airport. Icelanders drive on the same side of the car and the same side of the road as we do in America. Also, taxis are available and can usually be ordered by the front desk at your hotel. Uber is not available.

  • Notes: When out in Reykjavik, look for taxi stand stations. Not common to hail a taxi from the street just anywhere, so keep an eye out for stands so you know where to get a cab. 

Logistics were relatively painless. As mentioned, though, everything is just a little more expensive in Iceland / Reykjavik, so might want to budget a bit more for this type of vacation.

Crew P. Mash  & Hallgrimskirkja – September 2016

SITES / ACTIVITIES. Obviously there are loads of things to do in and out of the city, so here are a few things I experienced when I was there…

Blue Lagoon. My crew mates and I decided to spend our only day off at Blue Lagoon. As you may already know, Iceland is loaded with geothermal energy. Pools of water, HOT salty water, loaded with minerals and such that have medicinal and healing powers. Sounds a little nuts, but I promise you, my skin never felt or looked so amazing than it did after the day we spent in that water. Book your treatment in advance to avoid the line. They have stations with different kinds of muds to spread here, there and everywhere. Restaurant with incredible (healthy) cuisine. Complimentary robes and slippers (you get to keep the slippers). Staff walking about the water so you can try different products (that are for sale in the shop). It was incredibly relaxing and just what we needed to get us ready for work the next day. You will find transportation to Blue Lagoon very easy. When booking your spa package you can arrange for a shuttle to pick you up from your hotel. You are taken to a bus station where you print your ticket and get on a bus to the spa. Easy peasy.

  • Notes: Drink lots of water. Beer sounded like a great idea until I started to feel a little light headed and basically crashed on a lounge chair in the Sun Room like a cat. The water has healing powers but can also dehydrate you if you’re not careful. Anyone with long hair, like myself, be sure you tie it up. You do NOT want that super salty water touching your hair or it will feel very dry. They provide bottles of conditioner in the locker room that they suggest you put on your hair and leave in, so your hair does not suffer damage. Also, wear sunscreen. When the sun is shining and you are in the water, you will get burned (or at least I did). It’s one of those tricky situations because having your body above the water in the cool air feels good because the water is so hot, but you forget sun is sun no matter where you are and will burn if you don’t protect yourself.

Hallgrímskirkja. Pronounced Hall-grims-kirk-ya. This iconic building is breathtaking. When you’re in downtown Reykjavik it’s impossible to miss. And who would want to, it’s such an interesting building, which is actually a church. You’ll find it at the end of Skólavörðustígur, which is a street with loads of shops and cafes. You’ll find Leifur Eiríksson (statue) standing in front of the building. He was an Icelandic explorer and the first known European to have discovered North America, before Christopher Columbus (source; Wikipedia). He just looks badass. You can go inside the church which is not quite as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. I suppose that isn’t fair to say as the inside is just…simple / minimalist.

Leifur Eiriksson – September 2016

Esjan. Icelandic volcanic mountain range. I don’t think I need to say more than that…

September 2016 – Photo credit Noel Thompson

Icelandic Ponies. You will want to put one in your pocket and take it home with you. They are just about the cutest ponies I have ever seen. With the most enviable thick, straight hair. It’s beautiful! They have a bit of a skittish temperament, and the strangest gait but lovely animals. Loads of farms to visit just outside the city so you’re not driving too far, though the scenery along the way is just bonkers. Here is one to get you started Islenski Hesturinn.

Northern Lights. Aurora Borealis. Iceland is hugely famous for nature’s light show. Not visible during the summer (because of constant daylight), the true spectacle comes out during the winter. I was lucky enough to experience the lights as soon as we got out of the airport. BAM. There it was, like someone took a paintbrush and painted the sky green with one brilliant stroke. It was breathtaking. My director and I actually had a moment and cried! The Northern Lights has been on my bucket list for a long time and getting to actually see them was just incredible. Took a couple photos with my iPhone and unfortunately it’s not super visible, but hopefully you can see it just a little. There is an app, like a weather app, that tracks the likelihood of the lights on any given day. But again, if you’re going to Iceland specifically for the lights, you’ll be planning a trip in Winter as they’re not as visible in the Summer because of constant daylight.

