SO WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE AT HOME?

 

This is a question we get a lot. And since it seems to be of general interest, here are some thoughts...

 

  • it is really nice to be back at our house. Our tenants had taken good care of it!
  • Lili is happy to play with her friends again
  • Interestingly, going away involved a fair bit of arrangements, but so did coming back
  • we had to get cars - mine was ready for me as I had pre-arranged it with Toyota but it took a while to find a suitable second car
  • we also needed to get new phones as our iPhone 4s no longer well support the operating system upgrades
  • I had to go and get some working clothes - the backpacker wardrobe is not really appropriate at work
  • we now have two bunnies! We had been talking about pets (almost nonstop as the case will be with Lili), and I had promised her to go to the Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy to look at them. You can guess the rest.
  • unpacking our stuff from boxes made us want to get rid of more stuff
  • now we are making dentist appointments and catching up with other things that have been on hold
  • I went back to work full time five days after landing in Vancouver.  That was pretty surreal...

 

 

Here are Callum and Oly! They are brothers. 

Here are Callum and Oly! They are brothers. 

DANTE'S WORK

So many people have asked us on our trip about Dante's art. So I am posting here some images of his "Horizons' project. They are based on images from Mexico from our previous trips.

Who knows what will come of all the photos he took on our Sabbatical?

GREAT SWIMMING ACCESS

I just wanted to post this fabulous image from Denmark, as I think the Pugliese  'beaches' have some missed opportunity. 

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The Adriatic is so gorgeous, clear turquoise water teeming with little fish and no big waves to tumble water loving kids. But most of the water access is handled much better for boats (guest mooring sitting empty). Swimmers are largely allocated to hobbling and sitting on seaweed covered sharp boulders. 

One of the Bisceglie beaches. 

One of the Bisceglie beaches. 

Don't get me wrong we had a great time. But even the locals agree that the water access is not the best. 

EATING LUCREZIA BORGIA'S BREASTS

How is that for a grand title for a post? In a tribute to the staggeringly outstanding pastry in Italy I thought I'd share this Bisceglian specialty called 'Sospiri'.

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Now 'sospiri' actually means 'sighs' and the story goes that the pastry is - hmmm - representing the shape of dear Lucretia's breasts. I am a little unclear why, but she certainly was one special lady. 

Firstly, she was the daughter of a pope - an unusual and powerful starting point right there. She was married three times and her second husband was Alfonso of Aragon, who became the Duke of Bisceglie. He died under suspicious circumstances only two years into their marriage, probably poisoned - apparently by Lucretia or her brother.

There are wild stories about the parties and life led by the Borgias. Lucrezia had at least ten children (with many different men I might add) and I like to think that maybe this impressive scale of motherhood had something to do with her mammaries being thus immortalized as cream filled spongy mounds with delicate sugary skin.

Happy Sospiri, folks. 

 

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AUGURI SERGIO

In yet another amazing turn of events on this trip we met an absolutely lovely family at the Molfetta riding stable. Corrado and Ninfa have an eight year old son Sergio who was riding at the same time as Lili, both doing pony games. 

So there we were, two sets of parents at the gate to the field so of course we started chatting, and at the end of the thirty minute lesson we were not only being offered a ride home, but also invited to dinner. Talk about Southern Italian hospitality!

Enjoying a dinner at Corrado's Molfetta house. It has been in their family for several generations and sits in the middle of a large olive grove. 

Enjoying a dinner at Corrado's Molfetta house. It has been in their family for several generations and sits in the middle of a large olive grove. 

And here some true twenty-first century stuff: the kids (Lili, Viola and Sergio) playing with a drone.    

And here some true twenty-first century stuff: the kids (Lili, Viola and Sergio) playing with a drone. 

 

Two days later it was Sergio's birthday and we were so happy to attend his party! 

Two days later it was Sergio's birthday and we were so happy to attend his party! 

