In August, Trish and I journeyed on a 'round the world honeymoon, starting in Ireland and taking a train to Italy. The train ride from Paris to Turin, Italy was amazing. After a few hours, we passed through the Alps, where scenery was steep and plentiful. We drank wine and gazed out the window as we flew through the countryside. We arrived in Turin just before dark and our first official honeymoon tiff began.
Upon exiting the train station, I realized I didn't have any cash, having spent it in transit on vino. Phil had mentioned the hotel was "a short walk" from the station, so I figured we could walk a few blocks and stumble upon it. This only worked for a few blocks before Trish asked me if I had the address. I admitted that I did not, though it was on TripIt and I'd left the printout on the printer at home. Of course, with no phones or internet, TripIt did us no good. We stopped in at a bar to get the address from someone with a cell phone, then proceeded to walk for several blocks in the wrong direction. Then things got a lot better. We found an ATM, caught a cab and landed at our hotel (the NH Santo Stefano) 10 minutes later.
The next day, Tuesday August 6, we slept too late to feast on the hotel's breakfast. Just before noon, we strolled through the heat to Piazza San Carlo. A shaded cafe presented itself as appetizing and we sat down for a bite to eat.
Phil purchased Turin Cards for us and we promptly put them to use. The first recommended stop was the Egyptian Museum, or Museo delle Antichità Egizie. It has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo. Its history is rich, with six and a half thousand objects on display, plus another 26,000 objects in storage.
We wandered around Turin a bit more that afternoon, then grabbed a nap at the hotel before heading to our first real Italian dinner. The food was exquisite, and the Barolo - delightful.
After dinner, we strolled down to the River Po and took in the nightlights and energy of Turin.
Our first full day in Turin was interesting, but Wednesday is when the fun began. Phil hooked us up with an Alfa Romeo for a rental car. We were were quickly impressed with its speed and nimbleness. The Italian drivers like to keep the road lines in the middle of their vision and they're not afraid to tell you when you're in their way. We sped off on the motorway to Alba (home of the Slow Food Movement), to embark upon The Langhe drive.
After stopping for lunch in Alba, we found ourselves at The Castello Cavour and its Enoteca Regionale Cavour. One was a castle, the other a wine tasting/store establishment.
The wine was tasty and we bought a few bottles before heading southwest toward La Morra. The panoramic view at the top was the most stunning I've ever seen.
On the way from La Morra to Barolo, we stopped to photograph a picture-perfect tree on a hill. The Cedar of Lebanon was planted in 1856 and is now about 50 ft (15 m) in height and visible from most of the villages and cities of Langhe. It doesn't take much to make it happy.
Maneuvering our speedy little car into Barolo, Marchesi di Barolo caught our eye, and we stopped in for a sample of their sweet nectar.
From there, we walked into town a bit more. We stumbled upon a place in the center with a glass elevator and incredible view. The path to Fatelli Di Barolo Castle was pretty spectacular too.
The drive back to Turin was fast and furious. It was about this time that we started to question if there were police patrolling the roads. We saw signs that indicated we were being monitored, but we didn't see any police cars. Later, someone told us it was all camera-based. With speeds ranging from 150-180kph for most of our motorway excursions, it's possible we'll be receiving some tickets in the mail.
For dinner on Wednesday, we enjoyed a delicious meal at a castle-like structure that overlooked the city.
Thursday, we woke up in time for breakfast, jumped in the car and drove like bats-outta-hell ~200km to Portofino. This is an Italian fishing village, with a picturesque harbour on the Italian Riviera. The tunnels we drove through were some of the coolest things I've ever seen on a road trip.
The view from the top of Castello Brown was beautifully captured by Trish. While she was taking pictures, I was enjoying a bottle of Barolo and admiring the Mediterranean.
Shortly after, we offered our wine to some Iranian ladies and had a stupendous time telling our respective stories.
That night, Trish shot a lightning-infused Piazza Castello on the drive home. It's quite possibly her best photo from the whole honeymoon.
Friday, we headed for the hills, taking a drive along the Valle d'Aosta. Rather than follow the recommendations in our guide book, we headed directly for Mont Blanc (the end destination). The tunnel phenomenon from Thursday continued; enabling us to drive straight through the mountains. We were hoping to ride over the top of Mont Blanc, but it wasn't open, so we had to take pictures, bask in one another's company and giggle at the awesome views.
We were thoroughly impressed with Fénis Castle on the drive back to Turin.
Friday evening delivered a reservation at Antica Trattoria Con Calma, where I chewed through my first escargot experience and savored the rabbit.
When we woke up Saturday morning, we hesitated between staying in Turin, visiting the National Cinema Museum and continuing The Langhe drive. We came to Italy for the gastronomy and the wine, so the decision was easy and we drove to Barbaresco.
Barbaresco was even better than we expected, especially our visit to Cantina Boffa Carlo. Next time, I have a feeling we'll be staying at the brilliant Boffa House.
We finished the day by driving through Mango, Benevello and Borgomale before turning around for our jaunt back to Turin. Saturday was a quiet night, where we got lots of rest in preparation for our Sunday journey to Thailand. This rest allowed us to get up early, pack, and venture to the Museo Nazionale del Cinema before our flight. The museum and its panoramic views were remarkable.
On Sunday, August 11, we boarded a flight from Turin to Koh Samui, Thailand (with stops in Istanbul and Bangkok along the way).
While it doesn't appear like we slowed down on the second week of our honeymoon, it was a very relaxing time for me. The lack of phones and computers provided more time in the day. There was more opportunities for conversations and reflection, and it was very special having constant interaction with my new wife.
Italy was fantastic. The Piedmont region's views, castles, wine and gastronomy were unbelievable. The Barolo and Barbaresco wines were exquisite and the driving experience was unmatched. I'd love to have some Italian Road Architects visit Colorado and build tunnels through our mountains!
In the next installment, I'll talk about our honeymoon in Thailand and its ocean views, people, spicy food and how we took a vacation from our vacation.