Apps and Traveling

Tags

, ,

While you could be forgiven for thinking that this post is about appetizers, given the topics of the majority of our posts, this is more about traveling with a smartphone.

Four years ago I went on a month-long backpacking trip through Germany and Italy. The iPhone had been released the previous year in the US, and there were rumors that it would be released in Canada — potentially while I was away. In fact, the official announcement was made while I was away. The phone itself was due to be released in July, once I was back, and I was eagerly awaiting it.

That was a different time. I was stopping by Internet cafes, paying for 15-minute blocks of Internet access, sending e-mail travel reports back home. I had printed out some google maps on paper, but forgot the most important ones at home. Consequently, I was lost most of the time — attempting to navigate by the sun’s position in the sky.

Things have changed somewhat, four years later. There are some frankly brilliant apps for traveling. Chief amongst them are the Triposo apps. These apps are essentially guidebooks that you download to your phone. They contain sightseeing information — locations of hotels, restaurants, and major attractions. They also contain pretty up-to-date maps. Just pinch/spread to zoom in to the resolution that you want, but that’s not all. They also use your phone’s GPS capabilities to pinpoint your location, even down to the direction you’re facing.

But, I hear you thinking, what about the roaming and data usage charges? Surely there isn’t wifi coverage everywhere, and no one wants to get dinged for thousands of dollars of data usage!

That’s the best part — it all works offline, so there’s no data usage. One of the first things that I did before leaving Edmonton was turn off my phone’s cellular connection. Because I’m paranoid (I’ve read the same data roaming charge horror stories you have), I also removed my phone’s SIM card so that there was no way that it could send/receive signals except for wifi. My phone was completely offline, yet the GPS function worked perfectly.

Yes, Emily and I did get lost a couple times. But that was due to user error. I had turned off the GPS functions in my paranoia, and only remembered to turn them back on after we had gotten lost a couple times. After that, we didn’t get lost again.

And did I mention the speed? It’s as near to instant as makes no difference. Granted, I have the latest iPhone model, but other traveling apps (the Lonely Planet app, for instance) were so sluggish as to be unusable. The Triposo apps were slick, responsive, and useful too! The restaurants that they suggested were great!

Then there is the price. Whereas the slow, unusable Lonely Planet app was about $12, the Triposo apps are free. Free. They use open source traveling and map data, so there’s no cost. And if you stumble upon something that’s not listed in their app (say, a great restaurant), you can submit it for inclusion. All free of charge.

The Triposo apps are absolutely brilliant, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. If you’re headed anywhere, I would first stop by the app store and see if there’s a Triposo app. It makes traveling easier.

Advertisements

Our First Meal in Milano

Tags

,

We got in to Milano amidst what was surely a typhoon. It had been raining for quite a while, and showed no signs of abating. Thanks to help from a handy traveling app (more on this in a future post), we were able to find our hotel. Turns out that it had been under our noses all the time; if it were a snake it would have bit me — though that would be bad form for a hotel (even a snake-hotel abomination) and would surely come up in my review.

We dropped our bags off and headed back out into the rain. We had been traveling since the morning, and had completely missed lunch. Many places in Italy have lunch from 12-3 only. It was 3:35 and both our blood sugar levels were low. Now I don’t mean Get Me Emergency Honey levels of low blood sugar — merely If I Don’t Get Something To Eat Right Now I Will Happily Commit Genocide levels of low blood sugar.

We’ve covered that it was 3:35, but I neglected to mention that it was Sunday. Most places were already closed, irrespective of the time of the afternoon. We walked. In the rain.

How about- oh, no. It’s closed.

Oh, this looks- nope, closed.

This one has lights on! It’s… closed since 3:30.

We pressed on, but I knew in my heart of hearts that there could be only one option. Only one place would be open, regardless of day or time. And that place would bring us shamefully-satisfying food. It was a tough call. For the entirety of the Grand Italian Sabbatical we had eaten and drunk especially well: risotto and raviolo, brunello and barolo. But we were desperate.

I mentioned my Plan B to Emily and she laughed a little. Within minutes, though, we saw the glowing neon sign and we knew we would have to put our plan into action.

We stepped in and I knew the order already: two döner kebab panini, and two beer. And hurry.

Sweet, sweet street meat.

A Short Note on Torino

Tags

, ,

Yep, go there. In fact, I’d skip Firenze and go to Torino instead (provided you’re not a museum hound). Bear with me.

