What happened about the smashed champagne glass?

In Positano, you may recall that we accidently smashed one of the lovely crystal champagne glasses the nice old man lent to me after I told him we had got engaged.  I felt so bad about that accident that I was fretting and saying to Zorba, “let’s buy him a bottle of Verve to make up for it / where could we buy replacement champagne glasses in Positano?” etc.  Zorba told me to stop worrying about it that we’ll just talk to him and tell him what happened.

The next morning, I sheepishly checked out and Zorba did all the talking.  Marco Carlo, owner of the Maria Luisa Pensione, is the loveliest man – he said, “noooo, don’t worry, no problem, it’s ok…” In my best Italian I apologised profusely and he put a hand on my shoulder and said, “it’s ok, really,”.  Oh good!  Thanks!  Such a nice man.

We can highly recommend the Pensione Maria Luisa in Positano – it’s clean, cheap, good location, QUIET at night (hard to find in Positano), and had killer views of the sea and the town.  They have a website – google them!

We are now in Sicilia and look past to our time in Positano last week really fondly. That place is magical. You have to go. 

Amalfi Coast days keep getting better

Does life get any better? I keep asking myself that question and I don’t reckon it does!   We have just had two of the best days in my life.

The first best day:

Gabbie was on the beach when we arrived, sitting on a lettino owned by her hotel. I ordered a freshly made lemon granita from Guido and Zorba and i took our place on Positano’s best beach.   The lovely Alessandro brought my drink down, and a gorgeous flower for my friend Gabriella.  Sigh.  I used to get flowers from men in Italia, now I get what i pay for, a drink, and my friends get the flowers….!  Zorba said he’d go sit at the other end of the beach if ‘he was cramping my style’.  Hahaha!  My single days are over and I reminded Zorba that it was his job to give me flowers now :)

I walked to Gabbie and gave her the flower Guido had had delivered via Alessandro.  Gabbie pinned in straight in her hair and went to Bar Ferginando to thank Guido.  She came back a few minutes later and asked us if we wanted to go out on Alessandro’s boat.  Sure!  Sounds great! 

Alessandro spoke perfect English and took us for the most delightful cruise up the Amalfi Coast. We sat back in the sun, wow-ing at the spectacular view.  It is seriously one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  Azure crystal clear water backed by impressive rock cliff faces, grottos everywhere, oh it was joy. Sheer splendid joy.  No one brought a camera – so we all gazed in amazement at the beauty of the water and the coast, etching the images into our minds.

He stopped the boat and we all jumped off and went for a glorious swim.  Aaaaahhhh – perfecto!   After a refreshing swim, Alessandro stopped at Positano jetty and ordered us some beers – it wasn’t a drive through as much as a ‘sail through’ – hahaha – and I was in HEAVEN.   In the boat, cruising along the Amalfi Coast, chatting, laughing, sun baking, and drinking beer…bliss!  We went past one boat and from a respectable distance, saw a couple making love (so Italian! anywhere!). 

Gabbie and I were just saying – pinch me, is this real?  How did this happen?  Who cares how it happened, all i knew is that I was having one of the best days of our trip so far.

After a few hours out on the boat, we went back to Guido’s Bar Ferginando and had more beers and some lunch. Then more beer and a mojito – a mistake.  I had to go down to the beach and I slept on a lettino until Zorba dragged me home.  No disco dancing for me tonight!

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The second best day:

The next day, Zorba and I realised a dream.  We hired scooters and rode up and down the Amalfi Coast.  Regrettably there weren’t any vespas to rent, so I had a Piaggio Liberty 125cc and Zorba had a 150cc Honda.   We would have hired scooters sooner except that the hire places in Positano are ridiculously expensive.  65 euro per day, EACH.  No way.  In Sorrento it was 30 euro per day.  We were planning on taking the local bus to Ravello, when walking to the bus stop, not 100m from the last rip off hire place, we see scooters for hire for 32 euro.  So we changed our plan and got a scooter each!

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It was so much fun riding the windy coast road.  To be honest, I was expecting to crap myself most of the way around, given how narrow the roads are and how crazy Italians drive.  But it wasn’t scary at all.  It was exhilarating!  Zorba was loving it and so was I.   We stopped at Praiano, Amalfi, Minori – where we had a very disappointing lunch (dont’ go there, nothing there), then rode the scenic mountain roads up to Ravello.   We rode up the mountain, seeing lush greenery, terraced farm land, and spectacular views from high up the mountain.  Sensational.

