August 18, 2015





From one beautiful place to another


All too soon it was time to get up again. And after taking a shower and getting ready we headed down for breakfast. Today the tables were marked and we sat at our regular table. Again, Tom got some coffee and I made my own tea before we headed to fill our plates with Italian Salami, ham and cured ham, cheese, rolls and butter.

Tom again had a plate of sautéed veggies, scrambled eggs and bacon while I had a custard filled croissant. After breakfast we said goodbye to our servers and headed back up to our room, well, Tom did, while I walked outside to take a photo of him on our beautiful balcony. Then we packed up the rest of our stuff, checked the room for forgotten items and finally rolled our luggage to the elevator and went down to the front desk. We checked out and I settled the bill and while he explained it to me, I added up our bill and they had missed the wine and water from the dinner the day before. The front desk clerk went to the back room, then came back and told us that the wine and water would be on the house as they did not have the order slip.

Well, thank you very much again. We settled the bill and asked if someone could take us to the parking garage. And in a minute the very nice front desk clerk that had picked us up the first day was at hand to help with the luggage and drove us up to the garage. Once we had loaded everything into the car Tom went to program the GPS to take us to the next two locations we wanted to go to, a shop that sold regional produce and the Grotta Cascata del Varone. Yeah, the GPS didn’t recognize any of the addresses, but we found something close to it and off we went. And after a little searching around the area we found the shop, parked the car and went inside and found a few things we wanted to buy.

We loaded all our new purchases into the boot of the car and then went to find the Grotta Cascata, a waterfall inside a cave that I had found out about while doing research for the trip. The GPS was no help, so we just programmed it to the center of the village that was close to the waterfall. We follow the GPS and end up in front of an underground garage. No, not where we wanted to go. So we turned around and now try the old fashioned way, following the signs. It took a while, but finally we were on the correct road, which led up to the mountains. We had already passed the parking lot for the Grotta Cascata, but Tom turned around and we parked the car.

There was a short walk up to the entrance, bought a ticket and in we went. There were many reminders that this part of Italy had been part of the Austrian Empire and that Emperor Franz Josef had visited the waterfall during his reign. We walked up to the first viewpoint and were greeted by an awesome rainbow when entering the cave. You could feel the spray from the waterfall and it got more and more the further we went, but the view of the water rushing into the cave was just amazing. But the space in there is really small, so we had to leave that first viewpoint after a few minutes.

There was a lovely walkway going up the mountain, along a lot of lovely flowers that we followed to the higher viewpoint. It was just 11am and it was already pretty hot, so we crept up the mountain, stopping now and then to take a look at the wonderfully arranged flowers and finally we had arrived at the upper viewpoint of the waterfall. You had to walk into the cave and you could feel the spray from the waterfall, which came from high up and fell deep down past us. It really was an awesome sight.

We moved around the cave to watch it from every angle but since the cave was small and people were streaming in we had to make a move on after a few minutes. Then it was time to slowly walk down to the car again. We could not believe how the carpark had filled and now a coach was blocking us from getting out of our spot as well. Finally we were able to squeeze out of the parking area and drove back to the main road and through Riva and finally got on our way to our next destination, Santa Margherita Ligure. Once we had left Riva the street winds along the lake and the road follows the mountain. We passed through quite a few tunnels and sometimes the road could get very narrow.

We only went along the street halfway down the lake before we left the road and drove further inland and soon found ourselves on the motorway again. We had been driving for the best part of two and a half hours when we found ourselves in need of a break. A rest station was quickly found and we were pleasantly surprised to find it well maintained and clean on the outside. Walked inside and it was just as clean. There were two food stations and both had a line, so we looked around and then decided against the pizza station and just went in line to pick up a sandwich. Took a while to get served, but we ordered our sandwiches and drinks, were handed the Diet Cokes and some free Coke travel mugs and then were motioned to step aside. We did and waited and waited some more until an Italian guest started to get antsy and talked to the sales person. And suddenly another sales person appeared and handed out the sandwiches. I wanted mine toasted, so we waited another two minutes, were handed our food and then went to find a table. There was one at the back of the restaurant and we sat down and tried our lunch. Tom had ordered a Salami sandwich, while I had a hot Prosciutto Panini. Both were really nice and hit the spot and we had our Diet Cokes to wash them down. Once we had finished eating we went to the restrooms and were happy to find them very clean. So after using the restroom we headed back out to our car, got in and got going again. We still had quite a way to go and the motorway wasn’t too crowded, so we made good progress.

