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….
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!
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….
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!
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
Valpolicella was beautiful and the people were incredible. Looking forward to visiting again!
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!
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!
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.
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.
Such a wonderful city! Can’t wait to return one day soon.