Archive for the ‘Mediterranean’ Category
Do you know how longs its been since I’ve sat on a beach? I’ll admit I miss Vancouver’s beach access, but those beaches don’t really compare to the ones Josh and I were soaking up on last week.
A year after our first foray into Italia, we were back, but with the other side of the family. After an exhausting five days touring my mom and her three friends around Berlin, we all went to the island of Sardinia, just off Italy’s west coast, for some much needed Vitamin D infusions.
We planned a one-week holiday in the northeastern corner of the Island and flew into Olbia, where we met the Cologne contingent of our holiday group (Oma, Uschi, Helmut and Olga). The area is very new, having mostly been developed just in the 1960s as a luxury resort. Its been used as location for James Bond and was the where Princess Diana enjoyed her last vacation.
It was just what we needed. The weather cooperated every second day, and without fail, we sat on pristine sand beaches and swam through the perfectly turquoise waters to cool down. The rest of the time? We were doing what we do best abroad: eating.
We didn’t have quite the same cooking lesson as we did when we were in Tuscany with the Devins clan, but we certainly took the menus to the limits.
While we stayed at the Hotel La Rocca in Baia Sardinia, the rest of our group stayed at La Murichessa, a bed & breakfast in the Sardinian hills run by Annalisa. Despite our “non-guest” status, we were invited to dinner almost every night. She and her assistant Radika cooked up nightly feasts that always included antipasti, a salad, home-made pasta, a regional meat specialty and dessert. It was amazing.
But its not always about the food.
After lazing about the edges of the sea for five days, we hopped aboard the Due Lune catamaran captained by lawyer-turned-sailor Claudio to explore the sea itself. It was a beautiful day, with temperatures that lured you into the sea. We motored out just past La Maddalena Island and then Claudio let the sails rip and turned the engines off.
We puttered just past a beach that is now closed to the public because too many people had taken jars of its pink sand as a souvenir and anchored at another beach. We waited for lunch sunning ourselves in a boat-access-only beach and enjoyed a simple lunch that the sea air made us really hungry for.
And then, despite not waiting the fabled 30-minutes-after-lunch, I slowly went into the water (I’m sure it took me about 30 minutes to get into the water anyway). I swam all around the boat, adding another “done” thing to the list of Baby Devins: swam in the Mediterranean.
To cap the day off, we settled in about an hour away from the dock that the Due Lune calls home to watch a round of the Louis Vuitton regatta. It took a while, but the race finally began and we were stationed right by the buoy that the two ships had to go around. It was amazing how fast it went.
After eight hours at sea, the Due Lune finally docked and we took our even-browner selves back to the Murichessa for one last dinner with the family.
We came back to Berlin, just in time to be greeted by summer weather and a city gripped in World Cup fever…
It was a surreal experience. The first day was fine — we spent the day on the mountain battling an ice-cold wind for the sake of riding fresh tracks into the snow. But I think it was Saturday, our second day, that made Josh and I realize how fortunate we are to be able to do what we’re doing now. I wanted to pinch myself and wake up. I can hardly believe my own life.
It started as an invitation for a weekend of skiing and snowboarding in France for Dom’s birthday. Details were sparse — his friend Rob’s dad had a place near Nice. We were to be picked up at the airport by Rob and the weekend would carry on from there.
As Canadians, we hear “place in the hills” and “ski weekend” we think of log cabins nestled into the mountain surrounded in white. In the South of France, this means a villa built into the stone foothills of the alps. The place was spacious enough to hold the 10 of us that flew from Germany and various cities in England and it was stunning. If I woke up to that view, I wouldn’t complain about getting out of bed. That doesn’t mean much, but I don’t think Josh would complain about getting out of bed either.
With a stop at the Patisserie, we were ready to hit the Alpine slopes of Isola 2000. A lot of hair pin turns and some car wooziness later, we had left the Mediterranean far behind and into some weather that Josh insisted would “blow over” but battered us for the rest of the day.
Dom’s beard did its best Scott of the Antarctic impression and we stopped for lunch in a little hut that had a sign saying it had Sleeman’s beer on tap (this was a ruse! There was no Sleemans!). Adding to the Canadiana of our trip, it flew a Canadian flag outside. Despite the bitter wind that did not blow over, the snow was dry and powdery and some of the best snow I’ve seen in years.
At the end of the day, we came back to the car and the waether had iced it into the ground. I felt about that cold too. But after an apres beer, the car rolled free of its icicle stakes and we made our way back to the more-agreeable Mediterranean climate.
Once back again, we ate Raclette, one of my most favourite things to eat, ever. It involved melting cheese with meat to melt over potatoes. Fuelled by our day on the hill and drinks in celebration of Dom’s birthday, we ate a lot. It was a food coma that night.
Like I said, Saturday was the day that made it surreal. Instead of a second day on the hill as orginally planned, we went to Antibes. As we walked around the multi-million dollar private yachts, explored 15th century fortress walls and looked out onto the Ocean, it felt very hard to believe that our stinging cheeks were the fault of a cold wind and not sunburn. It was a gorgeous little town and once again, we ate well and, yes, bread and cheese was involved.
Some of our group left early to watch some sort of big-deal rugby match, but us cool kids hopped on the train to Cannes. In just a 15 minute train ride, we left little Antibes and found ourselves on the shopping streets of Cannes. A walk up and down the promenade past hotel-owned beaches made it all feel like a very different place. The kids fill the benches along the seaside, showing off the fact they have a scooter by resting their feet nonchalantly on helmets. I’m also pretty sure that wearing some sort of animal print is required for the older women patrolling the promenade.
Our trip ended on the promenade of Nice, waiting for our flight to check-in. We got a ride to the airport with the rest of our friends, whose flights left earlier. We took a walk and ate a pain au choclat as we watched unlucky fishers and brave swimmers. Josh took a handful of the Mediterranean and our feet crunched over rocks sea-swept smooth.
Finally, we boarded our flight from Nice, which was more like a scenic air cruise as we flew over the French to Swiss Alps, but I’ll let Josh post about that since he was really excited about it. He was really happy he got the window seat on that one.