November 4, 2019 Venice IT

After a wet and windy night we woke up to sunny skies with a touch of fog.  The bet we had made on the weather had turned out, so we headed over to Venice for the day.

Our ferry dock was pretty memorable.

As I talked about yesterday I had to decide if we were going to take a gondola ride today.  Instead I decided that we would ride on one of the ferries that acts like a bus called a vaporetto.  Line 1 follows the Grand Canal and it costs considerably less than a gondola, and covers more ground.  After a couple of stops we gained the two front seats in the bow of the vaporetto. This proves (at least to me)that it is possible to have romance without spending a lot of money.

Who needs an expensive gondola when you can take a waterborne bus and get the same views.
Passing under the Rialto Bridge on our trip on the Grand Canal.

We also planned to visit the Rialto Bridge which is the most famous bridge in Venice.  So we disembarked from our vaporetto there after about an hour cruising the Grand Canal.  The bridge and the market next door did not capture our attention, so we headed over to St. Marks square.  The tide was quite a bit lower so the square was not under water today.  The places that were flooded yesterday now had fancy outdoor cafes with bands and extremely expensive coffee for sale.  It was quite a change from yesterday.  While it was a lot prettier it somehow felt less genuine than the square under water.

This is the area of yesterdays picture of St. Marks under two feet of water.  Today it is one of the most expensive cafe’s in Venice.

It was much less crowded than yesterday even with the better weather.  The long Italian weekend was over, and there was only one cruise ship in town instead of the three that were here yesterday.  So when we walked by St. Marks Cathedral we were shocked to see there was no line at all.  Ton was in full photography mode so she sent me off to see how much it cost to enter.  Another shock, it was free, so we headed in for a walk.  St. Marks is the first cathedral we have come to that allows no photography so we do not have any pictures, but it was very beautiful.

Exterior shot of St. Marks Cathedral, as no interior photos are allowed.

By now we were quite hungry so we headed over to the old Jewish quarter of town where we had heard there were lots of restaurants.  It was a nice walk and to our surprise the further we got from the tourist part of town the wider the roads got which spread the crowds out, the shops and restaurants were still intriguing, we found a nice garden with several  interesting art works, and the people watching was still quite good.  

We both really enjoyed this sculpture called “Guardians of Time”.

After our late lunch we decided to head back to the ferry as it was getting towards dark.  While waiting we were treated to the cruise ship in town passing by on the canal with three tugs shepherding it along.  It was a final giant connection to the city of canals.

Sunset over Venice.

November 3, 2019 Venice IT

As planned we moved to the other side of Venice to a campground that was open for the whole time we are planning to be here.  The drive over in light traffic was pretty uneventful except for my inability to follow Greta’s directions.  This resulted in us twice unnecessarily being on toll roads for short distances.  The first time we ended up paying a toll, the second time when I put the ticket in the machine the barrier went up and the ladies voice on the machine said arrivederci before I could put my credit card in for the toll.  She must of felt sorry for the fool who could not follow directions.

We arrived at the new campground early, hooked up and headed over to Venice during a little break in the rain.  We had no real plans for the day and thought we would just walk around and take in the sights.

View of Venice from our ferry.

We followed the signs towards St. Marks Cathedral.  The crowds were plentiful but not overwhelming, despite the three cruise ships we saw docked.  As we walked I contemplated Ton’s offer of whether we take a gondola ride or not.  Last night she told me gondola rides were €80 and lasted 30 minutes.  She said she had taken one with her mother in 1978, so it was completely up to me whether we took one as she had already done it.  We will see tomorrow.

Ton was disappointed that most of the gondoliers did not wear their hats, so she was happy with this guy.

It has been wet and blustery the last couple of days and the tides were pretty high along the water front, the sea was nearly up to the footpath with occasional waves washing over.  This looks like it must be becoming more common as many places have temporary bridges stacked so you can walk without getting your feet wet.

Everyone walking on temporary bridges in front of St. Marks Cathedral.

St. Marks square was interesting because when we arrived about 60% of it was underwater.  The water depth ranged from 6 inches to a couple of feet.  All of the stores and restaurants on one side of the square were closed as they had about 2 feet of water lapping at their doors.

Difficult to have a nice coffee in a foot of water.

We wandered around for another hour or so, mostly people watching.  The weather channel was dead on as about 1pm a light rain began.  By the time we got back to the ferry station about 2pm it was a steady hard rain and the wind was starting to blow.

Waves breaking over the walkway at the ferry stop.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in François.  We have a nice waterfront spot looking across the water at Venice and the cruise ships, it really is a nice view.  Ton cooked up a wonderful seafood pasta.  We have really enjoyed both the restaurants and the quality of the food in groceries in Italy.  We spent some time trying to figure out what food from Italy we should try to bring back home.  

October 30, 2019 Lucca IT

We woke early to catch the bus as there were only two options, one at 8:15 and the next at 11:10 which we thought was too late.  As I was getting things organized outside we ran into the owner of the Agritourismo, Andrea and he asked what I was doing up so early.  When I told him he said that he could have his father drive us in at a more civilized hour and we happily took him up on the offer.

The sign for the campground we are staying at in Lucca.

Ton did some research on the comic book festival in Lucca and it goes back to 1966.  It is the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world with 90,000 tickets sold each day and the festival apparently sells out the 450,000 tickets in hours each year.  It is a much larger event than we expected. We figured the people watching would be interesting even though we do not have tickets.

The people watching was fun.

Arriving at one of the city gates all of the tents we had seen around the city yesterday had long lines leading into them with fans of different cartoons and comics looking to score the latest merchandise.  We wandered the streets pretty aimlessly and Lucca is a great site for this kind of event as the long narrow streets with frequent piazza’s allow it to absorb the people effectively and allows the participants interesting places to stage photos.  

This guy loved having his picture taken and insisted on handing me his weapon.

A lot of the participants were dressed up in costume, though Ton and I are not the right age to identify most of the characters people were dressed up as.  We did have fun trying to guess.  Eventually we climbed up on the wall that encircles the old city and it turns out it is an unofficial promenade for the people in costume to walk and see what other people were wearing.  We ended up walking completely around the city.  We found one exhibit that was open to people without tickets, it was based on the video game Resident Evil so we got to go in and interact with a bunch of zombies in Raccoon City.  

One of the zombies and a guard at the Resident Evil display.

