St. Martin and St. Maarten….equal parts of paradise.

Watching the boats, planes and waves....
Watching the boats, planes and waves….

In March we headed to St. Martin for a week of fun in the sun.   It was actually a business trip… no really it was.   Despite the business obligations, there was plenty time for relaxing and exploring.  We love St. Martin as this is the island that we went to for our third date!   We fell in love here and spent many months here on our boat, so there are so many good memories!  This trip was about revisiting those spots that we hold near and dear and just liming in the sun and sand.  It was a fantastic week and we can’t wait to return.  Although, we must mention that we did experience an armed robbery at a restaurant on this trip.. not good for tourism St. Martin!   Other than that, the beaches were just as beautiful, the drinks just as cold and the romance still in the air!!  Looking forward to our return….

There is nothing like a healthy meal, and this is nothing like one....
There is nothing like a healthy meal, and this is nothing like one….

Some of the places that we returned to included Jimbo’s for Margarita Madness at Simpson Bay Marina where we called home with our boat for many months;  Anse Marcel and it’s beautiful resort where Pirate courted the Cajun on our first visit; Friars Bay Beach for a private and amazing beach day and excellent french cuisine- just as we remembered it; the Yacht Club for front row views of the yachts coming in and coming out of the harbor, and Mr. Brisby’s on Oyster Bay Beach for all you can eat lobsters, conch and fish… so delicious!

Pirate enjoying the view on Anse Marcel.
Pirate enjoying the view on Anse Marcel.
A return to the beach where we went when we first met...
A return to the beach where we went when we first met…
Hanging out at Zen It on Grand Case beach
Hanging out at Zen It on Grand Case beach
A couple of fruity libations....
A couple of fruity libations….
Big smiles for a gorgeous day!
Big smiles for a gorgeous day!
A refreshing Presidente beer makes it all alright...
A refreshing Presidente beer makes it all alright…
Lazy day at anchor...
Lazy day at anchor…
Beach bar time!
Beach bar time!

2014 was off to a rough start….

2014 began with a new knee for the Pirate.  After many years of abuse in football and multiple surgeries to attempt to repair the damage, it was finally time for out with the old knee and in with the new deluxe Titanium knee.  Total Knee Replacement was a major surgery and Pirate was sidelined for a good 8 weeks.  During that time, we relied on the important things to get us through… Booze, good drugs, food, more Booze…   By Mardi Gras though, we were able to rally and participate in some of the fun.   Not to the extent of previous years.. but we still did ourselves proud.

 

January pictures are sparse and seem to be of a single theme….

 

January 2014 surgery recovery....
January 2014 surgery recovery….
January 2014...still recovering.
January 2014…still recovering.
We had to ship the medicine in....
We had to ship the medicine in….
Mid-January required more meds....
Mid-January required more meds….
By the end of the month, things were looking up...
By the end of the month, things were looking up…
Mardi Gras time and he is out and about!!   A cane and pink pants...
Mardi Gras time and he is out and about!! A cane and pink pants…

 

Enjoying lunch...so much to celebrate!!!
Enjoying lunch…so much to celebrate!!!
New friends to celebrate with!!!
New friends to celebrate with!!!
Funky Tucks party at Circle Bar.
Funky Tucks party at Circle Bar.
Big smiles!!!
Big smiles!!!
my, what beautiful hair you have....
my, what beautiful hair you have….
A switch of headwear...
A switch of headwear…
Catching the parade in our neighborhood...
Catching the parade in our neighborhood…
Enjoying the view from a balcony on St. Charles.
Enjoying the view from a balcony on St. Charles.

 

Catching up on the year gone by…Where did the time go?

Gumbopirate back from hiatus.... Rum drinks in hand!
Gumbopirate back from hiatus…. Rum drinks in hand!

Wow… It has been nearly a year since I have updated this blog!   The year has just slipped by.  Mostly we have been busy working.  New business ventures and traveling between our businesses has kept us extremely occupied with little free time for blogging.  Also, the day to day of running a business does not make for an interesting blog read.  It is much more interesting to read about tropical locales, pirate adventures and international escapades.. fortunately we have had some of those this year that I will do my best to catch up on here.   And as 2014 comes to a close, we are embarking on one of our most exotic adventures yet-  a trip around South America!  So stay tuned….  Gumbopirate is back in action!

Roman Holiday

Cajun and Pirate along the Tiber River
Cajun and Pirate along the Tiber River
Fountain of Trevi at night.
Fountain of Trevi at night.

This December we went back to Italy and visited the fabulous city of Rome.  We were very fortunate and had beautiful, sunny skies during our visit and a crisp air and temperature of around 50 degrees.  It is always nice to visit a city like Rome in the winter months when there are very few tourists.   However, when visiting in the winter,  you take the chance of getting weather that may not be optimal.  Lucky for us, it was perfect during our stay.

