A Travellerspoint blog

On the Buses

Simon and I spent a lovely night at a Hotel in Stanwell village close to Heathrow airport. The Hotel is lovely - feels just like home.
We decided to do some last minute retail therapy so googled the closest shops to where we are. We found out the bus no. (441) and headed to the bus stop. Lo and behold we got talking and laughing with Jim and Doreen an elderly couple heading to the hospital when along came 86 year old Arnold and his wife. He is always impeccably dressed according to Doreen and is a highly decorated war hero. Poor Arnold is suffering from dementia (not that we could tell) and recently his son took his bike off him as he was a menace on the roads and ended up in places he shouldn't have.. It was one laugh After another whilst waiting for the 441 bus.....We were given our instructions to buy a return ticket as it is cheaper (we forgot we had our Octopus cards from when we were here a few weeks ago) and advised where to get the return bus...... Thank goodness we met our new friends Doreen, Jim, Arnold and his wife - goodness knows where we would have ended up. We had hoped we were over the hot sweaty weather but London has turned on a scorcher - hot, sticky and humid...... Well we are into our final hours here in London - packed the bags with the latest purchases and heading to the airport hopefully to add a couple of extra purchases to fill up one more space - cant say what it is as it is a surprise. Martyn has decided to extend his holiday (just doesn't want to go home to reality I guess) and just Simon and I heading for the arduous journey back home to a freezing NZ.
Robyn and Simon - au Revoir London xxxxx

Posted by gaddesandgray 08:34 Comments (0)

Arriverderci Italia.........

Homeward bound

This will be the last blog entry. Our Italian trip was a long time in the planning. Over many months and dinners we plannned and dreamt of our Italian adventure. With movies such as "Under the Tuscan Sun", and more recently "Eat, Pray, Love", I think we had a vision of country one could only dream about. Now the time has come to say farewell to Italy, and I think the expectations have been well and truly met.
It seems such a long time ago now that we arrived in Venice and were taken down the small cobblestoned lane to our hotel rooms. The bustling waterways of this special city were our first taste of Italy. Tuscany was as beautiful as we imagined. With its rolling green and yellow fields scattered with hay bales and the tiny villages dotted throughout, it really is something special. We will always remember the villages of Staggia and Pogghibonsi, where we ate many a fine dinner. Castles and towers are to be seen everywhere in Tuscany, and they are treasured and respected. The Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast were totally different. With the ancient old houses built into the rock faces all along the coast and set against the background of the sparkling green ocean it was really was postcard perfect. I think we will all remember the never ending steps of these regions, so many! Capri was traditional Italian with a modern twist.
We have eaten so much delicious Italian food. In Tuscany the tomatoes were absolutely beautiful, rich red and sweet, much like the tomatoes in NZ used to be. We ate delicious cheeses and meats with so much more flavour than we have in NZ. The area is rich with olive trees and cherry trees.
We always remember our beautiful traditional Italian dinners that we had with Rudi and Claudia. In Amalfi, it is lemons that are abundant. Whever you go, Limonchelli is on hand. All the locals seem to grow their own fruit and vegetables. In Capri, our hotel was surrounded by apricot trees absolutely laden with apricots. In Italy the locally grown produce is used in the community, to benefit the community. And of course we have eaten delicious spaghetti and pastas, not to mention pizzas. These foods are still the favourites in Italy and there is a pizzeria on every corner. When you buy a pizza in Italia it is made from scratch, even the dough. Pizza and pasta are served with minimal toppings and sauces unlike NZ where pastas are swamped with sauce and pizzas are laden with cheese.
The Italian people are passionate and expressive. Like anywhere else in the world, we met lovely ones and not so lovely ones. Many times we thought people were arguing on the street, but it was just everyday conversation. We have all enjoyed trying to communicate with our limited Italian skills and have ended up laughing most of the time. We definately improved though, and were quite proud to be able to order off an Italian menu! Italy is steeped in tradition and family values and this was clearly evident in Tuscany where we stayed with Claudia and Rudi. The farm was family run and everybody had a part to play. In Italy children stay up as late as Mum and Dad, and I don't think Robyn and I could quite get our heads around 2 year old Gabriel playing soccer at midnight. They welcomed us and the other guests with true warmth and it was a total joy to stay with them. Our experience in Positano was not as pleasant. Grumpy old Pepe clearly had a chip on his shoulder and the modern world was not something he was wanting to embrace. He did grease up the Americans though, probably in hope of a large tip!! Many other people have been a part of our adventure.....Colin and Val, from Byron Bay, The mysterious Jordan and Sabine, Chuck and Clay, Melanie and Michelle.....oh wow!, Brenda and the clergyman (we never did find out his name), the Canadian girls, John and Carole (lets take a photo) and even the little German man in the pizza place in Capri who lost his first love in 1965 and has been returning ever since. Robyns friend Francis from Taupo. Oh, and I mustn't forget my boyfriend, Tony the apricot man!! lol.
Robyn and Simon, you have been fantastic travel buddies. We have had so much fun and laughter along the way, and have so many memories to treasure forever. Thanks for being part of the adventure.......xxxxxx
I hope that whoever has read this has enjoyed it.
So for now it is Arriverderci Italia, thank you for all you have shared with us.
Ciao, for the last time. Lxxx

Posted by gaddesandgray 15:09 Comments (1)

The End is Near......

