Yet another trip to Alassio

The rationale for our most recent trip was a few relaxing days away so my beloved could use the hotel’s Thalassotherapy facilities to sooth his hip which is becoming ever more painful. Of course, I too enjoy the jets in the salt-water therapy pool and found the warm herbal baths soothed my current chesty cold. We also attempted to be digital free for the trip. I succeeded but my beloved and his iPhone are rarely separated, only when he misplaces it.
I always enjoy the splendid views on the drive over to Italy particularly when the weather is still warm and sunny. So sunny in fact that after our arrival we sat out on the beach on the hotel’s loungers enjoying the warm sunshine. We’ve stayed at the hotel many times but sitting on the beach is a first for us. I did have a quick paddle in the sea but frankly preferred just listening to the waves lap the shore. I find that really relaxing.
Obviously at this time of year, the place is blissfully quiet. There’s a few holiday makers, but it’s mostly residents. All of which means it’s easy to get tables in our favourite restaurants. However, because my beloved can’t easily walk far, we confined ourselves to those closest to the hotel – no hardship.
We first saw this particular hotel back in 2009 during its renovation, while we were staying in Alassio on the cycling club’s annual trip. We stayed in a nondescript hotel at the far (noisy) end of Alassio which was favoured by OAP coach parties. Someone on the committee had organised the trip and I assumed had chosen this particular hotel so as to remain within our budget. However, I later found a number of much nicer hotels, with better facilities, including car parking, for the same price.
The presence of so many OAPs in the hotel meant that if we didn’t go in for breakfast and dinner promptly they’d picked the buffet clean, just like a bunch of locusts. Not that the food was anything to write home about. The hotel also made us unforgettable packed lunches to eat while we were out riding around the area. After three trips with the club where neither the accommodation nor the food lived up to its billing, we decided to call it a day. Instead, we decided we’d go on our own, staying and eating when and where we wanted.
We took my parents to Alassio the following October, my mother’s last trip abroad, to show them the hotel where we’d stayed when I was eight, in neighbouring Laigueglia. We ate however in the restaurant just down from this hotel which was still undergoing renovation. My father was much intrigued by the works and we promised to take him there once it had been completed. A promise we sadly never got to keep.
Lunch was an enjoyable affair as the restaurant has a conservatory over the sea which affords diners lovely views. We had one of the prized corner tables which I’d pre-booked. My mother had the fried fish which she insisted on eating with her fingers. My father was always concerned that her behaviour (she had Alzheimers) would attract undue attention but no one batted and eyelid and the staff were very solicitous. Eating at that restaurant always brings back warm memories of that luncheon.
We’ve spent time in the area most years either because of cycling events such as Trofeo Laigueglia and the Giro d’Italia, it’s a useful mid-way meeting point for clients from Milan and Turin or as a lovely place to enjoy a few days of fare niente. It’s a change from where we live, even though it’s only just over the hour up the motorway and, because of its sandy beach, the place has a real seaside vibe.
When we were last there in April, we noted with some dismay that our favourite place for Aperol Spritz and nibbles had changed hands. We rapidly found somewhere else to enjoy our evening drink and nibbles. There’s not exactly a shortage of great bars. This time we needed to find one closer to the hotel and chanced upon one near the main station. This bar’s Aperol Spritzs were excellent, as good as my beloved’s, and the nibbles plentiful, all for a bargain Euros 5,00 per head! This has now superceded the excellent and longstanding Bar Roma, where Ernest Hemingway used to drink – that man drank everywhere!
During our brief trip, we took full advantage of the thalassotherapy facilities and I enjoyed a bracing walk around town on my own, ostensibly to get some food to take back with us though I did, of course, indulge in a spot of harmless window shopping. We may try to fit in another trip, post my beloved’s hip-replacement op, as you can never have too much of a good thing!
Please note that in order to maintain my digital detox, all the photographs were taken on previous trips

Missing Il Lombardia

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)

Holiday photos: day 15

Not quite sure how it happened, but I’m writing short posts two rather than one day in arears. My only excuse is that I am on holiday. After two weeks of lotus eating, I’m now seriously chilled. That is, of course, the advantage of a long vacation. When I worked full-time in the City (of London) by the time I’d relaxed, it was time to go back to work. Mind you, most of the time, it still feels like I’m working full-time!

My beloved has kept on top of his work by spending a few hours each day answering emails and telephone calls but even he has managed to relax, aided by a spot of Thalassotherapy. After yesterday’s squall, the sunshine and crowds have returned, plus we have sporting action with the Tour de France.

It’s rare we go on vacation without the bikes but we’ve both been suffering of late; my beloved with the after effects of his broken leg and me with my tweaked hamstring. We’re now staying in a place where we’ve previously cycled a lot so we look longingly at anyone and everyone on two wheels – if only! To be honest, wherever we go, we assess the place in terms of whether or not it would be a great spot to ride around.

 

Holiday photos: day 14

We were in the Basque country which I always say is green for a reason! The day after France’s triumph in the World Cup final, the heavens opened. It wasn’t cold, but it did pour down. We watched the rain battering the hotel, which is adjacent to the beach, from the warmth of the surprisingly quiet Thalasso Spa. Goodness knows where the other guests had gone.

On a day totally bereft of any sporting action, what were we to do? There’s only so long you can enjoy the Spa facilities before you wrinkle like a prune. Fortunately we were able to grab a few walks in between the showers for which we were fully prepared with umbrellas and anoraks. You can take the Brit out of Britain, but old habits die hard and all that………

Salvation came in the form of a report from Paris showing the incredible parade of the World Cup victors in their open top bus progressed along the Champs Elysees, before  a reception at the Elysee Palace with family, friends and M Le Pres. Wonderful scenes in the garden of the Palais as the players and Macron  mingled with hordes of children all eager for autographs and selfies. It’s been a wonderful three-day celebration for France.

Two becomes one

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!

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My beloved with his two crutches

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.

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My beloved with his sole remaining crutch

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.