Monday, February 3, 2020

Cinque Terre

Well, I finally went and did it.  Been retired for 13 months and couldn't stand it any longer.

No, Beans, I didn't get a new job.  Mrs J's "Honey Do" list is still compounding interest and consuming time.  Who knew there was so much to do?

Nah.  This was much more difficult.

I cleaned off my desk.

No, Beans, I didn't use a bulldozer.

But only because I couldn't get it in the door.

I've got an actual archeologist who's using carbon dating to  analyze some of the artifacts unearthed. The current estimate of the last time this chore was attempted was about 2009, right after my Dad passed away.  I'm pretty sure that's accurate since I inherited the desk from him.

But some artifacts date back much further.

 I had no idea I even had one of those.  Evidently, whatever concoction was in that shot glass took care of that recollection.

Then there was this relic from the early aught's.

 Thought I'd lost this one.  Got something to read now.  (As if I don't have enough to read without this one.)

But, the thing I found that made me the happiest was a thumb drive.



Yes, someone's got a twisted sense of humor, but said drive had something on it that's irreplaceable.

Pictures of our vacation in 2012 to the Med. 140 of them to be exact.

It's late October, and it's the usual gang.  Mrs J and I, Little Juvat and LJW, MBD, and our Winemaker Friends.  It's a celebratory vacation.  Both Mrs J and I and our winemaker friends are celebrating our 30th Anniversaries.  Little Juvat and LJW are celebrating their 3rd and MBD has just graduated from college.

Since we always name our vacations, this one was easy.  30-3-G.

The plan is to fly out of Houston to Rome, spend the night to recover and visit the Vatican, then travel by train to Cinque Terre. My Clan had never been to Italy.  The winemakers, since they make Italian style wines, on a prior visit, had heard of Cinque Terre.  We're pretty easy, so were all in agreement.

The region is on the western side of the Italian boot where it joins up with the European landmass.  It is 5 small villages connected by a hiking trail (frequently washed out) and a train.  So...We'll be taking the train then.

My phone was being wonky.
Traveling by train, in Italy, with winemaker friends sure is fun.

We manage to arrive safely in Monterosso al Mare and find our B &B, although that did involve a bit more "exploration" after dark than expected.  Evidently the Coralli family owns not only the B&B, but also a not co-located restaurant.  The English-Italian request for directions and the Italian -English directions were not quite what was expected, causing an excursion to the other side of the town.

We were exploring different venues for dinner.

Which turned out to be excellent and fun.

Tired?  Not Us!

The following morning, still being a bit jet lagged, I got up early and went for a walk around town, to get my bearings as well as see what there is to see.

I wondered if Vinny was anywhere near?

Did I mention that the only way between towns was via train or a hiking trail?  Did I also mention that there were some very steep mountains in between?

Halfway up.
We decided we'd visit the Chapel and Convent that's above the town.

Still got a ways to go.

The herd is starting to straggle a little.

Nearly there.

Made it.

We check in with our tour guide who will show us around the place.

He recommends not climbing on the railings.

I wonder why.

The views were spectacular.

We decide we're going to head back down and go to the other side of Monterosso, which is on the other side of the mountain.
We say good bye to our tour guide, who had stayed by our side the whole time.  It might have had something to do with the "tips" Mrs J, Mrs Winemaker, MBD and LJW were giving him all along.

Apparently, we wore him out as he immediately took a nap.

Halfway down, we stop and look at the statue of St Francis of Assisi
Now we're starting to get pretty hungry.  It is lunch time, so we head towards town.

This is Italy and we're traveling with winemakers and we're having lunch, so.....

We spent a total of 5 days in Cinque Terre, exploring each of the little towns and having a blast.  Got back on the train and returned to Rome where we got on a cruise ship (Yes, Beans, Rome is land locked, Civitavecchia is the port we sailed out of) for two weeks touring Turkey and Greece.

Which is a story for another time.


  1. It always amazes me how the physics of data storage keep those little ones and zeros lined up for so long. I have thumb drives that I haven't used in years. When I pop them in, the data is still there. Utterly wonderful.

    Neat trip. Looks like a good place to have a heart attack. Vertical dirt is not to be trusted. Growing up in the cotton fields of Lubbock county taught me that. And reading "Those Devils In Baggy Pants". The battles Mr. Carter talked about in Italy were enough to keep me on the flat and narrow.... ;p

    1. Yeah, thumb drives work...until they don't. I primarily use them as transport devices. After this one dissolved into the swamp of my desk, I got more religious about copying it to the computer's hard drive and then to each of the portable hard drives connected to the computer, making the thumb drive the 3rd backup. If the computer demons want the evidence destroyed at that point....

