I will never forget the first time I ever laid my eyes on the Mediterranean. We arrived in Rome after a 21 hour flight from Cape Town. Exhausted we had to rush to catch a train from Rome to Naples. Two hours later (and no chance of sleep; I was petrified of missing our stop!) we arrived in Naples and had to rush to make the next train; a commuter train called Circumvesuviana that runs to Sorrento. That was a horrid journey – “commuter train” translated means that there are no seats (well, at least not in the coaches we were in) and we had to stand the whole way to Sorrento. I was so tired and exhausted that I could hardly stand on my feet and hubby had to give a lot of moral support to stop me from bursting into tears from sheer exhaustion. Arriving in Sorrento, waiting at the station for the SETA bus that would finally take us to our destination, Praiano, I caught I small glimpse of some blue water between a row of houses. So to be fair, that was probably the first glimpse of the Mediterranean. But then, as we finally got on the bus and started the last leg of our journey, the blue jewel revealed herself to us and in that instant we fell under her spell.
The famous Amalfi Coast drive was everything the books tell you it is – twisty, turny, breathtakingly beautiful and quite the adrenalin rush. The speed with which the bus drivers navigate the narrow road is something to experience. At first I did not understand why the driver was hooting randomly; was he just greeting people or were people upsetting him on the road? After paying a bit of attention I figured it out; he hooted every time we approached a bend so that if there were cars approaching from the other side, they would hear the bus coming. That way they would know to stop or get out of his way! Ingenious! And testament to the fact that they slow down for nothing!
So just about 24 hours after we left Cape Town we finally arrived in Praiano. Exhausted, but in love! I have previously written about my love for Praiano and its little beach La Praia. This is undoubtedly where our love for the Mediterranean comes from. I know what made this extra special for hubby was a trip that we took from Praiano to Capri. A local tour operator offered day trips to Capri and eagerly we signed up, wanting to see Capri but also the beautiful Amalfi Coast from the water. The journey by speedboat was amazing. Half way to Capri, in the middle of the ocean, our skipper stopped the boat. In his best English and with some hand gestures he indicated: “Now you swimming!” Hubby loved it! They had snorkeling equipment on the boat and he said it was the experience of a lifetime. The water was crystal clear; you could see down into the water for meters and meters and the fish….according to him it was like seeing a world that you never knew existed; swimming alongside fish that you have never seen before. With the water being so salty you did not really have to do a lot of swimming and floating was easy. To this day this is really one of his biggest highlights of any holiday. Me, being a novice swimmer, I didn’t have the courage to jump into the ocean; if my toes can’t touch the ground I get panicky!
And maybe that is part of the allure of the Mediterranean for me. The gentle waves. And the swishing sound it makes. The sea along our coast is much different, with waves thundering down. I’ve never known what “gentle waves lapping the shore” meant until I experienced the Mediterranean. And the best part of that is that it gives someone like me that is a bit scared of the big, rough seas the opportunity to swim in the ocean. Oh, and how I love it. The water is so quiet and clear that even I feel comfortable splashing about; even swimming a bit… provided that my toes can touch the bottom! Some of the best times on our holidays have been when we were laying next to the sea, listening to the hypnotic sound of the waves. Very few things come close.
But in talking about the first place where we’ve seen this beautiful blue ocean, my mind instinctively wanders to the place we last basked on her shores.
It was last year September (way too long ago, if you ask me!) and on the last day of our holiday on the Côte d’Azur we took the train to Menton. What drew us there were all the good things we read about its stunning beaches and with Menton also being just about the last stop on the French Riviera before you head into Italy it made me think that I might be able to have a pretty decent pizza while we were there! (It was uncanny to see road signs, showing Italy was just 10 miles away!)
When we arrived at the train station we immediately set off for the beach. It was not hard to find; we just followed a group of locals who were carrying beach chairs and umbrellas! And when we got there, we knew that we picked the perfect place to end off our holiday. The water was warm, calm and clear; I could swim and for a moment I forgot that my toes needed to touch the bottom because for once there was a view that could compete with the beauty of the Mediterranean – Menton’s old city cascading down the hill.
Laying on the beach was surreal. Just closing my eyes, feeling the sun on my skin and listening to the ocean. Staring out in front of me into the big blue and when I turned my head sideways, this stunning old city (and hubby) to my right. It was a perfect day! For lunch we didn’t have to go far; there was an amazing restaurant close to where we were. Hubby had an amazing seafood platter; he says the best he has ever had and me? Well, I had my pizza!
So if you crave a taste of the Mediterranean, I suggest you play this video on repeat, while preparing a bit of fish.
Cheers, until my feet touch your shores again!
Kingklip with sundried tomato marinade
4 kingklip fillets (or any firm fish that you can source locally)
Juice of half a lemon
60ml olive oil
3 tablespoons of sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped finely
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
- Mix lemon juice, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, sugar, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper together
- Pour over fish and marinade for 30 minutes
- Transfer the fish to a baking tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes until the fish turns opaque and flakes easily when prodded with a fork
- Serve with a fresh salad
Kingklip with sundried tomato marinade
- 4 kingklip fillets (or any firm fish that you can source locally)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 60ml olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped finely
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Step 1 Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
- Step 2 Mix lemon juice, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, sugar, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper together
- Step 3 Pour over fish and marinade for 30 minutes
- Step 4 Transfer the fish to a baking tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes until the fish turns opaque and flakes easily when prodded with a fork
- Step 5 Serve with a fresh salad