Category Archives: FUN

Day 17, Tivoli, Civita Bagnoregio, Orvieto

 

Tivoli and B&B Il Gardino

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B&B Il Gardino’s Entrance, Tivoli

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Common Area, B&B Il Gardino, Tivoli

We awoke early for us, enjoyed a leisurely shower, and went down for breakfast.  The buffet breakfast was quite varied. “Would you like coffee?” “Due cappuccino, per favore.”  though we could have spoken English.   I really appreciated the fresh fruit that greeted us at table.  The cappuccinos were great.

As we often do we walked the town of Tivoli in the morning.  There were a few people out for a morning stroll or coffee.  The town felt deserted. We left for Civita Bagnoregio around 10am.

Bagnoregio on an Italian National Holiday

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Bagnoregio is Perched on a Small Hilltop

Traffic on the autostrada was unusually heavy today and moving as congested traffic does.  We came to a near stop or a full stop innumerable times.  Sometimes traffic would zoom at the speed limit and two kilometers come to a complete halt for minutes at a time.  I’d expect to come upon an accident, but there would be no indication that anything was wrong aside from the traffic.

Our GPS piped up with “take slick road on right in 2 kilometers toward…”  I pulled to the right lane saw that traffic was queuing in the break down lane for the exit and pulled in line just in time.  Traffic moved at a snail’s pace.  After an hour we were approaching the turnoff and one of the holdups became apparent.  For every car in line that exited the autostrada, here were two cars who cut the very head of the line.  That was infuriating.

The second bottleneck was traffic merging from the left accessing the toll booths.  There were two lines of traffic darting in, around, and through each other.

Third up?  The toll gates themselves.  Two were closed and two were open; one open for cash, the other for telepass. Cars accessing  the cash lane were blocking the telepass lane and telepass holders were blocking the cash lane.  Madness.

Finally my turn after cutting of a guy trying to cut in front of me.  That’s not going to happen after waiting 90 minutes.  Up to the booth attendant with my ticket.  He’s on the phone.  He takes my ticket and 3,40 shows on the display.  Great I hand him a 5 and fish for 40 cents.  He takes the five, still talking on the phone and does nothing.  I found the 40 cents to get an even 2 euros back a tried to hand it over.  He’s still talking on the phone. “Sigonore, per favore” nothing, this guy is “busy”.  “Signore, please take this 40 cents”  nothing.. I’m sure traffic behind me is convince I’m a total idiot by now.  “Allora, Signore, please take this 40 cents too” It wasn’t a shout, but I did raise my voice.  He moved the phone away from his ear, glowered at me, and released a stream of Italian the gist of which was I’m on the phone talking about this traffic backup.  You could wait.  He did take the 40 cents and give me 2 euros.  I was free…

The back roads to Bagnoregio were traffic free!  I had this haunting feeling that something was happening that I was not aware of.  Why so much traffic on the autostrada? We we approached Bagnoregio, I could not believe what I saw.  Driving toward the lower parking area, the streets were lined with parked cars.  In the lower part of the new town, there were people milling about every where.  Car parking areas were full.  We eventually found a parking yard with an opening and grabbed it.

The pay kiosk was broken another dilemma.  Do we park elsewhere and not get ticketed for sure, or do we simply walk on hoping for the best?  We walked on, joining a stream of people headed to Bagnoregio.  Now Civita Bagnoregio is a very small town that sits on a precipice. Access to the town is across a long picturesque pedestrian bridge.  To access that bridge, you first park, walk up steps to the upper town, walk through the town eventually to access to that pedestrian bridge.  The crowds were staggering. Walking through the town we joined a throbbing throng of people moving toward the pedestrian bridge; with another stream of people returning.  It’s about a 1 kilometer walk through the town.  This was like being at a world fair, it was so crowded.  Everyone was speaking Italian.

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Bagnoregio is Quite Dramatic

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Crowded? Pieno, Pieno, Pieno!

