I’m happy to report the travel arrived home safely over the weekend. We’ll head back into regular programming now — with Nora giving weekend updates while I’ll fill the space with other things — like the Apprentice In Death teasers I have planned for next week.
The way the travelogues work is Nora sends me her updates first thing in the morning while everyone loads up photos in a shared album. I pick and choose what — I think — best illustrates Nora’s words. That can give me a surplus of great photos that don’t quite work in my vision of the layout. Today I’ll share a few of those photos as a final look at Italy.
The first stop was the Capri Palace & Spa. Here are some photos that I didn’t use first go round.
BW found the suite in Sorrento on a most excellent travel website: Luxury Rentals. The specific suite is here: Amalfi Horizon. The company has locations around the world — the photos alone are worth the armchair trip.
Some photos from Sorrento:
And one last time, here’s the link to the list of workouts our intrepid adventurers did over the course of the vacation.
We have a fine day for our last, and natch, we start it off with a workout. BW surprises me by wanting to repeat his Cize experience, so we are three. But only two–down to me and Kat for the 8 Minute abs. Ugh! We top that off with a long, challenging yoga session with Jennifer Kries.
A little lunch, going through our leftovers, adding some cheese and bread and salami. And hey, last day of vacation, so let’s have a drink with that. And oh yeah, we still have gelato!
We have silly family fun setting up panoramas. Our first is in the villa’s bathrobes which Kat dubbed Obi-Wan-Bathrobie due the hood. So we pose here, change there, ham it up as Jedis in our OWBs. Then do another set as just us.
This family tradition takes some staging, some plotting out, and is always fun with results that make us happy.
A little lounging time, a little Olympics, a little more walk-arounds and basks. Then I have to face it. I should start packing.
We’re all actually pretty organized by the time we head down to dinner. Not many in the restaurant tonight–the one we’ve used for take-out up until now. Wine and pasta, as it should be for our last meal in Italy.
It’s busier down on the street with people in reflective pants directing actual traffic. Lots of cars, scooters, pedestrians. There’s a festival just on the other side of the village. We can see the lights–big, glittery flowers– hear announcements over a loud speaker.
I wander down to the street for a few minutes. I see one of our waiters, still in his work apron, cross the street. (Side note: It’s clear all local pedestrians simply assume cars will stop for them.) He goes to a scooter, opens the back and takes out a helmet–he’s already carrying one. He puts this helmet into the scooter, dons the other, and zips out and away. I wonder where he’s going in his work apron with two helmets.
Across the street two couples are playing cards at the dining room table. Lots of open windows and lights. A restaurant delivery guy comes out with a couple pizzas, gets into his car–(Second side note: Locals also assume cars and scooters will evade the car door casually opened onto the street side.)
Lots of people walking, and we join them. It’s a pretty night, and those big flowers are festive. But boy, this annual town festival was more than I imagined.
Music’s pumping as we walk up a hill flanked with decorations. Flowers, plants, lemon trees, displays of vegetables, all colorful and artistic. And this large park–how did we miss this–is full of people, stalls with colorful candies, jars of honey, crafts and food, food, food. The music’s coming from a stage where girls dance. Ballet, modern dance, duets, groups, a lot of operatic music–much of it dark and dramatic as, hey, Italian. And really well-done. Some sit in chairs to watch, some stand, all applaud. I see a couple of little girls in white tutus who must have been part of an earlier, lighter performance.
There are fluffy little chicks in a cage, and bunnies. Stalls with clever displays of really impressive vegetables and fruit. Things that smell glorious are smoking in stalls. No wonder the restaurant wasn’t crowded. If we hadn’t already eaten (and very well) we would have done just fine with festival food. I buy some candy, because.
We walk back, more mindful I think of the traffic than the locals. The moon’s just started to wane, but remains gorgeous for our last walk home from the village.
A little more packing, organizing, then bed.
We’re set to leave soon for the drive into the airport, then the long flight home. It’s been a picture perfect interlude for us, full of fun and beauty and flavors and adventures. Lots of memories in the book.
A misty morning over the sea with skies that range from broody to blue. The blue wins as the morning spreads.
Kat and I decide on another Shaun T, one we haven’t tried yet as it’s on the last disk in the set. Whoa!
