Manhattan Day Trip – Dolly Travels

Author: , November 25th, 2017

Manhattan Day Trips - Dolly Travels

I love to travel…everyone who knows me, knows that. How has it happened that I had never visited New York City?

Well, yesterday (Thursday, November 9), I got to enjoy a day in the Big City.

Frank and I are staying at a hotel on Long Island, as that is where all the activities around the Cradle of Aviation and the gala on Saturday night are happening.

From the advice of the hotel people and our new friends from the Museum, we took a taxi to the Westbury Station; one of the stations of the Long Island Rail Road. The train trip took about 45 minutes, letting us out at Penn Station in Downtown Manhattan.

When we emerged from the train, I was amazed at how large Penn Station is. All those trains carrying people to all the boroughs of New York. We exited the station right into the thick of things..panhandlers, myriad salespeople for the different bus trips, boat trips, different activities in the city. The tall buildings and moving billboards on the buildings. We walked along 7th Avenue, with me, looking at everything, just like a kid.

Crossing that first intersection, I had a good view of the Empire State Building. We debated about going up to the top of that building, since it was only two blocks away, but decided against that, as we had tickets for a matinee performance at one of the theaters near Broadway.

The weather was a bit nippy, but tolerable. I enjoyed the walk, seeing all the tall buildings, the Macy’s store that took up an entire block.

Who needs a newspaper? Just sit at a table in Times Square and read the news in Large Print.

Finally, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant near the theater. We had planned to have dinner later, after the performance. I just enjoyed “people watching” along the way.

We arrived at the Majestic Theater in plenty of time to find our places.

We had very good seats. This was the only photo I got of the stage. Soon, the cell phone police (the ushers) came along, pointing at cell phone offenders, to ensure that no one would photograph any of the actors or scenes.

The production was amazingly wonderful. The voices of the actors, the stage settings, all were magnificent, where we felt transported to that opera theater in Paris all those years ago.

Now, Frank and I both have the music still running through our heads.

“Just love me, that’s all I ask of you.” Or, “Music of the NIght”. Now you can have the music running through your heads, also.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. When we got back to Penn Station, night had fallen, but the city was definitely not dark.

That was my day in Manhattan. It was certainly a day I will remember.

Now we are back on Long Island, and we will be going to the Gala dinner and reception at the “Cradle of Aviation Museum” this evening.

I will tell you about that tomorrow.

Until then,
Ciao for now,
Dolly

Our Last Day in Florence – Dolly Travels

Author: , November 13th, 2017

Florence - Dolly Travels

Buon amiche,

Yes, I have to leave Florence again. This is always a sad day for me, for I love Florence, but, alas, I have to go away from my fairy tale world, and go back home again, and live my real life.

So, in parting, I thought I would leave here by giving you some pictures and commentary about my favorite city.

The other day, I just had to get out and walk all over the city. Frank is such an understanding, compassionate soul. He told me to go and enjoy myself.

I set out from the apartment, down our street toward the Duomo. I did not go into the mob of tourists, but turned to the right, found my way to the Arno by going through side streets and little alleys.

I just had to walk down via Tornabuoni, which has some of the most expensive stores in the the city. I don’t even own clothes fine enough to go into those stores, but I wouldn’t go into them, anyway; with their black-suited doormen, and the elegant men and women who are shopping there, I would definitely be a fish out of water.

I continued on my way, and crossed the Ponte Santa Trinità into the Oltrano area, the more bohemian neighborhoods of Florence.

I stopped on the bridge to take a picture of the Arno River, flowing underneath. It was such a lovely morning, I lingered a few moments to enjoy the serenity of that view, then I turned eastward, and followed the river for awhile.

I truly enjoyed being on the less crowded side of the Arno. Eventually, I turned south, walking through the Oltrano neighborhoods to get to the staircase that led up to the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Finally, at the top of the square is the bronze statue of David. He was worth the climb.

As I got to the railing, I could see so much of the beautiful city of Florence, with the Duomo in the background, the Church of Santa Croce behind the white buildings , the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza Signoria, at the left. As I took in the view, church bells all over the city started chiming the noon hour. All those bells, resounding over the city and up the hill to me, sent a delightful shiver up my spine.

On my way down the east side of the Piazzale, I came to the grotto. It used to have turtles in it, but they are not there any longer.

Soon I came to the river again, and followed to eastward to one more bridge, the Ponte S. Nicollo and crossed back to the main part of Florence.

In the early afternoon, I arrived back at our apartment building, but the day was still so beautiful, I had to go into the piazza just beyond, the Piazza S. Annunziata, and take a picture of Duke Ferdinando on his horse.

I had enjoyed a delightful walk, seeing so many of the places that I love. I knew that soon I would return to the city of Florence, for it indeed has become my second home, and one that keeps calling me back.

