Thursday, 10 October 2013

Our European Adventure - Italy 2013 - Days 1 through 3

All spring and summer we work hard running a Bed & Breakfast in Gibsons, on Canada’s spectacular west coast. But come October, it’s our turn to play. We spend October in either Italy or Greece each year. This year it’s Italy. We took off on Lufthansa from Vancouver on September twenty-seventh and began our own Odyssey. 

Day 1
Hotel Kandler, Munich
Hotel Kandler, Munich
We have really lucked out so far on this trip. Our bookings weren’t settled until the last moment and our connection was changed from Frankfurt to Munich. When I tried to book a Munich hotel everything was full. Oktoberfest. Finally I found a room in a small town 15 minutes by cab from the airport. It was just an overnight so I figured it would do. The minute I saw the Hotel Kandler I wished I had booked us for more nights there. It was a dream. A traditional Bavarian hotel, utterly unlike the cookie cutter boxes that always seem to surround airports. We had a huge room under the eaves with a window that opened to the sky and a lovely breeze. It was blissfully quiet. Our beds were comfortable and were topped with soft down duvets and the huge square down pillows beloved by Bavarians. The linens were crisp and gleamingly white.

Dinner in their restaurant was amazing. Jeanette had the roast venison with potato dumplings, I had the traditional Schnitzel. The portions were huge. We noticed the other patrons. They seemed to be mostly Bavarians. The men all wore traditional loden green jackets, like the ones worn by Christopher Plummer in “Sound of Music”.  Everybody but us had beer with their meals. We opted for a very nice local red wine. 

We regretfully left half our food on our plates, explaining that excellent though it was, it was simply too much. Our waiter told us they served “Bavarian portions”. 

As promised, the taxi was there for us at 6:45 the next morning and we continued on our way to our destination, Italy.

Days 2, 3, and 4

We arrived in Leonardo da Vinci Airport (Rome) and picked up our rental car. We had
Sperlonga, Italy
ordered a mid-sized car, a Peugeot, but were given what they assured us would be better, a Lancia. It wasn’t. Indeed I have seldom been in a less comfortable car—its short seats and inadequate leg room make it about the least comfortable rental we’ve ever had in Europe. It took Jeanette a few minutes to accustom herself to driving a stick shift and clutch. But after a few jolts and false starts we were on our way to Sperlonga, our “rest” destination. 

We always try to book someplace that will be peaceful and quiet, preferably with a sea or lake view, for a few days at the beginning of a trip. We’re both exhausted by the end of six months of running a B&B with no days off. The trip was hair-raising. There was sheet lightening and rain and in low places, flooding as we drove down the coast. By the time we reached our destination the rain had slackened. But all that night we could see the flashes of lightening and hear the pounding of the high surf. 

Statue of Cyclops, Sperlonga Museum of Archaeology
The choice this year for our first days was among the best we’ve ever made. Sperlonga, a little town on the Tyrrhenian Sea is where the Roman Emperor Tiberius had his summer place some two thousand odd years ago. There is a quite interesting museum of archaeology there filled with bits and pieces of sculptures rescued from Tiberius’ grotto, the centre piece being a huge sleeping Cyclops in the process of having his eye poked out by Ulysses and his men. 

We saw references to Ulysses everywhere, particularly to the trick by which Cerces turned all his men into piglets. There was a marvelous piece of wood sculpture in our hotel lobby of a sow and eight suckling piglets.

Aurora Hotel, Sperlonga, Italy
Aurora Hotel, Sperlonga
But much as I love archaeology, it was our charming hotel right on the beach, The Aurora, and the old town of Sperlonga, perched high on a cliff over the sea, that we found enchanting. We were sorry not to have booked more time there. We loved everything about our hotel. Our room admittedly is perhaps the smallest we’ve ever had anyplace, but double doors opened to an incredible view of sea and islands. The staff was helpful and pleasant and very kind with our pitiful attempts at Italian. The breakfasts were good and our afternoon Prosecco and cake were delicious. In a little trattoria across the street we had one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten in Italy, fifty euros for the two of us, including a bottle of wine.
The sea was very high. Huge breakers, row upon row, eight or ten successive rows breaking at a time. We waded in on the first afternoon until a breaker hit me hard on my left, not very good, knee, and we retreated to shore. The red flag signifying “danger” was flying. It was still flying the second day, but I managed to get in far enough to be thoroughly doused in the salty water. It felt wonderful. On the third morning the sea had calmed down, but we, alas, had to leave. Our “rest period” was over. be continued in my next 'Adventure' blog - "Paestum, Italy".


Following are my published novels. Go to my Goodreads page, to find more info and reviews.  

To purchase one of these books, just click on the book link below and select the vendor of your choice.

 • The Memory of Roses ~ The story of a secret and how it impacts two generations of the McQuaid family.  It unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu and is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

"The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.”  --  Marlene, Reading Reality


 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

"Delighting In Your Company is a unique paranormal romance that brings together island folklore, history, and mystery with an unlikely romance between the past and present that had me going through a torrent of emotions and made it impossible to put down." -- The Romance Reviews


 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find some shocking situations 
~ A robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame;
~ Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; 
~ and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, is a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding the rich and beautiful Sayuri. 

It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

“I found Sonata to be a charming novel that left me laughing out loud in parts and gnawing nails in others. It was a delight to read.” – Night Owl Reviews


 Abigail's Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
Abigail's Christmas is a holiday story about Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing! Is it real?  Is she dreaming?  Or is it just Christmas magic?


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Blair McDowell