Monday, October 12, 2009
It has been a busy time, but the main reason we haven't posted is that the internet has been a challenge! I keep forgetting that just because we are traveling with the latest technology it doesn't mean that Europe is keeping up with us! Oh, speaketh one who lives a stones throw from Silicon Valley..
So where have our hero and heroine been since Naples? We know you've been wanting to know! Well from Naples, we headed up to the Italian Riviera staying in a wonderful apartment with a view of the water, Portofino and Santa Margherita Lagure.. fabulous.. the view and accomodations were just great... We aren't sure how the neighbors deal with the church bells ringing every half hour (and then again five minutes after the hour and half hour just in case you missed it and, no they didn't stop at night.. The church is right next door.. so for the first few days I kept thinking someone was at the door.. We were meant to stay there though.. the bathroom is purple and has photos of New York..
Our first day we set out to find a little market and couldn't believe it when the shopkeeper said that he didn't take debit cards so that we should just bring him cash the next time we came to the store. We were dumbfounded.. We can't imagine anyone offering that in San Francisco! (We had enough cash)..
Have I mentioned that we rented a car for this little adventure.. Well Rick changed his name to Ricardo and hit those curves like a native.. I admit to keeping my eyes closed during most of our drives!
Our first full day in the area we ventured out to explore Portofino and Santa Margherita Lagure.. What beautiful towns, showcasing pastel colored homes and water front parks. An interesting thing about the area is that they do 3-D accent paint jobs on their homes.. so rather than using brick accents or molding, it is painted on and looks very real..
The northern part of Italy does not have the same vast amount of history as the south does... The coast is dotted with abandoned or reutilized forts that harken back to a time of marauding pirates.. but other than that one mainly visits the north for its beauty, relaxing environments and its incredibly cute towns..
We became backpackers and threw one night's needs into our packs and headed for the Cinque Terre (or 5 lands).. these are old communities that are built between cliff and ocean.. very sweet towns that are connected by railroad and boat (when the weather is nice).. At first I was overwhelmed by all of the tourists and felt it was like Disneyland for adults- even taking the train between the different lands..but then in the late afternoon the hoards departed and what was left was a rather extraordinary little community - we were in Vernazza the middle community.
With our Rick Steve's guide in one hand and our Italian phone in the other we just started calling down his list of places to stay. Showing up without a reservation takes guts, but we thought why not?? Edgy (yes, that is his name) showed up a few minutes after our call and showed us upstairs to a studio apartment that we rented for the evening... It had everything- a closet that is the kitchen- no cooking allowed.. and a bathroom where you have to remove the toilet paper before taking your shower so it doesn't get wet.. The shower consists of a shower head a foot to the right of the toilet, just sticking in the wall.. a very utilitarian bathroom.. Anyway, it was clean and right in the center of the little town, so we grabbed it.
We had dinner at the top of an old fort, where we sat next to a couple from Australia.. we hit it off and laughed the night away. It always strikes me how friendly fellow travelers are- as if we are sharing a grand adventure together.. and in many ways we are..
The next day we shifted from train travel to boat travel going from one community to another. We even walked Via d'Amore (Lovers Lane) from one town to the other and looked at all of the locks hanging from fishing nets declaring "locked hearts" forever... and of course, we did our own scmooching along the way..
Our last day in the area and we took a break for housekeeping- meaning finding a place to get our laundry done ... yes, in Italian... and looking for a craft store, which we also found.. this place is not to be believed.. I'd expect to find it in Brooklyn.. it is two rooms crammed with every imagineable yarn, embroidery, needlepoint, fabric on and on.. and Gilda knows where EVERYTHING is.. I mean you couldn't move in this place.. and of course she was so excited when I told her where we are from.. because she has relatives in San Francisco, Daly City and Millbrae! Go know..
From the Italian Riviera it was onward to Lake Como.. to relax and soak in the beauty.. our hotel here is the Hotel Metropole.. http://www.albergometropole.it/ . We have a room with a terrace and view and have just spent a few days taking in the beauty and working on our art.. We are staying in the community of Bellagio. The water color at the top is my attempt at capturing the view out of one of our windows...
Tomorrow we head for Milan just for a couple of days.. we have a tour of the city arranged with a viewing of the Last Supper.. then it is off to Florence for the last leg of our trip..
Ordinarily we don't stay in American Hotels while we are traveling, but Milan is so expensive we threw our lot in with priceline and we got a great rate at the Milan Hilton..
who knows if that will work.. if not and you are interested, just google Milan Italy Hilton
Then in Florence we are staying at Piero's - he's been staying in our apartment in San Francisco while we've been gone..
We get to Florence on Rick's Birthday.. October 15th..
Uploading photos and/or pictures has been impossible and is oh this is so frustrating.. I'm not able to upload any more pictures or photos.. why it just accepted the one it did is a mystery!!! Facebook won't accept any either, so I can't even do a cross link.. boo.. Hopefully we'll be able to upload both more of our artwork - Rick has done some incredible pencil sketches.. and some of his great photos as well.. hopefully Milan will have better access.. more soon!