Fortunately, Frank was waiting for me, and we ventured out for an afternoon aperitif, while I told him of my day.

I will say, “Arrivederci ” now, for I have to pack and get ready to leave. Tomorrow morning we go to Rome, and stay near the airport there, and fly home on Wednesday.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk through Florence with me. I also hope that, if you have not been to Florence, you will see it some day, for it is a magical place.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

Arezzo, Anghiari, Monterchi – Dolly Travels

Author: , November 10th, 2017

Buongiorno,

Arezzo

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of finding some new towns in Tuscany, thanks to our friends, Massimo and Magda Carli. These people, as most of you know, are our Italian landlords and good friends for the past 16 years.

Massimo and Magda live in Viareggio, but they came to Florence, and took us on a driving tour to the more southeastern heart of Tuscany, to places where I had not traveled before.

First, we drove to Arezzo, which is a charming old town, but clean and most of the buildings were in good repair. The city itself dates back to Etruscan times, so it was first settled before 500 B.C.

We started our tour, guided by Massimo, to the Basilica of San Francesco. This church is dedicated to Saint Frances of Assisi, and he apparently traveled throughout this region, for one of his first followers and companions, is sealed in a sarcophagus with a glass lid, so visitors can view him. The primary attraction in this church are the restored frescoes of Piero della Francesca, a local boy, other well-known frescoes in churches throughout Tuscany. Michelangelo was also from this region.

The construction of this basilica was begun in the last half of the 13th century and finished in the early 14th century.

Arezzo

Inside the church, looking toward the Bacci chapel, with its fabulous frescoes, depicting scenes of Christ and the legend of the “True Cross”. I will leave that to you to research and understand the meaning, and why it is so important to Christians.

When we left the church, we walked through the town, up to the Piazza Grande. There were tourists, to be sure, but most of the tourists were like us: couples or small groups; none of the big tour groups we have encountered in Rome and Florence.

Another famous citizen of Arezzo is Robert Begnini, the director and star of the Italian film, “Life is Beautiful”. Some of the scenes of that movie were shot in this piazza.

We had lunch, then wandered around a bit. I don’t know why these oxen were in the Piazza Grande, but they were, with a wooden cart sitting nearby that they were to pull, I believe.

We got back into the car, and Massimo drove us to another hill town, much smaller than Arezzo, but such a lovely town. I started looking at real estate ads.

The buildings and the atmosphere of this small village reminded me of Montepulciano. I love these hill towns.

We did not want to walk up the steep hill to the church, so we left Anghiari and drove another half hour or so, through the lovely Tuscan countryside, where we saw people harvesting tobacco, which is the primary agricultural crop in this area. That was surprising to me, for I thought tobacco grew in warmer climates.

Finally, we reached the hamlet of Monterchi, which is further into the mountains, and further east. For in that small town was a museum that housed an important frescoe from Piero della Francesca, called “Madonna del Parto”, depicting Mary about to give birth, but in a setting attended by two angels. I am sorry that I could not get a picture of it, for it is well protected in a special room, and the attendants were watching the visitors very carefully. Do look it up on the internet, for it is a very lovely frescoe.

So there ended our tour of the three villages in Tuscany, none of which I had seen before. I was very pleased to see all the art work and amazed at the history of these villages.

We traveled back to Florence and the four of us enjoyed a late dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Ristorante di Mimmo, which was close enough for us to walk, after Massimo parked the car, for finding a parking place in Florence on a Saturday night is no easy task. Ciao for now,

Dolly

Florence, Again – Dolly Travels

Author: , November 4th, 2017

Duomo - Florence - Dolly Travels

Frank and I have been busy, seeing some of the places we have enjoyed before, in Florence, and finding a couple of new and interesting places. Both of these new places will go into our “favorites” collection.

Sunday, we had some drizzling rain in the morning. However, right next door to us (almost), was the Museo Degli Innocenti. This museum was totally redone and finished last year, so we are now able to visit it for the first time. I was quite impressed. Local architect, Jacopo Carli and his group, did the re-design, and I want to say, “Molto buono lavoro, Jacopo.”

This place, called the “Ospedale degli Innocenti”, was started sometime around the year 1445, and the building is part of the S.S. Annunziata complex, with the church at the north end of the piazza, the convent, which is now a hotel, at the west side, and the Ospedale at the east side of the piazza. The Ospedale was begun as a foundling home, where children could be left for any reason, to be cared for by the nuns. The only requirement was that the child had to be small enough to fit into the opening on a turntable that carried the child into the Ospedale. The story of this operation is told through displays within the museum, and is very well done.

Later, the rain had stopped, so we fought the crowds and walked down the via Calzuoili toward the Piazza Signoria.

