After three straight weeks of broiling…temperatures 35-38 or more (that’s upper 90s to over 100) suddenly…out of the blue…we have (unforecast) thunderstorms. The land all around is parched. It is drinking in the water thirstily. Pure pleasure to hear and watch.
Thunderclaps sounded and echoed around the mountains surrounding us. The wind cooled the air. I threw all our closed up shutters and windows open to catch the wind…to cool the house.
Then the large drops splashed loudly on the piazza. At first, it created steam, from the cool drops meeting the hot stones. But eventually, the stones cooled and the steam went away. Now it patters down as the storms have moved through, but a steady rain remains. A small moment of relief.
I guess it is time for an announcement. We have sold our home. That’s good, I guess. But still sad for us. The good news is that we sold it to friends! Who will love it as much as we have. Call me sentimental but when I get attached to a house, and I am attached to this one, it matters to me who buys it.
We were already in negotiations with a couple who live in NY. He is a real estate lawyer. We had a zoom showing of our house by our real estate agent, so we virtually met them. Honestly, I didn’t like them…I should say him. She was silent. He was a know-it-all. But he really didn’t have a clue about how things work here. Real estate doesn’t work the same as the US. I love my house, and I love my town. Somehow, this guy just didn’t seem like the right fit to me. They were flying over this coming week to see the apartment. I am sure they would have made an offer. Then…SHAZAM 💥 …I got an email from our friends with an offer to buy. A good offer with time for us to find a place and move. 💕 And I know they will love our place as much as we have.
Now begins our search for a new home. We are starting here in Umbertide. Because we love it here, we are rooted here, we have friends here. There is a place we want to see if the Agent would EVER answer my emails. This is a huge complaint here. The agents just are not motivated or responsive. We have received no reply from the agent. Their office is nearby so we will walk in. I have also sent inquiries to an agent in Spoleto. There are two there that we’d like to see. I also have questions about a third property.
Stay tuned…I will post about the search — if we ever get to see anything 🙄
Now we are back to everyday life after our big vacay. It is really hot. This weekend will be a record breaker.
Our first BIG thing was to go to the Questura with our final documents for our long term Permessi. But while we were gone our printer bit the dust. So we couldn’t print what we needed to take today. With some help from friends (thanks Paul) we got it printed. Friday morning we headed to the Questura. Sigh. Their hours changed. They were not open. We must go back next week. Back to normal Italian life! One step forward, two steps back.
While we were gone tomatoes happened! Yes they did! I had my first tomato sandwich yesterday.
Growing up with a Southern mother, I lived on these sandwiches when I was young. At my mothers knee. She loved them too! Luckily we have American style white bread here, see picture, so I am all set!
Today is the Saturday market. If I don’t get out early I miss out on fresh eggs and the tomatoes that I get from my favorite stand. Everyone has tomatoes, but only one has the tomatoes that are the ”right” tomatoes. The kind I remember from home, the right shape, the right kind of red.
…and eggs. I got eggs! The word for eggs is uova. The word for egg is uovo. This is opposite of what you’d think. Usually if something ends in “A”, it is a singular, feminine noun. In this case it is not singular, it is plural. I am told it is because it derives from a Greek word. Anyway, the man I get my eggs from held up one very dark egg as he was choosing mine. He asked if I wanted il cioccolato? Here is my basket of eggs. Il cioccolato is on top. I love the pretty hues of different browns and tans.
Wednesday June 22It was very cool this day. I even bought a sweatshirt from the ship store. We had docked in Gibraltar during the night. The “Rock” was not as expected. Turns out we were on the wrong side of it. Our side had vegetation and was not the pronounced, pointy granite face I had expected.
We didn’t take the tour to the top. We just decided to walk into Gibraltar city. It is known for its shopping. So — we shopped! I bought some new tanzanite earrings to go with the bracelet I bought on our trip to Turkey. And another pair of inexpensive earrings.
We went to Zoca, a small out of the way but pleasant place to have lunch…of what else? Tapas! These were good but since we now have many others to compare them to, they were not the best.
