4am the alarm goes off and we up and dressed in no time. At this stage I'm still totally unaware of where we're going or how we're getting there - I'm excited! John makes a slip of the tongue in talking about hand luggage so now I know that we're flying - the possibilities are endless… After a very long taxi drive and some very odd Asian music we eventually arrive at the airport. John leads us to the Ryan Air counter and I'm convinced now that we're heading to Dublin. He's now ready to tell me where we're going and it's Turin - but I don't know where that is - hmmm! Anyway, he says that in it's native country it's called - Torino and then I had it - We were going to Italy for the weekend - YAY!!!
We arrived two hours later and then took a bus into the city where I had to wrack my brain to find the Italian words to ask for a taxi to our hotel - in the end John did with a combination of English and sign language - oh dear! After checking in we immediately went out again in search of lunch - we were starving! We walked for quite a while because we were looking for something specific, which we never actually found on that particular day, but we did follow our noses to the best smelling pizza shop in an extremely pretty part of Turin. I don't know if I was over hungry or if that really was the best tasting pizza I have EVER eaten - YUM! Bellies full, so our next stop was a lovely café for some wonderful Italian coffee.
The rest of the day we explored Turin on foot - just to find our bearings and find out what there was to see. On our sightseeing we came across the river and had a lovely stroll along the bank. We walked for miles so by late afternoon we were exhausted, so made our way back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. Feeling refreshed we walked to a café close by for a drink before dinner. They have a wonderful way of serving drinks in Italy in that they always serve it with a bowl of snacks which we quickly ploughed our way through!
It wasn't too long before we found a lovely little restaurant that wasn't too full. John decided to go the whole hog and do it Italian style. He started off with a cured ham antipasto, followed by a wonderful spaghetti dish with mussels and clams. The main course was a wild boar chop (you could never accuse him of being boring!) and with that a bowl of chips and a salad (an interesting assortment of rocket leaves) which he couldn't quite face! I was a bit more conservative and had a salmon and parmesan antipasto and my main course was veal in herbs and butter - it was unbelievably soft and tender - just melted in the mouth - ooh! I also had the chips and the "interesting" salad. We ordered a litre of wine thinking that it would last the entire meal - ha! Later we ordered more, just half a litre, so in the end it was a total of two bottles of wine - we were in a happy mood! Later in the evening we had champagne with the people who'd been sitting next to us - it was a wonderful evening and we eventually stumbled home………!
Our room was very dark as it had shutters outside and so we got up very late, thinking it was a lot earlier! Once ready we came downstairs to reception to ask if they would book our restaurant for that evening - but before we could say a word they told us we would move to a bigger room -" no, no we said - we're not here to complain, we just want to ask a favour". They moved us to a bigger room anyway - cool! (And booked our restaurant) The first stop for the day was a café for coffee and pastries. Satisfied, we then walked to the Egyptian museum - meant to be really impressive. We were there for quite some time as the museum was very large - we saw some mummies, some fully wrapped and others not quite so wrapped - it was fascinating! They also had a lot of really ancient pottery so I was really having fun!
We left the museum with aching feet and backs so it was another coffee break. Feeling restored our exploration of Torino continued and on this occasion we found the perfect lunch spot. We sat down to a leisurely lunch of pizza and beer - ooh, it was a treat! After lunch we walked across the river to the other side of town where there was a church. We can't say we've been on holiday until we've climbed something - this time it was a hill to the church! It's obviously the town's Sunday afternoon snogging centre so we had to be wary of where we looked - but over the wall around the church we had magnificent views of Turin. It was a very hazy day, but that made it sort of eerie and strangely pretty. It was a long walk back into town so we stopped off for coffee along the way to break the walk. We arrived back at the hotel to find the enormous room that they had moved us to - it was fantastic! A few hours later, after a nap and showers we were ready for a night on the town again!
The evening began again with drinks at a nearby café and that was followed by a hair-raising taxi ride with a military style driver, donning beret and driving gloves, to our proposed restaurant. The reason we chose this particular restaurant was because you don't order your food - they just serve a feast - and so it was! It was a very quaint place with baskets filled with the longest breadsticks I've seen and we munched these while trying to decipher the menu. Then the food arrived: Firstly a bowl of vegetables, some of which we couldn't quite make out what they were and this was meant to be dunked in an anchovy and garlic sauce which was warmed in a small terracotta, fondue type container. Bruschetta was next - two with tomato and olive or egg, one with sliced boiled egg an another with olives. The next course was a platter with various delights - filled zucchini, slivers of proscuitto and mozzarella with olive oil and herbs. Gnocchi with cheese sauce followed, but John was not too keen on this! By this stage we were already feeling bloated but somehow managed to find the room for the next course of spaghetti with minced duck and Ragu sauce that was sensational! We couldn't quite figure out what the last course was but it was like a turkey stew with potatoes as well as thinly sliced turkey in gravy. Unbelievably we had pudding as well, which wasn't even on the list! Needless to say with a long meal like that we had two bottles of wine again! After coffee it was time to go home as we were just about the last to leave the restaurant again!
Back at the hotel we were told that John had left his "photo machine" at the restaurant, but they were extremely kind and the waiter later brought it over after work! That just begins to tell you how lovely the Italian people are.
This morning we had breakfast at the hotel consisting of coffee, plenty of bread and pastries. The market was open today and I was keen to have a poke around. The part of town that the market is in was surprisingly grotty after the beauty of the main town, but the market was bustling with life. It was divided into two sections of food and clothing. We didn't actually buy anything - I just enjoy browsing and the atmosphere of markets. Coffee time again and back in the main town for some more wandering where we found the special chocolates that the guide book had been raving about. We bought 200g but had we tasted it before we bought, I think we would probably have bought more like 10 000g - but hey, just as well! For Lunch we went back to our special spot and had another long lunch of beer and pizza.
By now we were feeling very tired and lazy but decided to carry on walking about some more, as this was our last day. We did notice some very beautiful buildings and wished for sunshine so we could just sit outside and soak it all up - but instead we found ourselves in a lovely little bookshop and spent some time there browsing and buying a few books - including an Italian children's book for me! It was now time for us to make our way back to the hotel to collect our luggage and wait for the bus to take us to the airport.
We had a bit of a hard time with transport etc when we got back to England but I won't go into that…. It was a truly lovely weekend and a very special surprise - thank you John!!!