40 minutes of fast, fancy footwork. I would love to conquer this one–and that’ll take some time. Still, it keeps us moving, moving, sweating, sweating and laughing. I’ve decided laughing burns more fat and calories. I’m sure of it.
BW joins us–and was warned!–for the 8 Minute Abs. Now we are three groaning our way through it.
From there Kat and I want some upper body. Rather than bands, Kat’s idea is to use our jumbo water bottles. They may only be a little more than three pounds, but it adds a challenge. 30 minutes of this! I can’t remember the DVD. It’s part of Kat’s Beach Body collection, but when it shifts to the push-ups section, Kat drops down on the mat, and I stay up, with bottles doing tri and shoulder work. My weak right wrist won’t handle the push ups. This turns out to my advantage as Kat gasps and moans through them.
A biting fly is hounding Kat, just won’t stop nipping at her. Our Kat is one who’ll capture a bug in the house, gently, gently release it outside. So when she finally smacks, smacks, smacks, the fly into the patio with her water bottle, snarling: Die! Die! Die! It’s a moment.
We emerge, once more, sweaty, righteous girls. The fly was toast.
By the time I’m out of the shower, dressed and set up for the day, my gang’s left to find the post office in a town between here and Sorrento. Just me and the cat for awhile, and my holiday workstation with the view of the sea.
Shortly after the gang returns I surprise myself by finishing the book. I’d hoped to make some good progress, but hadn’t counted on finishing. Go, me! But in not counting on finishing, I hadn’t done the usual spell check document by document as I went, thinking it would be simpler to do all that at home on my desktop rather than the Surface I only use a few times a year.
No problem, I think, and start.
Let me explain I use an ancient DOS WP program–I will never give it up! And my favorite geek–Jason–has found a way to install this on all my comps. I write in three chapter documents, so run spell check on the first three chapters. However the internet won’t reach my pretty station, so when I hit a word the program doesn’t recognize, and I don’t know how the hell to spell, I need to come into the kitchen, do a search for the word on my iPad. Not much of a deal, and this routine continues up to doc 6 out of 8 while the rest are watching–and commenting–on a triathlon on TV inside.
Moving along here, very happily. And suddenly, on my misspelling of barracuda, it all freezes. Can’t correct (I KNOW how the spell the damn word!), can’t escape, can’t nothing.
Call my beloved geek. Even he is puzzled by this, fiddles and fools, finally finds a way for me to escape and start the doc over. I do so with him hanging out in case. The in case happens, again on barracuda. Well, jeez, what’s with this? He thinks perhaps the program’s caught a bug, but he runs it on his device, no problem. I’m able to zip through spell check on the remaining docs, no problem.
So baffled, all around, we’ll deal with it all later. And I manually spell check the wacky doc. Apologies in advance to my editor.
But finally, involving a lot more time and frustration than it should have, it’s done. I find the quotes I want, move into the kitchen, and through the magic of the interwebs, send the book from our holiday villa in Italy to my editor and agent in New York. [Note from Laura: I forget the title, but it’s an In Death. Since it won’t be out for a year, we’ll wait on that a bit.]
Satisfying, and let’s have a bellini!
Hell, let’s have two!
I’m in time to watch the final leg of the tri–two Brit brothers well into the lead on the last grueling section. It makes it sweet to think about these brothers training together, making the Olympic team together, running now almost side-by-side on that last leg. In the last couple miles (MILES!) one bro pulls away into a clear lead, but second bro is holding firm onto second. In the last, nearly to the finish line, first bro takes a Brit flag from one of the cheering onlookers, and carries it with him across. It’s pretty great. He slows down, actually looks behind him–I like to think he’s looking for his brother–before he crosses that finish.
Then he just lies down on the track. His brother crosses about 12 seconds after, I think it was, drops down with him. They clasp hands, pat shoulders. Yeah, it’s sweet.
It’s time to change for dinner and the short drive back to the first panorama restaurant we enjoyed. Even that short drive involves hairpins and on-coming scooters. The view, the food, the happy service make it all worthwhile. Some local red, pasta and pizza, salads so fresh they deserve to be slapped. And the moon peeks round and red over the horizon. That red wash adds the exotic even as it fades on the climb. La Luna is just as striking tonight as it was last.
A short ride home–we have gelato at home. Mmmm. A fat white moon sailing starry skies, a bowl of gelato. A perfect way to cap the day.