On Monday, we wandered and took in more of the ambience of the city, without visiting any museums.

Yesterday, we visited the Uffizi Galleria, which has the largest collection of Italian art in the world, and next to the Vatican Museum in Rome, the largest gathering of tour groups, I am sure. Once again, we saw what we wanted to see, and got out of there.

Then last night, we went to the Teatro delle Sale, for a concert. This was such a unique experience, that it deserves its own blog post.

We are returning to the Teatro tonight, for another concert. So, tomorrow, look for the post on that Teatro. This was another place I had seen every time we came to Florence, and never found out how great it was.

So, Arrivederci, for now we are on our way to the Accademia Galleria, to see David. We only have 6 days left to see things. Time is flying by.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Tuscany Gay Travel Resources

Another Day in Rome – Dolly Travels

Author: , October 28th, 2017

Rome - Dolly Travels

Buongiorno, tutti,

I have really enjoyed being in Rome again, as now we are not feeling pressured to see as much as we can cram into a few days. We can proceed at a more relaxed pace. I have already told you about our Sunday: from Piazza Navona to the Pantheon to Trevi Fountain, then to Bar Brasile, to watch Roman chaos. We had been there on Friday, after visiting the Borghese Galleria.

Rome - Dolly TravelsThe waiter, Mario, was so happy when he saw us, he grabbed Frank in a big bear hug and kissed him on the cheek. Mario then found us a spot where we could watch the activity of Piazza Venezia.

Monday was another story. We had reservations for the Vatican Museum. We took the Metro out to a stop about a 10 minute walk from the Museum. The place was packed, with many tour groups. As we had reservations, we got right in, but after that we had to follow groups, on after another, to get to see anything. We stopped at a cafeteria for a cappuccino, then went with the crowds to see our favorite sculptures.

Every place was so crowded, with people pushing and shoving, I was afraid that we might get hurt. After an hour of that, we turned around, gradually getting back to the entrance and we left. By then, it was lunch time, so we found a restaurant that we had gone to before on our trips, and had lunch. We just went back to the apartment after that, and relaxed for awhile before attempting any other excursions.

That was stressful. A lady we met yesterday, who had also been at the Vatican Museum that day, told us that her tour guide said that Monday was the busiest she had ever seen the museum, and it is usually busy.

I went online and I read estimates that anywhere from 17, 000 to 25, 000 people visit the Vatican Museum every day that it is open. On that day, I am sure that there were 25,002 visitors. The Economist estimates that over 80 billion dollars per year from ticket sales and over 20 billion per year from merchandise sales go into the Vatican coffers.

The museum is indeed huge, with many fabulous works of art, culminating with the piece d’resistance, the Sistine Chapel. I am happy that we had been to the museum on numerous other occasions; therefore, leaving early was not too big of a disappointment.

Yesterday, we walked from the apartment up to the Vittorio Emmanuele Monument. That was quite a walk for Frank and his cane, but he did it. We wanted to catch a hop-on, hop-off bus, but at first glance, I could not see a bus stop in the vicinity. I had Frank sit on a bench in a park and wait for me, while I went around the monument until I found the stop. On the way back to get Frank, I discovered a staircase that went up the back of the monument, into Campodoglio, where the Capotoline Museums are. Then I went down another staircase to fetch Frank.

Rome - Dolly TravelsAfter we had seen all we wanted to see, we had lunch at the very lovely restaurant on the roof top of the museum.

We eventually found the hop-on, hop-off bus and took at tour around the center of Rome. By the end of that tour, it was time to head back home again. We had enjoyed another long but entertaining day.

Dinner last night was at the Trattoria Il Tettarella again. This is a very good restaurant inn our neighborhood. It was very busy, as the food is very good. Being in the neighborhood, the trattoria is frequented by locals as much as by tourists.

Tonight, we are having dinner in our apartment. I am going to make soup. I have gone too long without cooking. I simply must do that.

So, I will say, Arrivederci now. I will be certain to tell you how the dinner is.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

Bella Roma, Ancora – Dolly Travels

Author: , October 25th, 2017

Dolly Travels

Buongiorno, tutti,

Yes. Once again, we are in the Eternal City. We have been here 5 days already, so you will think that I am very lax in getting out a blog post. Honestly, although I thought we have been seeing our lovely city at a leisurely pace, we have been busy for these 5 days.

Before I go any further, I want to tell you that renting this apartment in the Monti District, has been one of the best finds of our many trips to Rome, so I will give you the rental information now, just in case I have piqued your interest in Rome enough that you will want to come here, also. Natalia, the landlady, also has apartments in other sections of Rome.

