Back to Cape Town

Stating awake until 01:50 was not easy and despite taking a sleeping pill after take off, I was still awake enough for ‘dinner’. We had the rigatoni with romesco sauce and mozzarella. Mainly I wanted the meal for the dried fig and nougat mousse which was divine. After sharing a bottle of wine with Dave I reclined my seat and went to sleep.

Flight TK44 is an Airbus A350-900 with a 3:3:3 configuration. Given how many people had entire rows to themselves it would have been great if they split it up to two people per row. But as I had no one in front of me or behind me, reclining was not an issue. But I did not get much sleep.

Breakfast was awful! We were served the same salad as for supper, but by now the tomato had wept! My su börek was wet pastry with no spinach and given Dave’s reaction to the eggs and yoghurt, I left them. At least the roll was warm, the sour cherry juice cold and the coffee hot.

Landing and exiting the plane was smooth. I went through the E gate which was slower than Dave seeing a border official. Both the person helping me and the one who stamped Dave’s passport were friendly. And I’m glad to have been part of the pilot programme getting the E gates working. They will be speedier for sure once all are operational.

The luggage took longer than usual. But we were only a few minutes later than planned for the concierge. It was straight home for coffee and a shower and by 14:30 I had unpacked and sorted everything out, including a load of laundry.

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Naples to Istanbul

I did not get a good night’s sleep despite the bed being super comfortable. I think it had to do with needing to be awake at 5:45. We were out of the hotel by 6:35 and walked to the bus stop. The bus again was free due to the driver not having tickets. We got off at the airport and walked to the departure hall. Check in was smooth and our luggage weighs a total of 27.8kg. Not bad going at all considering I did some shopping.

After check in we went to the lounge for breakfast and much needed coffee. As passport control was before the gates for flights departing to countries outside the EU we left a little earlier than we would have. Passport control was a breeze with only our flight queueing. And many people have passports that work with the E gates.

We boarded flight TK1454 which is a Boing 737-800. It’s a 3:3 configuration and Dave has the window seat. I’m in the middle with a very tall and slim young gentleman next to me. Breakfast was a simple frittata but perfect! After landing we had a VERY long walk to Passport control which was a simple process as we had E Visas issued before we left. We then exited the customs area and booked a tour with TourIstanbul which is free of charge as we flew Turkish Airlines. We had two hours to kill so walked through the landside departure area and tried Turkish coffee. That will be the last time I do that! The last 45 minutes of our wait was spent relaxing.

Our tour started at 16:00 with a bus ride into the city. We did a lot of walking and exploring, seeing both the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. Istanbul is rich in history and I will do an in depth blog post to detail what we did. We spent some money in the bazaar and had dinner before heading back to the airport.

We arrived just after 21:00 and security is right at the door. We breezed through passport control with a very unfriendly official! Then through security again and a browse through duty free. Turkish Delight can go for over R1000 a box! And the Whisky is ridiculously priced. We came up to the lounge and will shower and relax until our flight at 01:50.

Photos when I am more awake!

The mountain roads back to Naples

We decided to make an early start so that we could stop when we wanted to, and still get to Naples at a reasonable time. At 8am we went for espresso to say goodbye to the barman Dave had been chatting to the previous night. And as we got there he took freshly baked croissants out of the oven. We shared an ’empty’ one – his word for plain and then went to check out.

From there we drove to Monte Sant’Angelo and had a walk around the market which was huge. And we had a quick espressi stop. Mainly because it was cold and starting to rain. We then encountered idiot cyclists forcing the traffic to speed and overtake on the wrong side of the road.

We took mountain passes and stopped just before 1pm to buy lunch. We caught the shop keepers as they were closing. Due to the weather we had our lunch while driving along. One more coffee stop before we arrived in the commune of Naples. It is dense and the traffic was hectic.

We arrived at the hotel and check in. After dropping our bags in our room we took the car back to Europcar. And had we gone straight to th bus stop we would have just caught the bus. Instead we went back to the airport and just missed it. So to kill the hour’s wait we had another espresso!

The bus was easy to navigate and as there were no tickets, free. After settling in and unpacking we checked into our flight. We have much better seats on the way back to Cape Town.