This is Peppina, a personal chef from Bari. She is making panzerotte, deep fried Apulian pastries. My favorite were the radicchio and gorgonzola ones, and I am absolutely not disclosing how many I ate.

This is Peppina, a personal chef from Bari. She is making panzerotte, deep fried Apulian pastries. My favorite were the radicchio and gorgonzola ones, and I am absolutely not disclosing how many I ate.

The handsome birthday boy. 

The handsome birthday boy. 

Lili also made a friend in Anila, a neighbor.   

Lili also made a friend in Anila, a neighbor.

 

Sergio had the coolest birthday cake. It had Minions on it!    

Sergio had the coolest birthday cake. It had Minions on it! 

 

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A mountain of cream puffs with Minions.

At the end of the evening there was an absolutely wonderful moment when we released eight paper lanterns to the sky from the roof patio of the house.  

At the end of the evening there was an absolutely wonderful moment when we released eight paper lanterns to the sky from the roof patio of the house.  

Thank you for a wonderful evening! Tanti auguri Sergio. 

Thank you for a wonderful evening! Tanti auguri Sergio. 

RIDING IN MOLFETTA

We looked for a place for Lili to ride and found a stable in Molfetta, the next town over. The owners are the Minervini family and boy do they have an interesting story! The father Greorio lived in the States for ten years, and is famous for riding a horse, solo, for ninetynine consecutive days from the Mexican border to Washington state. (He said the Sonoma desert part was 'very difficult' - I can only imagine).  His story has been written into a book, and it may be made into a movie as well!

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The stable only does Western style riding, and we learned about completely new things to do with a horse such as reining and cutting.   Gregoriano's daughter Caterina was the teacher at Lili's lesson. She is wearing the 'Italia' cap in the photo above. 

The stable only does Western style riding, and we learned about completely new things to do with a horse such as reining and cutting. 

Gregoriano's daughter Caterina was the teacher at Lili's lesson. She is wearing the 'Italia' cap in the photo above. 

IMAGES FROM BISCEGLIE

I noticed that I have not really posted many images from Bisceglie. It is a small fishing town on the Adriatic coast in Puglia. Here are some pictures and comments.

This is th center harbor of Bisceglie. We live in Palazzo Ammazzalorsa, the big building with five white windows next to the pink building under the tower on the left.  

This is th center harbor of Bisceglie. We live in Palazzo Ammazzalorsa, the big building with five white windows next to the pink building under the tower on the left.  

The courtyard at our building.    

The courtyard at our building. 

 

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Dusk image and a night shot of the harbour. Our building is at the extreme right on the dusk image.

Dusk image and a night shot of the harbour. Our building is at the extreme right on the dusk image.

It takes a while to get the Italian business hours. Stores may be open until noon or one. Then pretty much everything closes, and re-opens again around five thirty or six. In the middle of the day nothing is open - except maybe a coffee shop or two.

It takes a while to get the Italian business hours. Stores may be open until noon or one. Then pretty much everything closes, and re-opens again around five thirty or six. In the middle of the day nothing is open - except maybe a coffee shop or two.

A view from the old city where we live. It is very authentic, and buildings are being renovated all the time.

A view from the old city where we live. It is very authentic, and buildings are being renovated all the time.

This picture shows how well some of the renovated apartments blend in. 

This picture shows how well some of the renovated apartments blend in. 

I really like this street furniture on the main shopping street. The stripe on the ground is an uplight which works really nicely in the evening.    

I really like this street furniture on the main shopping street. The stripe on the ground is an uplight which works really nicely in the evening. 

 

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Here is an evening image. 

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These pictures are from the Ethnographic Museum. The bottom one shows how horses were used to press olive oil. 

These pictures are from the Ethnographic Museum. The bottom one shows how horses were used to press olive oil. 

DAYTRIP TO TRANI

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Trani is a port city a bit north of Bisceglie. We took the bus there with Dante's friend Vito.  It is right by the 'heel' of Italy if you think of the country as a boot.

The days are hot here and any sprinkle of water is always welcome. 