 

We stayed at Hotel Albergo del Senato which is located on the Piazza della Rotunda and overlooks the majestic and beautiful Pantheon.  It was the absolute perfect hotel and location.  We were mesmerized by the Pantheon itself; built in 126 AD and one of the world’s largest unreinforced concrete domed structures centered by an oculus providing natural light inside.  It was originally built as a shrine to pagan gods but was converted to a church hundreds of years later and still serves as a church to this day.  We spent countless hours during our stay sitting at outdoor tables of enotecas and trattorias along the Piazza della Rotunda.  We always sat under delightfully warm heat lamps, devouring bottles of wonderful red wine and admiring the view of the Pantheon.  Our hotel room’s balcony also looked out onto the Patheon’s front portico and we loved observing the busy comings and goings of people visiting each day.

Overlooking dome of the Pantheon
Overlooking dome of the Pantheon

We visited other Roman must-see places such as the Fountain of Trevi, the Spanish Steps and the Castelo Sant Angelo.  We walked across the Tiber River on ancient bridges and browsed the high-end shopping paradise of the Via del Corso.  The window shopping was stunning with huge storefronts for Italian fashion houses like Prada, Valentino, Roberto Cavali, Armani, Versace and Bulgari- just to name a small few.

Wine with a view..
Wine with a view..

Another highlight was the wonderful food.  We mostly just wandered in to small trattorias and sampled their specials throughout the day. We drank lots and lots of Italian red wine with each and every meal.  It was a wonderful stay!

 

After Rome, we went to the French sea-side town of Toulon and took a fantastic tour of the Bandol wine region in the Provence region of France.  Known for their fantastic Rose’ wine, the Bandol vintners we visited did not disappoint.  We loved every sip and have found some new favorites to ship home.

It was a wonderful European getaway which was followed by a transatlantic cruise to Florida.  15 days of rest and relaxation as we crossed the Atlantic- pure heaven!   We did stop in some other great European ports (Barcelona, Azores), but we have visited those places before and written about them here on Gumbopirate.   We came back rejuvenated and ready for the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  Also, we came back to face a long-awaited knee-replacement surgery for the Pirate.  Ugh..   But now I am happy to report that we are 3 weeks post-surgery and Pirate is doing well (no need for a peg leg) and back on his diet staple of rum!  Each day he makes great strides with his knee and he is working hard to rehab before our next adventures- our annual trip to the Daytona 500 and a fabulous tropical getaway to St. Martin and Anguilla!!  Stay tuned….

roman fountains everywhere
roman fountains everywhere
Enjoying afternoon sun
Enjoying afternoon sun
Cajun in front of Pantheon..
Cajun in front of Pantheon..
Curbside at a trattoria.
Curbside at a trattoria.
Beautiful at night
Beautiful at night
Bandol winery Terrebrune
Bandol winery Terrebrune
Happy pirate
Happy pirate
Inside the cellar
Inside the cellar
Beautiful Bandol
Beautiful Bandol

Reminiscing about our 2013 summer beach adventures….

Happy in Hope Town
Happy in Hope Town

As the cold weather is keeping us bundled up inside (well not too bad as we are in New Orleans) and the Pirate is recuperating from his third and final knee surgery (they put in a new one this time), we are thinking about the fun times we had this summer in the warm and sunny climates of the Bahamas and Nantucket.  I never did get around to uploading photos and trip reports from those trips and now seems a good a time as any….

In July we spent a wonderful 12 days in the Bahamas with our friends Sloane and Mike.  We rented a beach home in Hope Town, Abaco.  The house was perfect, named By the Sea as it sits directly on a beautiful beach.   However, it was quite windy while we were there making the surf untenable.  Lucky for us, we also had a pool!  We mostly lounged by the pool and made all sorts of tropical drinks each day.  In fact, it is quite obscene the amount of rum and champagne that we went through.

Pirate and Mike at ferry landing in Marsh Habor
Pirate and Mike at ferry landing in Marsh Habour
Our porch on the beach..
Our porch on the beach..
Sampling tropical concoctions at the bar
Sampling tropical concoctions at the bar
Beautiful beach views
Beautiful beach views

We also took day trips to Marsh Harbor to see friends who live there and to Guana Cay to the fun and rowdy Nippers and the more subdued Grabbers.  The Sea of Abaco was pretty rough to make the crossing to those islands in the small boat that we rented so we opted to take a larger power boat and all was great!  Even better since someone else was captaining beside us, we didn’t have to limit the number of Nippers and Guana Grabbers we consumed.

Birthday dinner for Pirate
Birthday dinner for Pirate
Pirate at Nippers
Pirate at Nippers
Hope Town Light House
Hope Town Light House

We ate loads of conch and grouper at a myriad of beach shacks all around the island.  Our main mode of transportation was a golf cart, which got us everywhere we needed to go.  We had a fantastic and relaxing time.   The Bahamas is not our favorite place, but spending it with great friends made it a trip to remember.  We will probably never go back to Hope Town, but we will definitely see Mike and Sloan again in other beachy locales each summer!

 

Our trusty transportation
Our trusty transportation

In September we spent some time on Nantucket with our besties Amie and Bill.  They invite us to their home there every year and we never turn them down!  Amie and Bill have also flown down to meet us on the boat each year for the last 6 years.  The weather was a tad chilly when we visited them in Nantucket this year so we didn’t do our usual beach days and shore fishing.  However, we did do our usual bar hopping and decadent eating.  We also enjoyed another fabulous meal at the Galley with our friends Karen and Jim.  As Pirate was suffering with his beat up knee and Bill was suffering with his beat up back, we did lots of relaxing and game playing at the house.  We killed a few bottles of rum and wine and dozed in the yard under the trees.  It was the perfect getaway!

