Friday, April 2, 2010

Italy day 2 cont

Our time in Italy was nearing the end. It was time to turn around and start heading back. Armed with daylight and some luck, we were able to get out of Pisa without getting lost once...We were running low in gas however, and we discovered that all gas stations in Pisa, if not Italy, are closed from approximately 1PM to 3PM. It was 2, and the one shop owner that Dom talked to said he didn't reopen until 3. We drove by numerous other gas stations that all looked deserted. Thankfully, we weren't out of gas, but just down to a quarter of a tank.

The picture below is actually ove some very beautiful snow capped mountains in the background, which didn't come out. But it was beautiful.

Below is a picture of a tunnel, a more natural one so to speak. Well, natural in that you can see all the exposed rock on all three sides that was removed to create the passage. From France to Pisa we drove through approximately 50-60 tunnels. Perhaps more. We lost count. I can't imagine what IDOT (that's Italian Department of Transportation, and not likely an accurate name) spent to build this MCH (Mediteranean Coast Highway, again, not likely an accurate name). But the tunnels and the bridges that spanned the valleys between the mountains were awesome to this civil engineer.

These next pictures are more awesome to this civil engineer than any bridge, ever.
We had just arrived in our hotel that Hilary again did an excellent job selecting via Rick Steeves, and Trip Advisor. Daisy was so happy laying on the bed playing. Isn't she adorable in her panda outfit?

We were all tired and decided to check out the restaurant attached to the hotel. From the outside, I'll be honest, I was quite skeptical of not just the hotel, but the restaurant, too. Especially when we were told it was only about 60 euros per room. But in true French/Itialian, European? fashion, I judged this book incorrectly by its cover. Although we were just passed the border back into France, our hotel and restaurant was owned and operated by an Italian... so to the pleasure of everyone, we were having italian again, even though we were in france. We met Dom and hilary down in the lobby, where they were enjoying a nice glass of wine on some couches. Upon moving to our table, we decided to order an appetizer. The menu was again all in french, so we weren't really sure what we were ordering and were at the mercy of the waiter. What he brought out is below:

We believe it to be (from left to right) octopus, fried zuchini and squash and fried whole anchovies. At first I thought that they were sardines, something my good friend David Cooan used to eat when he didn't have time for lunch at work, but these were too small...and salty.

I was so impressed that Wendy ate not one, but two, of the fried fish. Did I mention that it was the entire fish, lightly breaded and fried? yes, anything fried tastes good, I'll agree mostly to that statement, but this guy was looking at you in the eyes, through his eyes, as he went into your mouth, head, eyes, tail and all...
For dinner wendy ordered a potato gnocchi which was quite good.

I do not remember what Hilary had, but you can tell from the picture, she's enjoying it!
Speaking of enjoying their dinner... I loved mine. The sauce was good and light, the pasta was exceptional, but oh my. The shrimp were the best i have ever had. Yes, the best. As wendy will testify to, I rarely use that statement, but these shrimp were amazing. Honestly, when they first came out, I was a bit disappointed because there were only three or four even though they were quite large. But the taste more than made up for it. I can't explain it other than that they tasted like very fresh shrimp. I don't know what freshness tastes like other than that these shrimp were them. They were so good in fact we asked the waiter where they got them, since I expected they got them from across the street in the mediterranean...which he said they had gotten that morning in the med! I believed him. They were awesome. The second best shrimp I've ever had was in Texas. They were grilled and had some awesome seasoning on them, but like my icecream/gelato explanation, these shrimp didnt have any real seasoning/spices (addmixtures) on them. They didn't need it. Dom and I loved our selection for the evening. Boy was I wrong about this place when we first pulled up to it.
Some chocolate desert that was a little too 'cakey' in texture for Wendy's top 10 list, and I was still so enamored with the shrimp that I hardly could taste the chocolate.... everything was shrimp shrimp shrimp!
I forgot to mention that the waiter brought probably 4 maybe 5 baskets of bread to the table. The service was exceptional again. I much more prefer the italian eatiers than the french, with the exception of the pasta cosy, perhaps. As Dom put it a couple times, the italians are so much more jovial.... which was true. Daisy may be part italian. She did so great sitting next to us in her car seat and then on daddy's lap throughout dinner. She was so happy the whole meal. The definition of jovial.
and still happy when we returned back to our room, in lieu of exploring the town. Turning in early was a good idea, giving us a couple extra hours of rest and it allowed me to get caught up on the happenings of the world, via BBC (the only english tv station!)
And more importantly, it was some additional time to snuggle and play with Daisy Lucile. She's adorable.

Daisy and I discussed the middriff look. It's acceptable to bear her beautiful for tummy for a few more years.

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