After two weeks in Italy I have a problem. A pasta problem to be exact. I just got used to having pasta every single night. Amazing pasta. Oh my goodness, the food in Italy is so good. It is surprising how many different ways you can have pasta and the skill it takes to cook this simple dish.
In Bellagio on Lake Como we took full advantage and tried it every which way. One little restaurant on a tiny alley opened promptly every evening at 7 pm to a line up of people waiting to get in to grab one of the few tables in this little gem. Thoughtfully the owners had a box full of cushions outside and people would grab a cushion and sit on the steps while they waited for their table.
Even more thoughtfully the owners opened up a wine bar just across the steps (cannot call it a street) where you could sample some of the best Italian wines and when your table became available the cook would stroll across and summon you to your table. Bliss. How many ways can I eat pasta and drink Prosecco?
Now you might think that eating pasta every night (as well as drinking prosecco) might add to your waistline. And you might be right. YIKES. However if you choose to stay in Bellagio you won’t want for exercise. I am sure every hotel in this little town that may have an exercise room will find their treadmills and stairmaster machines unused. Just getting around the town is a workout. My hotel kept sending me warning emails that I would be required to walk up 38 stairs to gain access to the front door – and carry my own bag. Fortunately I was travelling with carry on (I feel quite proud of that).
But here’s something they don’t tell you. The cobbled stones on the streets of Bellagio are some serious cobblestones. Boy, you will not need to go for reflexology after walking around the streets for an hour or so.
Strangely enough every restaurant we visited for pasta was excellent – except for one. That was the one marked No 1 by Tripadvisor. It didn’t feel like we were in Italy at all. The manager was suave and smooth and while the food was good I don’t think there was a single local anywhere near the place.
After a week back in Calgary we just had to go out for some pasta – we were suffering withdrawal symptoms. Well what can I say?
It’s not the same 😦
Just doing carry-on …. I did it once before and I am going to do it again.
Travel to Europe for two weeks just with carry-on. Now you might be saying to yourself – big deal – I have done that tons of times but I know out there among you all there are those who cannot leave home without a whacking big suitcase (and that’s just for a weekend).
So first of all why am I going to do this? Well a two-week trip to Europe comprised of hotel stays, a cruise, trains, taxis and ferries and a hotel on Lake Como that has 37 cobbled steps leading up to it….
Yup. That sounds like a good enough reason. I think it will be a good personal lesson in self-restraint. Do I really need 6 pairs of shoes? A different outfit every night? Really? The people I am travelling with are family. They have seen me at my worst …. Believe me.
The rest – strangers – ships that pass in the night. They will never see me again and vice versa.
Next – how am I going to do this. Packing cubes, wrinkle-resist material and Lululemons and more Lululemons. A couple of colourful shawls – sparkly Croc flip flops and a good pair of Sketchers. That should do it?
Oh – but I shouldn’t forget my running shoes just in case, and my swim suit and then maybe a rain jacket, just in case, and a warmer cover-up for the evenings – just in case. You see what happens. It just keeps piling up so I am going to have to work very hard at this. It’s the “just in case” that prevents me from reaching my goal. How many times have you unpacked unworn clothing after a trip. You took it along – just in case – dragged it onto cruises, flights, trains and taxis and then brought it all the way home again – UNWORN!
My last carry-on trip worked quite well – two weeks in Ireland on a self drive vacation with a teeny carry on suitcase. I was quite proud of myself but I also wanted to throw up when I unpacked my clothes at home. I was so sick of the sight of them.
There is something so liberating about being able to walk off your flight and right out the doors of the airport into a taxi. No hanging around waiting endlessly for the case on the carousel – just out the door and on my way. I have also had the experience of travelling with a larger case on European trains. Yes it can be done but if you are going to catch as many trains as we are then I would rather not.
So all I am worrying about now is getting on the plane in time to get an overhead bin (or two) and a place to put my hat!
You never forget, right? I guess that is true for last week was the second time in probably forty years I have ridden a bike. Although I was a bit nervous at first, having an expert on hand to fit me to the right size bike was certainly handy. When I had used one of the river cruise bikes in Holland a few years ago I quickly realised that it was way too big and heavy for me so now I was all set up with the right size bike. Ready steady go!
As I cycled the streets of Victoria I gained more confidence as I realised that the drivers there were very courteous and drove slowly past giving me a wide berth. Mmm I had to wonder how that would go down in Calgary after seeing so many people speeding through the 30 zone in front of my house. Some countries even legislate on the space you should give a cyclist when overtaking.
Road sign from Tenerife
My husband had suggested that we ride on the pathway as that would be easier. NOT. Trying to dodge lamp posts and pedestrians on this narrow pathway with an ominous looking kerb waiting to “get” me was not that easy. I said I would rather ride on the street. OK he says, then ride facing the traffic, it’s much safer. That didn’t work very well as within a few minutes I was faced with oncoming traffic which was in fact two spandex clad guys on flashy looking bikes. I stared at them bewildered as to what to do. They screamed past and I caught the comment from one to the other…”British”.
YES – BRITISH!
Biking is so popular now – especially with us baby boomers – that there are special tours out there that are fully guided, luggage transported from one place to another with five-star accommodation waiting where you can rest up your aching bum.
If you feel you are not up to doing a whole week of biking then why not consider a day or two. There are some great places to bike – Holland of course is famous for its biking lanes. The country is flat which is a help (none of those gear clacking, thigh busting hills that I experienced in Victoria). So many people in Holland bike to work so it is not unusual to see women in suits and heels riding to work – or even taking the kids to day care on their way.
Many of the river cruises today carry bikes and even offer guided tours in places of interest. Just a recommendation however – follow my lead and get some practice in before you go. Remember – unless you are very well experienced then rather stick with a guided group. The rules of the road are different in Europe, the road signs may be incomprehensible to you,
and don’t forget about those damn cobbled stone roads.