Scotland Part 3, seriously, I’m done this time.

Ciao Ancora!

I am hoping to finish up our trip today, I know it’s been a couple of long posts but I wanted to be able to tell you about our adventures and my feelings about them. But we have a new adventure coming up this weekend so I need to get us out of Scotland and back home to Italy before that happens.

I left us in Eyemouth, eating breakfast, and contemplating our route. In the spirit of full confession I will tell you that it was in Eyemouth we began thinking that maybe we weren’t going to make it the entire distance. We were both exhausted and really sore. I mean REALLY sore!

It is an interesting thing about taking on activities like long distance hiking or bike touring or any other more extreme form of outdoor activity. You really need a good length of time doing them to adjust your body. I had spent the two weeks before we left walking around with increasingly heavier weight in my pack. I did household chores with my pack on. I exercised, lifted weights, did cardio and still my body was not prepared. I believe you need to be gone for a week to 10 days (or longer) for an experience that is truly enjoyed. Not because having a vacation that long is great (though it is) but it takes 5 to 7 days of the constant same activity before your body doesn’t hate you every step of the way. Will and I were hiking with fully loaded packs just long enough for our bodies to detest us but not long enough to start to make them happy again. 3 full days of hiking just made our bodies rebel! If we could have taken Sunday off as an easy day, gotten a hotel and taken a shower or found another beach where we were isolated and could have just moved around without our bags and relaxed all day we would have been better off. However, when your vacation days are limited and you are hedged in on both sides by an airline timetable you make the best decisions you can for your happiness and health. (Plus our bodies are not as young as our brains think they are).

In Eyemouth we made the decision to call the Bed & Breakfast and see if they had a room for a night earlier.

They did not. So we decided to keep going.

Eyemouth (pronounced Heymooth) is a small harbor town, with a boardwalk area that has different places to get ice cream, an arcade, and several pubs. It is also host to a large golf course. Now since it is a harbor town and we had to descend to get into it… yep, that’s right, we had to climb back out of it. We ascended some stairs, (with pretty purple flowers, called alliums) went past the golf club house, between the 5th and 10th hole and then kept trudging up. After about an hour of walking up hill, by which time we still hadn’t finished passing all of the golf course we realized we weren’t talking to each other anymore. We weren’t fighting or anything, we were just too tired to talk. In fact the best we could do was try not to fall over, we were back on the cliff side and the higher we climbed the farther the drop. We were like drunk weeble-wobbles (you know, the weeble and they wobble but they won’t fall down) but we actually had to worry about falling down.

We finally made it to a pasture enclosure and had to go over a stile (stiles are another way to allow passage through a pasture, like a kissing gate, without harming the fence line. Each side has at least one step up, sometimes several steps, then you step over the top of the fence and steps back down). I almost didn’t make it over and when we got to the other side Will knew I was done. He called around Berwick Upon Tweed and found us a place to stay for the night. All we had to do was make it to Burnmouth and there would be a bus stop that would take us the rest of the way to the guest house. I kept going knowing a destination was in sight, or at least over the next couple of hills.

The bus took us into the main train station of Berwick where we would catch the train back to Edinburgh Tuesday and we got a taxi to our guesthouse. Eastwatch guesthouse was right on the beach and our host, Patrick, was wonderfully kind and accommodating, he even did a load of laundry for us!! After showers and a little down time we walked back into Berwick and had birthday dinner at The Magna Tandoori, excellent food and it wasn’t re-hydrated (at least as far as I know). The next day we poked around Berwick upon Tweed, walking the fortified walls and having some coffee and pastries at Lowry’s at the Chandlery. After a walk out to the lighthouse we decided to have some real food at the Foxton’s Restaurant. Will was craving some fish and chips so that’s what he had. I don’t like fish, no, really, not really, not at all. So, I did not have fish and chips. But the beer was tasty!

After eating we headed to our new B&B, The Rob Roy Inn, to check in for our second night and took a nap.

I think we ended up in the Wookie room; we had weird fuzzy brown pillows and a fuzzy brown throw on our bed. I am not sure if there were any Wookies actually harmed in the making of the pillows, honestly, I just didn’t want to ask.

