“Take me out to the Ball Game….

Our little apartment is proving to be a cosy nest. Close to everything in the West Village. This morning we decided to explore it a little more.

What better way to start then by walking the 6 mins to Rob and Jordan’s and adding to the walk by going up the six flights to their apartment. You sure would keep fit living there.

They were ready to go to work so…..

Back down stairs and a quick photo.

If you visit NY, an apartment in this area would be great. We’re in Charles St. They’re in Commerce Street.

Other streets around like Christopher, Grove, Waverly are all quiet and have easy access to three metro stations. 14th Street, Christopher St are on the red 1,2,3; and W4th and Washington has blue ACE and orange BDFM. Once you’ve bought a card and loaded it with cash you’re right to go. The subway, buses etc. are an easy system once you know which direction you are going!

Washington Park is nearby and one of my favourite spots. It has a wonderful stone arch, beautiful fountain and areas of lawn for relaxing. And a dog off-leash area where all the locals mix and mingle – dogs and owners.

I love the sign on the grass here.

We walked past the University of NY law school and saw recent graduates fluttering around in their purple robes, stopped for coffee at one of the many coffee places in this area before continuing onto Soho. David Prior, an Australian food writer living nearby recommends Stumptown coffee and Atla for breakfast.

Soho and it’s charming streets – Prince, Mercer, Green, Worster and LaFayette – are littered with lovely boutiques. Some big known names, others new designers. Fortunately for Steve most weren’t open. Hours here are more 11-7pm. Or even 9pm.

Jordan works in this area at Glossier – a skin and make-up company. I’ll be visiting her on Friday so more about that then.

We reached Canal Street and bought a cheap duffle style bag for the extra purchases we’ve made including some birds for the garden! Fibreglass, not live!

A map of the area with a red dot marking Glossier.

By now it was Ball Game time.

So onto the Red1 to Times Square a quick change to the 7 out to Citi Fields, home to the Mets. One of the local baseball teams.

The whole thing was great.

Arriving and walking through the now grey rainy skies to the entrance.

Inside and up the giant elevators to the concourse, past all the food vendors selling beer, sausages , pretzels, cotton candy, supporters gear and cocktails!

We found Lynn and Bill and braved the conditions to sit in our $91 seats a few rows back from the protective net.

Great seats. Pity about the rain. But Barry bought Bloody Marys! Apparently that helps with the now cool conditions and the cheering & supporting!

Lynn and I huddled as she explained the finer points of the game. She’s been a Mets fan for years. She knows a lot!

They were playing the Blue Jays from Toronto where Barry comes – from so Steve became a Blues supporter with Barry.

By the third innings the rest of our swim trekkers had arrived and we knew the local Mets team were struggling. No home runs to 3. Not a great start for them.

Food called – so off to the Shake Shack. All coloured lights and fast food. Burger, hot dogs, beer and nacho! By now the temperature had plummeted, we were cold and sought shelter in cheaper seats under cover.

At the end of the 7th inning they sing. ‘Take me out to the ball game…..’ we all sang with gusto and beer-fuelled voices.

The Mets were still playing like they had celebrated too much after their 12-0 win last night. They play about 4 times a week – at least. It’s big money here so they play them all the time.

Despite many leaving – it was still raining – we stuck it out. We made it to the end and caught the train back into Manhatten.

Steve and I headed home to rest up because we had a dinner date at a restaurant called Blue Hill Farm with Rob and Jordan.

I had heard about it on a podcast with Leigh Sailes. Jordan had also heard about it and as it was close by here Jordan made a reservation a month ago.

It was wonderful. Expensive – yes. An experience- yes again. The food was fresh and simple and just lovely flavours.

There is a four course menu for about $95. I choose the fish followed by artichoke in a delicious sauce followed by pork and a gorgeous raspberry dessert. The restaurant was friendly, not pretentious at all, with an elegant design.

What a lovely night with the new Mr & Mrs Maitland.

Palazzo Tour

  • There’s something lovely about breakfast on a terrace with a beautiful view. Do you agree?

Today we sat on the terrace and had coffee and planned our day.

We planned a trip to the beach but before we left we spoke to Sonia our host at the Palazzo. I asked could we have a tour of the house as our Swiss friends had yesterday and told us the owners were happy to show guests their house.

She was lovely and organised her father to take us.

We had to walk out our door No 27 and along to No 39 -they own it all. We re entered and Luigi Senape was there to greet us. He guided us through their private Palazzo. Too many rooms to count. All very luxurious. He explained the family history – all in Italian and we understood almost all.