On Friday, we went to our favorite art museum, the Borghese Galleria, up in the northern part of the city. This house belonged for to the Borghese family and the art work is displayed where that family intended it to be displayed. The villa is set within the Borghese Gardens, where there are acres and acres of trees, grass, parks, a small lake; spending some time in the gardens is a good way to unwind. Find a bench, do some reading, rent a bicycle, or pedal cart of some sort and spend a peaceful, fun afternoon.

In the Galleria, there are many sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. These are in different rooms on the main floor. There are paintings by Caravaggio, an important Italian artist, also on the main floor, then on the second floor are more classical paintings. I always get so mesmerized by the Bernini sculptures that I keep going back to see them. I go upstairs, see the paintings, then go back to the sculptures.

After we had toured the Galleria, we took a taxi to our favorite watering hole, a sidewalk cafe facing the Vittorio Emmanuele monument, where we could have a glass of wine, a light lunch, while watching the organized chaos of the Roman traffic.

Yesterday, we went out to the church of San Giovanni in Laterano, just outside the ancient walls of Rome. The church was built in the 13th century. These dates always take me aback, for when I look at the brickwork of the church and the walls, it is so difficult to imagine the workers putting all that together 800 years ago.

The inside of the church is very beautiful, also. In the main chapel of the church, a ceremony was taking place, so we could not walk through as I had planned; however, we could walk along the aisles outside that main part of the church and view the enormous sculptures of the apostles lining both walls, and see some of the smaller chapels within the church.

Today we went to Piazza Navona, then to the Pantheon, then to Trevi Fountain, and eventually ended up at one of our favorite restaurants, the Abruzzi, on via S.S. Apostolli, near Piazza Venezia.

Frank and I were both concerned before we left, about how much walking he could do over here. He bought a cane, and has been using it. He has done well with all the walking we have done. We are both happy about that. We have also taken taxis for some of our trips, as taxis are very reasonable. The price is usually between 8 Euro and 11 Euro, and for us, it is a Godsend to get us where we need to be without the hassles.

We have also used the Metro system, which is very handy and reasonable priced, also. Our apartment is only a block from the Cavour Metro station. The trains come to the station about every 10 minutes.

We found a very good restaurant near here when we visited Rome last year. We were pleasantly surprised to see that it is about 4 blocks from our apartment. Last night, we found another good restaurant in this Monti neighborhood, so we will be visiting that one again, also.

Gli Angeletti is our favorite. The address is on via Angeletti, but right in the Piazza dei Monti. The other restaurant is called Trattoria Il Tettarello, via dei Capocci, 4. It is also an easy walk from our apartment.

And I, of course, had to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, as that means I will return to Roma again. My only concern was that the coin probably landed on another tourist’s head, rather than in the fountain, for there were many tourists there today. I might have to go back and try that again before we leave.

At any rate, we are having a good time; since we have been here many times before, we are seeing the highlights that we had enjoyed on other trips, while finding new places that we had not seen before.

Rome is huge but beautiful and there are new adventures along with the old, around every corner. I love the city, the small areas, the parks, and the people. I know I will return some day before long.

So I will say, Arrivederci. I will write again before long, I promis.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

By AUTHOR – Full Story at SOURCE

LOCATION Gay Travel Resources

Teatro dell Sale – Dolly Travels

Author: , October 8th, 2017

Teatro dell Sale meal

Buongiorno, tutti,

I know. I promised to post about this food and theater experience on Thursday, but time seems to get away from me. So now, I will tell you as much as I can about the Teatro dell Sale.

Have you ever found a new place to eat, or a new store, or something that is totally new to you, but in familiar surroundings? This is exactly what happened to us this past week. For years, I have been coming to Florence: sometimes with Frank, or sometimes with a group of travelers, sometimes by myself. On any trip, since I am such a “foodie”, a trip to San Ambrogio mercato is a must. I usually go to that mercato several times during each visit to Florence.

After we finished shopping at the market, and started toward our apartment, Frank and I stopped at Cibreo caffe, which is just steps away from the market, to have a cappuccino. I will tell you now that there are three different Cibreo establishments right on the same block: a ristorante, the caffe, a trattoria. Yes, I had seen these before, but other than having cappuccino at the caffe, I had never eaten in the other places. Right across the street from the caffe is the Teatro dell Sale. I have seen that, also, over the years, and never checked it out. Little did I know last Saturday that not only is the teatro a Cibreo establishment, the main kitchen for all the restaurants is behind the Teatro lobby.

We saw a flyer on our table at the caffe, advertising concerts for a Flamenco guitarist on Wednesday evening, and a jazz group on Thursday. We took the flyer home, and I called for reservations for Wednesday evening.

