Our local store

Since our last visit a new local store has opened just a few 100 metres up the road from our place. It’s small but stocks all the essentials – and offers take away food as well.

The bonus is that you can sit waiting for your order, having a beer, watching the goings on – that is the main road through Positano in the foreground.

Despatches from home

Our girls have been in a kennel for over two weeks. For both of them this is a whole new experience. We were a bit concerned how they would react and whether they would settle in.

We have been missing them so we asked the team at Waglands Dogs’ Holiday Retreat – seriously that is the name – to send us some photos of the girls. They arrived today and it seems we had nothing to worry about.

We suspect they’ve just had a bath as they look a bit too clean and fluffy for over two weeks on holiday in the country.

For the uninitiated, it’s Ellie on the left and Bella on the right.

 

A sad day in Positano

Today my sister Tina from Austin in Texas was supposed to join us in Positano for the next week or so.

But just a few days ago she fell and broke her leg in multiple places. It was a bad break and has required pins, nuts, bolts, some nails, a couple of girders and multiple surgeries to repair as you can see from the X-ray.

It reminds me of some of the DIY repair work I’ve done around the house but hopefully with better results.

The doctors have done all they can but it’s going to take 6 to 8 weeks – with a chunk of that as bed rest – before Tina can start getting back to normal.

As a result she is unable to fly – or do anything much for that matter – so any thoughts of coming here are gone.

We will miss her terribly and wish her all the best for the next few weeks. Keep your leg elevated Tina, and enjoy the endless waiter service.

 

One for the cat people

Positano is known for its cats. They wander around the village under some form of collective ownership that means they get fed and looked after by, well, everyone. Despite the busy roads most seem to survive and lead long and happy lives – usually curled up in the shade during the day doing what cats do best – not much.

Casetta Arienzo comes with its own cat. It’s a little tabby cat with one eye, an insatiable appetite and a tail that never stops moving. It’s on our door step every morning when we get up and every night when we go to bed. It lies in the shade on the verandah when we are at home or out and about. It has decided it’s our cat.

Cat food is now part of our shopping list when we go to the alimentari and a bowl of water is permanently on the verandah. Ah, the responsibilities of parenthood.

 

 

 

Snacks on a train

I’d like to say that this post is all about Jean’s first lunch on a train.

The trip from Firenze to Napoli included lunch as we rocketed through the countryside north of Roma at 275km/h. Compared to typical airline food this was a feast of pasta, ragu and buffalo mozzarella all washed down with a Sicilian Chardonnay.

But really this post is just an excuse to use the title.

Heading south

View from our villa – hazy weather means Capri is shrouded in the distance

Yesterday we travelled from Camogli (south of Genova) to Positano (just south of Napoli). The 2 hour drive to Firenze to catch the train south was negotiated successfully – including the Firenze one way system which is always a challenge.

It felt like it was going to be a good day.

As it was Saturday the rental car office was frantic (most villa rentals run for a week from Saturday to Saturday) with tourist picking up cars. The queue went out of the office and down the street – quite hard work for those waiting in the 32 degree heat.

We drove past all this chaos, into the garage, was met by a lovely Avis rep who checked the car (no dents this time), helped with our bags, ordered a taxi for us and handed me a receipt in about 3 minutes flat.

It was really looking like a good day.

The taxi dropped us at the organised chaos that is Firenze train station with time to spare for our train. Luckily we could escape the chaos as our tickets included access to the Frecciarossa lounge – an air-conditioned haven of peace, tranquility, free beverages and snacks.

Jean discovered the shopping mall under the station and disappeared for a few minutes returning successfully with “that t-shirt top she’d been looking for” and “something to wear by the pool”.

The train trip south was 3 hours. We arrived in Napoli at 5pm and were greeted by our driver Enzo on the platform. An hour later we were in a warm and slightly muggy Positano being greeted by the Eden Roc team.

Definitely a good day.

Last day in Camogli

Today we leave Camogli and head south to Positano. We have thoroughly enjoyed both our time here at Cenobio Dei Dogi and our time exploring the village.

Would we come back – like a shot.

As always it’s about the place but also the people you meet. After 6 days of turning up at the same places for meals and drinks, exploring the village on foot (it’s not a big village so there’s not much walking involved) and generally settling in we are starting to be recognised. The fact that we are from New Zealand is a surprise and the start of a conversation. And that’s what it’s all about.

A trained seagull

It’s a first for us – a trained seagull. Every day this bird turns up at the same window of the building across from the hotel at the same time and waits for its dinner. We know it’s the same bird because he’s clearly lost a foot sometime in the past.

The apartment owner leaves the window open and the bird stands there and waits. Eventually it gets something to eat – much to the disgust of the other seagulls – and then it leaves. Until the next day.

Camogli – pronounced Cam-oh-yee


We have stayed twice at Camogli in the past – but only for a night each time and in the off season. We stumbled across the hotel Cenobi Dei Dogi on Booking.com when we were travelling from England to Italy in 2011. The reason we picked it was two fold – free parking and dog friendly – two things that were important to us at the time.

We always said we’d come back and stay longer in the high season – and that’s what we’ve done. We have a week here to relax, swim, lie in the sun and explore the local area.