Simon and I enjoyed our day in Rome - such a bustling city ..... Cars and people everywhere...... We walked to the Vatican and soaked up the atmosphere and then jumped on the Hop on Hop Off bus to All the sights one must see whilst in Rome. After spending 2 hours on the bus caught up in traffic jams galore we decided to head to the Via del corso - the shopping mecca..... Battling the many pedestrians, the heat and taking our
Life in our hands every time we attempted to cross a road (they have pedestrian crossings but dont stop for you) we battled on for a couple of hours but eventually the heat won and we headed back to our hotel for the cool air conditioned room.

We met up with our fellow travel companions for a quiet drink in our hotel bar before finding a local restaurant for our last italian dinner!!! The dinner was all lovely at Ristorante Calabascio, just around the corner from our hotel. We have realised why Italy is in the mess it is in financially - it has become obvious that people are avoiding the tax man - from our B and B hosts at Positano to the local restauranter in Rome. The large group of Americans went to pay via debit or credit card only to find the machine wouldnt accept their cards - one after another so ended up paying by cash. It came to our turn with our debit card only to find it also wouldnt accept our card..... But how was one to pay if that was all we had. We were asked by the owner to go around to the local money machine and get cash for him....... We were asked to go to our hotel and return with cash. Apparently They had installed a new eftpos machine the day before that wasnt working correctly...... I kept perservering asking them to reboot the machine, put in their pin (which he would only put two numbers and then stop) ....they disappeared outside where they were recalculating our bill.....not sure why..... They then came in swapped the eftpos machines over and lo and behold my card was accepted and all was well...... The lads didnt need to do the dishes after all..... We carried on our merry way but didnt go back directly to our hotel in case we were being followed. On heading back after about 10minutes as we came to our corner the young waiter from the restaurant was on the street corner looking one way then the other. Please use all this info if we become victims of an unexplained crime in Rome....... An adventurous end to our last night in this wonderful country. Arriverderci Italy. Xxx

Posted by gaddesandgray 14:31 Comments (0)

Rome

The final few days

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We left Capri yesterday morning and caught the ferry direct to Naples. It was here that we got our first glimpse of the not so pretty side of Italy. Naples seemed very dirty and run down....not the sort of place you would want to be at for a long time. From there, we caught our last train to Rome. My dodgy wheel on my suitcase finally broke off and I have had to buy a new one..........grrrrr. We had a great night out last night, at an Irish bar of all things. Luck was on our side as we had a performing arts school showcasing their work. It was a fantastic night listening to all the talented young singers. All of the songs were English and all were well known ones. It was great to have some entertainment as we chowed down on our burgers and fries (yes, we are just a little bit over spaghetti and pizza!). Today we went our seperate ways. Robyn and Simon went on the hop on hop off bus around Rome and Martyn and I joined a walking tour of the Vatican City. We went to the Vatican museums and saw some wonderful old art works collected by the many popes over centuries, to the Sistine Chapel where we saw the amazing work of Michelangelo, and finally to my favourite place, St Peters Basilica. The grandeur of this great basilica is overwhelming. The workmanship and stunning art is unlike anything we ever see today. It is still roastingly hot here, with the temperature today well into the 40's. There is thousands of tourists in Rome at the moment, and it almost seemed to take away the feeling of serenity in the Sistine Chapel particularly. Being jammed in like sardines is not that pleasant!! Amazingly, we bumped into the Canadian girls from Tuscany. In all the thousands of people, who would have thought! Tonight will be our last dinner in Italy. It must surely be pizza or spaghetti. Ciao. Lx

Posted by gaddesandgray 08:26 Comments (0)

Out and about in Capri

A day out with Marcella

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This morning we were picked up by Tony and Marcella for a tour of the island of Capri. First stop was the Grotto Azzura, also known as the Blue Grotto. It was quite some sight when we arrived to see the many boats (mainly full of Chinese and Japanese) crowding the tiny entrance waiting to get in. At times, there is a 2 hour wait on a large boat before transferring onto a small boat to enter the grotto. Luckily we didn't have to wait this long and were soon ready to enter the cave. We all had to lie down in the boat as the entrance way is very small and low. Must have looked quite a sight. Simon had the bow to himself while we other 3 were cuddled up nicely in the back (lying down). The grotto was beautiful , with crystal clear water illuminated by natural light. In some ways, almost surreal. After that, we were back to Ana Capri and onto the single man chair lift to Monte Solaro. Once again, it felt as though you were on top of the world with breathtaking views out over the stunning green and blue waters. We were soon on the road again and headed to the hub of Capri, the area where the rich and famous hang out. We couldn't spot any papparazzi so gathered nobody famous was there! This area is home to the label shops of Italy, and out of our reach I'm afraid!! We visited the world famous La Piazzetta, and Martyn purchased some famous Capri man spray...lol. Marcella took us through the shopping area of Capri to the Caesar Augustus Gardens. From here we could see the amazing view of Faraglioni. Once again, the waters were filled with launches, bigger than our houses! Marcella was a lovely Italian born guide who knew so much of the history of the area, it was very worthwhile. This afternoon Martyn and I visited a coulple of the old churches of the region, the main one being "The church of San Michele". At one time, this lovely old church was the hub of Capri. I think Robyn and Simon have been relaxing by the pool, with Robyn becoming more "bronzali". Tomorrow we leave for Rome, on the downward spiral. It's hard to imagine the end!! Ciao, Lx

Posted by gaddesandgray 09:30 Comments (0)

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