Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019

empty

Posted by Hippobean at 2:30 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Normally I'd enjoy roaming the airport terminal by myself, checking the shops, finding a spot to settle down and reminisce every stop of the trip, in anticipation of arriving and picking up the car, showing off the photos, and driving home for a shower. This time, heart heavy, trying to enjoy the last of the trip, but simultaneously silently grieving and mourning. Alone in the room facing the tarmac filled with Air France planes. A moment of reflection. A silent prayer. Mommy! Dreading the moment to face the music and the duty, the contaminated car, the now lonely drive home and the lonely night. An empty feeling. The world's gone silent, has lost its colors in the first time and now the remaining light has gone out. Didnt expect this would happen. didnt think it would affect me so tremendously. But now I'm empty. Alone. Hurt and angry. There's no one there. Now I'm free.

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Frederica drove us to the Peretola airport. Explore said they didnt arrange airport transfers and I had to ask the local tour guide or the hotel to arrange a taxi. I was pissed at them. Exodus did all my transfers. But Frederica said it was included. She got tickets for the shuttle or taxi or train for the rest and even drove those who planned to return via Pisa all the way to the Pisa airport. That's service you dont see anymore nowadays. I tipped her quite well. She was an excellent guide. Peretola was still quite empty when we got there at this early hour. Hung out with the canadian couple for a bit until they checked in to their flight to spain. Then I headed to the AF priority counter.

Business class proved again to be a good decision. I needed the privacy. finally got to see Dark Phoenix which I've enjoyed. the TV monitor was big enough and it pops out so the angled seat was perfect to view it. I actually like AF biz class better than Singapore airlines. The seat adjustments were electronic and it could be set to any position, totally flat or somewhere in between. since i detest lying down flat on a plane (it made me dizzy), I could adjust the position I liked and still have my feet up. The seat was positioned slightly towards the window, so there's more privacy and one could look out the window. However, there's only 1 small compartment to store personal belongings whereas Singapore had more nooks to stash things. But the service was nowhere near Singapore. There's no attention to details. they didnt call me by name and didnt come around to check on me every now and then, which was fine since I needed the quiet and the privacy. and when asked if I've wanted a meal, they just slapped a white cloth on the table (didnt look clean enough and certainly not pressed). the food of course wasnt asian but the lamb stew I've chosen was very good. the snack before the starter came in little boxes (are you kidding) but they were savory good. But the hot towel and pre flight drinks were offered. This was the trans atlantic flight. for the eu flight from Firenze, biz class was just having the middle seat vacant and a bottle of water (are you kidding) before the meal. Both flights were comfortable.


So which was my favorite cinque terre village? none was my favorite. I couldnt decide even if I like any of them. Perhaps too many tourists or perhaps we didnt have enough time to really explore each one. I even liked bonassola better than the 5 towns. Initially I had wanted to stay in one of the 5 villages. Now that I've seen the crowds, I think having Bonassola as a base was great. At the end of the day, we could return to the quiet and peaceful town to relax away from the tourists. And I've enjoyed the ferries and the azure trail from corneglia to vernazza. porto venere was actually my favorite but it's not part of cinque terre. and I really liked Lucca.

both san gimignano and sienna were great and the tuscany hikes were very good, even with the difficult one to Montepulciano, I've enjoyed all the hikes. the hotels were OK but the rooms were terrible. Always given the worst rooms. There's so much more in Italia that I still would like to do.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019

happy together again

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saturday, September 21, 2019

love pesto

Posted by Hippobean at 11:30 PM 0 comments Links to this post
didnt really have time to explore Bonassola even after being here for 6 days. Today we hiked around town, up to the Monteretto village and I had an ice cream bar. The trail was up and down slippery at times. Nothing too spectacular but got to see the greater Bonassola. Stopped briefly at the pink church about 300m up and then back down to town. Wasnt hungry but had a seafood risotto with the boys.

At 3:30 we marched to Levanto for our pesto demo. A pesto lover but never actually thought of making it fresh myself. We tasted the one done by the blender and one by hand. Hm, couldnt really tell the difference but I think the manual one was fresher. Then the women had their try on the mortar. Basil, pine nuts, parmisan, garlic (lots of it), a pinch of salt and started to pound. Added olive oil. yum good. Then the guys had their go and we girls decided ours was better! Bought some trofie and pesto sauce. didnt know pesto could come in different variety of flavors, olive, artichoke, walnut, cheese. I've tried them all. Liked the olive one the best. then we were offered soft amaretti (yum and not too sweet) and even lemoncino (that's lemoncello in liguria).

Last supper was at Lungomare again, in the garden under lemon trees. Was so absolutely full with bread and pesto, I only ordered the minestrone that came with so much pasta, beans and veggies, it looked more like a stew than soup, and couldnt finish it. Last night in Cinque Terre, last cup of tea before bed. The trains just kept running outside my window.

Bonassola photos:

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday, September 20, 2019

cinque terre from the ferry

Posted by Hippobean at 11:30 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Trained to Riomaggiore this morning, our final cinque terre village. from the train station was a tunnel walk to town. The town went up the hill and some steps down to the harbor. I knew I didnt want to do the hike to porto venere. It's the longest one, 15km with 385m of ascent. A few of us the wimpy ones, bought a day ferry pass so we could admire cinque terre from the sea to have a different perspective. It was a fantastic decision as the hikers never got time to see porto venere properly. With a few minutes to spare before the ferry arrived, I walked up the hill to the cathedral and took a few pictures of riomaggiore. Unlike corneglia and vernazza, this small town didnt have many meandering alleys to explore. mostly buildings on either side of the main uphill drag. But the small harbor was picturesque. With the ferry speeding away, riomaggiore looked triangular, with houses on either side and the harbor on the base of the triangle. Very beautiful indeed.

The church on the rock headland with the castle on an imposing clifftop caught everyone's eyes on the ferry. magnificent entry into porto venere harbor. Not part of the cinque terre, porto venere was actually more vibrant. Filled with tourists (what else is new) but nevertheless it was extremely exciting to explore it. The sea views from the Gothic Chiesa San Pietro atop the rock and from the castello Doria, were spectacular and the day was warm, not too hot and the sky clear and spectacularly blue. People were sunbathing at the Grotta dell'Arpaia, the Byron's Grotto. The water was turquoise and green and if you look up from the grotto, you could see the castle. One of the most beautiful sights I've seen. We had pizza lunch by the seafront. On the way back, Jim and I disembarked at Manarola, the final village that the trip didnt cover. I had to visit all 5 villages. The dock was small and the path to town was narrow and people were many. We were immediately put off. But we walked into town a little ways, just to sample the feel of the place. From afar, Manarola was perched on a little ways up the hill, not quite as high up as corneglia. I've read about it online. the author mentioned staying in manarola and did his preferred morning hikes into corneglia. however, Vale said that trail was closed. The daily ferry pass did not go all the way to Levanto, so we had to get off at Monterosso (again) and get a new ticket to Bonassola. We had wanted to get off at Levanto and then walk back. so monterosso one more time and it was the last i had to endure the crowd and the heat.

Dinner was again at Antica Guetta. This time on the terrace in front of the sea. I didnt feel too hungry after the satisfying pizza, but ordered a pasta with porcini (my favorite mushroom, very hard to find back home) and it was so good I cleaned up the plate. Like everyone said, gosh I really did like porto venere. My favorite town on the ligurian sea.

Riomaggiore photos:




Manarola photos:


 

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