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Tag Archives: Easter

Island life

18 Apr
I’ve been wanting to go to the islands off the coast at Napoli for a long time.  More well-known are Capri and Ischia. Since we only had a couple of days, I picked Procida and made it a mystery-trip-delayed-birthday-celebration for Ric. It should have been beautiful weather. This was also our last getaway before retirement.  All I can say is that at least it wasn’t as cold as Tuscany in February.
We were able, as usual, to make the most of it despite the weather. When it was not inclement we headed outdoors. When it rained, we luxuriated in long hours of reading in our very pleasant room over-looking a marina. The food was terrific: fish and shellfish galore, crisp white wine from Ischia, and decent pizza. (See Our Weekly Pizza.)  Much like when we used to go to Cannon Beach, Oregon, in winter, it was a relaxing break from the everyday. It is nice to get out of the city.
There were many people traveling to-and-from Procida and Ischia, many clearly bound for homes of family and friends. The ferry out on Saturday was packed as many Italians travel at Easter. There were not so many tourists, but we were far from alone. Clearly others expected Mediterranean Spring as well.
If one is in Italy for a few weeks of intense travel and sightseeing, Procida would make a nice break, a “vacation from your vacation” as Rick Steves says.  Herewith a slideshow to give you a feel for Procida. Click on any picture to start the show.
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Paris bits and pieces

1 Apr
By now I am used to functioning in two languages. I understand most of what I see in print in Italian, with the exception of the newspaper as it is written in run-on sentences with obscure terminology and archaic verb tenses. When someone speaks directly to me, I understand most of what they are saying if I get the context to start. When I need to communicate me la cavo (I get along) even if my grammar is not perfect.
When we embarked on our trip to Paris I was hit by the realization that I would not understand much of anything from menus to street signs, and I certainly would  not understand spoken French.  Going to France was the most foreign thing we had done since we first traveled to Italy in 2010.
We found ourselves speaking in an odd combination of Italian and English. I am used to speaking Italian to our servers, technicians and shop people in Italy, so that’s the first language that sprang from my lips, combined with mangled French pronunciation. “Prendo il boeuf bourguignon, per favore.” I could not get past grazie to merci until mid-week. In one restaurant, we mixed up languages sufficiently to have the waitress convinced we were Italians who spoke little English. When we said “Merci bonsoir” at the end of the evening, she cheerily replied “Grazie, anche a te!”
There was little hope for me in pronouncing French street names. My Italian-addled brain insists that “Place” must be pronounced PLAH-chay. Once in awhile we’d hear Italian being spoken by other visitors and it was a joy to hear and understand.
Shopping in a French market reminded me of our first trip to Italy when we tried to figure out what things were. Like in Italy, lots of offal was available, from tripe to lambs heads (sorry vegetarians). The Super U was rather ordinary, but some of the shops are magnificent. We found ourselves taking a lot of pictures of store windows and displays.
Here are some Easter treats. Each store had a theme: fish, chickens, cows, even a little mole poking his head above the ground. All gorgeous and expensive. Click on any picture for a slide show.
Fashion windows are creative and the bakeries difficult to resist. The bejeweled athletic-style shoes are Dior. I love the ducks sporting sunglasses and the colorful men’s accessories. Ric showed no interest in blue shoes.

 

Avocados, artichokes and cabbages are arranged attractively. I wish I had taken a picture of the huge strawberries artfully displayed. In the Place du Madeleine area, boutiques with high-end chocolates, teas, cheeses, and wines seemed like museums. 

 

We also found time to see the major sites as we wandered the city. At the end of seven days of tromping about Paris my pedometer reported 162,222 steps. We covered some ground, but there’s so much left on the list that we must go back…but later in the spring so we can enjoy the gardens and maybe take our coats off. 
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