Category: Story

A trip to a war zone or?

Our holiday is over since a while back now and we both are back to reality again.

As normal it is hard to come back specially as nowadays your mailbox are filled with a few hundreds of email which will be needed to plough through. The good is that 50% of all emails is direct for the waste bin.

Anyway I had time to stay approximate two weeks in the office and to get everything back in order then I had to head out for Turkey.

It was planed as a simple four days trip together with a service technician from our German office whom I would help. I needed at the same time to meet the customers project team. 

The service technician was planned or booked to stay for two weeks. This to be able to finish up everything and hand over the system to the customer.

The first four days became five days for me which was OK, I came back home Saturday instead as the planned Friday. So no big deal really.

The problem started first Monday morning when I was back at office. And approximately 07:30 when a call from the customer came telling me. Your service technician is leaving with the first available flight!. This as the customer understood due to the war between Turkey and Syria. We were after all in Istanbul and more than 800 km north from any war zone so no danger.

I realised a really busy/chaos Monday would start! The start was calling the technician.  He explained that his department boss in Germany had ordered him home with first available flight. When I asked why? He explained there was a German warning for travel to Turkey! I told him that the warning is only at the boarder zone. Between Turkey and Syria and this warning counts for most countries! No problem really. In the end we decided it would be best if I called his boss.

I called his boss which was the biggest waste of time in my life as he thought the bombs was flying over his service technicians head. No point wasting time with him, better prepare plan B.

In the end as no available technicians was around plan B went in the wast bin too. The solution was, I had to go back once more which was plan C.

So when arriving on the shipyard again. The customer was really happy and welcomed me back as the big saviour of the day. A few jokes was told as well about my travel back and forward.  As well about our german branch office and the policy they have.

In the end I stayed the whole week. Travel back on the Friday and was back home approx. five o’clock. Everything went as planned and we managed to finalise what I should.

When I arrived home Diana together with friends from Luxembourg was waiting. Restaurant was booked already I came home perfect in time to say hello and have a quick shower and off we went to dinner. 

 

Leaving Rosignano for Isola d’Elba

 

Elba – Capraia – no Corsica – Loano – Part Three

The night was not very comfy and we woke up a few times. The patter of the rain could be heard all night long…

Morning came and the rain had gone at least.

While drinking our coffee, we decided to skip Corsica definitely and head “home” directly instead. It was a shame of course, but the risk was too high that we would get stuck in a marina there for several days and wouldn’t be able to leave the island.

So around 11h everything was packed and we were ready to leave Capraia. Our neighbour, by the way, left the same morning at 7 o’clock for La Spezia. We’d wished him good luck and a safe trip home the evening before.

We reckoned between 15 – 18 hours to Loano and hoped for fairly calm weather. Please, no thunderstorm and high waves! Rain wouldn’t be a problem, we had our bad weather gear with us.

Surprisingly, the weather became even better than we dared to hope for. Even the sun showed herself! The waves were a bit uncomfortable, though, and Luna Azzurra got thrown from one side to the other. So going to the toilet or having lunch was a bit of a challenge.

The day went and we even managed to cook dinner. A few bruises were the price to pay! Afterwards – it was already 22h – Patrik went to bed and I started my 2.5 hours night watch.

Not much happened during my watch, aside from some lightnings and far away thunder. And of course the lights from the big cruisers and merchant ships were visible.

At one a.m. it was my turn to sleep and I was grateful for that. According to our plotter, the ETA in Loano was 04.20h – perfect timing!

I woke up earlier than I had to, due to waves drumming on the boats hull…Apparently, the weather became worse. So I got dressed and went upstairs.

Patrik and a thunderstorm, roaring directly above us, greeted me when I entered the cockpit! GREAT!!

At least we could see the shore and its lights, but we were still 1.5 hours away from Loano. Boy, did we long for land!

It was time to place the fenders, which was my task. Just for a moment, a worrying thought crossed my mind, what if I fell overboard? Patrik wouldn’t have a chance to hear or see me in the water…. *gulp*

Anyway, I managed and returned safely to the cockpit. Only about 40 minutes left…

Finally, we were outside the marinas entrance and in the dark it looked a bit confusing at first, plus several yachts were anchoring outside. We just hoped that none of them had forgotten to switch on their night anchor lights…

As soon as we were inside the marina, the water was as calm as a pond, which helped that the approach to our mooring went super smooth. It was Sunday, 8th September, 04.20h, when Luna Azzurra was safely secured and Patrik opened a well deserved beer – cheers, darling, well done!

