Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stranded in the French Riviera...

I know, I know, I'm not complaining ...this is just the "rest of the story". On the day we were to return to London, a slip of paper appeared under the door, "Sleep in, eat breakfast, team meeting at 10:30 to discuss options." It is important to know that the AWC group I was traveling with were "travel savvy...Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond even Black priority card holders, so by the time we gathered everyone had the most current VOLCANO/ Airport closing information. Our travel agent, David (God bless him!) and his agency were on top of things and quickly booked us on the first available Eurostar out of Paris. Rick got on the phone and booked Christy a direct flight out of Rome to Boston ($1000 one way, $600 round trip, thanks Expedia!) SO we relax, thinking that we have a few more days to explore our little coastal town and soak up the sunshine and then .... the ASH starts moving south...Paris closes, Frankfurt closes, rumors that Rome will close! So I bid a tearful farewell to Christy - give her my phone (really good decision!) and the rest of us take a bus to the airport only to find out that our fights are cancelled. OK, we will take a bus by ferry to the mainland of Italy and make our way to Rome. Ten minutes later, half of us were running through the airport to catch a flight to Rome, Christy was frantically trying to get from the beach to the hotel to the airport, and while David and the other half wait for a later flight, he arranges for a bus to drive us from the Rome airport, overnight to Cannes where we have hotel rooms for the rest of the weekend. I was so relieved to see Christy when she finally arrived in Rome but she/we (and I mean all her adopted Mom's by this point) had a tough decision to make - spend the night (Rick again, came through with a room at the airport hotel$$$) and hope that the airport did not close before her 10 AM flight took off for Boston OR travel with us to Paris with no Eurostar ticket in hopes of getting to London and who knows when, to Boston. Calm under pressure, we say good-bye again and she goes to the International Terminal and I get on a bus with 18 other ladies, 2 drivers and David (God bless him!) That is the picture of Mary and me, toasting with our own bottles of wine on the bus....she is red and I am white, of course!

Cannes was beautiful! The pictures don't capture the resort feeling of people strolling along the boardwalk, drinking afternoon wine on the beach, taking in the sun and glamor. I am so glad I had the chance to spend some time there.

Tuesday we were up at 4 AM, took a bus to Nice, a train to Paris, another bus, lunch in Paris (that's another story),the Eurostar to London and good old bus 10 home! ahhhh, my own bed! I told you I had a story to tell!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Greek temples and Roman amphitheaters......

Taormina was the perfect place to stay! The town itself was quaint and picturesque, bustling with shops and restaurants. When everything closed from 1:00 -4:00 PM, tradition in Italy, we explored the Greek amphitheater high above the city with incredible views of the beaches and Mt. Etna.

Up early, a cappuccino, and on the bus ...we head to the southern tip of Sicily. The archeological park and the old city of Ortygia proved that Siracusa was one of the most important cities of the ancient Greek world. The ruins were well cared for and our guide was clearly proud of his heritage...not happy about all the groups of school kids, but delightful to listen to.

We looked forward to ending our days of adventure with fabulous meals, rich with the foods and wines of Sicily...capers, anchovies, shellfish, pistachios, almonds, lemons, blood oranges....

and some lemoncello to toast the day!

Little did we know that our adventure was about to be extended......

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Ironic!

How ironic that while we were exploring the crest of Mount Etna, the largest volcano in Europe, another volcano in Iceland was about to cause headline havoc!
This first shot is a picture of Mount Etna from our hotel balcony - Villa Angela on the hillside of Taormina - the morning we began our "climb".

The Etna cableway and a bouncy all-terrain vehicle called a Unimog made it possible to get to the top of the volcano. Once there, a guide lead us along the edge for panoramic views extending to the Adriatic Sea, smoking craters, and ancient and recent lava flows characterized by rocky black soil still covered with snow and ice. None of us were prepared for the bitter cold and the wind chill. The effects of the high altitude, 2005 mt. also surprised us ...it felt like someone was sitting on my chest!

Mount Etna dominates the island of Sicily and for its repeated eruptions over the last few years, it was considered to be the most active volcano in the world.......
until last week!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The back gate leads to.....

....Ennismore Gardens and from there I cross Knightsbridge at Prince's Gate, look both ways for the Horse Guards and bicycles and I am in Hyde Park. On this beautiful spring day I decided to walk through the park to do a little shopping at Whole Foods on Kensington High Street.

It is Spring break in London so families are enjoying the paddle boats on The Serpentine and splashing around barefoot in the Princess Diana Memorial. I pass behind the Albert Memorial and find a bench in Kensington Gardens just to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

I am so lucky to live in such an enchanting city!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April showers....

...bring May flowers!
Nothing says SPRING like forsythia!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Projects complete - check!

The month of March was "project month" for me at the River House.... a new rug for our bedroom, new blinds to help cut the afternoon sun in the sunroom, Haley's room has gone from lime green to softer blue and taupe, the new slipcovered chair is on it's way......

The garage project has been approved by the River Commission so the first step was removing trees that have overgrown, we replaced our well worn suitcases for the next trip, dropped off the boat for "summerizing" and got the hot tub ready to fill for our family Fourth of July gathering.

I am looking forward to returning to London where we just rent!