Luigi Senape in one of the tooms of the Palazzo

The Palazzo has been in the family for 300 years. Luigi grew up in this place and like his father was an advocat – a lawyer.

There are many old valuable items in the house including 3 pianos,  one a grand which Luigi plays.

He was so charming and at the end told us he was 88.

In the library Steve saw a Dan Brown book he had just finished. He pointed it out and said (in his best Italian) that he had just read it.

Later in the afternoon, after our trip down the coast I saw his daughter and she asked if my husband was Dan Brown!

Lost in translation!

So after the Grand Tour we left for the rest of our day…….

A drive down the coast road to the tip of Italy. A little seaside place called Santa Maria da Leuca.

To get there we drove past : hundreds if not thousands of Italian beach lovers with their umbrellas, plastic deck chairs, buckets, spades, blow up play things. And all the women wear bikinis. Young, old, thin and not so thin. I’m definitely overdressed.

It’s a colourful scene and proves its not just Australians who love the beach!

We stopped for coffee at a little beach side cafe. All blue and white tables and a smiley, friendly nonna served us – but it was very windy so we didn’t swim.


We passed trattorias, osterias, cafes, apertivi bars, camping grounds, holiday homes with shutters down against the heat or …..perhaps they were empty?

We arrived at SS d Leuca in time for a lovely swim and picked a place for lunch right on the beach. The place in the photo above the blue umbrellas.

Once again simple delicious food

We watched the swimmers and soaked up the atmosphere.

Naturally we finished with a gelato – just a small one! As we walked also the promenade.

We arrived back at Gallipoli and our Palazzo Senape and decided to take another swim. This time at the beach at the end of our street.

I love the blue mats running down the sand so when you get out you don’t have to get sandy! This beach unlike many of the rocky beaches has coarse sand.


We’re back at the Palazzo writing and preparing for dinner at Bastion a lovely looking restaurant recommended by our hosts.

More later!

Lecce you are Lovely

Today is Friday and we are feeling sad about the terrible tragedy in Nice. Travel is wonderful but these days there is an element of danger. But we won’t let it stop us.

So today we met our guide for the day. Lovely Simona. I found her website and booked a three hour tour. It’s great going with a local and as it turned out she lives around the corner from our apartment.IMG_2019

We set off and she began to tell us about life in Lecce both now and in the past. She is a born and bred local,  though her partner Tim, she described as more English than the Queen !

We walked and she pointed out the features on the buildings. This was a wealthy area in days gone by due  to production of wine, olives  and tobacco.  There are a number of large Palazzo, now either privately owned or broken into apartments. In this way it’s like the very lovely areas of Rome.

We looked at the markings above the doors, the churches, Cathedral and Basillica. They all have a story.

The really interesting thing about Lecce is the use of  Cartapesta or paper mâché as as an art form. Used to make statues,  it is particular to this area. It’s used in Venice for making masks but here it’s in the churches. You can hardly tell the difference between the statues made from Paper mâché , wood and stone. Such craftsmen.

We visited one shop in a quiet area behind the Cathedral and had a nice talk with the owner.  A lovely lady named Stefania. Ginetta – you and Em would love this work. Her more modern work is also amazing. She had made a bustier you would love and a dress. And a mermaid!

We looked at the altars of different style – Baroque and Renaissance.



Such beauty in one place.

We had to stop for a refreshment. A coffee over ice with a dash of almond milk to make it sweet. Delicious. It’s called ‘Cafe in Ghiaccio con latte Di Mandorle’.

More walking and talking and noticing things we would otherwise have missed – including the drain cover marked with the city symbol of the she-wolf and the oak tree; and the fascist symbol from the 1930’s.

Significant symbols everywhere.

We retreated to our apartment for a piccolo siesta and to catch up with the Tour de France

Then it was time for our passeggiata. We walked, we shopped, we had a glass of wine and we watched others doing the same.


Dinner was at Osteria 203 recommended by Simona. It was a beautiful meal with a gorgeous bottle of local red. To make it more special we watched a parade go past our restaurant. It was to take St Carmine back to her church. Accompanied by a band. Steve thought the band almost unique – not because of the typical Italian playing con gusto and slightly off key – but of the 40 or so members, no three of them were in step even with each other!



After dinner walked some more and visited another lovely shrine  – the most popular Gelateria named Natale. What a place.


Buona notte my friends

Please leave a comment about something you love when you travel



A day to explore

We left Alberobella this morning after witnessing the fun run and visited a few nearby villages.


Runners making it in the heat.


A little boy stretches with his dad after the run.