Look closely at the crowd crossing the footbridge to the city in the photo above.  It turned out that today, the day after Easter, is a national holiday. Half of Rome had come to visit Bagnoregio.  We eventually reached access to the pedestrian bridge, but seeing the crowd crossing the bridge it became apparent that a relaxed lunch in Bagnoregio admiring the town and its views was not going happen.  There was no way we could stand the crowds. We left having taken a few photos of the town and the crowds.

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The Foreground Appears Uncrowded, a Bus had just Gone Past!

 

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Upper “Bagnoregio” men’s & women’s Line

We both needed to use a Toilette.  The line near the Bagnoregio foot bridge was excessively long. We moved quickly back through the new town and down the stairs to find a men’s and woman’s line.  Predictably the men’s line was four deep, the woman’s nearly twelve.  Ellen, “is there a door in the men’s room?”  After checking, “yes” and she waited in the men’s line with me to the shock of one fellow in particular.

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The Lower Women’s Line

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Ellen used the Men’s Room, One Guy was Not Amused!

Back at the alfa, we had no parking ticket.  There was traffic!  There were people looking for parking and those leaving.  We left and dialed in Orvieto as our destination.  We were off.  Ellen asked if I was ok leaving Bagnoregio without actually seeing the city.  Of Course, the mass of people was a complete disaster. No way would I have wanted to continue.

We stopped at a service center on the autostrada to get gas and maybe a bite to eat.  I drove past the entrance for the food court and drove through the exit to park.  No harm done, nobody was coming out.  The food selection at the food court was extensive, from pizza by the slice to made to order pasta dishes.  A fellow overheard us talking about the pizza and he said, “the pizza is good”. We opted for a slice of pizza.  Crust makes a pizza.  My pepperoni/salami pizza slice was good, but the crust was not crunchy.  Ellen’s was crunchy and much better. Full up, we filled the car up too.

Orvieto

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Orvieto, Prominent in the City is the Duomo

The drive to orvieto went very smoothly until we reached Orvieto.  Rick Steves had recommended parking at the funicular and taking it up to the city.  Parking in the city is limited and expensive.  Right.  So we drove up a winding road looking for the funicular.  I stopped and asked an attractive woman police woman (comment about Italian Woman discreetly left out) where we would find the Funicular.  She was very helpful and precise.”a sinistra, allora diretto e a destra” motioning in the general direction of left.  Off we went following her directions and surprisingly we did not find the funicular, but we found a parking garage.  We parked, dragged our luggage out of the car, and headed out in search of the Funicular.

The policemen directing traffic either did not understand English or couldn’t be bothered.  Ellen approached a group on a corner and asked were we would find the fu NIK u lar.  They looked at each other, clearly not understanding what Ellen was asking.  I have no idea where this sprang from but I blurted out, “FU nick u LA re”  Instant recognition sprang upon one gal’s face.  She pointed down the hill, “e la”, she said proudly.  In Italian accent is everything.  The difference between so prah SEt to and so pra SAH to is the difference between getting a blank stare or a great sausage.

Down we trundled over cobblestone, Ellen dragging her suitcase, me with my duffle bag over my shoulder. We found an expansive parking lot, the entrance to the Funicular, and a ticket office.  “due biglietti, per favore” and we stepped into a crowded car with standing room only. Ellen and I were separated in the car.  Eventually there was a beep, the doors closed, and the Funicular lurched downward. DOWN?  We are going DOWN?  It occurred to me that we probably drove up to parking in the city.  There was no need to take the Funicular.  None.  I didn’t want to look at Ellen; didn’t want to know what she was thinking!

When the Funicular hit bottom, we stayed aboard as others boarded.  A bit later the doors closed and we were headed back to Orvieto.

We took no photos of the Funicular. We were disgusted with it/us.

We dragged our bags up past our parking area, up and up.  Eventually Ellen approached a good looking Italian fellow and asked where the Grand Hotel Italy was.  He said, in very good English, this street takes you to a square.  The hotel is just past the square on this street I believe.  We had arrived, almost.  Those last 200 meters were torture.

Orvieto and Grand Hotel Italia

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We Found Orvieto’s Duomo

The hotel is well located in Orvieto’s centro storico.  It is a comfortable if modest hotel situated just off Piazza del Popolo.   We had a standard room of moderate size with a nicely appointed bathroom. Lunch was a vague memory, we were hungry again.  We asked at the desk where we could get an authentic local meal.  “On Piazza del Popolo, just nearby, is Mamma Angela’s.  That is the best.”