After a nap we went back to walk on the beach, it was a little foggy and it felt like we had the whole beach to ourselves. We walked and picked up sea glass for close to three hours, deciding to not go out for dinner (though I did have more re-hydrated food), we repacked our gear and relaxed for our last night in the UK. (A quick geography lesson, Berwick Upon Tweed is the first town on the England side of the Scotland/England border. Burnmouth being the last Scottish town when following the Coastal trail. Technically we spent the last two days of our trip in England.)

The next morning after a huge rack of toast, eggs, bacon and coffee we headed back to the train station and caught a train back to Edinburgh.

Now, Edinburgh is a town that deserves some decent exploration but we had our packs and half a day. So we walked up to the castle (FYI, we are really pathetic, there are several roads that will get you to the castle, Will and I, in our never ending wisdom, did not observe this fact until we had walked the steepest hill up to the castle and then looked around to realize we could have come up at least two other ways!) In front of the castle we were told that we couldn’t go in because our bags were too big and there was no place to store them because… you guessed it, our bags were too big. Knowing we couldn’t go into the castle or any museums we changed our plan of action.

Back to The Boozy Cow for another great burger!!!

On the way I picked up a Loch Ness stuffed animal for our grandson that Will promptly named Herbert. Don’t ask me, I have no idea why he would want to call the Loch Ness monster Herbert. Then to the burger joint. They decor is spray painted and heavy on rock band like atmosphere. The music is loud and from the eighties and nineties. The beer is tasty and the burgers are divine. It is super duper hard to get a good burger in Italy. We had a place we liked up in Heidelberg Germany called The Laughing Cow but so far no such luck in the Vicenza area.

Satiated with good food we called the trip a success, found a taxi stand and caught a cab back to the airport. (We did not see Jk Rowling’s house on the way back).

One last snafu with our travels when they delayed our initial flight three hours but the airline company recovered put us on another flight and got us back in Italy by 23:00 hours!

Exhausted, sore, and ready for our own beds we made our way back to our house. Now we are recovered and ready for another adventure 2 ½ days and counting until we head back towards Lake Garda, for a visit with some friends, the village of Affi and a Renaissance Fest!!

Until next week,

Ciao miei Amici

 

Scotland Part 2

Ciao di Nuovo,

This technically means “Hello of New”, the Italians don’t actually say this much but they might say “Ciao Ancora” which means “Hello Again”. I think I like them both so I will have to start using them more often. So, Ciao Ancora, here I am again to tell you the next stages of our adventure.

When I left you yesterday Will and I had just finished our lunch and had set out again towards St. Abbs. We were starting to get sore but our spirits were high. The fog was rolling in and then receding allowing us glimpses of spectacular cliffs and the North Sea crashing onto the rocks below. Honestly, I am pretty sure that the fog played into our favor, WIll is apprehensive of heights but the fog gave the illusion that the fall wasn’t that dangerous. Realistically we were a couple of poorly placed steps away from death by falling 500 feet (150 m) and being smashed onto the rocks by the added weight of our packs, unless, we were lucky enough to have a heart attack on the way down.

I wisely, did not mention these possibilities to Will while we were hiking. Regardless of the threat to our left Will decided that this was the time to tell me he loved tacos more than me. Yep, we are on a coastal path 500 feet (150 m) above a saltwater, rocky demise and my adventure partner tells me he would trade my life for a crunchy corn shell filled with seasoned ground meat, shredded cheese, lettuce, and taco sauce. I turned to look at him and he just laughed at me, so here we are several miles from St. Abbs and I have been usurped by a taco. Like that’s not heartbreaking, I mean tacos are good and all and I suppose if you eat them from a questionable venue then they will keep you warm at night but can you really have a scintillating conversation with a taco? And when you finish eating it’s gone forever, but my sarcastic wit and snappy humor (along with temper tantrums from lack of coffee) lasts a lifetime. I contemplated throwing him off a cliff for roughly two miles. Then as we approached the St. Abbs lighthouse he told me he had reconsidered the situation and if he had to choose between me and a taco he would let the taco plummet to its crunchy death. I was somewhat mollified.

Taco’s aside, you know what’s worse then trudging uphill when your legs are sore?

Stairs! Stairs are the worst.

