A Travellerspoint blog

Lugano/Como

A day of Driving

sunny 24 °C

A day of four trains, and we arrived in Lugano, just over the Swiss border. We hired a car and spent a day circumnavigating Lake Como, back over in Italy. Truly beautiful scenery and lived up to its well known reputation. But the ROAD! it's the tightest road we've ever been on, and not just a small section, but a few hours of driving with rear view mirrors millimetres apart on one side, and stone walls on the other. No road markings, local residents casually walking along, cars pulled over with their hazard lights on. This seems to be the thing to do in Italy. If you can't find a park, you just pull over any old place and put on your hazard lights and leave the car. Multiple times we had to stop to edge past the oncoming cars. Poor Jim didn't get to see much of the view. He's seems to have adjusted well to left side driving, but I still feel pretty weird sitting on the right hand side driving along with no wheel in front of me. When I get out of the car, I pull the handbrake on, because that's what I usually do when I get out of the right hand side of a car.
Italy has a reputation for crazy driving and it is totally true. The quality of the roads does not help at all. Crossing back over to Switzerland, the change is dramatic and instant, with wide, well marked roads, good signage, everything has been thought of. A big sigh of relief as the stress pours out of your body.

Posted by kazandjim 01:22 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Hospitality

Idiosyncrasies of our Hosts

Salzburg
The a Reception staff noticed on Jim's passport that it was his birthday, and gave him a DVD.

Budapest
Nick, the groovy young Canadian, rode a Ducati (has 2) with a barbie doll strapped to the back, likes to have his money neatly folded and all up the same way.

Vienna
Sahin provided house slippers and referred to the cleaner as the char lady.

Venice
Anna provided beautiful soap, but no extra toilet paper. Out luggage was hauled to our 3rd floor apartment by a pulley system through the window. Gave us candles as a parting gift, put on a soirée with drinks and canapés for us and other guests, but charged us €22.95 for electricity.

Florence
Fredrica told us all about the heating, but air conditioning required her to go home and come back with a special plug to use it. (High 20s most days, overnight minimums low 20s, and high humidity)

San Gimignano
Stephania, slow speaking and slow moving, drove us through the middle of the very full of people, but no cars, town square to show us the main spots.

Manarola
Donnatella briskly marched us up all the ramps and stairs like it was a flat stroll. I was pooped half way. She was older than me.

Lugano
The Lord of the manor is actually a Lord, with photos of himself since childhood all over the walls.

Posted by kazandjim 02:50 Comments (0)

Portofino

Such a perfect day

rain 23 °C

On a day that started with a storm, we thought we'd take a look at Portifino. An hour on the train took us to Santa Margherita, then after a fantastic lunch at 'Kicks' restaurant we took a ten minute ferry to the gorgeous village of Portifino. It's known for its celebrity visitors, particularly in the 50s and 60s. Liz and Richard used to come every year, along with Bridget Bardo, so not the place to go shopping unless your funds match theirs. They certainly picked a good spot. It is a perfect little hook of land, any sailors dream anchorage. We settled in at a wine bar on the waterfront under the awnings, in the rain. No wind and quite warm, it was perfect. The rain had keep visitors away, so it was peaceful and pretty. With a couple of glasses of wine and some olives it was one of those afternoons when all the planets have aligned and life is perfect.

Posted by kazandjim 13:22 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Cinque Terre

sunny 27 °C

The Cinque Terre is made up of 5 little coastal cliff villages and is mainly accessed by boat, train or foot. We came by train, and have explored by boat, train and foot. Our village is Manarola, and it's just superb. It is so nice to be back on the coast, with sea breezes, much less people and fish on the menu again. It is a mixture of very relaxing, and very tiring (hills, steps, ramps, more steps all day). The atmosphere is very chilled. Our village has lots of cafés, hardly any shops; the other villages are a mixture. We spent the first (hot) afternoon in a cliff top bar overlooking the village. Everything is outdoors, with bamboo sheeting for shade. The second day we visited the other villages by boat, and on the third morning there was a storm. The night before, all the local fishermen hauled up all the boats by a winch system, onto the high land. It ended up not being rough, but huge electrical show, quite spectacular, before sunrise. We went to Portofino that day, but that can have it's own entry.
Jim has worked out how to add photos from his phone, so he's going to try and add one to each entry.
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Posted by kazandjim 04:05 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Pisa

sunny 30 °C

The transit from San Gimignano to Cinque Terre included a night in Pisa, due to accommodation not being available when we wanted it. Let me just say that if it wasn't for a little tower, I doubt people would visit. The tower is quite lovely, but it's crazy that people are still allowed to climb it. This is one tower Jim was happy not to climb (or even stand on the underside).
The day was definitely less than our best. It included some car problems, street closures in Central Florence due to a race when trying to return the car, heat (have I mentioned I hate the heat), a "helper" at the station, a very stuffy, full train, a very ordinary hotel in a less than savoury area, and a wrong turn on our walk to the tower which took us quite a few extra, uninteresting, hot, blocks. Oh well, these are the realities of the unknown. Have to take the bad with the good. Nothing bad actually happened, just a frustrating and tiring day. Hopefully the only one.
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Posted by kazandjim 03:05 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

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