Meanwhile, I used the facilities on land to brush my teeth and went to bed. Patrik followed soon after and, dog tired but grateful, we fell asleep.

The next few days we were busy, removing the bimini and sprayhood. The bimini we wanted to take home, mostly, because we will be getting new covers for it. Annoyingly, the existing ones were damaged during the transport to Italy.

The factory in Germany demands the damaged ones, before replacing them by new ones. Bit of a hassle, frankly…

Since fall and winter is coming, so we decided to remove the whole bimini, in order to avoid any damage.

And the sprayhood was removed because we want to buy a new one and the existing one can be used as a sample.

We also went to the ship chandler in the marina and bought a new furling line. The old one was too scuffed. The new one fits beautifully with the genoa sheet, though. Colourwise, I mean :o) And YES, it’s important!

On Monday – it was a wonderful and sunny day – we drove to Albenga. Not for shopping this time, but we were invited for lunch by Igor and Donatella, some of our guests, who had chartered Luna Azzurra during the summer. Of course we followed the invitation and looked forward to finally meet him and his wife. Patrik had had quite a bit of whatsapp contact with him.

After a short search, we found the little, but very cosy restaurant called “Osteria N° 6” and were heartily greeted by the couple. Some other guests were seated at the table beside us.

 

We didn’t have to bother with the menu or wine list, everything was already prepared and we just had to sit down and enjoy.

The meal was absolutely fantastic, consisting of the classical Italian way, such as “antipasti” for a starter, then followed by “primi”, then “secondi”. Patrik got a tasty fish and for me everything was vegetarian (Patrik informed Igor earlier of course). The whole meal was accompanied by a bottle of prosecco, which fitted perfectly.

Some other guests from France came, ate and went again and finally we were the only ones and we could enjoy a glass of wine together and chat for a while. Donatella had to leave a bit earlier, since she was working at an office. So with a hug we said good by to her.

Time went very quick and twice I went to the car to pay for the parking.

After a stroll together through the beautiful old town of Albenga (Patrik and I had no idea what a history lies behind it) and Igor playing the tour guide, we returned to his restaurant.

The time was already 6 p.m., and Donatella meanwhile had returned again, when we finally said thank you and good bye. Of course we insisted to pay for the meal (at least partly).

With hugs and promises to meet again, we left and went to our car. It must have been almost seven when we arrived at our boat. Well, at least we didn’t have to bother with dinner.

We planned to drive home on Wednesday, 11th September. So on Tuesday afternoon we were cleaning and scrubbing Luna Azzurra thoroughly.

In the evening we had dinner at “Shardana Wine & Sea”, our favourite restaurant in Loano (so far). The pizza was fantastic as usual and the wine “Just Black”!

Wednesday came and after packing everything together and loading the car, we said good bye to Luna Azzurra. It’s always quite emotional, for me at least…

It was around 13.30h when we were on the road, heading for Switzerland!

There was unexpectedly much traffic and even some jams, so it was almost 8 o’clock when we finally arrived at home!

We unpacked only the most necessary and were looking for Odin. He was surely hearing us, but preferred to hide for a while….Yeah well, cat-like! He turned up around two hours later, meowing and purring!

He maybe, nonetheless, was a tiny little bit happy to see us again. We were, for sure!

Luckily, we still had the rest of the week off and had time for washing, shopping, calling our parents and let our friends know that we are back again!

We surely look forward to our next visit in Loano and to greet Luna Azzurra again.

It hopefully won’t take too long!

 

Elba – Capraia – no Corsica – Loano – Part Two

The sun greeted us the next day and after we had our coffee we took the dinghy into the pretty port of Porto Azzurro. And it IS a very pretty marina with a little village surrounding it. After we walked around for a bit we had a cappuccino in a nice coffee at the waterfront – with a view to our Luna Azzurra and the other yachts anchoring in the bay.

Afterwards we bought some bread and two six pack of water and went back to the dinghy and to Luna Azzurra. Anchor was raised and off we went, towards an anchor spot in the bay of Lacona. We were even able to sail for a change!

