Saturday, June 30, 2007

ITALY - Orvieto and Positano

Now have a few days respite before we move on, have time for blogging and email, but still having problems uploading photos - grr - the vagaries of other people's systems!

Here's news from Italy, hopefully photos will come soon!

Having spent an extra day in Venice, we have only 2 days to get down to Positano, on the Amalfi Coast S. of Naples. We take a midday train down to Orvieto, a medieval hill town in Umbria. The landscape is dramatic and slightly fantyastic - like a fairytale town suspended in the clouds - actually a plateau above steep cliffs.

Not too many people get off the train, maybe it will be nice and quiet? Aagh - on our arrival at 6pm the bus is mobbed by tourists on their way back down - it doesn't look promising! However, we go for a walk around town - the views are incredible, the Duomo divine - and find that it's very friendly and quite quiet now that the daytrippers are gone.

We find a 'local' bar and drink some white wine. We hear music, and discover a music event in a courtyard nearby - the band is playing Hendrix and other blues, they are selling Fair Trade beer, and rough-as-guts red, and homemade panini. The night ends with an Italian pop version of reggae/ska - the crowd is up dancing - it's lots of fun!

Next day, after sightseeing, and strolling at dusk in the beautiful piazza, also ends in music - a guitar trio playing outside a bar attracts a large crowd, and the girls are dancing in the streets - it's my kind of town!

Another late night, but we leave early for Positano - it's quite a trip! The train to Salerno takes only 4 hours, but it takes as long again to reach our little hilltop village of Nocelle, 5km above Positano. What a scary bus ride! now we really feel suspended in the heavens. It's a tiny village of vegetable farmers, with a few B&Bs and one small restaurant which happens to be fabulous.

Foodie alert - we ate (ok, it was over 2 nights):
Antipasto di casa (various cheeses, meats, grilled vegetables & bruschetta)
Cheese ravioli with tomato sauce & basil
Pork cutlets with cherry tomatoes & rocket
Grilled whole fish stuffed with rosemary
Finished with Limoncello liqueur - a local speciality.

The trip out was less hair-raising, but arduous in other ways. Let me just say:
1. Timetables in Italy are approximate at best.
2. The only time a train runs on time is if you are trying to connect with it.
3. It was about 38°C in Rome.
After 2 days, we make it to Arles, but that's another story.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Paris to Venice - now with pics!

Chris & Kandinsky at the Pompidou
Belinda at Peter's studio in Paris
Our anniversary dinner
Belinda with 'antiques' at the Marche au Puces
Dinner at Sarah's
Chris with Gondolas
Chris at Biennale
Belinda in Venice laneway
Belinda in picnic spot (view from picnic spot)

It's been a while - internet access surprisingly hard to access (& expensive) in some places, and we're so busy having fun!
Finished our Paris visit with day-long trips to the Louvre (highlights - El Greco, and the architecture) and Pompidou (highlights - Annette Messager, Kandinsky, the view). A wonderful anniversary dinner at a local bistro (for the foodies - sardines rillettes, terrine foie gras, duck breast with coriander mash, veal kidneys with ravioli and asparagus). Finished the visit with a dinner at my friend Sarah's beautiful apartment in Neuilly with her family.
Then a long train ride to Venice! The rail strike that had been mentioned didn't happen, but our train ran late so we had an hour to kill at Milan station - very huge, busy, dirty.
Venice is a dream, unreal, like stepping into a labyrinthine video game with no escape! It IS full of tourists, unbearably in some spots, but not hard to get away from. We stayed in a residential area on a small campo where locals gather to chat and children play - very charming. Hostaria next door had set menu including wine for 10 euros - great value for Venice! Two full days seeing the Biennale which was huge!, so we stayed an extra day to see Venice, walk and take photos. Great fun!
Am still trying to get my last batch put on disc so I can upload them - stay posted!

B&C xx

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

London to Paris to Normandy

Pics added!

Two days in LONDON with Bob and Libby and son Vinnie (13), eating (and drinking of course), very artistic flat in Hampstead. London is full of character and history but v. expensive. Food ok, not a patch on France.
Two days in PARIS at Peter's studio - beaucoup de fun, drinking (and eating of course), then to Normandy for Bob's party. Wow - what a fabulous house! Met more family (daughter Barbie - Dan's age, son Darian - 28), and lots of friends - a wonderful time.
Now back in Paris for some serious sightseeing and ART. A last night partying with Peter before he returns to his Strasbourg home.
- All day bus pass in London took us all around the city including Tate galleries (Britain and Modern)
- Eating yummy cheese and drinking wine at Peter's studio (17th arondissement)with Peter and his mad Norwegian friend Sverre.
- Anselm Keifer show at Grand Palais
- Buying fab old dress and shoes at the Marche au Puces (flea market) in Paris
- Being with Bob et famille in Normandy, the birthday lunch (tarte au escargots, canard farci au foie gras), talking to their neighbour Jean and realising that I can still speak (very rudimentary) French!
- buying fresh figs for $7 a kilo, eating with chevre (goat cheese), cheap as chips.
Paris is so beautiful and not expensive!

love to all from B & C xx

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Hong Kong to London

Two days in Hong Kong was of course not enough. Lots of walking/eating. While there's a million shops and flashy tourist spots, it's not hard to find street life and food. Downtown Kowloon where we stayed is a mad jumble of shops, signs and traffic.
We ate:
Congee (rice porridge) for breakfast
Pork buns, flaky pastries and custard tarts for lunch
Duck and seafood for dinner
The best was - mussels in black bean sauce.

We wished for friends to be here so we could order lots more dishes!
The landscape is surreal - science fiction - wild mountains surrounded by water, studded with skyscrapers.
Sea eagles constantly swoop over the harbour.

Now we're in London at last, after a 12 hour flight. Met Bob's family and celebrated with champagne and duty-free whisky. Feeling a little dazed this morning.

Love to all friends who visit here!