Mamma Angela’s

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It Was Too Cold to Sit Outside

http://www.osteriadamammaangela.it/

We walked had walked past that piazza on our way to the hotel.  Finding the restaurant was no problem, but it did not look open.  Approaching a fellow setting up outside seating, I asked, “E aperto?” to which I heard “No, aperto alle sette quindici.  Vuoi una prenotazione allora?”  “Si, alle otto?” and the waiter made a gesture saying I’ll remember you while saying, “recordo”.  We had forty minutes time to walk some of Orvieto.  The church on the square is interesting, though we had seen a clock tower nearby.  Off we went in search of something.  That something was the Orvieto’s duomo.  It is an impressive structure in white and gray stone similar to Firenze’s duomo.  It was closed.  We returned to Osteria da Mamma Angela at 7:15 sharp, hoping to be seated early.  “Buongiorno, interno all’esterno?” “La, per favore” I said pointing inside while avoiding the whole interno issue.  We were seated and given menus in Italian.  Ellen asked his name. “Luca” Ellen asked “Luca, with two ‘c’s’?”  “no, one c, Luca”.  Luca is one of the owners.

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Mamma Angela’s Italian Menu

Cool, We were well into translating the menu with my “Italian phone” when a waitress came over and asked if we would like an English menu.  Sure, let’s do that.  Apparently, I had spoken enough Italian convincingly that the first fellow thought I spoke Italian. Cool, if counter productive!”

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Mamma Angela’s Ravioli

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Mamma Angela’s Osso Bucco

The English menu was so much easier to decipher, though we still had questions about ingredients.  Included on the menu was Osso Bucco.  I love osso bucco.  Ellen even commented that it was on the menu. Ellen ordered Mamma Angela’s Ravioli. We had house wine which was exceedingly good.   My osso bucco was not nearly as tender I had expected.  Like the pasta, the beef was al denti.  It was perfectly seasoned with just the right touch of finely chopped carrots. I assume celery and onion as well, though they mostly dissolved in the sauce.  I have since learned that chianina is the local breed of Tuscan cattle.  It is a tougher meat than angus.  The Italians prefer a chewy beef to the tender beef we eat in the U.S.  My osso bucco was no doubt from Chiania beef.  It was very tasty and very resilient! The osso bucco was good. Ellen’s really enjoyed here ravioli.

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Cheese Cake, and the Topping? Excellente!

Our waitress tempted us with a desert list.  We settled on cheese cake.  The cake was wonderful, but the fruit topping was amazing.

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Inside Mamma Angela’s

Italy and Wines

A word about Italy and wines.  Italy has more acreage cultivated for grapes than any country in the world.  It produces more wine than any other country.  Surprisingly, most of Italy’s wine is produced by small family wineries producing wine for local consumption, akin to Germany’s local breweries. Most of these do not produce wine in sufficient quantities for a large export market.  The wine is consumed locally.  Therefore Italian wines are virtually unknown in the U.S.  Only people who travel to Italy and sample the wines from the various regions come to appreciate both the quality and variety of these wines.  I have had some extremely good glasses of house wine produced locally in small volume I’m sure.   No doubt I will have a mixed case of wine (or two) shipped back home.

Typical for us, we left Mamma Angela’s happy, tired, and sated.  Unusual for us, our walk back to the hotel was short, flat, and with no stairs.

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An Eclectic Curio Shop, Orvieto

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There’s Something About Betty

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Froggie!

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Wagon Train, Orvieto

Italy Day 16, Sperlonga, Tyberius’ Villa, Tivoli

 

In retrospect, today was a very full day. We touched on so many things: historical, culinary, visual.  From the beach to a hill top town, from 1st century BC to a local bar playing beach boys.  We had one miss and one near disaster (that wasn’t). Everything else was perfect.  What a glorious day!

