Amalfi coast 15 Nov 2019

Amalfi coast drive 15 Nov 2019

Arriving in port of Naples, our group of 18 travellers were met by three vans and expert drivers by 715 am. An early start to the day and change of itinerary from our original booking plan. Due to weather and other complications the Oceania peeps notified us of change of port of call ( was Sorrento, now Naples) and moved it by a day. I was able to change the plans I had made for private tour and visit to Lemon Farm….. thanks to Francesco.

First stop Pompeii for coffee, pastries, and catching glimpse of the town and ruins. One of our drivers was local to Pompeii so suggested a quality stop where the locals eat and drink specialty coffee and “cookies” made famous in Pompeii region and area of Naples.

Onward, refreshed we drive, we stop at variety of viewpoints, each one more spectacular than the last. The rocky steep coast and brilliant turquoise blue water, glistening in the sunshine. Switchbacks, tight corners. Breathtaking views. Olive trees, fruit trees, beautiful buildings adorned with ceramic mosaics, terra cotta rooftops. Brilliant flower gardens and bushes, contrasting against stone terraces, vineyards.

Amalfi Coast is 45 kms long, starting Sorrento and goes to Amalfi town. We drove as far as Positano, with spectacular views of this famous coastal town. Beaches, homes, pedestrian switchback walkways … picturesque in every way. The sun shines bright, the beach, the mountainside. The surf.

Along the drive islands of Ischia and Capri can be seen, and smaller islands, once believed to be home of sirens, lady fish, mermaids. Bewitching the sailors, rocky outcrops with waves gently splashing.

Fruit bearing trees, olive, lemon, orange, grape vines, cherries all cohabitating in small garden plots along the road. Climbing on the bridges and buildings, purple morning glories. Steep rocky coast meets beautiful turquoise sea and white frothy waves.

Arriving at Luigi’s home, a warm embrace, recognition of our times meeting before. Family lived in this house since 1300, in mid 1650 started cultivate lemons as it was believed medicinal properties, to help with disease. Situated on Bay of Naples, Microclimate unique in this area. Luigi gives us walking tour.

First lemon seeds were not actually from Italy, but from India. Lemon tree is delicate. Must be protected from wind and frost, storms. All parts of the lemon are used, seasonally. Luigi describes the various uses, the primary reason for the lemon of this region is production of lemoncello.

Out of financial necessity and lack of labour workers, Luigi’s father and uncle decided to work the farm. Agritourismo concept helps income to keep living here.

Have one cow, have few pigs. Chickens. 10,000 meters square.
Uses solar panel for heat, electricity and hot water. Other self sustaining products on the farm include Olive oil. Mozzarella cheese prepared from milk of their one cow. Vegetable garden. Rental rooms for tourists to stay on farm in beautiful stone building.

In this area of Italy there are 4 restaurants with Michelin stars. The soil for growing produce is volcanic and unique for support of exceptional taste and heartiness, as well as producing the very best quality of lemons.

Luigi described how the trees are planted and grafted by moon .. 3 to 4 weeks per year window for maximum production. Ancient knowledge that still is used today. For the past 25 years this farm has been completely organic, no use of pesticides. The farmhouse and buildings provide 9 rooms for rent.

I would like to come back here, maybe to work for a week or two. This is the home of beautiful Italian family and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share with my family and travel buddies.

Ti amo,

Onward,

Pamela

Ps. Next day is sea day of rest, time in Canyon Ranch Spa on board ship, steam room, hot tub, dining, time in library, cooking demonstration, coffee, food, wine, cocktail party with my precious family, friends and travel buddies.

Pss. Coming up, Santorini

Rome 14 Nov 2019

14 November 2019: la bella Roma!

We started out the day with breakfast on the ship. We had a prearranged and pre-paid train transfer to Roma from Civitavecchia. Train dropped us at St Peters’ rail stop. The sun was out, blue sky for most of the day, we were prepared for rain.