The bay turned out to be a perfect spot with good holding and surprisingly few boats anchoring. So we really could choose were we wanted to stay. People were swimming and having fun and the beach was quite busy, a perfect late summer day!

It didn’t take long until Patrik and I were in the water, enjoying the refreshment of the 27 deg. C warm water. *haha*

During the late afternoon and early evening more boats arrived and settled for the night. Patrik and I hit the jackpot by having a bunch of nudists not far away from us – too close for our liking (I mean we could hear them talking, effortlessly)!

Not that we are prude – heaven no! -, but having deliberately to show off whatever one needs to show, goes a little too far in our eyes… We actually were “concerned” that they would approach us and ask if we want to join them…. *erm*

Well, dinner time came which we enjoyed very much, as usual accompanied by a tasty wine. The night was quiet….Luckily, no disturbance from “certain” neighbours….

In the morning (Thursday, 5th September) we left very early – around 07.30h. No, not because of the “nudies”, but we wanted to reach the island Capraia in a reasonable time and we also needed to fill up our diesel tank.

  

Sadly, there was not much wind, so we were forced to motor sailing most of the reach. The weather was otherwise fantastic, sunny and warm/hot. At around 03.30 in the afternoon we arrived at the miniscule Porto di Capraia. Since the high season was over, the marinas atmosphere was very sleepy.

We started to approach the filling station directly and already a guy was there, helping us. Afterwards we got our mooring spot – which was pretty tight – but we were happy to be there. Then we had a quick look around….well, there wasn’t so much to see anyway.

Pretty but tiny, especially if you don’t have a car. Probably there is a lot to see on the island, but if you are not mobile you most probably miss out on a few things, generally. Well, you can’t have it all, can you?!

After four o’clock we went to the marina office to register and then I had a look at the couple of boutiques which had just opened their doors. We also decided to treat ourselves and eat out tonight! At least a few restaurants were available and looked promising.

Then we didn’t do very much….had an aperitif and watched other boats coming in, one after one. Amazingly the marina started to fill up very quickly and we soon were surrounded by new neighbours.

We let the evening die away in a lovely little restaurant directly at the waterfront, enjoyed our meals and made further plans for our trip. The next day we wanted to leave Capraia and head for Corsica. The journey should take approx. 4-5 hours and the winds promised to be on our side.

So yes, we were looking forward to our next destination, an anchor spot for the night in a bay called marine de Pietracorbara. It lies at the top of Corsica’s “finger”. Then we would sail further, down the west side, to Port St. Florent.

Contentedly, we went to bed and the next morning Patrik checked the weather website again, to make sure we would have a save trip, plus to see the forecast for the coming days, when we had to sail from Corsica to Loano. It looked a bit unsteady, but we weren’t alerted or something.

That changed together with the weather around lunch time: Dark clouds started to build up and the first rain drops fell! Very quickly the wind picked up and suddenly it was pouring down and turned into a thunderstorm. Heaven!

Our neighbor – an older gentleman with a 37′ sailing boat – advised us against our plan to leave Capraia. It was too dangerous and the waves further out were apparently between 2-4 meter high…. He actually wanted to sail home to La Spezia, which would take him approx. 11 hours. But he decided to postpone the journey until the weather would calm down again…

We did the same of course and went to the marina office to ask if we could stay another night – yeah, no problem!

So, there we were….sitting in a sleepy one-horse town. The good thing was, we had finally time to update our blog. Patrik downloaded the photos we took and I started to write the text. Every now and then we checked the weather forecast for the day after. Sadly, it didn’t look very promising and in the evening we still didn’t know what to do really. We even played with the thought, to skip Corsica and sail directly to Loano. Later in the afternoon it even started to hail, which sounded horrible in the boat!

What do we do??

 

Over night sailing from Loano to Rosignano and our visit to Naples

Our over night sailing between Loano to Rosignano and our visit to Naples.

This is a short movie from our first post on or holiday inclusive arriving Cala de’ Medici shipyard in Rosignano and our visit Naples.

Elba – Capraia – no Corsica – Loano – Part One

Meanwhile, since the 11th September, we are back in Switzerland – full of unforgettable impressions !

Picking up Luna Azzurra from the shipyard in Rosignano went according to plan. Also grocery shopping and returning the rental car in Cecina the day after, on Saturday 31st August.