Torino is a big city. It’s quite impressively big, in fact. But there’s no one around! There are no crowds, no jostling, no sleazy commercialization of beauty. There are plenty of little things, sure (abundant graffiti, dog… leavings on the sidewalks, lots of beggars), but they do not detract from the loveliness of Torino.

It has a huge river valley, along one of the great rivers of the world. Everything is so green! There are scores of parks and public spaces, and everyone is laid back. The food is outrageously good, and not particularly expensive (especially when compared against Tuscan offerings).

It’s just a wonderful laid-back city. You can walk forever, and there’s no one around. It’s somehow a private city, one that lends itself to an experience that you can greedily claim for yourself.

20120521-085254.jpg

20120521-085310.jpg

20120521-085345.jpg

20120521-085401.jpg

Alba in Review

When we were in Alba, those many days ago, I was tasked with writing the corresponding blog post for you, our fine readers. Soon after being so tasked, I came to be full of wine and risotto, so such posting became an insurmountable obstacle. Sleep is the only remedy to, and indeed, the only outcome of such a state.

But now, sitting in the lobby of our Milanese hotel watching the rain fall, this is the time.

In short, Alba was lovely and the food was fantastic. Many thanks go to Uncle Al for suggesting it as a destination.

The train ride from Cavallermaggiore to Alba was great. Though the terrain isn’t quite as hilly as Tuscany, the varied elevations allow for fantastic vistas of tiny towns, old bridges, expansive vineyards, and the hills themselves. While I expected to see rice fields (this being risotto territory after all), there were instead rows and rows of corn fields — and yet, still no polenta to be found on any menu. There were also perfectly ordered orchards of what I presume are the local hazelnuts.

Arriving in Alba, we found the quaint, antique little town to be mostly deserted. That is, until we wandered out for dinner at Osteria Dei Sognatori, which is obviously a favorite for locals and tourists alike. There is no menu; you eat whatever the chef is preparing that day. The restaurant is benignly guarded over by a hunched old Italian gentleman (the propietor’s father, we learned) sipping wine and chatting up the pretty girls who walk by.

The proprietor/waiter/Lord of the Restaurant spoke no English, but that was no problem. He and Ryan babbled in Italian while I nodded in the background. Soon, two glasses of Dolcetto appeared, followed by another two after that. Then, as the first plates of antipasti started to arrive, so did a fantastic bottle of barbaresco and the breadsticks. Oh, the breadsticks. I have never once in my life had any fondness for any stick made of bread. That was obviously because my body knew that one day we would sit at that table and eat the most crunchy, light, delicious breadsticks known to man. And then, as we were taught by Uncle Al, you wrap the breadsticks in whatever cured meat you happen to be eating. Cue the choirs of angels; I’ve had an epiphany. That is, it’s damn good.

Next, the proprietor brought us plate after delicious plate of food: roast veal with caramelized onion jam, goat cheese creamier, lighter, and sweeter than any I’ve ever tasted, veal tartare in oil, lightly pickled veggies, hand-folded ravioli in sage and butter, ragu with homemade pasta, and finally, roast beef, rabbit, and pork smothered in rich gravy. It was easily one of the best meals we’ve had in Italy. Before we left, the proprietor handed us a bottle of the Dolcetto and sent us on our way with a smile and a wave. As an aside, those ten plates of food and bottle and a half of wine cost us 70% of what we were paying for dinner in Tuscany.

The quality of food and wine remained high the next day as Ryan and I wandered the streets of Alba, drinking wine, watching the people, perusing the truffle shops, and eating indulgently.

The town is neat and orderly, with lots of high-end boutiques and shops, yet it manages to retain a small-town, comfortable atmosphere.

Now, here are some random shots from Alba and Barolo. Please note the massive, gorgeous roses that grow in Barolo — as if the town needed to be any lovelier.

20120520-231705.jpg

20120520-232052.jpg

20120520-232112.jpg

20120520-232151.jpg

20120520-232319.jpg

20120520-232349.jpg

20120520-232423.jpg

20120520-232439.jpg

20120520-232508.jpg

20120520-232535.jpg

20120520-232546.jpg

On The Value of Complete Sentences

Tags

,

Last night Emily and I ventured to Otto e Tre Quarti, in Torino, for dinner. It was mentioned in Lonely Planet, I think — despite it’s notable absence from the official Lonely Planet app (more on travel apps and smartphones in a future blog post). I was interested in trying it, especially since the somewhat-famous Brek seemed to be a buffet-esque dining experience. Perhaps it’s only famous in my head, and perhaps I didn’t do any research on it. Anyway, 8 3/4.