Today’s our last day in Italy. I’m going to appreciate every moment–even if we do 8 Minute Abs!
We have plans for some fun family pictures around our holiday home. But for now my gang’s still sleeping. I think I’ll take a little walk around, rub some rosemary on my hands and enjoy the view.
Shaun T’s our man today as clouds roll and the sun goes in and out. We decide to try his bonus section. It’s not easy to sweat and laugh–because you just can’t make your feet, your hands, your body remember the moves–but we manage. In fact, we manage the two bonus routines for better than 60 minutes. And smooth and soothe and stretch it out with Rodney for 20 minutes of yoga. [Workout list is here.]
I’m done–but Kat’s still revved. I clean up, and when I come back to set up at the kitchen table to work, she’s still rocking it on the patio.
You go, baby!
By the time she’s finished, and she must’ve done around another HOUR out there, the sky’s gone moody and broody. Smoky clouds over the near hills, trailing and swirling. We’ve having a much cooler day, with rain patterning, and the view from our perch forms a huge curtain of soft, spooky white. No land visible past our little islands–as if we might be the ones floating now through the mists and smoke.
A good day to be tucked in. The calico comes to curl up for a nap on the kitchen door mat.
We share our cookies with the housekeeper, have a fun, interesting conversation in bits of language, with some hand language and props. She approves the cookies, and the ‘moat’ Kat (I mentioned KatGyer) created to protect them from ants. One large-ish shallow bowl stacked with a smaller one inside, topped by the cookie plate. Add some soapy water to bottom bowl. If ants come calling, they hit the moat, not the cookies.
With afternoon the blue breaks through, in little pieces at first, then spreading. The haze lifts, sweeps away as it swept in. Jason heats up what he calls his pizzagana–his leftover pizza from the night before. BW surfaces from downstairs, and Kat makes a lovely platter of cheese and bread and salami while I finish up at the keyboard for the day.
I believe it’s glass of wine time–probably long past! And with wine and the revived sunshine, a nice walk about. I could have picked another two pounds of figs easily. I really hope someone does.
We mostly laze through the late afternoon. It’s good to vacate on a vacation, so we decide to eat at home. Time to make another pot of red sauce, more tomatoes and mozzerella. We have big tubes of pasta to boil, and with Kat and Jason willing to walk to the market, more supplies. (And more wine!)
A pretty little cucumber, a lovely red pepper, some fresh bread to go with the garlic-butter-herb mix Kat’s made. She makes more fresh lemonade–mmm–Jason chops, I stir. We create ourselves a very fine meal for dining on the patio.
The moon rises as we eat. It becomes a full, perfect, fat white ball in a sky of deep, twilight blue. Stunning. Stunning enough it draws us away from the food and toward the cameras. I’m not sure any photo can replicate the sheer beauty, the way the moon sails up from the horizon, first just the rounded top of the sphere, then more and more until it hangs full over sea and land. Or the way it glides in and out of clouds, shoots a silver, shining streak over the water. How it seems to glow whiter and whiter as the sky deepens to night-black.
La bella luna.
After the meal, after group KP, I wander out to admire it several times. How often will I have the chance to enjoy a full white moon sailing over the Med?
It’s been a lovely, quiet day of mists and rain, sun and blue, and a breathless moon over dark seas.
Soft breezes this morning. Kat and BW have an outing planned. I don’t know if Jason’s going with them, but I’m happy right here, away from those snaking roads.
When BW says he’s up for a workout, we go for a 30-odd minute Shaun T. BW Cizes it up with me and Kat. I think we rocked it. Our guy cools it off with a swim while Kat and I face the rigors of 8 Minutes Abs, then do some resistance training, another round of cardio before we call that part of our day a wrap. [Note from Laura: see workout list here.]
BW and Jason are heading off to Sorrento to meet Bruno and his boat for the day. Kat and I remain landlubbers. While my girls walks to the market, I clean myself up, set up for writing on the patio.
A lovely breeze, a lovely view.
When I slip into the kitchen for a moment, Kat’s dicing up figs. So pretty! She has her recipe, her ingredients. She has a plan. I work, wander in off and on to record her progress.
A small issue. We have no measuring cups. The Ukranian housekeeper tries to help, finding a small plastic cup and marking it metrically. But Kat’s got her own way.
