2,000 steps on Amalfi Coast drive, Sorrento.

Lovely room service breakfast early in our balcony stateroom on Oceania Marina was exquisite.  We ate fresh fruit and berries, gluten free products, hard boiled eggs, plenty of juices and coffee.  Sailing into this port was beautiful as we watched the looming cliffs of the town of Sorrento.  Blue sky, shore birds, gentle mist over the sea and the air was a bit cooler than Rome but not unpleasantly so.

Today, due to the small size of the port, we were tendered in to Sorrento to catch our Pre reserved tour of the stunning and curvy Amalfi Coast.  OK – curvy is an understatement.  Twisty and wild may be more accurate.  Drivers had to back up at times to navigate the hairpin corners.  Gentle honks for hello and longer honking demonstrated some frustration for the vehicle ahead who was not moving.

The vistas are stunning.  Terraced gardens, sparkling sea, steep cliffs, small coastal villages were the sights we saw today.  Stopping to take pics of Positano from both sides and several other cities that call this area home.  Our guide and driver from Furore had colourful stories to tell and sang a bit of Italian with his distinctive accent and hearty laugh.  We saw beautiful white villa where Sophia Loren lives.  There were many 10th century watch towers along the coastline – no longer used but charming in their disrepair.  Apparently along this coast if a building can no longer be used, it must be left as it is … not able to upgrade the structure but leave it in its original state as much as possible.  Wisteria hung by the roadside, huge lemons and oranges hanging in the trees with bright flowers and beautiful blossoming chestnut trees.  Huge green spiky cactus plants on the roadside and around the stony rock cliffs.  

Steps, steep and seemingly go up forever – the way most people get around on this coastal road way, heading home and to work.  Some, we learn have been here since they were placed in the 6th century!  Up, up, down, turn, squeeze and suck in our breath as we pass other vehicles on the road.

Scala is the oldest town of the Amalfi coast, ‘since 79 years after Christ’.  Wow!  Rosario, our driver, tells about family, religion (both Catholic and superstition), food, wine and stairs!

 In Atrani there are no vehicles and only walking steps.  The town is compact and likely the smallest village of them all.  We are told the workers there always have walked to work in nearby towns, no need for vehicles to get them around – and no parking lots necessary!  

The roads seem narrow – He says sometimes narrow and sometimes wider … when the cars park on the wider sections, they become even narrower than the narrow parts.  Ha ha.

We stop for a lovely walk through Amalfi and learn about the history of paper making.  I stopped in a few of the paper shops that I remember from a previous visit.  What a charming place!  

Lunch overlooking the view at Ravello was a highlight.  We tasted fresh local lemon granita sorbet!  Yummmmm.

Tomorrow a later start and relaxing morning to walk about the ship and have a more leisurely breakfast before joining our friends in the group to head to Taormina for some beautiful time walking through Sicily.  

Lucky us!!!

Pamella of Italy!

3 coins in the fountain at Trevi means I am coming back!

Another beautiful sunny warm day in Rome.  A bit later to start.  Just dealing with jet lag and long deep and fun conversation even after breakfast in the hotel  … we were the last in the breakfast room long after it was over and the staff graciously accommodated us.  Fun, laughs and closeness.  We shared vogue daily horoscopes.  

Back to Termini station to exchange some electronics for phones.  Then walking through alleys and streets to find a few key places.  Trevi Fountain in the warm sun, blue sky overhead.  We threw our coins in the fountain so we can return one day.  Yay!

More wandering, Spanish Steps .. beautiful blooms and vistas.  Some gelato, water and walking to Pantheon.  The line goes fast and we get lots of photos. Gf Grom for lemon sorbet … second course. 

One of the gals challenging a scammer on the street, then we had to change routes to make sure we all felt safe.

Quiet little family business for lunch…. Fabulous local food. Off a quiet side street. The lock on the bathroom door was challenging and made for good stories. Great food. 

Mary has decided to take pics of handsome well dressed Italian men. Phew, good thing her phone is working!  She’s on the mend!