For most dining experiences I’ve been asking for a table for two on the patio, and the host just gestures toward the general area of the patio. I’ve since stopped asking, and we just seat ourselves. We were doing so last night, when a waiter stopped us. What could he do for us? I was momentarily taken aback with this deviation from the norm, and I mumbled “per due, per favore.” For two, please.

Eye contact was made between the waiter and another guy, all in black, watching from the doorway. No words were needed. They had understood what they would be dealing with all night. Tourists! hiss

Frankly, I can’t blame them. You hear stories of the Ugly American, and they can’t possibly be true. They clearly must be augmented and distorted — as much for good storytelling as for soothing the omnipresent inferiority that Canadians wear like flags on their knapsacks. We haven’t really met any Ugly Americans (a table of “CFOs” beside us at a restaurant one night notwithstanding), though we’ve met lots of Tourists Who Don’t Try, And Happen To Be American.

We sat where we were told. Shortly the waiter brought out menus, and I spotted one detail on one menu from meters away. It was a regular menu except for the inclusion of the word “Inglese,” scotch-taped to the bottom. I smiled a half-smile as he laid it down in front of me. “Inglese. English,” he said, before walking off.

The ignominy! We are people who know words like “ignominy!” The bastards. They were huddled now, forming a game plan to deal with us. I flipped through the wine menu with scorn. We could have Barolo, but it was a little more than I wanted to spend. There was a pretty reasonable Barbaresco, though, and it was a 2007 — hardly a bad year.

About this time, both waiters came back. I was ready. The one asked us the menu was to our liking. I answered, channeling the Italian equivalent of Stephen Fry as best I could. “We would both like to drink-”

Relief washed over their faces. The first waiter threw up his hands in appreciative triumph. We could speak Italian! Or at least enough Italian that they didn’t have to translate between themselves! The man in black started to walk off.

“-a bottle of Barbaresco, please. The 2007 Fontanabianca.”

Our waiter, and new best friend, called over his shoulder to the man in black. “Barbaresco!” Clearly we had represented ourselves well.

I’ve played a lot of this up for storytelling purposes, and I want to emphasize that the staff weren’t rude to us at all. They were always courteous and were just trying to be helpful by presenting an English menu. And it was helpful! We referred to it several times when making our choices. So I don’t want to come across as Doctor Arrogant just because I can order a bottle of wine. I botched several words and phrases throughout the night, and will again today.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that it’s good to try. We’re showing up in someone else’s country, wandering about like idiots, and then engaging with them — however momentarily. The least we can do is try to speak their language.

White-Knuckle Thrill Ride: A Day Trip to Barolo

Tags

, ,

Alba is pretty close to world-famous wine town Barolo. So when we decided upon Alba as a Grand Italian Sabbatical destination, we figured we should head out to Barolo. After all, Alba is pretty small and three days seemed like overkill. If we could rent a scooter, or something, we could probably have a nice wine enthusiast day trip.

I didn’t notice, when we talked about it, those many months ago, that the sky momentarily darkened.

We didn’t really make detailed plans for our trip; we knew where we would lay our heads at night, but not much beyond that. So when we got to Alba, we didn’t really think much of it. Maybe on the third day we could still rent a scooter, or something, and head out to Barolo.

I didn’t notice that, at that particular moment, all the birds in Italy cried out in anguish.

So it was that, on the second night in Alba, I wandered over to the tourist information center and asked about bicycles or scooters. “No problem,” the woman said, abandoning her eye of newt for a moment. She told me that we could rent a bicycle for about €15 (€30 for the two of us), or a scooter for about €60. Would I like to make a reservation that evening, or in the morning? I ran the options by Emily, and we decided upon a scooter. It would be, what, a ten kilometer bike ride through the foothills? Let’s make it easier on ourselves and go with the scooter. A wolf howled in the distance.

We returned to the woman, who was speaking backwards, with her eyes rolled up in her head. A two-seat scooter, with two helmets, for the day would indeed be about €60. Sign here, can I see your driver’s license there. Midway through the form, she left to help a woman buy some oven mitts. Seriously, that actually happened. I waited, and we eventually finished all the information. She faxed it to the rental place, and we were all set!

She smiled and bid us good evening.

