A Travellerspoint blog

When life gives you lemons...

..make lemoncello - lemonade is for losers!

Ever seen the movie 'Under the Tuscan Sun'??? Well it is situated in Cortona, where we were for a couple of days towards the end of last week. Our first day saw us taking in the sights and sounds of this walled town, after we managed to get inside, it has five or so entrances / exits - getting out was another story altogether! We spent the day eating gelato, shopping in the little shops and when the weather turned nasty retreated inside a wine shop for a spot of wine tasting and some more shopping, before heading out to a little restaurant down some dark alley for a delicious pasta dinner. The next day we were booked into Intimate Italian Cooking Class with two other couples and a very loud, enthusiastic Italian Mother with two children who ran the class from her very own kitchen. Over bottles of wine (both red and white) we learnt how to make good traditional Italian food: antipasti dishes, hand made ravioli, roast pork with beans and tiramisu (my favourite and now Steve can make it for me- he doesn't know this is the plan yet) followed by shots of lemoncello and grappe, washed down with lashing of laughter and a pasta machine on order pending our return - Thanks for keeping it safe Mum.

We then drove from here to the South of France taking in the French Rivera in one day -Nice, Cannes and Monaco. We took the Cannes Cinema / Historic Train Tour showing us the main sights of the city including where the celebrities hang out (funnily enough no one was hanging when were there), we walked the promenade, window shopped and had lunch before catching the inter city train to Nice. Again the promenade was our focus, we checked out the pebble beach - decided against hiring a deckchair for 25euro, bought gelato in the shape of a rose before returning to Cannes to get all dolled up for our trip to Monaco for the evening. We drove to Monaco making sure not to incur any driving infringements as there are more cameras than lampposts! After a 3 course meal, including lovely company and a view of the super yachts we walked parts of the F1 track (including the famous hairpin) before visiting and trying our luck at Monte-Carlo Grand Casino. Luck as it were was NOT on our side!

We are now in Le Rozier, a small french village about 3 hours north of Marseille. Tomorrow we are heading to Spain for three days in Barcelona then across to San Sebastian - catch you then!

Posted by SteveandLydia 12:12 Comments (1)

Surreal Sorrento

Steve "That's real cheesy, isn't it", Lydia "Yip", Both of us "bahahahahahah....."

Over the last week we visited Milan for two nights with our main purpose being the Formula 1 Monza GP. Steve had the ‘most incredible day’ (his words) spend with 200,000 plus, including Tiffosi (Ferrari supporters), who are fanatical about F1 and Ferrari. True to his usual form most of the photos we have of our trip are now of the GP. The racing was awesome, and once it finished apparently he sprinted onto the race track with everyone else to watch the prize giving. Of course he was the only one there in his black Schumacher clothes amongst the sea of red. He (Schumacher not Steve) finished 6th.

The following day we drove to Sorrento which is on the west coast and approximately half an hour away from Naples. We are staying in a cute, old 15th century bed and breakfast, up a very narrow and windy driveway. They have the BEST Gelato shop here with over 80 flavours to choose from. They even do a maxi ice cream which is 6 scoops – which I just HAD to have. After 8, Straccatella, Pistachio, Berry Cherry Ripple, Tiramisu and Chocolate topped off with whipped cream – YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!

We did a fantastic speed boat trip to and around the Island of Capri. We stopped enroute at a waterfall where we all jumped off the boat and had a swim. At Capri we stopped for a few hours having time to check out the port and have lunch (a massive ‘Capri’ sandwich), before returning to the boat and travelling around the island, seeing the blue, green and white grotto’s. Along the way we also stopped and spent time chasing massive jumping tuna.

Finally yesterday we did a tour of Pompei and Mt Vesuvius, this included an extended bus trip to the site navigating flooding and debris along the way due a torrential downpour. We toured Pompeii being shown the main parts of the town – market square, homes, bakery, wool market, theatre and temples all of which have been left as they found them. The only place they have completely recreated, replacing the second story which was wood and burned in the eruption is the brothel. Mt Vesuvius was slightly disappointing as due to the weather visibility was zero. We were driven by bus the first 3000 metres however were unable to complete the last 1000 metres to the top due to the weather.

Posted by SteveandLydia 22:35 Comments (2)

Bella, Bella Cinque Terre!

Cinque Terre is made up of 5 fishing villages inland (wink, wink): Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. There is no traffic allowed in the villages and there are both train and walking tracks that link them (I know what your thinking - we like to stay in places where cars are not permitted, but it just happened this way.) Upon arrival we were greeted by a lovely old traditional Italian lady who could barely speak English and even got Lydia to fill in the documentation for her. We are now getting very good at sign language or so we think! We are staying in Riomagiore and our room has a balcony with sea views that overlooks the village. This morning I counted 40 dongs of the church bell! The last 3 days we have spent walking between all the 5 villages. The most challenging being a 2 ½ hour hike we had to do between Manarola and Cornigilia which started off trekking up several hundred steps and through vine yards and olive groves, perched in the side of the mountain in sweltering heat. But the views were spectacular and the lunch at the end was just as good. At the end of one of the walks and before we started the next one I had to have a dip in the Mediterranean while Lydia was happier taking photos of me. But at lease I wasn’t wearing budgie smugglers like what seems to be the fashion here! We then proceeded to Via dell’Amore or lovers lane where we wrote our names on the wall and hung a padlock.

Rewind a few days and we are back in Venice where the only way of navigating your way around is on foot via the maze of ally ways. Cars are a no, no and are only allowed as far as the massive parking building near the bus terminal and entrance to the island. Lydia forgot this one morning saying “It’s so quiet, you can’t hear any cars” hahahah……. Our days spent in Venice were amazing; we visited San Marco Square and the Basilica. This place is incredible and you can take the many stairs up to the balcony and get a great view overlooking the square. Next up was taking the lift to the top of the Campanile (clock tower). Unfortunately they don’t have stairs otherwise this would have been our preferred option! Once up the top, were able to experience panoramic views of Venice, even more breathtaking than those of the Basilica. As mentioned previously, it’s easy to get lost, and that’s exactly what happened to us while at the same time it bucketed with rain. Between both us and a map which is useless in Venice, we finally made it back to our hotel looking like drowned rats.

See you in Sorrento after the F1 Grand Prix – I’m so excited and Lydia is a little bit excited. Watch out for the silver fern flag!

Posted by SteveandLydia 06:09 Comments (3)

Boun Giorno Venezia

After 36 hours in transit including 27 hours of flying, three flights and two stopovers we have finally arrived in Venice. Our first stop over in Sydney almost turned into an overnighter as our plane was delayed due to ‘technical difficulties’. This turned out to mean that one of the catering trucks scrapped the side of the plane and due to safety etc had to get clearance from Dubai before we could leave. Turns out Sydney has 11pm curfew, luckily for us we flew out of there at 10:59 – PHEW. Our second stopover in Dubai was uneventful I just had to convince Steve not to buy a life sized camel statue ‘duty free’ – of course! Once we landed in Venice, we were whisked by water taxi to our hotel (Steve tells me he was like Micheal Schumacher on water). Although we are in a hotel, our room is actually down the ‘street’, around the corner and along a bit. We decided to venture out for a bit of a look around and to get dinner. We didn’t dare go too far as Venice is a maze of narrow lanes and ally-ways and we were sure we would get lost if we did. After 60 hours of no proper sleep we decided to call it a night. We’ll see you tomorrow Venice!

Posted by SteveandLydia 11:34 Comments (1)

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