Found no less than 4 paper / pen shops.  Some tucked away in small alleys.  Fabulous finds and interesting Italian paper products.

White cold wine and cheesies apres walk on cobblestones all day made for more great chatter and connection 

Dinner tonight with a few of the other gals, gf pasta, red wine, sparkling water at Strada Romana on Via Vincenza.  Home for the night and packing up to prep for the cruise.  

28,000 steps in Rome, Italy

26,862 steps and counting … going back out (in Rome Italy)

Long day after a long travel day (24-26 hours total) to beautiful Rome, Italy. Staying at Yes Hotel near Termini Station.  We got some maps and made some really loose plans for the day.  

Breakfast was continental with eggs and a bit of meat and cheese, yogurt, fruit, cereals, even gluten free muffin and bread for those who ask.  I have stayed here before and it is a great location ( if you get lost, ask to get to Termini station and the rest is easy).  Four of us staying in the room together … lots of laughs.  We went out for fruit and wine from a local vendor before bed.  More giggles.

There are a few things a person can do on any, every trip to Rome.  Colosseum, a walk along the river taking pics of the bridges and trees, eat gluten free pizza, stop for Prosecco (shared some lire with a waiter and made his day – he was proud and pleased and showed all his colleagues …. He may have even had a tear). 

 We saw Skateboarders, thousands of people lined up for pantheon on this national holiday (liberation day). Walking along del Corso to see the shops and people watch, limone gellati, affagato di cafe (coffee coated gelato in a beautiful dish).  Piazza di poppolo and piazza navona….. sycamore trees.  We went down the stairs and walked along the grass by the river far from the crowds and noise of the streets.  A lot of police presence and some military…. Not sure if they were expecting some action?  

Tomorrow Trevi fountain to throw in a coin, and Spanish steps for the view and artwork.  No rush, no pressure. 

The next day we head to the cruise ship for the next part of our adventure …. 7 days on a sailing foodie adventure.  We are booked for cooking classes and great excursions to fabulous locations in Italy and Greece.  First day Sorrento and Amalfi coast … more on that later.  

Well, family and friends, more tomorrow!  

And so the 2-23 Adventure begins ….

I am at the ferry terminal in Victoria with destination of Vancouver airport in my immediate and then onward to Rome before I rest again.  Phew.  

Like a lot of people, this is the first trip overseas after the last 3 years of staying home during the pandemic years of COVID-19.  In many ways the world has changed, my world changed too.  Here we are looking forward to the next 24 days of vacation!  A cruise, some time in Rome, Athens, Naples and then a week at the lemon farm outside Sorrento ….  I will try to stay with the story of the the present …. Here we are today.

Itinerary is walk-on ferry from Victoria to Vancouver, then flight to London Heathrow and then on to Rome.  Train from airport to Termini Station and a few nights stay at Yes Hotel before we join the cruise ship.  

Premium economy flights with British Airways as organized by Oceania cruises.  So grateful for this little added perks of more leg room and great service.  Six of us women travelling together on same flight toward Rome.  Three more come tomorrow.  Three couples and another single woman are going to join us on the cruise … 16 of us together for meals and cocktail party etc.  Nice size group.  Lots to look forward to.

Later, now at London Heathrow … 8 hours later after an 8 hour flight puts me really confused about what time it is and where I am.  Ha ha.  A person forgets these fine details when once in my life I was familiar with this world travel scenario.  Falling asleep again and again on and off, barely eating the almost inedible airline gluten free food.  There are movies and earphone headset in a nice package as provided … toothbrush, lotion, a pen, face mask eye cover, socks and more.

Arriving in London the sun was shining and beautiful blue sky … about 6 am home time ….. now we have boarded the British Airways flight on way to Rome and it is pouring buckets of rain outside.  I fall asleep and wake to the blue sky and warm sun in my window seat.  A crisp view of the mountains with sharp edges carved in snow.  Spectacular.  