This time we were lucky with a train back to Rosignano: As soon as we arrived at the train station, we just had time to buy the tickets and the train rolled in. Twelve minutes later we were back in Rosignano again – marvellous!

It was exactly 12 o’clock lunchtime when we left the marina Cala de Medici, off to Elba! Our aim was a nice anchor spot in the Golfo di Procchio. We arrived there at 7 p.m., after a nice sailing and perfect weather!

There we suddenly realised that our two batteries were dying… crap!!

This meant, we were forced to book a berth at the marina Portoferraio, in order to buy new batteries. Our original plan was to just anchor outside the marina and take the dinghy in, to have a look at the historical city. Yeah, well…..plans changed.

So we spent one night at anchor and took the dinghy into the city the next day.

Realising that someone had emptied the fuel canister for the Mercury (without telling us), it was a worrying trip to the island, hoping to have enough fuel to be able to cross all the ferries in time. Luckily, we did!

After we filled up the tank and canister, we went to the marina office to book a berth – luckily they had space, since the high season was over.

We decided it was finally time for a glass of wine and enjoy the surrounding, at least a little bit, despite of being tired.

Then we returned to Luna Azzurra, had a shower, dinner and went to bed early….Good choice, cause the next day wasn’t to be an easy one!

In the morning (Monday, 02nd Sept.), we took our dinghy into Portoferraio again, in order to find a shop which sells suitable batteries. Ha, what a Odyssey that was! We ended up walking miles and miles, in over 35 deg. C, pounding the streets, searching and asking in whatever boat-ish looking shop…but no-one sold the ones we needed. Un…fu…**..believable!!

After lunch we were back at Luna Azzurra – after a fruitless search – and were ready to enter the marina. Of course their office was closed, so it was after three in the afternoon, until we finally could move towards the entrance and finally were sitting at our mooring spot!

The shitty thing was, we still had no batteries and didn’t really know how to continue our vacation.

It turned out, though, that it was a good thing to talk to the staff of the marina and explained our problem to them. Because one guy said that he was living just beside one shop, which also sells batteries! He would call them and ask if they would have suitable ones in stock! Holy-Moly!!

And sure enough, after an hour he came back to us and told us that the shop would delivery new batteries to the boat and take the old ones back! We truly were in heaven, Patrik and I and couldn’t thank the guy enough (of course he got a nice tip from us)!

Patrik started immediately to demount the old batteries and around 7 p.m. the new ones arrived, as promised! GREAT, finally this problem was solved!

The next day, around lunchtime, we left Portoferraio. The next night we would spend anchoring again, just outside Porto Azzurro. Apparently, a charming little village and not to be missed!

It was quite windy, but sunny and a lot of our journey we were sailing! At 2 p.m. we arrived at our new destination and started to prepare for anchoring. There were already a few yachts lying there, but there was actually still space for us…. It turned out that the holding was very poor, we tried and tried…without success. Every time the anchor was down, we realised that we were drifting away.

It must have looked so badly that suddenly an American guy appeared at our side with his dinghy and asked if we need some help. He was here the third time with his yacht, but never experienced a problem anchoring in this bay.  We thanked and told him that we would have another try at a yet another spot.

This time the anchor was securely holding (finally, after two hours trying!!) and we could relax! JEEZZZZZ !!!

The evening was quiet and peaceful and we were looking forward to explore Porto Azzurro the next day!

Good night world!

 

Amazing Naples

Friday, 06th September.

Right now we are stuck on the Isola Capraia, because of bad weather. We arrived yesterday and planned to stay for one night. But this morning it started to rain heavily and around 9 a.m. it went worse, by adding thunderstorms with nasty gusts, which made it impossible for us to leave the island towards Corsica.

However, this gives us finally the chance to keep our promise and write an update. We didn’t have internet before (or very poor one), so here comes what we did last week:

On Monday (26th August) morning we left Luna Azzurra at the ship yard in Rosignano Solvay, after we were actively involved in lifting her out of the water. Neither Patrik nor I had a clue how it worked, but in the end – and with the patience of the staff – everything went smoothly and our boat was in the air!

Apparently, she would be finished on Friday evening (30th August), which was perfect!

So, off we went to the train station (in at least 32 deg. C), in order to get our rental car in Cecina – two villages further away.