 

Virgilio Grand Hotel

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The Hotel Entrance

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The Lounge, the Virgilio Hotel Is Modern

Breakfast was included at Hotel Poseidon. We ate at the hotel and walked the old town of Sperlonga one more time.  Ellen said, “I could stay here a month”  Sperlonga is a beautiful community, though there might not be enough cultural events for a months stay.

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It Was Too Cold To Setup Breakfast Outside

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Tropical Pizza, Highly Rated but Slow Food?

A Pictorial Walk Around Sperlonga

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Tiberius’ Villa, Sperlonga

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Sperlonga Seen From Tiberius’ Villa

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The Path to the Ruins of Tiberius’ Villa, Sperlonga

The hotel concierge strongly advised that we visit Tiberius’ Villa and Grotto, which is a few kilometers south of Sperlonga.  I knew tiberius had a villa atop the blue grotto with a stairway down into the grotto, but not about Sperlonga! Back at the hotel, we brought our luggage down and I went out back for the car.  It was GONE! It was simply not there!  Not here, not around the corner, GONE!

I frantically went back to the hotel desk, “scusi, my car is gone!”  “oh, we moved it down stairs.  It’s on level –2.”  Whew!  And it was on level –2.

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Walking the Ruins, Sperlonga

Driving to Tiberius’ Villa, meant retracing our drive south about three kilometers.  The turn off for parking is not well marked.  The first clue the driver has something is coming up is the bus parking to the left you notice just as you drive by a small blue “P” and arrow to the right. Down the road some there are place to turn around.  Even knowing where the turn in for parking is, it is easy to drive by.  The entrance is quite small.  You drive down a short steep road.  The road goes straight take a turn to the right and park in a dirt/grass area.  We found the last parking space.  I thought we might be parked in when we leave.

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Raised pools, Tiberius’ Grotto, Sperlonga

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Water Once Flowed Through The Pipes (holes)

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A Statue Left Outside (hard to access?)

The entrance to the villa from the parking area is not marked at all.  From parking you walk 100 meters to an access road.  Left takes you back to the main road.  Right takes you down to the sea. “Scusi, dov’e la villa di Tiberius?  e la?” (pointing to the right). “No e la” (fellow points to the left)  That saved us a walk down to the sea and back! Up to the Villa.

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Close-up of the Ancient Pipes

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Fishing Here Is Still Good!

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Small Fish in the Lower Pool

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Large Fish in the Upper Pool

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Our Single Busload of Tourists

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The Ruins a Different Perspective

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Ellen, Having a Great Time!

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View from Tiberius’ Lair: Sperlonga & Ellen

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Description of Tiberius’ Grotto, In Italian Of Course

Instead we found the entrance to a museum. “Dov’e la villa di Tiverius?”  It worked once, lt’s see what the museum official says.  “e qui”.  Cool, in we go.  You pay a few euro to tour both the museum which houses incredible status and then tour the grounds of the ruins of what once was Tiberius’ Villa.  Tiberius knew how to position his homes.  This on is situated on a relatively flat  expanse that runs right to the sea.  To the left is a grotto.  To the right is the Lido that leads to Sperlonga.  It’s a moderate walk from here to there.  Directly in front of the villa, now ruins, is a rocky seafront.  There was a fellow spear fishing on the rocks.  The fishing must be pretty good.  The grotto pools with their array of huge fish were fenced off.

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Some English at the bottom!

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Location of Statues in Tiberius’ Grotto

The statues in the museum depict scenes from Homer’s Odysseus. The Slaying of the cyclops is very well sculpted in white marble. It is a huge statue with many parts.  Interestingly Tiberius had these statues placed in the grotto.  Tiberius himself had living space in the grotto.  The museum is small.  It houses the statues that were recovered from the cave.

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Odyusseus and the Cyclops

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Cyclops, Close Up

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How The Art Might Have Looked

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What is Left Today

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It is a short walk to the entrance to Tiberius’ Villa, which is now a series of low walls marking the boundaries of houses and plazas.  It is small compared to Pompeii. Then a villa is quite small compared with a town or city. To me the most amazing thing about the villa is the Grotto.  There are two man-made pools fronting the grotto. I imagine one was cold water, the other hot.  These look to be fed by a freshwater spring.  There is evidence of fire in some places inside the cave. It could be caused by Tiberius’ candles or lamps or perhaps by modern teenagers in the 16oo’s lighting bonfires in the caves.  Perhaps both are true.