We climbed them to get up to the promontory of St. Abbs lighthouse. The St. Abbs lighthouse is one of 200 along the Scottish wild coastline to help provide safe passage for ships in the area. It has provided light to the coastline since 1862 and its precarious position on a rocky ledge jutting over the seas reminds us of the dangers to be had traversing the coastline of the North Seas.

I couldn’t resist looking over the edge to see the drop and angular rocks below. Will waited for me on the path and I tell you truthfully that would have been the place I would have tossed his taco!

However, not having any tacos and loving my husband enough to not torture him with the death of a taco we walked on.

We both felt excited about the fact that St. Abbs was “within our sights”. Now, according to Google Maps St. Abbs is a quick 40 min walk… Google Maps does not follow the Coastal Path, in fact, Google Maps is just mean! A couple of hours later after many uphills, more stairs, downhills, and a walk through the St. Abbs Nature Reserve (which was beautiful and full of humanity as several people took advantage of the nice weather to walk through the Nature Reserve) we arrived above St. Abbs. It had been a beautiful day with stunning scenery but both of us were glad to make it to a town. More stairs, and yes down is as hard as up when your legs are jello, but we made it from the cliffs down all the stairs and began to look for a cafe to get some coffee and food.

When you walk into an unknown village or town there is a strange expectation that a cafe is just going to appear but often when your transportation is your own feet food establishments are not as apparent. They tend to cater to other forms of transportation. Another thing to consider is that many restaurants in Europe keep their hours “differently” than American hours. In America we are used to being able to get anything we want 24/7 in Europe they have restaurants close between lunch and dinner, or maybe they don’t serve dinner and are only open until 2 or 3. Maybe they don’t open until 11 in the morning. No matter what it is you have to be very aware of opening and closing times. When you are on the trail opening, closing and proximity must all join together to form a perfect union.

Most everything was closed or not near (4 miles is a long way to go for food when you are on foot and would have to walk those 4 miles back to get back on your route) but we found the EbbsCarr cafe. We walked up and the server told us we have stopped serving food because we close in less than an hour. I think she could see the abject defeated desperation on our faces because the next words out of her mouth were, if you chose quickly I will fill your food order. It was like being given a magnificent present. We ordered soup, rolls, coffee, and sweet bars.

A quick aside about the weather. It had rained lightly the previous evening and yes we had rolling fog but all in all the weather for our stay in Scotland was wonderful! Mostly sunny and very little rain. Many people expressed how lucky we were with the weather. The downside was that Scotland is significantly cooler than were we live in Italy. If we weren’t hiking I was cold. Hence, the soup and coffee was divine!

After profuse thanks to the ladies at EbbsCarr Cafe we set off again crossing the beaches at Coldingham Bay and then climbing back out of the St. Abbs area. It was now after 5, we were tired and thinking that we needed a to find a camp spot. But there was no camping near Coldingham Bay so up and down into the next bay. It didn’t have a great place for camping and so we forced ourselves on. The next bay we came to was called Linkim Shore. There was not much sand but there was a shelf of grasslands before ferns took over. It was here that we camped. In my mind it was more beguiling than our first camp spot. The rocky shores made it an unlikely place for most tourists but the raw beauty appealed to me. I broke down and collected two shells to carry with me. I had been adamant about not adding extra weight but sometimes you give in. We set up camp and enjoyed the evening, finally crawling into our sleeping bags.

Did I mention that our legs were sore? Yeah, well it was during the night that I realized I couldn’t lift my left leg without help (you know pulling up on my pants to lift my leg up and set it where I wanted it, my legs were toast). I was also cold, much colder than I had been the night before. With my thermals on and all the blankets covering me I finally dozed, then high tide came in. We weren’t that far away from the high waterline to start with but far enough that we weren’t worried about getting wet… we hadn’t counted on the sound of hightide against our rocky shore. It sounded like the water was going to crash over us at any second.

We talked about it the next morning and strangely neither one of us had looked outside of the tent during the night not wanting to confront the idea that the water was closer than we had expected. A look at the beach area in the morning showed that hightide hadn’t come anywhere near us. It was just noisy.

We relaxed as we rehydrated breakfast and then packed camp, moving much slower than the previous day. Our legs protested and I needed Will’s help to get my pack on, I was definitely exhausted.

