Christmas Lady


I have just been trawling back through some photos I took during our visit to Amsterdam last December.

This was is a shot of a mannequin in a shop called Christmas Palace …..

Christmas Lady
Christmas Lady , Maybe the Ice Queen

Straight out of Narnia, Jadis the Ice Queen or the White Witch. Perhaps she is a bit too colourful for that role, but she does have a pretty stern demeanour about her.

Italian Adventure – And Then There Were Two


Ate at the hotel again this evening. I had Rissotto with a chunk of Grouper for my main, Steamed Octopus Salad for my starter. Gerry had soup as her starter and a pasta dish with Mussels for her main.

Most importantly we had another bottle of the Sicilian Syrah.

And then there were two …

Sicilian Syrah
Feudo Principi di Butera

Italian Adventure – Paused


It rained last night and by and large it has rained pretty much all day. Consequently, we have been skulking in the hotel.

We managed to miss breakfast. So by way of a consolation prize, we treated ourselves to lunch.

I had Octopus Salad, followed by Sea Bass with bacon wrapped asparagus and mashed potato while Gerry had Veal Escalopes with Bacon Wrapped Asparagus and mashed potato. All washed down with the ubiquitous Nastro Azzurro.

I must say that the restaurant food at the hotel is pretty good. Cooked well and nicely presented. The breakfast buffet is pretty comprehensive with cold meats and cheeses, hot scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms etc. Plenty of serials and cakes / pastries on offer along with various breads. Not brilliant stuff but will give you a good energy boost to get your day under way.

I should mention that last night we decided to have a bottle of wine with our meal. We chose an Italian Merlot but they had sold out. The waiter suggested two alternative wines one of which was a Syrah.

Syrah
Sicilian Syrah From The Vinyards Of Feudo Principi di Butera

We chose the Syrah, from the vineyards of Feudo Principi di Butera in Sicilia. It turned out to be both a good suggestion and a good choice. Lots of flavour with a dry after bite. In other words a damn good anaesthetic.

Today hasn’t been a total loss. We have arrange an excursion for Monday.

We are going to visit Pompeii, come rain or shine. According to the extended forecast we can expect clouds with sunny periods and just a 25% chance of precipitation

That leaves us with Saturday and Sunday to fill. Saturday is showing 65% chance of rain so I think we will try to get Gerry into the Spa. Sunday is looking a bit better. We may chance  trip to Capri, it depends on the sea state. Gerry loves the sea, to look at, but she doesn’t mix well with boats on the water. If it’s a bit fallollopy then a stroll around Sorrento may be in order. Where we can at least dodge the showers by ducking into one of the many bars and coffee shops.

After Monday we can start looking at perhaps a trip to Herculaneum. Again, this is very weather dependent.

Fingers crossed.

Italian Adventure Part 3 – The Amalfi Coast Road


It blew a hooley last night and the industrial structure that is our hotel, has a number of features which shrieked and howled. Strangely, Gerry missed all of that but was awake for a full-blown thunderstorm, forked lightning, the works. Somehow I managed to sleep through the thunderstorm, even though I was awake every 90 minutes or so during the night.

All of the overnight weather had set us up for a fairly dull day, although it was probably for the best. Who wants to sit in a car being baked by bright  sunshine.

So, sat nav, camera, and water suitably prepared, we set out for Amalfi. Our route initially takes us towards Sorrento. Just brushing the outskirts but giving us some superb views…….

Lido Marinella - Meta
Lido Marinella – Meta
Coastal View Near Meta
Coastal View Near Meta

 

Then onto the Amalfi Coast Road proper. Everything you read about driving this route warns you about the narrowness of the roads and the tightness of the bends. Oh and lets not forget the huge vertical drops to the sea.

I’m not going to say that all those writings are wrong. They are not. What I will say is that you have to drive with due care and patience. The roads are tight but certainly wide enough for two vehicles. After all, even the coaches have to pass each other. Where it gets interesting is when you encounter a coach on one of the many hairpin bends. They usually sound their horns to let you know they are coming. The general etiquette is that you give way to them. Back up if necessary. Many of the bends also have mirrors set so you can see if anything is coming around those blind bends.

Remember, these guys are professional. They drive this route many times during the year and some, multiple times a day.

Back to our journey, we were soon approaching Positano ….

Positano
Positano – Amalfi Coast
Positano
Positano – Amalfi Coast

As we started our descent into Positano we came to a halt and didn’t move for around 15 minutes. Quite a few passengers bailed out of their cars and coaches and walked down. We saw some re-board their coaches later on. I’m just glad it wasn’t a clear blue sky, sunny day.