I’m pleased we booked to stay there. Alberobella is a very interesting village  but keep in mind that it is touristy. Arrive late in the afternoon when most the visitors are leaving.

We then stopped in Locorotonda which is another very nice village.

When visiting a church we happened upon a Christening. A little girl named Georgia. She was very good but after awhile got grizzly and cried. So Nonna to the rescue. She came forward out of her seat. Squeezed some drops into a dummy and pushed it in the baby’s mouth. Instant quiet. Sedation works!

Baby Georgia being met at the door to the Church. Before sedation

As we drove we got closer the sea. This is the Golf of Taranto the bit between the point and the heel of Italy’s boot.


A cluster of Trulli


A beautiful park in Locorotonda


Everyone seems to have a small garden outside their door

Arriving in Matera was breath taking.


The Sassi of Matera has been used in many films. Including Jesus …..with Mel Gibson


Not long till the next Swim Trek

To get you in the mood I have included this to tell you how I got into swimming!

Life is going swimmingly!

“You do realise this swim trek is a swift swim?”

That sentence leapt from the email. What have I done I asked myself?

My husband, a keen swimmer was wanting to go on a swim trek holiday. Some people choose walking holidays , some choose to cycle (activities I enjoy)  but my husband wanted to swim! “I don’t swim” I said. “You’ll love it!” replied my husband!

I did think it sounded great,  puttering around on a boat in the blue waters of Sardinia, enjoying the scenery whilst my husband swam.  Then I found out I couldn’t go on the boat unless I was a swimmer! I’d be left at the hotel on a small island all day by myself.

So I decided to take up swimming.


To start with, I couldn’t swim the length of a 50 metre pool, so I quickly switched to a 25 metre pool and took a few lessons. I’d recently retired so had time to get to the pool each day and swim. Slowly. Up and down.

I was slow. So I added fins. I persisted. I started to enjoy it.

I counted down the days till we left. I checked the website describing the swims we would be doing – 2-3km a day. Each day. Every day for 6 days!

Then we had to email our swim times over 1km. Proudly I entered 32 mins. I was quite chuffed that I could even swim a kilometre. Then that email arrived. A Swift Swim. As opposed to their usual leisurely slow swims – let’s enjoy the scenery type swim. I was the slowest by far.  Longer distances for more experienced swimmers.

I replied quickly saying I would wear fins , would improve daily, and know when to get out of the water. They agreed. I’m not sure if I was pleased or not.

We arrived on the beautiful island of La Maddalena  and I felt physically ill during the orientation chat,  when meeting our fellow swimmers  and telling “our swim story”. I was the least experienced swimmer, and despite my husband’s constant encouragement started to wonder about my stupidity at joining the swim.

On the first day I hyperventilated during the orientation 300 metre swim. It was only our beautiful, caring, encouraging guide, Italian Francesco, my fellow swimmers and my husband who kept encouraging me that I did some of the afternoon swim.



Then slowly and surely I got in to swim a little after the other swimmers had started. About 3 km after! Then on day two I swam about 2 1/2 km. The next day I jumped in earlier and sure enough covered about 3 1/2 km. And each day it increased and as it did so did my confidence and my enjoyment. The swims were challenging, safe, but most of all fun. The waters were clear and beautiful and I would hate to have missed out.

At the end of the week’s fantastic farewell dinner I was presented with Francesco’s ‘Capo Bianco’ for the most improved swimmer. What an honour! The friends we made on that first trek have remained friends and we have swum together several times, included a crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar – from Spain to Morocco. No I didn’t do that!

Who would have guessed that 3 years later with 2 more swim treks to Sardinia and gorgeous Greece I would become a very keen swimmer. I’ve joined a local squad and though still not very fast and still sometimes using fins, I actually love swimming.

July 2nd we start our week-long swim trek in Montenegro. I’ll keep you posted on my swim journey. I’ll be sending in a post to this blog. Read along as I swim!


Who said you were too old to take up a new sport?




The 3 islands swim

Biggest swim today -for me!

We motored off on Marco’s boat and arrived at the first island, admired the “pink” beach then moved a little down the coast and off we went.

The first swim was 5 km and I started a little behind the first group, swam the channel, had a little break then finished with the group at the most gorgeous  bay – Santa Maria. I must have swum about 3.5 km . I can hardly believe it. A week ago the furthest I had ever swum was 1km.

We stopped for lunch and rest time and swam a little in the crystal waters then set off at 2.30 for the next 2km along the coast to the lighthouse. I did more than half – so all up around 4. 5km! 
There I go

Lunch was a gorgeous pasta dish with salad. Francesco with his bandana prepares a pretty good lunch.

