Archive for February, 2013

Update:  I’ve got reports all over the place and am slowly trying to collect them here in my new blog.  It will be something for my grandchildren to read when I’m hairless and toothless sitting on my rocking chair so they know their grandmother or great grandmother LIVED!!!  I’ll label them “travel flashback.”

Day one – I work ten-hours and we have a 9:30 p.m. flight to London, I got my prized J16 seat, though I almost changed it, Kelly tried to get next to me, k16 and she called British air, they said no that’s for a mom and infant, well I called them right up, am I next to an infant? Please change me, the man says well its usually available for that but it has not been taken, BA lets u check-in 24 hours before the flight, for fifteen minutes ahead I’m manning the website, I have to check-in for Kelly her computer is broke, I’m bound and determined to get k16, the instant it’s on I dash off to k16 and place Kelly there, ahhhhhhhhhh relief,

We don’t sleep, always too excited plus I need the right conditions to sleep, sitting upright in a plane is not one of them, even reclining some, isn’t going to cut it, we’ve got a layover in London than off to Rome for one-night, this time we did the Leonardo express which I had never done, worked well except just missed the train, so had to wait, no biggie but by this time me and Kelly’s eyes are out on our cheeks delirious with sleep deprivation, I booked near termini, lug those cases to our street, we were in hotels same street, but different she checks in and I do, we are also starving to death, a great surprise waiting for us is a note from our friend Max who lives in Rome, he gave us the address where he was and a phone number, we couldn’t get him on the phone and no energy to find where he was, he nicknamed us the terror twins and I don’t even know if he would have recognized us, we were that tired and out of it , have u had that when u can’t even form a sentence with your mouth ? we eat dinner down the street, I will find the name, something with Angelina and we really liked it, we had a nice waiter who took good care of us, plus told me I talk with my hands and my eyes which is a mafia trait, thanks buddy !! off to bed, there’s a note on my pillow, max came there, oh lord, that means we missed him and he practically had to walk or ride right by us? This happened in New York too with max, max I promise I will buy a phone for Italy next time, I’m an anti-cell phone user but I’ll do it for you

I stayed at hotel Katty, had single but a double-bed put my sound machine on and slept the good sleep, I had a plan to meet Kelly at 1030 am, I was up earlier so I dress and head out for coffee, I find a place down the street with tables and coffee, no one is at the outside tables but I’m in Rome darn it and I want to hear Rome, I have three-cups, go into my usual shakes after, an older man walks by gives me a look, no smile, than proceeds to walk back and forth and back and forth the whole darn time, I decide I’m not speaking to him which I would usually do, no smile, no talk, I say

I go meet Kelly and tell her about where I was and we go there and eat breakfast, she had waffles with chocolate, yuckkk and I had Panini, we get to the train station and get our fast ticket to Naples, I paid a guy 3 Euros to get my stuff on the train worth every penny!

In an hour and 15 minutes, we are in Naples, that was a good ride, now to find the next train to Sorrento, we are by the big doors that go outside so I tell Kelly, well lets go out and look at Naples for a minute, so we step out look around than go back inside, I have a hard time remembering Italian names to things and if its close to a name I know I’ll memorize that, its easier, well I had already named the circum whatever train with its new name, circumcision, which I told Kelly … right off she spots a sign, see I told u I tell her, she will always recognize that train sign now, we head to down, it’s a bit crowded, we are at the right bin and a train pulls up, we go to get on and a bum says to Kelly, noooo Sorrento, nooo Sorrento, she’s asking me why is he saying that and I have no ideal either but we get on, well he is right, it does not go to Sorrento, we hop off in some town, get on an outside train station, I watched the stuff and Kelly goes to find out from someone what we need to do, she comes up on another side, I said how did u get over there? She said I don’t know???  How u getting back? I don’t know, well ask I yell, a man directs her , says next train, we sit smoke and see the train coming , Kelly gets my back pack on me, we roll to the edge and the bugger kept on going, didn’t stop, we both yell at the same time, awww *** !!!! two-workers from the office are out smoking watching they see and hear us and start chuckling, next one comes they come out again, yes this one, this one !!!! thank god,

like the ride into Sorrento, I like looking in people’s yards, buildings u name it, I see water and a shipyard, yahooooo this is it, we are on our way aren’t we? I love that,

