Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Night in Recco

Just a quick post about Recco. Top photos were taken from the window of Hotel Elena as seen in their brochure, the top windows with iron railings.

The other photos were taken on the veranda we had breakfast on. Woke to stormy skies and puzzlement over how we'd ended up in Recco. The guidebook says: Allied bombing in 1944 virtually destroyed Recco, and the town that has sprung up in its place is unremarkable except for a grey concrete flyover that hurdles the centre. People come here for the restaurants." Surely not, as we discovered, not for the hotels of which we nearly didn't find one. We circled the same area four times before parking the car, crossing the street to a Pizzeria and collapsing into chairs. The host who spoke English told us how to get to a hotel so we relaxed and ate.

"Yes, we have room, queen bed, AC, and a view of the ocean, that's about it." sounded perfect to us especially at midnight. We couldn't see the ocean but the waves lulled us to sleep.

Living here in the desert I was intrigued by the view from above of the the palm tree with the ocean as a background.

You probably can't see it, but there is train on the bridge in the left middle photo. (click on the photos to enlarge.)

Enough of Recco, next stop Cinque Terre on the coast.

Quote: One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." –- Henry Miller

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 1, part 2

We thought we'd check out Portofina and imagined it to be similar to the French Riviera, Wrong! The Italian Riviera, or at least Portofina was a bit disappointing. The village presents itself quickly and all at once leaving nothing to the imagination. We arrived around 6pm at what looked to be high tide. More about Portofino here. (Notice how tiny the village is in the panorama)
The main area was mostly deserted, though, there were people eating in the restaurants in this photo.

Delightful colors and wouldn't the village seem drab without them?

I was fascinated by this castle-like structure. Home to? There were 3 yachts in the harbor that we found out belonged to a group or corporation out of Genoa. People were taking tours on them, but jumping from the dock to the yachts looked too risky for most. We thought that the hugeness of the yachts detracted from the intimacy of the village. There was also an artist opening of paintings right on the waterfront, red carpet and all. Invited guests were mingling; most were dressed in what only the rich would wear on a balmy evening. Yep, we felt like paupers walking past them on the way to the WC.

Were we glad that we had a less than two hour visit in Portofino? Yes, it was lovely to experience the quaint village especially at sunset when the lighting was soft.

Quote: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 1

I find that one of the most difficult things to do while traveling is to find images that not everyone has in their travel journals. This one and the next one aren't typical as I can't imagine that a lot of people find their way to Hotel Villa Stanley.

We landed in Florence at 6:30 on June 5th and got directions to Hotel Villa Stanley from a very helpful gal at the airport information counter. She went out of her way and even called the hotel for detailed instructions. "When you get to Ikea get off of the autostrada and make a right turn and continue on. You'll come to two roundabouts . . ." Good directions! Beautiful building and the largest hotel room imaginable! We could have thrown a party for fifty.
Take a look here and check out the photo gallery especially the camere section where there is a shot of the room we had. The view only shows half of the room
The first photo above is the view out of the window. The one directly above was taken through the window of the green house. Lots of items were stored inside and this is the only one I took. Was I nuts? I should have made a series!

On Sat. June 6th after a delicious breakfast at the hotel were I became reacquainted with Nutella spread (the Italians love it and have small containers of it amongst the jams and jellies. Hazelnut and cocoa spread of which a jar is now in our pantry.) we drove south to Pisa. I have no idea what I was expecting, but it didn't disappoint! It's theatrical, enchanting, and might have been a caricature of itself if not for the stormy sky that softened the impact. Just outside the entrance, in the photo above, there are souvenir stands and the first of numerous hawkers selling fake original watches, purses, belts, and hats! Yikes! Too touristy! Inside the entrance there are way too many stalls with vendors selling Leaning Tower imitations in plastic, metal, etc that we didn't succumb to. Postcards, yes, knick-knacks, no.

For lots of fun facts go here.
My own shot of the bell tower and cathedral. and yes, I have a shot of me trying to push it back up. After Roger took a photo of me a few tourists asked him to take one of each of them. After four he begged off. I guess that he looked trustworthy enough to hold their cameras.

A black and white image of "eyes" on the bell tower. It's one of those images that surprised me.
I saw it but didn't think that I got it being that it had started to rain, the wind was strong and my hat flew off!
The fairytale quality of Pisa with the ridiculous numbers of street hawkers made me think of this quote: Always make the audience suffer as much as possible. - Alfred Hitchcock
(more Pisa here on my other blog)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sometimes you just know!