“Come to the Theater by 7:00 p.m.”, I was told. “You must register and become a member, and sign the papers. The doors open at 7:30.” I was told that the price for Wednesday would be 37 Euro per person. We would pay when we arrived.
The price sounded cheap enough to us, as concerts back home usually cost more than that. So I told the young man on the phone to reserve two places for us. I still had many questions in my mind. The time for the concert was right at dinner time: hmm. Do we eat before or after the concert? How long does the concert last? All these questions I never asked. I never even considered that there was food to be served at the concert.

On Wednesday, we went to the theater. We had not had dinner. Earlier in the afternoon, we had a snack that we felt would hold us over until after the concert. Once we got to the box office, we checked in, filled out the forms to become members of the theater group for one year. That was 7 Euro. The concert tickets were 30 Euro. Since we were early, the hostess invited us to pour ourselves a glass of wine and relax until 7:30. She led us to a comfortable couch, right next to the wine box. Yes, it was a wooden box, with red box wine inside, but the wine was quite tasty. We could help ourselves to wine all evening, as well as get carafes of either still or sparkling water, and make our own espresso.

At 7:30, we entered the dining hall, which was a large room next to the kitchen. That kitchen had large windows, where we could watch the action. When we found places to sit, we then headed to the big table, where bowls and platters of salads, cooked vegetables were, and helped ourselves to this appetizer course.

Next, came more dishes, but now, each time a new dish was ready to go out to the table, the chef stuck his head out the window of the kitchen, and loudly announced what the dish would be.

Being newcomers to this meal, we nearly got trampled, as en masse, the crowd surged toward the table. The only analogy I could come up with was to liken this to what happens in an aquarium when you drop food pellets in: the fish all swim to get the food, without caring who gets pushed aside. Same here: there was supposed to be a line, but there wasn’t. One just had to try to reach in a get a plate of whatever was being offered. Fortunately, two ladies were dishing up the food, so servings were appropriate.

We had mussels, then clams in a spicy broth, meatballs, several types of pasta for the course right after the appetizers. And of course, bread, hot from the oven, which was consumed greedily by anyone lucky enough to snag a few pieces.

Finally, the chickens came off the rotisserie, and they were served with roasted potatoes.

Then came dessert. They served a banana ice cream the first night, and had small chocolate brownies the second night.

At 9:00 p.m., they announced the dinner was finished. We all got out of our chairs and the staff arranged them in theater fashion in front of the stage.

The concert lasted about an hour. The first night was a solo flamenco guitarist from Spain, who was awesome. There were 3 women flamenco dancers, and they were very good, also.

Finally, somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m., we left the theater and walked home. It was a balmy evening, and a lovely walk home.

So, the next night, as I told you, we returned to hear the jazz group. The dinner crowd was not as large as the first night, and we were able to get our food without being trampled.

The menu changed slightly, as the owner of these restaurants is dedicated to serving only what is in season, what he can get fresh that day, from local sources, or at least from known sources, similar to our “Farm to Fork” program in Sacramento.

The food was delicious, the musical programs were very good. I am so happy that we found this unexpected delight, right near our Florence home.

I hope, those of you who are going to come to Florence, will give this theater a try. They are open every day except Sunday and Monday. Darn! I was hoping we would get another meal there, but, sad to say, we will leave Florence on Tuesday. But next year. My Theater Membership is good until July.

I hope you have enjoyed our food experience. I just wish you had been here to enjoy it in person with us.

Arrivederci. I will be back with more posts soon.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

Anticipating Italy – Dolly Travels

Author: , October 4th, 2017

Vernazza Italy - Dolly

Yes! As I pack for our upcoming trip to Italy, I can barely contain my excitement and anticipation of returning to the country that I consider my second home.

There is something about Italy that draws me back, time after time, year after year; although my European ancestors were from Germany or the British Isles, Italy, its customs, its people, its food, its love of life appeals to me more than any other country I have visited. Don’t get me wrong here; I have visited many countries and enjoyed my experiences in those places. However, going back to Italy, to me, is returning to the place where I belong.

Florence is my favorite city. I could wander the streets, climb the hills, have a meal or an aperitif in any number of little restaurants or bars and be comfortable. I have mentioned in my blogs before, of the sheer pleasure of going for an evening stroll (la passiegeta) and finishing my walk by sitting on a bench in a neighborhood park, watching children at play while their parents conversed with neighbors and friends, and the “nonne” (grandparents) catch up on the gossip with other “nonne”.

From Florence, I would probably take the train up to the Ligurian Coast, to Cinque Terre. In those 5 villages, I would encounter a culture and life style that is far removed from the big city life. The residents of these towns are fishermen and farmers, most raising grapes in cooperative vineyards that produce that excellent white wine.

