On our trip south we needed a place to stay for a night between Villefranche-Sur-Mer and our cottage. We wanted to avoid the big cities like Torino and Milano and so, once again, Trip Advisor was tasked with finding a place. More accurately Jean using Trip Advisor was tasked with finding a place.
On the Portofino coast a hotel called Cenobio Dei Dogi caught Jean’s attention and met our standard requirements of parking and dogs welcomed.
It was quite expensive – even with a discounted rate – but this was offset by free parking (it can be as much as €25 a night at some places) and no charge for the girls (which can also be as much as €15 a night each).
Finding the hotel which is situated right on the waters edge was a challenge as leaving the highway, which is high above the water, meant winding down the hill using the usual maze of one way streets and switchback roads that is typical of driving along the Italian Coast. Some of the roads are so close together and the switchbacks so tight that our Tom Tom GPS navigation system couldn’t tell which of two roads we were on. This is a recipe for wrong turns and the occasional wrong way up a one way street. Being Italy this type of thing warrants a blast on the horn from fellow motorists followed by a wave of the hand once you extricate the car and get back on track. You get the feeling even the locals have trouble on occasions.
Jean’s visit to Trip Advisor had given us an idea of what to expect but the reality far exceeded our expectations. The hotel was built in the late 50s or early 60s and that classic character has been retained. You are half expecting movie stars like Cary Grant or Sophia Loren to sweep into the bar or out on to the terrace for a pre-dinner aperitif.
We wiled away the afternoon on the Terrace, overlooking the Ligurian Sea enjoying a drink or two. The service was immaculate and friendly. When our waiter found out one of our dogs was called Poppie there was much amusement. He explained that Poppi was the name of his fellow waiter and this became an ongoing joke for the rest of the afternoon.
Hotel Cenobio Dei Dogi will be our last taste of hotel luxury for a while as our next stop is Tuscany and our new home.
The concept of taking our girls into a bar or restaurant in Wellington is inconceivable. Here it is the accepted norm, in fact hotel and bar staff are quite surprised that we would even ask if it is possible. “But of course” was the standard response matched with a look of surprise.
So for the last week (and in the UK also) the girls have learnt about eating out. We always thought that Poppie would be good around other people, food, noise and the bustle of a bar or restaurant. We weren’t quite so sure about Daisy.
Our friend Andre nick-named her Walter (after grumpy Walter Mattau’s character Oscar in the TV series The Odd Couple) because she would sometimes greet him or the kids with a growl and a nip at any hand that was in reach. It’s fair to say Daisy isn’t good with people.
In a bar or restaurant she potentially was dynamite. And the first times we went into assorted pubs in the UK she had her moments – and a fair bit of time out on the street being walked up and down to cool off. On one occasion she exceeded herself and christened the pub carpet but, as someone pointed out, it was no worse than what happened to the carpet on a Friday night anyway.
By France she had the whole thing under her belt (or should that be collar) and no matter whether it was a half full local bar or a packed fine dining restaurant she behaved herself perfectly.
Up to a point. The only thing we have to master now with Daisy is other dogs. Daisy plus any strange dog means chaos because Daisy clearly thinks she’s a German Shepherd. She has no fear of other dogs and barks and snarls at them, anytime, anywhere.
It’s good we have something to work on over the next few months.