Sep. 2005
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Check out Weeks ending:  [25 Aug and 3 Sep 05] [10 Sep 05] [17 Sep 05] [24 Sep 05] [17 Sep 05] [24 Sep 05]

2 Weeks ending 3 Sep 05 (Bob)

Tropea - Our excursion of the week was a short rail ride south to Tropea, a poor relative of its namesake in France, St. Tropez.  Despite that, it is a cute town, and many Italian vacationers agree as the beaches were full as the summer season neared its end.  We wandered the streets and found the FOOD was a big thing in Tropea.  Many shops sold local delicacies ranging from rows of local red Tropea peppers (see right) to olives in jars, virgin olive oil, and onions.  On the beach the sand was full of people, lounges and umbrellas.  In Italy the vacation season ends in September and everybody seemed to be trying to get one last weekend in.

Big Neighbors - Our marina seems to be able to handle boats up to 60' or so, but next door, at Carmello Marina, the biggies come in.  They do not seem to have any more space and yet the skippers back these large motor launches and yachts into narrow opening like a surgeon.  This week a launch about 125-150' long pulled into an opening in front of us, dwarfing the 100' tall-ship behind it.

Saddened by events in New Orleans - The last few days have been very sad, as we listen to CNN and NPR about the disaster that hurricane Kristina brought to New Orleans.  We are appalled at reports of looting and violence, events that did NOT happen in Indonesia and Thailand, despite even worse conditions.  It seems that the State and Federal governments have been slow and timid in their responses.  We are sure that the resources deployed in Iraq are having an effect; trucks, tents, food, tanker trucks, and troops who could have been deployed to help Louisiana and Mississippi are otherwise engaged in a sad effort to preserve Middle East oil for the US and ram our form of government down the throats of another country.

Week ending 10 Sep 05 (Bob)

Prepping LP for our absence - The last couple of days in Vibo were consumed with stowing loose stuff, removing equipment from the decks, and tying lines on our sails.  By the time we left on Saturday she was snug in her 'winter berth' with extra lines and our Teddy Bear on watch below while we gallivanted off to Europe. 

Trains in Italy - This was our first opportunity to take the Eurostar, the express inter-city train.  It was comfortable, fast, and made few stops as it followed the pretty coastline north from Vibo past Naples to the Termini in Rome.  At 40 Euros for a 5-hour ride it was not cheap but still cheaper than flying.  At the end of the trip was our goal for the day - Rome, the City of Light!  We booked into the Galles Hotel for a 2-day visit.

Rome - Two days is not nearly enough to see this city, but we treated this as an exploratory trip to get a feel for the city, plus a couple of the highlights:

City Tour - Bob normally avoids these like the plague, but this seemed like a good way to get the lay of the land.  So we took the 110 Tour, a 2-hour bus ride past monuments, the Roman Forum, Coliseum, Vatican, Venice Piazza, and many of the other sights.

Coliseum - In the afternoon we walked back to this famous structure, site of bloody gladiator fights, naval battles, and all sorts of entertainment for the Romans.  The guards outside had uniforms reminiscent of Russell Crowe's recent blockbuster movie - perhaps they are left-overs.  Our guide described it well and the engineers among us were amazed at the deep trenches under the arena floor, the source of lions popping out of the floor!

The Vatican - On our second full day we walked through St. Peter's Basilica, in awe at the beautiful artwork and statuary in the church at the center of a religion that spans all continents and counts nearly 1 billion faithful adherents.  We walked the 300+ steps to the top of the dome with its great views of Rome in all directions.

Fountains and more fountains - Rome has fountains of all shapes and sizes - we visited Navona, a plaza with 3 beautiful fountains and lots of cafes and interesting people.  We enjoyed a very relaxing glass of Italian red as we watched the artists. Nearby is Trevi, famed by the movie "Three Coins in a Fountain", it was very pretty but small and jammed with tourists - perhaps it would be nicer in the off-season.  The city is reputed to have more than 300 fountains - we have barely made a dent.

London, again - After a cheap RyanAir flight we are back in the city we consider our luxury home in Europe. We will visit and shop for a couple of days until we meet David and Janet and retrieve our van from a small town southeast of London.  So far we have loaded up on clothes, a few electronics, did lunch with Martin (Judi's work mate from NZ), taken in Cinderella Man, and had a few meals out.  London is too expensive for long stays, but short visits are fun.