In between all of the characters we also continued to admire Lucca.  After a while we needed a little break so we went to a restaurant Ton had her eye on that has been in business since 1865.  Our waitress was a young lady who spoke English well.  She asked if we were here for the cartoon festival, we told her no, it was a happy accident.  She apologized and said that Lucca is a beautiful city and while the festival was really good for the local economy she is happy when it is over because it was just a little too weird, and to illustrate her point she had to run up to the cash register to ring up the bill of a zombie with his intestines hanging out and a knife in his back.

The view of the Hoben Oak trees on top of the tower.

We returned to François just before the rain that had been threatening all day hit.  I am writing this a little early today because we are heading up to the farmhouse for a 4 course Italian dinner, I will write about that tomorrow.

October 29, 2019 Lucca IT

Today we headed south back into Tuscany.  It was a short trip so we were able to complete an important task which was a stop at Lidl to fill up the cupboards which were pretty bare.  

After stocking up we headed out to the outskirts of Lucca to an agritourismo site.  Like France, one of the camping options in Italy is on farms.  In this case we are on a vineyard with 14 spots dedicated to campers.  When we pulled up to the site there were no campers in site, but we were immediately met by the owner Andrea who asked if we had reservations.  He said I know it looks crazy but we are full.  It turns out Lucca holds the Italian equivalent of Comicon and it is this week and 500,000 people are expected.  But in true Italian fashion with a twinkle in his eye he said we can stay for two nights which was exactly our plan, so it turns out there is no problem.  I then asked him about the bus into town and he said the schedule was posted, but he would give us a lift into town if we could leave soon.

Early arrivals for Lucca Comics and Games Festival.

Lucca was a treat.  It is an old walled town with the walls still intact.  It has suffered little damage over time and has been a settlement since the Romans so it is full of interesting buildings from many different eras.  We wandered the town for a few hours and were rewarded with small revelations around every corner.  There are no spectacular buildings in Lucca, just a bunch of medium sized churches and palazzos with really interesting features.  

One of the towers that Lucca is famous for.  This one has tress growing on the top of it.

While it caters to tourists, (Italian Comicon), it is not overrun with tourists like a lot of the places we visit.  Tomorrow we are going to give Lucca another look and take in the sites of Italians dressed like superhero and comic book characters in a town that goes back to the Romans.  It should be a treat.

Street scene in Lucca. We really enjoyed the atmosphere of Lucca.  

We tried to take the bus back to the campground, but the bus runs on a pretty irregular schedule.  Google told us the next bus was not for 2 and a half hours, the bus stop seemed to imply there was one an hour sooner than that.  We gambled on the bus stop sign and lost, so we decided to take a taxi. This turned out to be a good idea as a major thunderstorm rolled in just after we got back knocking out power in the area.

October 28, 2019 Cinque Terre IT

We had another great day on the Cinque Terre.  We are staying at a basic Sosta run by one of the local ambulance services, so in addition to a bunch of motor homes we are sharing our space with a couple of ambulances.  When the drivers are not out on runs they man the front gate and take payment.  When I went to buy bus tickets into town I tried to do the ordering in Italian (“due persona, biglietta a autobus retorno”) for anyone who speaks Italian you will know that is terrible, but the guy understood and thanked me for trying and then switched to perfect English for the rest of the transaction.

Yesterday we covered the most popular of the three cities on the Cinque Terre, today we planned on covering the last two towns.  After our twenty minute bus ride to the train station in La Spezia we headed out to Corniglia.  It is the least visited town because it does not connect to the ocean, and you have to climb 365 steps to get to the town.  The town is really perched on a promontory overlooking the ocean with great views up and down the coast.  It is also has good views up to the mountains above the coast.  In addition to climbing the steps to town we climbed up above the town into the vineyards that were the primary source of income before tourism took over.  

Corniglia with vineyards terraced on the hills above town.

Our next stop was the town of Manarola.  It is considered by the people who write about the Cinque Terre as the most romantic of the towns.  It consists of one main street running down to a small harbor.  But what makes it romantic are the trails around the town which after a pretty good climb take you thru the vineyards that cascade down the mountainside into the town.  The trail is quite spectacular and you are rewarded for your effort by some great views.

Looking down on Manarola from the vineyards above town.

Having climbed about 770 feet in total between the two towns (if my fitbit is to be believed) we decided to reward ourselves with a nice lunch.  We walked up the road in Manarola scouting for lunch.  Ton would walk up to each restaurant and look at the menu and inspect the food on the tables that the customers were eating.  After a while she pointed at a restaurant and said that is the one.  I noticed that there was a table for two on the second floor balcony and asked one of the waitresses in terrible Italian if we could sit there.  She said of course; and informed the manager/husband that we were going to get those seats (my reward for trying to speak Italian), clearly to his frustration.  It turned into a wonderful meal as we both had great fresh seafood on a balcony overlooking the town.  We shared the balcony with a nice German couple, and inside there was a French tour group who had quite a bit of wine with their lunch, and in the end their Italian tour guide broke into song and the group joined in.  All in all a very memorable lunch.

The rail station at Corniglia looking down from the top of the 365 steps.  The rail line connecting the 5 towns is more or less continuous tunnel, with the tracks only emerging at each town.  Manarola is the town you can see in the upper right of the picture.

Our final plan for the day was to walk from Manarola to Riomagiore but unfortunately the trail was closed.  So instead we headed back to La Spezia.  Ton says I owe her a massage for making her climb 770 feet today, but I think most of the climbing was her idea.

October 27, 2019 Cinque Terre IT

Todays trip was driven by the weather.  So far the weather has been spectacular, the one day it did rain it was nice enough to do it during the night and by morning the sun was out again.  But our good luck is changing and we are supposed to get a week of rain, starting tomorrow night.

One of Ton’s bucket list items on this trip was the Cinque Terre.  This location is really weather dependent, and since today was the last guaranteed good day for a while we decided to head over from Florence.  We will end up heading back into Tuscany for a more extended visit once we are done here.

One of the pastel colored villages in the Cinque Terre.

We were up bright and early, and it turns out today was the day Europe Falls Back from Daylight savings time.  With our early start we covered the 140km’s to La Spezia quickly and arrived at the Sosta on the outskirts of La Spezia at 9am.  After a quick breakfast it was off to the train station to buy our two day Cinque Terre pass.