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Marble Come To Life

A tour group arrived with us.  Tour groups typically move quickly through sites. This one did as well. Here one moment and headed for the exit the next.  “Check, got that one”.  Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to linger in striking places to soak in the history or the beauty of the place (both?).  The Grotto faced the perfect sand beach that stretched in an arc for two kilometers.  It has access to great rock fishing and fresh water pools.  What a wonderful place to relax.  I must admit I know very little of Tiberius.  Curiosity will drive me to read more about Italy’s roots.  It is clear that someone or some group of some ones really had it in for Tiberius.  Everything he has touched was severely trashed.  It brings to mind current US politics. Basta! (enough of that)

 

Terracina

The skies had darkened as we walked the ruins.  A drop or two fell as we left for our car.  The promised rains were coming.  I drove on to Terracina with Ellen and our GPS units navigating.  We planned to eat lunch in Terracina

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Terracina, Coming

It was a dark gray, rainy drive to terracina.  Learning from Gaeta, this time I drove along the coast.  We found nothing of particular interest in a long drive around and back into town. If there was an old town, we didn’t find it.  Headed back out of town we passed a very appealing restaurant on our right.  Stop, backup, park.  “Do you think we can park here?” “Look, they did.  We should be ok”

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Terracina, Going!

This is About How We Felt About Terracina, Wet and Out Of Focus

We walked into the restaurant. It was packed.  Ellen headed for the Toilette while I tried in vain to get someone’s attention. Perhaps ten minutes later, a fellow who looked like the owner walked by. “Scusi, posso mangiare qui?”  “No.” Followed by  stream of Italian that was unrecognizable to me.  I get this often now.  We’ve been given menus in Italian later to have them swapped for the English ones when I becomes apparent we have no idea what’s on the menu.  It is Easter today.  The restaurant had probably been booked for weeks in advance.  No wonder nobody even noticed us when we walked in; or when we walked out.  Another day without lunch, but that’s OK.  We’re headed to Tivoli.

On the Road

Our car needed to be fed too.  We could probably have driven through to Tivoli, but a service stop presented itself and we took it.  Cars to the left, trucks to the right: ok.  Food to the right gas straight ahead; oops.  I drove in the out to get back to the food court.  It was an extensive food court with fast food (pizza, calzone, beer), made to order pasta dishes, salads and vegetables, trinkets and souvenir sales.  We each had a slice of pizza.  Ellen’s was vegetable with a crunchy crust.  Mine was cheese and peperoni with a soggy crust. The crust is everything.  It was a fair lunch, the least memorable thus far.

Tivoli

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Free Street Parking!

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Trip Advisor Loves B&B Il Giardino

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The View Isn’t That Bad Either.

With the alfa fed, we sped off to Tivoli.  There was relatively little traffic; we made very good time.  Approching Tivoli we switched from the clueless Garmin to the mostly ok Google Maps (again thank you TIM, Palermo!).  Still we drove into town, out of town, back into town, then up the correct street without seeing B&B Il Gardino.  “Wow, a parking space”, I zipped in and parked.  We found the B&B very close by. The sign was prominent if you are walking by, but not so much if driving.  It was mid afternoon when we arrived.

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We have a Patio and a View over the Valley

Omar came right away when we rang the front bell.  He checked us in and showed us our room.  It was comfortable and had a view of the valley over the tops of the homes just below.

An Afternoon Walk Tivoli

Tivoli, the historic town of Tivoli, is small and build on a hill side.  We walked the upper city.

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Tivoli’s Upper Square

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The Arch, Tivoli

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We Missed the Castle, Tivoli

 

Valle D’Este

Tivloi Gardens were open and closing at 7:30.  The group of eight ahead of us chose not to enter, it was too expensive.  No problem for two @ 8 euro each.

We walked the gardens until we were literally shooed out at 7:20.  But I thought they closed at 7:30!

