A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about town

Karlovy Vary

I have found a little piece of paradise and it is in Karlovy Vary, a turn of the century spa town in the Czech Republic. Who knew we would arrive in the midst of a thriving International film festival on their biggest week of the year? Who knew it was so glamourous and Old World with rows of Victorian hotels, old mansions, and fountains springing forth various types of healing mineral waters. What's not to like?! I want to stay for a very long time. We also happen to be staying in the first five star hotel of our trip. I do not know what inspired the splurge, but I think we both needed a little TLC, and we found it here. I want to move into this hotel where we are staying, with its giant feather pillows, gourmet teas, fancy dinner buffets, and purifying spa. If I could afford it, I just MIGHT move in. What a town, what a place. (The hotel is called Hotel Savoy Westend, highly recommended)

We walked down into town to be in the atmosphere of the film festival and it was absolutely buzzing with important people and events. Locals drinking beer in market stands, people shopping, laughing, eating, dressing up for a night out. Every language was being spoken as people sat by the river chatting and watching: Russian, German, Czech, French, English, Japanese, Korean, Polish... I am sure there were more, and we only caught glimpses of the whole event, but it was quite a sight.

The people here are so kind. The receptionist at the spa gave Bodhi a marionette. We thought it was just to play with, but we returned it the following day, and she said, no no, he can have it as a gift. A marionette is a puppet held up by four strings, handmade from wood, and they are a classic toy here in the Czech Republic. A very sweet gift. Chris and I both had Thai massages, and they were the two best massages I think either of us has ever had. We both studied Thai massage in a small class in Northern Thailand for three weeks in 2003, what seems like a long time ago. It left me with a deep appeciation of this art for all of its aspects: the physicality, pressure points, the stretching movements, the energetic components... total healing. I think it is best described as an amazing yoga class combined with a classic massage. The way you feel after one Thai massage is like both yoga and massage combined = pure bliss. The mineral bath and steam room filled with Melissa (lemon balm) oil also was magical. We both are feeling completely renewed and ready for the next step of the journey.

Posted by globalmomma 12:54 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged town festival spa thai international film yoga massage bratwurst karlovy vary Comments (0)

It's a great evening after all

our road trip from Ischia to Santa Marinelli

Today we leave the island of Ischia and head North for our next week of adventures. First step is the ferry from Ischia to Naples. The ferry leaves at 10:30am. We leave the hotel, all packed up and ready, at 9:30am, and B takes his morning nap. All is going according to plan. But Ischia is a small place filled with one way streets, so we get turned around on our way to the port. Still we arrive early, but there is a long line of cars waiting to get on the ferry...so we get into the mix. I get out and try to find the 'biglietteria' to buy our tickets, while Chris navigates our Fiat through the maze of other cars all angling and wedging their way into line. I find the place to buy ferry tickets, I ask to purchase for 2 people, one car. Documents?, She asks. Oh no, I have forgotten they need these damn documents for the car. "Un attimo" (one moment), I say and walk quickly toward the line of cars inching their way toward the ferry boats. I find Chris in the line and grab the documents from the glove compartment.  I run back to the shop and buy the tickets, and commence sprinting back to our car in my mini skirt and flip-flops. I check my watch. Three minutes until 10:30am, three minutes until we miss the boat. I just paid 50 euro, so I really hope I get to the car in time to get on the ferry. I run in my flip-flops and little skirt all the way to the boat, where Chris is at the end of the line, talking to the ferry man collecting tickets. I hand him the tickets, jump in the car, and we pull on. We are the final car. After we pull on, the cranks start going and the back of the boat pulls off of the dock. Wow, JUST barely made it. I ask Chris, What were you going to do? Filibuster? iIf I didn't get back were you going to just stall until I made it? He said he wasn't going to take NO for an answer. I tell him I now understand how he is part-Italian. Every once in a while little personality traits creep through. Being in Italy, the land of his ancestors, gives me some further insight into this man I have been married to for 4 years and known for 11. He also has started talking with his hands while he drives, and mumbling insults at people who are driving poorly. Hmm.

