Month: April 2014

Una piacevole ed inaspettata sorpresa

Arrivai all’aeroporto di Newark dopo la mezzanotte con volo da Miami, ed uscito dall’aeroporto un leggero nevischio scendeva nella notte lento e silenzioso sulla città.
Francesco era venuto a riscontrarmi con la sua auto ed in meno di 20 minuti giungemmo a casa, un appartamento situato all’ultimo piano di un palazzo nei pressi della stazione di Lackwanna ad Hoboken sul fiume Hudson, NJ.
Lasciato il mio zaino in camera degli ospiti, mi affacciai alla finestra e inaspettatamente per la prima volta vedevo la Skyline di Manhattan in tutta la sua totalità dalla sponda opposta dell’Hudson (credo la più bella prospettiva che si possa avere) fu per me una sorpresa che mi lascio’ senza fiato, come un bambino di fronte ad un regalo che ha sempre desiderato e che finalmente riceve per Natale.
La sera stessa, anche se distrutto dalla stanchezza, non riuscivo ad addormentarmi, forse perché temevo di perdere quello spettacolo sorprendente di luci della Skyline che oltretutto riuscivo ad osservare anche disteso sul letto.
Alla fine cedetti e presi sonno, l’indomani mi avrebbe aspettato il primo giorno nella grande mela.




Cornwall : Out of sight, but never out of mind

To spend a few days in Cornwall can be a pleasure for both lovers of nature, thanks to its striking landscapes, but also to lovers of history, as its past is so rich in facts and legends.
I took the Ryanair flight from Pisa to Bristol and after renting a car at the airport, I took the M5 to reach Plymouth in about 2 hours.
Plymouthis a town on the Devonshire coast positioned in a natural bay in which the port stands. It was completely destroyed in the Second World War as the Royal Navy base was situated there. Also of interest is a visit to the Plymouth Hoe Memorial, as it offers an fascinating view of the bay.
Leaving Plymouth to go to Cornwall, I stopped off at Polperro, a fishing village that was once an alcove for pirates being hidden away in a small bay.
Here time seems to stand still; under a rain shower I wander through the narrow streets set between little white house with slated roof and windmills and pass streams that flow under small wooden bridges; all the ingredients to make this a fairy-tale place.
I slept the night in a B & B in the only room left in the attic which was extremely clean and charming and I spent that evening in a bar offering live folk music, the singers had come specifically to Polperro for the music and art festival. An unforgettable evening.
The next morning I regrettably left Polperro in the direction of The Eden Project, an old kaolin quarry, where large greenhouses with transparent domes have been constructed and in which Mediterranean and tropical environments have been reproduced, perfectly controlled by a complex system of humidifiers and air conditioners. It is very impressive and educational for children but adults can also spend a very interesting two hours there.
In the evening, I arrived at Penzance, a town of 20,000 inhabitants situated on the beautiful bay of Mounts Bay. The British Rail train station terminal is also located here, being the most southern station in England. Being a weekend, it was tricky to find a B & B without having booked, but in the end I managed to find one near to the seafront, from where it was possible to admire St Michael’s Mounts in the distance, a former eleventh century Benedictine abbey that was transformed into a fortress and situated on an island that is accessible by foot at low tide, much like the Mont St. Michel in Normandy.
The next morning, after listening to Gaelic music and having seen the local market be enlivened by locals, I left for Land’s End, England’s most western resort set high up on a cliff, lashed by strong winds and massive waves.
From Land’s End I went to Tintagel Castle, where legend has it that King Arthur was born. The castle’s ruins rise up on a cliff overlooking the sea beneath which lies Merlin’s Cave, a natural cave that connects the two sides of the cliff. From the ruins of the castle, it is worth admiring the breath-taking view. The village of Tintagel still has the old post office and a myriad of souvenir shops and restaurants.
On my last night I stayed in Newquay, a seaside town famous for surfing, full of entertainment bars animated by young surfers.




Portsmouth: a city of famous people, sailors and Pompey fans.

I arrived in Portsmouth from London having taken the train from Victoria Station, where in about 2 hours I reached the city, getting out at the station of Southsea. Coming out of the train station and going to the left is Guildhall Square, with its monument to Queen Victoria. Continuing along Guildhall Walk, one arrives at the Ibis Hotel in Winston Churchill Avenue, where one can stay with excellent value for money.
The city of Portsmouth in Hampshire has approximately 190,000 inhabitants, most of whom live in the city that is located on Portsea Island and where the Solent joins the English Channel.
The city boasts a great maritime tradition, with a vital past as the Royal Navy base and for which it suffered heavy bombing throughout the Second World War. Today the port, as well as still being the Royal Navy base, is of great importance for its goods and passenger docks.
Famous people who were born in Portsmouth include Admiral Nelson, hero of the Battle of Trafalgar, and the writer Charles Dickens, whose father was a payroll clerk in the British Navy; today it is possible to visit the writer’s birthplace.
Noteworthy places of interest for tourists include the Historical Dockyard near the harbour, where in a vast complex that is currently being restored, one can visit the Mary Rose Museum, the HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860 warships and the D-Day Museum.
The Mary Rose Museum opened in 2013, where the remains of the Mary Rose warship are exhibited, Henry VIII’s flagship raised from the seabed in 1982. One can relive aspects of life on board that have been perfectly reconstructed thanks to the numerous artefacts found, together with the evocative remains of the perfectly reassembled warship.
The architectural design of the museum combines contemporary architecture with a great respect for past history; indeed the museum is located exactly where the ship was constructed back in 1510.
Very close to the Museum is Spinnaker Tower, a 170-metre high tower that was inaugurated in 2005 to celebrate the city’s maritime tradition. It consists of two reinforced concrete pylons that join halfway up to form a single column to which steel sails are attached. From there, you can see the harbour, the city and on a good day, the Isle of Wight.
However, you cannot go to Portsmouth without paying a visit to Fratton Park, the Portsmouth football club’s stadium, especially if it’s a Saturday when the local team plays at home.
Fans of Portsmouth, also known as Pompey supporters, show strong affection for their team despite the fact that in the past 5 years it has gone through a crisis, being gradually relegated from the Premier League to League Two.
To think that in 2013, with a public subscription, the club passed into the hands of the fans, the “Pompey Supporters Trust” and who can now cheer on “their” team, in the true sense of the word, and bring it back to play in the championships where it deserves to be. I suggest you spend some time before the match in the local pubs, where you can understand the pride that the Portsmouth people feel for their city and team #pup.