We climbed our way out of the Linkim Shore bay and started towards Eyemouth. It wasn’t all that far and we came around the corner to encounter a circus that had been set up and active during the weekend (it was Sunday so it would probably be running again later on). With the fog it looked like every haunted Stephen King book I had ever tried to imagine. I wouldn’t have been surprised if something was silently watching our progress as we skirted the carnival and headed back onto the path. Another hour or so brought us around to a walkout section towards the Eyemouth Fort. Not much there but a couple of cannons but we did our obligatory walk around and then continued on into town.

All the gods be praised we found a bakery/dinner that was serving breakfast!! We sat down to eggs, bacon, and toast with coffee.

And here I am leaving you again, I am always leaving you on a full belly so that is good. Apparently, I have more to say about this trip than I thought so I guess we will have at least a Part 3.

Just picture us relaxing with a cup of coffee in a small fishing harbor town and I will get back to you soon!

Until then,

Ciao miei Amici

Scotland Part 1

Buongiorno

 

 

Have you ever noticed that when you get back from vacation, whether it’s good or bad trip, the first two to three days you are running around like crazy; putting things away, trying to get back into the work routine, doing laundry, cleaning the house, talking to people about your trip, wondering when the crazy is going away, and then…

Blam!!

Just like that, the real world settles back in and it’s like you have never even been on vacation, let alone in another country on a crazy adventure where you and you adventure partner decided to go it alone in the wilds of Scotland. (okay maybe not exactly the wilds, we did see at least 4 people that weren’t in or near a town, and a ton of sheep and cows).

A week ago I was walking along the beaches of Berwick-Upon-Tweed (a small town that for over 400 years was pivotal to border disputes between England and Scotland. Changing hands due to wars and treaties it was an important and strategic town. It was where Robert the Bruce made his claim for king of Scotland and was summarily declined in 1292. Then in 1482 England gained control of it for the last time and to this day it remains and English town. The town was so important that Queen Elizabeth the 1st spent large sums of money *reportedly the biggest expenditure of her reign* to fortify the walls against artillery and attack. These walls still exist today.) Now the good beaches are on the Tweed side but the impressive walls are on the Berwick side. We visited both.

But before the beach strolling and wall walking let me take you way, way back to at least three days and 30 miles (48 km) prior to Cocksburnpath where our foot journey began.

I guess you could actually say our trip began in Edinburgh when we got off the plane but after a cab ride in rush hour that still managed to take us past JK Rowling’s house we arrived at our hotel. We did go downtown for some propane fuel and found a fabulous place to eat called The Boozy Cow but since our story ends in Edinburgh I’ll tell you about that later.

Sooo, back to Cocksburnpath, after a two hour bus ride from Edinburgh we started our journey. When the bus dropped us off I was a little shocked. I mean I knew in my head that it was a small village but still… (I had apparently missed the Wikipedia article letting me know that in 2001 the population was 411). Seriously, I am not sure what there was there besides a bus stop but then we didn’t venture into town, nope we adjusted our packs (again) and headed down the path following route markers, a map, and directions that I had copied down from the website (https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/borders/berwickshire-coastal-path.shtml) we used to conjure up this harebrained scheme.

 

So we began to walk, and walk, and walk, and walk some more…

 

Now, I am a cyclist by nature and even touring with a fully loaded bike you cover miles much quicker than you do walking. And we weren’t just walking, we were trudging with our bags loaded for bear! (The idea was to take everything we could possibly need if we were to go on a long distance walk, twice the distance, more rural and in the higher elevations *you know, like the real Highlands* this way we would know if it was something we could do at a future time).

I am not a fast cyclist (12-13 mile (19-20 km) to the hour) but I had no idea I was such a slow trudger. I assumed we would make Dowlow easy on the first day (Yeah, I know we didn’t even get on the trail until noon but I have an optimistic outlook when I start an adventure, it isn’t until 25-ish miles (40-ish km) or so and my husbands professed love of tacos that pessimism takes hold)

A quick aside here, I would like to note that we used everything we took with us except our rain gear (surprisingly it didn’t rain while we were outside our tent, a rare occurrence in Scotland) and thank all the gods we didn’t break into the first aid kit (though I had to bandage Will’s blisters by the end of the trip).