The days are hot here and any sprinkle of water is always welcome. 

The inner harbour is very similar to that of Bisceglie, only bigger. 

The inner harbour is very similar to that of Bisceglie, only bigger. 

The medieval cathedral is very beautiful and the white limestone is calmly devoid of decoration. The wood beams and roof structure are also typical. We happened to visit at a time of a wedding and as we listened to the service we noticed some of it was given in German. An EU marriage most likely! 

The medieval cathedral is very beautiful and the white limestone is calmly devoid of decoration. The wood beams and roof structure are also typical. We happened to visit at a time of a wedding and as we listened to the service we noticed some of it was given in German. An EU marriage most likely! 

Nice sit down lunch in town. 

Nice sit down lunch in town. 

Sitting by the water's edge right outside the Cathedral. If you look carefully you can see boys jumping somersaults off the rocks into the water in the background.  

Sitting by the water's edge right outside the Cathedral. If you look carefully you can see boys jumping somersaults off the rocks into the water in the background.  

Mommy can you give me a push? 

Mommy can you give me a push? 

LILI'S INUKSHUK GARDEN

Well here's something you probably did not expect to see but here goes! 

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And this following picture explains where this thing of beauty was built - the community beach of Bisceglie in Puglia. You can see Lili, Dante and his friend Vito walking to the beach in the left. 

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The beautiful beach stones were perfect for playing with. 

The beautiful beach stones were perfect for playing with. 

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The swimming was awesome. 

The swimming was awesome. 

I also gave Lili a long warm stone Shavasana with head massage on the beach. She loved it. 

I also gave Lili a long warm stone Shavasana with head massage on the beach. She loved it. 

BYE BYE SAN GIMIGNANO

Our time in San Gimignano came to an end. Here are some images of our stay. 

This is what tourists in San Gimignano look like: bending backwards and looking up to photograph a tower! 

This is what tourists in San Gimignano look like: bending backwards and looking up to photograph a tower! 

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Lili also went for a trail ride at an Agritourism place called Il Vecchio Maneggio. We took the local bus there and as it only ran four times a day we were two hour early. No problem we had a salad and then Lili went to help brush the horses to get them ready.

Happy horse helper. 

Happy horse helper. 

There is an Ornithology Museum with a bird collection that is over 100 years old! Lili found the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest animal on earth. She said it looked smaller than she thought. 

There is an Ornithology Museum with a bird collection that is over 100 years old! Lili found the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest animal on earth. She said it looked smaller than she thought. 

On our last night, we went for an evening walk through the city. On the way back we heard horse hooves and sure enough this handsome Italian dude was galloping home on his mount. We loved seeing that. 

On our last night, we went for an evening walk through the city. On the way back we heard horse hooves and sure enough this handsome Italian dude was galloping home on his mount. We loved seeing that. 

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At Casa del Poggio - best goodbye hugs from our hosts Daniela and Margherita.  

At Casa del Poggio - best goodbye hugs from our hosts Daniela and Margherita.  

Waiting for the bus to continue our trip! 

Waiting for the bus to continue our trip! 

VISITING SIENA

We took the bus to Siena today. It is one of the bigger Tuscan cities and it is very famous for its Piazza del Campo, a shell shaped plaza that is the scene for the annual Palio de Siena, a bareback horse race. 

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The Palio will be held in two days (the dates are July 2 and August 16 every year) and the city was abuzz with preparations. The plaza had bleachers ready and there were people and vendors all over the place.  

The horses represent different sections of the City and victory in the race leads the winning quarter to show off their flag. Flags were prominently displayed all through the City and also for sale. Each flag has an emblem of the block, e.g. Panther or Eagle. 

At the Panther quarter. 

At the Panther quarter. 

Flags at Piazza del Campo. 

Flags at Piazza del Campo. 

Lili and Dante checking out the bleachers. Minutes later staff came out and put several 'Do not Climb the Bleachers' signs all over them.    

