vendredi, août 18, 2017

Boat excursion

One afternoon while in Lido Marini, we went on a boat excursion to visit the various sea caves along the coast of Salento. We have a choice of the Ionian or the Adriatic coasts. 


When we arrived at Leuca, there was a boat leaving in 20 mins time. It was for the Ionian coast. We took that and visited the Grotto of Mesciu Scianni, the Grotta del Fiume, the Cave of the Nativity, the Three Doors, the Stalla and finally the Dragon Cave. As the names suggested, in the cave of the Nativity, there were rock formation that looked like a scene of the Nativity; in the Three Doors, there were 3 arches to enter the cave and at the Dragon Cave, there was a dragon head looking rock.


The boat commander spoke only Italian. We were fortunate to have a couple who translated for us. The lady was from Belgium and her boyfriend was Italian. I then translated to English and Chinese for my mum.
On the way back to the port, we had 20 mins of swimming near the Dragon cave. The boys were happy to have their arm floats and enjoyed swimming in deep water.

At the port, we spotted fishes and small crabs.
Our boat excursion lasted 1hour and 30mins. We had a drink and snacks at Leuca before heading back.
Everyone enjoyed themselves.

vendredi, août 11, 2017

Food from ah yi

Gosh. This post was in draft mode for months and I just realised that.

Ah Yi, the boys' ex-nanny gave us food each time we met up. In May, she made rice dumplings and chinese buns. 

Rice dumpling (Zongzi) is traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat festival. 

I thought my boys would not like the chinese buns (Bao) so I just took one from her. I let the boys try it and they liked it. We three had to share that one big bun.

When it was the boys' birthday, she would make them apple sauce, braised chicken thighs and chinese dumpling (Jiaozi). Last year A1 mentioned that food was not a present. Ah Yi took note. This year for A1's birthday, she bought him a Magic treehouse storybook. A1 was delighted.

For me, I prefer Ah Yi's home cook food as gifts. They are organic and nothing beats home made food. 

jeudi, août 10, 2017

South of Italy in the province of Lecce

Mum came to visit us during the summer school holiday. Actually we needed her to take care of the boys while we worked.

In July, we headed togather to Italy and spent two weeks of relaxing family vacation. We landed at Bari and drove the rented car to our first Airbnb at Lido Marini, the heel of Italy.  Lido Marini is a summer village and the beach is family friendly. It was an ideal location for us as the appartment was just 100m from the beach and along the way, there were shops selling basic stuff. The boys and Seb spent their mornings at the beach while my mum and I sat at the beach chalet taking a drink. We watched the boys having fun in the shallow calm water and building sandcastles.

By 10am, the beach was crowded and there were vendors trying to sell their wares along the beach. There was this mother carrying her toddler on her back trying to send things. It was such a big contrast compared with the sunbathing holiday makers. 
At around 11.30am, Seb would bring the boys back to wash up while mum and I went grocery shopping for the days' lunch and dinner. In Lido Marini, there were only Italians. No one spoke English nor French. Though we had difficulty communicating with the locals (I ended up using Seb's phone to translate after a few days), everyone was friendly to us. They continued to speak to us in Italian and we continued with English and French with lots of hand gestures in between. I find them really kind and simple in their way of life.
The vegetable lady only had local vegetables and chicorée were a plenty. We bought some and cooked it chinese style but it was really bitter.
We found a fishmonger who grilled or pan fried our purchase for us. We went there 3 days straight and had fresh seafood for lunch. One day we bought a roasted chicken from the butcher.
Mum would cook pasta or rice and our lunch and sometimes dinner would be completed.
We did dine out a few times and the Italian menus had no images so we ended up with surprises. 

After lunch, Seb would drive us to visit places of interest. The boys were promised ice cream and after the visit, we would end up at the nearest beach in that area.

We visited Otranto. There was a beach near the port. 
The Otranto cathedral with its skulls of "Martyrs of Otrano" on display.
These 800 inhabitants were killed in 1480 for refusing to convert to Islam when the city was captured by Ottoman Empire.
On another day, we drove to Gallipoli. We walked around the old town which was located on a limestone island.


The seaside of Gallipoli.
After the visit, we stopped at the nearest beach along Baia Verde. This was the beach the boys preferred. They could see fishes in the clear water and had lots of fun.
There are always public beach along side a private beach. In Lido Marini, we just use the public beach. In other places we rented a parasol and two lounge chairs at the private beach as we were not equipped with these. 
We also visited Lecce on another afternoon and also went on a boat excursion. We were blessed with hot, dry weather. We spent a week in Lido Marini before driving up north to our second Airbnb in the highland of Gargano.

Funny stuff: One day we had no water in the appartment after lunch. We contacted the host and he replied that he would send a truck. Turn out there was a watertank at the basement and the water truck came and filled it up. But we still did not have water. After much discussion, we realised that the boys had flipped a switch in their room while playing. That was the switch to pump up water into the appartment. It was an innocent On/Off switch just beside a power socket. Oops. I used this lesson to tell the boys the importance of saving water.

Seb wanted orange juice at an ice cream place. I saw the word "arancio" beside an image of orange and pointed to that. The waiter gave us orange shaved ice.

At the beach chalet, I pointed at the ice coffee ordered by the man opposite my table. Italian drinks small coffee. I explained to the waitress that I wanted a big glass of ice coffee. She nodded. I got a tall glass with a quarter of ice coffee. Oops.  After that, I used Seb's phone to do translation.