Trudge, trudge, trudge… beautiful scenery… trudge, trudge, trudg

Scotland is breathtaking in a wild sort of way. I mean they have these vibrant yellow flower bushes. They carpet the hillside with a shot of color that doesn’t look like it could be real. Then you get close to one of these plants and BAM! The damn thing has thorns on it the length of my thumb. Like, seriously Scotland WTH?? I wasn’t going to take any of the flowers with me, I was already carrying enough stuff but did you have to threaten me with skin ripping thorns, sheesh! (The bushes are commonly known as Gorse plants https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulex) *Note the yellow bushes in the back of the bridge, they are gorse bushes.

Oh, and another thing I should mention, when they say coastal path they mean coastal path (though we did deter from the coast occasionally; see the parts about pastures full of sheep poop). They assume that everyone is taught some form of common sense as a child and that no one would be undertaking this walk while drinking vast amounts of alcohol. Why do I say that? Well, fences were meant to keep the animals from falling off a cliff not humans. In some places there was nothing separating us from a 500 foot (150 m) drop except roughly 2-5 feet (.5-1.5 m) of grass, that may or may not have been stable. In one place they had a piece of nylon rope up as a barrier. I am guessing that wouldn’t have stopped us or the sheep.

See what I mean? Beautiful scenery (flowers and ocean views) wildness (life harming thorns and plunging cliffs).

Anyway, we did pass by the remains of 16th century St. Helens church and Siccar Point where James Hutton (the father of geology) concluded that proof existed of the uniformitarian of geological development. (The principle of uniformitarianism states that the processes affecting Earth today are the same ones that affected it in the past. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformitarianism)

After that we were inland for a while walking some roads and pastures. Finally, we decided to make camp, assuming that the rest of the distance to Dowlow would be a hop, skip, and a jump the next day.

We set up camp on a hillside that was about 20 feet wide (6 m) with our backs against some rocks. It was a nice little spot and we managed to get some rehydrated dinner and cozy up in our tent before the rains came in.

By morning the rain was gone but the fog was out in full force, nary an ocean to be seen. Not deterred we packed up and headed off for Dowlow, we promptly got lost for at least a mile and a half, trudging around fields, up hills, down, circled around, checked the map, checked the description of the route, ran into a couple sheep carcasses until we said screw it and headed in what seemed to be the quickest route to Dowlow. Straight across a farmers pasture, and… right into the back side of Dowlow (which by the way is a farmhouse, not a town).

We looked for water but this was obviously someone’s residence and so we didn’t want to intrude, pretty sure that we would have a chance to fill up at a stream later on. (Don’t worry we had a water filtration system, no e-coli or other bacteria sickness for us).

On the other side of their pastures we found a place where their well water was running off into the creek and used this source to fill up. I need to say that we spent possibly a third of our trip away from the coast walking through pastures and fields and if you haven’t had much experience with pasture animals then there is the potential that you are picturing green fields with baa-ing sheep and moo-ing cows and everything is idyllic and peaceful. Well, the green fields part is right, I mean it was green where it wasn’t covered in poop. There was A LOT of poop, cow poop, sheep poop, baby lamb poop… it just went on and on. And sheep are noisy, we had one little lamb troublemaker, he kept running in front of us baa-ing at the other lambs, getting them all riled up so they would get in our way!! There are signs (I didn’t take a picture but I should have) that tell you not to spook the sheep because apparently they will run right off the cliff to their death. Now, I don’t know what that says about a sheep’s intelligence but I do know it was a problem when a certain little lamb was a particularly loud noise box. You might think all lambs are sweet, like Mary’s lamb, nope that guy was a jerk!!

Well, after water retrieval and getting sheep poop all over our hiking boots (no matter how careful you were it happened) we came through a kissing gate (these are rounded or V shaped gates that have a swinging partition in the middle, you step in and swing the gate past you and then step back out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kissing_gate) and realized we were facing the mother of all hills!

It might have had a 25% grade, and no, I am not joking. We walked (haha, we didn’t walk we slogged and partially crawled) with our trekking poles in a forward lean up the hill, The trekking poles were the only thing keeping us from face planting. Will made the mistake of standing up to straight and almost rolled backwards down the hill. I have to be honest… I am not completely sure I would have gone back for him.