The walk from the ship to the town was very long. But it wasn’t too hot. We returned and relaxed before heading to the briefing on the next port of call — Cadiz where we will be for a day and a half. Then we had dinner in Amphora and we even had dessert!
Thursday – June 23 I woke early and watched them dock the Star Pride in Cadiz. The town is right next to us today so not a long walk.
After breakfast and a little earlier than we usually go out, we left to be assured we would get a map. They said the Tourist people are only there a couple hours. We successfully obtained maps and headed into the city. There were four walking tours on the map. We ended up following the pink/purple one. They painted lines on the streets so we could easily follow the way…except for the worn off bits…then the map was useful. It’s a lovely city. Pretty streets with nice architecture, balconies, wrought iron and embellishments on the buildings.
We visited the Cathedral which was crumbling. And enormous. We visited some pretty squares. The Plaza de Fiores with lots of flowers.
Then we visited the huge indoor food market with vendors all along the two aisles with amazing seafood. We get good seafood in Italy but there was some that I couldn’t identify. Cadiz, being right beside the sea at the mouth of the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic has much to catch! The exterior vendors around the sides were all meats. And there were veggie places scattered about. It was great. I love a good market.
We stopped for a glass of wine and to figure out where to go for lunch. They are more traditionally Spanish here. The restaurants don’t open until 1:30. Many tapas bars open at 4:30 or even 8pm. This is the Spain I remember from my first trip here many moons ago. I’m glad it still exists.
We chose Casa Rafael. It got good write ups and was open when we wanted to eat. It was a bare-bones neighborhood place. Rather understaffed and chaotic. The menu only in Spanish. We managed to get fed. We had the plate of cured meats. A bigger variety than I have ever seen. Then we had patatas bravas. Next gamberos grilled, and the salt cod. It was all good enough.
We returned to the ship for naps. Thursday nights are always the big BBQ nights. We sat on the deck and the wind blew in a gale. It was so strong it blew the salad greens right off your plate! In thinking of the BBQs we enjoyed on the Wind Star ship in the past this one pales by comparison. There was a much smaller variety of starters. There was no grilled lobster, my favorite. And there were only flank steaks, no other types nor did I see chicken.
Afterwards they cleared the deck for the line dancing. We moved to the top deck to watch. It was fun.
Friday – June 24 Our second day in Cadiz was just a half day. We went out walking to a different part of the town and then went back to the ship for lunch in the Grill on the top deck. I had a hot dog! Don’t laugh! I haven’t had a good grilled dog in a very long time. And sometimes you just gotta have a dog if they are there!
We watched sail-away to the Vangleis music – which doesn’t quite work on a non sailing ship, in my opinion. It was the most beautiful day. Sunny and the temperatures are perfect. We stayed on deck for a while and headed down for our siestas.
Later we went to the briefing for Casablanca. I was a little nervous about this one. He explained where we would dock. How we could get into town. There’s a shuttle bus and taxis. Two kinds of taxis petite and grand. The little ones are all red. The big ones are all white. The mosque in Casablanca is the third largest in the world. This minaret is over 600 feet tall. There are two Medinas – the old one and a new one.
We had dinner in Amphora and went topside for nightcaps. A pretty night. The ship was rocking a bit. But not enough to be a problem.
Saturday – June 25 We had gained an hour overnight. A new time zone for the rest of the trip. We arrived before seven and the tours went out at 7am promptly. One to Marrakech which was a twelve hour tour, and one to Rabat – five hours. We decided to just explore a little on our own.
We took the shuttle bus into town. Casablanca is Morocco’s big business city. It also has the largest port in the world. We were dropped off at the United Nations square. Easy to pinpoint because there is a big Hyatt hotel there. Turns out the Old Medina was just next to this and it was my first time on the continent of Africa.
Here are my impressions of the Old Medina. We were early so many stands were not yet open. Luther noted the electric lights around the stands and thought they might be open at night. The men working there were very persistent and I learned the code words “no shopping” and they left you alone. It was dark and dirty. There was trash everywhere. But I noticed the people were sweeping it into piles. Maybe someone comes and picks it up. Maybe it was left from the previous night. The food/fowl/fish market was very smelly. The chickens were pitiful. We took pictures and left. It was enough for us to see.
