Sunday, 31 March 2013

Turin travels...

We spent a week in our one-time home city of Torino (Turin) visiting friends, eating pasta, walking under the baroque arcades (thereby sheltering from the rain!) and having haircuts. The weather was not particularly spring-like, but on our last day we took the train down to Follonica and the sun appeared and we had some thoughts about gelati...
Anticipating more sun, we flew back ot Turkey and indeed, warmth and the swallows and blossoming mimosa greeted us.
The final licks of paint were being put onto Stroemhella, and she was launched a couple of days after our return. Sunny days accompanied our tidyings-up and we made all readu for the arrival of part of the family: Judy and Christiaan and the two grandsons, to spend a few days afloat.
They arrived duly on Saturday as the sun was setting, and of course pizza abounded.

Here is our boat in the sling, after re-painting.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

On dry land...

Still feel the ground rocking gently, as I wak round our (small) room, where we are staying in the marina while Stroemhella has her outsides cleaned and painted.

She was lifted out and hosed down and here she is after the first stages of scrubbing and scraping.

And here is her very clean propellor...

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wash Day in Kusadasi

Oh happy day... we wake to sunlight streaming through the portholes and a very gentle motion as of rocking... Breakfast in the cockpit, wearing sunglasses, yes yes, things are definitley heading towards Spring!! So I took loads of wash to the laundry here in the marina precincts. Lovely family who run the laundry, we scramble though our minimal linguistic possibilities but communicate lots with smiles and gesures. The lady there is also a granny, I tell her of the approaching visit of my two grandsons. She gives me a potted hyacinth in flower, sweet scented for the boat to counteract the vestiges of  motor oil, turps and fried onions.
It's a perfect day for drying, and I adorn Stroemhella with the damp socks, pyjamas and towels, giving her an air of polychrome bunting...
These pix are specially for Matteo and Alexandra, who go for the boat shots!

Stroemhella appreciates the sunshine, though I do wonder what her lovely blue colours will make of the fierce Mediterranean light in th months to come ... well, we'll have to wait and see. At present the tins of paint (blue!) ordered from a supplier in Itlay, are sitting in the Istanbul import dump, waiting for some permission which I fail to fully understand (is this a financial question, we wonder...?) However, we are undaunted by our inabilty to comprehend the intricacies of Turkish paint-import requirements, and continue to enjoy the general setting in Kusadasi.
Last night went with Frederic from Slampamper (our neighbour yacht across the pontoon) to the quarter whch specializes in fish restaurants. Had a delicious fresh grilled sea-bass. David had a plate of grilled anchovies. Simple and most satisfying.
And yes, now it's time for lunch. The washing is almost dry.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Follonica, west coast of Italy

Took the train in Torino and down the coast to Follonica, in Tuscany.
After a slightly overcast day, it becamse spring, mimosa, sweet soft wind, and more adventures in the Tuscan hills.
Went for a wonderful meal with Roberta's family, in Istia d'Ombone, close to Grosseto.
The meal was prepared by Roberta's brother-in-law who is a chef. It was utterly delicioso...

Here som pix of the jollities.

The above pic shows Roberta and Walter in their kitchen abd the wondrous fish soup prepared by Walter's bother, Antonio. Until retirement Antonio dived for shell fish, as a profession. Now he just does it for fun.
Returning in the dusk to Follonica we watched the light fade across the Maremme and decline into the distant sea. A quiet drive home, end of the weekend's favourite day, Saturday!

This is a small Tuscan hill village called Montepesali.

Turkish delight...

Well, I had to get that in somewhere... So back to Kusadasi, where for the first two days it simply poured, and I felt comforted by the thought that rain is exceedingly wet wherever one is...
But today, Sunday, David and I awoke to shining brightness, had breakfast outside in the cockpit, stretched our bare toes in the sunshine, felt most happy, and realized how lucky we are.
Now back to concentrating on these lengthy Turkish words, which I am pleased to say I can now sometimes distinguish when I listen to people talking... Gradually my vocabulary expands, though my active command is shamefully small... I can, however, tell people that I am a grandmother (buyukanne) which elicits approving smiles.
David is busy disembowelling the boat, so I creep in contortions between forests of colourful electric wires, and have even managed to sort out winter and summer clothing. I am assuming summer won't be far away...