The Cinque Terre is a series of 5 coastal villages carved into the sides of cliffs along the Ligurian Sea.  They are part of an Italian National Park as well as UNESCO Heritage sites.  While they are difficult to reach by road, the Italian Railway has carved tracks that connect them all.  This is by far the best way to explore the Cinque Terre.  A two day pass is only €27 per person and allows unlimited trips on the line between La Spezia and the five towns (it also includes free access to the walking trails between the towns, and the bathrooms in the train stations!).

One of the UNESCO listed villages on the Cinque Terre.

As today was the only guaranteed good day we picked the three largest villages, Riomagiorre, Vernazza, and Monterosso.  They are all in spectacular settings with small harbors at the bottom of steep roads leading to the ocean.  

We started the day in Riomagiorre and as we got off the train we heard a lot of Thai being spoken all around us.  It turns out we had stumbled into a tour of about 25 Thai.  We listened into the guide for a while until he caught on and we introduced ourselves.  He thought it was funny.

The harbor in Riomagiorre.

Monterosso is the largest of the towns and has the largest of the harbors but probably the least spectacular setting.  I was a little disappointed when I saw a big parking lot on the edge of town with about 20 RV’s parked in it.  It turns out this is the one place you can camp in the Cinque Terre.  I missed it in my app because it was listed as parking and not a Sosta.  In Italy I am not looking at parking areas like I have in France and Germany as places to stay only Sostas and Campgrounds.

The beach at Monterosso.

Vernazza is the smallest of the towns we visited today and is considered by most people to be the prettiest of the towns.  It only has one main road that leads down to a small harbor.  As you walk down to the harbor you see pictures of a massive flash flood that shot down the road in 2011.  After walking around town we headed up on to one of the trails that connect all of the towns on the Cinque Terre.  We wandered up there by accident but the view was so good we kept going.  At one point Ton was shooting some pictures when she overheard 4 Thai taking turns taking pictures of each other, she could not resist and asked if they wanted a picture of all 4 of them.  They reciprocated by taking pictures of us.

The hiking trail between Vernazza and Monterosso, it is steep in this stretch, there are vineyards on the right behind the fence.

October 22, 2019 Rome IT

Our second day in Rome was aimed at the Roman ruins and the Colosseum.  Again the public transport in Rome worked very well and we arrived early for our tour.  This time we were able to get a slot on an earlier tour which was lucky as this tour was pretty small and we had some things we wanted to see after the tour.  

We began by visiting Palantine Hill which contains many of the ruins of the old Roman city center.  They are still discovering many ruins as Rome like many cities is in layers.  We were told that there are seven layers of buildings from the modern we see today to the original remains of the founding of the city.  We began the tour by looking over a site that was uncovered when they were extending the metro system.  It was the remains of a temple and was quite impressive.  The guide says this happens all of the time when new construction is begun in the city.

One of the ancient temples very well preserved because it was converted to a Catholic Church.

The tour of the ruins around the coliseum was very interesting, and the history is fascinating to hear.  The ruins are different than those of Pompei because Pompei was destroyed in a flash, the ruins in Rome happened over centuries due to neglect. Originally Rome was built on hills because the areas between the hills were flood plains. Over time as the Romans developed their sewer systems they were able to manage the floods and much of what we saw today was development in what had been the flood plain.  As Rome declined the sewers and other flood control measures failed, and things were covered over with mud from floods.  

Overview of the Palatine Hill Area of Rome.

After a thorough exploration of Palatine Hill, we headed over to the Colosseum for the big finish of the tour.  The Colosseum is an impressive structure.  The resemblance to modern stadiums is striking.  The building held 50,000 people for events, and they could have the crowds into the building in 30 minutes and could empty the building in 20 minutes.  The construction techniques are fascinating to me, and their solutions to structural issues were quite sophisticated.  Most of the seating is gone but you can easily visualize the crowds.  They even had a method to cover the seats during rain using canvas and ropes.  

Interior of the Colosseum.
Exterior shot.

Our final two sites for the day were the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.  They are having a real Indian Summer here so the crowds at these two sites were summer like.  For the Trevi Fountain I picked a spot where I could enjoy a view and let Ton dive into the crowd to get some pictures.

Ton braved  the crowds to get this shot of the Trevi fountain.
Today in tourist mode.

October 21, 2019 Rome IT

Today we decided to start our time in Rome by visiting the Vatican.  Yesterday after some research we decided to do a guided tour, it was €10 more than the unguided ticket.  It was expensive but the other option was waiting in line for an indeterminate amount of time to purchase a ticket as an individual.

Our tour was at 11am but not having tried the public transport in Rome we left about 8:45 to give me some time to get lost.  It turns out the trip to the Vatican was a breeze and we were there about 9:30.  We used the time until the tour began to wander around St. Peters Square.  The square itself is very impressive and we had no trouble killing the time we had until our tour.

St. Peters Basilica from the exterior.

We joined our tour and headed over to the Vatican Museum.  The museum was fantastic but the crowds inside were incredible.  I am not sure how many people they let in per day, but if today is any indication it is too many.  At times you could not stop walking as you were being carried along by the crowds.  We saw a lot of beautiful things that we would have liked to stop and admire but were unable to due to the crowds.  It also made following the guides talk very complicated as we would frequently be separated from her by a wall of people and were not quite sure what piece of art she was talking about.  We later learned that even in shoulder season Mondays and Saturdays are very crowded.

This level of crowd was the norm for the tour.

We eventually made our way thru to the highlight of the trip the Sistine Chapel.  Again the place was jammed with people and you were basically herded into the middle of the Chapel and had to stop and stand in one place.  There was no moving around to get a better view of a particular part of the chapel.  Having complained I know why so many people want to see the chapel as it is absolutely stunning, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  In the end it was worth the trouble.  Sorry there are no pictures from the Sistine Chapel allowed.

This picture is a Raphael from the Popes Apartments.  He depicts Michelangelo sitting in the lower left center.  He is in Renaissance clothing unlike the other characters, and  working on a list.

The tour finished up with St. Peters Basilica.  We have visited a lot of Cathedrals during our time touring in Europe but this one is special.  While the crowds were just as large, St. Peters was more than big enough to handle them.  While the place is ornate it struck me as more understated, as if it has nothing to prove.   We appreciated this, but the art that is in the cathedral is beautiful, and surprisingly to us from many different eras.  It is not frozen in time which is also refreshing.

A Michelangelo from St. Peters Basilica.