Delighted listening to the various accents of the pilots and crew of the flights we experienced, the security folk checking for liquids and boarding passes, the store clerk at Harrods of London shop in airport at Heathrow, the barista at Starbucks, the sounds of people talking around me.  It feels good to be internationally travelling again …. It has indeed been a ‘welcome home to the world’ already on this trip.  

I hope wherever you are, you enjoy this blog and the stories about to unfold.  I have been to all the destinations on this itinerary previously.  In the search bar, simply put the name of the place and see when I was here on a previous trip.  

Soon to land in Rome and the next leg of this journey, tired in so many ways.  Till tomorrow, ciao ciao.

Pamelllllla of Italy.

Lighthouse refuge, Mother Nature speaks

The storm outside encourages me to stay warm and bundled inside.  It is moderate wind and waves, light rain but constant and at home we might call it moderate (not yet heavy) rain.  Here moderate rain would be much harsher and stronger.  As the day progresses visibility is less.  It feels gentle to wait inside for a break in the weather or head out when we need to for the necessary chores of this position.  It is always an opportunity to walk a few rounds of this rock island.

We walked around this morning in the rain and came upon an otter, a river otter.  It looks like it might be wounded, it is up on the rock close to the ladder where I would normally be swimming and where the boats come to deliver people and supplies.  Could it be resting or recovering.  What message does it bring?  Google says otter teaches about good luck, adaptability, excitable, fun seeking, playfulness, friendship and freedom from stress, moving gently through the river of life.  Otters are intelligent and curious.   They are great networkers and great at motivating others.    Later in the day when I went for a walk the otter had moved on … not sure where.  Perhaps a little evidence of its food on the lawn.  Hmmmmm curious.

In the 8 a.m. morning swims in Victoria we enjoy seeing the otter family that lives near the breakwater.  They are fun to observe often in the grouping of 5.  When I float high in the water, on my back, knees slightly bent and hands up out of the water.  One of my friends calls it ‘the full otter’ and tries to emulate it.  I am not sure why I float so high in the water with stability.  When I google it says relative density of the body, elderly females who are not as fit, with a wider surface area, with higher body fat and less muscle may tend to float more easily.  Holding ones inhale breath also may assist with buoyancy.  A person can learn to let the water hold them …. Fully inflating ones lungs which enhances the ability to float.

In late morning I am listening to Sangha Live for Sunday, led by a woman from Africa, talking about interconnectedness …. Ubuntu, African Indigenous Wisdom.  The Courage to Love.  Behind every connection is a heartbeat, a sameness, “just like me”.  We are one.  I did some walking meditation with the group (sangha) and listened to the talk.  

This afternoon in the 30 knot winds and gusting we went for a walk around … in 6 – 7 foot waves we saw no less than 5 sea lions actually surfing in the big waves.  They gathered and waited and body surfed on top, jumping and frolicking and having a blast – it seemed!  So fun to watch.  Why wouldn’t nature have fun?

There are so many hours in a day here …. More, it seems, than at home.  We go to bed early and fill up the days with activity and rest.  The rhythm is peaceful and productive, whatever the weather.  

We just came in from an evening weather report and walk around.  The sun is setting, clouds are more scattered, the rain stopped mid this afternoon.  The wind has calmed and we can see the sea lions out in the wild rippled sea laying around, poking their heads up to say hi.  I wave 🙂  The thought crosses my mind that if I lived on this island after a while, would they wave back?

It will be getting dark in a while, we are having a fruit smoothie as a snack (trying to use up some of the vast quantity of food we both brought to share).  We will wind down and prepare for bed.  Still one more weather report to do before the solid sleep through the night.

Adventure at the lighthouse – holiday Friday, 7 April 2023

Greetings from the light!

Yesterday was a wild storm with extremes in wind and water and a few rain showers.  The ladder where I step into the sea was completely covered with high tide and water swells.  It was risky to walk too close to the edge of the island with strong wind gusts coming from seemingly no where.  I went to bed listening to howling wind and stormy sea sounds.  Exciting and wild.