Around 3.30 in the afternoon we got to the town of Rapallo, where we hit the rush hour traffic, but soon we found ourselves on the outskirts of Santa Margherita and were in awe when we drove into town. It is a beautiful seaside town and it looked really nice in the afternoon sun. We quickly found our hotel, which was smack in the city center, right across the beach. Funnily enough we had to go around as we missed parking in front of the hotel. So around the block we go and we try again, this time we pull into the small space in front of the hotel and head in to check in. The receptionist was super friendly, he had all the paperwork filled out, told us about what to do here, where the sights were and that the even sold tickets for the boat to Portofino.

Yeah, not getting in line at the port would be fun, so we bought two return tickets to Portofino for the next day before a porter helps us to haul our luggage up to our third (US forth) floor room. Soon we arrived on the third floor and were surprised by the design. If you wanted to get to your room you had to go down a few steps to reach two opposite doors. We opened the door and looked around. The room at the Lido Palace was HUGE. When we got into the room there was the bedroom which had a writing table and a beautiful view of the beach, on the other side you walked down another few steps and on the left side was a huge wardrobe and on the ride hand side was the bathroom. If you walked further ahead there was another small room with a single bed and another window which opened up into a typical Italian street with laundry hanging out. We were more than happy with our room and after checking the room out we went to park the car. The receptionist had given us directions and we were on our way. There was a side street just wide enough for a car to get through and it went uphill and into a small garage.

We had thought it would be a regular parking garage, but it was just a small carpark. We had to hand over our car keys to the clerk and he was to park (and repark) the cars in order to fit in as many as possible. So after dropping off the car we walked back to the hotel surprised at how they handled parking, but happy to have another two nights without having to drive somewhere else. Up in the room we took showers, then headed out to explore the city. We had been given a map with the main shopping areas and sights and that was where we were heading. We found the town to be pretty small, but we did find a grocery shop, where we made some purchases, some snacks and some drinks and then we walked back to the hotel.

On the way back we walked past some restaurants and one peaked our interest and we wanted to look it up on Tripadvisor. Turns out it was the second best rated restaurant there and a few minutes later we found ourselves on the way there. In the meantime the restaurant had filled up quite a bit and we had read that reservations are recommended, so our hopes were low, but we tried and asked if they had a table for two and yes, yippie, they did! We were taken to our table and handed menus in seconds. There we sat and had a hard time deciding what we wanted to try. But first we needed to order some drinks, Tom got a local beer and we decided to share a bottle of still water and I had my heart set on the Portofino Lemonade.

So with the server on her way to get our beverages we quickly discussed our dinner. When she came back and placed the beverages and a basket of cubes of Focaccia on the table we ordered our dinner and tried our drinks and we were both very happy with them. Soon enough our starters arrived. Tom had ordered some fried parcels, which were filled with a mixture of soft runny cheese and were to die for.

I had gone for ravioli filled with herbed cream cheese and served in a walnut sauce. It was one of the house specialities and it was melt in your mouth good. We shared and changed plates halfway through and really enjoyed both starters. For his main course Tom had ordered Linguine pasta with clams in a light tomato broth, which was excellent. I had been less adventurous and ordered the breaded veal escalope, served with salad. And while it was what we call “Wiener Schnitzel” (Viennese Schnitzel) it was done perfectly well and I just loved every single bite of it. We were both far too full for dessert, so we settled the bill and wobbled back to our hotel, where we relaxed on the beds, watched TV and called it a night shortly after 10pm.