Once we get to the Sorrento stop, there’s a man and wife who are kind of paying attention to us in that they got ohh lord can we find an elevator conversation, the man says in very little English and lots of hand movements to walk to the end kind of a box it will be easier, grazieeee we yell, after getting out of the train station and heading down the hill we see them again, he says “WHERE YOU GO?” hotel nice, he motions go left at intersection, we do, we go right on by hotel nice, he sees that and they come fast walking to us and turn us around and show us it, ahhhhh grazie I say, Italians sweet people for sure,

Rome tidbits :

Hotel Katty –

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187791-d650670…

The restaurant we really liked

Mamma Angela’s via palestro 53

tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-…

found it here !

We get to our room, two-single beds, decent size, not too small or big,, I open the window, view is of a garden and a small-pond, it has gold fish in it, there’s a pretty ash tray, Kelly says that’s not an ashtray, yes it is I said, feel the grooves, we can smoke in here !! well we do but mostly at the window, plus I asked the at the lobby because Kelly didn’t believe me, I go about unpacking, I like to feel like I’m living where I’m visiting, I like my stuff sorted, Kelly has never rolled her clothes for the suitcase, she called me before the trip to ask me about it, I said yes go for it, I do it all the time, well I was proud of her, she surely rolled and fit a lot of clothes in her bag, took her some work to do though, lot of good that did her because now that it fits and is rolled so perfectly, she didn’t want to unroll anything and wear it, I swear she only used the top layer ! LOLLL

the plan was when we got to Sorrento was to do the open-air bus to get an overview of Sorrento, since arriving later than planned we can’t and now go out onto the street to decide what, now Julie and Chris from England who were joining us for this trip had arrived the day before, Kathleen coming from Ireland was arriving the same day as us, all the sudden from about on a balcony, I hear “Jeannetteeeee” I look up and it’s the girls, Chris has a balcony on her room, yeahhhhh we yell ! they come down, we hug hard and catch up, so so happy to see the scarves, (our nickname) now ladies, chime in, u know I have the memory of a gnat, so if I forget something we did, my notes are all gone from the checked bag home, so I’m winging it,

next we go to dinner, this was to a place that Julie had been to a few years ago with her mother, actually I believe the night before they ate there too, the name of the restaurant is Largo Sedil Dominova, it’s on the little lanes that go off of Piazza Tasso, here is their website, www.sedildominova.com , this place has great prices, good food and most of all live music, a fellow comes and sings with a piano player and for the life of me, I don’t know why he’s singing there and not in a concert hall because he is THAT GOOD ! he sang Bocelli, absolutely beautiful and many more artists, the restaurant also has a host of characters who work there who make it lively and fun, one little man never says a word, he just walks by, looks at you, pulls your pony tail, moves your wine, takes the parmesan, gives it back, a silent personality with gusto,

made some friends here, by the end of the night leaving I got big hugs from all and was told they were my family which was funny because a week later, walking by they all yell JEANNETTAAAA, btw all Italians say my name their way, it’s not Jeannette, it’s jeannetta, and I like it

We are headed back to the hotel, me and Julie got a beer, I was giddy happy to be back in Italy and in a special new place, I stayed out, smoked etc, Kelly went to bed, she wasn’t asleep yet and told me the sink was stopped up, filled with water, well I have to use it so decide I most go down to the desk and tell them, it’s the night guy and he is talking to some friends at the doorway, (one of which is cute ) he says he can send someone in the morning to fix it, his friend who we have nicknamed the plumber, says he will look at it, so up we go, Kelly is in the bed, he’s got a plunger, he gets that sink going in no time, Kelly’s still awake but pretending she’s asleep, somehow while saying goodbye and the Italian kiss a real one comes along, don’t ask me why, I’m vacation and don’t give a hoot, I can see Kelly’s body shaking under the sheets, she is laughing, well this can’t happen so I see him off, she has such joy telling the girls the next day about the “plumber” and you THOUGHT THE NIGHT WAS OVER ?? we had fun joking about it, it was “excEllent” and i asked Julie if she had any blockage in the room if so i knew the man to fix it,

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I saw a documentary on the Alhambra palace which sealed my fate in making a visiting to this exquisite place.  I will definitely need more time in Granada.  One night is just not enough but if that is all you have than go!  We were lucky enough to go to the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel.  We had a nice walk back from Alhambra with a smashing dinner and explored the Alcaicería.    I don’t agree with those who say see The Alhambra and then go because there is nothing much else to do in Granada.  I saw many things that need to be explored.

