It’s yet another door from Alassio, on the Italian Riviera. Bizarrely, given how often we visit, it’s one I’ve only recently noticed. It could do with a quick clean and polish to better accentuate its handsome features. I particularly like the door surround and the contrast with the terracotta painted walls.
Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).
I hope you’ve all had a very enjoyable Festive Season and are looking forward to 2019. Of course, for those of you who continue to celebrate until Epiphany, just carry on!
We had a surprisingly lovely time before Christmas in Paris (see future posts on our trip) and spent our first festive season in Italy. We’ve previously spent the holidays in USA, Germany, Austria, Australia, UK, France, Czech Republic, Spain and Switzerland. Last year while we were in Austria, we’d decided to spend Christmas 2018 at home in France. And that remained our intention until late November when a hotel we frequently stay at sent us news of their Christmas offer – sold!
We had a relaxing few days in the Italian sunshine enjoying some farniente and la dolce vita. (I’m far better at the latter rather than the former.) Of course, we’re accustomed to spending Christmas with just the two of us, doing exactly what we want. This year was no exception.
The hotel provided us with a slap up fish based Christmas lunch which was nice and light, providing like me you skipped dessert. That aside, we spent hours wallowing in the briny waters of their thalasso facilities and generally being pampered head to toe. Oh, and we might have had a few glasses of Aperol Spritz!
The warm sunshine encouraged us to take part in the daily walk along the sea front being amused by the antics of the children, and quite a few dogs. The town had embraced the Festive Season in a big way with plenty of attractions for young and old. Many of the hotels and restaurants were open for business, and doing a roaring trade.
We returned home after a leisurely three-day stay and continued to uphold our holiday mood, largely encouraged by the continued sunny weather. Even better, my beloved’s leg/hip has sufficiently improved to enable us to go out on our bikes together – happy days!
We love heading over the border into Italy for a bit of farniente and la dolce vita, which may or may not involve a couple of Aperol Spritzs! If we go for a couple of days, we’ll typically stay in Alassio at a hotel where we feel right at home. It has a Thalasso therapy centre and what the French call pied dans l’eau (seafront location). I took this photo in April from the jetty, looking back towards the town’s seafront with its pretty multi-coloured properties. I love towns which are right on the seafront, much more family friendly and so much more enjoyable to wander around as they’re often traffic-free. We’ll be spending Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day here this year – our first Italian Christmas.
Yesterday, was the race of the falling leaves, one of the five Monuments (major Classics races) of the cycling season. We should’ve been there enjoying the live racing, drinking Aperol Spritzs in some of our favourite cafes and appreciating the wonderful scenery. We weren’t there for two reasons: my beloved’s hip and the parcours.
We prefer to stay in Como rather than Bergamo to watch the race. We’ve done Bergamo, it’s a perfectly lovely town but it’s much further away from us by car than Como. We like it when the race starts in Como, as it did in 2016. Last year’s race started in Bergamo and, thanks to traffic problems, we had a nightmare of a journey to collect our accreditation. Naturally we were expecting this year’s race to start once more in Como. It didn’t. It started in Bergamo, again.
Consequently we were more than happy to watch the race on the big screen. The main action at the pointy end of the race involved last year’s winner who lives nearby in Lugano, Vicenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), initially going mano-a-mano with the winner of this week’s Milano-Torino, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ). The latter dropped the former and prevailed to win his first monument and become the first Frenchman to win the race since Laurent Jalabert in 1997.
Despite missing out on a trip to Como, it’s not all doom and gloom. We rather enjoy a bit of la dolce vita at this time of year, the cycling is merely an excuse or rather our reason to visit. Instead, mindful of my beloved’s soon-to-be-replaced hip, we’ve decided to spend a couple of days in Alassio at one of our favourite hotels which has a Thalassotherapy treatment centre. My beloved will be able to soak his cares away during the day and we’ll be able to enjoy nibbles and Aperol spritzs galore in the evening. We’ll be strolling along the shore rather than the lake – a result all round!
In order to have a complete break, we’ll be leaving the mobile phones, iPads and Macs at home. It’ll be a three-day digital detox. I wonder how we’ll fare?
(Two images from the race courtesy of RCS and La Presse – D’Alberto / Ferrari)
Yes, this is a sad tale about separation and loss. My beloved had arranged a business meeting in Alassio on Monday – part way for both parties. I decided we’d spend the Sunday night there so he could once again enjoy the benefits of the Thalassotherapy centre and a massage. He’d returned late the night before we left from a dental exhibition in Birmingham, his first solo business trip since breaking his leg in early March. We decided to have Sunday lunch in Alassio and booked a table at one of our favourite seafood restaurants which overlooks the sea.