Camogli is on the coast about 40 kms south of Genoa. It is a favourite Italian summer holiday destination for people from Genoa, Milano and Bologna so this week it is very busy in that laid back Italian way – no rush, no fuss, just people getting on with the hard task of enjoying themselves.

 

Chianti with friends

Our short stay in Chianti in Tuscany was a chance to catch up with friends – some Italian locals and some Kiwi’s on tour. For three days all we seemed to do was eat and drink and tour the small villages of Chianti.

The base for our stay was the delightful Relais Vignale in Radda in Chianti. Spread across a number of traditional tuscan buildings, this hotel is a great way to enjoy a break without being limited to the “Saturday to Saturday” villa booking cycle. The service is excellent – in fact the manager Serena went out of her way to help us when our booking was affected by our overly long stay in Hong Kong.

We met up with friends from New Zealand who were staying just up the road and our good local friends Olga and Dani. Meals were had and stories relayed.

As always when in Chianti, the surprises were off the beaten track – the small village restaurant we stopped at for lunch and the gallery where the artist told us the story behind the small print we fell in love with and bought.

But after a shortened stay we packed up our rental car with our already expanding suitcases, farewelled friends, and headed north to Camogli for a week by the sea.

 

 

The train to Florence

Getting around Italy by high speed train is easy and relaxing. We have regularly used it between Rome, Florence and Naples in the past and this trip is no exception.

The one thing we haven’t done before is try out Trenitalia’s premium class. This is half a carriage of luxury seating – 8 seats in all – right at the front of the train. It costs a bit more but comes with a meal service, a cabin crew member to look after you and your luggage and more legroom than you could want. There is even a conference room in the carriage if a quick meeting is needed en route.

On this leg of our journey from Rome to Florence we treated ourselves and booked seats 2A and 2B.

 

Normal transmission resumes

After finally getting to Rome, yesterday we travelled north by train to Florence and then drove to our hotel in Chianti – Relais Vignale.

And it felt like the holiday had begun.

There’s nothing like a quiet drink in the evening before heading out to dinner.

 

Farewell Hong Kong

On Tuesday night Hong Kong airport was shut down by authorities again. There were many, many, many unhappy people who had been rebooked onto flights from Monday that now had their flights cancelled for the second time.

For us it meant another night sleeping at the airport. There was no ability to leave the airport because that meant being escorted by Cathay staff (one of the four trying to rebook thousands of stranded people) back through the security area and then having the uncertainty of not being able to get back in again.

For us the critical time was Wednesday morning at 9am when we hopefully started our dog-leg trip to Rome via London. Helping us was the fact that the airport authorities realised that cancelling flights was causing chaos and it was better to let half empty planes fly than to have increasing numbers of people trapped in the airport. So even on Tuesday night when all flights were “cancelled”, some of the high volume flights were leaving.

So with a long night ahead and no chance of getting out of the airport we sought accommodation other than “the third bench from the left at Gate 42” and discovered the only pay as you go lounge we could find – the Plaza Premium First lounge. I don’t think they often have people booking for 24 hours so we negotiated a good rate and settled in. The ability to shower, eat and drink without having to queue up for hours was a God send.

The lounge wasn’t set up for sleeping but with a bit of ingenuity people made up beds from chairs, loungers, couches – whatever was to hand.

Finally on Wednesday morning we flew out to London and dog-legged back to Rome arriving late on Wednesday night exhausted – ready for our holiday to begin.

Every blue blanket is another sleeping body

Welcome to Hong Kong

Cancellation board in Hong Kong – credit:Vincent Thian


The first we knew there was going to be a problem was when we checked the transfers board at Hong Kong airport just after we arrived on Monday evening.

Every single flight had been cancelled. Gradually we (and about 2,000 of our travelling companions) pieced together what had happened. There had been protests at the airport during the day and a decision was made by the Airport Authority to cancel all flights as a result.

This posed a bit of a problem for us – partly because of the travel disruption and partly because none of the airport staff seemed to have any clue about what was going on.

So we did what we normally do when our travel doesn’t go to plan –  we called our wonderful travel agent Petra from House of Travel. We woke her at 3am (sorry, sorry, sorry) but as usual she was on the case immediately.

When we rang her we were in the queue from hell – one that snaked around the airport, doubled back on itself and disappeared into the distance. This was the re-ticketing queue. We were in this queue for about 4 hours.

That was more than enough time for Petra  – working with Cathay Pacific to change our original flight to Rome for a flight that went to London and then a connecting flight to Rome, the long flight having the extra leg room we like and a better than average chance of our bags making it to Rome as well. She also had back-up bookings in place just in case things got worse for us.

So that’s two lessons I’ve learned today – using a travel agent makes excellent sense particularly if the unexpected occurs, and travel insurance is a sound investment as they will be paying for all the costs incurred in re-booking our first day or so in Italy – hotels, trains, rental cars, the list goes on.

So here we are, sitting in Hong Kong airport waiting to catch our flight to London tomorrow morning. We have set up camp in one of the pay-as-you-go airport lounges for a day which has made things slightly brighter, cleaner and more bearable for us both.

If there are a few typos in this post I apologise. Let’s blame it on the many hours we’ve both been awake since leaving Wellington.

Who says the romance of travel is dead?