Here is my reflection photo from the Alhambra Palace that I am very proud of since I am not a professional photographer at all just a point & click kind of girl.    Sometimes you click in just the right way.  I’m sure thousands of others have taken this same shot but here’s mine!

my favorite reflection

my favorite reflection

Enjoy Granada, below is the gallery.

🙂

Maybe it was my cool room which I loved with all the Spanish touches that shot me with such a Spanish feeling.    This place evoked what I had always imagined.  It’s crazy but I felt Spanish.  In my own mind, I could start speaking it fluently at any moment.  Now to be fair, that is in my own mind.   In reality, I know maybe five things.

Seville oozes a charm.  It has the most orange trees I have ever seen in my life.   Thousands.  It’s a bittersweet thing because from what the locals told me you can’t eat them because they are very bitter.  Luckily someone told me that or I would tried to make my own juice in the morning.   They are beautiful and decorate the city in a magnificent way.

Not to take anything away from the other places I have visited in Spain but somewhere in my heart where I was feeling Spanish I have decided I am Andalusian Spanish.  It must be the case.   It has everything I want to see and feel….small tiny lanes, adorned balconies, siesta, yes God grant me siesta, I could do that in life.   There are bells, the tapas, animated conversations and a vibe I can’t almost describe but it’s there.  My friends felt it too!

Strangely enough I didn’t have a whole lot planned for Seville.  I usually have big ol list but for here I did not, I did have a few things but really left it to let’s see where the Spanish winds take me.  The winds first brought us to the Cathedral with the lane full of outside cafes which is extremely up my alley.   I am a huge fan of cafe life and people watching.  I found out that old saying from my mom “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” is true since I always ordered too many tapas.   I like the smiles in Seville.   I like the history as well.  One of my papers, I did bring along was on a free walking tour with Pancho.  It was a kind of spur of the moment thing.  We met the others at the fountain by the Cathedral and were off for a walk and a bit of history.  We learned of girl who snitched on her father in the Jewish quarter.  She had a boyfriend she wasn’t supposed to have and with that a great many tragedies were endured and deaths.  Roads of sorrow. See it’s not ALL beautiful oranges thru the lanes of Seville.   We learned of father and sons battles and King Alphonso’s gratitude for Seville’s loyalty.  The eternally grateful symbol is stamped all over Seville.     Look for it!  We know why several crosses were placed in areas to keep down the partying at residential squares.   We know what the local word  is for tourist girls and romance.  We saw a beautiful balcony that’s in a movie and up to that point I was thinking that needs to be my Juliette balcony but alas someone else already stole the idea for Don Juan.  We saw where the Romans have been and what they left as in columns.   Our guide was a lively bright girl from Poland.  I think her name was Anna.  I’m not going to tell you everything about the walk so you can experience this on your own.  One thing I do not recommend with Pancho Tours is the meetup later to go see the Flamenco.  I didn’t care for it or the location but I highly recommend the walking tour and DO TIP!!!

I recommend the following:

Do climb the Giraldo tower.  I had the bad knee from a spill in Barcelona and just took my time going up and made sure to stop at all the windows for views.  I spent so much time here I missed the entry for the Alcazar.  I thought I would be able to fit it in later in the trip but could not, big regret but something for next time right?  My friends did see it and absolutely loved it!

Do visit the Cathedral and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.  Will any of us especially in America ever forget the year 1492?   It’s been tattooed in my brain since I was a child.

I did not get to lots of things in Seville.  There just wasn’t the time on this trip but I am extremely happy and grateful with all that I did get to see and do along with cafe life.    I sacrificed a night to go to Granada for the Alhambra palace.  That was no mistake but I surely wish I would could have had more time for my  Andalusian Sevillian Spanish life I was leading.   It was incredible and that was just Seville!  Imagine visiting all the others?  I will!

