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SHARING THE ADVENTURE

October 20th, 2011 1 comment

As much as we love being in the Med, we envy our European cruising friends who are just hours and a time zone away from family and friends who regularly visit them. In prior years, my mother who turned 85 in July has visited us—first in the Caribbean, then in Italy and Greece in consecutive years. Every year we go further east and the trip becomes longer—sadly, too long for her to visit this year.

The blog is our way of sharing our adventure with family and friends, but we much prefer to have them on board to see first hand why we love what we’re doing. We were very excited when Kent’s son, Spencer, wife Molly and granddaughter Elizabeth (affectionately called EB) were able to meet us on the Amalfi coast this fall as part of a whirlwind trip to Europe.

EB told everyone she met that she was "four and three quarters". . .is she cute or what!

Spencer had sailed on Destiny on our shakedown cruise for the Marblehead to Halifax Race in June, 2007, along with brother Ty, but Molly and Elizabeth had never been on board.  Working our tempermental vacuflush head was one of the challenges they faced.  Both were troopers, however, when it came to adapting to life on the water–“one hand for you, and one for the boat” was a frequently heard refrain throughout their visit.

Seeing Amalfi, Positano and Capri through fresh eyes, including those of a soon-to-be five year-old made revisiting these places a totally new experience.   We did more swimming, explored caves and played games–being a kid is fun.

There was a lot of energy on Destiny generated by a curious, active child and her equally active parents.  Days started early for EB who dragged one of her parents to the beach for a swim or to search for sea glass.

EB loved jumping off the boat. . .

and collecting sea glass at the beach in Amalfi.

Then about the time that Grampy and I were getting up they were back for breakfast.   Active kids eat all the time.  We no more than finished breakfast than she was ready for a mid-morning snack.

Clean bowl!

EB befriended Julio who runs the dock in Amalfi. . .we think she had a crush on him.  Can’t say that I blame her. . .he is kinda cute!

Julio took EB fishing in his dinghy. . .

and caught the only fish of the trip. . .if you look closely you can see it.

Along with the fun, like kayaking,  there were boat chores.

EB went kayaking with her Mom off Positano. . .

and swabbed decks with her Dad.

In Capri we anchored at Marina Piccolo on the south coast, where there are numerous caves to explore–fun for adults and kids. 

EB and Grampy went exploring in caves. . .

and took the dinghy through a cave to this hidden beach in Capri.

EB liked Capri's caves.

When Grampy went to check the anchor, EB wanted to see how it was done.  She’ll be a fine sailor one day, according to Grampy.

Thumbs up means its perfect!

There was occasional “quiet time”. . .but it didn’t last long.

Quiet time for a computer game. . .

or drawing pictures in her vacation journal.

There was too much to see and do—like taking the helm.

EB liked to take the wheel. . .with the help of the autopilot. . .

and just hang out on the bow.

Toward the end of their stay we had early birthday celebrations for EB and Grampy, with birthday melon on “topsy-turvy” day.

Italian birthday candles. . .

a HELLO KITTY t-shirt from Capri. . .

and sparklers topped off the birthday celebration.

And then the week was over, and for a few days after they left, Destiny felt like the life had been sucked out of the air. It was too quiet. . .there was no luggage to step over or crayons to pick up.  And no giggles from an adorable kid.

Ah, but the memories we made are worth the sadness that accompanies saying “goodbye” when the time comes. We had planned to stay in Sicily and winter on the boat. Now I’m not so sure we can forgo returning to the States for a “family fix’. There is something comforting about being in the same hemisphere as my Mom, Kent’s children and especially EB and grandson Nate.

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LA DOLCE VITA. . .REVISITED

September 17th, 2011 No comments

Destiny has covered about 10,000 NM since she was first dropped into Naples Bay from the transport ship that delivered her to us in April, 2009.  Since we started our “Med Adventure” in Italy, there is some nostalgia associated with returning. 

Destiny is lowered from the Yacht Path ship on a rainy April day, 2009.

Santa Maria de Leuca was one of the last Italian ports we visited in July, 2009 before we headed to Croatia, and was our arrival point for our return from Greece.  Reflecting on the differences between then and now, the biggest change has been in us.

When we first arrived in the Med everything was a little scary.  We were not accustomed to anchoring in really deep water, and Med mooring where you back stern to into a slip either dropping your anchor or picking up lines tailed from the quay was a total nightmare.

