Saturday, October 25, 2014

Shoe Shine #13

Shoe Shine is on!
Get your kicks by showing your kicks!
Shine on, you crazy diamonds!

My shoes this time 'round are always referred to as the Best Shoes Ever.
Pretty sweet, aren't they? They have everything: 4 colours (burgundy, grey, white, navy blue), a cunning little hidden platform, a bow, and wonderful purple lining.

And they're comfy!
These are one of my many pairs of Poetic Licence shoes that I've had over the years. They were the first shoes I bought with the first gift certificate L gave me to She She Shoes. I last wore them here in February (they are a fall/winter shoe in my wardrobe) and first wore them here in 2008 where I initially dubbed them the Best Shoes Ever. In between, I've worn them at least 12-15 times. Good costs per wear!

They are starting to look dated a bit to me now, as the platform style of shoe eases out of its time in the sun (for now), but I'll never get rid of these. If I ever own a shoe museum (it could happen!), these would get place of honour.

What shoes would you put in a museum? Would it be because of the style or your memories/associations of them? Show us!

Want to play? It's super-easy. Anyone can join.

  1. Link to a post featuring a fabulous pair of footwear!
  2. Include a link to Ephemera somewhere in your post (it's only polite). Leave a comment here if you like (note that comments continue to be moderated).
  3. Go to the bottom of this post and click on the InLinks "Add Your Link" button to open a new page.
  4. In the "Next Step," you crop the picture you want to display, and voila!
  5. Show your Shoe Shine spirit by grabbing and displaying the button in the sidebar.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trip to Italy! Rome - A Lot of Awesome Ruins, Cat (and Lizard) of Italy

And here we are, on the last stop of the trip - Rome! After the chill atmosphere of Cinque Terre, the hustle and bustle of Rome was a shock. 

We took a 3-hour+ train from La Spezia that morning, and arrived in the city in the afternoon. We easily walked to our hotel, checked in and then went for dinner. Exhausted from the travel, the Moms retired for the evening, but L and I went for a walk. 

This tunnel was not far.
A rare non-car moment! The cars were super-loud in here.

We wandered back to the hotel with a bottle of wine and sat out in the starry night on our room's little deck.
It was magical in the dark, with the clouds scudding by, the surrounding lights and the warm air.

Bright and early the next morning, we headed out to get our single day in Rome started. With only one full day, we narrowed our agenda to just 3 monuments: the Coliseum, Palatine Hill and the Forum.
That's the National Museum - no time to look inside.

The sheer size of everything in Rome is boggling.
People for scale.

Walking past the Forum area.
Because columns!

Ruins!
My archaeology-loving heart grew 10 times.

The Coliseum.
If you go to Rome for a day, get the Roma Pass, the one that gives you these three attractions. They are all together, and it lets you skip the line at the Coliseum (gold!).

Oh, that's just some arch.
*waves hand vaguely*

I lost track of everything and gawked and took pictures. I was the classic tourist.
Coliseum! This is the number one thing I wanted to do in Italy! There are parts of this from the year 70 AD. That is insane.

Cat of Italy!
Where's his hand...?
This one is a tiled piece of the Coliseum. Rome is crazy huge and reminded me very much of New York City. No real-life kitties were spotted, but I did see "Cats of Italy" calendars, so apparently there are more than just this one.

Warning: lots of Coliseum pictures ahead. Read about it here (Wiki), if you're so inclined.
Cloud drama!

While the Coliseum is smaller than a modern sports stadium in a big city, it's not by much. It is a HUGE building.

The hidden below the main floor section.
You don't get to go there. Boo.

If you pay extra for a private tour guide, you get access to a little more. See the people on the floor at the other end?
More people for scale. They only allow 3,000 people in there at a time...and it doesn't feel crowded at all.

So. Huge.
You weren't allowed to stand or sit on anything, but you could touch the stones. It was amazing.

After the Coliseum, we headed across the piazza to the Palatine Hill. (Wiki here). It was supposedly where Romulus (who Rome was named after) and Remus built the original city of Rome (with much murdering).
More old, ancient, in fact. This site dates back to the BC era - many Roman Emperors lived here.
Incredible architecture.
This is probably the remains of a garden or pond in a grand house.

Lizard of Italy!
He was a show-off: he sat there and let me zoom right in.