“So… do I pick the scooter up here in the morning, then?”
“Oh no, the rental place is not in Alba.”
“Wait, what? Where is it?”
“Oh, it’s here,” she pointed to a seemingly-random location on a map of Italy. “It’s a couple kilometers away, not too far.”

Well, what a relief! Thank goodness I have such an abundance of transportation options already available to me, otherwise I might need to rent some sort of other option to- oh wait, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do!

I looked at Emily. “That’s going to be a bit of a walk.” Emily looked at me and blinked exactly once.

“Well, can we rent a bicycle to get us to the scooter?”
“Yes.”
“Ok, let’s do that. Do you have two available?”
“You get them at the same place as the scooter, they are not here.”

I see. Well, I’ll just rent a bicycle to take me to the scooter rental shop. I’ll walk a couple kilometers to the shop, get on the bike, turn a slow circle in the parking lot, give the bike back, and pick up my scooter. That seems like a great plan.

“Ok, well how do we get to the rental shop? Is there a bus of some kind?”
“Public transportation is a good option.”
“Ok, where do I catch a bus? Here?” I gestured at a map of the milky way.
“Sure.”

Not “yes.” “Sure.”

The conversation was clearly over, and we should just go away. Based on our train experiences, catching a bus shouldn’t be too bad. We went to dinner.

We got up early the next morning, so we could catch one of surely many buses that would be running. Emily had done a little Internetting the night before, but couldn’t find an online bus schedule. We hoofed it over to the bus station.

The bus station was as cheerfully built, and ebulliently-populated (not to mention staffed) as any bus station in the world. As every bus station in the world. Ignoring the stone golems feasting on rats and the shrieks of the recently-damned, we looked at the bus schedules.

“Hmm. Seems like there’s a only one bus that goes there. No wait, two!”
“Two whole bus lines? Wow, that’s-”
“No, two individual buses. Those are the only ones that run today.”

Yep. Buses run out there fairly regularly until 6 am. After that there are two: one at 13:00, and one running in the reverse direction at 18:00. Spectacular.

A bus to the rental shop only gets us part way — we would still have to get out to quaint wine town Barolo. Starting our journey at 13:00 was bonkers. We went back to the tourist office to just cancel this stupid thing.

“I was here last night, reserving a scooter. I’d like to cancel it, as there is no way to get it.”
“Just take a bus.”
“Yeah, that’s the thing. They only run at 13:00, and that wastes the day.”

She was perplexed, and shouted over at a colleague. Conversation ensued. The colleague printed all manner of documents off.

“You can catch the bus here, take this bus number, here is its schedule, an you can buy tickets on the bus but they will be more expensive. Go here, show them this, and buy tickets. They will be much cheaper. Ok?”

Whoa. Why couldn’t they have told us this last night?

We embarked on our adventure with hope renewed. We were early for the bus, so we had espressi and wandered an impromptu farmer’s market.

We caught the bus no problem. The tickets worked. So far so good. Now… where is our stop? We were vigilant as we eventually left the city. Here? No… here? No…

Here!

We jumped off the bus in the Italian equivalent of Three Hills, Alberta. I squinted. Yep. Probably the right place. I use a similar procedure when diagnosing engine troubles. Try it now.

Turns out, this was the right place! Woo! We walked down the street and found a tire shop that had the right address. I gathered my ability to order a bottle of wine, along with the rental form, and stalked into the tire shop.

I showed the form to a woman who spoke no English, and she took me to a guy who was tremendously helpful, despite not knowing much English himself. He brought over a scooter and showed me the basics. Looking back on it, it’s incredible that they let us have a scooter. Two people who can barely speak? Yep, here you go!

We got on, and I gently gunned the throttle. Then less gently. Yep, the kickstand was still down. Disembark. Disengage kickstand. Clumsily re-mount. Almost fall over, because the scooter is surprisingly heavy and wants nothing more than to be lying on its left side. And away!

20120518-175349.jpg

We gunned it through the chicanes, feeling the exhilaration of speed as wind whipped around us. I looked down at the speedometer. We were going 30. Oh.

With more throttle applied, we roared off through wine country — no doubt annoying the locals with the the growl of our majestic engine.

Let me point out that I am fully aware that we were riding a scooter. This is essentially a toy. Babies in Italy earn their chops by drinking wine and riding scooters. In a completely unrelated vein, I am all that is man. I cage-fight bulls when I am not rescuing damsels in distress. I drink petrol and snort adrenaline.

Now that all that is out of the way, riding a scooter is a little scary. Stop laughing. Stop laughing now.

