Thursday, July 31, 2008
Our next stop was the island of Capri. The dock was located under this giant rock cliff and we had a lovely view of the greenery that climbed it. In the morning, the air was thick with the songs of the birds.
A pleasant surprise while we were in Capri, a friend's boat pulled in alongside us. As he said, it's always wonderful to meet familiar smiling faces in the places along the way. So true. Even if you only get to chat for a few minutes, it's always good to catch up and see your friends.
For our afternoon break, we took the funicular from the coast to the city of Capri above. What a view!
Capri is known for its upscale shopping (and upscale hotels and spas etc etc...), but that's not what we were into. We quickly passed the tourists and their pricey shops to find some back streets to wander.
From these back streets you could get the occasional view of the coast. Once away from the frantic mob of tourists, we were able to see the real draw for the island. It was positively beautiful in its quaint charm.
The view of the funicular ride back down to the dock.
After leaving Capri, we anchored out for the day in Nerano. It was an absolutely gorgeous day along the Amalfi coast.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Our next port was Marina di Stabia, right by Naples. A decent marina set in the middle of nowhere (nowhere nice anyway), we had a nice view of Mt. Vesuvius.
But the rest of the view... was somewhat dumpy. Fortunately, we weren't there for long.
We soon headed to the island of Ischia.
The view of the little port city from the stern. It was a Saturday and everyone was out in full force enjoying the sun, the water and the beach. Groups of kids were busy taking turns jumping off of the rocks near the dock.
Got a chance to escape the boat for a bit one night. Got gelato and wandered the cobblestone streets lined with shops and fellow shoppers. Apparently that night was the opening for Mama Mia and it was being projected onto a large screen in the harbor. I walked around a bit more and was lost in the romanticism of the streets and the Sinatra music they were playing somewhere on a loudspeaker. I was so utterly exhausted that night that my little adventure didn't last long before I crashed.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
After Portovenere (which we stayed in one day longer than planned due to bad weather, yay!) we went to Viareggio, Italy. Since we spent eight days in its shipyard, I'd have to say I didn't appreciate it much. There were a few other yachts (including Roberto Cavalli's boat that we've seen several times already this season), but the view was industrial (they build yachts here) and certainly a far cry from the cute little dock that had spoiled us previously.
Not having more than a few hours at a time off, it was great to find that Viareggio had a nature preserve along the coast just blocks away from dock. Miles (or should I say kilometers) of trails through this densely wooded park were just what I needed to get away from the boat. Bicycles are big here. Everyone rides through town and bikers out for a ride along the trails were a common site. Some of the crew rented bikes to take through the park for their break one afternoon.
After walking the trails one day, we took one that lead to the beach. Didn't have time to enjoy more than a minute to take in the view. Had to get back to the boat, ya know. The surf was really rough that day--it wasn't normally that intense.
One thing about the mountains in this area in Italy: it's not snow, it's marble. The beaches underneath the marble woven rock were packed full of people out enjoying the sand and the sun. Along the shore, the stores along the main drag stay open until the wee hours of the morning. One night I tried to run around midnight and literally had to push my way through the crowds before I decided it was a lost cause and went back to the boat to go to bed.
Friday, July 18, 2008
To continue with pictures, this was the beautiful coastal view from above the church in Portovenere.
These were the picturesque multicolored houses that lined the water. This was our view from the boat! We were in a very small marina, right in the middle of old town. You can see a smidge of the church from the first picture in the top right hand side.
Leaving Portovenere behind was somewhat sad. I'd have to say it was the prettiest place we've been. And having the city with so much to explore five steps off the boat was incredible! Just incredible.
And just a little side note of yachting I thought I'd share.... Mealtimes are a rush of plates in and out of the galley as our chef prepares one awesome dish after another, but I grabbed my camera and shot this dessert quickly because it was just too cool not to share. Made with homemade bruleed marshmallows, chocolate cake and graham cracker, she created S'mores Deconstructed! Yum!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Early morning view across the water from Portovenere to Lerici, Italy. Lerici is home of the castle that inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. Never got close enough to get a good shot of it to share, though.
While provisioning for the boat, we got to partake in the active morning markets in Portovenere. Again, the produce here is amazing. The grapes were unreal.
The market sets up along the street and includes vendors roasting chickens and shop keepers selling their wares. Here the woman manning the cheese booth interacts with the little girl in line in front of me after handing her a fistful of cheese. We got focaccia bread at this stand that had to have been the best I've ever had.
The locals here were fun to watch. I loved how quaint and real the markets are. It seems to be a big social event to come pick out your daily produce and chat with your friends, neighbors and the shop keepers. You just know those carrots and vegetables are going to be carried home and become dinner.
Just up the way from the marina looms the striped church of St. Peter.
Walking up the stairway, the large windows in the stone walls offer a view below.
Here you can walk down to Lord Byron's Grotto where the waves crash upon the rocks. The Gulf of the Poets was really quite mesmerizing. Very inspiring. About five minutes after I took this picture the rain picked up and the people scattered. The rain only lasted a minute before the skies cleared once again.
I felt like a fool grinning to myself while wandering the back alleys of this town. With the buzz of the cicadas and the passing summer storm, I was high on life while exploring on my afternoon break.
I climbed up the hill past the church and stumbled upon a graveyard overlooking the sea.
What a view for a final resting place. It was so peaceful and serene.
Looking back down onto the striped church and Bryon's Grotto from the graveyard. The "Venere" part of Portovenere comes from the temple for the goddess Venus that was in the spot where the church stands today. Portovenere has certainly been one of the highlights of my trip. I think I'm in love with the Italian Riviera!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Markets, markets! I passed this market Sunday on my run in Monaco while it was wildly abuzz with people, but when I came back with my camera a few days later, it was calm and quiet. I wish we had more outdoor markets like this back home. I wouldn't ever need to buy produce from a grocery store again.
After Monaco, we headed to Italy. We were so excited! It was just beautiful along the coast.
Here we are in Santa Margherita, this is the view from the boat. I love it here. We are in between groups of guests so we've actually had some time to get off the boat and enjoy it.
One of the many little restaurants along the waterfront. The buildings here play jokes with their trompe l'oeil exterior painting. They may look ornate and decorated but everything but the shutters is paint.
This little town is one of my favorites thus far. Hands down, it has been the most charming place yet. This is the view of the harbor from the church on the hill two pictures before.
Another view from the church courtyard. We are the smaller of the two large boats in the harbor. An even bigger boat, Wedge Too, just came in and completely dwarfed the both of us.
As part of the charm, we watched a fireworks show across the bay.