I’m trying WordPress’ album and slideshow feature to see if we like it.  Tell us what you think.  -ron

 

 

Eden 2.0

The sun was sinking low on the horizon as we walked back toward “home”.  We had noticed a bar with an appealing view and stepped in to watch sunset over a drink.  We were seated at the “window”.  There were no windows, just a low railing and an expansive view.  Sunset, Beer, and Limoncello: Heaven.

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Eden 2.0

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Waiting for Our Order, Eden 2.0, Tivoli

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A Tivoli Sunset from Eden 2.0’s Balcony

Ristorante Sibilla

Back at the apartment we freshened up and went out for dinner armed with two recommendations for dinner.  One for authentic local food, the other with a 10% discount.  It was dark by now and we navigated by a tourist map.  These maps are next to useless.  We managed to find the local food restaurant, but it was closed.  Most everything seemed closed on the narrow streets we walked.  OK, let’s find the other one.  Like streets in Boston, there was no way to know where a street would lead.  Some would go straight then zig left.  Others connected to the right only.  We were lost.  We asked directions from two woman who spoke perfect Italian, but no English. Back up the hill and to the left, is what we took away.  We went back up the hill, left, then down hill to the river.

I saw a restaurant across the river, but that was not the one recommended.  It was il Ciocco, which I remembered as having a great view of the river and waterfall, but not so great food.  After dark, there is no view.  TIM & ItalPhone to the rescue.  Ellen mentioned that they might be closed by now.  “Yes, we are open.  The kitchen closes at 10.  Pronto, Pronto”  We arrived at Ristorante Sibilla at 9:20.  We were seated right away.  Our waiter enjoyed talking with us in English (how hard will it be to learn some Italian?)  We had a good time talking with him too.  I had a simple classic dish of paste with pecorino cheese and pepper, Ellen had cheese ravioli.  My dish was fantastic.  The combination of fresh paste, virgin olive oil, some butter, pecorino cheese, and pepper was what Mac&Cheese should be.  It was mouthwatering  The cheese in Ellen’s ravioli was superb.  I very highly recommend Ristorante Sibilla.  The house wine was excellent as well.

We found our way home by following the main street uphill to Tivoli’s upper square.

Merry Christmas from Rancho Mirage, future home of Barack & Michelle

 

We’re off to Rancho Mirage to visit an old friend of Ellen’s for the weekend.  We’ll charge our Tesla in Temecula and in Indio on the way.  It will be good for Ellen to meet Bonnie again, it’s been years.  I’m told I’ve met her, but….

I’ll write more about Rancho Mirage once we’ve arrived.  It is quite the coincidence that our president is considering a move to Rancho Mirage.  I wonder if there will be security in place while we visit.  Probably not, but you never know.

For me this is a treat.  I’ve never visited either Palm Springs or Palm Desert. Big Fun.  And re-acquainting with Bonnie will be great too.

Today we spent some of our morning with Jen and her new baby, Henry.  He’s a gas.  He’s learning that those funny things are his arms and legs and he’s moving them about with abandon.  He’s a happy child, mimicking facial expressions, smiling, and clutching tight with his little fingers.  He’s making noises that will soon be his first words.

Marty, Henry’s dad & Jen’s husband, started a software company that over the decade has become very successful.  He and Jen moved into a Mansion that needs significant work.   The remodel of the butler & maid quarters that sit over and beside the detached garage is nearly complete.  In a few weeks, they will move in and begin remodeling the main house.  This is an enormous undertaking.  The end result will be spectacular.

Springdale, Utah

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We returned from a trip to Utah last week in time for my syster’s visit. We drove our electric car from San Francisco to Springdale hopping between superchargers the entire way. Tesla has built out the supercharger network and changed their navigation software to take advantage of the newly built out network. We can now set Springdale as our desitnation and the nav software selects the superchargers to stop at and predicts the charge time we’ll require at each stop. This is exactly what I had done by hand in the past. It makes long distance travelling in our Tesla easy and hastle free.