Lili and Dante checking out the bleachers. Minutes later staff came out and put several 'Do not Climb the Bleachers' signs all over them. 

 

This picture shows the blocks - blue flags on the left and yellow ones on the right.  

This picture shows the blocks - blue flags on the left and yellow ones on the right.  

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Siena also has a beautiful, huge and unfinished cathedral. 

Siena also has a beautiful, huge and unfinished cathedral. 

 

OOH YOU ARE SO LUCKY

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I don't know how many times we have heard this: 'You are so lucky to be making such a trip!'

 

Of course that is true, and it is always said in the spirit of friendship and admiration.

But actually it is not true at all.  This trip is not a product of luck, it is a product of planning and choices we have made towards our goal.

I am a  believer in creating my own 'luck' and manifesting one's desires. We started planning for this trip over three years before we left. I applied for a self-funded leave from my employer, and had a portion of each paycheck set aside into a deferral account. We also opened a separate account where we diverted any little extra monies that came - from Dante's gas station tips to my basement renovation designs that I would do on the side of my main job as an architect and project manager.  Little by little there was a hundred,  then a thousand, then two.

We sold a lot of stuff in the process of purging to rent our house out for a year. We also sold both our cars. Dante left his job - and turned 65 a month after we left. As Lili is a homelearner, we can be anywhere for her education...

You get the drift.

Trips like this do not need to be expensive. We have selected mostly inexpensive countries and our day to day habits are pretty frugal. The point is that we have been able to be together, as a family, for a full year and  experience all of this adventure together. 

So my response to the people who say that we are lucky is: You could do this too, you know.

 

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TOOTHY BREAKFAST

Here we are at our peaceful B+B, sleeping in. Then we went down to the outdoor kitchen to make a lazy breakfast.

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Lili advised that her tooth is coming out this morning and a good thing that is too, since in the afternoon Lili is going riding!

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We like outdoor kitchens! Here Lili is eating Nutella from a small package to build up the courage to pull her tooth out. We said it would be good to get it out before she goes on a horse this afternoon.  The building behind her is a chicken coop.

We like outdoor kitchens! Here Lili is eating Nutella from a small package to build up the courage to pull her tooth out. We said it would be good to get it out before she goes on a horse this afternoon.  The building behind her is a chicken coop.

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Now I have a tooth...   and now it's out!

Now I have a tooth...   and now it's out!

FIRENZE PICS

Some touristy, and some not,  pics of Firenze:

 

This is the Duomo. It is mind bogglingly huge and does not have a big plaza next to it so it feels even more huge. 

This is the Duomo. It is mind bogglingly huge and does not have a big plaza next to it so it feels even more huge. 

Another dome - the cupola of the Medici Chapel.

Another dome - the cupola of the Medici Chapel.

Lili and Michelangelo statues. We both thought his representation of the female breast was a bit odd. 

Lili and Michelangelo statues. We both thought his representation of the female breast was a bit odd. 

Happy traveling family at Piazza Michelangelo. 

Happy traveling family at Piazza Michelangelo. 

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Ponte Vecchio is full of goldsmiths. Side by side, one next to the other.   We looked at earrings but did not buy any.

Ponte Vecchio is full of goldsmiths. Side by side, one next to the other.   We looked at earrings but did not buy any.

Awesome dinner at Brac, a hip vegetarian restaurant that is also a bookstore! 

Awesome dinner at Brac, a hip vegetarian restaurant that is also a bookstore! 

GUESS WHO IS A WELL DRESSED CHILD

My aunt Eeva visited us in Torino and sported a different GUESS t-shirt pretty much every day. Now I am somewhat clueless about current name brands but do love good looking design wherever it comes from. And Dante truly has the best eye when fashion shopping.

So on our little walk to see the Firenze Duomo we walked past the GUESS Kids store and stopped in to see what they had. A half an hour in the dressing room later we now have a very well dressed child with not one but two GUESS jackets and one dress.

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