Consulting the map provided, we calculated the ‘must see’ and roughly plotted the route. First priority was Spanish Steps. Not too many people in town, although two large cruise ships in port on either side of our 1200 passenger Oceania Marina. The view is spectacular as we climbed ever up, to the top. We purchased some artwork, contributing to the lifestyle of an artist.

I seldom ( never) get to spend quality time with my cousin, Tony. He contributed his Rome day to spending time with me. What a gift. He is considerate, kind, and fit. He and I walked for more than six hours covering some of my favourite Rome sights. Piazzas, cobblestone streets and alleys, seemingly leading nowhere, and then around the corner another spectacular sight.

Colosseum and forum, dodging all manner of Entrepeneurial men trying to get our attention and sell some idea or another … selfie stick, jewellery, roses, fast pass entrance tickets. We were polite and uninterested, even a bit annoyed at times with the extra attention garnered upon our blissful day.

We found some shops of unique interest, one selling pens and paper … particularly piqued my interest. I had a consult with a lovely shop woman who explained the type of fountain pen produced in Italy in my price range. Pink gold accent on flat black; classy and perfect. My search is over.

Swarovski bling store and Ray Ban sunglasses draw us in, no purchases there. At top of Spanish Steps we meet an artist that offers watercolor paint on top of prints with content of this fabulous city, giving magical accent to architectural basics.

We threw coins into the busy Trevi Fountain. We wandered through Pantheon, Piazza Navona and leisure walk along the River Tiber. Tree lined walkway.

Along the way we found a Lego shop. Fantastic creations with little plastic pieces. A whole wall of art, the Trevi fountain created with tiny LEGO pieces.

Campo de Fiori with food and flea market stalls, colorful and fun.

Back to Vatican City to meet our group, we stop for a beverage and enjoyed sharing a bottle of cold sparkling prosecco.

On the train now heading back to the ship. We will meet our peeps for dinner and early bed.

Tomorrow a day on private tour to lemon farm on beautiful Amalfi coast town of Sorrento. Our port stop is Naples so we will be in the vehicle for few hours, in anticipation on the way and satisfaction on the way back.

Ciao ciao,

Wish you were here,

Pamela

Cinque Terre13 Nov 2019

Cinque Terre 13 Nov 2019

Bus number 1 and a few of our group meet at 745 this morning in Marina Lounge. Weather prediction is scattered showers.

Others in our travelling group have opted for Florence (Firenze), Pisa, Tuscany wine tasting. Livorno is our destination and then to a couple of Cinque Terre villages by small coach.

15 century much of the area remains. Old stone structures, fences, terraced vineyards. We drive through the beautiful Italian countryside.

Carrera town we passed. Large export area for Marble. High mountain view quarries and massive export business.
Olive trees and lovely farmlands in the valley.

Foggy for first hours on the bus en route to Cinque Terre. We pass through region of Pisa and can barely make out the leaning tower as part of the cathedral. She explains the famous mistake of the leaning tower.

Small bus of this region. 20 passenger. So we can navigate the narrow roads near cinque terre. The sun has poked out and the sharp contrasting red tile roofs with green vegetation, high beautiful umbrella trees, low green shrubs, weeping willows, cactus, aloe. Beautiful mountain top towns. Rail connector.

Rio Maggiori. It has been a few years since I have been here, last time I was cruising to Italy. Not the busy season, peaceful, cool, sunshine, blue skies. The sound of the surf, friendly, aggressively crashing toward the shore. Beautiful colored waves, likely cold for a dip. Pale green, purple tones reflecting the sun above and sea stones below. Lucky for the sunshine today. Fresh, scenic, warmed by the rays. White shore birds resting and riding the waves.

Shorebirds dancing in the coastal breeze. I stop and listen, feel the gentle breeze on my face and hands.