As close as we got to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel.
Way off in the distance.

It had rained the night before, and the big puffy clouds lingered all day.
The Palatine Hill and Forum (the area below the hill) are essentially a big open-air museum. You just wander through it, up and down paths, exploring. There are a few signs, but it's more of an exploring type of place.
Cloud drama!
Not enough adjectives.
I loved all of this.

It took us until the early afternoon to get through all of these three sites, and as you can see, there were a lot people.
In full tourist season, this would be insane.

One last look back.
I could have spent the entire day there.

We headed out for a well-needed rest (5+ hours of walking!) and lunch, then L and I wandered around shopping and checking out a few other cool old buildings, including the Pantheon! (Wiki link here).
Wow, that's the world's largest concrete unreinforced dome, and it was built nearly 2,000 years ago!

We also scoped out the Spanish Steps, which are famous for...being in movies ("Roman Holiday", anyone?). Wiki here.
L is doing his Jesus-finger-pointing pose - we saw a lot of this pose in hundreds of paintings!

I still had a little "birthday credit" from Mom, so I bought this funky skirt:
I liked the length (to the knee), the pleats and it has good Swoosh Factor.

Great pattern and colours too.
I have a lot of shoes that will go with this.

It's by Darling.
Thanks, Mom!

We were up bright and early the next morning, and out to the airport. We made our connection to our Frankfurt-Victoria flight with literally 5 minutes to spare. We sat down; they closed the plane doors! I have never run through an airport so much as I ran in Frankfurt's!

We missed our connection back to Victoria, but managed to get home only a couple of hours late. Vizzini was so happy to see us!

Phew! And now, I've had the full week off work - yee haw! - and I've been up to all kinds of shopping escapades, which I'll share with y'all tomorrow. Thanks for reading along, and if you didn't read, well then, I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Ciao, bellas!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trip to Italy! Cinque Terre - Beaches, Cats of Italy, and Relaxation

After our sensory overload of Florence's museums and attractions, it was a relief to go somewhere quieter for a while. Off to Cinque Terre (Wiki link here), a World Heritage site on the northern coast, on the Mediterranean Sea. It's a bunch of little villages (Cinque Terre means "five towns") on sea cliffs and beaches that you can either walk to (in good weather), boat to (weather permitting) or take a train to/from. It's still pretty non-touristy, and I have to say, it was my favourite place in all of Italy. I could live there!

Our last night in Florence was insane - there was a huge thunder and lightning storm! It was raining for most of the night, but it eased up as we left. 

The train to La Spezia was a free-for-all - no first class there! We got dinged for not validating our ticket (validate!), were briefly acquainted with some gypsies, and were in generally grumpy moods after Florence's chaos after the even smaller and more erratic train to our destination, Monterosso. By the time we arrived we were frazzled.

And so, to find our wonderful hotel, up on a hill, surrounded by green hills, it felt so good to change right into some comfy clothes and go for a walk.

  • Cardigan - Alternative Apparel, thrifted, left behind
  • Cami - I kept this one; it's a useful colour
  • Skirt - Club Monaco, keeper
  • Sandals - Kenneth Cole Reaction, consignment, left behind
  • Scarf - in hair, thrifted, keeper

It was a lovely warm day in Monterosso, perfect for a stroll around. And what better to find immediately than a Cat of Italy?
Aw! A fuzzy white and grey senor!

It had rained a bit in Monterosso on the previous days, so he seemed very happy to be soaking up a few rays of sun.
"Mi scooter."
We saw him several times over our 3 day stay. He was very friendly.

Our first full day was grey and stormy, so I wore my warmest outfit.

  • Top - Oxmo, left behind
  • Cami - old, left behind
  • Trousers - thrifted, handmade, keepers!
  • Shoes - Enzo Angiolini, thrifted, left behind
  • Jewelry - pendant, gift from L

October was a great month to visit this resort town - there were a fraction of the tourists there that swamp the place during the main season.
Little drink tables? You have to rent a chair to sit on this beach.

The surf was churning! Cinque Terre experiences some severe weather - many of the towns we visited had memorials up from the great flood of Oct 25, 2011. This sculpture on the north side of town is called "Il Gigante" - he is now part of an exclusive club/hotel.
This beach reminded me of the ones here in Victoria: same seaweed, more pebbly texture.