The villages are small, very hilly, thus the area has become a mecca for hikers. Although the area is much too full of tourists now, during the day, at nighttime, if I am able to get the room at Martina’s that I love, in Vernazza , I am able to sit on the veranda and watch the twinkle of the lights of Monterosso off to the right, the light on the castle far up on the hill to my left, while seeing the activity of the restaurants and the strollers in the piazza below me.

Soon the clock on the church immediately to my left, will chime the hour, reminding me that it will also chime at 7:00 the next morning, so perhaps I need to go to bed, sleep well and be ready for a busy hiking day, after a breakfast of the best pastries in the world, at Il Pirata restaurant, up the hill, at the top edge of the town.

If I stay in Monterosso, you will find me at the beach. I will go down to Stella and rent a lounge chair and umbrella for the day, and swim, read, relax, go up to the cafe for lunch, then repeat. When I think of going to a Happy Place in my mind, this is the scene that I envision.

In Rome, my favorite place to stay, would be near the Campo di Fiori, with its huge fruit and vegetable market in the daytime, and the open square at night, where musicians come out to entertain, while restaurants and cafes all around the perimeter, serve drinks and meals to the patrons, while the young people begin to congregate at their favorite bars. In the summertime, all this action takes place “al fresco”, in the open air.

Ah, then there is Sorrento. Nestled in the curve of the Bay of Naples, Sorrento is a place of serenity, a peaceful oasis down at the water’s edge. I especially love going down to Marina Grande, the old fishermen’s marina, where the restaurants sit facing the water, and serve an amazing array of seafood fresh from that sea that day.

However, up in the main part of the city, much activity takes place. The main street is
filled with shops of every sort, from the high-end stores to the sidewalk markets. There is the lovely Basilica of San Francisco, where one can see wood-carved doors. Overlooking the bay is the Foreigner’s Club, an edifice that caters to “stranieri”, we tourists/visitors to Sorrento. While having a huge ballroom, suitable for weddings and large gatherings, outside is a large open air patio, where one can watch the action, or quiet beauty of the Bay of Naples, while sipping a drink and having a snack.

Marina Piccolo, the main harbor, is bustling, also, with excursion boats to the Isle of Capri, and other islands in the bay, as well as trips up to Naples, an down the Amalfi Coast.

Now if I were to leave Sorrento and travel north, I might want to spend a few days in Venice. There is a city, very unique in its culture, architecture styles, way of life, for it is water bound. No traffic except on the canals, and those are bustling. Water taxis, water police boats, ambulances, floating “farmers’ markets”; all commercial vehicles are boats. I would get on a “vaporetto”, the city bus equivalent, and tour the Grand Canal. Or I might just wander through the back streets, find small neighborhoods, intimate cafes, as well as the Jewish ghetto. On the other side of the Grand Canal, I will probably go to the fish market and the fruit and vegetable stands near that, to get the makings of my dinner for that night.

Before I leave Italy, though, as often as possible, I need to go to the Dolomites. I have found that being in those mountains, whether hiking or just relaxing, is my ultimate “Happy Place”. There is find tranquility, peace of mind, that I have not found in any other place on earth. Those magnificent, jagged peaks, sometimes topped with snow, towering over the rolling hills of meadows, steep hills of evergreen trees, with hiking trails all over that accommodate the hiking interests of everyone, from short, flat walks, to rugged “mountain goat” trails. I could spend days wandering on those trails, for there is nothing to interfere with my inner peace up there.

So, I will leave you now to dream of Italy, while I finish packing and dream of Italy.

Look for posts from me. We will be in Rome in just a few days. A new adventure awaits.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Gay Italy Travel Resources

On the Water in Puget Sound

Author: , September 18th, 2017

Puget Sound - Dolly Travels

Hello!

I have had a busy couple of weeks or more. First, Frank and I spent a week in Puerto Vallarta, where it was hot and humid. As soon as we returned, I came up her to the Seattle area, to visit some of my family who have the good fortune to live in such a beautiful area as the Pacific Northwest, and where the weather could not be more perfect. Sunshine, temperatures in the 70’s all week.

Puget Sound - Dolly TravelsI have actually had a quiet week here in Anacortes, one of my favorite places to visit, at any time. On the day of the eclipse, one of the residents of this Skyline area in Anacortes, arranged an eclipse viewing party in a local park. Patrick brought solar viewing glasses for everyone, and gave us a little talk on the eclipse: statistics from previous years, when to expect the next one, things like that. He and his wife had also brought champagne and orange juice, so that we could celebrate after the eclipse.

Up here, we got about an 85% eclipse. It was very strange; we did not get total darkness. In fact, I could not see that the sky got very dark at all, but one of the ladies present said that she watched how the eclipse was progressing by watching my eye glasses. I wear progressive lenses, that turn into sun glasses as the light increases. She said that the lenses of my glasses gradually became lighter and lighter, until the time that we had the maximum eclipse, then my lenses were clear. However, the air got cooler and cooler, with the temperature dropping ten degrees during that eclipse. I was glad that I got to experience that phenomenon, for I doubt that I will see another.