There were hundreds, maybe thousands of cats. Strays, skinny and sad. A tiny kitten mewed at us piteously. I doubted he would live much longer. I hate this. We saw not one dog. Berbers hate dogs.
We were still early, gaining that hour kind of messed us up some. We figured eating there wasn’t going to happen. We didn’t have any local currency anyway. So we returned to the ship where we had lunch and a siesta.
In the evening we are early and watched sail away. We also watched the late bus arrive back from the 12 hour tour to Marrakech. The road had been jammed by an accident. Then we watched the inept dock people destroy the Star Pride’s paint job by scraping and jerking with a fork lift the gangway. We finally got underway. Later we dropped into the bar where the duo was singing. They are good. There was a talent show where the crew gets to show off. I decided to give it amiss. The room was crowded, and I didn’t feel like sitting in a crowd. I am still sensitive to my surroundings after Covid lockdowns. I’m sure it was fun. Cindy and Bill went.
Sunday – June 26 We sailed all night and half of the next day to arrive in Portimao Portugal. Overnight the seas were very rough. we did some rocking and rolling but it was like being rocked in a cradle while you slept.
We got up and went to breakfast and then to the Yacht club which is on the top deck in the front so we could watch our noon arrival. We had to go up a small river and it was narrow and shallow. There was a big tug which helped turns us 180 degrees for a fast getaway in the evening. We were only in Portimao for five hours.
We had signed up for a bus tour. An Algarve wine tasting and tour of a tiny town Silves. Algarve doesn’t make alot of wine and it never gets exported, so we weren’t familiar with it. The guide was good. the town of Silves was not much. It had a castle. It WAS Sunday so very quiet. The winemaker, Mark dos Vales, was a German man. Quite eccentric, but enthusiastic. We tasted a very good rose, a white, and two reds, along with a little bread and olive oil. A little more food would help since none of us had had lunch. We were glad we had taken the tour but it wasn’t the best. We got back to the ship just in time to let it get away for our last sail-away. It’s always sad to see your last sail-away.
We had our last dinner in Amphora. It is always hectic since you’ve got to get packed up to be able to have your suitcases into the hall by 6:30am.
Monday, June 27 We arrived and debarked on a transfer to the Altis Grand hotel in Lisbon. Our room was not ready and sadly the Windstar people dropped the ball badly by not telling us about a way to pre-check in which would give us priority for a room as soon as it became available. They just told us to go away and come back in six hours.
We did a huge long walk from our hotel to the seaside. The weather was quite cool so it was pleasant. We found O Trigueiros, a neighborhood restaurant which was great. It was packed with locals and because we got there early, we got a table. We were craving sardines since the wine tasting the day before when the winemaker mentioned eating them with his wines.. O Trigueiros delivered. A huge plate of delicious grilled sardines, with blistered, crispy skin served along with boiled potatoes and sliced tomatoes. Heaven! It was a lot of food, which we could not finish. It was a great little place and a cool experience!
Tuesday, June 28 We were up early – 5am – for our early flight with Portugal Air to Bologna to retrieve our car and return to our casa in Umbertide, where it has been unbearably hot for our entire trip. Our house sitters had a tough time. This is an unusually early heat wave. Normally we get this sort of heat in July/August – not June! Our flight was uneventful, if late. My sister was not so lucky. I hope when she gets home she will erase the ugly return and remember the lovely time we two sisters had together after three long years apart 💕
Best olives – El Cantón, Cartagena Best Iberian ham – Mediamanga, Barcelona & Casa Rafael, Cadiz Best Tapas – Cerveceria Catalan, Barcelona and Cerveceria Catalan, La Tranca, Malaga Best Lunch – Cerveceria Catalan, Barcelona – La Tranca, Malaga and Best seaport – Cadiz Best city – Barcelona Biggest disappoint – Gibraltar Best shopping – Gibraltar Worst meal – Candles and Cuadro44 on the Star Pride Dirtiest place – Casablanca Best tour – Barcelona Most remarkable thing – Sagrada Familia, Barcelona