We went to buy water and went to Paolo for dinner just before 19:30. It was recommended to us by the concierge at the hotel. And it was a great recommendation. The food was incredible and by the time we left, there was a queue of people waiting to come in. Many of them locals!

Photos to follow.

A windy day

The weather was really not conducive to much, other than what was really necessary for Dave. For the past three years, other than when we have been away or there has been racing, he has worked 6 days a week. And many Sundays have been taken up with finishes for the house. So when he wanted a day of doing nothing but reading I was quite OK with that.

He did however do some work which was necessary. And I started packing and getting organised. We had a simple lunch and as the wind had died down, we went to the beach. We did not stay long as a huge storm rolled in and we got back to the apartment just before the rain started.

At 5pm the bar opened and we went and had prosecco. Dave and the barman got chatting and the resort workers only started on the 4th of May, so we are definitely the first round of guests.

We had a simple cucina povera meal for dinner and another early night!

Rest, relax, read

The first thing I did after breakfast was look for a broom to sweep the floors. And not only did I find one, I also found a heater. Better late than never as the saying goes!

Our day started with a 2km detour to the beach so I could download a few books. On our way to the Hotel we found a new path. One that took us to the gelateria, shops and a restaurant. All are closed but people are hard at work getting them ready to open.

Once my books were downloaded we went to the beach. The water was too cold for a swim. But with the sun out we could enjoy just relaxing on the loungers.

We had lunch back at our apartment and as it got colder the heater was used. By supper time the apartment was warm enough not to be bundled up in layers of clothing. After lunch we read, went to the pool bar for coffee and sat out in the sun for as long as it lasted. Then back to read books, have supper and relax. This is the slowest day we have had for a long time!

Vieste

After breakfast we headed for Vieste with our first stop being at the petrol station. Petrol costs €1.859 per litre which is equivalent to R37.18 which shows you how cheap our fuel is. The tank took 26.59 litres at a cost of €49.43. If paying by card here, €100 is charged upfront and what you don’t spend is credited to your card. Our next stop was a pescheria at the port but the fish were tiny! And expensive. We paid €8 per kg for orate in Naples and here they wanted €14! So, we decided we would not have fish for dinner and went to find parking.

Parking at the Port was free (they only charge in high season) so that is where we left the car. We headed around the old city then into the main ‘tourist’ area and had expensive coffee. €4 for two espressi and we had to sit down. The cute dog and clean toilet made up for it. We then came across the band playing for the Feast of Santa Maria. Our walk on the outskirts of the old city took us along the coast, very reminiscent of Ortigia. At the Cathedral we stopped and listened to the firework practice that was to be the culmination at midnight of the Feast.

We then went through the Old Jewish Quarter to the Castello which is now a military zone, and down to the Monolith. From there we walked back into the old city and had espressi before finding ourselves back in the piazza at the same time as the band. A walk through the residential area was followed by Prosecco and snacks at lunch time and then gelato before walking back to the Port.

Shopping was the last thing on our to do list and we hopefully bought enough to last the rest of our stay in Pugnochiuso so that we don’t have to drive anywhere until Saturday. There is meant to be a small market at the resort but it is non existent. Our drive back saw us taking a different route as Dave made the same mistake at the round about but thankfully Google Maps directed him to the coastal road. We got back to the resort in the rain and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing very little.

Photos to follow.

To the beach

When we are at home, going to the beach is a simple thing. It is an 8 minute walk and according to Google Maps, mostly flat. The 700m walk includes a flight of steps, and a slight downhill to the beach. And obviously an uphill heading home. Despite this, we seldom go as we have a pool at home, and all the conveniences we need.

Yesterday we decided to ignore the two beaches in the complex. Three of the resorts are still closed, and two barely occupied. Season starts on the 20th of May and by then the place will be packed, and beach space at a premium (which is why they charge you for a recliner!). We walked through the resort to the main gate, and along the road to the next beach. This one is open to the public and tiny! The walk was 3.86km and we climbed 90m to an altitude of 117m above sea level before dropping 100m to the beach.