Puget Sound - Dolly TravelsToday, we had a special treat. My brother and his wife, Lee and Rosey, had owned the boat, the Helen Marie, for many years. Last year, the boat was sold to their next-door neighbors. I had met this couple a few days ago, and enjoyed their company very much. Today, Dave invited us to go on the Helen Marie for a day trip.

We made a picnic lunch and joined Dave down at the Flounder Harbor. Dave was very generous, and insisted that Lee pilot the boat, and Dave would be the Deck Hand.

On two different occasions, I had the opportunity to travel with Lee and Rosey on this boat; once, a three week trip in Alaska and another three-week trip in British Columbia. Lee told me I was to be the ship’s cook, so this area was my domain. I don’t know if you can see the clamps around the tea kettle, placed so that the cook can secure the pans to the stove, if the boat is rocking and rolling. It is a very efficient galley, not much different than cooking in my own kitchen at home.

The water was very calm today. This is an amazing area of the country; water, islands, trees all around as we cruised quietly along. The sky was a bit hazy to the north and to the east, as smoke from fires in British Columbia are still drifting down this way.

After we had cruised for about two hours, Lee stopped the boat and it sat still in the water while we consumed our picnic lunch. There were a quite a few other boats out today, but when we decided to stop for lunch, no one was around. We spent about a half hour just idle, watching the water, the sea birds and I saw one little seal poke his head out of the water, to see what we were doing.

After we started up again, it was Dave’s turn to be captain, and Lee had to be Deck Hand.

When we got to the side of Cypress Island, we saw a damaged fish farm.

Puget Sound - Dolly TravelsThe dust is from workers trying to repair damage to the farm. Apparently, somehow the enclosures for the fish broke, and over 300,000 farmed Atlantic salmon escaped into the waters of Puget Sound. This incident has certainly caused a great deal of distress among the citizens of this area, for now all those foreign fish are out in the Sound with the native fish. There are so many of them that the people of the area are concerned about pollution of the water, for most of these fish will die. Those fish do not know how to get their own food; they have been fed pellets for their entire life. Also, they do not reproduce as normal salmon do, so they are doomed. The Fish and Game Department has encouraged anyone who wants to fish to catch them and take as many as they want…no limit. However, most people up here will not eat farmed salmon, so this is another dilemma. To read on this further, check out the Spokesman-Review Outdoor Blog, of August 28, 2017, to get more information.

Finally, we made our way back to Flounder Harbor. By then, Lee was back at the wheel. He brought the Helen Marie back into her slip in the marina, just like a pro.

We had a delightful day, and I was so happy that Dave invited us for this excursion. It brought back a lot of good memories for me. Rosey and I spent some time sharing some of the good times we had enjoyed together on the boat.

Thank you, again, Dave, for a wonderful day on the water.

Puerto Vallarta Weather – Dolly Travels

Author: , September 4th, 2017

Puerto Vallarta

Buenos Dias, again.

I usually do not write posts back to back, but I have so much to tell you, and besides that, my 24 hours of internet access will expire in the morning.

I was dismayed when I checked the weather forecast for Puerto Vallarta before we left home, to find that thunderstorms were predicted for every day that we would be here. We had the resort accommodations reserved; we had booked our flights, and if nothing else, Frank and I are flexible. So here we are, and we have been very fortunate. The first night we were here, it rained cats and dogs for about an hour, then we have had good weather.

Yesterday, we had a reservation to take a boat trip out to the island of Las Caletas to see the show called, “Rhythm of the NIghts”, which is a Cirque de Soleil type of show, but it depicts many myths and legends of the native Mexican people, especially from this area of Jalisco. The island itself was owned by the movie director, John Houston. This is where he lived while directing the film, “Night of the Iguana”, several years ago. He gave this island to the people of Puerto Vallarta upon his death. The island has been kept as close to being as it was in John Houston’s time as possible.

We came to the island by boat, as I said. The trip from the marina in Puerto Vallarta took about 45 minutes. As we were traveling, I told the young lady next to me, who was celebrating her 50th birthday, that the first time we took this trip, dolphins swam alongside the boat.

“Oh,” she exclaimed. “That must have been so great to see that.” The words were hardly out of her mouth when another passenger alerted us to the fact that a pod of dolphins were following us. I tried to count them, but they would dive, then swim closer to the boat, and dive again, but as close as I could count, there were at least ten of those lovely creatures, and they followed us for about ten minutes. That was indeed a highlight of our boat ride. I told the lady that the dolphins did it for her, to wish her a Happy Birthday. She smiled, being so touched.

