Welcome to Europe's Other Tour
Stage 17 of the Tour de France
Italy (Cinque Terre & Tuscany)
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I'll have to make this very quick as I only have 30 mins on this machine. Paris was great - after exploring the Latin Quarter including the famous bookstore Shakespeare and Company (hang out of Hemmingway, the Beats, etc. - Burroughs actually wrote Naked Lunch in this building) we walked right into the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa, the statue of Venus (if memory serves??) among others. Up then next day (yesterday) for coffee and croissants (of course) and Monmartre and Sacre-Coeur (crepe chocolate-bannane - enough said!). Then last night we had the ultimate "date night" - back to the Latin Quarter for three course dinner, rented bikes and rode to the Eiffel Tower arriving at midnight; the only unfortunate thing was that we missed the last ride up the Tower :(but we won't complain); Meteo back to home base (which was Place de Clichy, fyi) and a brief night cap. This morning we locked up our backpacks at Gare du Nord before venturing off to try our luck on the Tower again. This time the line-ups looked a little daunting for the three hours that we had to play with, so we hiked up to Tiuliere (sp?) and rode the ferris wheel instead. Good times, for sure.
Managed to get the right train out and are now safe at the Youth Hostel right across from St. Paul's Cathedral in London actually anxiously awaiting our journey back home tomorrow (leave at noon, arrive at 2:35 - gotta like it).
So wanna see the pics? Well we can't seem to find the USB cord for the camera--it's either upstairs in a locked away bag, or back in Place de Clichy. So, pics will follow shortly after we arrive back home.
That's it I guess, thanks so much for reading and commenting. If you haven't commented yet, it's not too late, we'd love to hear from you. Definitely look forward to sharing more with family and friends when we get back.
Things we're gonna miss: gelato (number 1), crepes, cheap (great!) wine, the constant change of scenary.
Things that we're looking forward to: Steve Earle (!!!!!!!!!! Can't believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!), watching the Olympics, Chester Race Week, Soccer playoffs, relaxing on Hyson Point.
S & S
PS Wish the IWOM (Gina) luck as we try to salvage the Tour pic. If she's successful, dinner's on me and we'll post the pic on the blog ASAP.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
First an addendum to the last post - I forgot to mention that we spent the last of the three days with the car touring Il Chanti, home to Hannibal Lecter's pick of the reds, as it were. Lots of way back roads, a couple of tastes, and one purchase. From there we made our way north to Florence fighting traffic, frustrating maps and Hertz's closing time. In the end, we made it with 20 mins to spare, and the shady Hertz dude only soaked us for 70 extra Euros - not bad for Italy, I guess.
Well, Florence, what can I say. High concentrations of Renaissance Art must make places hot. If Joff's out there reading, dude, it was like Cape Hatteras hot, and without the escape of the A/C of Dad's Blazer. Crazy!
That said, we fit everything that you're supposed to do in Florence in the three days that we had. Climbed the 467 steps up to the Duamo's Dome, Piazza della Signora, Pont Verricho, Galleria del'Academia (Michelangelo's David), and the Galleria d'Uffizi (Da Vinci's Birth of Venus)...pictures to follow but boring!!!! Well boring compared to the First Division European Premiereship soccer game between visting Barcelona and hometown Fiorentina that we went to. Actually got into this baby for the low low price of 24 Euros (not each btw, total!). The video says it all:
A David knock-off in the Piazza della Signora (original location of the statue). PS illegal to take pics of the real thing in the Academia.
Ponte Vecchio - the only bridge over the Arno River that was spared during WWII. The two theories are first that the order came down from Hilter himself not to bomb the bridge, or alternatively that the order in fact came down but that the general in charge of the operation refused to carry it out...
Our digs in Florence at Hotel Orchidea (Orchid)
So, we've arrived safely in gay Paris - yesterday, actually - and are taking in what we can while actually looking forward to getting back to NS with all of our treasures and experiences. One more sleep here, one more in London, then one in Mahone Bay before taking in Steve freakin' Earle in Hali, BABY!!!! Looking forward to seeing you all soon; will try to make one more post of the Paris stuff tomorrow night in London.
S 'n' S
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
So we ended up staying in a town called Cecina, the hotel wasn't much but the meal, as you'd imagine was amazing. Nothing too elaborate as those how know me know that a gourmand, I'm not. Great salad, pizza and Chanti Classico. Yum yum.
So the next day it was off to put more miles on the back roads. We headed first for medievil towns of Volterra
and San Gimignano(this definitely warranted a stop in--a day without gelato is like a day in someplace other than Italy...), and settling for the night at a great 'casa' in Siena. This was a big find at 70€ a night. Having settled in we spent the evening exploring Siena, home of Il Palio (crazy one-lap around Il Campo Square horse race held in July and August - unfortunately not now though). So here's a pick of Il Campo:So the deal with Il Palio, is that there are 17 sectors of Siena and each year they all compete to enter a horse in the race. Upon coming out of our risotrante that evening we were lucky enough to see one of these sectors celebrating their way of life. Press play.
Before shutting down the lengthy post, I should put two specific call-outs.
First, Mom and Dad, you MUST get over here soon and rent a bike and get out on these Tuscan Roads. They're exactly what you imagine them to be, and if you like the turns between Riverport and Bridgewater, wait til you get over here!
Second, here you go Gina, a sneak peak at a Florence shot--two thumbs and innumeral Davids ;)
Thanks for reading, and tune in soon for the news from Florence. Again, we have some big plans for tonight, so, ya'll come back now, here?