Queuing Outside Positano
Just one of the inevitable queues on the road leading down into Positano
Coastal Road - Near Positano
You can just see part of the Coastal Road above the archway- Near Positano

We didn’t stop in Positano although it looked a great place to explore. Although this isn’t peak season there were people everywhere. The big issue with the coastal towns in this region is that they are the victims of their popularity. Hence the nose to tail traffic and a distinct lack of parking spaces. What it would be like in July and August I can only imagine.

So, onwards and upwards out of Positano, and back onto the coastal road. We were soon approaching Amalfi. The descent into Amalfi was, as expected, a bit of a stop, go experience although quicker than Positano.

There is some parking down near the harbour but, as expected, by the time we arrived all spaces had been taken.

Harbour - Amalfi
Harbour and Coach Park – Amalfi

In the above photo yo can see the coastal road leaving Amalfi. Just round the corner, out of sight, is an amazing underground car park on multi levels. The park has been hewn out of the rock. One oddity is the fact that they do not allow passengers to enter the park, only the driver. The good news is that there is a tunnel from the car park down to the Amalfi town centre which avoids the road route. And there are very good toilettes as part of the complex.

Moles - Amalfi
Moles, Harbour Walls – Amalfi

The end of the far harbour wall was absolutely swarming with members of the selfie brigade, selfie sticks to the fore.

Marina - Amalfi
Marina – Amalfi
Beach - Amalfi
Beach – Amalfi

Walking down from the car park, we decided to stop for a spot of lunch before exploring Amalfi. Pretty much the first eatery we came upon was the Gran Caffe Tea Rooms. We both had salads washed down with a couple of bottles of Astro Azzurro. We might be suffering withdrawal symptoms when we get home.

Gran Caffe Tea Room - Amalfi
Gran Caffe Tea Room – Amalfi

Energy levels suitably replenished we set out to walk the town. Like any seaside town there are many souvenir shops selling lots of typical mediterranean ceramics, a huge variety of fancy bottles containing limoncello and bags adorned with the Amalfi name.

Amalfi
Square – Amalfi

Also around every corner there are lemons for sale. The locally grown lemons are huge and are just begging to be paired up  with equally huge gin and tonics.

Coastal Residence - Amalfi
Coastal Residence – Amalfi

While Gerry was browsing the tourist shops I opted for a trip to the end of the harbour wall….

View From End Of Harbour Wall - Amalfi
View From End Of Harbour Wall – Amalfi
Amalfi - Viewed From Harbour Wall
Amalfi – Viewed From Harbour Wall
Duomo di Amalfi
Duomo di Amalfi – Saint Andrew’s Cathedral

 

Amalfi
Amalfi Showing The Coast Road to Atrani
Hotel - Amalfi
Convento Di’Amalfi Grand Hotel – Amalfi
Beach - Amalfi
Beach – Amalfi
Overlooking Cliffs - Amalfi
Overlooking Cliffs – Amalfi
I Want The Yellow Villa - Amalfi
I Want The Yellow Villa – Amalfi
Boat - Amalfi
Boat – Amalfi

Amalfi is a maze of narrow streets hiding restaurants, pizzeria, fish and chip shops as well as the usual tourist tat…..

Amalfi Mural
The Protontino Wine Cellar

Gerry had a look at really nice leather handbag. The seller tried to tell us that the 180 euros he wanted was equivalent to 70 pounds. Not the actual 158 pounds that it truly converts to.

We are not as green as we are cabbage looking.

Amalfi Narrows
Amalfi Narrows

The streets get narrower and narrower as you head to the back of the town.

Narrow Steps - Amalfi
Narrow Steps – Amalfi

The Duomo di Amalfi is very  popular, not least because of the many steps on which one can rest up from all the touring.

Duomo di Amalfi
Duomo di Amalfi

After touring Amalfi it was time to head back to the hotel before darkness descended. Google maps decided, since I hadn’t programmed any of the Amalfi coastal towns as vias, that our route would take us up over the mountains via Ravello. This route is almost as entertaining as the Amalfi Coast Road, perhaps more so, as the clouds moved in and we were driving up the mountain, in torrential rain, along narrow roads with innumerable hairpin bends. At times we were driving in fog like conditions but after nearly an hour we descended to the coast again and were soon back at the hotel.

Unfortunately no photos. When there was a view it was lashing down with rain.

I would recommend anyone to try the Amalfi Coast Road. Just be patient and be prepared for a little tension especially when you see how close the coaches are to each other. Just don’t expect it to be like in the movies, cruising along in an open topped sports car, wind in your hair and open roads with no traffic. Not in these modern times.

It is still an enjoyable journey, we had a super day.