In the end our three hour tour took a little over four hours due to the crowd, and we emerged from St. Peters famished. Ton had picked out a place she wanted to try and following Google maps we arrived at the site, sat down and ordered some pasta, when I looked across the street and saw the name of the restaurant she had picked out, we were in the wrong place.  The food was pretty good though.

October 18, 2019 Amalfi Coast IT

Yesterday was a bucket list item for me, and today was a bucket list item for Ton.  Before every trip Ton gives me some places we must see, and we took care of one of them today, visiting the Amalfi Coast.  

One of the many stunning views on the Amalfi coast.

The Amalfi Coast is a spectacular 40km stretch of road strung along a peninsula.  The road is carved in cliff side, and the views are spectacular.  Part of the fun is watching the drivers deal with the hundreds of switchbacks on what is effectively 1 and 3/4 American lanes.  RV’s are forbidden which allowed me to enjoy the views and the chaos on the road as a spectator.  It was worth every dollar we paid to not be driving.  

A relatively straight section of the road, of course we are on the same road looking across at that stretch.

To give an example of Italian driving from today.  Our driver did not speak English.  At one point we were crossing a bridge and I saw a little village and harbor tucked under the bridge and pointed to get Ton’s attention.  Next thing I know the driver pulled over into the on coming lane (there were cars coming), threw the van in reverse, and backed to the middle of the bridge where he parked, turned around and looked at the 5 of us in the back seat and said “Picture”?  The five of us looked at each other and said why not? So we got out of the car while cars going in both directions dodged around us and the van.  The funny thing is this did not seem to faze any of the Italians in the other cars, vans and busses in the least, they all just shrugged and maneuvered around us like it was perfectly reasonable to stop in the wrong lane of a narrow two lane bridge to snap a few pictures.

The view from the bridge.

Our tour included  three towns and a tourist attraction.  The first town we saw was Positano which is the jewel of the Amalfi.  Steinbeck wrote a short story about it, and it has been featured in several movies.  It is a beautiful sea front with the town flowing up the cliffs.  Tourism is the main, (possibly only) industry in the town now, but the setting makes it worth dealing with all of the people.

Positano as we are dropping in on the road.
The harbor in Positano with ferries and tour boats coming and going.

The next stop was at a tourist attraction called The Grotto.  There were six of us on the tour, two other Americans, and a French couple.  None of us were quite sure what we were getting into, but it turned out to be a short tour of a pretty underwater cave.  

The light for the Grotto comes from an underwater entrance to the cave.  It is natural.

We next stopped at the largest city and the namesake of the Amalfi Coast, Amalfi.  In many ways it felt a lot like Positano.  A small harbor leading to another town carved from cliffs.  Amalfi did have a really beautiful cathedral though we decided to pass on the interior as we are getting a little jaded about cathedrals.

The exterior of the cathedral in Amalfi is really spectacular.

The final town for the day was Ravello which was up in the mountains of the Amalfi away from the sea. It was clearly the most prosperous of the towns, and looked like it dealt with a higher end clientele than the other two towns. 

Ravello way up in the mountains of the Amalfi coast.

We enjoyed poking around in a ceramic store with the French couple.  At the beginning of the day they were pretty quiet as neither one speaks English.  But by the end of the day we had a fun time communicating with them using broken English, broken French, broken Italian, sign language and smiles and laughter.  They have been traveling extensively and it is a shame we cannot communicate better as Ton and I would love to talk to them about their travels in Morocco and Greece.

This is the high end ceramic shop in Ravello, some of it’s clients include Mark Rufallo (the Hulk), Steven Tyler (from Aerosmith), Mariano Rivera (NY Yankees), and Rod Stewart (the singer). 

October 14, 2019 Taormina IT

Taormina was on Ton’s must see list today.   I made a scouting run down to the terminal to discover the best way to Taormina.  Option 1 was a hop on hop off bus that gave us use of the tourist bus and the regular bus for €14 each or take a regular bus for €3.  We were torn about what to do, and still had not made up our mind when we got to the terminal.  We finally chose the regular bus, but after we bought the ticket the cashier who must have heard our debate, asked the Hop on Hop off bus driver to let us ride to Taormina, so we ended up with the best of both worlds.  This good samaritan was the same guy who had rebuffed my earlier attempt to ask him about the bus to Taormina in Italian, with a gruff “What do you want?” in English.  

Taormina is the town between the two high points of land.

Taormina has been a town since the ancient Greeks, and it is really a spectacular site on a large bluff overlooking the harbor at Giardini-Naxos.  We were dropped off at a nondescript bus terminal, but as soon as we began hiking up the road to the town the views were spectacular.  As we got closer to the town center we both became more charmed.  Despite the fact that Taormina is definitely on the tourist trail, complete with all of the brand name stores lining its main street, it still had a spirit that we both really enjoyed.  

The main road in Taormina lined with big brand shops, but still beautiful.

The town meanders up and down hill.  The main road is wide and flat, but all of the roads off of it are either up or down and quite narrow, which adds to the atmosphere.  Off of the main road the shops were run by locals who were very friendly without being pushy.  Ton had picked out two potential restaurants for lunch, but one had gone out of business, and the other was not open.  Just down the street was a cheese store that advertised lunch and we were both drawn to it.  We went inside to take a look and saw a restaurant in the back.  We asked the lady at the counter if they served lunch and she said yes in an hour, would we like a reservation.  Something I have learned is that in romance languages my short name “Ron” (in Spanish it means Rum) is perplexing, so when she acted confused about my name I switched it to Ronaldo, she immediately connected the dots and had a good laugh with one of the customers.

Typical side “road” in Taormina.

Having an hour to kill we decided to head up to the Greek Theater which is the big attraction in town.  When we got there it was €10 to get in, and since we have seen a lot of antiquity sites on this trip decided to pass.  We still had time to kill so we went to the municipal park and sat down on a park bench to enjoy the views.

The view from our park bench in Taormina.

The lunch at the cheese shop was superb.  We opted for a Sicilian food and wine tasting.  It consisted of three wines, and a plate of cheeses, meats, and grilled vegetables.  We have had a lot of good meals on our trips in Europe, but we both agreed that so far this is the best.  The food and wine while simple was fresh and delicious.  The service of the husband and wife was great and they enjoyed explaining the food and wine to us.  They were clearly proud of their Sicilian heritage and happy to share it with us.  At the end neither of us could bring ourselves to leave so we stalled with a coffee, and an aperitif.  Ton was tempted to return for dinner, but they were full, though we could tell if we pushed and had some flexibility they would have found a way to accommodate us.  We rarely mention places by name but if you are ever in town do not miss La Bottega Del Formaggio.