We had a picnic lunch there and waded in the very cold water before the long walk back. We decided to explore the complex and walked around, seeing the various units and hotels etc. The walk back was 5.40km and took us an hour and 23 minutes. We spent the afternoon relaxing and decided to go to the bar for a drink, but they were closed.

Instead Dave and I had a beer at the pool before supper and another night of reading books.

Photos plus a route of our walk to follow!

Long windy roads

And by windy I mean lots of bends! Dave set aside the day for a drive as the weather was not too great. We headed for Parco Nazionale del Gargano, using small farm roads where possible. This meant road blocks of cows along the way. They have cow bells all with different rings which make lovely sounds as they walk. These dairy cows are free to roam the forests and are herded by dogs.

Our drive took us through villages on the tops of mountains. But they are few and far between. Heading down to the coast there is evidence of more residential living. But most of them are holiday resorts, camping grounds and apartments or hotels. Some are being prepared for the holiday season but most look abandoned. One can only guess at the reason but it looks as if the economic crisis of 2008 had a large effect as I saw multistorey buildings with trees growing out the top! Covid too must have knocked this area.

Other than the small dairy farm we drove through, the area farms olives. They are meant to make the best olive oil in the world from the olives grown here. I saw a few vines. Just enough to make your own wine! We headed for Lago di Varano which is the largest coastal lake in Italy. A few fisherman were at work packaging mussels.

We took more windy roads, up and down villages before pulling over into a layby for lunch. Overlooking a coastal area with a beach being prepared for holiday season, and some fishing structures, it was a good view for our meal.

From there we went to Vieste and did grocery shopping before taking the back roads to the resort. This was mainly due to guess work, and the road being closed. We got back here quite late and I took a walk to try and find the supposedly free Wi-Fi but I could not get onto the network as the signal strength is so bad. We had a lazy evening, drinking wine and snacking on local olives before dinner. After dinner we decided another early night was in order.

Photos to be uploaded when I can get decent internet speed.

From the beach to the port

Yesterday we walked through the complex to see all the resorts. It looks as if they are just heating up for the holiday season. The Hotel del Faro looks quite impressive. We walked along the beach that the two other places use but decided our beach was best. After a quick swim in the very icy water we lay on the deck chairs. From there we went to the pool to have a swim. But it will be our first and last as we need swimming caps. I nearly packed mine but decided not to!

After that we went back to our unit and made lunch which we ate outside. We decided to head for the beach where there are grottos. But our attempt was not successful. The beaches along here are either accessible via resorts which are closed. Or not accessible at all. Our next mission was to get gelato, which found us all the way in Vieste.

We managed to find parking at a cost of €2 per hour and walked into the old city. We had espressi which were 10% more expensive than Naples, which appears to be the norm here. Our gelato were pricier and smaller than what we have come to expect all over Italy. But it was good so no complaints there. We walked down to the port and up through the old city before heading back to the resort.

We took beers to the pool and enjoyed the late afternoon sun before heading back to our apartment for dinner and an early night for Dave.

Due to there being no wifi at the resort photos will be uploaded later.

From West to East

Dave woke up super early and we were at the Metro at 9am. I wanted to avoid the busy road with our suitcases and we lucked upon another entrance to Toledo station, close to the apartment. We got free entry which was a bonus. We had quite a long walk, up and down escalators as well to the platform. We just missed the train and ten minutes later we were on the next one. And in no time at all we were at Piazza Garibaldi. We had to wait for three buses before we could board, due to the long queues. But the wait was not too long and the bus ride takes ten minutes. From there we got the shuttle to Europcar and collected our hire car.

Once we had sorted out Google Maps we got off the Autostrada and took the back roads from Naples to Pugnochiuso. We stopped for coffee along the way and found an open supermarket to get bread and prosciutto. Southern Italy is sparsely populated once you leave Naples and villages are few and far between. Many have little in the way of conveniences such as bakeries etc.

We had lunch on the side of the road and then went into Foggia to do some shopping for supper and breakfast, plus essentials such as water and wine. We then took a long and windy road to the resort and checked in. This is a typical Italian RCI timeshare and we had to make our own bed up! But it is perfectly adequate and comfortable. As soon as we had unpacked and had coffee we walked down a flight of stairs to the beach. We got our feet into the water and then went back to cook dinner.