We descended to the garage and as soon as I spotted the lit rear lights on the car, knew I had a flat battery. They hadn’t been on when we’d parked late the night before, I always check. As I opened the door, the alarm squawked into life. That was the offender. Maybe someone had tried to nick my wheels again but this time I had been fully prepared with an alarm and special wheel locks. The battery was indeed as flat as a pancake. We pushed the car out of the garage, got out the jump leads, and an obliging neighbour gave us a quick spark – that’s all it takes – and we were off.
On the motorway, just past Nice Nord, we heard a funny sound. To be honest it sounded as if my exhaust had fallen off but that was unlikely as Tom had just been serviced. Was it us? Was it coming from the plethora of Harley Davidsons which had been constantly streaming past us, on their way home from a Harley get-together in Grimaud? We soon had our answer as with their sirens and lights blazing, the police pulled us over. A first for us!
We got out of the car to discover one of my beloved’s crutches, which he’d obviously left resting on the bike carrier, had dislodged and had been scraping along the tarmac, hence the noise. As to its companion, we have no idea of its fate. It wasn’t in the back of the car. We presume it was lost somewhere on route. My beloved had rested the crutches on the bike carrier while he piled the bags in the car and then had forgotten to put them in too. He’s going to have some explaining to do down at the pharmacy who lent us the crutches.
The police tried hard not to laugh at our explanation of what had happened and waved us on our way, after we’d put the badly beaten up remaining crutch in the car. Luckily my beloved can now manage with just one. Meanwhile, I’ve been looking for a stuffed parrot and eye patch to complete his ensemble.
Alassio’s a favourite destination of ours for a day trip for a spot of la dolca vita but I hadn’t been since I took my sisters over there for lunch last April. We first stayed in Alassio back in 2009 on a trip with our cycling club, was charmed by the place and have since stayed there a number of times over the years, as well as enjoying day trips for lunch and a spot of shopping. Alassio has the advantage of being just 90 minutes up the road, and what a road! The motorway offers views all along the coast and whether the sun’s shining or not, it’s always a fabulous vista.
We left after my beloved’s morning physio session and drove as far as Ventimiglia before stopping for a seafood lunch beside the azur blue sea. Ventimiglia’s another regular haunt. We frequently drive over to shop in its large covered market and adjoining shops before enjoying a spot of lunch. My shopping is roughly 30% cheaper in Italy than in France, as is lunch. Mind you, any saving is swallowed up in fuel and tolls.
The holiday season starts when I receive my first Christmas card. Most years it’s one from a couple who almost bought our house in Chiswick back in 1993. Their lovely cards typically showcase one of the photographs they’ve taken on their travels. I always think: “That’s such a good idea, I’ll do something similar next year.”
Well, this year I (finally) have! Of course, I couldn’t pick just one photograph, so I went for a montage to sum up our year.
1. Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage site
I took this picture of the rose-coloured town of Albi, on the river Tarn, on my iPhone from the ramparts of the cathedral. It was taken during a magical week-end, returning to a place I’d only driven through during the 2013 Tour de France. My beloved had to visit a potential client in nearby Castres and, as we are wont to do, we turned a business trip into something special.
2. The view from our bedroom window
This view is the main reason we bought our apartment and it’s one of which I never tire. I take a photograph most mornings but some, like this one taken last winter, are more spectacular than others.
3. Alassio, the Italian Riviera
My beloved took this photograph, with his newly acquired Cannon camera, while we were waiting for the peloton to pass us by on stage two of this year’s Giro d’Italia. We spent the week-end in nearby Alassio and, not long after the peloton passed, I was greeted like a long-lost friend by the owner of the small family hotel I’d stayed in for the Trofeo Laigueglia in February. That’s just one of the things I love about cycling – you make friends everywhere.
4. Getaria, the Basque country
Our card wouldn’t be complete without a photograph from the Basque country but which one to choose? We have so many. I love seascapes and I took this photograph on my iPhone from the promontory in Getaria looking back towards the coastline. The past couple of years, we’ve stayed in the same five-bedroomed, family-run hotel for both the Clasica and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Getaria is a lovely spot, famed for its Txakoli wine, with plenty of bars and restaurants just a short walk from the hotel.
This shows the crowds waiting for the start of stage three of the Tour de France with the magnificent Het Steen Castle – the city’s oldest building – and the Cathedral of our Lady in the background. After the riders had set off, we had a delightful lunch in one of the many restaurants in the old town.
6. Sag Harbor, The Hamptons
I adore US colonial style housing with gingerbread trims and this is a particularly fine example of the genre. I also loved that this business in Sag Harbor’s main street was selling French antiques. We witnessed many fine properties on our September trip to US.
7. Costa del Sol
This was taken by my beloved from the road outside the restaurant where we’d stopped for a long, convivial and typically Spanish lunch. It was on the finishing circuit, not too far from the finish line, on stage two of the Vuelta which played out in the hills of Gualdahorce on the Costa del Sol. This year we were very fortunate to be able to visit the starts of all three Grand Tours, a feat we’re unlikely to repeat.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas
much happiness, good health, and every success in 2016