Overnight all that changed.  I awoke in the night to the bright round almost full moon completely filling my sleeping space with light.  The sea was calm, the stars were visible and dotted the overhead black space.  The moon left a sparkling road on the surface of the sea, blending light with ripples.  The wind was silent.  The night was still.  I sat up and stared out the window to take it all in.

A few hours later I got out of bed, blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds (I am learning the names of the various cloud cover).  Eagles dancing and soaring through the quiet air.  The sun shining brightly on my end of the house.  As the day progressed the heat from the sun could be felt through the windows and outside, it was constantly overhead.  It seems all was rested from the previous day’s storm and now to start the cycle anew.

I completed my gratitude practice and went for a walk down to the ladder, for a dip in the sea.  The water level was high enough, at a very comfortable height just lower than the top two rungs.  Looks like the tide is going out …. And the sea looks calm and ‘easy’.  HA!!!  

The joke was on me.  I entered the water and almost immediately was acclimated to the cold on my bare hands and feet (I swim year round now in a bathing suit in the sea).  The current just under the water pulled me away from the ladder and although I thought I could swim with the agitation, the pull was fiercely strong.  It took all my strength and limited swimming skill to get close to the rubber bumpers used by the boats  that bring supplies and people to the island. The vertical bumpers fastened securely to the rock face are to keep the safety boats from smashing against the solid rock wall that is this island.  I could get a hold of one of these by swimming across the current toward the rock and pull myself back to the ladder.  I was surprised, maybe even shocked at the strength of the underwater push that was not visible at all on the surface.  My friend was watching and ready with devices should I need to be rescued, but I managed.  I was not really in danger, just very surprised and a bit exhausted from the exertion.  I spent the first 5 minutes of my dip trying to get back to the ladder and the next 6 minutes hanging on!!  I would let my legs go out behind me and I could again feel the pressure of my long 6 foot body to bend to the sea’s will.  I would put my feet back on the rung and let one arm go back in the water, a safer way to experiment with Mother Nature.  Wow.

I have walked, played with the dog and enjoyed the peaceful island today.  The wind is starting to pick up and the overhead clouds a little less fluffy and a bit more grey, the water surface more choppy than rippled.  

I think my stay is now half over.  Happy long weekend to you.

Lighthouse adventure, the next day, 6 April 2023

Good morning from this rock island lighthouse in the Pacific Ocean with the sea alive.  A friend has asked if it is a long way down to the sea.

It is a rock, so yes, some cliff around the whole island.  In order to swim I have to go down several sets of stairs and then down a ladder (which is attached securely and permanently to the rock).  When the tide is low I had to go to the bottom of the ladder.  When the tide was high I could just go down a few rungs and drop in to the sea and swim around.  Much more comfortable for me.  

The lower rungs of the ladder has barnacles and shells, some green stuff growing ….   I prefer the higher tide times, twice a day for swimming.  When the water was still, there was pollen and some sludgy stuff floating around in the gentle current on top of the water.  I am so glad I got to experience the sunny rays atop the surface of the water  on the first few dips.  The full experience of this place, the peaceful yet constant change is so interesting to me.

The tide moves 15 feet up and down.  The rock stands up maybe 40 to 60 feet from the water surface (depending on the tide).

The perimeter of the island is about .50 kilometres of walkable area.  In and out around the trees, fencing, sidewalks, heli pad, sharp declines, grassy areas, equipment, storage sheds and boat house, two full size homes.  I notice as the wind builds today, with gusty gusts, that the delicate white petals of blossoms on the trees did not stand a chance against the coming storm.  They flitter and dance, providing a light covering of the grasses and sidewalks only to be moved again with the winds and light rain showers.

As the day progressed and close to mid-afternoon the increase in wind, swells and waves leaves me to assume that this is a storm and I won’t be dipping at the afternoon high tide.  On my perimeter walk I witness wildness of sea, still a few birds and eagles soaring in the air, reduced visibility, sea lion not too far from the ladder enjoying something good to eat.  White caps.