Local fare, pastas, focaccia breads. Local folks with a fishing rod out, a bucket of collected catch. Coffee wine scents and visuals. Building with Terre cotta roof tiles, pale pink, gold, dark orange, lite reds, stucco covers the building sides, shutters on window.

Rosemarie and Greg are on the bus, sharing the day together. Marvelous memories.

Veranazza is the second town. Sunshine brilliantly with crashing waves. Local white wine bottle, frizzante. Deliciousness. Wow! Having a caprese salad with olives and capers.

Wish you were here. Travelling with friends and family (21 total guests). LOVING OCEANIA. thanks for the service and memories.

Love Pamela

20 September 2019. Loutro to Heraklion to Santorini

Thursday 19 September 2019, It’s time to say good bye to Loutro. A few days of relaxing, swimming, enjoying decaf coffee in our room and on balcony. Sunrises and sunsets stunning and breath-stopping. Large clean room in this hotel, very simple. We have a fridge and kettle so it was perfect.

Wednesday about 2 pm we were picked up by small motor boat and taken to the local living place,where many participated in a local cooking class to prepare moussaka. I spent few hours on the stony pebble beach with pristine clear water, with lounge chair. GAdventures covered our dinner, Greek salad for me and some vegetable dishes without gluten. It was nice to have a special prepared meal.

“So everyone is safe back in the hotel after a day full of adventure! And we have even seen the bioluminiscent plancton, the milky way, we have prepared moussaka with heart and spirit, met one great family, did sunbathing, kayaking, some even hiking”. Our tour leader sent this summary of last evening.

Moving Thursday to Iraklion, aka Heraklion …

Staying at Olympic Hotel in Heraklion. Drivers were from http://www.Alpine.gr. Travel agency, nice vehicles. Twisty turns again. Up up. Down down and instead of Chania, today Heraklion. We drive past beautiful beaches, lovely countryside, uniquely Greek coastal culture, olive trees, vineyards, agricultural farmlands, goats roaming.

Minoan culture. Palace of Knossos. I have been to Heraklion but never seen the ancient sites there. Now it is included in my tour and I will enjoy the visit. Our guide name Styla for the ancient site, very Greek accent, with lovely stories. Palace of Knossos. Minoan culture. 4000 BC to 1100 BC. Oldest in Europe. Minus, son of Zeus who fell in love with princess Europa. Earthquake and fire covered the site. Before fairly recent excavation no one knew this palace was here. In ancient times, this area was popular for Agriculture export. Import copper gold for weapons and tools.

In 1878 first excavation here. Palace is massive, 20,000 sq meters. No one believed the founder that it was the site of this historic site. Another fellow, in 1900-1903 financed excavation. Found and uncovered the pieces of this massive palace, including colorful frescoes. In total 1500 rooms, varying between 1 to 3 to 5 stories high. 500 lived in palace. No fortification walls, no warring happened here. Elaborate Ceremonies celebrated change of seasons. Flush toilets existed then! Large clay bathtubs, storage vases, sky lights for air circulation, protection from rain, allowing light to enter, no windows. Elaborate drainage system. Built for stability and flexibility in earthquake lands on island of Crete. Oldest road and small theatre in Europe.

We are finished our tour. It was sunny and hot, however we were able to find shade and places of cool breeze. Taxi back to hotel to freshen up, finish a bottle of rose we got a few days previous, then joined two other gals from Victoria, Janie and Jan. Out for lovely dinner in recommended restaurant located behind the Starbucks.

Apres dinner, decaf coffee at Starbucks, a walk around for the gals to make some purchases for souvenirs.

Up early Friday 20 September 2019 for quick breakfast at 630 a.m. and taxi to Blue Star ferry from Heraklion port to Santorini. It’s a 4 hour ride and our last stop. Tonight is our last sleep on the tour before we begin our flight home.

