Friday, April 4, 2014

Italy: Day 4

Where do I begin... day 4. It was a day of ups and downs. When we woke up at 830 it was pouring, we didn't see the weather report so this was a surprise to us. We fell back asleep until 10 and Al brought me breakfast in bed again. We took our time getting ready and I fell asleep again. We finally got out of the hotel at 12:30 and by that time the rain had stopped.

We took the back roads and headed south towards Siena. Around 2:00 we stopped at a small town parked. This wasn't a planned stop but we saw a fortified city on a hill and thought it would be fun to explore. The walk up was steep and there was just an over-grown stone path. We joked that it was as close to hiking as we will ever get.

The hike up paid off, the views were incredible. We took a lot of photos and walked around this tiny city on a hill. It was 2:30 by then and we were hungry for lunch. A few restaurants just started siesta, but we found one that was still open. I don't think we could have picked a better restaurant if we tried. The view was perfect overlooking the town below and the surrounding countryside. Lunch was the best food we had so far. I even got to try wild boar and grappa. I do not recommend the latter. Grappa is grapes that were dead when they were picked and put into a barrel for 5-10 years. It is basically wine that is 45% alcohol... it tastes like whiskey. But the wild boar carpaccio was good!

The rain started again as soon as we got to our car. We finished our drive to Siena, found a parking space outside the city walls and walked in. We should have bought a map before walking into the city... But we didn't think that far in advance.  After some wine and gelato in the main square we tried to find our car. Key word here is tried. We over estimated our navigation skills and ended up walking for 2 hours... bought a map.  Then were lost for another 30 minutes before giving up and sitting down for a drink.

We were much more successful after the break... which was a good thing because it was rainy dark and all the stores were closed.

After a few wrong turns and dinner at a rest stop McDonald's (mcdrive) and some more wrong turns. (This country doesnt have good road signs) we made it back to the hotel around midnight. .. 11.5 hours after we left.

I can't give Al enough credit for driving today! It was rainy, we got lost and Italian drivers are crazy... like batshit crazy. He has done an amazing job getting us from place to place unscathed.

By the numbers:
Km drove: 1100
Km walked: about 6... maybe?
Photos: 583 (estimate)
Wine: 5.5 bottles, 4 glasses
Pasta: 7
Pizza: 3
Cannoli: 1
Brushetta: 2
Fried Calimari: 1
Gelato: 2
New foods eaten: limoncello cuttlefish, wild boar, grappa

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Italy: Day 3

I didn't sleep that well last night, and so getting up today was a little hard. Al was nice enough to bring me breakfast in bed. We were on the road by 11am heading west towards Pisa (didn't stop) and turned north to drive along the coast towards Cinque Terre. What a beautiful drive! I am convinced we saw the best parts of the county!

Cinque Terre is made up of five towns built into the side of a mountain. Amazing how much they cram into the precious space, the cities are almost vertical. Everything is built on top of everything else it's quite amazing. We stopped in the southern most town, Riomaggorie, for lunch. We shared fried pesto and cuttlefish ravioli, caprese salad, and mussles in the most delicious lemon and garlic broth. 

Then we hiked back up the almost vertical road to our car and headed north to the next of the five towns. The name is escaping me right now (and it's too small to be on our map) but if you google Cinque Terre the pictures you get will most likely be from this town. We took like a million pictures and then shared a bottle of wine as the sun sank in the sky.

We got back on the highway and drove back to our hotel in record time. Then showered and went out for dinner. Well we wanted to go out to dinner but this town is weird... to say the least. There are a lot of Italian kids on what looks like class trips. They don't go anywhere at night they just hang out in groups on the street. They must eat in the hotel as part of their trip package because there are three restaurants to eat at that aren't part of hotels... and none of them are there.  We ate at one the first night and it wasn't very good. We walked into the other one tonight and it was really weird. They had photocopied menus that had no prices and a shady seafood buffet set up in the middle of the dining room. We were seated, looked at the menu and promptly left. Then we walked all the way across town to the restaurant we went to last night. We have the same waiter who is just as funny and the food was once again delicious.

Now it's time to plan our road trip to Siena and and some wineries tomorrow. Hopefully I can fall sleep tonight..

By the numbers:
Km drove: 900
Km walked: about 4... maybe?
Photos: 350 (estimate)
Wine: 2.5 bottles, 4 glasses
Pasta: 5
Pizza: 3
Cannoli: 1
Brushetta: 2
Fried Calimari: 1
Gelato: 1

Ps. I am typing this on my phone please pardon spelling and grammatical errors.

Untapped Cities Recap - French Building {Remix}

I wasn't entirely happy with my inital French Building doodle so I decided to redo it!

Click the image below to jump to the Untapped Cities website to see the full doodle and a little bit about the history.

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All images copyright of Bernadette Moke 2013

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Italy: Day 2

Today we explored Florence... and I use the word explored very literally since we parked over a mile from the "touristy"/old areas. That was my fault. I played the "better be safe than sorry" card. I was so worried we wouldn't find parking close to the Duomo. Plus our phone data plan isnt working althe way we anticipated, so we cant access gps.

Anywho. After missing the train (my fault again) we drove in to Florence. Parked. Hiked. And then plopped down in the Piazza Della Signoria. Ate some pizza, then busted our our cameras and went full tourist on the city :) We even stood in line to see Michelangelo's "David". It was larger than I thought it would be. Al was nice enough to humour me while I sketched for about 15 minutes.

170 photos after lunch, we finally stopped for a glass of wine, which turned ino two glasses and some sketching. Later we headed back to our car and drove back to our hotel in Montecatini Terme as the sun was setting.

After a hot shower we walked into the heart of town for a late dinner. We were the last people to get a table and so the last people sitting. But instead of being grumpy we were prolonging his night, the waiter was funny. He was surprised when we didnt order like fat americans, and put my leftovers in front of al to eat. If we are in Montecatini at dinner time again we will be going back.

By the numbers:
Km drove: 502 (yesterday was 423)
Km walked: about 3... maybe?
Photos: 200
Wine: 1 bottle, 4 glasses
Pasta: 4
Pizza: 2
Cannoli: 1
Fried Calimari: 1

Italy: Day 1

We made it! After a few hiccups getting to JFK airport and running to catch our flight because we were eating all the way across the terminal we were off! Emirates Air is fantastic. Blankets, pillows and headphones were waiting for us at our seats. Then free tv and movies at our seat for the whole 7 hour flight. Plus dinner AND breakfast... oh yea no bag fees. I had two seats to "stretch" out but I think al got more sleep than I did. Deboarding took 10 minutes.. US flights need to learn something from them.

We got our car and were off. After a few wrong turns while I tried to figure out the map (we were not at the airport I thought we were) we headed south from Milan to just outside Florence. After a while we got off the highway and took back roads through Parma and Reggio. Then got on even smaller backroads that wound up through the countryside and mountains. What an amazing drive! We toom a few photos but it doesnt begin to capture the beauty.

2.5 hours of mountain driving (7 hours after getting into the car).. we were so tired. Checked in, got dinner, showered and passed out at 12:30am. Honestly it was a miracle we stayed awake that long.

Ps. Italian coke tastes different than it does in the US... Not as sweet.

By the numbers:
Km drove: about 500
Wine: 1 bottle
Pasta: 2
Fried Calimari: 1

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Typography Tuesday #4

Perfect Jimi Hendrix quote for this photo.

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All images copyright of Bernadette Moke 2014