Women’s circle provided by Spirit Rock (California) on zoom, every Thursday morning at 10 am for two hours. Grace Fisher, an angel, her voice calm and steady providing quotes and readings from other artists, time to meditate both in movement and while sitting in silence with the community on line.  I have listened to her through the past 3 years during COVID times since I discovered her.  

How grateful am I to be here – welcoming every thing as it is. Just like this.  My body, my mind, my heart …… just like this.  Sitting in observing awareness in this magical place.  Open to all the sensations.  

How am I on this day, 6 April 2023?  I am quiet, still, my heart is open, and I feel very grateful to have this experience.

Lighthouse day 3

Yesterday afternoon I was enjoying a double dip in the calm sea, at just after high tide, a gentle swim and float.  A seal poked his head up and watched curiously.  I spoke gently and then got out of the water.  We both kept our distance.  

The evening was beautiful with colourful sunset and later a near full moon in the clear dark sky.  

Today the sea has something to say.  Overcast most of the morning.  It is one of the jobs of a lighthouse keeper, to tell the weather in the area of the lighthouse.  Telling the wind speed (estimated), visibility, height of the seas …. Today the waves increase, the flag fully outstretched.

There are several differences today, the seals are not scattered lazily on the sun baked rocks in mid afternoon.  The eagle family and other sky birds (as far as I can see between 10 and 20) are swooping and ‘playing’ in the higher winds, dodging this way and that, riding the updraft and twirling around and around.  Some sea birds riding the fun waves, maybe 3-5 feet swells, some white caps.  

The screen doors of the house I am staying in, that don’t securely latch are banging in the ‘breeze’.  Different vistas on all sides of this island.  The water between the other islands somewhat calmer.  The wild side splashing up on the polished rocky cliffs.

It is challenging to walk my circuit around this small space.  However, I am determined to try.  Following the lawn area, around the buildings, up and down the stairs to the landing area and spot where I swam yesterday.  Around the newly budded (yellowy-green tear drop shaped buds) trees, small purple flowers about 3-6 inches up from the green lawn, yellow headed daffodils.  Around the heli-pad and looking over the edge at the crashing waves below.  

It is wild and wonderful.  Scenic and sensory.  This is not your ordinary walk – all the sounds are nature, the sights are not of a city skycape.  I have closed my rings and ready now to prepare for another peaceful sleep.  Good night all.

Lighthouse day 2

Before I move on to the spectacular morning, I will finish writing about my day 1.  This small island is a rock in the sea and limited in size.  It is a little under half a km to walk the whole way around.  

I have been walking for exercise and closing my rings on my watch for the past 846 days without breaking my streak.  Around and around I go, exploring, walking briskly, climbing gentle stairs all the while staring out to sea at the magnificent view.  Determined to keep up my moving streak!

Last night sleeping with the window and curtains open … much to my surprise and delight, the moon – almost full, brilliant and bright in the sky and filling up my space, making me smile as I was able to drift off again.

Up for the sunrise, outside in silk jammies to take photos of the glow and rising ball that keeps me warm and satisfied.

Goals for today, enjoy each moment that I can, have a cold water swim in this part of the sea, be one with the natural world around me, close my walking rings on my watch, eat well, spend time talking about meaningful topics with my good friend, write a gratitude email and send out by text.

GRATITUDE for today, that I arrived safely on this magical island and have the opportunity to be here.  Tasty, aromatic and superbly smooth morning decaf coffee prepared by my friend (Flair expresso).  The cardboard 3-d puzzle of Roman Colosseum completed by my friend.  Grateful.

Grateful to see the seals resting on rocks, the subtle rise and change of the sea level, witnessing the weather changes on the spring day, enjoying the sightings of the eagle family who make this rock home, buds on ancient trees that grow here (Garry Oak, flowering blossom trees that will bear sweet yellow plum fruit one day, apple tree and alder, wild roses and lilacs in their early spring bud).  Not mattering to count the many times I see the sights from all sides of this mystical place as I walk my daily exercise routine.  Ancient petroglyphs from many years past.  Grateful.