When we got about 2/3rds of the way up we had to make a left, go through another gate and climb some more. When we came through the gate we saw the oldest bunny I have ever seen, his fur was brown with grey through it and he was partially blind as he kept running into things when he tried to hop away from us. Not wanting him to die from a heart attack caused by us we quietly watched him for a minute or two, snapped a dozen pictures and left him to his business (I am guessing his business was ruling his bunny kingdom, but maybe that’s just me) We decided to bestow some grandeur on our old bunny and named the mother of all hills Old Bunny Hill! His warren was extensive and we took care not to put our foot in a rabbit hole as we plodded uphill some more.

We finally made it to the top and got to walk on relatively even ground, back along the coastal cliffs. While we were toiling up Old Bunny Hill the fog finally lifted enough for us to see the ocean again. We decided it was more than time to stop for lunch. So we found a nice thicket of gorse and set up lunch camp (boiled water added it to dehydrated food and coffee and consumed on our little chairs. Now some may think we are silly for bringing the chairs but they weighed less than a pound and when you are out trekking through the unknown a few creature comforts can make the difference between enjoying your breaks or not).

Lunch consumed we took off again hoping to see St. Abbs sooner rather than later.

I am going to leave you here, our tummies were full and we were back in walking mode, happier for fully rehydrated belly’s. In my next post I will continue our trek along the coastline of Scotland.

Until next time,

Ciao miei Amici!

We’re Alive!!

Ciao Amici!

I just wanted to let everyone know we survived. We landed back in Italy at 23:00 on Tuesday evening. The trip was a tiring and wonderful experience which I look forward to sharing with everyone. However, despite my best intentions between the exhaustion and a dentist appointment today I will not be blogging until next week. 

What??? A whole week without me rambling, how will you ever survive? Hey if I can manage to not push Will off a cliff when he declared he loves tacos more than me then we will all survive another couple of days without my jibber jabber! (He actually said he would save the taco if we were both on a cliff edge. In fairness, he recanted this remark after another two miles)

Until next week,

Ciao Amici.

I am a bad Italian!

Ciao Amici!

I am half Italian, my father’s side of the family hales from the Italian lineage, my husband is also half Italian, his father’s side of the family likewise hales from an Italian lineage (Actually not too far from each other as the crow flies but that is another story). Anyway, you would think that with this much Italian blood running through our house we would have at least one full blown Italian fitting in and getting all the Italian “stuff” right. Well, that’s gotta be Will because I am just a bad Italian.

I know what you are thinking, I have only lived here for five months, how can I possibly know I am a bad Italian? Let’s just say, there have been a couple key giveaways… Let’s start with the easy ones.

I keep getting pulled over. Now for those of you who live locally you might think that my getting pulled over means I am acting Italian but I think they have me pegged as a non Italian. Hence the harassment. (I use this word loosely as no one has been mean or rude I just think it is funny that I keep getting pulled over) 

*For those of you that haven’t been pulled over in Italy (I assume that is the majority of you) they do it one of two ways, number one is typical of flashing lights in the car behind you and you pull off to the side and they ask you for papers. (Yes, the same ones they would ask you for anywhere else registration, insurance, drivers license). The second method of pulling you over is for a police officer to step out into the middle of traffic and wave a white stick with a round end at you (one side of the end is red and one green, I am sure you can figure out the significance of those colors). They then direct you off to the side of the road and ask for your papers. (FYI, the majority of local police officers do not speak English, just an added twist to the situation. Though in fairness, I don’t speak very good Italian so who is really in the wrong here.) When I had to take the driving class to receive my license in Italy my instructor was quick to point out that all bad people (aka. those of us who get pulled over) were likely going to end up in a Venetian prison and that we should picture that prison as the lower levels of the worst pirate ship in Pirates of the Caribbean (full of water, mold, dampness, cold, rats, etc. etc.). I have not witnessed this prison despite having been pulled over twice by paddle in three and half months (the time that I have been driving in Italy). See what I mean? I am a target for being a bad Italian. I mean, I wasn’t even pulled over in the same town. Don’t worry I wasn’t doing anything wrong, they were just random spot checks but two checks in three months? Yikes!!

