Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cinque Terra Recap 1: Vernazza

If you've followed my Italian adventures these many years then you know of my love affair with Cinque Terra. I was introduced to CT by a friend way back in 2000 and fell in love with it immediately. Back then it was relatively undiscovered and was much much much cheaper and more enjoyable than it is now. That prick (pardon my French) named Rick Steves did his best to tell everyone in the world about the hidden gem on the Ligurian Sea known as Vernazza - the second of the Cinque Terra which also happens to be our favorite. Due to his efforts, I've seen the amount of tourists steadily increase every year, along with the prices of everything under the sun. And Vernazza isn't Venice or Rome or some other big city; it's a small little fishing village that was never meant for such an influx of tourism as Mr. Steves hath wrought. When I first hiked in Cinque Terra it was free. On this trip it costs 16 Euro for the wife to hike for two days. The locals tell me that with the influx of tourists the past few years it became too difficult to maintain the cleanliness and decent state of the park which accounts for the entrance fee. Thanks Rick Steves! The worst part is that a large number of the tourists you see there now are American college students traveling on their parents' money who are there to party rather than enjoy and appreciate the history, tradition and natural beauty of the place. A few years ago the wife and I cringed as were laying on the beach and bore witness to a severely overweight drunk American college girl make a scene by running across the small beach and into the water with an inflatable mat in one hand and an open bottle of wine in the other. She then proceeded to guzzle wine straight from the bottle while floating on the mat. Thanks again Rick! Despite the crush of tourists and rising prices we still enjoy Vernazza. I've decided to break the recap down into a few different parts since I have so many pictures. Vernazza seems like a good place to start so here's the recap in photos (Click on photos to enlarge):

The arrival to Vernazza when you hike from Montorosso:

Enjoying a glass of white wine at the Ananas Bar overlooking the beach:

Stay tuned soon for the nest recap: The Natural Beauty of Cinque Terra.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Italy, Part II: "Mangia piu!"

More of the food we enjoyed during our Italian vacation...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Italy, Part I: "Mangia!"

Let's start the Italy recap with some pictures on some of the indescribable meals we enjoyed at Giampietro and Agnese's as well as some of our favorite ristorante's in Caldogno, Cinque Terra, and other places...

Back from Italy

We got back home yesterday from our Italian vacation. Look for updates with pictures very soon...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Off to Italy

Early tomorrow morning (Saturday) we will be hitting the Autobahn on our way down to Italy for a week of vino, pizza, seafood, sun, and all around Italianery. First we're headed to Caldogno to visit Giampi and Agnese and some other friends. Then Giampi and Agnese will watch the X Man for a few days while the wife and I go down to Cinque Terra to do some hiking and stuff ourselves full of seafood and other assorted Italian sundries. Then probably a day or two in Venezia and maybe Bassano dal Grappa before heading back to Germania, stopping in Negrar on the way home to restock the wine cellar.

I need this vacation more than I have ever needed one before. I'm exceedingly burned out lately my batteries are in serious need of recharging. Italia is just what the doctor ordered.

Pictures will be forthcoming upon our return.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An addendum to the Tapas entry...

There's one really funny thing I forgot to mention in my previous entry about our love of Tapas. The X Man has trouble pronouncing the word "tapas" - he pronounces it "tatas". He sometimes walks around the house nagging us "Daddy I want tatas!", to which I usually reply "So do I buddy, so do I...". And sometimes he'll ask where we're going and when I tell him we're going to get Tapas he responds "I don't like tatas" to which my standard reply is "You will when you get older son...".

It's almost as funny as when he was younger in Italy, he had trouble pronouncing the word "pizza". He pronouced it "Puta", which is similar to an Italian (and Spanish) slang term for...ahem...female genitalia. Every time we would go out he would tell us that he wanted puta. It was hard not to laugh but you should have seen some of the looks we got from the locals.

Puta and tatas...the X Man is truly a chip off the old block.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

We Love Tapas.

One of our favorite things about being in Europe is of course the food. And lately we've developed a new addiction: Spanish style tapas. We have a little French style wine bar across the river called the "Bar d'Aix en Provence". That has a Mediterranean type menu. We love hanging out there because it's right across the river and very few tourists ever venture over there so we can sit outside, enjoy the fresh air, sip wine and munch on a variety of tapas. We always order the mixed plate which comes with some combination of the following; green olives, green olives stuffed with anchovies, meatballs in tomato sherry sauce, sardines, different types of cheese slices, feta (or goat) cheese, large capers, artichokes, mixed seafood, chorizo (Spanish style salami cooked in wine), plus a loaf of french bread with some kind of special paprika dip. They're all delicious and a lot healthier than going out for a schnitzel or bratwurst with french fries...