Granada’s  post is next and the best reflection photo I have ever taken in my LIFE!!!  I’m so proud of that photo!

ciao for now,

I can tell you it has outstanding scenery, a town that’s not too big, friendly folks, musical folks, very close to stunning countryside, pubs, a sense of humor, green green fields, coastlines that no movie will ever do justice and rainbows.  Than there is the animals a plenty a favorite of mine and well it’s got rain.  Not a worry though because in about an hour you’ll see the sun, once you have that awhile the rain must get lonely and decides to come back.  The sun gets lonely too and decides to push the rain right back out to sea.  This tug of war between the two pretty much sums up each day.    While they work that deal out you must go about your day and experience all the gifts Ireland is going to bestow on you.  You won’t be disappointed I promise.

I feel like the way we organized our trip worked out perfect for me.  We booked Connemare & Cong with Galway bus tours.  We booked Celtic Compass Tours with Walt and Faherty tour for the Aran Islands.  I still got time to wander thru Galway on foot and tried to walk the promenade to Salt Hill but the wind wasn’t seeing it that way for me.  It kept blowing me back to town.  My umbrella broke in more ways than I thought possible so I attempted it again by bus.  That worked.

The musical people of Ireland are one of a kind.  I hope they never lose this talent.  Their sense of humor has its own brand of excellence as well.  A life without laughter is not really a life and the Irish get this.  I for one got my taste of it in the book Angela’s ashes which remains my favorite book of all time to this day.  Frank McCourt I will always love you.

Okay so back to Ireland and the animals.  I love how you ride down the roads and the sheep are deciding to cross or maybe not cross at all?    They may just decide to camp out till the driver yells out “come on Nelly, you’ve got to move over love.”   Walt took us to places with the animals.  He just would stop the car, we’d hop out and over a stone fence and would visit them.  Now I am afraid of the animal teeth.  The driver for Galway said watch the teeth and that stayed in my mind for every animal visit.   The donkeys were a delight too until I saw one get happy which truthfully I never saw anything like that in my life and ran to the van.  LOL   Oh my gosh and that’s all I have to say about that!

When you read or see photos about the natural beauty of Ireland that’s not tourist lure.  It’s 100 times better than you could have imagined.  Seeings believing so you seriously have to go for yourself and experience this.

I didn’t get to kiss the blarney stone for luck and the gift of gab but I did get to smooch an Irish man a couple of times for luck so I hope it’s still with me.  If not, I’ll go back and smooch another to get more!  joking……

Another benefit we had was the oyster festival so we sampled oysters that were to die for, excellent!    I love the names of pubs and restaurants in Ireland.   I could honestly take a trip and just photograph the names.    I bought a ring which I still wear today and was very surprised while just in Spain smoking at a stinky airport lounge when a fellow asks me if I’m Irish.  No, why did you think that I asked?   He said because of your ring.

My advise to you is to wear waterproof clothes.  On my day at the Aran Islands while on our way up to the ancient fort Ireland threw everything it had at us.  Raindrops as big as me, hail, wind and a path that turned into a river but no worry it gave us a dog too!   This dog barked hello and led us all the way up to the top!  He was funny he’d run ahead, stop look back, bark at us come on girls, than run ahead again.  He and Sandra made me nervous at the cliff’s edge, apparently she and the dog are not scared of heights.

Like I told you regarding the weather battles by the time we got back to the van the sky was turning blue, the sun was out but I was soaked thru and thru.  I thought I had waterproof boots on which did not turn out to be the case.  I did dress in layers and I can tell you every single layer was soaked.  This happened early on so I stayed a prune for the rest of the journey but that’s my fault.   I had to peel myself  like an apple later back at the hotel and I jumped in the bed and rolled myself up in the covers like a cocoon and swore I would never leave them again.  Never.

Promises are made to be broken and I did leave for dinner and music later because sadly our trip was coming to an end.  It was a wonderful journey thru London, Chester, Liverpool, Dublin & Galway.   The next time it will be all Ireland not combined with another country.  I didn’t realize how much more there is to see and experience.    As you can imagine, there’s still a lot on my list.    They say Irish eyes are smiling but I can honestly say so are American ones when I think of the memories of our trip to Ireland.