Loutro, island of Crete, Best of Greece 18 September 2019

D7D7CF0A-F700-4041-BF6E-546C86A14606.jpegWitness to the sunsets and sunrises in Greece was one of my intentions for this trip. Last night I captured the scene as darkness filled in and the colours of the sky giving up the light. This morning, getting up with the natural rhythm of a sleep-filled night on a peaceful island, I enjoyed the colorful sky again, as the sun was welcomed back and the new day dawns.

We arrived to Loutro by small ferry yesterday after a swim, packing and hauling our bags. Please know that this classic style GAdventures tour requires some heavy lifting. No elevators or lifts in these small out of the way island stops. Up up we go on narrow steps many without railings.

We get our room assigned and have free time in Loutro. We have a fun local lunch, purchase supplies for coffee preparation in our lovely spacious, although very plain room. Crisp white sheets and towels that have been laundered and hung on the line in the hot sun, no loofah required. Ha ha

Later in the afternoon we have a lovely cooling swim in the sea, pebble beaches. Bring water shoes, and a cover up. There are lounge chairs and umbrellas to rent, we don’t. The sea is salty, cooling my body down. Socializing and chatting while trying to keep balance from the wave motion, as we sit on large rocks. Clear, pristine water is delightful to all the senses.

We dine with some of our group in Pavolos restaurant at the bottom of the steps. Sea view. Local food prepared, same waiter as per lunch. Highly recommended for us. We enjoy. Apres dinner we join the rest of the group at Christina’s lounge for beverages, sitting along side the sea. In the dark, with lights reflecting we can see far into the sea. Incredible how clear the water is. How black the sky with fantastic star gazing. We identify some constellations, the moon is reducing in its circumference as the full moon was a few days ago. Sweet sleep. The hoot of an owl is enjoyable, last evening and now in the morning still.

Sitting out on the balcony with sea view, this morning with our instant Starbucks coffee packages, and cream / milk we purchased yesterday. Feelings of decadence, peace, kindness, appreciation, lost and found in the moments as they gently pass one after another.

Today another swim. In the afternoon we head to a local place for cooking class, swimming, several hours of local living experience in remote Crete, Greece.

Tomorrow we will head to Iraklion and then on to Santorini for our last night stay before our flight home.

Stefi is our guide, a strong feminist woman with great social skills and five year experience and commitment to GAdventures brand and being a CEO (chief experience officer). We tell her last night how brilliant and inspiring she is. Hugs and appreciation given and received. We try to tell her every day. She receives it well and honors what we describe as how we see of how she shows up in our world. Thank you, Stefi. Love spending these two weeks with you and watching, “I can see you from here”

Stay tuned from truly yours,”traveling consultant” and Best of Greece.

Pamela

September 17 2019, Agia Roumeli

Agia Roumeli, on west side of Crete. 17 September 2019

The clear green-blue color and gentle cool sensation of the salty sea, combines to make this destination one of relaxation and sensory magic. The taste and smell of salt, the buoyancy laying motionless on the gentle waves this morning, enrich my second swim in this part of the sea. The water is so clear, although I can see the contours and details of each rock and stone below, I can’t touch, rapid drop off. Not silty sand, simple clarity. It’s amazing, tranquil and so incredibly beautiful and relaxing. I could bob around all day in the gentle surf.

I believe it is referred to as the Libyan sea and we can barely make out the African coast from here. Wow!

Sand and pebbles on the beach, protection with beach shoes allow me to walk along in relative comfort, in meditative trance of the sounds of the waves gently acknowledging the shore, pebbles dancing next to each other with the undertow. Rocky coastline sandwiches both sides of the coastal town where we stayed only one night. Peaceful slumber listening to the waves lap and sway.

I am presently sitting on the balcony, painted traditional white as one sees in Greece, with Santorini-blue painted shutters. Magical, magnificent, relaxing, inspiring. It’s already 28 degrees by 10 am local time. Almost no breeze can be felt now. Not a single fluffy white cloud in the sky. Only blue as far as I can see.

The power was out last night in the whole town. Generators working to ensure coffee and breakfast will be served.

