My passion filled life
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life.
My passion filled life
The day started off a little slowly as we tried to connect with the travel agent about car rentals and tours offered. Our biggest challenge was going to be how to get to the town where our car rental was, but a plan began to fall into place. On the way up for lunch we connected with Joe and Cyndi from Iowa. They invited us to go touring with them later in the week, as the intended to seek out the town that Joe's family had originated from prior to immigrating from Italy two generations earlier.
We made ourselves a lunch of cheese (Brigante) which we are falling in love with on crispy crusts of bread. Something totally foreign to our way of eating. Messy, but delicious. Then we headed off to catch the bus for the beach. This time we actually managed to get there!
The Colors of the sea are awe inspiring, as the scenery takes your breath away. It was a long walk down from where the bus dropped us off to where we managed to get to the water, and we realized that the stairs that we used to go down are also used by the cars of the restaurant/bar owners to drive up.
There weren't too many people down at the water and we found a quiet cove at the end of the beach to sit on the pebbly grey volcanic ash that is the standard of sand here. The sun was hot, the waves splashing, and the wind comforting.
As usual, I traveled to heavily to really relax, as I had my camera, wallet and who knows what else with me, so made myself a promise that the next time we came down to the beach I'd leave all of that behind, and allow myself a day of splashing in the magnificent waves. My problem of course would be, that if and when I did that, I'd see the most amazing thing to take a picture of, and would not be able to...but I vowed to take that risk!
After about an hour, we decided to head for shade at the little bar above the sand. A couple of drinks, and a great tomato/tuna/olive/mozza sandwich later, we made our way back up to wait for the bus.
As we sat up on the stones at the top, the chattering behind me caught my attention. I went to explore, thinking it might be birds of some sort, but instead I found a collection of squirrel like animals, brown and white. They were the size of cats, very fast and very noisy!
Upon returning home, we got our car rental straightened out for tomorrow and had solid plans for a lift to Lauria to pick it up. Cec had a rest and I had intended to, but got working on travel plans and computer stuff, and the time for resting flew past as it so often does on me.
At 7:30 we headed down to the restaurant for a light supper. Mine of Caprise Salad, Cec had Swordfish, and we each had room for a Canolli, which could easily become an addiction for me as I love them! I didn't quite finish mine, but came close! They are sooooo good!
After a good nights sleep, a 9am rise. In our shopping the night before, I thought I had bought vanilla yogurt for breakfast, but turns out to be vanilla pudding. Definitely should have learned more Italian, but a tasty start to the day. As we enjoyed the morning sun with olives, cheese and coffee on the patio,Cec noticed a little collection of lizards of some sort that seem to reside in the plant boxes on the patio. Not exactly sure what they were called, but they sure move in a hurry. If he hadn't noticed them before I did, I sure they'd have given me a heart attack!
Before 10am it was already very, very hot out. I didn't expect such heat...now looking back, I wonder to myself what is was that I did expect!
Our Sunday was a lazy day. We headed down to the travel booth about 11 and found a couple of options of tours to take, as well as possible options for a rental car that would get us to Otranto the following week.
After figuring out a few things, we grabbed a couple of bottles of water, and planned to go to the beach. Beer in the Resort mini-mart is 80cents, suntan lotion is 13.00 euros...so not everything is reasonable!
We took our expensive lotion and our water and headed to the bus stop to wait for the bus that takes you down to the beaches. After sitting on the benches for about 15 minutes, we got thinking that it was time for the drivers' lunch break, so we walked back to our apartment for lunch...and to look at the schedule that informed us that the lunch break doesn't happen until well after 1, so after gobbling down our olives and cheese we headed back to the bus stop.
We caught the 12:30 that took us down the windiest, steepest trail I have ever ridden on. The view was amazing, but the look over the edge of the road a little unnerving! The first stop at the bottom, the man seated across from us got up and off the bus, so I jumped up and followed, Cec jumped up and followed me... unfortunately, we were not at the beach, as we were the only two that jumped off at the little bar/restaurant that the two trails leading up from the beach meet at. So, what else, but to have a beer, and an ice cappuccino and wait for the next bus.
When it came, we hopped on, only to find out it went about 20 feet then turned around and headed back up the hill to the resort, so I guess were were very close to where we needed to be, but just didn't know it. We decided to wait until the next day to venture down again.
After returning, we had a couple of drinks at the bar then we headed up to the room for a siesta, that lasted almost 3 hours. I can't believe how tired we were, in the afternoon heat it seemed like the sensible thing to do. That evening we made our way back down to the main reception area to do a little more research on getting a cab to take us into town to do some exploring. Waiting for the restaurant to open, we had a great, and very interesting conversation with a couple from Sidney Australia. They have travelled to Italy 3 times now, and had lots of good information on Venice for when we hit there. They had a rental and had done more exploring than us, but seemed as nervous of the other drivers as we were after yesterday's experience! However they confirmed for us that it's possible. We'll see.
There was some relief provided in the conversation as they did confirm for us though that we're not the only ones that found having to make our beds a little strange, as well as having to phone the front desk to find out where the cutlery was hidden. No one ever thought that kitchen tools would be stored in the bottom of the fridge I guess!
Throughout dinner we were entertained by a young woman who sang just beautifully. Although it was close to the end of the tourist season there, there were still lots of activities going on for visitors. In the morning there was water aerobics going on in the pool, the afternoon offered dance lessons by the restaurant, and in the evening plays and activities going on down in the amphitheater.