I could not get a picture of the dolphins, of course, but the sea and the sky were so spectacular last night. All of us knew that at any minute, the clouds could come over those Sierra Madre mountains and rain on our parade, so we were grateful for the beautiful evening.

Before long, we docked at the island. As we left the boat, the crew members gave each couple a large umbrella. Just in case, they said.

We all walked up the dirt paths that were lined with votive candles to light our way, until we reached the amphitheater where the show would be performed.

I have nothing with which to compare this show, except for other Cirque de Soleil performances. Each of the performers were incredibly talented. The loose story line included many of the stories from Mexican history, such as the Deer Dance. A costumed actor, dressed as a magnificent quetzal, that royal bird of this area and Central America, flew over our heads on a wire. There was action in so many different areas, it was hard to tell where to watch, at times.

We were not permitted to take pictures of the performers or any during the show, but this is one of the paths, as viewed from the boat. As you can see, the jungle comes right down to the water.

We watched the show, the actors took their bows, we started up the trail toward the large covered area where dinner would be served. Little raindrops started falling, but it was a very light rain. Later, as we were eating, the rain came down in sheets. The little dirt paths became running rivulets of mud. By the time we had to leave to go back to the boat, the rain was still coming down like crazy. Despite the shelter of the large umbrella for the two of us, we were soaked by the time we got to the boat. All of us looked like half-drowned cats.

Once we were on the boat and all the covers were zipped into place, the crew of our boat gave us another show that was pretty amazing. These guys did take-off and lip synced songs and dance routines from Frank Sinatra, to Prince, to Elvis, the Blues Brothers, then one of the crew performed some magic with glass spheres, that reminded me of a show I had seen in Las Vegas a long time ago.

When we got back to the marina, all the rain had stopped. Puerto Vallarta was dry as a bone. Thank goodness, for I had not been clever enough to bring our umbrellas with us.

One afternoon, one of the chefs here at the resort, gave a cooking class. Yay!! I would get to learn a new recipe or technique after all.

Puerto Vallarta - Chef LucianoChef Luciano, from Uruguay, taught us how to make ceviche.

Chef Luciano did not speak English, but I watched carefully, and one of the young girls, an employee of the resort, acted as a translator. Chef Luciano made this ceviche with salmon, so, I will give you the recipe now, because it was so delicious. I made notes while he cut things up. I have found that cooking, much like music, has its own universal language.

Salmon Ceviche

1 fresh salmon filet, about 1/4 pound, trimmed of skin, and cut into small cubes 1/2 red onion, chopped into small dice
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped into small dice.
Mix these three ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Squeeze the juice of three or four Mexican limes over this, add about a teaspoon of fine sea salt; drizzle with olive oil. Mix together well. Set aside while preparing the remainder of the ingredients: 1 ripe avocado, peeled, diced small
1 tablespoon capers, chopped fine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 to 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Add these to fish mixture, stir well, then set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes. The lime juice will cook the fish nicely in that time.
To serve, prepare thin slices of toasted baguette. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each baguette slice, then spoon ceviche onto those slices. Serve immediately.
Chef Luciano said the cream cheese helps keep the bread crunchy, not soggy. We did not wait 10 minutes for the ceviche to sit. We ate it as soon as he had mixed all the ingredients together and put the mixture on the baguette slices. It did not taste like raw fish, so I guess the lime juice did its job quickly.

Personally, I would serve the ceviche with tortilla chips, but this was the way it was prepared for us, and, as I said, it was delicious.

Puerto Vallarta - FrankToday was a quiet day for us, as the weather threatened to break loose all day long. Finally it did, although the rain waited until about 5:30 to start. When the rain starts here, it seems it doesn’t know how to fall gently. We had just a few warning sprinkles, as we were getting ready to go out to dinner.

“Should we take the umbrellas?” I asked Frank, for we were only going about 100 yards.

We decided that we should, and by the time we got down to the ground floor, the rain was coming down in buckets again. We made it to the restaurant and enjoyed a light meal, and by the time we were ready to leave, the rain had stopped. Crazy.

During Happy Hour, the waiter brings our two-for-one drinks all at the same time. By the way, this sangria is just freshly made lemonade with red wine floated onto it, and I like it very much.

Now it is dark, the rain has stopped, and we are enjoying a quiet evening, again.

I hope we get to go back to town tomorrow. We will do that, if it doesn’t rain. I will be sure to let you know how that goes.

P.S. A note regarding my blog post of earlier today: Frank told me that the song, “Lamente Bourincano,” that he requested from the musicians when we were in town the other day, is one that he remembers his father singing. That is the reason he loves to hear it now. It must be quite well-known here, for the musicians knew it right away.

Adios for now,
Dolly