Chilling at beach for sunset with Bill and Amie
Chilling at beach for sunset with Bill and Amie
Bill and Cajun at Cisco Brewery
Bill and Cajun at Cisco Brewery
A walk on the beach..
A walk on the beach..
Pirate and Cajun enjoying sunset
Pirate and Cajun enjoying sunset

 

In addition to these beach vacations, we had lots of fun times in our little town of Newport.  Newport is quite the bustling place in the summer months.  And we did our yearly trek to the Indy 500 to see our good friend Jim.  It was a busy and fun summer that flew by as all summers tend to do.   We are now ready for our next summer adventures.  Bring it on 2014!

Amie and Cajun at Castle Hill for Sunday brunch
Amie and Cajun at Castle Hill for Sunday brunch
Our gang
Our gang
A lovely Sunday at Castle Hill
A lovely Sunday at Castle Hill

 

 

Visiting Valpolicella

Beautiful Villa Bertani
Beautiful Villa Bertani

While in Italy, we completed our wine tour of the Veneto region by spending a couple of days in Valpolicella and enjoying their spectacular wines, especially their world-renowned Amarone.  Valpolicella was an amazingly beautiful region of lush, green verdant vineyards and hills.  The name Valpolicella comes from “val polis cellae” which translates to “valley of many cellars.”  We set out to visit as many of those cellars as we could!

Green and lush Valpolicella region
Green and lush Valpolicella region

One special place that we visited was Monte Dall’Ora, a small family-run winery owned by the Venturinis.  Alessandra V. generousy welcomed us to her vineyards, cellars, tasting room and home.  It was quite impressive to see how they run such a tight operation while raising their two young children. Their wines were amazing, especially their Amarone.

Vineyards at Monte Dall Ora
Vineyards at Monte Dall Ora
Monte Dall Ora cellar
Monte Dall Ora cellar

 

Happy faces
Happy faces

After visiting the small Monte Dall’Ora, it was time to then move on to the ornate and gigantic Villa Mosconi Bertani.  Villa Bertani is constructed in the French Chateau style with a large manor house and sprawling and immaculately groomed grounds.  It is an estate that has long been in operation and in fact the name referred to as “Amarone” was said to be coined at this estate in the 1930s.  The Bertani’s gave us a private tour of the estate and regaled us with stories of how they preserved their wines by hiding them in the walls during WWII.  They also put out an amazing spread of tasty treats for us to enjoy while we sampled all of their wines.

Tasting at Bertani estate
Tasting at Bertani estate
Inside Bertani's grand parlour
Inside Bertani’s grand parlour
Bertani's beautiful grounds
Bertani’s beautiful grounds

 

Valpolicella was beautiful and the people were incredible.  Looking forward to visiting again!

Beautiful Verona!

Atop Castelvecchio Bridge overlooking the Adige
Atop Castelvecchio Bridge overlooking the Adige

As we prepare for our next trip to Italy in a couple of weeks, I figured it was time to catch up with the blog and finish posting about our last Italian adventure, back in May.  There are still several places we visited that I have not gotten to writing about yet.  One such spectacular place is the city of Verona.

Verona is located in the northeastern area of Italy known as the Veneto region, about an hour from Venice.  It was a wonderful place to stay as it was not as tourist-infested as Venice.  It is nice to not see all of the meandering tour groups and large crowds of photo-takers.  Instead, Verona was filled with Italians!

Verona at Dusk
Verona at Dusk
Verona sights
Verona sights

 

We loved our hotel, Il Sogno di Guilietta, a tiny gem located in the heart of the city.  One of the awesome things about the hotel is that it hosts the courtyard and balcony that inspired Shakespeare to pen Romeo and Juliet.  Thousands of people come each day to take pictures under the balcony, rub the statue of Juliet for good romantic luck and even leave love notes in the cracks of the walls.  While the courtyard is a sea of people each day, the gates are locked at 6pm and then the courtyard is private for the guests of the hotel.  Such a beautiful setting!

Courtyard at Sogno di Guilietta under the Romeo and Juliet balcony
Courtyard at Sogno di Guilietta under the Romeo and Juliet balcony
Pirate perched on balcony with a glass of wine
Pirate perched on balcony with a glass of wine

 

We also enjoyed walking the streets of the city and discovering the many beautiful public squares and watering holes.  The food in Verona is delicious.  Even an afternoon stop for a casual glass of wine ends up being a decadent display of savory treats.

Time for a snack!
Time for a snack!
Relaxing in the Piazza Verona
Relaxing in the Piazza Verona

 

Finally, we loved visiting Verona’s Castelvecchio and walking across the castle bridge.  The view over the Adige River looking out to the city was amazing.

Karyn on the Adige River
Karyn on the Adige River

Such a wonderful city!  Can’t wait to return one day soon.