Lavender Lemonade

Last week I read on a social media networking page about a Prosecco Lavender Cocktail that sounded delicious and would be ideal to serve during our hot summer months here in Tenerife.

There was only one problem, I don´t drink. But that is neither here nor there as the non-alcoholic version I made during the blistering heat of our calima on Monday using sparkling San Pellegrino was delicious.

Ingredients

100ml water
2 or 3 drops of food grade lavender oil
100gm sugar
Juice from 4 lemons
1 drop purple food colouring (optional)
Cold sparkling water

Instructions

  • To make the syrup, combine the sugar, and water in a small saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • Combine lemon juice, syrup, and 2 or 3 (depending on taste) drops of lavender oil.
  • Add food colouring if desired.

To serve, fill the bottom of each glass with a measure of lavender lemon syrup, and top with sparkling water. Serve with ice and lemon slices.

Of course there is nothing to stop you substituting the sparkling water with Prosecco 🙂

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Verona, then Arrivederci Italia

Our recent trip to Italy presented me with so much to see that it meant one, even two posts were never going to tell it all. Hence, you have heard about our chill our days around Lake Garda and our whirlwind tour of Venice and now it’s the turn of Verona.

We like places with history and Verona oozes it, getting there from Lake Garda, is easy, and once you have arrived the city centre is easy to stroll around. Of course, the Roman Arena commands and impresses with its sheer scale, but there are also ruins you can stumble across in the middle of the street. There seem to be treasures almost everywhere you look, if you keep your eyes open.

Of course, there’s no way you could visit Verona and miss that famous balcony. Yep! We had to see Casa di Giulietta, despite knowing the balcony was only added in the 20th century. It also didn´t stop the girls try to capture the eye of their own Romeo or the thousands of love notes left on the wall as you enter the courtyard.

Time for a coffee break in Piazza delle Erbe where we admired the elegant buildings and stood under the whale rib that will fall on the first ‘just person’ to walk beneath it. Despite plenty of us standing there, it remained intact and the final part of our culture tour was to take in the Piazza dei Signori with its famous arches and monuments.

Then it was time for some retail therapy in one of the most elegant streets in Italy, Via Mazzini. This is a wonderland of luxury brand shops such as Prada, Gucci, and Valentino so it was more gazing than spending.

We liked Verona, a nice mix of old and new, modern and traditional. The more places we go, the more I realise my favourite sights are not always on the must-see list.

Many times, I don’t know what I’m looking at, but dramatic scenery, picturesque towns, old-world charm, sunlight on honey-coloured stone, irresistible food, and classical ruins. I just know that I like it. Then it’s over until the next time, but Italy, you never cease to please.

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Nelson and the Battle of Santa Cruz

On the 220th anniversary of the Gesta, which took place on July 25, 1797 the recreation of the battle, will once again be held in Santa Cruz on 21, 22 and 23 July 2017. It is organized by the Historical Cultural Association Gesta with the indispensable support of the City Council. To see what is in store click the link above or enjoy the tension in the recreation of last year’s battle in this video.

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A day in Venice

A trip to Venice is something that has always captured my imagination but hearing how expensive it is, this seemed a good way to get a feel and see if it lived up to expectations.

Naturally, the whole place is pedestrianised, I can´t imagine in the maze of tiny streets squeezing in a car, let alone a coach!

Once there, what did we see? Of course, all the highlights.

A private boat took us down the Grand Canal and we eventually disembarked a short distance (4 bridges to be exact) from St Mark’s Square. It was then a guided walk to the heart of the city, St Mark’s Square. Lining the square are several historical sites. St. Mark’s Campanile (the bell tower on the corner) has a lift where from the top, you could, I imagine, get some great panoramic photos. Next, the Basilica di San Marco, probably the most famous church in Venice, but only visiting for a day meant giving these a miss as the queues to get in went on for miles. Instead, we took photos from the outside and vowed to return in spring or autumn.

