Postcard from Portugal (not)

As you know, we were planning to spend Christmas and New Year in Southern Portugal. The choice of destination had been made by my beloved who’d booked the flights to Faro, booked the car hire and chosen the hotel (with my blessing).

While we were enjoying Thanksgiving on Long Island, he started to question the wisdom of his choice. When we got back from the States, I ascertained we could cancel the hotel and hire car up to two days before our planned departure.

After much dithering, my beloved announced he didn’t want to go. I cancelled the bookings. Having organised meals and drinks with friends prior to our intended departure, this left a bit of a hole in our diaries. Plus, I’d pretty much emptied the fridge, the freezer and store cupboard!

We decided to fall back on our home from home just over an hour up the road in Italy. I booked us in for three nights from 23 December. Meanwhile, we pottered about locally in the warm sunshine and, on the Sunday before our trip, I decided to try out the brunch at the Hermitage in Monte Carlo. We’ve been looking for a replacement for the one at the Grand Hotel Cap Ferret which, after a change of chef, has sadly ceased holding its winter Sunday brunches.

Fear not, the Hermitage with its unlimited champagne offering happily fills the bill. It was also rather enjoyable strolling around Monte Carlo in the winter sunshine, admiring the yachts in the harbour and the flash cars parked outside both the Hotel de Paris and the Hermitage. After a simply delicious brunch in rather splendid surroundings, we window shopped, admired the Xmas market and then drove home.

The following day we were up reasonably early for our drive to Alassio. We ate lunch in one of our regular haunts before enjoying several hours relaxing in the hotel’s Spa. After that delicious seafood lunch we happily settled for an Aperol and nibbles in one of our favourite bars in lieu of dinner.

Unlike last year when it was decidedly chilly, this year the sun shone and we lapped it up sitting on our balcony. We had a very relaxing time, quite different to that which we’d planned for Portugal. We ate out at some of our favourite restaurants and checked out the Aperol offerings at some of the newer bars. We even did a spot of shopping as Alassio has an outlet Vilebrequin, home of my beloved’s favourite swim shorts. I’ve lost count of how many pairs he has but we’re well into double figures.

One of the antiques shops which had a couple of globes in the window was open but after much debate my beloved has decided he wants a modern globe and we’ve now identified a firm which makes them to order. I’m hoping this will be a less expensive option but I suspect not.

We even walked into nearby Laigueglia (where I first holidayed in Italy aged eight) on Christmas Day to work up an appetite for our Christmas Dinner that evening. We returned home the following day, well rested after our three-day break, loaded down with Italian goodies, feeling decidedly mellow after that heady mix of sunshine and spa time.

The weather between our return and New Year was unseasonably warm and sunny allowing us to spend plenty of time out on our bikes. In addition, we were able to lunch with some business contacts who’d unexpectedly popped over to Nice from UK for a few days. We might not have spent our holidays as we intended but it turned out to be a thoroughly acceptable substitute.

Thursday doors #46

Would you believe it, I’m still featuring doors photographed on my last visit to Alassio, in Italy, which are all still from the same street!

We’re enjoying our first Thanksgiving on Long Island and I hope you’re all having a great time too with family and friends.






Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite 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).

Thursday doors #45

Today I’m featuring doors photographed on my last visit to Alassio, in Italy, which are all from the same street!







Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite 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).

Thursday doors #44

Today I’m featuring doors photographed on my last visit to Alassio, in Italy, which are all from the same street!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite 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).

Thursday doors #43

The next couple of weeks will feature doors photographed on my last visit to Alassio, in Italy, all from the same street!






Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite 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).

Thursday doors #42

Today and the next couple of weeks will feature doors photographed on my latest visit to Alassio, in Italy, most of which were all from the same street! However I’m kicking off with church doors – always rich pickings.

Church front door
Church Facade
Sant’Ambrogio

The Sant’Ambrogio Parish Church was built in the second half of 15th century on a site previously occupied by a small 10th century church. The Romanesque style that characterised it was converted into Baroque in the early 18th century though the bell tower dates back earlier to 14th century. The Renaissance façade, with its sloping roofs, was superimposed in 1896.

Nave

The beautiful church interior of the church contains some significant works. The central vault is frescoed with scenes from the life of Sant’Ambrogio painted by Virgilio Grana from nearby Albenga. There are also works by other well-known artists, such as Bernardo Castello, Giovanni Andrea De Ferrari and Giulio Benso.

Next door to the church is a cinema!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite 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).

Thursday doors #11

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).

Happy New Year

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!

12 days of Christmas: day 8

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.