Ravello is lovely.  Cute and gorgeous.  I spent a fortune on some crockery, an Antipasto set, that will be shipped home.  I’m happy – I have wanted to buy crockery from Italy for years.

We made our way back to Positano, stopping at Atrani for a drink and look around. The first world cup game was being played, so we sat in a bar and watched the first half, then had to leave to get the Scooters back.  Riding back was heaps fun too.  

We had two of the best days ever!!!  We saw the Amalfi coast by boat, then by scooter.  Two of the best days ever!  And a superb way to spend our last day in Positano, riding a scooter.

Positano will always have a special place in our hearts – not only is it magical, but it is the place were Zorba planned to propose to me – and then did.  We love it and will return.

Next stop, Sicilia!

 

 

 

 

 

A smashing celebration!

Before dinner, Zorba decided we should have the bottle of Verve champagne we bought in Sorrento (bargain 35 euro!).  After I spent about an hour stressing out over the internet connection that kept dropping out when trying to book flights to Palermo, I asked the lovely old guy who owns Pensione Maria Luisa if he had some champagne glasses we could borrow because we were celebrating our engagement.   He congratulated me and said yes of course – off he shuffled and brought back two sets of glasses for me to choose from. One was like a glass dessert dish and not really a champagne glass at all, and the other was like a beer glass… oh well, better than plastic.  I thanked him and said they would be fine. He said – wait I might have another – and returned back with two beautiful crystal champagne glasses.  I was imagining that they were perhaps a wedding present when he received them as they were not really the kind of glasses you see in shops, rather in old relatives houses.  Perfect!!

Zorba and I popped the Verve and he proposed to me properly – dropping to one knee and saying the most lovely things.  It was so romantic and very sweet…of course I cried (a happy cry!).  We toasted and sipped the yummy Verve, then Zorba put the iPod ear piece in my ear, he had the other one, and we danced on our balcony to “It’s Amore!”.  As he tried to twirl me around, the head phone popped out of my ear – after pulling on it – it was hysterical!  We altered our dancing style – no twirls – and drank the champagne and drank in the beautiful view of Positano.  

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I couldn’t let an occasion like this go without a photo!  So we got the tripod out and did some self portraits, photos of my ring, photo of drinking champagne, etc etc.  As we were getting to the end of the champas, we started to become photo stylists and set up some shots of my ring (off) with the champagne.  We were having a ball, adding a flower from the garden, moving object around…and then…. SMASH!  Oooooohhhhh SHIT!  The beautiful crystal champagne glass was accidently knocked off the table and smashed into a thousand pieces.  Shit shit shiiiiiit!!!  Oh God, I felt so so so so terrible!  That lovely man lent us his glasses and we smashed one.  Whoops!

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We went to dinner, met up with my new bestie Gabbie, and had a really really fun night back at Mediterraneo restaurant singing along with Alfonso.  The food was so good last time, I ordered the same thing – Spigola con guazetto (fish cooked in white wine, tomatoes and onion).  We had THE BEST red I have drunk in Italia to date too – called Mioi.  Smooth with chocolate aromas and reasonable at 20 euro a bottle. So we had two bottles! 

The owner, also a waiter there, was crazy – a lot of fun and kept jumping in photos. For dessert, we ordered a local speciality a delicious lemon sponge cake, known in English as “the boob” because of it’s shape.  We had to order it and it was delicious!  What a fun fun fun night!

Happy and ‘un poco brillo’ (a little tipsy), we both slept like babies….

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Picture perfect Positano

I think it’s fair to say that Zorba and I are in love with Positano.  Those of you who have been here know how magical and beautiful this little town on the Amalfi coast is.  Just 3000 people live here.

We spent three nights at the very agreeable little pensione called Maria Luisa on the south side of town above Fornillo beach, the second smaller beach of Positano.  At 75 euro per night, it was sensational – our own private balcony with million dollar views, neat and clean and easily situated vertically above the beach.  The area is so quiet and waking up to that view every day is simply breathtaking.

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On the bus ride from Sorrento to Positano, we met Melbournian Sicilian Gabriella.  She is coming to the end of her 3 month trip in Italia and is staying in Positano for a week.  Gabbie and I are very alike and hit it off like a house on fire, talking about anything and everything.  We’ve been having a great time hanging out together.