Another wonderful sunset this evening, and sat chatting outside with two Dutch friends, met last year, who have their boat Fram on the pontoon nearby; I was quite amazed that I could still speak Dutch, after the weeks of French, German and Italian.
David has discovered the exceedingly good marina canteen, where lunch is provided for the people working at the marina, all for the astonishingly small sum of 3.5 euros. The meals consists of soup, main meat or fish course, rice or bulgur or equivalent, cooked veg, bowl of yogurt, plentiful fresh salad, fruit or Turkish cookies... and of course, chai, tea. And it is very tasty. We are great fans.

Suppertime now. I will dash off an onion-enriched omelette and some lightly sauteed veg... sound good?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Rome in the rain

Very wet all day. The black street tiles swim under streaming water, colourful umbrellas abound. The hopeful ex-pats from African countries flourish bouquets of collapsable brollies, and beseech you, the ill-equipped tourist, to buy one from them. I don't, becasue tomorrow I have to fly back to Turkey and my case already weighs over 18 kilos...
Happily, there is many a museum into which to dive. So first a palace near piazza Navone (home of the stunning Bernini fountains) where, being ancient, I am allowed in free... (This never ceases to amaze me in Itlay: all those aged over 65 have free entrance to state museums, monuments and so forth.)
Here a pic of the famous Trevi fountain, taken almost a year ago, on a non-rainy day. Didn't take any pix today, just looked... A couple of days ago an exhibition opened in the Quirinale palazzo, about the painter Titian. Needless to say, a stunning collection of his pictures, spanning his long working life. The English texts were amazing, the kind of non-English (??I presume translation) that almost sounds as if it really means something, but leaves the reader wondering what if anything is actually being said... Mind-boggling. I couldn't do this kind of writing even if I tried (well, maybe if I tried hard). Sometimes quite hilarious.  It didn't really matter because the paintings are so powerful that no words are needed. A total joy. First Chagall, and now Titian. I am being fed most deliciously!
So home with the crowds through the rainy streets (people are always so helpful when I ask the way, often accompany me until I can see my goal: today the metro of Barberini).
My last supper, made by Francesca: pasta followed by fresh mixed salad and finishing with a sumptuous orange from Lazio.
Tomorrow goodbye Italy for three weeks...
I haven't mentioned the many conversations I have had, about the dire political situation (in Italy, though elsewhere too...). This requires another and more sober chapter.
So here a friendly lion from the Villa Medici.
And a view down the Tiber...

And twilight in Rome.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Roma citta eterna, no pope, no government

But still full of people and palaces and rushing motor bikes, and cursing taxi drivers, and endless pizzeria places... What a wonderful city, it really has something unique (I suppose this is true of every city!).
The day I arrived was sunny and delightful, I took a taxi from Termini Station to viale Giulio Cesare, via the Vatican area where at present no pope lingers behind the high walls. But all the pomp and ceremony waits for the next chap to be elected. And it doesn't really seem to matter, the rush goes on, the coffee continues to be served, the pizzas munched...

Spent a wonderful day visiting some churches (Santa Maria Maggiore, and the basilica of Santa Prassede) and museums (palazzo Venezia) and just wandering down these streets that are every architectural historian's delight.

Above, S. Maria Maggiore; to the right, a close-up of the ceiling. A lot of gold abounding...

Above, some very musical angels with a 'canon' on which you can read the music notes, and the words of the chant written underneath, in Latin. Above centre: God's eye, within a triangle, and  encircled by angels' heads.

After the metaphysics, I explored the contrast of ancient stones and modern streets.

Then it was time for lunch ... always a delight in Italy.

And after that, more walking and papal reflections...
Below, the three-tiared fountain at the edge of Vatican city.

And a pope in repose, now lying in the gallery of palazzo Venezia, home of many fine Roman paintings and works of art from ancient and medieval times.

Tonight another splendid Roman meal, da Marco and Fabio, at the pizzeria Ragno d'Oro, which translates as the Golden Spider (via Silla number 26, for those who are looking for a fine Roman meal...). Not absolutely sure what this name signifies...