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Our visit in Springdale with friends was fun and very relaxing. We met some neighbors, one, Paul, an artist who also collects Anasazi artifacts and another who is a professor at UNLV. Paul and I had planned to go exploring, but Ellen wanted to leave that morning to get home for my sister. I went out on my own the afternoon before and found very little. Zion National Park is great for exploring. It is vast and open with very few trees. You can see where you want to go and get there with ease. There are gorges and cliff areas that can and willl force a change of route, sometimes more than once. Even so, bushwacking in the park is relatively easily done. I had a great time out on my own and though I searched for arrowheads and grinding stones, I found nothing but what might be a scalloped scraping tool and one rounded grinding stone among millions of small stones deposited in and around washes.

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I highly recommend a trip to Zion if you find yourself near Southern Utah. Some hikes in the park are magical. If you happen to arrive when the aspen and cottonwoods turn, you’re in for a remarkable time that rivals the fall colors of New England. One year we visited the trees all turned at once and the valleys were filled with yellow. This year the trees were turning piecemeal; the color was not nearly so dramatic.

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Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort 11/07/15

what a difference a day makes!

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The campground is practically full.  Two days ago there might have been two RVs per row at the campground.  Now you might find one spot every other row that’s open.

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Improved Tent Camping

We walked the grounds this morning.  In addition to the facilities in the Rec. Lodge, they have a dog run, a bicycle course complete with jumps, a horse shoe pavilion, boccie ball courts,  lean-to and tent camps, a Frisbee golf course, and (drum roll) the Kamper’s Kitchen is open this weekend.

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Kamper’s Kitchen is serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  They feature steamed dinners including twin lobsters for $19.95 and steamers 1 lb for $10 and 2 1b for $19.  The kitchen is catered by Fresh Catch Restaurant and should be quite fresh.  This is the last weekend the kitchen will be open this year.

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Oak Leaves

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Ellen Rockin’ Out!

Ellen just sent me out to get BACON at the kitchen.  We had bacon and eggs, mmmmm good.  I ordered two lobsters and a pound of steamers which we’ll pick up around noon.  The wind picked up yesterday and cleared enough leaves off the trees that I can get direcTv now.  I have mixed feelings about that.  As we head south we should return to peak foliage in the Carolina s.

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The Lodge is closer than it looks

Time is running short now.  Ellen wants to be home on the 19th a few days ahead of my sister’s arrival.   That gives us 13 more travel days. We guesstimate it will take 7 getting home and we’ll visit Jessie for 3 days on Hilton Head Island. That gives us just 3 discretionary days.  Gone is any though of taking the ferry to Montauk, gone the thought of driving the outer banks and taking the ferry  from Ocracoke to Swanquarter NC., gone time to visit  Judy Pane in New Orleans, gone any hope of visiting Washington DC.  Just as we had to buzz east and skip so much that we passed right by, so we’ll have to buzz west.

We will visit Valley Forge, and forts Miffin and Mercer and a detour from Jackson to Natchez and back to Vicksburg.  From there we’ll find our way to 40 and head West keeping an eye on the weather.

It is not sad to be winding up or tour.  It has been big fun.  The Beast will sit at the ready for our next road trip.  Ski season appears to be starting in California.  We still have some loose ends to tie up for our trip to Ecuador and Peru this spring.  One fellow we met said the second year of retirement is the hardest.  The first year you spend working down your “bucket list” and the second year you twiddle your thumbs wondering what to do with your free time.  I do not think we’ll have that problem.  We have so many interests in addition to travel and photography and we could spend a lifetime mastering just one of them.
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Molly, The Happy Camper

Zip-lining 10/30/15, How Could I not Feature THIS?

Update

I had forgotten to mention this little detail.  Our zip-lining experience was delayed mid-zipping.  While a gal in the other party was coming in, the high five landing got messed up.  She whacked into the brake rope.  She was not badly hurt, but there was some bleeding and she was stunned.  Then she noticed that an earring had torn out!  It was not just any earring, but was titanium with three gemstones.  We all went on the hunt for a good 15 minutes.  I was giving up hope of ever finding the earring in the deep autumn leaves when I heard, “Here it is!!”  We were happy to be on our way and happier sill that she was all right and had her earring.  There was some banter about high fives after that, but there were no high fives.  Just as you should not wear jewelry scuba diving, don’t wear earrings zip-lining anything can and does happen.