But, wait! That’s not all! Remember I said there are several reasons I am a bad Italian. Number two and three come close together. I don’t care about salami or prosciutto and I really don’t care about cheese (doesn’t matter what type, parmesan, asiago, hard, soft, in the middle, whatever…)

I know you are gasping in shock here, I mean what kind of good Italian doesn’t like their national meat and cheese products. (I actually miss me some schnitzel). Then we add the insult of not caring about olive oil (don’t have a heart attack on me dad!)

It’s oil! I use it to cook, occasionally, but I do not buy the correct amount to keep me in the Italian good graces and I most certainly don’t have olive oil running through my veins. (La mia bisnonna sta rotolando nella sua tomba – My great grandmother is rolling in her grave *I don’t think that actually translates, lol). Though olive oil consumption has been slipping in Italy the average Italian still consumes 8.4 liters a year (according to this website https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-business/europe/olive-oil-consumption-italy-slides-25-year-low/46864 *verify as you will).

Ummmmm, I am not coming close to that consumption. Will and I use oil and vinegar on our salads but I am not sure that is going to get us up to 16.8 liters of olive oil that we need to consume for a two person family by the end of the year.

Now to the next topic, alcohol, wine, grappa, limoncello! I like a nice glass of wine every once in awhile but I don’t care whether there is any in the house. Limoncello can have a pleasant taste (in fact our friends sister made some from scratch for us to try and it was pleasant, though Will does like the taste more than I do and will occasionally order it, something I would not bother with.) As far as grappa goes (I am shuddering here) it tastes like inhaling wood grain alcohol to me, like what is the point? So I can’t even do the alcohol thing right in Italy, which might not be as big of a sin to an Italian as my dislike for espresso.

When you order caffè here it is a shot of espresso with sugar on the side. When I order coffee I want to be able to carry it around in my 20 oz mug until I am done with it. Barring that I want a cappuccino. Italians think cappuccinos after noon (12 o’clock) is wrong!!! (too much milk). I can’t help it espresso is just an insult to the good smell of coffee. Beautiful smell, not enough there to taste it.

This brings us to our weekend and what brought the idea that I am a bad Italian full front like a “Smack in the Head”.

There was a Renaissance Wine Festival in Soave this weekend, a little town with a castle about a twenty five minute drive from us. The castle was great, definitely one of the better ones I have seen in Italy (don’t forget about Scaliger Castle in Malcesine, it is also a really good castle that I highly recommend making the trip to see).

And the views from the castle walls were stupendous!! All those vineyards and green fields with red tile roofed houses and villas. Hmmm, the views in Italy can’t be beat!

 

 

The castle and the trip to Soave were completely worth it and I plan to take my daughter and family there this fall.

But remember we went partially because there was a fest, and there was. There were merchants setting up about one in the afternoon and some people were milling around. Now, when Italians say there is a fest and give the hours say from 12:00 (noon) to 10pm. what they are really saying is that if you are a tourist you will be there before, say, 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening.

Italian festing doesn’t start until late and if you go there early you aren’t really an Italian! I am not an Italian because by 4pm I had eaten, Will had drunk some espresso (seriously who drinks espresso?!), I’d had a glass of vino, I had climbed to the castle and back, I’d had gelato, I had purchased things from vendors and I was done!! I was ready to go home, have emergency pizza (frozen pizza, you know for nights when I don’t want to go out or cook) and sit my tired butt on the couch, away from the sun and heat, watch tv and maybe work on my grandson’s blanket (Don’t worry daughter, it will be done before he goes to college!)

Suddenly it hit me! I had been pulled over this week, had limoncello (and good pizza but that’s another story), refused prosciutto and parmesan, went to a fest, sneered at the espresso, drank wine, had gelato, and was back home with emergency pizza before the sun had thought about starting its descent. I am really going to have to get my act together if I want to assimilate myself as an Italian. It might be time to get an Italian flag shirt to wear and to learn the Italian National Anthem to hum so people can tell that I am trying to be a good Italian.

Or maybe I will just stay quirky and sneer at espresso!

Okay everyone, we leave this week for Scotland! Our bags are packed and adventure awaits us!! I will do my best to blog from the trail but if service is sketchy I will catch up with you when I get back and maybe we can talk about Italian dentists!

Until then,

Ciao miei amici!!!