It is so quiet here of course.  This morning I stood under the light and could almost hear the dew drips fall from the light to the platform. Some landed on my head and face, the cool drops were pleasant to experience.  Mindful moments.  It seems I stood out there for ages. 

Eagles watching and hovering over. The two eagle parents and one ‘immature’.  I would say teenager?  Ha ha.  Good luck to the parents!

On the horizon I see hundreds maybe thousands of birds breakfasting on the sea in the golden glow of morning.  The bright sun making its way through the patch of grey cloud.  It seems like a competition and for us on this lucky day, the sunshine won!!!  It has been clear, bright and sunny ever since, warming up wherever it touches.

In writing this I wondered what a group of eagles is called?  According to Google (I remember when I used to run to our set of encyclopedia in the bookshelf and pouring over the information contained between the pages)…. a bunch of eagles would be an aerie, convocation,  congress, or army.  (Very military words …. Who writes this or decides these things?  Back to google …..).

I am delighted to know and see a Round of robins, several Flock of seagulls.  To the delight of my cold ocean-water swimming pod …. I am part of a  Raft of otters.

Once in the south of France at la Carmargue I witnessed a Flamboyance of flamingos.  Sometimes in the trees I have seen a  Party or band of blue jays (my mom is watching the BlueJays season baseball ….).

In August and September 2023 I am going on safari to Africa and hope to see the following: Tower of giraffe,  Dazzle of zebra, Pride of lions and Herd of elephants.  Isn’t nature wonderful!!!

I had my dip at low tide off the ‘rock’ today.  It is much less cold than the breakwater in Victoria ….. and the glowing beautiful sun is still shining from the brilliant blue sky.  Lucky me. 

3 April 2023

Day one of the Lighthouse adventure

You know when you see ‘signs’ of positivity pointing to the direction of ‘you are going the right way’?  I am there.  I am here.  Here I am.

It is a blue sky day upon arrival and spectacular shiny sparkles on the water, almost too bright to look at.  Gentle ripples and slight wind.  My ride over was exciting.  Fresh sea air blowing at me, the sights of far off land, trees, mountains in the distance, bright blue sky with skiffs of white cloud overhead … making promises of a beautiful day.  Day 1… my arrival.

I believe in synchronicities.  I believe in totems and spirit animals.  I believe that being born near the sea makes me a sea-loving creature.  Perhaps I was a mermaid in a past life <smile>.  

Coming up, soaring beside the safety boat, is the identifiable and beautiful long slim shape of a Great Blue Heron.  Fairly common in these parts, these magnificent birds always take my breath away.  This soaring bird follows along our path, then crosses over in the front of the boat so close I can look into her eye.  

I catch my breath, I hold steady and ‘stay’ in a mindful moment.  Stay. 

According to Google, some traditions believe the heron is a symbol of self-determination and self-reliance.  Good luck and prosperity, harmony and peace.  Grace.  Longevity, patience, purity.  Determined and clever.  Curious.  Tranquility, serenity, elegance.  A very good omen asking me to be unconventionally productive.  Focussed.  A restless loner.  

It is true a heron is a large bird with very long legs and long neck that lives near the water.  I used to think we had similar legs, <ha ha>.  I love the slow quiet way they move.  The stillness that is their trademark as they wait, and wait, and wait.  Mostly seen alone, not travelling in a ‘siege’.  Many with outrageous and fashionable hair styles. A little bit edgy, they prim and pluck and then wait some more.

For the past number of years my friend (who I am staying with, let’s call her T) and I have taken picture of herons as a symbol of ‘good morning, my friend’.  We see them, we take a pic on the phone and we respond when the other friend sends the message by text.  We, T and I, are very close personal friends that started as professional colleagues with deeply similar philosophies within our work with people.  We are here, T and I, on this island together for the next 10 days.  

The heron sighting today was a good omen as I arrived at my temporary lighthouse home.