I watch her take a Coke bottle, cut off the base and make her own cup. She uses the ounce measurements on the blender pitcher, figures and calculates. And has herself a measuring cup for the dough.
This is the girl you want with you when you find yourself shipwrecked on a deserted island.
While it chills, I go back to work. I hear Kat singing along with Adele while she sits at the kitchen table with her tablet. I must have gone deep into the work as suddenly I smell something fabulous.
In I go to see Kat’s already rolled out the dough–making a rolling pin out of aluminum foil and cling wrap–don’t ask! I have no idea how she manages to come up with things like this, but it’s why we call her KatGyver.
The long logs of fig-filled cookies are baking, already sending out a siren’s scent.
A little more work for me–it’s such a nice day and obviously Kat’s got this.
When I knock off for the day, the cookies are cooling. We watch a little Olympics–and a reply of the endearing, amazing, one-in-a-million Bolt’s sprint.
Time to cut those cookie logs into servings. I don’t like figs, have never liked the Fig Newtons my pop was so fond of–and BW continues fond of. But I take a small one. Okay, I like Kat’s Fig Newtons. The cookie part is perfectly delicious, and I’m sure partially because of fresh figs and partially because of Kat magic, the filling is fabulous.
I’m a fan.
The guys text–they’re off the boat, going into town to complete a task, and want to go out to dinner. Okay then. We change, doll up a little. The breeze has come on strong with evening so I pull out the white linen jacket I found–I think in Sorrento.
The calico comes to visit, and oops, a few bites of ham fall out of Kat’s fingers. This draws the gray tabby with the fierce face. This one has a cold, unwavering eye–a warrior’s eye. Not the type to preen under a human hand, this one. In fact, Kat wonders if she meets those eyes directly, he’d turn her into a frog.
He looks capable.
Here come our sailors. A great day for them. Beautiful seas and skies, a wonderful trip along the coast–with photos that show just how high up our villa sits on the cliff. I knew we were up there, but the tiny white building perched up there from the water’s perspective? Wow, we’re UP there.
They got into their best snorkeling gear and went snorkeling–and avoided jelly fish. Jason claims the water was cold enough it took his breath away when he first jumped in. They cruised around our little islands. One is privately owned, with a big villa, other homes, a church. Jason says we wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves, as the ride back was wild and bumpy. But then, he and BW always loved boats. We four all had a fine day doing what we enjoy.
They have photos, lots of them. Some of skinny, crowded beaches where there are more rocks (or concrete) than sand. And still the umbrellas and sun-lovers gather. Back in Sorrento they rode the beach elevator (!) from the beach up to town.
Now, full of sea stories, we walk down to our little village for dinner.
Such a pretty night, the clouds forming swirls and sweeps over the hills. We’re a happy, hungry group and choose the revisit the charming restaurant where we had our first meal here.
A table beside ours is full of people–and a little dog. He looks like a small labradoodle, all curly gold. He’s Chester, and wags over to me for a pet. And more pets. Chester and I bond. The group, from the voices and accents, seems to be a mix of Americans and Italians–and they look as if, like our guys, they’ve been out on a boat, or maybe they’ve come in from the beach or a pool.
Happy group, happy dog.
We’re happy, too, as the food’s just as good as it was the first time, and the service charming.
A walk back under a fat white moon. A visit on the way from a couple of the local dogs. There’s some traffic on our little road tonight–maybe it’s that moon. Where are they going? Scooters, little cars. Then again, it’s such a gorgeous night, why not go for a drive?
I manage to read for about ten minutes, then just drop away.
This morning, the clouds across the sea formed a magic cityscape on the horizon, as if mystical buildings had grown up overnight. There’s just a blush of pink behind them, and the pale, still water along their foundations.
The cloud city holds for awhile, a quiet shimmer, than disappears into the mist.
Kat put together a list of the workouts she and Nora have done in the mornings this vacation.
I’ve added hyperlinks so you can explore if you want — some are to retail sites, some are to the instructor’s sites. All of them are meant to be starting points — it’s up to you to do the research. It even includes a Lumitea Bloating relief method for the big meals you will probably have in Italy. Always look at reviews of the workouts, click on the video samples.
Kat said in her email to me: Everything is either low impact or can be pretty easily adjusted to be low impact. I was very excited to see people getting inspired to workout from hearing about us working out!