St Mark’s Square is also home to a number of cafes, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee. It is one of those experiences you won´t forget, but with many tours starting at the piazza, it is always busy and therefore very expensive. We walked a couple of streets beyond the famous Piazza San Marco, to Ristorante Cantina Canaletto where a 2-course lunch including drinks cost just €15. Similarly if you hope to pick up a souvenir, walk a few streets from the square and you will find the same more reasonably priced.

No visit to Venice is complete without a trip on the canals and where there’s a canal, you’re likely to see a gondola. I was told it could cost upwards of €200, more if the gondolier sings! Yet somehow, our tour organiser managed to arrange a 30-minute trip for just €22 per person. What nobody warns you about though is the getting in and out. I’m not the most balanced person and as I wobbled back and forth, I had visions of grabbing whoever was next to me and taking us all overboard. Fortunately, with a long stride and just a bit of a tremble the feat was accomplished. I even managed to balance the gondolier on my head as you can see in the picture!

From the Grand Canal, we saw the Rialto Bridge, which has been there since 1181. This area is the centre for tourists and of course, you are standing on the bridge so the only way to get a photo is from a distance (or as I did – buy the postcard!).

Then the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, which connects to the palace dungeons. Casanova was the most famous person to cross the Bridge but the prison wasn´t to his liking and he escaped with help from a monk. Again, the amount of tourists at this spot can be a drawback to getting a decent picture, but if like us you wait until later in the day, you can, if lucky get a good un, especially if a gondola is passing underneath.

Final thoughts on Venice – It certainly has a lot going for it, lots of bridges, lots of canals and LOTS of people but it’s one of those places that’s touristy for a reason. It’s absolutely beautiful.

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A different kind of Romeria

Nago where we stayed in The Continental Hotel is at the northern most tip of Lake Garda. This end of the lake is dramatic with the Alps as a stunning backdrop. It’s not as well connected to Italy’s transport network as the southern lake towns, but it was June when Italy swelters under an eternal blue dome we weren´t planning to travel far. We spent time by the pool, and a nice touch was being able to bundle our towels into a complimentary beach bag.

Another nice touch was the man in the poolside kiosk regularly came around with slices of watermelon to cool us down. We were offered free lunch on our last day and although we should have been out of our room by 11.00, they let us stay until 6.00pm as we had a late transfer to the airport. The hotel and staff seemed seamlessly to just get everything right!

As a tourist resort, there isn’t much in Nago but it suited us. We wandered into the small historic centre and arrived at the plaza with its drinking fountain and the church of San Vigilio, which dates back to 1194. Once through its arches there are other buildings dating back to the 1400s. An old man sits there every day mending shoes and looks as old as the buildings that surround him. Following the road will take you to the ruins of Castel Penede and some Austrian fortifications (the only real nod to tourism, as it is now a restaurant). On both sides of the narrow cobbled streets, flowers cascade from pots and balconies.

We were fortunate that on Saturday night there was a demonstration by the bomberos in the plaza.

The crowds were out, music was playing and by Sunday the party was in full swing, majorettes paraded, bands played, there was mountains of free food and booze and while it was nothing remotely like a Canarian romerio. We danced to YMCA and La Bamba not very Italian either but it was fun to see how the locals lived and just as their Canarian counter-parts they made us foreigners feel very welcome.

From our hotel, the walk down to the lake at Torbole is by an old Roman road and takes about 25 minutes but seeing how exhausted the youngsters were after walking back we decided to wait for the free hotel shuttle bus for our return. The houses in Torbole are built around the harbour like an amphitheatre. The small town is very picturesque, flanked on one side by Casa Stefanelli with its arcades and on the other the customs house. It is pleasant to stroll among the winding streets with their tall buildings, or relax in waterfront squares around the harbour and indulge in that classic activity of sitting and watching the world go by. And before we realised we were halfway through our holiday…..

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