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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Whirlwind Weekend

So. Last weekend was a big one for the baa-lamb. Out of sheer respect for the elderly, Let's just say it was the beginning of  a new decade and leave it at that. But to bring in this birthday (and to perhaps tick a few places off the bucket list), we decided to head to the Puglia Coastline.
We were staying at a really nice B&B at Monopoli. Its run by a really great chap called Cesare, who makes you feel like royalty. When we woke up next morning, this is what we were greeted to:





 The Lord knows I'm not the strong, silent types, but this one had me speechless.
The city was bathed in a golden glow and everyone greeted you with a wave and a smile.


On asking for directions, we were personally escorted to this lovely little store where a very nice man tried to sell us some of his prosciutto. His opinion of us may have dropped a few notches after having discovered that we ate no meat.
Apart from the many cathedrals dotting this lovely city, Monopoli also boasts of a Castle fronted on three sides by the sea. For once it was nice to enjoy a place without be trampled underfoot by a wave of tourists.
The locals haggle with the fishermen as they arrive with their catch

Colourful little fishing boats
you could happily spend hours wandering in the many little streets and bylanes, often wondering how on earth they've managed to park a monstrous SUV right in the middle of a square whose only access is a lane barely large enough for a bicycle. It was a barmy 24 degrees and the water was perfect for a spot of swimming and of course pebble picking. Pickwick was is heaven with this treasure-trove of sparkly 'crystals'. 
...At night we were treated to a street market. And the way people were flocking to it you might think it was the kumbh mela. Instead we spotted all of 8 shops. Selling some good stuff no doubt, but apparently we were the only ones who looked like buying. The rest of the town was watching a movie from the 1950s on scree the size of a large-ish home theatre. And we had nervous groups of giggly teens dotting the place - apparently waiting for the big event- The dance and open air disco.
I love what they've done to the LPs, don't you?

This was some sort of weird shrine on the road. I suppose for the fishermen to come back safe...



I gave a LOT of business to this stall. And Arun to the neighbouring Gelateria.
We left the young things to it and settled back comfortable in our soft beds, falling asleep to sound of waves washing ashore mingled with distant music and much laughter.

We also happened to visit Albe Robello which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The trulli houses were truly unique (Sorry! Couldn't resist that), and we spent a good deal of time posing artfully in from of them, Arun also discovered some amazing Hazelnut Liqueur. So Yumm! Sadly we couldn't carry it back to Bucharest. Oh well, another excuse to visit again, eh?




The next morning we decided to visit another much-recommended sea-spot: Polignano a Mare The views were just breathtaking and the cliffs were just calling out for us to sit and dangle our leg out over the sea while licking up many-favoured Gelatos (or so I was told by the family)





Next Gelato stop on the list: Matera. Where Sassi is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Yes, I know it was just a weekend, but really, with so many things to see, we just had to visit - and you can see why:
you can see the cave dwelling sin teh distance as well...

This young boy was so endearing- he was trying to eat his icecream while playing the accordion


That, sadly, brings me to the end of our wonderful trip to Italy. I'm going to glaze over the parts where we arrived well past midnight and had to run groggy-eyed to school the next day. But If we ever hit the Euromillions Jackpot, I have my eye on a nice little seafront property in the Puglia coast....