Arriving in Naples is again a zoo of people and sounds and commotion. We get on the autostrada and say "Arrivederci, Napoli". We are excited about going North, and make it almost to Rome when Bodhi wakes and we need to get out, stretch, and get some food. I like the highways here - they carry steep tolls so they are not crowded with cars, there is not much traffic, and there are easy stops along the way. You don't have to drive through some historic little town looking for a gas station. There are defined exits for restaurants and gas, that literally only take seconds out of your way. Chris actually looks forward to these travel days on the highways because of the delicious and gargantuan "Autogrills" that are positioned along the autostrada (toll highways). They have salad bars with more vegetables than we have seen in any restaurant. They have warm prepared foods, deli sandwiches, wonderful espresso bars, and cheap wine and cheeses to make your own picnics. In short, a real experience if you are traveling around Italy. Nothing like the road stop depressions we see in America where to stop for food is to surrender to gross fast food or packaged chips and candy.

We follow the road northwest from Rome toward the coastal beach towns. We are heading toward the port town of Civitavecchia. We are looking for a place to stay along the sea, just for the night. It is a frustrating proposition, since it is a Saturday night, in a seaside town, on a summer day in Italy. There is not much available. We go from place to place and each place is either sold out, or exorbitant. We see family reunions, weddings, parties. Apparently the beach was not our best decision for a quick stopover for meeting our two criteria: available, and under 100 euros a night. We are getting desperate, & Bodhi, who has been exceedingly patient for the whole day's journey, has had enough. He is fidgeting and complaining. He is hungry and tired of being in a cramped car seat. I sympathize but tell him he is learning patience, as we all are. We almost decide to just take this place that is WAY over budget, and absolutely not worth it, with a cramped monastery of a room, no terrace, and no place to be once B falls asleep for the evening... We are at our wits end, bickering, pleading with B to last a few more minutes, and almost give in to this place... then decide to press on a little further. It is in these moments that test your resolve, that often you are rewarded. I think this is true in life as well as travel; those moments where you seem at your breaking point, to have reached your absolute limit, this is when if you keep going, you will be rewarded. We were rewarded, with a recommendation for an affordable but quaint place outside of the town of Santa Marinelli on the coast, called "Portofina". I called on our way there, and they had a room, so we backtracked five miles to the hotel. It was perfect. We walk in and there are small shirtless children running around the 'living room' in the lobby of the hotel laughing. There is a hippy-looking man with long curly hair who greets us, and I know instantly this is our kind of place. People are talking, children are playing soccer, and the beach in front of the hotel has rolling waves and is dotted with surfers. We found the surf town for Rome vacationers. I love it here. We get into our modest hostel-like room, get settled, and go outside. Bodhi gets to run around and play - there is a slide, a playhouse, a field of soft grass, and a beach filled with smooth large rocks. He is giddy with excitement. We play and laugh until it is time for dinner, and we have one of the best meals we have had yet. I have pasta with crawfish and salad with shrimp, arugula and fresh tomatoes. Everything so fresh and simple, and fresh from the ocean. After a long drive and an exhausting day, we have arrived at a wonderful stopover and it has been a great evening after all.

Posted by globalmomma 16:38 Archived in Italy Tagged coast beach town santa ferry naples ischia marinelli autostrada autogrill Comments (0)

Our time in a trulli

sunny 32 °C

I have begun writing this blog about our time here for a summer in Italy...in hopes that it will evolve into a book or something wonderful. Also to interest anyone who wants to know Italy, as we will be traveling the country from heel to crown. I have noticed with traveling already that we are a rare breed, venturing 'on the road' indefinitely with a one-year-old. I guess it never struck me as odd, or that particularly adventurous. It was just something we wanted to do, or more like it, felt it was something we had to do.

People look at us with some mix of admiration, confusion and sometimes pity, when they hear our developing story. We left all of our things in storage in Seattle. We booked a ticket to Rome. We plan to stay for our allotted 90 days to the dot, or more, if the authorities let us. Some think we are crazy. Some days we wonder what we are thinking, or what the next stop will be. But so far, it is working for us. An adventure worth taking.

Today we sit in a magical little town filled of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with ancient pagan Trulli homes. They are cone-shaped dwellings that are only in this particular region of Puglia. The cutest things, they are all white houses with cone-shaped stone roofs. We are staying overnight in one of these little trulli in the old town called "Rione Monti". Absolutely one of the most unique places I have ever 'dwelled in', and certainly a one-of-a-kind and uncommon place, that is surely worth a day or two on your itinerary to Italy.


Posted by globalmomma 12:51 Archived in Italy Tagged town houses white stone old trulli monte puglia alberobello alpha apulia Comments (0)

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