Week ending 17 Sep 05 (Bob)

Back in our van - After a short train ride we caught up with David and Janet in Paddock Wood who have been caring for our Hymermobile for the last 3 months.  They are staying in a 400-year old house with open timber walls and lots of cute rooms - a beautiful country home.  We chatted about their trip through Europe and ours across the Mediterranean over a delightful lunch in their garden.  David and Janet left our van spotless, so after a too-short visit, we headed south on a quest for a caravan park to begin a new traveling season.

John and Peggy's - Our first real visit was to our 'official' home in the UK, the parent's of our good friends on Pacific Voyager.  They live in Ringwood, SW of London near Southampton; this will be our HQ for the next few days.

Personal and Vehicle Maintenance - The near future will be occupied with minor medical care for Bob and a vehicle inspection for the motor-home, each requiring begging for an appointment, waiting for one to be available, and paying inflated UK prices. 

Week ending 24 Sep 05 (Judi)

Bob Flies to Florida - This week started with some very sad news from Bob's son, Denis.  Denis' maternal grandmother, Dottie Sams, had passed away.  She had been ill for the past month but we were extremely saddened by the news.  Denis has been very close both physically (she lived less than 5 miles away) and emotionally to his grandmother.  Dottie was always a very energetic and dynamic person.  Judi first met Dottie many years ago at her house in Venezuela and was warmly received and we both have kept in touch and visited with her throughout our cruising years.  Bob wanted to attend the funeral both to pay his respect to someone he admired and to provide comfort and support to Denis and the rest of Dottie's family.  So we quickly consulted the internet and arranged a flight from London to Jacksonville, Fl. and he left 2 days later.

Judi waits in SW England - Because we were planning to fly back to the US this winter, it was decided that Judi would "hold the fort down" here in Ringwood and return with Bob around Christmas time.  Bob will be gone about 2 weeks so this week Judi has been looking for things to keep herself busy so she won't miss him too much. 

Southhampton  Boat Show - The first thing that came to mind was (what else!) to go to a boat show.  The Southhampton boat show started this week and although it doesn't rival the Annapolis show, it was pretty good.   The only disappointment were the assortment of boats being shown - mostly Beneteaus and Jeanneaus - what I call "Mediterranean charter boats."  A few Catalinas, Bavaria Yachts, Dehler and even a few Hunters.  They were all very nice, but I was interested in seeing some real offshore boats.  There was one Swan 57, a couple of Hylas yachts and what I considered to be the "best of show", a Van der Stadt designed K&M 56.  This was a 'real' ocean going vessel, built in aluminum, with many practical offshore features, such a storage place for the liferaft and dingy and the owner of this boat had even designed a built 2 comfy "recliner" chairs.  The book shelves were inclined downwards toward the hull so that when the boat was heeling, the books would stay put.  The galley was 'U' shaped so the cook was very secure with no galley belt required.  Our friends, Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger, are sailing on a Van der Stadt design - a 47' cutter named Hawk, so it was good to actually see a similar design "in the flesh" so to speak.  As you can tell, I came away very impressed.

Charming English village -  On the way to the boat show the bus traveled though the lovely English village of Burley.  This village is located in The New Forest, a 150 sq. mile area of great natural beauty in Southern England. It has been relatively untouched since Norman times and consists of moors, forest and heath land where wild ponies, donkeys, cattle and deer roam freely over the whole area. I decided I must come back and visit this beautiful, quintessential English village.  I arrived early enough in the morning for breakfast, so I decided to have a classic English "cream tea," which consists of scones, butter, strawberry jam and clotted cream and, of course, a pot of tea - mmmm... delicious.  I wandered for hours around the cute and eclectic shops, some selling witchery books - even a book of shadows (for the fans of TV show, Charmed), candles, clothing, souvenirs and other "gee gaa" stuff.  After a hard day's shopping, I did manage to find a few things - what a surprise!

Next week, a trip to the Isle of Wight to visit the mother of our cruising friend Debbie and husband, Marcus on boat Amanzi Warrior.  Meanwhile it has turned cold and windy in England and I am missing my "bed warmer."


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