On our first night in Positano, we ate at a restaurant my friend Sam recommended, Mediterraneo.  Not only was the food fantastic and the house wine quaffable, but the singer, who I will call Alfonso, was hilarious!  Playing Italian oldies like “it’s amore” and “volare” on his guitar, getting the diners into it and singing along – Alfonso handed out tambourines to us to play along too. It was so much fun!!  He plays there every second night.  I had Sea Bass ‘guazetto’ – cooked in a white wine, onion and tomato sauce.  Beautiful and light – just what my expanding waistline needed.

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The next day we got up super early and walked into town – about 20 minutes or so, and walked down to the main beach….then we walked up 4 million stairs to go back towards our pensione – all with OUT coffee. My poor legs were burning like they used to in pump class and my heart felt like it was going to beat right through my chest. We were walking up stairs for dead-set 30 minutes. It was incredible, incredibly painful. You would not want to have dodgy knees and live in Positano.  Did I say we did all that with OUT coffee??

We spent the day on the beach at Ferdinando – where we rented a lettino each for 7 euro. I love the Italian sun beds – they have an adjustable sun visor above your head so you can keep your face in the shade. I want one!!  Guido, who owns Ferdinando, is a funny old guy – very laid back, very friendly, and he loves Australia. Every year he goes to Australia to stay with a friend of his in Williamstown (Vic) for three months. What a life!  Gabbie came and met us on the beach and we had a few beers and hung out until the sun went behind the big mountain – about 5pm. Nice.

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It was nice until that walk home – up 4 million stairs.  After a few beers and too much sun, I honestly thought i was going to be sick. I had to lie down for half an hour when we got in!

Gabbie joined us for dinner and we ate at Palm d’Oro – it was ok. Nothing to really write home about… 

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The next day was much the same – bloody stairs, beach, sun, swimming in the Med, relaxing….ahhhh…. Zorba and I wandered through the shops and I found the shoe shop where I bought my pretty red and black patent leather ballerina flats!  I was so excited!  I hoped he would have them still so i could replace them.  Just my luck – and maybe I asked for it – but the only shoe they had in my size were purple ones!!!  I could not believe it!  I deserve it I supposed after laughing at all the Italians wearing purple everything!!  Unfortunately they were not a nice shade of purple and Zorba wouldn’t let me buy them.  I couldn’t see myself wearing them so I had to walk out with nothing…a sad moment.

Next blog entry to come!

Sunny Sorrento and appetising Amalfi

We did it!! We survived the worst train journey, or any journey for that matter, in Italy.  From Napoli (aka The Crap Hole) to Sorrento (aka gateway to Paradise).  It is a journey I have done before and have hated every moment of the 1 hour and 13 minute train ride, not to mention the waiting time at Napoli train station.   In the past, it seems that those you would rather not be around catch that train – chronic drug addicts, alcoholics, old homeless people, the unwashed and highly pungent.  It does not make for a pleasant journey for a number of reasons – firstly, their sight and smell is bordering repulsive, and you just never know how desperate these people are, or how they might react in their mind-altered state.  Makes me very nervous given travellers are usually prime targets…

I’m delighted Zorba and I made to Sorrento without coming across any of the abovementioned.  The only incident was that on the old rickety train with no aircon, I lumped my massive 18.5kg backpack on a spare seat and sat next to a Nonna with her grocery shopping.  She gave me the evil eye and motioned for me to sit in another seat as her shopping was under the seat I sat in.  No chance lady.  I’m not moving further than arms reach from my backpack that contained my worldly possessions I would need for the next 6 months.  So i say to her in Italian, I won’t touch your shopping.  She kind of did a ‘humrph’ sound and sat quietly.  When it was time for her to get off the train, she said sorry about the shopping misunderstanding, gave me a toothless smile and waved good bye.  Ha!  There you have it – there is a nice Nonna inside that nasty looking woman!

Our hotel in Sorrento, Settimocielo (Seventh Heaven), is built into the cliff face and has fantastic views over Sorrento.  We had asked the taxi driver what the best restaurant in Sorrento was and he said Il Buco.  After an hour lying in the splendid sun by the hotel pool, we got ready and walked into town. 