I really enjoyed this meal much more than my expression shows!

June 19, 2019 Kortrijk BE

We woke up to a pretty serious thunderstorm.  It had been raining off and on all night with a few gusts of wind strong enough to rock François back and forth.  Our neighbor had to get up and secure his bicycles and table to prevent them from blowing away.

The wheat next to our parking place showing the effects of the rain and the wind.

The neighbors were Belgian and we spent some time talking to them last night.  Neither spoke English fluently but they both could communicate to us.  The first question was where we were from as it was clear to them we were not French.  After we got that sorted out, we began to talk about traveling.  The wife volunteered that this was her first time in this part of Belgium.  Since Belgium is quite small we were a little surprised so Ton asked her where she was from, “Bruges”.  We both laughed as Bruges is about 40 miles from where we are today and she was probably in her late 60’s.  She thought about it for a minute and laughed too, saying she has been to Spain, France, and Indonesia but not to Westvleteren until today.  She made me laugh again later when we were heading back to François, I told them “See you later”, she replied “See you later alligator”, giggled and followed it with “after a while crocodile”.  I got a real kick out of that which she appreciated.

The Duchesse de Bourgogne, the purpose of our day today.

Today was the biggest day of our beer tour of Germany and Belgium.  Tons’ favorite beer in the world is Duchesse de Bourgogne by Verhaeghe Brewery.  Ton had been on their website and they only offered public tours on Friday and that would not work for us.  We decided to send them an email explaining our problem and asking if they could accommodate us in any way.  We were thrilled when they agreed to give us a private tour of the brewery today.  

Katrien our tour guide for today.  Yes we did try all of the beers in front of her.

We arrived at the brewery and met our guide for the day Katrien.  She sat us down and began the tour with a tasting of two of their beers that they only sell locally.  After that we were off for a walk around the brewery.  The brewery is family run for 4 generations and has survived two world wars.  In the first world war the owner of the brewery refused to brew for the Germans so they confiscated all of his beer making equipment to melt down to make guns.

As Katrien said we could have a good party with the contents of one of these barrels.

Their beer is all pre-sold so they are in the process of a significant expansion of the brewery to double their output.  We were shown both the historical old buildings and the new modern buildings that will make up the expansion.  Katrien did a great job explaining the process, and talking us thru each of the beers.  It was a great time and we have a fresh bottle of Duchess de Bourgogne to drink before we leave.

The twin watch towers over the River Leie in Kotrijk.

We finished the day in an aire in the town of Kortrijk which is a major town in the region.  We did not see as much of it as we wanted as it was raining pretty hard when we first arrived with occasional flashes of lightning. It finally calmed down enough for us to take a quick walk thru the town.  It has two World Heritage Sites, their town belfry which along with all of the other belfries in Flanders are grouped as a world heritage site, and the Beguinage of Courtrai which is a well preserved 13th century womens community.  It was run like a nunnery but the women did not take any religious vows.  It was still active as a womens community until the 1960’s.  

The interior of the Beguinage with the Cathedral tower in the background.
Another view from inside the Beguinage, the building in the middle is from the 1600’s while the buildings surrounding it are from the 1300’s.

June 18, 2019 Westvleteren BE

Today we moved a whole 15km to a nice aire on a farm in the village of Westvlateren. It is a very small village known for St Sixtus Abby and Brewery.  The setting is beautiful but unfortunately they just cut the hay in the field next to the aire and Ton who has been fighting allergies this entire trip is really suffering.

Our impromptu goal for the day St. Sixtus Abby.

As we have been traveling around Belgium we have kept hearing about this mythical beer from Westvleteren.  When we were in Amsterdam we ran into an Australian who proudly mentioned he had found some bottles of it for sale in Brussels and was happy to get 3 of them for only €19 each.  When we moved to Bruges we also heard about this beer from some other people.  Ton began doing her research and it turns out it is considered by some beer connoisseurs to be the best beer in the world, and it was very difficult to buy it as you had to make an appointment and you were limited to 48 bottles at a time.  The problem is that the phone to call to make an appointment receives over 80,000 calls per day so it is very hit or miss whether you can get an appointment.  The monks are very concerned as their beer has been growing in popularity about people gouging others. They closely control distribution to minimize people inflating prices, but it is still happening like our Australian friend in Brussels discovered.  At the brewery the bottles sell for €4.

Liquid Gold.

We were still not planning to visit the brewery until last night when we decided to spend the day in the vicinity of Poperinge which is the biggest Hops producing town in Belgium.  When I began to look for a place to stay around Poperinge it turns out there is an aire close to the Westvleteren Abby.  Ton did some more research and found out that the monks did allow one cafe to sell their beer over the counter in the village, so here we are.

Hops were the reason we began the trip today.

We started the day by going to Poperinge to visit the hop museum.  It was an interesting presentation on hop production in the region.  It focused mostly on the farming of the hops and was full of equipment and detailed descriptions of how hop farming techniques had changed in the area thru history.  At the end it had examples of every Belgian Beer currently in production by region.  

To celebrate the end of the hop harvest locals burn straw men in the field and drink a lot of beer.

The next stop was the Westvleteren Cafe which along with the Abby is pretty much the entire town.  The aire was supposed to be 1km from the Abby but that turned out to be as the crow flies, so after a half hour walk around the fields between us and the abby we arrived hot and ready for a cold beer.  It took a while to be served as we have not quite mastered the way of getting a Belgian servers attention, but we finally put in our order for one of each of the 3 beers they produce here.  The first is a blonde, the second is a dark beer with 8% alcohol, and the reported best beer in the world is the dark beer with 12% alcohol.  They were all excellent, but our conclusion was that the dark 12 was indeed the best.

Two very happy people.

As we were leaving we stopped in their gift shop to pick up a memory of the trip, and discovered we could buy a six pack of the dark 12.  So as I am typing this I am happily sipping on one of the best beers in the world.

June 16, 2019 Bruges BE

Bruges deserved a second day so after spending some time talking to our Dutch and English neighbors we headed into town to take a look at some other sites for the day.  We were hoping it would be a little less crowded than on Friday but if anything it was busier.

Market Square in Bruges with the crowds.