My only wish was that I'd thought a little more about what the weather would be like, so I'd have been better prepared...for some reason I didn't take any of my sundresses, and very few cool clothes...not sure what I thought the weather might be like...but never thought it would be as warm as it was. But it's all good!
While travelling, I am glad I made the choice to relax and enjoy the wines of the areas after a year of not consuming any alcohol. We are back into wine country here, wine and corn fields...lots of them, just as in Switzerland. I really must google and see what all the corn here is raised for...it's a bit of a mystery to me, but my guess is to feed the cattle to produce the milk for cheese!
I am so happy to finally be getting this opportunity. Its been a long time coming, and really just so hard to believe that we are finally here, and still asking myself, what is it that has always drawn me to want to explore this beautiful part of the world. Why has Italy always called to me, when so many other places on the map never have? I wonder if maybe the next few weeks will answer that question, as I wander and explore, and we gather this experience together.
We made it to Maratea...by the skin of our teeth. Our train broke down in Sapri, and when i looked at the map it was closer to go from here Maratea than our planned stop at Scalea and back to Maratea was. We had time with the breakdown to go and find out that we could get a cab here for 40euros, about the same as trying to arrange train and cab when the train was fixed so we opted for that.
The view between there and Maratea was breath taking, but the ride was death defying! Never have I ridden in a vehicle with a driver that was so prone to attempting suicide on every hairpin curve and bend! The ride over was approximately 30 minutes, but it was hard to tell when you're hanging on with white knuckles, looking over the cliffs to the sea below. The direct switchbacks along the road were endless, and our cab driver was not opposed to pulling out and passing the vehicles that were going a shade slower to him at any bend in the road...and there were many, many bends!
I was very surprised to see that we made it safely and in one place, although to the wrong place. We ended up at the top of the mountain at the Ritz! It's another hotel with the same name as ours, but several hotel standards above with marble floors and 360 degree views of the sea below. Didn't take too long to see that we were in the wrong place, but fortunately they sent the hotel van to take us down to where we were meant to be.
We arrived at Club Residence Pianeta Maratea, a large sprawling series of apartments in a timeshare area. We got checked in with little problem,but unfortunately, everything here is stairs...which will be fine when we are not toting our luggage up the miles of stone steps to get us to our little bachelor pad. Of course I tend to view everything through the disability lens when I'm travelling...knowing what would and wouldn't work with the experience we lived. This would not work if your mobility is an issue, that was for sure.
There is nothing fancy about the unit, in fact it did look a little tired and worn. However, we must admit, the place was chosen because it was close to water and was within the limited amount of points we had with our timeshare, so it's not expected to be a 5 star.
That said, it does have everything we need right here...pool, laundry, travel centre, mini-mart, restaurant and bar.
We ventured down for supper when we got settled, to find that they didn't start serving until 7:30 after the staff had eaten. So we settled in for a wine and beer and relaxed with the amazing sunset that I was unable to capture as I left my camera and phone in the room.
I had a 'special pasta' with tomato, mushroom and bacon sauce, while Cec enjoyed the grilled seafood entre. Mine was okay, his was very good, although not too filling, but the piece de resistance was ending the meal with a Sicilian Canolli...now that was amazing! Our meal including beverages, came to only 40 Euros.
We ventured over to the mini-mart to get a few supplies. They have a butcher on hand, with many cuts of dried/smoked meats, as well as olives and cheeses. we ended up with 4 bags of food that included 6 beer and a bottle of wine for 38 Euros, less than expected for sure as we really thought that the onsite store would be much more expensive for sure! When we later looked at our bill, we realized that the 250ml of Pepsi was our most expensive purchase! Costing more than a litre of white wine, and almost as much as 4 Peroni beer! Who'd have thought!
We climbed the many steps back to our apartment, managed about 30 minutes before we fell into bed. Except for the leg cramps from lack of drinking water the sleep was wonderful, and caught up on about 9 hours! Yay
It was our second last train of a very long day. We left 7am in the morning and with an estimated arrival in Maratea about 8pm. It has gone well.
The first train change was more than a little nerve wracking as
we really didn't know if we had it right or not. We only had 20 minutes to find the next one, but we did it!
On our way to Scales, I became a little nervous again as it looked like we would have to go past Maratea and double back. It was a bit of a rush and an adventure, not knowing if we could make ourselves understood when questions arise.
As we rocked along the sun shone a brilliant blue on the water to our left. This is the sea that I had dreamed of seeing for so long.
There have been beautiful views to the east of us, but there has also been a dry dirtiness in much of what we saw. Farmland, more than I ever imagined, with big round bales of hay, and combines working in the field. That was so not what I expected to see...but another surprise.
Things became greener as we made our way south. The train stations were an interesting shock to us, so much active conversation, the excited Italian voices raising above the whir of the trains, and lots and lots of smoke. We've become used to having so many places where you can't smoke, but that is not so the case here. At every stop, cigarettes light up immediately upon departing the train, and the waiting lines are full of the strong, pipey smell of the many cigarettes that people inhale deeply, obviously enjoying.
There also seem to be so many dogs on the platforms. I am surprised, as I don't imagine taking my dog on a train ride would be all that much fun, but many seem to do it here.
What a different world from what we are used to at home! How wonderful to get to explore it!
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