We were leaving the village of Orvieto when I yelled, "stop." There it was, my cypress shot! We didn't have time to see Tuscany so this will have to do. (I have a better version, but am saving that one for myself!) While I was photographing the driver got a tip from a villager who told him to turn left rather than go straight, "better road." As it turns out he was right. Orvieto is the kind of village that you're positive you shouldn't be driving where the signs point. If anyone walks out their front door they'd end up being a hood ornament.
I thought I was going to die in Pompei; hot, dusty and miles and miles of ruins to get lost in. It's hard to believe that all of this was buried in 79 AD when Vesuvius blew its top. Work uncovering the city started in 1594 and continues today. Okay, I'm impressed, but the swollen feet weren't. I confess though, that I got some amazing photographs and when I caught this out of the corner of my eye while trailing behind a group of German tourists who looked like they wanted to kill their guide I knew that I had a winner. None of them stopped to photograph it. My biggest complaints, besides my feet, were that there are too many sites to take in, plus, unless you have a tour guide or rent an audio tour you have have no idea what you're looking at. I must have shot about 100 images of the ruins and I don't think I did it justice. I love to eavesdrop when I hear an English speaking guide; I always need to rest nearby, so I do hear a lot of facts that way. The cheap tour! (we did have audio and personal guides in Rome at the Coliseum and St. Peters.) Would I go back to Pompei? Only on a cool day.
More photos etc. at: http://g-photosi.blogspot.com/

Quote: No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. ~Lin Yutang

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fighting re-entry!

Fighting re-entry. Can you blame me? We were in Positano on June 10-11th. I could have happily stayed there . . . . The road is treacherous, but the views and village are so alive that I felt a sense of peace. I sat on this balcony at 11pm after walking back from dinner. The breeze was warm and soft and the lights on the sailboat were sparkling jewels. I cried with happiness.
Not every moment in Positano was great such as when the driver parked the car in the first parking lot he saw. What was he thinking? The blue arrow, center right side, is near the beach and shops. We had already gone down hill quite a distance when I took this photo.

Getting closer, but about a gazillion steps left to go. The beginnings of swollen feet and blisters. Worth it, but!

The blue arrows indicate some of the road. I took this shot while we were driving, thus the blurred bushes on the lower right corner. I would have been happy seeing all of this from the car and parking at the bottom where, yes, there were a few parking lots! My feet were screaming by the time we got to the bottom! Happily, there was a bus available to get us back to the parking garage. Though, the driver decided to get off early which as it turned out was a good idea, not for my feet, but we found Hotel Pastea which also had a spot for the car! Not easy to find hotels with parking. (we always have great luck when we travel. No plans, just winging it, and we always end up with a room for the night, though, sometimes it happens later than we'd like.)

The manager told us that we "had" to eat at Fornillo and tell the owner Margherita who sent us; we would be seated at a table with a view of bay. Of course the restaurant was downhill. The table was indeed overlooking the Mediterranean with the sparkling lights of the village to the left. What wasn't mentioned was that cars nearly joined us for dinner while maneuvering the curve the restaurant was perched on. One slip of the pedal and who knows where we might have landed. I love adventures and this certainly was one. A perfect meal was served to us and we closed down Fornillo along with a table of locals. Positano, a plate of divine gnocchi followed by tiramisu and a bottle of unbelievable Italian wine! Does it get any better?

Quote: Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone. John Steinbeck, 1953

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The 12 hour flight from Florence via Frankfurt landed at 5:30 at LAX on Sunday. We got to my daughter's house a mere thirty minutes from LAX and crashed. It looks like it's going to take me awhile to get over the jet-lag, sore muscles from walking about 20 miles, blisters and other traveling maladies. Sounds awful doesn't it? That's the downside of traveling. The upside is that we had a marvelous time with adventures galore. Met a lot of great people along the way and once I download the 1500+ photos the memories will begin. Right now everything is a blur; seven days isn't nearly enough time to see what we did. Pisa, Cinque Terr, Portofino, Amalfi and Positano, Pompei, Rome, Orvieto, and a little of Florence.
These photos were taken in Orvieto in the Umbria area in route to Florence. This is one town we'd love to spend more time in. We arrived on Saturday around 11am and parked quite a distance from the center much to my dismay! Swollen feet with more blisters than I care to think about. The pain was worth the long walk! There were photo opportunities about every foot or so.

I'm never sure whether it's my lousy eye-sight or the hilly streets, but most of the photos seem to be crooked. It must be the slant of the ground at least that's my story. Besides, Italy is mostly built on hills and cliffs. What's with that? The entire country slants unevenly, so much so that I never felt balanced.

Little touches of whimsy everywhere.

We wandered into a restaurant around 1pm and when we came out the entire village had closed it's doors. When we arrived the streets were crowded with open shops, side-walk vendors, tourists, and locals sharing stories. We hadn't received the memo with the siesta schedule so it's a good thing we had purchased the souvenirs before lunch.
Quote: A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. Lao Tzu

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Parting shots

In 2000 we arrived in Venice hot and tired and made our way to the famous Piazza San Marco. I was thinner then and two weeks ago I whacked off my hair; I have no idea if we'll make it to Venice this time, but by Friday night we'll be in Florence.
Years later this photograph remains my favorite one of Venice. Chat with you all after June 15th!!!