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Dieting Italian style in the Cinque Terre (or "Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen...")

We have arrived in the Cinque Terre which is on the North West coast of Italy. The direct translation is "Five Towns" and the idea is that you stroll / hike from one town to the next marvelling in the sights of the sea and the beauty of the towns. And the towns are lovely - it is as if Walt Disney came here 80 years ago to get his ideas of what fairy castles etc should look like.

Pretty as a picture

We are staying in the most Southerly town inside the Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore. There are no real hotels inside the Cinque Terre and the books (Lonely Planet and the "Rough Rubbish Guide to Italy") advise staying with locals. Accordingly we found ourselves following a burly, and I thought rather scary, Italian man home from the station after we arrived. Despite initial trepidation we ended up at a lovely apartment with a view of the sea at a fair price and with a gushing landlady who is wont to say things like "you should-a make-a the hay while the sun-a.... s…

A Good Kicking

I have little, in fact no, tolerance left for young women who sit with their legs crossed on public transport. Why they do it is beyond me - surely they know they are taking up more than their allotted space when they do so? I mean, i'd be bound to notice if i spent 50 minutes kneeing the person in front of me in the back and non-stop kicking the person next to me with every vibration of the bus - wouldn't you? It's as if they are completely unaware of their own bodies from the ankles down. Give me strength. (By the way apologies if you believe I am unfairly maligning the good name of "young women" - it is just that I havent yet encountered any men / older women / boys / girls / dogs / cats that exhibit the same objectionable behaviour)

Away from the kickers

Enough with the moaning. As you can probably gather Lisette and i have been spending a lot of time on buses of late - we have been a little over ambitious with this holiday in that we are travelling pretty m…

All Italian women look like Bono

Each one the same face swathed in 90% black plastic, shielding the wearer from having to interface with the world. Oddly it appears that at roughly the age of 50 they all abandon their U2 ambitions and start to interact with people once again - reasons for this are not yet fully understood.

Lisette is learning quickly that the term "local speciality" is not necessarily a recommendation. For lunch she had what is best described as "pig fat... on toast" and yesterday evening was a strange pasta dish that was so intensely green in colour that we have dubbed it "Kermit Pasta". Most of these strange menu choices have been down the fact that none of the restaurants have even a hint of an English translation and so we have been thrusting into the great unknown. Happily my choices have been much more pleasant - no fat on toast for me! However, Lisette has made me promise that we track down an English menu before we make a food choices for the next meal.

Kermi…

Learning things about pizza

Dear all,

I type this from the sunny town of Sorrento in Southern Italy where Lisette and I currently reside! We pulled into town late on Sunday night and since we are in the birthplace of pizza we have devoted much of yesterday and today to researching the topic in depth.

The first part of our education took place last night when we went for dinner at midnight (the journey to Italy having taken somewhat longer than we anticipated). Unfortunately despite having that 'late Latin lunching' reputation almost all the restaurants were shut by the witching hour. In fact lots of places seemed to be open but all told us that they were shut and pointed us the to the main square. We had actually been deliberately avoiding the main square as each restaurant appeared to have extra zeros after the prices ( -Presumably this is for the pleasure of dining in the main square where all the Italians congregate with their motorbikes put-putting away in the background....)

Anyway, since we had…

John and Lisette: The Quest For Coffee Continues...

But not for much longer! Currently a major component of the day still involves the seeking out of good coffee wherever we might be. Much as Indiana Jones seeks out historical treasures, I seek quality beverages! Rather than the standard coffee that I go for at home I´ve been instead imbibing iced coffee by the bucketload - partly for the heat and partly for this is truly the elixir of the annointed! To give you some idea of the affection in which I hold this drink I should say that I type these words in a cafe in which I have so far consumed 4 Cappucino Frio`s today. Ahhhh, life is good!

First of many...

In general Merida was a dead loss on the coffee front, this may explain (at least partially) my lack of delight with the place. We actually spent most of our time in Merida going on trips to get out of Merida. And some of these trips were champion. I can now say that I`ve seen 24,000 flamingos in the flesh! (well more the pink feathers) To my surprise not one was standing on o…

We have eaten mole!

But fear not you "Wind in the Willows" fans out there - "mole" as far as the Mexican people are concerned has nothing to do with cute brown burrowing creatures... Rather it´s a thick sauce that is poured liberally over tortillas. For added differentiation it's also pronounced "molay". So we've had endless fun repeating "moly moly moly moly" whilst sporting makeshift beauty spots constructed of compressed bread. Keeps us entertained. Surprisingly it (mole) tastes like chocolate. This is because it´s made of chocolate (amongst other things) - unusual in a main meal but very nice indeed.

We´ve never quite got to grips with our jet-lag on this trip - mainly as I´m firmly convinced that Mexicans have got it dead wrong time-wise. The sun rises at about 5am. Early. However it sets at 5pm... Too early to my mind. I think personally that they should take a "let´s maximise the sun" approach to their lives and switch the clocks…

Hotel owners out there....

....Do you need more money? If so then I have the step-by-step plan for you:

Step 1: Remove light fittings from rooms - no wasting money on expensive bulbs.
Step 2: Remove plug sockets from rooms - let´s not have customers using that expensive electricity.
Step 3: Stop changing the sheets and towels in the room - saves the environment and saves on the laundry
Step 4: Treble your prices.
Step 5: - And this is key - Change the name of your hotel. You are no longer the "Hotel Filthy Lucre" - you are the "Righteous (*not* miserly) Eco-Lodge".

Now sit back and watch the cash roll in! :-)

I can write this with some authority as Lisette and I have been staying in an eco-lodge (and staring with shock at various bills in the interim).

We moved on from Isla Mujures on Monday. At this point I was still bagless and getting a little weary of the "wash clothes in sink before going to sleep" routine I´d adopted for sanity´s sake (and for that of the local air quality…

I stand here in all that I own

Dear All,

We're in Mexico. And clothes-wise all that I have is all that I'm wearing. If I could offer you a few pieces of advice to guide your life they might go something like this...

1. Don't go to Miami - ever
2. Don't fly American Airlines (Mangesh I should have listened)
3. Pack everything useful to you in your carry-on luggage
4. Don't buy liquids in an airport

Let me elaborate. Lisette and I arrived in Miami yesterday afternoon en-route to Cancun (Mexico). We thought it would be a simple matter of changing planes and off we go. No such luck. Instead we were stuck in the longest slowest moving queue we've ever experienced so we could go through "immigration". Why we had to do this since we had no interest in the USA apart from treating it as a glorified petrol station I don't know. Anyway you can't argue (well you can but people that do that are rarely seen again) and so we bided our time,buttoned our lips and finally got through…