Destiny Med moored in Ischia, Italy 2009

There was difficulty communicating.  Most Italians speak very little English even in predominantly tourist areas, and those who do prefer not to and will make you struggle with their language while feigning incomprehension.  So far, that has not changed.

However, the climate is wonderful.  The food is wonderful–proscuitto, parmesan and local wine.  The perched villages with their Venetian forts and towers lend a magical touch to the coastline.

The Medieval town of Agropoli, September, 2011

We have now traveled both north and south through the Straits of Messina.  We have anchored in places we would never have considered three years ago, and actually slept through the night.  Revisting Vibo Valentia, just north of the Straits, I was disappointed that a favorite butcher was closed for vacation, but delighted in improvements made to Marina Stella del Sud, where Angie (a Canadian who speaks excellent English) and her Italian husband greeted us with homemade pasta from their own lunch.

As much as things change, they stay the same.  One of our favorite anchorages in 2009 was just southeast of Capo Palinura where we stopped for just one night heading south. 

Late arrival to Capo Palinuro, June 2009

We had no idea that we would still be in the Med in 2011 and were driven to see as much as possible as quickly as possible.  Now, we are more laid back—more “Italian” in spirit. 

Anchorage at Palinuro is crowded mid-day. . .

but by dusk we are one of four boats. . .same as June, 2009,

We climbed the hundreds of steps to see the view from the top of the Cape, snorkled among the rocks and visited caves—yes, more caves.  There are caves everywhere in the Med.  And yet, every experience is unique. 

We had to wait for other boats to exit the largest cave. . .

before entering in the dinghy.

No where is La Dolce Vita more evident than on the Amalfi coast.  We arrived at Positano yesterday on a hot, hazy summer afternoon.

On a hazy September day we anchored off Positano

. . .where the beach was packed with people trying to stay cool.

We anchored off a beach that was little more than a rock crevase in the vertical shore that towered over us.

In the morning Positano was bathed in sunlight.

In the morning Positano was bathed in sunlight.

No matter how many times you see this coast, it is never the same twice.  Some days are crystal clear and others cloaked in a haze so thick it is hard to make out buildings on the shore.  There are billowy white clouds hanging over the mountains that draw the eye up to the heavens, while caves and rocky outcroppings draw you back to earth.  Villages of all sizes dot the hillsides, with church bell towers and steeples scattered throughout.  At the very top of mountain ridges you see palatial residences and hotels– the cherry on top of the icing that slides down the hillside in the form of soft pastel houses, blending one into another.

And then there is the town of Amalfi–I could live here. . .if only I spoke Italian!

Amalfi. . .la dolce vita!!!

“La Dolce Vita”–Life is definitely good.

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CULTURE SHOCK—BACK ON LAND!

November 5th, 2009 No comments

With Destiny put to bed for the winter we transitioned to life on terra firma by taking a boat trip—no kidding!  

Jolie is not about to be left behind

Jolie is not about to be left behind

We left Zadar, Croatia for Ancona, Italy by overnight ferry.  The ferry left at 10 p.m. and we had a sleeping cabin–Kent got the top bunk and Jolie and I shared the bottom.

Getting up there was the hard part

Getting up there was the hard part

Our cabin was small but cozy--even had a shower

Our cabin was small but cozy--even had a shower

Big Yawn--time for bed

Big Yawn--time for bed

We arrived in Ancona at the crack of dawn

We arrived in Ancona at the crack of dawn

Arriving in Ancona at 7 a.m. after a less than restful night—Jolie didn’t like the engine noise and let us know it with her nocturnal wanderings about the cabin—to pick up a rental car at the Ancona Airport.  After paying 50 euros for a cab to the airport we realized that there was a Hertz office in Ancona about 3 km from the ferry terminal.  To make matters worse, we had to pay over 30 euros in airport taxes because we picked the car up there instead of the downtown office.  Travel hint:  Avoid drop off and pickup at airports if at all possible.  We have learned our lesson.

Having some time to kill before our flight to the US on November 2nd, we planned a “leisurely” road trip from Ancona to Venice.  Of course, you know us too well to believe that anything we do is leisurely—but we did have a fun few days getting back into the swing of heavy traffic traveling at outrageous speeds on the Autostrada and winding our way through Medieval villages while avoiding pedestrians.