Our first stop was the oldest bar in Bruges dating back to the 1560’s.  One of the stories is that the famous Flemish painter Paul Reubens ran up a bar tab in the 1600’s that he did not have the cash to pay off, so he paid the bill with a painting.  Hopefully they kept the painting long enough as it would have paid off whatever tab he ran up plus a million Euro or so today.

The door to the oldest bar in Bruges that one time owned an original Reubens.

Something interesting happened as we walked to the bar.  It is not in the tourist core of Bruges, and after we got a few blocks past the square we were suddenly alone.  We were following a beautiful canal with really interesting buildings all around us, but hardly any tourists, just locals.  We really enjoyed this stretch of the city.

Another beautiful area in Bruges away from the tourist crush.

On Friday we passed on a canal boat tour because of the crowds, but today despite the crowds being worst we felt obliged to do it.  There were 40 seats on the boat and they were all filled.  Our boat driver was multi-lingual so he did the tour in 4 languages, English, Dutch, French, and Spanish so we had to pay attention for when our explanation was coming.  By this time we had walked all of the canals we went down on the boat a couple of times so we were familiar with the sites and the short explanation did not add much to our experience.

The crowded canals of Bruges.

Ton treated me to a fathers day meal of Flemish Mussels which are a delicacy around here.  After we started eating we realized that Delirium Brewery from Brussels had recently bought this place which was listed as one of the best restaurants and beer halls in town.

Enjoying my Belgian Mussels with a Delirium Beer.

At the end of the day we returned to Half Maan Brewery for a tour.  It is clear that lawyers are not the powerful force in Belgium that they are in the US.  Our tour had us climbing up and down ladders and very small stairs thru working industrial space.  At one point the tour guide let an 11 year old boy climb into a 500 liter beer tank, that would result in a fine from the safety inspector in the US.  The brewery has a 2 mile pipeline for beer from the brewery to their bottling plant in the industrial outskirts of Bruges which is the longest beer pipeline in the world.  The highlight was when we popped out on the roof of the brewery for a great view of the top of Bruges.  The tour ended with a nice glass of Belgian Blonde Ale, and some soccer discussion about the US women and Timbers with another couple from Portland who were also on the tour.  

Ton really liked the logo of the Half Maan Brewery.
The view of Bruges from the roof of Half Maan.
The storage tanks they let the boy climb into.

As we headed back we heard voices near François and it turns out our English and Dutch neighbors had also just returned and were exchanging stories of their day.  We joined in and an impromptu party broke out where some French wine, and Irish, and German beer was consumed.  That is why this is being published a day late.

As we were leaving the city we came on this sculpture of the flying horse Pegasus pulling a carriage.  We are not sure what the significance is of the naked women on the back.

June 6, 2019 Lubeck GE

We have found a city in Germany that we really have a good feeling about.  As we have traveled around Europe we find cities or towns that we kind of instantly like.  Examples are San Sebastian, Seville, and Malaga in Spain, Dijon, Gardes, and Flavigny in France. It is hard to describe why, but it just happens.  So far on this trip we have not had that experience with any German cities.  We have discussed this several times over the trip, we have not had a bad experience here, but overall we are lacking the connection we have felt in Spain and France.

Before we headed out of Schwerin we headed to the town to take a look around.  It has one of the nicest castles we have seen, and it avoided major damage during the war and was part of East Germany so it’s old town has not been modernized like most cities in Germany.  Our tour of the city was quick but we enjoyed it.

Schwerin Castle survived the war intact.  My personal favorite castle in Germany.
Another view of Schwerin.  It was a really pretty city.

Today we found a city that we have connected with in Lubeck.  It is a relatively small port city on the Baltic Sea with a long and interesting history as a trading city.  But almost as soon as we arrived we liked the feel of the town.  Our parking spot is right across the canal from the old town, they do not gouge you for the spot.  After several weeks of hearty German food we opted for seafood and found an old slightly upscale restaurant with a great atmosphere.  The waiter not only served us efficiently but took time to have a nice conversation about travel, and the way different cultures take care of the elderly.  It was an unexpected personal connection.   

The interior of our restaurant, it used to be the sailors guild hall.

Lubeck is also famous for Marzipan which is a confection of almonds and sugar.  We decided we needed to sample some Marzipan so we went to the most famous bakery in town.  The pastry was quite good, and not as overly sweet to Ton as American pastries.

A Marzipan pastry.  Niederbergers has been producing Marzipan since the 1800’s.

We ended the day at one of the best breweries we have been to in Germany called Brauberger.  Their specialty is a Zwickel beer which is a cellared Lager.  It was quite good, and we split a pitcher and had a good time people watching.

A view across the canal into the old town from near our parking spot.
The sign on the city gate says Harmony within, Peace without.  

I know this sounds like many of our days, but this one was our best so far in Germany.  As we were walking back we discussed staying another day here even though we are feeling some time pressure, and are quite a long way from Belgium.

This happy devil captured some of the spirit of Lubeck that we liked.  The story is that he was conned into helping build the church by the workers who told him it was going to be a wine bar.

May 27, 2019 Bamberg GE

When you are traveling from campground to parking lot to campground you start to appreciate the little things.  This campground has absolutely the best showers we have ever seen in a campground and would rival most luxury hotels.  Ton and I have been really taking long luxurious showers the last two days.

Ton liked this sculpture in downtown Bamberg.

We had a low key pub crawl today.  We stopped in 4 breweries/beer halls and craft brew store for one of the largest suppliers of beer malt in the world.  We enjoyed the breweries, and did not enjoy the malt company craft beer store due to poor service.

These wrought iron signs have been common everywhere in Germany, this one is for a brewery.

At the second of our brewery stops we saw another couple sitting at a table with no beer.  At a lot of the beer halls they do not serve you at the table, instead you go to a window by the bar and order your beer.  We heard them speaking English so we explained the process to them.  We ended up chatting with them while we enjoyed our beer.  

The beer tender at the beer garden.  Frequently in Germany the beer is piped directly from the brewery to the taps.

They had lived in Beaverton Oregon for a while before retiring in Florida so we had a nice chat about traveling.  Eventually we parted ways to head out on different beer agendas.  A couple hours later we were sitting in our 3rd brewery when we saw them walk in.  We ended up spending the next couple of hours with them as they planned to visit the same breweries we had picked.  They had lived in Germany in the past and gave us some good tips on other good beer towns though they did admit that Bamberg was their favorite beer town Germany.