Leaving Keflavik Airport and seeing the Northern Lights for the first time – September 2016
If I added a filter so the lights were more visible, but sadly the color isn’t as vivid – September 2016

FOOD / DRINK. Iceland is an island (obviously), so surrounded by water means fish, seafood and loads of it. Enjoy it all, because it is delicious. On our last day of filming we had lunch at a place called 101 Harbor. I had the Pasta di Mare and it was the most amazing seafood dish I had ever had in my life. I’m actually not a huge fan of clams, mussels or scallops, but ate every piece and all but licked the damn bowl. So. GOOD! Also, the restaurant is right on the water, so there is a clear view of Esjan. We ate at another place called Frederiksen Ale House that was crazy good. They had curly fries! We came back and had dinner and beers here as well one night. Really good food, great pub vibe, just good times and in the heart of downtown. Speaking of beers, Íslenski Barinn was a great place to throw back a beer or two. I am generally a wine drinker however, all wine is imported on Iceland, so it’s hella expensive if you’re into having more than one or two glasses. I’m kind of the worst when it comes to taking pics of my food / drink, it’s usually gone before I think to snap a pic, so sadly there are no photos for this post. I will get better about this so I can offer more insight on food stuffs for future posts.

Me (E. Fegely) – September 2016 – Photo Credit Phil Mash

After spending six days in this beautiful place I look forward to going back some day. I barely scratched the surface of what Iceland has to offer, but what I did experience was like nothing I had ever seen. Food, people, language, Northern Lights, PONIES?! It was a jam-packed trip that will result in an amazing episode of our show and an experience I will never forget.

Season of visit: Summer (June) & Autumn (September)
Airline: Icelandair
Hotel: Reykjavik Lights Hotel
Duration: 6 days
Purpose: work

September 2016

Each post of #TheAdventuresofPennyLane will strike a balance between how I perceive traveling from a work standpoint and how I perceive traveling from a tourist standpoint. Being a production coordinator for an international television show has helped me be a better tourist because I know more. My goal for this blog is to pass on a bit of the info I have collected along the way, so if you have questions or want more info about a specific trip please email me;  erica {at} breakingheadsproductions {dot} com.

All photos taken by me, unless otherwise credited.

The Introduction; #theadventuresofPennyLane

“Last glass of wine in America? #JFK #theadventuresofPennyLane”

One of the most amazing aspects of being a production coordinator on an international travel and real estate television show, is that I get to virtually travel all over the world. The chance to discover new cities and towns from Buenos Aires to Melbourne, is incredible. In my first month alone, I worked in Spain, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia from my office in New York City.

The most amazing aspect of coordinating an international travel and real estate show is that I get to actually travel all over the world. I was told at my company holiday party three years ago that I was being sent out into the field on my first shoot. Ostuni, Italy. I was ecstatic (WINE, ALL THE WINE)! And terrified. For a couple of reasons…

a) At the time, I had traveled outside the US once to the Dominican Republic for a friend’s wedding. One stamp in my passport. That was six years earlier. Noob didn’t even begin to describe my travel experience.

and then I realized…

b) I don’t speak Italian!! How am I to do my job if I can’t talk to people? My production manager had to talk me off the ledge a few times before I got in the car that took me to the airport. And, yes I consumed a fare amount of wine at JFK before take off.

But that was where the hashtag that would start my journey (in more ways than one) was born. Three glasses of ridiculously over-priced red wine later and I was aboard my second ever international flight, to Italy. Traveling can be absolutely terrifying, but the experiences and the people you meet along the way are priceless.

This blog will be about my travels and adventures. Providing my professional opinion on how best to organize a trip to remove the anxiety of traveling to a country/state/city for the first time. As a production coordinator one of my many responsibilities, is to plan and organize the logistics to travel a crew from A to B safely, quickly and legally. I have worked on over 50 episodes, in 24 countries, on six continents (I see you, Antarctica), some from afar and some in person. So, I know some things…

Have a wonderful holiday and a safe New Year, fellow travelers! I’ll see you in 2017…


Piazza della Liberta di Ostuni, Italy