One, it goes faster than a bicycle. Two, it’s still open-air like a bicycle. Three, you are driving in Italian traffic (even though it was a mostly-deserted countryside). Four, the thing has a turning radius akin to lunar orbit. Five, it is important to not kill your Emilys. Six, it’s probably best to not even injure your Emilys.

Also the front wheel squeaks. But we made it! The rental shop was about halfway between Alba and Barolo, so we only had about 7 km of driving/scooting. It was a lovely little ride through the various hilltop vineyards en route to Barolo.

We had heard that Barolo was a pretty small town — that a person could walk all the roads in about a half hour — so we were looking forward to killing some time in the wine museum. Luckily that’s also where the tastings were being held.

We walked past a restaurant that was cooking up something that smelled wonderful. Beef and onions and garlic, mmm. It wasn’t due to open for a while, but that was ok — we had to hit the wine museum!

The museum is located in a huge castle in the middle of town, so it wasn’t hard to find. When we got there, though, the gates were closed. Odd. Perhaps it, like the restaurant, just opened up at 12:30. Nearby was a shop instructing how to buy tickets, but it too was closed. How weird! There was even a sign on the wall saying that it opened at 10:30, except for Thursdays. It was closed on Thursdays. IT WAS CLOSED ON THURSDAYS? IT WAS THURSDAY!

20120518-175454.jpg

You know, had we done the slightest bit of research, this would have worked out a lot better.

We wandered the town, trying to find something open. We eventually found a little wine bar, so we settled in. It was too sunshine-y for a big Barolo just yet, so we tried some Arneis Cru. Outstanding! Perfect acidity and floral overtones — just right for a patio on a sunny day.

The waitress, Carrie Doll’s Italian doppelgänger, brought out a tray of breadsticks, meat, and cheese. Emily and I happily sat a while.

By the time we were done, it was time for lunch! We walked to the terrific-smelling restaurant and sat down. We shared a half-bottle of Rocche Costamagna Barolo — the funk on the nose of it! Wow! What a strange-smelling wine! I was driving, so I had to curtail my imbibing. Emily soon got over her disappointment in having to take down the majority of the bottle.

We had raw sausage for an appetizer, and it came with a beautiful pesto sauce and some fresh tomato. Emily followed it with a Barolo risotto (the funk on the wine pairing perfectly with the cheese in the risotto), and I had pappardelle with wild boar sauce. Both were tremendously good, though I give a slight edge to Emily’s risotto.

After lunch we continued to wander, but soon it was time to ride off into the hills once more. We went a little further south before heading back north to Alba — putt-putting our way through more winding vineyards. The view was spectacular, or so Emily claims.

We got back in one piece, despite my desire to sideswipe a parked Fiat during a particularly-daring left turn, and we bused back to Alba.

Despite the initial complications, it was a gorgeous day trip out amongst the vines. A scooter is about the perfect way to get around, and we’ll rent one for a couple days next time, so that we can head out to other surrounding towns like Asti or Barbaresco.

20120518-175547.jpg

Train Pain

Tags

, , ,

It finally happened. We missed a train. We were in the Savona train station, racing to find the proper platform for the train that would connect to the train to take us to Alba. Our train had come into the station several minutes late, and when we stepped onto the platform there were no connecting train signs. None.

We raced down to the sotopassagio connecting all the platforms, and eventually saw the train we were supposed to take. It was dumb luck; we were walking by the platform when Emily noticed the train number.

We got to the train just in time to tug futilely at the door handle. No dice. The train lurched and wheezed slowly, to add insult to injury. Well, shucks (I may have used a different word on the platform).

After a quick pit-stop, we found an information desk. Unfortunately the woman didn’t speak English. She understood the word “Alba,” though, and was able to point us to the right track for the next train. And thankfully we only had an hour to kill. We had a drink at the station bar, and were Alba-bound!

Reflections on Cinque Terre

Tags

, ,

Hoooooo-boy. We had a pretty good time in Cinque Terre. It turns out that we’re pretty small-town people; Firenze was… ok… but we just couldn’t pick up the soul of the town, whereas we are having a much easier time doing so in smaller towns. To that end, we were pretty excited about settling down in some smaller towns for a while.

Then this was the first thing we saw when we got off the train in Riomaggiore.

20120516-112918.jpg

Yeah, that was ok.

It was only a 5-minute walk to our apartment, and our landlord was very friendly (effusive might be a better word). We climbed the staircase of death up to the third floor (carrying luggage) and then went up on more flight of increasingly-narrow steps to our terrace.