      I agree, being a grunt in combat in Northern Italy would be a very tough assignment. Funny how history hasn't remembered that aspect of the war. It's almost like the entirety of WWII involved B-17s and D-Day. Little things like Italy, Burma, Okinawa, the PI, Tinian etc didn't much matter. Hmmmm...Politics....In War? Nevah!

  2. WHen my husband was active duty, we lived in Italy nine years; three stationed in Aviano and six at Camp Darby near Pisa. I know the area but we never visited Cinque Terra - it’s a spectacular place, unfortunately it has been overrun with tourists.

    Anyway, while stationed at Camp Darby, my husband used to make extra money ferrying visiting sailors docked at Livorno, showing them the sights - kind of an early Uber. We met some of the sailors at the NCO Club where we heard of one ship that was not allowed liberty because of an “unfortunate diplomatic incident”. It seems some of the crew enjoyed a little too much Sambuca while ashore in La Spetzia and commandeered one of their guns and demanded city officials supply more Sambuca.

    Command was not amused and cancelled shore leave for the next port, which was Livorno.

    Being an Air Force wife, I do not know if this was true, but the guys we spoke with swore it was a true story. True or not, it made for an interesting evening.

    1. Fortunately, there weren't many tourists their when we visited, but the day we left was Halloween. Yes, the kids went to school in costumes. Most of the villagers were happy to see us. But the weather was starting to get iffy. Cold, wind and rain don't make for much fun in my book. Fortunately, the rest of the vacay was in warmer locales.

      Yeah, I could see why commandeering a gun might cause some problems. And, whether or not it's true, well...Sarge told me when I first started here, and I quote "Never let the Truth interfere with a good story!" I've taken that to heart.

    2. My boat got PNG'd at Livorno. Airwing JO's insisting on riding the roof of a bus after trashing and being evicted from more than one Very Fine Establishment. The story on the boat at the time was that the port authorities threatened to dust off the shore batteries and take us under fire. I wonder if these are different views of the same legendary incident or if the whole getting thrown out of Livorno was more common that I realized.

  3. There's GOLD in them thar lost thumb drives I say.....always enjoy your relaying of your vacations juvat. That second to last photo though, taking a look at that and the word tsunami immediately came to mind. Odd how dwellings get to be located. Looking forward to the Greek installment since a grandparent was born there.

    1. I'm sure that beach would be problematic in a tsunami, however, the much more prevalent problems were caused by rain. The streets acted as rivers conveying the water down to the sea. They were doing maintenance on one of the drains (I didn't think to take a picture). The drain had solid oak and steel top and that went the width of the street and was probably 30+ feet long. In normal weather, it was down and could be walked or driven on. I didn't witness it (fortunately), but was told when the water started flowing and was becoming problematic, a steel cable was attached to the up stream end and it was winched open. When I looked in, the drainage ditch was probably 20' deep. So, I'd say they were pretty well set to handle flooding, at least until Noah arrived.

  4. You always find stranger things when you clean out a desk, luckily I no longer have a desk to fly and don't have that issue now. Some times I gotta admit that I miss it and not having my own space to let stuffage collect on does make it so that I don't find those "lost" treasures anymore. :-) The photos of the trip were great and the memories they brought back for you seemed to be good ones, so that is a good thing. :-)

    1. Horrors! No desk? What would I do? ;-)

      Yeah, that was a great trip. And the cruise ship part was also awesome.

  5. The description of your desk also applies to my workbench.
    Some time ago, I mislaid the ziplock bag of pilot drill bits, and eventually replaced them at at a tool store whose last name rhymes with eight.
    A couple of days ago I needed to shift the stack of stuff on the bench to make a little room, and found the missing drill bits.

    Thank you for sharing your travel, that looks to be a beautiful part of Italy.

    1. I am absolutely convinced there is a poltergeist in my wood shop. I can put a pencil down somewhere, turn around and make a cut or something, turn back around and it's gone. I'll find it later somewhere else in the shop. Same with screwdrivers, push blocks, squares, anything small and portable. The day I turn around and my table saw is gone...I'll be scheduling an exorcism with the church.