Having been at sea level for months, we opted for a stop on top of a mountain in the town and Republic of San Marino.  San Marino is the oldest republic in Europe and tiny—61 sq. km mostly hillside of Mount Titano.  The town sits on the very top of Mount Titano with sweeping views.  Unfortunately, in October there is a lot of fog and we saw only glimpses of the mountain vista. 

Bell Tower at Dusk

Bell Tower at Dusk

Kent & Jolie explore Old Town

Kent & Jolie explore Old Town

There is a monastery, church and castle dating back to the Middle Ages and San Marino has been an independent, democratic and neutral free country (within the borders of Italy) since its inception.  It and has its own 1,000 person army, a postal system and no VAT tax—making it a great place to spend your hard earned euros.  As we wound our way up the mountain from switch back to switch back we saw many high end stores selling everything from cars to electronics and proclaiming “NO TAX”.

Gates to the City

Gates to the City

We stayed in Hotel Joli, just outside the walls of the town, a lovely three star hotel that didn’t charge extra for our Jolie–and the jacuzzi tub made Carol very happy.  From there we walked to the very top of the mountain where Guaita Fortress the oldest castle, built in the 11th Century stands.

Foggy Sunset View from Hotel Joli balcony

Foggy Sunset View from Hotel Joli balcony

A cable car brings tourists to Old Town from lower parking lots

A cable car brings tourists to Old Town from lower parking lots

San Marino Street Scene

San Marino Street Scene

San Marino Square is site of changing of guard in summer months

San Marino Square is site of changing of guard in summer months

If you get tired of seeing ancient buildings you can visit the Ferrari Museum, the Museum of Curiosity, and the Torture Museum.  There are also numerous nature walks and foot paths.

San Marino is a little gem, but best enjoyed in the off season.  We were glad to have experienced it.

Next stop some 280 km to the north took us back to a water venue—this time the southern end of Lake Garda the largest lake on the southern side of the Alps.  While looking at the map for possible stops between San Marino and Venice we spotted Lake Garda which is located about mid-way between Milan and Venice.  A little on-line research brought us to Sirmione a town situated on a peninsula that extends into Lake Garda and is the location of a magnificent water front castle and one of the most renowned Roman ruins in the country.

We booked a hotel, Albergo delgi Orleandri, on line based on its location within the town walls.  Car access to the Sirmione is restricted and we had to pass through a guard gate and confirm that we had a reservation before being allowed to drive across the bridge over the moat—yes an actual water filled moat—and through the arched gate to the town.

You drive through Scalinger Castle Gate to enter the Old Town

Scalinger Castle Gate is the entrance to Sirmione

From there Kent sweat bullets as he tried to avoid hitting either pedestrians or the buildings encroaching on the narrow passages that served as streets.  After missing our street and making a u-turn in a small square we finally arrived at the hotel.

The location was perfect and our room overlooked the lake.  We liked it so much we actually stayed two nights.  The only downside to our stay was Carol discovering that she had left the charger for her camera on the boat in Croatia.  There were so many amazing sights that would not be captured—like the sunrise over the lake or the view of a 12th Century church from the roof deck at the hotel. 

The day was saved by a chance meeting with American visitors, Bill and Jill Powers and their three children.  Carol heard the familiar sound of American voices (not all English sounds the same) while touring the Roman ruins at Grotte di Catullo on the very tip of the peninsula.  The Powers family was on holiday from Germany where they are living and working and taking lots of digital pictures.  When Carol approached them with the tale of the forgotten charger and asked whether they would share some of their pictures, they quickly agreed.  So thanks to them, we have pictures to share with you of Grotte di Catullo and Sirmione.

Carol visits Grotte di Catulla

Carol visits Grotte di Catulla

Construction is believed to have begun in early 1 AD

Construction is believed to have begun in early 1 AD

Ruins overlook sweeping views of Lake Garda

Ruins overlook sweeping views of Lake Garda

Hard to imagine the labor required to erect it

Hard to imagine the labor required to erect it

Reported to be the largest Roman villa in N. Italy

Reported to be the largest Roman villa in N. Italy

Villa arches and columns reveal its former majesty

Villa arches and columns reveal its former majesty

While the Grotte di Catullo represents one of the earliest presences on the peninsula with its prominent position on the very tip, Scaliger Castle is an excellent  example of a Medieval fortress and is totally surrounded by water–the lake and an moat fed by the lake.  It even has a walled harbor into which boats could be brought for protection.  Construction of the castle began in 1259 and it was expanded over the centuries.  Set against the backdrop of Lake Garda, the castle is imposing, rising as it does from sea level to the top of its several towers. 