S & S
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Well hello again, glutton of fun number one here. Let's cut to the chase. If you EVER come to Italy you HAVE to take in the Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre means 'five lands', and basically, it's a National Park of hiking trials combing all over the high country that plunges down into the Mediterranean Sea. The creme de la creme of the Cinque Terre is a 10-ish km trail called Via dell Amore which links the five lands...the five lands are Riomaggorie, Manroloa (where we stayed), Corniglia, Veranazza, and Monterosso and are all incredibly unique villages, let's say, each built on hilltops and/or cliffs overlooking the sea. Everything that you've ever pictured about Italy is here. The hiking between towns is incredible.
So, here's our story about the Cinque Terre. On our one full day that we had there, we got up early for a run from Manorola to Corniglia via...Via della Amore - definitely the best 'Rave Run' of my life. Back to hostel, packed bags for the beach and caught the train to Monterosso (did I mention that there's a train that runs up and down the Cinque Terre so you can run/hike until you can't run/hike anymore then flop on to a train and get back to your hostel...tres cool). So, beach for a few hours in Monterosso, where I read the Herald Tribune catching up on TdeF coverage. After enough lazing around, we decided to tackle the 3km hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. Now this is a two hour, 3km hike - up 8 million stairs (when I say stairs, I of course mean ancient medieval slate that some dude carved steps out of back in the Percambrian Era) twisting and turning around and about the olive groves and vineyards while looking down at and across the Med Sea, then down 8 million stairs to Vernazza. Unreal, ya!
Now Vernazza, is apparently the 'Jewel of the Cinque Terre' or so says Rick Steeves. And in this case, Rick's right. Having sweat out most of the fluids in our body, we promptly threw ourselves into the Sea, literally, first off a ferry wharf, then off a huge cliff (a la 'The Ovens' for the L'burgers). Next was dinner in a ristorante that is literally built out of said cliff high above the jump off point, then the picture losing fiasco (big downer), then train home to Manorola and the well earned sack!
Now the irony here, is that we took some of the best, awe inspiring photos of the trip while in the Cinque Terre, but they're all on the memory card that has the remnants of the famous Alpe d'Huez shot. Update on that story - Gina, International Woman of Mystery (in case you were wondering what IWOM meant) is quite confident that she can get our pic back when we get home. In the meantime, we've bought a new memory card for the camera and have stored the other one in a vacuumed mobile glass case (similar to what I imagine covers the Statue of David). So, for visuals of this post, you'll have to sweat it out on the slide show up above.
So, I'm still one phase of the trip behind on the blog. We've spent the last three days gallivanting around Tuscany in a rented car, and of course have much to blog about (of for Godbold, 'about which to blog'). Hoping to update on that before too much happens here in Florence, but we'll see how it goes.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
The Gluttons of Fun
A few comment replies:
- Gail, yes to yoga, unless I miss too many classes because I'm not actually there (home Aug 4th)
- Cliff Chris, I can't remember if I mentioned in the post but I wasn't prepared for how the riders look in person - weird, plastic-y actually, and yes the tv puts on pounds, these dudes, for the most part are tiny, like horse jockeys (massive tree trunk quads notwithstanding of course)
- Gina, thumb shots will come, if it's thumb shots you want. Btw, the name of our bus stop in Florence last night...Angio, I believe it's a good sign ;
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
So, long time no nothing, eh? Sorry about that; have been immersed to say the least in our "Amazing Race" to see the climb of the Alpe d?Huez--anybody catch us on the old boob tube?? WE WERE THERE....B I G T I M E !!!!! Details (many) to follow. Just arrived in Manorola (Cinque Terre), Italy after many hours on trains etc. Must do some quick exploring then crash. I also need to locate a computer that I can upload pictures with. Will do so ASAP (hopefully tomorrow). Please please tune in soon to hear about our experience at Stage 17 of the TdeF.
The sneak peak in to my next post: Folks, if you ever attend an event like the TdeF and need a photographer to document your shear adrenalized passion for the spectacle before your eyes, then Ms. Selena Davidson is your lady! One of her pictures literally brought tears to my eyes! I still can't believe it.
Thom: the pic sans shoes wasn't as good, but it did happen.
Godbold: no ATV's
Rapo's: Merci encore!
Marcus: did you see us; we were there BABY!
Lovely people we met on the trains today - firstname.lastname@example.org mi casa si casa
S & S
Monday, July 21, 2008
That all changed for us last night as the Rapo family welcome us into their home. No sooner had we arrived and Phillipe was on the phone calling his mother and brother and telling them that Selena had returned and they ought to come pay her a visit. After we relaxed and caught up on the terrace over a bottle of brother Michel's Pinot Gris (Phillipe's brother!), Pascale, Phillipe's wife, began preparing an amazing meal of meats and grilled veggies. The girls that Selena looked after are now 13 and 11 years--Camille and Marion--and when she was last here they were 3 and 6 months. They've changed! Great kids to say the least. Bottles were opened and emptied and we finished the experience with a taste of Swiss Chocolate and an Apricot Scnapps and another liquor called Grappo. A sincere thanks to the whole Rapo family--this was surely the highlight of our trip!
It goes on...this morning after an hour spent exploring the town on their mountain bikes, we enjoyed breakfast and coffee on the terrace. Too cool. Gaté pour certain (Spoiled :)
So, after more exploring of Cheyre and Yveron, we board the train for Grenoble, France where on the 23rd we'll see the climb of the Alpe'd'Huez!!! Two more sleeps.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Stay tuned.