MEMORABLE TRIP FROM GUTENSTEIN TO FINALE LIGURE
Riccardo and me in Veldon with a big watery ball
After the first-time course on the Five-Animal Set in Vienna and some lovely chi kung courses in Gutenstein, Riccardo the Handsome and Mariangela Aime drove me from Gutenstein in Austria to Finale Ligure in Italy on 25th and 26th April 2016.
We had breakfast early in the morning in Pernitz, a small town just next to Gutenstein. We were quite surpised that the breakfast was delicious with a variety of cakes, for which Austria was famous. We then drove along the main road leading to the expressway, passing through small villagres like Oed and Waldegg.
We traveled to Graz, the second largest city of Austria after Vienna, or Wien as the Austrians call their capital. Graz has beautiful classical buildings and six universites. We went through a long tunnel and up a lift to the top of a hill, where we had a good look at the city as well as an old Grazer Schloßberg Clock Tower. We walked down a long flight of steps to the old city and had lunch with big prawns and asparagus.
From Graz we took a country road, and went through lovely countryside with lovely Austrian towns. We drove along an alpine lake, called the Wörther See, which is about 20 km long and 1 to 2 kn across with transparent blue-green water. We came to Klagenfurt, the 6th largest city in Austria and the regional capital of the Austrian state of Carinthia.
In Velden, a pretty little town, we stopped for some delicious ice-cream, and watched people and cars passing by. Life was just wonderful.
Across the road was a casino. As games of chances were not a fancy for any of us, we did not patronize it, but took some photos in front where there was a big, round ball with water gently flowing over it. Then we drove to the crystal blue-green lake nearby to admire the beautiful scenery. There was a white swan swimming in it enjoying itself like we did.
We crossed the border into Italy. As Austria and Italy are both in the European Union, there were no immigration matters to trouble us though the old immigration building, without any people in it, still remained. First we traveled along some mountainous road swerving like a dragon, with the fairly straight but less interesting expressway not far away. We passed Travisco, a small city in northeast Italy which I thought was a village.
Then we came to quite a straight road as the land became fairly flat, with Italian houses on both sides. We passed a charming hotel on the way, and I almost asked Riccardo the Handsome to stop the car to spend the night in. But we drove on and eventually reached Udine, a small city in the northeast of Italy just about 40 km from the Slovenian border.
Mariangela organized a dinner in a Japanese restaurant which is always full, but as usual with what many people have called Sifu's luck, not only we had a lovely table but also a sumptuous meal, with Mariangela and Riccardo enjoying a great variety of sushi, and I enjoying tepanyaki chicken.
The next day, 26th April 2016, we took a country road to Venice. Although to me Venice is one of the most beautiful places in the world, where when I was there some years ago I really felt luckier than an emperor, we had to give Venice a miss so that we could reach our destination, Attlio's hotel in Finale Ligure, on time to have dinner with Attlio.
We took an expressway to Bologna. Those who have traveled with me know that I prefer country roads but expressways are not without their romance. Level green fields on both sides rushed passed us, while I had some time for nostalgia, thinking of the previous time I took my family to Italy traveling on the same expressway, but from the other side, from Rome to Florence and Pisa, and then to Attilio's most beautiful hotel.
We arrived at Bologna, one of the largest cities of Italy, famous for porticoes, or colonnade walkways, and home to the oldest university in Europe, the University of Bologna, where great figures like Dante, Petrarch and Copernicus once studied.
We drove to the ancient city centre, when Riccardo asked whether I would like to stop to admire the classical view. I alighted from the car and Mariangela was kind to come down with me, thinking that Riccardo would just stop the car for a minute, but he drove on as he could not stop at the place, with Mariangela hurriedly trying to close the half-flunk car door. Nevertheless we had a good look at the ancient city centre, including the famous two Towers of Bologna, and met Riccardo later on.
We went to La Spezia, an impressive city and important military harbour for the Italian navy, located at the Gulf of La Spezia. We drove along a mountainous road to Cinque Terre, which means "Five Lands". and is a picturesque collection of five villages along the Italian Riviera. We wanted to drive along the beautiful coastline to Finale Ligure, but had to turn back at Vernazza because the road was interrupted by a landslide.
We arrived at Finale Ligure to have dinner with Attilio in his beautiful hotel. Pio who just arrived from the United States at Rome and drove all the way to Finale Ligure joined us for dinner.
But before dinner, Attilio proudly and happily showed me a remarkable improvement to his already beautiful hotel. He filled up the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea where guests have breakfast every morning with thick stripes of oat wood, and provided heavy wooden tables instead of flimsy ones. I am lucky to have stayed in over a hundred hotels all over the world, and have always considered Attilio's hotel, Punta Est, to be one of the very best. This improvement has made the hotel even better and more beautiful.
The Gutenstein-Finale Ligure trip was lovely. In the first trip three years ago in 2013, Riccardo, Mariangela and I went through the picturesque Wachau valley along the so-called but still romantic blue Danube. We drove through Krems, one of the prettiest Austrian towns well known for wine. We also visited Melk with its large baroque monastery named Melk Abbey. We drove through charming Salzburg, the third largest Austrian city where Mozart was born and the ever-green "Sound of Music" was filmed.
In the second trip in 2015, which was from Finale Ligure to Gutenstein, we traveled along Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy and a popular holiday location. We stopped at Riva del Garda which is a beautiful resort. We traveled through the Brennero Pass and experienced heavy snow fall even in May.
The three trips were very memorable.
Wong Kiew Kit
10th May 2016
Mariangela and me in front of Wörther Lake with crystal blue water