Month: July 2013

Rest day

Rest dayCinque Terre, Italy Cinque Terre, Italy Finally a sleep in!! After yesterday’s walk across the Cinque Terra everyone was a little tuckered, except for Kate who decided to go for a 50 minute run. Today was planned to be nothing more than lying on the beach, ‘Rancho Relaxo’ style. At 9am we headed to the section of umbrellas that appealed to us the most, which of course are all reserved for those willing to pay up to a month at a time to have prime location. Second row it is for us tourists! Whilst the girls settled in for the day, Hugh and I embarked on our favourite past time……finding a Laundromat. With only one operating in Monterosso you would think it would be easy to find, but no, we ended up asking the Tourist information lady who duly set us in the right direction. A few more odd jobs completed and Hugh and I joined the ladies on the beach for the rest of the day. Of all the towns along the Cinque …

Shopping time

Shopping timeCinque Terre, Italy Cinque Terre, Italy Leisurely start to the day, as Kate, Maddy & Sal just wanted to be lazy and have a late breakfast……..NOT! Meet at 7.30 for a run thru the streets of Monterosso in the humidity and the rain. Yep, it started to rain the moment we headed off. Now normally Rachael and I run for 30-40 minutes then hit the showers, do you reckon that’s what happened today? Not on your Nellie! Run went a bit longer than normal, then Kate decided a little circuit was in order. You know, a few push-ups, squats, lunges, dips etc. All the while Sal is looking around for a session for tomorrow, scoping the scene for potential torture! Dehydration had set in by this stage, running in sweat! The locals are gawking, trying to work out what these mad people were doing whilst perving on the girls. Finally…finally, we finished. Ouch!! Gonna be sore tomorrow. After breakfast the girls took to the streets for some much needed retail therapy, as it had …

Hotel Margherita with the Ladies!

Hotel Margherita with the Ladies!Cinque Terre, Italy Cinque Terre, Italy Actually had to set the alarm for 8am this morning after our rocking night at Sigur Ros. Grabbed the bikes for a quick ride in to town to grab a coffee and a couple of last minute purchases, then back to the apartment, pack and head to the train station. Fortunately we only to catch 2 trains to get from Lucca to Monterosso in the Cinque Terra. We boarded our train and were pleasantly surprised by the comfortable compartment we had to ourselves until we realised we were in First Class and had to move another 3 carriages down until we came to our more suitable cattle class. Arrived in Monterosso a couple of hours later and it is as beautiful as the postcards depict. Very similar to Amalfi, in that it is on the coast, has plenty of ceramics and sells Lemoncello. We felt right at home. A couple of hours after arriving we started to receive text messages from Sal, Kate and Maddy …

Sigur Ros in Lucca, some poor engineering in Pisa

Sigur Ros in Lucca, some poor engineering in PisaLucca, Italy Lucca, Italy Last night we decided to set our alarm for 5.30am so we could head into Lucca on our bikes and have the town to ourselves to take some pictures. As the alarm sounded, a decision was quickly made to reset it for 6.15am, a much more timely hour when the reality of your previous nights decision sets in. Take two, we head into Lucca on our bikes at 6.30am and still virtually have the town to ourselves, bar a few garbage trucks and early morning beggars getting their prime position for the day. The distance around the top of the town wall measures just shy of 5kms in radius. It is as wide as a road and fortunately no cars are allowed on it so perfect for pedestrians. Once we had completed the round trip of the wall we rode into the town and saw most of what we had missed the previous day. A few snaps later and I was back on …

Florence to Lucca

Florence to LuccaLucca, Italy Lucca, Italy We’re off to Lucca today, but not before a run thru the streets of Florence. Luckily there are some flat sections along the Arno river, so we headed off there for a leisurely waddle. Time to pack, which we are getting pretty good at, and by taxi to the train station. The ticket to Lucca was €7.10, which is pretty much the cheapest thing we have done in Italy. We had considered hiring a car at a cost of about €200 for 3 days, so the cheap regional rail was proven quite the booster for our ailing coffers! Lucca is famous for, amongst other reasons, its intact Renaissance-era city walls which surround the old city, outside the walls is a sea of grass. It’s very beautiful, peaceful, and lacking the maddening crowds of Florence. Lucca is also famous for hosting the annual Lucca Summer Festival. The 2013 edition sees Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, The Killers, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, 30 seconds to Mars, Sigur Ros, and others …

Uffizi and beyond.

Uffizi and beyond. Florence, Italy Florence, Italy Our day started with a visit to the Galleria degli Uffizi. Our plan was to get there early so as to avoid the torrent of tourist buses/cruise ships. We joined the relatively small queue but had to jump ship as the PDF Voucher on our phone would not download in time before it was our turn. Back in the queue with Voucher downloaded and we were away. Tickets in hand we then joined another relatively small queue to enter the museum and just beat a group of Japanese tourists by the slimmest of margins. All going to plan beautifully. The building of the Uffizi was first a palace begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name “uffizi” (“offices”). Over the years, further parts of the palace evolved into a display place for many of the paintings and sculpture collected by the Medici family or commissioned by them. The gallery had been open to visitors …

Nude & Food

Nude & Food Florence, Italy Florence, Italy Today we are doing something different and taking a food tour, “nude & food” so called ‘cos we meet at the Galleria dell’ Accademia which houses “David”. Everyone’s seen pictures of Michelangelo’s statue of a nude David, slingshot ready to slay Goliath, but until you see him in the flesh, or should I say ‘marble’, it’s not hard to see why everyone loves this iconic piece of art. He is 17 feet tall, standing on a platform 6ft high, so he is very imposing. The girls seem to be quite enamoured by his…um, his…. physique!?? The tour group comprises 12 intrepid souls from Canada, USA, Russia, England and Australia, plus our wonderful guide, Sam. Sam is a native Florentine married to a Kiwi, so there goes half the joke package! As long as we don’t have to try any Sauv Blanc! The tour was terrific, lots of laughs, good conversation, and plenty of great food and wine. We started at David, then headed off for coffee and pastries …

Damn sunglasses!

Florence, Italy Florence. Time to pack up and leave our lodgings in Cavriglia for Florence, but not before another visit to our new favourite butcher in Greve. On the way to said slaughter house we bypassed to the tiny hamlet of Volpaia, an 11th century fortress town high in the hills of Chianti. Lovely town, but our bovine shop awaits As I navigated our journey through the winding roads of the Chianti, my brand new mirrored sunglasses just snapped at the bottom of the rim. Devastated, cannot believe a €30 pair of sunglasses only lasted a week. Obviously too aggressive on the corners with my driving. Time for a decent pair, as these cheap sunnies are starting to add up!! I digress, our old friend Cleve recommended checking put the dried pigs penis riding stock at the butchers, who could resist? But sadly we could not find one! Seriously, this shop is so great it was sad to have to head off to Florence, but head off we did, sans GPS. Eventually we had to …

Another hot day…

Tuscany, Italy Another hot day in the Tuscan sun that started with a run up and down the hills in searing heat. Straight into the swimming pool after the run so as to avoid heat exhaustion, and to give the body a jolt back to normalcy. With that done we got ourselves ready and headed into Siena. This town is a lot bigger than we had anticipated, and being amongst the tourist groups again, was an indication of what crowds we were in for. Grabbed a copy of the local map, which of course set us back €1, nothing for free when tourists are involved, and set off to explore Siena. The map was a relic of ye olde days and looked like it had been drawn using crayons, but managed to get us through. The main road Banchi Di Sotto, was packed with tourists and lined with the ever increasing popular souvenir shops, suffice to say this was going to be a quick visit for Hughy and I. We walked to the local Duomo …