Jamikins and Bikerscott do Italy!

Old Jun 15th, 2012, 01:43 PM
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Jamikins and Bikerscott do Italy!

Well tomorrow we head off to Italy - 1 night in Bologna, 7 nights in Le Marche and 7 nights in Puglia! We are all packed....so the ongoing trip report will begin tomorrow!!

Woo hoo!!
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Old Jun 15th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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Where are you going in Le Marche? Anxious to read along with your travels.
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Old Jun 15th, 2012, 01:58 PM
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just signing in for the ride.
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Old Jun 15th, 2012, 02:05 PM
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I hear corks being popped!
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Old Jun 15th, 2012, 04:36 PM
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Buon viaggio! I look forward to hearing about your Italian adventures.
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Old Jun 15th, 2012, 06:00 PM
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Looking forward to this--I heard they have a lot of wine in Italy
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 04:55 AM
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Can't wait to hear about the latest adventure!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 05:17 AM
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Yippee! Let's go.
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 06:21 AM
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yeah role reversal time- looking forward to it!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 07:14 AM
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I'm with you in spirit and signing on for the virtual tour. Ciao!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 07:21 AM
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Sweet! Looking forward to your adventures!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 07:25 AM
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Looking forward to this. Thanks in advance for sharing your adventures.
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Modeen we are staying here: http://www.latavolamarche.com/html/

Bikerscott is working on installments 1 as we speak, to be posted shortly. I will post day 1 pics when he is done.

We absolutely love Bologna and would highly recommend it...more to come!!

Glad you are all along for the ride!!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 12:44 PM
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Well, I thought I posted here earlier...

I know you guys will do it up right! I look forward to tagging along!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 01:43 PM
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Italy 2012

Day One – Travel to Bologna

Why we do this to ourselves I’ll never understand. We’d booked our flight to leave from Gatwick Airport at 6:40 in the morning for Bologna, which meant that the airport transfer car had to pick us up at 4:15 in the morning, which meant getting up at 3:30. Every bloody time we do this we say we’ll never book another flight that early, but here we are yet again.

After some confusion from the driver in finding our building, we were off. Both of us were exhausted, having only had 4 hours of sleep (and me having polished off the last of a bottle of wine before bed). We got to Gatwick just after they opened, walking through the doors at about 5:20am. The queues were incredible – we’d never seen anything like it at Gatwick. Fortunately we’d checked in online the day before so didn’t have to go through that hassle, we just joined the queue for the bag drop.

The EasyJet people seemed to have actually taken the 5am rush into account and had every position manned at the counters so half an hour later we’d dropped our bags and had gone through security. We had just enough time for me to unsuccessfully look for the toilets and for Jamie to run to the Boots Pharmacy to pick up the bits and bobs we’d (I’d) forgotten to pack (Imodium, Zantac, and toothpaste – all essentials for a foodie with a mildly sensitive stomach and an adventurous disposition).

After paying for the essentials we rushed down to our gate to stake our claim to seats closest to the boarding zone. EasyJet operates on a stadium seating concept – first come, first pick of the seats on the plane. I’m not sure what this saves in costs, but it makes the queue to get onto the plane a lot more exciting. Everyone sits in the waiting area watching each other, no one willing to make the first move, but no one willing to let someone else in ahead. Inevitably someone reaches down for a tissue in their bag or moves their leg and someone else misinterprets this for a move to the front of the queue, and the entire waiting area erupts into a mad rush forward.

So we were pretty much at the front of the queue and got prime seats one row back from the front of the plane. Jamie insists on having a window seat because she doesn’t like to share, which means I always get the middle seat. I keep hoping for a supermodel-type to pick the aisle seat next to me, but it always ends up being an older flatulent overweight man. Go figure.

I slept pretty much the entire flight, passing out during takeoff (a first for me I think, normally I doze off just after). Jamie slept for a half hour from what she has said, but being unconscious at the time I am unable to validate this claim. As far as I’m aware, it was an uneventful flight, arriving at the right airport at about the right time with all luggage aboard, all important qualities of a successful flight as far as I’m concerned.

We went through passport control and picked up our hire car – a Hyundai rather than the Fiat we’d booked. The main difference, as far as I can tell, is that Hyundai choose not to install engines in their cars. We had strict instructions to NOT DRIVE INTO THE HISTORICAL CENTRE of Bologna, so programmed the sat nav carefully and set off.

Gazza (our sat nav) occasionally has a twisted sense of humour and enjoys sending us down tiny alleys and backroads, but I think understood the emphasis of the caps in our instructions and guided us successfully to the B&B. We couldn’t find the parking, so drove around the corner and found a corner to tuck the car into. Jamie jumped out and ran to the B&B to find out where we should leave the car – the owner couldn’t figure out why we hadn’t simply double parked in the middle of the road right in front of his door, as all Italians would do.