Francesco making lunch

The ride back was just a little rough as the wind has come up a little. 

Now in the hotel having a coffee followed by a Aperol Spritz. Dinner out with the group tonight. They are such a fun group. All starting to bond.

Tony, Kerrie, Chicca, Steve, Isabelle, Liz and Peter

Arriving at La Maddelena

The fun has begun . Swim trek has started.

Our  hotel is good. Just by the sea about a Km out of the town . View from the room, large verandah, comfy bed. Not luxurious but  good for week’s stay. Definitely worth asking for a sea view.

View from the hotel


Beautiful bay views


Our terrace

We met the group last night and had a dinner together with our guides Francesco and Glenn. Let me describe.
Three couples from Sydney. One couple from London. All friends. Turns out there are multi coincidences. They are ex-water polo players (with their wives) from Sydney Uni and although in their 50’s know our son Rob from Syd Uni water polo. Then turns out one of the ladies knows my sister Catherine as her children went to Catherine’s school ! Liz also knows my niece Helen because they swim together at Bronte swim club where they live!
So many coincidences from the Sydney crew.
The others are Emily – 30’s from UK; Clare – 30’s from Canada, Isabella – 30’s a Swiss doctor. All 3 have done swim treks before. In fact there are 3 doctors, a nurse and a radiographer, so medically we are fine.
Then there are 3 brothers one from Paris,one from London and last from California – they are half French and range from 30-40. All married, but on a brothers bonding week. This is there 3rd swim trek. Last swimmer is the class clown Chris from London. Very funny, very pale and now quite red from sunburn .

We had our first group meeting and had to introduce ourselves and say a little about our swimming. Well I didn’t have much to say except I’ve only been swimming for 4 month! And that I’m so nervous I could vomit!

Everyone seemed lovely and encouraging especially Francesco our lovely Italian guide. He is from Rome and seems to be the loveliest guy.

The next morning we met down at the little beach near the hotel. The TEST!
We started with a 300m test swim, to group us. I got a yellow hat! Then breakfast and we were given our hats. I’m (naturally) in the slowest group with Isabella and Liz. So off we went for our 1.7 km swim around the beautiful bays to our picnic spot – an unused convent only reached by swimming or by boat. Had lunch and rested and wandered around then at 2.30 we set off for a 4 km swim. I cleverly stayed on the rubber duckie with Francesco and dropped in half way through the swim. We finished at a jetty then had to dress and walk 2-3 km back to our hotel. Talk about tired! And it’s only day 1!

Poor Chris our one Englishman -turns out he is a very good swimmer but so pale he burns easily . He has burn marks on various parts of his pale skin.

Small local  beach for a little training!

When we finally got back to the hotel we had to swim 4 short laps by ourselves to be videotaped for analysis of our stroke! More swimming!

We cleaned up had an hour off then walked a km to our restaurant for dinner.
To bed by 10.30 and a Sunday sleep.

Tomorrow start at 7 am for a crossing from island to island.

Lake Garda

Today we changed locations and the difference between a charming hill town – Spello – and a smart lake side holiday place- Bardolino- is amazing. The drive took about 5 hours and was freeway all the way . I did all the driving ( wow even I’m impressed) and some of it was in the rain . Narelle and Anne are great to travel with and we had lots of laughs along the way. We arrived in Bardolino on Lake Garda and the sun shone.

Our apartment is big and right in the center of town, a  block back from the lake. We went for a long walk along the lakeside and spotted many German tourists, bike rider galore, joggers, lovers, duck feeder, a clarinetist sitting on a rock by the water playing a haunting melody, ferries arriving and leaving, rows of colourful flowers, decking going for miles, people sitting in bars sipping on the drink of choice for an aperitif – Aperol and Prosecco spritz . It wa all very charming. We returned to the unit to have a shower and off to a seafood restaurant next to the apartment and the heavens opened!

After a lovely dinner we are back in the unit preparing for a well deserved rest.

Just let me tell you about the parking at the Apartment. We had to book a spot before to secure one of only 8 spots. We couldn’t see how to get into it as it all courtyard in front of the apartment.
The lady said to drive in the gate and wait. She pressed a button and out of the ground came a garage rising from the floor like something from a stage show. It was hysterical to watch it appear ( with a table from the courtyard restaurant still on the top!
I then had to drive the car in , hop out and she pressed another button and the car slowly disappeared into the depths below and the floor of the garage all covered with  courtyard tiles settle back into position. What a show!
I then went down some stairs and drove it out of the garage and into one of the 8 spots! Italian technology. Wish I could post a picture.