  6. European cats are smaller, and get better milage, I believe.

    1. He was about the same size and color of our tabby, Schmedly. But, our two Korats are a lot longer, the weigh about the same, just longer and leaner. Oh and more friendly.

  7. What an amazing lost treasure, you are quite the tour guide juvat, love these travel reports of yours.

    For just a little while I was in Italy, sempre molto eccellente!

    1. Thanks, Sarge. Mrs J is starting the planning process for a western Med cruise, probably in Fall 2021. We're looking forward to it. Might be a nice retirement starting point for you and The Missus Herself. Just sayin'

  8. We made a day trip to Cinque Terre last summer.
    It was part of our Tuscany tour.
    Caught a ferry at La Spezia, stopped at Porto Venere, then spied on four of the villages before stopping and visiting Monterosso.
    We could not tell if the beaches were sand or gravel, there were so many other tourists, many of them were oriental.
    We realized, when we returned to La Spezia by train, that we’d travelled through a week or so earlier, when we’d gone to Genoa from Milan.
    MB and I are ready to go again.
    It’s just that there are so many more places we want to see.

    Italians do some funny things with wine.
    I’ve seen that blue stuff Sarge wrote about.

    1. The beaches were a very fine gravel, slightly smaller grains than pea sized. Didn't hurt when I took off my shoes and walked around, and also, not as much got in my shoe before that.

      Didn't see any blue wine. Pretty sure the Winemaker duet would have put a kibosh on trying that. They're kinda picky that way. Still...they're great to havearound.

  9. Had to go to Italy for all that? I walk into my bathroom and point at the water retaining vessel that I don't full-body wash in or go #1 or #2 or #3 in, and say, "Cinque Terre!"


    Italy. There's a reason it wasn't unified until recently, historically. Too much up/down/up/down and not enough flat connected. Makes for great defenses, sucky on easy lines of communication and local trade.

    And some of those overhanging shots would have set my vertigo to "Make Beans crumple up crying like a child in order to make the bad heights go away." I can handle some heights, but when it gets to the point of overwhelming input on top of overwhelming input, Mr. Bean's Brain goes wonky. There's a reason I enjoy living in a ground level apartment. Though I sure could use the poor man's version of a stairmaster. On the other hand, at least in a flat flat, I don't have to worry about corkscrewing down a flight of stairs.

    You have had some truly great vacations. I enjoy greatly living vicariously through you and yours. More please. Just, if you go on one of those glass bridges or overlooks, warn a guy before you post the picture.

    1. Beans, I know what you mean about vertigo. That shot of the lady walking up the stairs with the village below? I've done 60 degree dive bomb that wasn't that steep. Going up wasn't too bad, except for the going up part. There was considerable concern going down that if I let gravity set the pace, there wouldn't be enough g's in the world to make some of those turns and I'd just be a greasy spot on the street below waiting for a downpour to wash me away.

      Thanks. Will Do.

  10. Wonderful pictures, thanks so much. My desk is more of a shelf with a knee hole and file cabinet (think college). Well, maybe a little more refinement. Things get lost because my room is the place where all of the s--t gets put when guests come over. The junk gets sexually involved somehow and there's more there in the morning and it doesn't get randomly scattered (put back where it goes)around the condo apartment again.
    I wonder why mountains and seascapes in foreign countries look so much more picturesque than the ones around here. Wish I could go there on a watercoloring vacation.
    Can't wait for Greece and the Islands around.

    1. I've said it many times before that the only thing more geometrically reproductive than rabbits is junk. I stand by that observation.

      I don't know about picturesque, except for that whole communist government thing, the Pacific Coast highway is picturesque. Ditto with parts of Hawaii (on both picturesque and communist). But I get your point. There are some serious "OH MY!!!" places in the world.

  11. Good finds all! And yes, that IS an interesting area...

  12. I really enjoyed ghost soldiers. One of those books that’s hard to put down. Amazing what that army unit did.

    I can’t believe that other than going to Germany in 1992 the last time I was in Europe was 1974 maybe I should go back there. But then there’s so much to see here

    1. My plan (subject to the exigencies explained to me by Mrs J) is to start it tonight.

      You're right about that.

  13. That was fun juvat, glad you found that thumb drive and shared. I'm very fond of many places in Europe, but northern Italy tops the list. Followed by central Italy, southern Italy, Sicily, and a tie between Sardinia and Cyprus. Honorable mention to Palma and Cadiz.

    1. Well...My Italian Ancestors are, indeed, happy you visited.


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Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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