Tuesday, March 12, 2013

From Ligurian Sea to the Caribbean!

Leaving in early morn to catch a flight to the British Virgin Islands to spend some time on Blew Bayou sailing around the islands!!!!  Taking my Italy stuff with me so I can work on finishing the blog.....hope to be back here really soon.   Be sure to follow my other blog......www.constantchatter-jmac.blogspot.com where I will be documenting the sailing adventures!  and drinking a few of these!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Would you like to walk with me from Monterosso to Vernazza??

September 16, 2012

After our long day of adventure yesterday, we all slept in and met up at 10 am for breakfast before heading out for our walk on the trails to Vernazza.  This was about a 2 hr hike around the mountains from one town to the next.  About a 3-4 minute train ride.....or a 2 hr hike!
With all but a few of us in tow, we began the climb.  Supposedly it's easier to walk from Monterosso to Vernazza than the other way around.  It's tougher when you first start in this direction, therefore; easier to hike when you're fresh! And remember what I always say.....when you see a gorgeous landscape in front of you, always turn around and you'll most likely see something just as pretty behind you!

At the beginning of the hike and looking back to Monterosso.

Looking ahead to the trail on the side of the mountain
Up Up Up.....some of the steps going up!
Farther along and looking back one more time!  Amazing!
Whew.....we're going the right way!
Along the way, you might run across a secret door!  Did I open it?? Not on your life! heh.
Or a man selling homemade jewelry....which, of course, we helped out the local economy with!
We stopped along the way to document our hike!
and many times, just stood in awe of the beauty around us
Just when everyone's water is running low and our knees began to feel the hour of hiking straight up, we turn the corner and the walk down and into Vernazza with ease and anticipation! This tiered area of land is nothing but grapes growing!
From high above, and thru the trees, we see the land of glory!
It's me!!!!  I really was there!!
see the yellow and blue umbrellas over by the water next to the building? Lunch!!
As we made our way down and into the town, one of the first things to greet us was
he was playing the coolest Italian musico on his horn and smiling as everyone passed by him!
then I spied something red and blue on the side of this building.  As I walked a lil farther down, I saw that it was a boat in a window!
soon, we walked thru a gate and down a narrow street into the open main street of Vernazza!
basket weavers!
back streets that led to homes....just loved seeing the old, worn steps made of concrete from days gone by, weathered by much activity.
Then, as you know by now......the first thing on the agenda was "eating"!!! Hey....we had just burned lots of calories!!  Lunch was under the yellow umbrellas right close to the sea!
naturally, someone had fresh tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and olives!
and somebody always had some good ol' italian spaghetti with sauce!

and look!  from this same spot, I took the same picture that I took in 2005...the last time I was here.  Look closely.....it's the same place of the pic in my banner above on this blog!

After a leisurely lunch and a long hike, we walked back to the train station for the 4 minute ride back to our hotel.  A little downtime before a BIG night out.  That will be the next post!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chiavari.....Portofino......and wrong train tickets??...

September 15, 2012

So now, it is Saturday morn and we've been given a reprieve!  No early meetings .... just relax and meet up at train station at 1 pm for our trips to 3 different cities.  Did any of us rest or relax?  Nada! Nopa!  We did sleep in a bit but then most of us were out to see the happenings of a Saturday morning in the piazza!  So, as we left our sweet hotel...
the first stop was for this!

and what to our wondering eyes did we find?  Why.....the Festival of the Anchovie!!
Just like the festivals we have around here, there was a huge tent with pans and pan of anchovies, cooked in every shape form and fashion.  And I've gotta tell ya....by this time of the trip, I was on the anchovie and sardine mission.  No, they are not the anchovies like we are used to from the can.  These are fresh fish, straight from the sea beside us and are the sweetest things you could ever put into your mouth.  Just a tad taste of salt....not like we have here. YUM>>>>fried anchovies?? ain't nothin better!

Please imagine what the sounds are like at an Italian festival where locals have made all the dishes fresh in their kitchens!  So Much Fun!  These sweeties were cooking some type of bread to eat with the anchovies.
Lenora, in the line, to fill her plate!
Mary Ellen and Lenora chowing down. Lisa? not so much.....don't think she ever got into the anchovie thing. Plus, if I recall from the night before.....the vino was extra specially good, hence the water she was downing!!!  heheh!
Next, it was time to head to the train station.  While we were waiting for ours, I snapped this couple. I ended up with a whole folder of images of couples....lovers......who, in these cities of amore, always showered each other with affection.  So sweet! I'll have to dedicate one post to those pictures!
First stop is the town of Chiavari marina where we were to meet the ferry for an Italian Riviera ride to surrounding cities.  How neat it was to see them from the water side.
 Cap'n would have loved this marina....every type of boat here, ready for cruisin!
Cindy, Lenora and Jerri enjoying the ride
A view from our ferry.  The beauty of a sole sailor against a backdrop of green topped mountainous cliffs!
Deep blue sea......homes and towns in the mountains......with azure blue sky above.
Doesn't get more beautiful than this!  The landscape continually amazed me.
Soon we came to San Frutuosso. A 13th century Abbey of San Frutuosso. We motored right up into a little cove of turquoise waters. There was a short hike in the hilltops above the abbey, which is now a museum since there are no more monks living there.
the white structure with the bell tower is where we were going,
the cove of water and beach with the abbey behind it.  Such a  typical Italian beach packed with the locals....it was Saturday, after all!
Looking back into the cove at the gorgeous water.
we walked to the top of the mountain and this was the view of the cove from above.
in honor of Mary Gnome!!
As usual, you always see grapes growing overhead at every turn.
And once back down to the beach, it was business as usual. Just like at home. Babies and little girls playing together!
Back to the ferry and farther down the riviera, we pass a beautiful castle, San Salvatore Villa....that was the same castle where the move Enchanted April was filmed!
Onward to Portofino.......Rodeo Drive of the Italian Riviera!!
Pulling into Portofino was awesome.  Another cove of water but this time, it is lined with yachts of every description. We de-boarded the ferry onto sidewalks on both sides of the water....WITH THE BEST SHOPS EVER!!  Good thing we were only there for an hour or so....lots of damage could have been done there!

the streets are narrow, as most are in italy, but most all streets in this little village had nifty lil shops on every one!
After a lil pizza and a lil brewsky and a lot of people watching, it was time to board the ferry once more for our trip back to Chivari, where we visited the piazza with an open market, a Pure White Benefit festival and dinner at Luchin Trattoria.

Of course, all Italians talk with their hands. Often times, I never understood one word they spoke but knew exactly what they were saying because of their hands and expressions! Crazy!

we visited the festival a bit before dinner

a peek into the restaurant

Yet one more toast between friends!

This is a chickpea thin bread, a local creation, called farinata. Amazing!
After dinner, we went back to the square for a lil live musica and dancing...

It's late...time to go home, so it's back to the train station....
BUT.........somehow, we got wrong train tickets and there was not another train going back to Monterosso......and we got a bit freaked out. But by the powers of Lenora and a friendly and nice city worker, they arranged for us to jump another train and just be let off.  It was crazy and we were all exhausted, cuz remember....all of this was one day's activities.....and ready for our beds.  Me?  I just sat back and waited to be told what to do...I know, I know....that sounds really out of character for me, but I was in the zone.  Happy, fulfilled....and knew that somehow, we'd end up back where we needed to be.  I was definitely living la dolce vita!!