Number 3 of our brewery crawl.

It was a fun day with lots of good German beer; our faith in German beer and creativity is restored after today.  Ton thought I was a little harsh on Würzburg the other day, she thought the scene on the bridge was fun and that my expectations were too high .  

Number 4 (6 if you count the two yesterday)and the best of our brewery crawl of Bamberg.

May 14, 2019 Mainau GE

Woke to blue skies, so morale is up for the day.  We decided to spend another day here to further explore the area.  As we walked into town we decided to head over to Mainau Island to explore what is called the Flower Island.  

We had not done any research, but knew we had to take a ferry there.  The ferry was a little expensive, but the shock was the lady who sold us the tickets said there was a €20 charge to get onto the island once we landed that we should buy on the boat ride over.  At this point we were committed so on the ride we were feeling a little guilty about the cost, questioning our decision, and vowing to do more research next time.

Meersburg from the ferry as we were leaving.  The castle is in the upper left.

When we began the walk it became clear that the decision was a good one.  The island which is 110 acres is a giant botanical garden that is really well done.  The island is owned by a Duke and Duchess and was originally a Grand Dukes residence.  There is a strong Swedish royal connection, and the Swedish flag flies conspicuously on the residence.  

A really cute topiary that greets you when you enter the island celebrating the flower island theme.

During different times of the year they feature different flowers and for April and early May it was Tulips.  The flower gardens featured over a thousand varieties of Tulips interspersed with other flowers.  

Some of the tulips on display with other flowers mixed in, really well done.
Another beautiful flower patch with the Swedish tower in the background.

In addition they had a petting zoo full of cute animals, and a butterfly building with thousands of butterflies flying around that we got to walk thru. 

A Shetland Pony pony that Ton thought was really cute.
Ton’s favorite butterfly amongst the thousands in the butterfly building.
This lady was kind enough to pose for a couple of minutes while Ton and several other people took pictures of the butterfly in her hair.

Their Arboretum was full of very interesting trees most of which we could not identify, but interestingly they had about 15 or 20 Sequoias from California.  Beside the tulips there were other flower gardens including poppies, and rhododendrons.

A giant sequoia that had been moved from California at some point.
Ton loves poppies.

While we may not have known what we were getting into when we got on the ferry there was no doubt that it was a great decision.  Mainau is by far the best botanical garden we have visited in the world. What we thought would be a quick couple of hour visit turned into a whole day on the island.

The Alps towering over Lake Constance.
Heart shaped vines outside the tasting room at Staatsweingut.

October 19, 2018 Malaga SP

The aire we are staying at is owned by a Spanish/British couple who are RV’ers’ also.  You can tell as they designed it in a way that is really user friendly, their experience shows.  They are considering a trip to the US so we exchanged some information with them.  

Later in the day we headed into Malaga which is a town we are both familiar with from school.  We took a local bus into town, as we came around a point of land we had our first view of the harbor.  To our dismay their were 3 cruise ships in port including the largest one we have ever seen.  It turns out there was actually a 4th one but it was a sailing cruise ship and did not stand out.  We knew then that the town would be packed.

Two of the cruise ships in port, the one in the foreground is a normal sized one, the one in the background is the largest we have ever seen.

Malaga had a really nice vibe to it, and we enjoyed wandering around town.  As usual we checked out the cathedral, the castle (Arabic), and some old buildings.  The old town is dwarfed by the new town, but it was still quite large.  The Spanish do a great job of making their down town cores pedestrian friendly.  The walkways are wide, and most streets have very limited access for cars and delivery trucks, so the roads can also safely be used for pedestrian traffic.  Ton really loves how they make it easy to enjoy a stroll.

Typical Spanish “street” scene.

The high light of the day was the Picasso Museum.  Picasso was originally from Malaga and the museum did a good job of showing the different phases of his development.  Unfortunately there are no photos allowed in the museum. It is an excellent museum without having any of his famous works.  Because of this they focused more on how his work developed from his early days as a student until his late works in his 90’s.

Interior courtyard of the Picasso Museum.

After that we were wandering down a street looking for the market when we came upon an old bar that looked interesting, it was founded in 1840 and was the official supplier of Sherrie for Queen Isabel II before she abdicated and moved to France.  They served glasses of different sherries out of giant wooden casks.  They had a variety of different local sherries which is a regional specialty around Malaga.  They also had a very interesting way of keeping the tab, after you order they take a piece of chalk and write the amount you owe for the round on the wooden bar in front of you.  It’s simple and you know right where you stand, and as an Englishman next to us explained you do not have to worry about losing your spot at the bar when you go to the bathroom, because for someone to take your spot at the bar, they also inherit your tab! Unfortunately we forgot to get a liter to go.

Some of the many Sherries for sale.

We ended the evening sitting around with the owner of the aire and two English couples where we were given some excellent advice about travel.  Malaga was another great stop, we can see why people flock to the Costa del Sol.

October 15, 2018 Granada SP

Today was a day we really looked forward to when we headed to Spain.  The Alhambra is one of the biggest attractions in Spain, and getting here threw our plans off a bit when we realized there were only tickets available one day this month.

We were both pretty excited so we woke a little earlier than we needed to.  Since we were up we decided to head into town.  We grabbed the bus to the cathedral, and from there transferred to a mini-bus that goes to the Alhambra.  The bus system in Granada is really exceptional.

When we arrived at the Cathedral we took some time to explore the area.  In addition to the Cathedral which was another beautiful building that was different in that only one of the walls was exposed, there was also a restored market from the Arab era.  During the Arab era it was a silk market, and has been serving as a market since then.  There was a large fire that destroyed much of it in the 1840’s, it has been rebuilt but remains the same character.

The old Arab silk market in Granada, now devoted to tourist stuff.

We were not quite sure how things worked when we arrived we knew we had a time for a tour of the Nasrid Palace so we assumed that we could not get access to the grounds until 1pm.  But it turns out your ticket gets you on the grounds all day, the only space that is controlled is the Nasrid Palace.  So we were glad we arrived a couple hours before hand.  

We used the early time to explore the gardens of the palace which are extensive and really beautiful.  Ton was thrilled with all of the plants and flowers, as well as the views from the gardens.  It was a nice introduction to the place, and we began to sense it was quite special.

There were quite a few feral cats in the gardens.