Ellen and I tried to get a spot on the Zip line at Stowe, but it was booked for the day.  We looked for zip lines almost everywhere we went after that.  The one day we might have gone in the Berkshires , the weather was cold and we opted not to go.

Toward the end of our visit with Ed and Jean, Terry, one of their friends, suggested going zip lining to Jean.  There were two more spots available, would we like to go?  What?  Of Course we would.  We signed up.

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The weather for the next day was projected to be cool perhaps cold.  We met Terry the next morning and the four of us went to Berkshire East, a ski resort that offers mountain biking, a mountain coaster, and  a long series of zip lines.  This is the same place the cold weather had “scared us off”.  This day the sun was out and the weather was cool but growing warmer.   This was a blast.

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The Finish Line

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Zooming in

 

 

Coaster Video: Ellen and Terry starting up

 Coaster Video: Climbing toward the top

Terry wanted to do the mountain coaster before the zip-line.  We had signed up for that as well.  Jean wasn’t interested.  Terry wanted to go fast and asked Ellen if they could go together.  Added weight makes for more speed.  They were first up the coaster.  That was a gas, and more exciting than the zip lines.  The zip lines were exhilarating; a great blend of speed and awesome views.

Here is a sampling of our photos and videos all shot on iPhones.  We did not want to be burdened carrying heavy camera equipment, nor did we want to drop one or have to recover the pieces.

NOTE: the videos will not play in place, you’ll have do download them (click on the link) then play them locally.

 

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Preparing To Launch

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Launch Pad #1

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Ron at the Ready

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Ellen Hooking in

 

 

Zip Video: Ron and Terry /zip in for a landing

Zip Video: Jean launches

Zip Video: Ellen Launches

 

 

 

Who are these gypsies?

We are a retired couple who enjoy travel.  We love meeting new people, new cultures, and exploring unique experiences.  We will share our discoveries on our blog and photo album as we wander about our wonderful world.

Check out our (almost) daily blog that follows below.

When we’re traveling we blog nearly daily.  When we’re home and not planning a trip, this blog may go quiet for weeks.

Categories

Use the categories filter on the right side to select the blog entries that interest you. Alternately you can scroll back “in time” through our blog.

 

International Travel

We love to visit Europe, Italy in particular.  Spring 2015 we took our inaugural “Retirement Celebration”  trip to Europe.  We visited the Galapagos Islands on the National Geographic Islander with Safari Experts & Tim Lapage in the spring of 2016. We have a trip to Italy planned for spring 2017 and a long “wish list”

Our International Trips:

  1. Seabourn Cruise of the Greek Islands, Rome, Istanbul, Venice, and Florence, 2015
  2. The Galapagos, 2016
  3. Italy for two months, spring 2017
  4. Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and the Amazon, future
  5. Alaska, future
  6. Antarctica, future
  7. Africa: Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, future

Road Trips

We purchased a 2015 Winnebago View in February of that year in Connecticut and drove it back to California in some of the coldest weather that winter.  We have since taken a number of trips in “The Beast”, as we call “him”.  We’ve taken to calling him “Li’l Beast”.  As large as our 24′ RV is, it is dwarfed by some of the 44 footer’s.

  1. return trip from Connecticut, 17 days
  2. San Diego, 1 week
  3. Napa Valley, 2 days
  4. Whidbey Island, Washington state, 2 weeks
  5. New England, 9 weeks
  6. Thanksgiving, San Diego, 2 weeks
  7. Springdale, Utah 1 week (Tesla S)

Notes from each of these trips can be found on our blog.  We are now enjoying a week in San Diego over Thanksgiving.  We will move into our new home in February after some remodeling.  It is fun choosing flooring, fixtures, materials, and colors. We’re finalizing our trip to South America next spring.

The photos that rotate through in the top banner capture memorable events in our travels.  They are not necessarily related to the day’s blog.

“Track our Travels” (on the top menu) will show you where we have been today.  You can also access our photo albums or other nooks in this website.

Enjoy!