Scaliger Castle dominates the Old Town

Scaliger Castle dominates the Old Town

After two very relaxing days in Sirmione, we left for Venice.  But we highly recommend Lake Garda as a destination–we can’t stay away from water.

Sirmione Sunset

Sirmione Sunset

After an overnight at a hotel near Marco Polo Airport we left on November 2nd for Boston–feeling a little better prepared for our re-entry into life on land.  It is a little sad to leave Destiny, and now Italy, but seeing family and friends will make up for it–at least for a while.
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Jolie’s Venetian Spa Day

September 2nd, 2009 No comments

Jolie had not had a trim since Gaeta, IT which was nearly three months ago and when we arrived at the marina in Venice we asked if they knew a dog groomer–what luck they did, and Enrico was able to fit her in the very next day.  His grooming/pet shop called Animals Crossing was on the island of Lido and he offered to pick us up at the water bus stop and bring us to the shop.  Jolie is now coiffed and pretty as ever thanks to Enrico–who is pretty cute himself.

First a Trim

First a Trim

Then a bath

Then a bath

Towel Dry

Towel Dry

And final brushing--thank goodness!

And final brushing--thank goodness!

Am I pretty or what?

Am I pretty or what?

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August 26 to September 1, 2009 VENICE

September 2nd, 2009 No comments

We arrived in Venice from Rovinj after a 50 mile motor passage across the Northern Adriatic that took about nine hours.   Flat seas and clear skies made for an uneventful but boring trip, but it proved to be well worth it.

Flat calm

Flat calm

Approaching Venice from the sea one is struck by the amount of construction going on at the entrance to the “lagoon”, as the large body of water that surrounds Venice is called.  Lagoon implies a rather shallow, calm body of water and that it is.  Most of the lagoon is less than 10 ft. deep except where it has been dredged.

Modern Venice is fighting the same battle with the sea that has been fought for thousands of years—dredging is a way of life to keep the channels to the port open and accessible.  We entered the lagoon at Porto di Lido the main channel into Venice, passing many barges with large cranes and equipment that were creating land where there had been water—essentially moving the sea bed to places where it was of more use and deepening the channel at the same time.

Canal Dredging

Canal Dredging

Crane Boat

Crane Boat

The anchoring opportunities in the lagoon are very limited and there are none near Venice proper so we had made a reservation at marina Ventodivenezia on the island of  Certosa, one of many islands in the lagoon.  From Certosa we were able to take a water bus or “vaporetto” as they are called in Italian to Venice proper and the other islands nearby.  This proved to be a very central location from which to tour, and much more affordable than the other marinas close to Venice.  We had views across the channel to Santa Elena and the island of Lido.

View from Ventodiveneza Marina

View from Ventodiveneza Marina

Venice Sunset

Venice Sunset

Venice is a city that survived since the Middle Ages as a testament to the power and wealth of its ancient roots.  The architecture is opulent and reflects many cultural influences—baroque, Turkish, oriental—in keeping with the scope of Venice’s territorial control in the 12th to 14th centuries before it fell to Napoleon in 1797.  Among the most famous sites in Venice are San Marco Square which is dominated by the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark) which contains gold mosaics that date from the 12th Century.  Adjacent to the Basilica is the Palazzo Ducale or Doge’s Palace which was the residence of the rulers of ancient Venice and the seat of government.

Bell Tower & Basilica

Bell Tower & Basilica

San Marco Square

San Marco Square

Canal View of San Marco Square

Canal View of San Marco Square

Clock Tower Piazza San Marco

Clock Tower Piazza San Marco

Courtyard Doge Palace

Courtyard Doge Palace

Doge Palace

Basilica from Doge Palace

San Marco Mosaics

San Marco Mosaics

San Marco at Sunset

San Marco at Sunset

Set against the backdrop of its ancient buildings, Venice is a contemporary city that buzzes with activity—most of it related to tourists.  It is said that over 12 million people a year visit Venice, and while we were there it seemed that 1 million were there at one time.  More than one cruise ship a day deposits thousands of passengers on San Marco Square the major palazzo of the city, and tour groups of 50 to 100 people each clog the narrow streets.  We carried Jolie in her bag much of the time to keep her from being trampled. 