By the time we poked around in the gardens for a while it was time to head down to the Palace for our tour.  The palace lived up to its billing and I see why it is one of the most visited places in Spain.  In the last few years they have had to limit the number of visitors to 8300 per day, and almost every day of the year sells out.  The palace is a work of art with incredible tile, plaster, and wooden walls.  The calligraphy and the art work in the plaster is beautiful, the wood carvings in the ceilings and doors are masterful.  The town must have been an interesting place as the number of high quality artisans and artists here must have made for some wild characters.  The flow from room to courtyards with beautiful fountains is a joy to behold.

The detail of the ceramic walls is really great.
A reflecting pool leading into the throne room.
Windows with inscriptions from the Koran below them.  
Each of these Lions is unique, and three different groups of artist were commissioned to do them when the fountain was built to add to the variety.
It is rare for human figures to be shown in Islamic Art, this is one of only three examples in the palace.  Apparently it is a story about a Christian Knight and a Moslem Knight competing for the same woman, the Moslem Knight won the girl.

We were among the last from our group to leave as around every turn was a wow moment for us.  Our next stop was the fort which was impressive but had an impossible act to follow.  The view of the city from the top of the watch tower though was worth the climb.

View of the town from the palace.
This tile was among a set imbedded in a stair case.  We are not sure if it is original or a replica.

We finished with a tour of another building which was a smaller version of the palace, it was the pleasure palace of the sultan.  It was a great way to wrap up the day.

A fountain from the pleasure palace.

The final thrill for us was the bus ride back into town.  We boarded the same bus 32 we had rode down on.  But going back we took back roads and alleys  that were incredibly narrow.  The mini-bus is a 24 ft Sprinter Van.  On multiple occasions we had maybe an inch or two of clearance on both sides of the bus, and some of the turns were incredibly tight.  Thru out the drive the bus driver kept up a spirited conversation with one of the passengers.  These guys are good.

October 13, 2018 Seville SP

After breakfast we decided to head into town a little early for a coffee, and to use some indoor plumbing.  As we were walking into town in the morning it was a little quiet but starting to stir.  The sun was shining and there was an air of freshness to things, Ton looked up and said “I like this town”.  Seville has been everything we hoped it would be and more.  We have really enjoyed ourselves.

Ton’s hometown in Thailand is famous for it’s horse carriages.  Ton said the sound of the horses hooves reminded her of home.

The highlight of the day was a guided tour of the Alcazar.  It is the royal palace of Seville and dates to the 12th century as a palace.  It is claimed to be the oldest royal palace still in use, though the British on our tour thought that Windsor Castle was older.  After some discussion between the British and the Spanish guide, they decided it could be both depending on how you counted.

The palace consists of three buildings, two of which were built by Christians after the reconquest and one by the Islamic Caliphate that fortunately was left largely intact .  They each have there own unique style, but for us the most impressive building was the one built in the Mudejar style.  The palace also has extensive gardens that are also quite beautiful.  Ton just about ran the battery out on her camera taking pictures.  We ended up spending over three hours on the tour and then retracing our steps to look at places that we really liked.  

Blue has a special meaning in Islam associated with being transported to heaven.
The plaster work was incredibly intricate, and covered a huge area in the palace.
In addition to the plaster work, there was intricate tile work on both the walls and floors.
It is hard to capture the scale and detail of the rooms in the palace.

By the time we were done with the Alcazar we were ready for a nice lunch.  We went to a place that has been in business for 75 years Bodega Gongora, and we understand why.  The street seating and the good seating was all taken, and we were about to leave when we found a small room in back by the bathrooms that we had to ourselves for the meal.  We had a grilled seafood plate that consisted of Octopus, Tuna, Anchovies, Sardines, and a white fish we could not identify.  The fish was delicious, though we decided that in the future we are going to have our Sardines and Anchovies fried as you can just crunch the bones with the fish.

Our seafood platter.

We spent some time walking around town and people watching. The city is incredibly pedestrian friendly, and the people of Seville seem to really enjoy just going out for a stroll and to eat.  It really is a city to love.

October 5, 2018 Donostia-San Sebastian SP

While François did not move today, we did.  Today we did the trip to San Sebastian-Donostia that we had planned for yesterday.  After a late start to the day we walked down to the train station in Orio and took the 30 minute ride into downtown San Sebastian.  San Sebastian is the Spanish name and Donostia is the Basque name for the town.  In the city Donostia is used much more prevalently than San Sebastian.

Donostia is not an old city, everything but a couple of churches dates from no earlier than the mid-1850’s.  There are a couple of reasons for this, the first is the British pretty much burned the city to the ground in 1813 after they captured it from the French.  The second reason is that the Spanish seem so far, to be a little less enamored with old buildings, and have less of a problem knocking down old buildings and replacing them with new buildings.  Our sample size is small on this, but that is our observation so far.

A statue of Jesus overlooking the town from the top of the old fort.

 The city has a very prosperous air to it with lots of upscale shops, and very nice pedestrian promenades thru town.  It is an easy town to move around on foot.  Eventually we made it to the old town, which was the original footprint of the town dating back to the 1200’s and corresponds to the area within the old fort. We climbed the hill above the old town to the remnants of the fort, where we had a very nice view over the town.  The climb was probably a couple of hundred feet in elevation gain, but was worth it when we got to the top.  From the top of the old fort you have a great panorama of the two harbors that make up San Sebastian-Donostia.  

The Urumea River entering the Bay of Biscayne, the beach past the river is the surfing beach.
Part of the old fort.

At one time San Sebastian was a major port and ship building site. Today its main industry is tourism, and it excels at that.  We climbed back down to the old town to look for a tapas lunch.  We wandered into a tavern where lunch is laid out on the bar, and consists of different miniature sandwiches and tapas.  You grab a plate and wander up and down the bar picking the food you want, when you have your plate full you grab a  beer from the bartender, and head to a table.  At the end you tell the bartender how many pieces you took (they pay attention), and how many beer you had, we had 8 pieces, and 3 beers.  Ron was a little dehydrated from the climb.

The food is laid out across the bar, and you wander up there and help yourself.
Close up of a couple of the options at the bar.

After lunch we strolled around town for a while people watching, and having another stop at a local coffee shop.  On the way back we stopped at the Cathedral, though we are getting a little jaded with Cathedrals.  It was another fun day.

The surf beach up close.  It is the same beach as the one above.
When we got back to Orio these guys were practicing, Orio is famous for it’s boat racing.