For someone who is used to Christmas being summer days, shorts, a tee shirt and barbecues, Christmas in Steamboat Springs, Colorado was a bit different – as it was for the whole team who travelled from a New Zealand summer to a Colorado winter.
We were treated to a white Christmas with about 3 inches of snow falling on Christmas Day, all of which led to a magical day. Dinner was roasted chicken and duck with all the trappings. Presents were under the tree and the kids played outside building a snowman.
Andre also continued a Christmas tradition of barbecuing the breakfast – despite the temperature.
Skiing? There has been some of that as well. Steamboat is vast with 169 trails spread over 3,000 acres. No matter what your skiing level, there are multiple runs for you.
And when you need to take a break there are bars, restaurants and cafes at the base of the mountain for that whole apres ski thingy.
Today – Friday 27th in the early evening it’s -17 degrees celsius. That’s 17 degrees below zero. That’s quite cold, with more snow forecast over the weekend.
As we move from August to September the weather in Positano shifts slightly. The temperature is still late 20s, the days can be humid and “close” but there is a bit of rain about.
Since our arrival the locals have been bemoaning the lack of rain. Too dry for too long is the general feeling. Well that has changed in the last few days.
We have seen some stunning displays of lightening and thunder in the evenings – but with no rain – until Tuesday afternoon when it rained. Not just a few spots here and there, it was a full blown tropical downpour.
It lasted about an hour and then normal transmission resumed – the sun came out, the water dried up and we went to dinner, sitting outside under the stars.
Yesterday we went to our local beach – Spiaggia Arienzo. I blogged about it before in 2011 when we last visited it. In particular, the blog mentioned the number of steps from the road down to the beach – 239. Easy on the way down, not so much climbing back up.
Although the price for a lounger, umbrella and place on the beach at the Arienzo Beach Club has gone up from 9 to 20 Euros in the last 8 years, it’s still worth it with table service to your lounger being a winning idea. Lunch at the beach club was great and it is still amazing they can produce such good food, in such quantity, so quickly for lunch from a kitchen the size of a closet.
At the end of the day the 239 steps up to the road felt a lot steeper than 8 years ago and this old man needed a couple of stops along the way. Ideal breaks to grab a glance at the luxury villas that cling to this part of the coast.
If you have ever wondered why a tripod should be part of a photographers travel kit – here’s the reason.
Last night there was a fingernail moon over the bay as the last of the evening light faded. A perfect shot – but without a tripod it was a succession of ever so slightly blurred shots. No amount of ISO pushing or aperture opening could bring the shutter speed down to avoid camera movement.
The camera was braced, I was braced, but the result was always the same.
Note to self – next time pack the damn travel tripod.
We have been in Positano for a week and life has now settled to a gentle ebb. As yet we haven’t done any Superyacht spotting – but that changes now.
Last evening what can only be described as Darth Vader’s Superyacht slid in the bay and moored up. In the twilight it was dark and slightly menacing. This morning it left but not before I grabbed some pictures.
From the sublime to the ridiculous – yesterday also saw the arrival of Roma 9902. It looked like a converted tugboat and has no listing anywhere that I can find. So maybe not a Superyacht – more a Supertug if there is such a thing.
Finally our favourite. Nameless because we haven’t been able to read the name on the side – but with its classic lines and retro feel, it would suit us to a tee.
Thursday was a day out for us. We hired a driver through the hotel and went to lunch. But this was not just any ordinary lunch. A friend (thank you Te Rina) recommended a restaurant called Relais Blu which is located just outside Termini at the tip of the Amalfi Peninsular. It has a clear view of Capri in one direction and across the Bay of Naples to Napoli and Vesuvius in the other.
It is a magical place.
The restaurant (which is in the Relais Blu hotel) boasts a Michelin star and was also the venue for one of the meals in the movie “The Trip to Italy” starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should.
We took this as an opportunity to go all in, selecting their 7 course dégustation menu with matching wines. It was a perfect way to spend 3 hours and to taste the best that the coast has to offer. We are in no way food bloggers but we attempted to document the meal for all to see – you may notice the occasional photo fail but that’s only because some courses were just too tempting.
We also had the restaurant to ourselves which made the whole thing surreal as the entire waiting staff fussed over – well, just us.
After lunch we went to Sorrento – just a few minutes drive down the road from Relais Blu – to do some shopping. We always shop best after 7 “glasses” of wine each.
For us Sorrento is special. We’ve been there in summer and winter. We’ve seen it grow and change as more and more people visit – the blessing and curse of tourism. Last year the town turned it’s main street – Via Corso – into a pedestrian zone which, contrasted with the smaller streets and alleyways either side has made a huge improvement to the town.
We spent two hours there visiting some favourite shops we know and some new ones we didn’t. When our driver collected us and was storing the shopping bags in the boot, he thanked us personally for our contribution to the local economy.
Who is this arriving at Relais Blu for lunch?
A seat with a spectacular view of Capri
Same view, different person
Jean waiting to be seated in the restaurant
Some bloke waiting to be seated in the restaurant
Pre-lunch drink – blue of course
Sea Bass two ways – carpaccio with tomato tartare and crusted with buffalo mozzarella foam
Flying Squid with black bread with orange and cheese
Whoops – looked so good, forgot to photograph it first
Fig Ravioli with courgette chips and cheese foam
Sea Bream with savoury and sweet vegetables
Lamb three ways – and we forgot to photograph it first.
Tiramisu with fennel ice cream
Delicious nibbley things with dessert
Limoncello to finish, of course
Dinner that night – a far more humble affair
The Relais Blu website is worth a visit. Having seen a little of the hotel we will definitely stay there for a couple of nights next visit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.