20120516-113155.jpg

The sea, she beckoned. So we put on swimsuits under our clothes an headed to the beach. The water was c-o-l-d (cold!) but our feet were swollen and sore from our previous treks, and the cold water did them wonders.

There was still the small matter of dinner to be sorted, though. We went to a seafood place recommended by our landlord, and settled in. I don’t know what the big deal is about anchovies; they’re great! Little tiny morsels of salt. Sure, they taste a little fishy but that’s what the lemon is for. We had fried anchovies until the main course.

I forget what Emily had, but I had prawns. Now, we think we know what prawns are, in Canada (I try not to generalize to North America). They’re bigger shrimp, right? No. They are small lobsters, like donkeys are small horses (cue gnashing of teeth from those who know better).

Anyway, I got five prawns — each the size of a cat. Um. How do I eat these things? I figured I’d just bluff my way through it, utilizing the knowledge I’d gleaned from Lobsterpalooza at Uncle Al’s. I took to it, breaking the beasts apart and feasting on their sumptuous innards. Give me brains! Let me suck shrimp brains from their heads, RAWR!

Our waitress watched with bemusement, later bringing me a little wet-nap. That was like offering a chamois to the rainforest; I was covered in sauce. It was dripping down my elbows. Spent, we returned to the apartment to rest up for the next day.

On our second day, we decided to take on the famous Cinque Terre hikes. Unfortunately, due to tremendous floods last year, two of the four (there’s a hike connecting each of the five towns) hiking trails were closed. There was also a train strike that day, so we would be forced to take a boat between towns. Horrors!

Those who know me well speak not only of my immense technical skill as a brain surgeon, but also of my impressive sea legs. We chartered that skipper and, using only the barks of a dog to guide me, I yeomaned that thing into bow. Actually we bought tickets and someone else captained the boat. We had about an hour until it departed, so we looked for a cafe. We found one given patronage by little old men only, and thought this would be a good place to stop. We had a glass of wine and some olives while we passed the time.

20120516-115329.jpg

Once we got to Vernazza, we began what would be a very long hike to Monterosso, the last of the five towns. We walked. And walked. Uphill. Then more uphill. The scenery was gorgeous!

20120516-115509.jpg

20120516-115542.jpg

20120516-115603.jpg

Finally, with feet and knees aching, we arrived at Monterosso. Talk about weenies! I hear tell that Courtney did all four hikes in one day, wearing flip-flops!

We caught the boat home, and ate and drank our fill. The food was unremarkable, as was the wine. The beauty of Cinque Terre is in the place itself. The wine is fine, but it doesn’t stand up to a week in Tuscany or Piemonte.

For the final day, we caught the train out to Corniglia (rabbit) — a town that had been inaccessible by boat, for whatever reason. It was lovely, and featured the Fanny Bazaar!

20120516-120033.jpg

Um. That doesn’t… that doesn’t mean what it does in Engl-

20120516-120116.jpg

Oh, ok. It’s a touristy thing. Phew!

There have been lemon trees everywhere, but always out of reach. We found one that was just in reach, but was in an apartment building’s front yard. I looked to the left; no one was around. I looked to the right; no one was around. This was the time!

I got up close to it, and started to take a picture of it, but I heard a screen floor slide behind me. This tiny, incredibly-old man stuck his head over the balcony. Caught!

I explained in broken Italian that I was only taking a picture, and he replied with a long string of friendly responses. After a while I clued in, and asked if we could have a lemon. He replied with what I can only believe was “uh, yeah. That’s what I’ve been telling you for the last three minutes.”

So I sidled closer, and raised my arm to the tree. No misunderstanding yet. I seized a lemon. No misunderstanding. I pulled… nope, that one’s staying on there. The next one too. Then the next one. But the next one? That was mine.

I pulled it free and started thanking the man. “Only one? Take two!” So I did, and now we have Italian lemons, the smell of which is ensorceling.

We picked up a few things for lunch, and adjourned to our terrace.

20120516-120231.jpg

20120516-174400.jpg

We had a pretty decent dinner at Il Grottino, just across the road. This time Emily attacked the prawn menace and got juice all down her elbows.

In the morning, after a brief salute to the sea, it was time to head to Alba. Overall I highly enjoyed our time in Riomaggiore (and the Cinque Terre) — we’ll definitely be back someday.

20120516-174518.jpg