Looking south. On each of those hills in the distance is one of the other towns of the Cinque Terre. At night, you could see the lights twinkling.
We stayed in the resort section of Monterosso. To the south, either by walking or going through a tunnel, is the "old town".
These beaches and streets would be crammed with people in the summer.
 Monterosso is a really small town.
 This rock is actually two rocks side by side. A couple of days later, we saw someone sitting on them.

The walking path to old town was closed due to weather (mudslides are an issue).
A World War II German "pillbox".

L stood on top of it.
"All mine!"
 You can see how windy it was!

Of course, we had to go inside.
You can just see Il Gigante in the distance.

This is what he used to look like, before a storm took out his shell and spear.
The shell was originally a dance floor for a swanky hotel that was there in the 70s.

We had to go through the tunnel, which had all kinds of little windows (like the one above) with art projects.
There was very little traffic on the roads. Most people walked down the centre.

On the beach in old town. All of the paths between the towns were closed, and none of the boats between towns were in operation.
 We climbed up that path!

And here we are looking back. I took the above picture in front of that pink building on the beach.
L, Louise and Mom
L and I hiked up to the buildings on the top of that opposite hill.

And up we went for a brief scout, to be returned to after lunch.
All streets go vertical eventually.

The terraces are planted with olive groves and grapes for wine.
There's the train tracks!

We found the Italian version of Grumpy Cat.
"Get off my hill."
 No amount of sweet talk would sway him.
"Exit's that way."
 The next Cat of Italy must have been a policecat, like Officer Vizzini.
"No time for petting."
 He was fairly old, so perhaps he was the Capitan.

We had lunch in the most amazing restaurant, Ciak (link). We wrote our names on the wall.
Shout out to Rich Kitty?

I had the best dish in Italy here, the gnocchi with pesto. I nearly licked the plate! I was also introduced to the local dessert specialty, Sciacchetrà (shack-ah-trah), an amber sweet dessert wine, served with small sliced almond biscotti, which you dip into the wine. It was astoundingly good.

After lunch, L and I headed back up the hill to investigate the graveyard at the top.
The clouds were sitting on top of the hills.
It was just beautiful.

Looking back at the resort town.
You can see a bit of the path that was closed. It would have been cool to walk that, but the weather was far too treacherous.

L and I hung out at a local cafe and drank wine and chatted with locals and other tourists - during that time, the rain hit in a crazy storm. The water flooded the street, and nearly came up to the cafe's doors. It was wild.

And just like that, the next day was lovely.
Back to my favourite dress.

  • Dress - Hemp & Co., keeper
  • Cami - left behind
  • Sandals - as above
  • Jewelry - pink crystal studs, assortment of charms on necklace

It was a bright and sunny day. Look at the morning drama!
How do you not fall in love with a place like this?

We took the little regional train to Vernazza, the next town south from Monterosso. Again, no boats running, and the trails were likely closed for the winter.

We were welcomed immediately by a Cat of Italy!
"I like a good box."
 And right past him was this elderly fellow, having a drink.
Vernazza was full of cats!
"I'm snoozing on a boat."
 He had a companion in the next boat.
The cat on the right got up and walked along the wall.

You can see him sitting on the wall in front of the yellow building here.
Vernazza is known for its enclosed harbour. We walked around it, then out onto the breakwater.
And around back, here's our cat again.

Vernazza is also known for the Doria Castle.
Through the narrow streets.

Looking up at the castle (it's just a tower).
Looking down on the southern side of Vernazza.
The water really was that blue!

Climbing up inside the tower.
Vertiginous!

From the top, there's Monterosso in the far distance.
It was much less choppy this day, as you can see by the waves.

Yet another Cat of Italy.
"Nap time, go away."
We climbed up above the town.
These towns date back to the 1000s (the 11th century).

It's awe-inspiring.
There's the Doria Castle, the breakwater and harbour.

And one last Cat of Italy in Vernazza.
Cats in boats. Big theme.

A dead ringer for Vizzini's brother, this kitty was in a hurry.
He zoomed past us. Must have been on a big case!

One of our favourite parts of Cinque Terre was our front desk gent and local resident, Theo.
What a fabulous place! I highly recommend it.

Up tomorrow: the last leg of the journey, Rome!