That restaurant, Il Buco, was magnificent.  Set in a what looked like a tunnel, the waiters wore tuxedos, there was soft lighting, expensive looking table clothes and silver cutlery.  The setting was pure class.  And the food -  Buono Buono Buonissimo!!  And VERY VERY expensive.   Sensible Zorba kindly reminded me that we were still in week one of our six week Italian odyssey and that we couldn’t really afford to have $300 dinners every night.  Yeah yeah yeah…. So after our complementary prosecco (sparkling) and h’ors douvres from the chef,  I chose a sensible wine that was a local blended red with a high percentage of sangiovese.  We ate five different kinds of bread before sharing the home made linguine with langoustine, white cheese sauce and white truffle oil.  Oh. My. God.  My mouth waters every time I think about that dish.  It was perfect in every sense.

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For main, we had a dish for two, boned flattened marinated chicken served with grilled vegetables and home made gnocchi – again, it was an ‘oh my God’ moment. The chef came out with a massive chopping board and cut the chicken up in front of our table and served up the vegetables for us.  The aroma was mouth watering – in fact, the table next to us ordered the same thing after seeing what we got! 

I couldn’t justify dessert, so settled for a coffee and hoped this smart restaurant would include some petti fours with coffee, which they did.  Yay! I got a free sweet chocolate fix! 

The next day in Sorrento we decided to have our first lazy day of our holiday.  Neither of us could bare the thought of rushing to catch the ferry to Capri and walking around the island all day.  Instead, we walked down the jetty and hired a ‘lettino’ or sunbed for the day (6 euro each) and lazed by sea, topping up our tans, snoozing, and generally relaxing.  aaaahhhhhhhhh….. it was just what we both needed.

For lunch, we walked along the beach and carefully sussed out every restaurant – were there many people in there? are they foreigners or Italians?  what is the menu like?  We chose the furthest one away from the jetty that was packed full of Italians, Trattoria Da Emilia on via Marina Grande, 62,  and both had Spaghetti Vongole and a salad.  Mmm—mmmmm!! 

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With full tummies, we went back to our lettinos and snoozed the afternoon away.  Joy!  We decided to make the most of our balcony view and bought a few bits from the deli and had a light dinner, still fit for a King, with wine on our balcony.  A great day.

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On our last day in Sorrento, we checked out of the hotel and left our luggage there while we trekked to Capri by ferry with 40million other tourists, about 80% of them Americans.  Urgh, it was torturous.  Capri itself is very pretty and as soon as we were off the ferry, we booked into do a boat trip around the island – at 14 euro each it was quite reasonable.

The boat trip was pleasant enough, until we got to the Grotto Azzurre – the blue grotto.  We waited for ages for a little row boat to take four of us at a time into the blue grotto, at an extra cost of 11.50 euro per person for four minutes inside this dark cave.  What the…?   The only remarkable thing about that cave was the colour of the water, it glowed blue due to the sun light somehow getting in under the cave.  It looked quite cool, but was not worth 11.50 euro!! 

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We caught the feniculare up to the Capri town and walked and walked around until grumpy hungry Di cracked it and demanded we stop for lunch.  The search for a good non touristy restaurant was on and I can’t believe we found one!  A place tucked away – about a km from the main square, with only Italians inside, including men in business suits.  Yay!!  Ristorante Pizzeria Verginiello, via Lo Palazzo 25.  There we had THE BEST spaghetti marinara we have had (besides one I had on the Sicilian island of Panarea with Donna back in 2008).  Before the pasta, we had a caprese salad of buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil – sublime!

After lunch we headed back to Sorrento and made our way to perfect Positano.

Arrivederci!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Purple is the new leopard print

Italians used to lead the world with fashion, but these days that’s changed somewhat. I noticed it a few years ago that generally speaking, Italians dress more casually than they used to.  No matter what I was wearing, I used to always feel like a ‘dag’ in Italy.  Not so much any more.

Italians are hilarious when it comes to fashion.  It’s like someone says that purple is THE colour of the season and everyone wears everything they can that is purple. Purple is the new leopard print, and it is most certainly the new black.  In 2007 when I was in Italia, orange was the colour de jour.  In 2010, it is all about purple. 

Zorba and I have done some purple people spotting and when we can, have taken some happy snaps of the purple fashions – those being worn by Italians and displays in shop windows. 

Check it out:

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