Sunday, 9 October 2016

Italy and Spain Adventure Update

Hailing from Seville, Spain, it seems incredible that we left home just a few days shy of one month ago! It would seem a recap is in order here. Our first few days were spent in Italy with stays in Florence and Venice. Then came the Azamara Cruise during which we stopped in Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Greece; Crotone, Taormina and Sorrento, Italy, and finally ending in Rome where we stayed a few days, basking once again in the ancient beauty of the eternal city, before heading out for a spectacular four day visit to Como, Italy. Upon leaving Italy, we enjoyed seven wonderful days in Basque country, San Sebastian/Donostia, Spain (Donostia is Basque for San Sebastian).  Now here we are in Seville, Spain having completed a visit to La Alhambra in Grenada and looking forward to a day in Ronda and Cordoba within the next few days.  Our travel adventure will conclude next week in Madrid.  All in all, we'll have been on the road for almost six weeks!  Sigh....

So, where to begin... perhaps by offering a few highlights from each place we visited after the last posting of our visit to Florence.

We begin in Venice:  Charles and I both agree that our room at Ca' Sagredo which was absolutely gorgeous in addition to having spectacular views of the Grand Canal was a major highlight!

Gazing upon the Grand Canal from our hotel room

Happy Place!

The room was gorgeous!
View from our hotel room in the evening...enchanting!

Guido's tour of the city, specifically the Doge's palace and of St.Marks, also offered new insights into the history of Venice.  The Bridge of Sighs, for example, misrepresented by a pop culture movie of 1979 as a place where lovers meet was in fact anything but.  It was in reality the last sight a prisoner would see when walking through a tunnel to their cell and life imprisonment.  Mark Twain said it best: “Many an innocent man to walk the Bridge of Sighs and descend into the dungeon which none entered and hoped to see the sun again.” Innocents Abroad. Hence, the sigh.
Picture taken through a grated window as we were crossing the Bridge of is actually covered bridge and feels very much like a tunnel when you are walking through it. 
 We'll continue with some highlights of the cruise soon.  Dinner beckons :)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Three Days in Florence

Arriving at Santa Maria Novella, Firenze on Sunday brought us back to our time here in Florence a few years ago.  Then everything was new and overwhelming.  This time, familiarity brought with it a certain amount of comfort, yet our level of excitement and anticipation was not diminished.  Charles and I had an interesting discussion about "been there, done that" or "checked that off my  bucket list..." There was none of that for us.  We discovered new vistas, explored new streets and eating establishments. 
It was a long arduous walk to Piazzale Michelangelo, but worth the climb!
Il Duomo, according to Charles, the 8th wonder of the world

We also decided it was time to tackle the Florentine Steak!

A task Charles took on with gusto!!
     The Florentine steak we had at Perseus, a restaurant that offered good local fare.  The steak is served rare, so it that's not your thing, forget about it!  They won't cook it any other way.  We loved the Tuscan style panzanella, and grilled vegetables.  The mushrooms ended up being the star of the show.  Charles actually preferred the meaty porcini mushroom to the steak, true vegetable flesh, in his words, of course.  The first night, we also had a lovely meal at a restaurant located on the Arno river called Open Bar Golden View and the view was spectacular.  Finally, we are staying at La Contessina hotel on Via Faenza, a modest hotel with kind people. I'll let Charles regale the reader with his rendition of our stay here.  Charles:  Our room faces the street and with no bugs, we have our windows open at night inviting the chaos of the early morning----and I mean early; of everything from "Guiseppe"  sorting out junk from his truck, to the Firenza Municipal services sucking sewer sludge out of the sewer below our window. Jeanne, ever so sensitive, to stench and noise, starting sniffing me first in the middle of the night. Thank Christ, I was asleep. With an overwhelming sense of nausea, she shuts the windows and we pray for a full night's sleep. Ahhhhhhh, the joys of travel.

     We leave for Venice tomorrow and look forward to revisiting its wonders.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Italy and Spain, Here We Come!

Well, it's been a while, but Charles and I are about to embark on a new travel adventure!  We are calling it our Italy/Spain Trip.  In addition to revisiting some familiar favourite spots including Rome, Florence and Venice, we will also be enjoying a cruise on the Azamara Journey.  After the cruise the plan is to relax in what we hope will be a lovely spot in Como, Northern Italy.  Then off to Spain where we will spend time in San Sebastian, Seville, Madrid.  In addition, we will be engaged in day tours to places like Cordoba, Toledo, Granada and more.

We have a rather complicated itinerary speckled with train travel, flights, varied accommodation day tours, car rentals, etc. and are grateful to Roger Kershaw Custom Travel Inc for their in-exhaustive patience in assisting us with some of the finer points of this trip.  Roger and Jim engaged Made for Spain & Portugal who assisted with the Spain end of things.  The result is an amazing package packed with fun, learning and yes...some leisure time.  So excited!!

Signing off for now.  Stay tuned for more ...much the next month or so.

Italy and Spain, here we come!