We bought our tickets and became a bit frustrated by realising that the train would leave at 11.29 a.m. ….and it was only 10 a.m.! Crap!!

More people arrived at the station in order to catch the train towards Florence. Two of them – a very friendly Italian pair, whom we already had asked for directions a bit earlier -were suddenly beside us again and we began to chat a little… as good as possible, with our Italian and their English knowledge.

It turned out that they have a holiday home in Vada (which lies between Rosignano and Cecina) and she had to return home due to her parents, which are 95 years old.

Shortly before Donatella’s train arrived – meanwhile we had even introduced ourselves – Sergio offered to drive us to Cecina. We truly couldn’t believe it….Such kindness towards total strangers!

But they meant it, so we thankfully took this offer, instead of waiting another hour for our train!

On the way to Cecina – which took approx 15 minutes – we had a lovely chat and a few good laughs. Sergio showed us their house, which we passed on the way and we learned that he works in the real estate business.

So, in no time we arrived at the rental car office and it was time to say good bye, with hugs of course! We got Sergio’s business card and he told us to call, in case we would visit Florence one day. Yes, we would do that of course, plus we will send them an email, as soon as we had the chance and say thank you again! Such nice people, we are still amazed!

It was after eleven when we got our car (a VW Golf) and around 11.30 a.m. we left, heading south. Naples, we are coming!

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The drive went without any special incidents, except our camera’s battery died! *arghh* How inconvenient!

After loosing some time searching for a hotel at the lovely peninsula called Argentario (all were fully booked), we ended up in the village nearby called Albinia. There we found the super cozy hotel “Corallo” and booked a room for the night. The time was approx three in the afternoon.

After we were settled, we strolled around the village for a while, had a glass of wine/beer and simply enjoyed being here. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a shop who sold batteries for our camera…

Later we had dinner at a nice pizzeria and went to bed around 11 p.m. Ten and Out!

The next day, after breakfast and the check-out we quickly were on the motorway towards Naples and reached our hotel “Miramare” just after 1.30 p.m.

What a beautiful hotel it is – we simply were overwhelmed by its charm and stile! The welcoming was also very impressive and we could check-in directly! We both loved our room and when inspecting the terrace on the roof – where breakfast would be served – we were speechless: The view showed the harbour of Naples, the marina beside it, the sea and on top of all that Vesuvius sat there, watching silently over the city.

We didn’t waste time and after parking the car in a safe garage, we wandered towards the city, with its countless shops, restaurants and bars! Annoyingly, we also had to search for a battery and ended up at the shopping centre “Galleria Umberto I”. It’s a very impressive building and worth to see, shopping or not. No battery there, though. The shop which apparently sold the ones we needed was closed for vacation!              OF BLOODY COURSE!

  

Being back at the hotel we showered and went out for dinner – Italian style of course: not before 9 p.m.!

The next day we went into the old city again still being amazed about the history and architecture. We took the “train” up to the old Castel St. Elmo, in Vomero. The view was breathtaking and luckily not many other tourists were there. We tried to imagine, how crowded this place must be in the high season…

It was after lunchtime and therefore we decided to have a nice glass of white wine, which was served with bruschetta and some other snacks. Perfect with the view over Naples!

Afterwards we took the “train” down to the noisy city again, continued playing tourists and passing the Castello Reale and Duomo Di San Gennaro on our way back to the hotel. It was already quite late again. Amazing how quick time goes… Tomorrow we would get up early and visit Pompeji!

It was already Thursday and we were on our way to Pompeji – quite an adventure by car! Sadly, we realized that we couldn’t visit Herculaneum. Neither the beautiful Amalfi Coast with Positano glued on its side, nor Capri. We simply didn’t have enough time, which gives us a good reason to return to Naples!

Well, Pompeji is BIG, bigger that we thought! Although, we had our map and a booklet, it seemed we walked and walked (in 35 deg. C), while still discovering beautiful details and taking loads of pictures. A very impressing place, indeed!

It was almost 3.30 p.m. when we fetched our car (from a secured parking) and drove towards Naples again. About 45 minutes later we were at our hotel again, tired and full with unforgettable impressions!

Our last dinner was a bit of a disaster….I think we chose the worst of all restaurants, unfriendly staff and the food was…well, at least that was OK.