On the balcony, my feet and toes in the sun and warmth, little bit of sea sand hanging on for the ride. Happy feet. Happy me!

September 16 2019, Best of Greece continues

Since my last post we spent a night and two half days in scenic Nafplion. Spelled a few different ways. We walked to the stone beach and did not partake, we enjoyed a cool breeze from our balcony with view of the mountains and sea. Beautiful bright pink bougainvilleas throughout the old town. It was nice down time.

Chania town yesterday, we arrived early about 630 am after the overnight ferry from Piraeus. Four to a room, bunk beds, with dining on board. Some of the passengers of this overnight cruise have bed rolls set up in the hallways staking their claim for the night ride.

No time for shower or cleaning up, we went for an orientation walk. It’s one of my fave places, Xania, Chania, on Crete in Greece. We see the Main Street, have a great breakfast together …. then went out for the day strolling around. Some shops opened at ten, it’s Sunday here.

Xamam, clothing store opened at 11 ish, Greek time..lol. It has expanded some since my last visit. Sandali is a shoe / boot store across the walkway. I think I have been to Crete maybe 4-5 times previously. Always leave some money here when I am lucky to stop in Chania. In November 2019 on the cruise we will stop in Heraklion, however I am arranging a taxi to bring me along the coast to Chania for more shopping experience and to see the coastline of this island.

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We spent 4 hours in the Xamam shopping store, and had a wonderful time playing dress up. Just next door was an amazing one of a kind Greek designer jewellery shop. There are lots of tourist places and shops of every kind. The lighthouse is iconic, the stone walls and fortresses. I opted not to goin search of the beach this time. We all met for dinner as a group, authentic Cretan cuisine. Very satisfying. I am eating Greek salad every day,sometimes 2-3 meals. My belly feels good, no worry about celiac response or cross contamination of food that way.

Dining together last evening after our big shopping day in Chania. Up this morning depart the Arkadi hotel, picked up by a van big enough for us and luggage – 18 of us including driver. The front seat is broken, I am in row two. Popping ginger, with patch behind my ear and Travel gum at the ready we head to the other side of Crete. I have never been to this side before, nor have many others by the feel of the intensely windy and narrow roads, hairpin switchbacks. Rocking from side to side. We arrive safely. Bags unloaded and driver leaves us. We drag our bags down stairs and to catch ferry to take us to our next stop. Tiny village, maybe 200 population. We drove over the mountain range to get here, now we take a ferry to our destination today.

It’s cool here by the water, clear, clean and mostly tourist free. Few folks and cars coming off the ferry. Maybe locals? It’s an interesting and peaceful stop on itinerary. Many grab coffee while we wait a few minutes and then carry our bags and load up for hour ferry ride.

On the ferry, crystal clear water, sparkling in the hot Grecian September sun. Ferry makes a stop at Loutro where we will stay tomorrow night for two nights. Tiny village, seems to be all small boutique hotels. Beautiful clear blue-green sea and beaches. Kayaks dot the bay and along the journey, turquoise with purple hue, yellow / white sparkle on the water. Fabulous stony rock formations. A Greek Orthodox Church on the red stone rock. Picture perfect, not a cloud in the clear blue sky, a little breeze. It’s going to be relaxing and an opportunity for beach swims. Lucky us! Most of the tour group will do some hiking in the gorge today.

Today we stay, arrive atTerra Hotel at Agia Roumeli, Stakia, on this west side of Crete. Hot day, nice breeze. Cool sea swim after lunch. The town filled up, mostly young people it seems, couples, some restaurants and bars, hotels and apartments. Very basic stay, but adequate. The views and experience of the sea, from our balcony, iconic white painted hotel with blue shutters and doors. Actually some of us staying at Calypso, seems to be the same owners, just one side of the road or the other. Dinner tonight at 730.

Tomorrow back to ferry and two nights in Loutro.

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Pamela