Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Dahlia for dear old Dad


OMG we turn the tv on for the first time last night and there we see the news reports on CNN (the only English speaking channel there is) reporting the eighth anniversary of 911. How quickly those years have passed. And we do not want to watch it every 15 minutes, so the TV goes off again. Breakfast at the Europalace Hotel was fine - you kind of get over hotel breakfasts pretty quickly here on the continent.

Helen goes for an early morning walk to check out the local weekly markets - but didn't take the camera. I am trying to finish bring the blog up to date. Lots of lovely fresh produce she reports, fish and veges. And some nice Italian clothes and shoes, all packed out with the multitude of cheap imported stuff from India and China like in any other local market place. Sitting on the promenade there are also a number of Africans peddling all sorts of touristy stuff such as cared giraffes - Italy? Yeah, whatever.

Once she is back we make plans for the day. We would like to have a look at Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto which is located a couple of kilometres from where we are staying. Michael decides not to join us, but rather to take a bit of a longer walk around the town of Pallanza and the surrounding roads.

So, off we head in the car. Thankfully most of the markets are cleared and I follow a van the wrong way up a one-way street to exit the area. We get caught in the back streets rising away from the lake, behind cars that are parked blosing the street and parents collecting children from a nursery. And at the end of the road, we can only turn right back towards the town. As the brochure I had collected from the Tourist Centre said to just follow the road signs, I hadn't bothered to connect Kate. Before we head off again, I do just that, ask for Points of Interest near us, select Villa Taranto and follow her very clear directions. Up through the newer section of the town complete with the obligatory McDonalds!

Parking is offered - and free - at the Villa, so in we pull, parking in the shade of a large tree. Once we pick our jaws up off the ground when we see the entry gardens, we purchase our tickets and then start with? A COFFEE of course. In fact, the best coffee we have had since hmmm - not sure when. Coupled with a 'cream cake' as described by the waiter - that turns out to be a slice of the loveliest custard pie, life is grand!

And then we are off. Passed the most amazing bedded annuals edged by a piece of lawn that looks like it is freshly vaccuumed carpet. Such tiny leaves of grass, so beautifully manicured and such a wonderful edge to the pink and white and blue petals. As we move up the path, we pass by a range of fir trees, the likes of many we never see in Australia. They are obviously well cared for as they are all healthy. In behind there are the occasional shrub including some of the largest and bluest hydrangeas we havever seen.

Getting to a fork in the path, we look to the right and see the spectacle that is the Putti Fountain. This is set in a formal sculptured garden filled with beds of the largest tuberous begonias that either Helen or I have ever seen, and immediately surrounded by the giant leaves of Colocasia antiquorum (elephant ears). Helen's dream garden she declares and toys with the thought of texting Greg a photo and asking him to get busy :-)

From here it's a short wander in the sun to the Dahlia Garden or maze - a contorted pathwhere we admire more than 300 varieties (? - well that is what the brochure says!) of dahlias. Now, those who know me really well will know that these were Dad's favourite flower. He grew quite a few of the varieties on show here year after year after year - from house to house that they lived in. It is hard to take a poor photo of them, they are so spectacular, bees included. What is astounding though, is the size of the bloosoms - they are HUGE compared with any I have ever seen in Australia. Boy, I'd love to know what they feed them. It's at this point that we are pushed by, by a group of American tourists one a mission - gotta see it all, never mind about the experience we have the photos!

We hold back, not wanting to be thought to be a part of it. At the end of the maze, there is a rather decrepit looking glass house. However, the Victoria Cruziana inside is anything but. The pad of these water lillies are supposedly large and substantial enough to hold a child - wow! Fully grown, these are more than a metre wide!! Amazing world we live in. There is a smaller pond in front with the more common waterlilly that graces many of the streams and ponds near home in Maryborough.

Then its over to the Mc Eacharn Mausoleum built in 1965 where the last remains of the garden's founder Captain Neil Boyd Mc Eacharn are laid. Its small, tasteful and with stained glass windows reflecting the flowers of the gardens. A nice spot to pause on what is becoming a hotter day.

And from here its all up-hill. We want to see the Terraced Gardens and so up the stairs we go - way up. (Helen now ...)
Then we walked around and around and up and down and saw lots of other things like flowers and stuff. LOL The gardens were lovely and at each turn in the path you saw and experienced a new wonder.

(I'm ba-ack!) We have delighted over the Terraced Gardens and altough there are a heap of other people here today, Helen manages to get a photo of it almost devoid of other people - just the beauty overlooking the world! And since we are at the top of the world, we have to get down. Up a further incline for a couple of hundred metres to the Uscita-Ausgang-Exit-Sortie sign. Two choices. 860 m if we choose the steps, 1100 m if we choose the sloping path. Steps are my real downfall, so we opt for the path, only to discover at the end of the first switchback 300 m later that we are now at the bottom of the one flight of steps! Oh well, only 840 m to go. There are a few very picturesque spots with old bridges, sloping pebbled paths and a fantastic view of the twin domes of the town (although the light is too bright at this time today to do them justice) before we reach the bottom of the path and the car. Wow what an amazing couple of hours!

Back to the hotel to rendevous with Michael who has had a lovely couple of hours wandering the town. We feel that we had better try another place for dinner tonight - not that we have nt enjoyed our last two meals, but tonight we are in the mood for something a little more casual. The Artis Restorante and Pizzeria is just down the road from the hotel. I had Scallopine and Michael had a Calzone (Ham, tomato, artichoke and mushroom) but the awards tonight went to the Breaded Perch (From the Lake) and Pommes Frites (fish'n'chips a la Helen) that Helen had. Bloody beautiful, mate! It reminder her of all the fish that her Dad and uncles used to catch on a Sunday morning when they lived at Wynnum, Manly in Brisbane. In fact, it was so good that I ordered a portion after my veal! Real lemon. Potato and carrot salad with home made mayonnaise. Yep. Bloody beautiful.

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