He actually came all the way down to the car with Jamie to guide me back to the B&B and showed me where to leave the car in the middle of the road. He suggested that maybe I should say with it while he brought the bags up with Jamie, but seemed somewhat sanguine about the illegality of the situation. To be fair, the several police cars that went whizzing by also seemed to take it in their stride, so when in Rome, as it were…

After checking in, we changed from our London jeans and jumpers which were appropriate for the torrential rain and dismal temperatures this June for the shorts, t-shirts and sandals appropriate for the early Italian summer. At this point, the curry we’d had for dinner the night before was making its presence known and I was feeling a bit of pressure. The bathrooms in the B&B are generously proportioned and I took full advantage of the facilities. As many Italian bathrooms are, this one came equipped with a bidet. I’d always been hesitant to use one, being unsure of the protocols and procedures, but thought I’d give it a whirl.

I learned a very important lesson in bidet use – always, and I mean ALWAYS, let the water run for a bit to regulate the temperature before assuming the position. I, in my excitement for the new adventure, jumped the gun and lowered myself into optimum position. At this point, the hot water caught up, and the best way I can describe what happened next is that I boiled the calamari. Seriously, check the water temperature, and then check it again. This is NOT a mistake you want to make even once.

After calming the scalding down a bit, we walked into the centre of town. It didn’t take long for us to take to the city. Long avenues of porticos, cafes spilling into the street, a blissful lack of crowds and hordes of tourists, good weather, and excellent architecture – all the things we look for. We wandered around for a bit before settling in for lunch at a restaurant which had been recommended as having typical Bolognese food – Restaurant da Nello (or something similar), just off the main square. It was affordable, very tasty, and we were able to eat outside – three things we often struggle with in London (especially the last).

After lunch we spent a few hours wandering around the city centre, taking photos and window shopping (I’ve decided that I’m not a big fan of Rolexes, but quite like Phillipe Pateks, for example). Bologna is an excellent city for tourists, in that there don’t seem to be a lot of them about. Everyone is quite friendly, it’s clean in the centre of town at least, not too expensive (although certainly not cheap by any stretch). The only strange thing is the number of young people about, but it is a university town so that makes sense I suppose, even if it does make me feel old.

A few hours of walking about works up a pretty good thirst, so we found a nice little street bistro for a bottle of wine (and two bottles of water – it was up over 30 Celsius and we were feeling a bit dehydrated). We enjoyed a couple more hours chatting over chilled wine and watching people, one of our favourite holiday pastimes. The afternoon seemed to fly by, and before we knew it, it was after 5pm.

We did a bit more wandering, exploring more stores and streets we’d missed before, coming across some sort of communist demonstration (at least that’s what it looked like – a bit hard to tell as none of it was in English). There seemed to be some sort of cultural thing going on this weekend with lectures and talks going on all over the town, the protest seemed to be somehow related. Ahh, the ineffable mysteries of politics in another country and another language.

Dinner was at Bistro 18 on via Clavature (number 18, either an amazing coincidence or a rather spectacular lack of imagination in restaurant naming). We’d heard good things about the place and were quite excited.

The menu was confusing – there seemed to be a set menu listed, but the items on it were all a la carte. Plus, there was an entire a la carte section. We ordered from both, and this is where the confusion started. Jamie ordered foie gras from the main a la carte menu, and then the tortellini in brodo (tortellini in a broth, better than it sounds). As I was still looking at the wine list, she ordered chicken galantine, followed by Tagliatelli Bolognese, and then some sort of escalope for me. Her giving my order I think is what initially caused the chaos.

We’re not sure why, as we’d both ordered an antipasto, but Jamie’s foie gras and tortellini arrived at the same time, accompanied by a complete lack of my chicken. We tried to explain to the waiter that we both wanted our antipasta at the same time, but this seemed be a bridge too far. He left and sent in reinforcements. Our lack of Italian and his lack of English proved to be as big a stumbling block as one might expect. We eventually got the message across, and he left with the tortellini.

Some time after Jamie finished her foie gras, my chicken arrived. It was tasty, but a bit odd. The rest of dinner arrived in the order expected, and was much more filling that either of us expected. By the end, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable and regretting the final course just a bit. We paid the bill and wandered back the long way to the B&B for a final glass of bubbly and an early night.
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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well, what a start.

perhaps bidets should come with a government health warning! personally i tend to use them for washing the smalls so the temperature isn't quite so crucial.

glad that you survived to tell the tale, and looking forward to the next instalment.
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 02:19 PM
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And some pics from Day 1:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1&l=c1b3332cbe

Just wanted to give a quick report on our fabulous B&B: www.anticaresidenzadazeglio.it We are paying €110 for a basic room and a car parking spot for the night. The room is HUGE, breakfast looked delicious this morning and the hosts could not be better - fabulous deal!!!!

Ok off to bed - tomorrow we hit up Ravenna and the mosiacs adn end up at our farm stay in Le Marche!

Enjoy!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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jamikims - the b&B looks delightful.


which room are you in? i love the way that they are all described as having "ample" dimensions!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 02:45 PM
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Bravo!
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Old Jun 16th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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As always, you are so fun to follow! I hope the calamari will recover. We have a TV show here called Around the World in 80 Plates and they were just in Bologna and the tortellini in broth was a big thing!

Looking forward to more!
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