People & Pidgeons Piazza San Marco

People & Pidgeons Piazza San Marco

Carol & Jolie San Marco Square

Carol & Jolie San Marco Square

Wall to wall people in San Marco Square

Wall to wall people in San Marco Square

The canals are so jammed with gondolas and water taxis that there are water traffic jams, but it doesn’t seem to deter the sightseers who come from all over the world to view the Venice of old.  The Grand Canal is lined with magnificent palazzos some of which are now hotels and museums, and the Rialto Bridge which allows foot traffic across the Grand Canal is a favorite tourist spot.

Grand Canal

Grand Canal

Grand Canal Palazzos

Grand Canal Palazzos

Rialto Bridge over Grand Canal

Rialto Bridge over Grand Canal

Grand Canal Chaos

Grand Canal Chaos

Vaporetto at Rialto Station

Vaporetto at Rialto Station

The canals are also the life blood of a contemporary city.  Everything moves by water.  Delivery boats take food and drink to the restaurants and stores.  There are refrigerator boats that deliver perishable food and DHL boats that deliver packages.  There are work boats of every description.  The polizia travel by boat and give tickets to water taxi drivers who speed.  For tourists and residents alike, the vaporettos or “water buses” provide basic transportation.

Just Another Work Day

Just Another Work Day

Polizia Boat

Polizia Boat

More Work Boats

More Work Boats

Trash Day on Grand Canal

Trash Day on Grand Canal

DHL Delivers

DHL Delivers

Traffic Jam

Traffic Jam

There are also boats that serve as ambulances and hearses.

Water Ambulance

Water Ambulance

Water Ambulance at Ospedale

Water Ambulance at Ospedale

Water Hearse

Water Hearse

San Michele Island Cemetary

San Michele Island Cemetary

We took a day off the boat and stayed in a charming small hotel near San Marco Square called Hotel Firenze to celebrate our anniversary.  The room was small but decorated with ubiqutous Murano glass chandeliers and the hotel had a lovely roof deck that looked out over the lagoon and the top of San Marco.

Rooftop Garden at Hotel Firenze

Rooftop Garden at Hotel Firenze

Murano Chandelier

Murano Chandelier

It was fun to walk through the city, along the many small canals and to wander the narrow streets after dark.  Like every other tourist in Venice we got lost, and were hot and tired. 

I call this narrow

I call this narrow

Let me get my bearings

Let me get my bearings

Hot Day, Cool Feet

Hot Day, Cool Feet

No visit to Venice would be complete without a gondola ride, but we balked at the 80-100 euros for a 55 min. ride through canals that were so filled with gondolas that everyone was basically sitting still.  We had the experiance without the cost by opting for a ride across the Grand Canal on one of two gondolas operated by the city—total cost 1 euro each round-trip.  Gondolas are like flat bottom canoes and just as tippy, but great fun nevertheless.  Unfortunately, we weren’t as wise when it came to visiting the infamous Harry’s Bar on the Grand Canal, where a gin and tonic cost 20 euros and a bellini (a small one at that) was 19 euros.
Carol & Jolie in Gondola

Carol & Jolie in Gondola

Venice is also the people who live and visit there. 

Gondola Musician

Gondola Musician

Family Day

Family Day

Gondolier

Gondolier

Venetian Ingenue

Venetian Ingenue

Some of our favorite scenes capture the essence of Venice.

Venetian Street Market

Venetian Street Market

Smiling faces

Smiling faces

 

Water Taxi Races

Water Taxi Races

Who has the right of way

Who has the right of way

Gondola Workship

Gondola Workship

Venetian Masked Magic

Venetian Masked Magic

Gabriel Maybe

Gabriel Maybe

All in all, our stay in Venice was great fun, but escaping the crowds and heat of August make Croatia very appealing.  September 1st dawned with a chill in the air that reminds us that fall is coming.

Sunrise Sept. 1st

Sunrise Sept. 1st

Back to Croatia.

Ciao,

Carol, Kent & Jolie

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