Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thanksgiving and off to Rome

The children's Thanksgiving  project 

Thanksgiving is a time that most Americans want to celebrate at home with family, stuffing ourselves with traditional foods and reflecting on things for which to be thankful each year. Regardless of how bad the year might have been there always are a few things for which one can be thankful.   During the past 8 Thanksgiving days since we began cruising usually there has been at least one other American cruising boat nearby with whom we could celebrate the holiday.  

Wanda of S/V Piscator with John in blue shirt behind her.
Great Thanksgiving, thanks to them.
This year was the largest gathering of cruisers for a Thanksgiving meal that we have experienced thus far.  A big 'THANK YOU!' to Wanda and John aboard S/V Piscator for arranging this Thanksgiving celebration.

Wanda announced on the morning radio net that she and John would provide the turkey and the marina would provide a room for anyone who wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving. Each cruiser or cruising couple would provide a dish to share and Wanda would buy and cook the turkey.  I think Wanda had no idea that the response would be so great.  The number of participants grew to more than 80 persons!  

Ni from S/V Finalmente -- excellent carving of turkeys.
A blonde woman also did a great job alongside Ni, but
I never learned her name.
Wanda and John purchased 3 good-sized turkeys and a ham.  Obviously there was no way to cook all that meat in a boat oven!  The owner of the meat market where they purchased the birds and ham personally went around to restaurants near his shop and found a restaurant willing to cook all the meat.  Wanda prepared the turkeys (and she did a fabulous job!) and took them to the restaurant to be roasted.  The rooms at the marina were too small for such a large group, but Wanda spoke to the manager of the new restaurant inside the marina and he kindly allowed us to use his restaurant for a token fee of only 3 Euros per person to cover the flatware, glasses and clean-up.  Such a deal!  Beverages could be purchased from the restaurant or one could bring one's own beverage.  That felt tacky to us so we opted to purchase drinks from the restaurant, as I think almost everyone else did.  So the restaurant made a tiny bit from the sales of drinks.  I hope it was a successful day for them.

Appetizer table.  More items were
added after this photo.  One woman
brought an olive/nut bread that was

And what a feast this turned out to be!  One long table of appetizers, 2 tables of side dishes and a large table of scrumptious desserts.  Someone even made cranberry sauce.  Cannot imagine where they found the cranberries; I saw none in any of the supermarkets.  The desserts were decadent, just like Thanksgiving is supposed to be.

Table of side dishes.  Some traditional; some not at
all traditional.  All delicious.

More side dishes.  I brought green beans,
creamed spinach, beef stew meat cooked
with wine and carrots, and grilled sliced
 pork and chicken.  Weird food for
Thanksgiving but emptied our freezer.

Our table-mates.  2 lovely Dutch couples.
Elly and Gerard are in foreground.
Bill and I shared a table with 2 lovely Dutch couples.  We explained the concept of Thanksgiving to them as this is not a holiday that any of them had celebrated previously.  It was a nice dinner with friendly conversation and discussion of different customs in our different countries.  One of the couples sharing our table were Gerard and Elly of S/V Umata.  Bill had announced on the morning radio net the previous day that we would pay for a rental car and fuel if anyone would be willing to drive us to the airport in Catania and then they could have the car for the rest of the day.  Gerard and Elly had wanted to rent a car on that day anyway, so this worked perfectly both for them and for us.  Traveling with luggage for our 3-month trip would be much easier in a rental car rather than riding a bus.

Dessert table.  Even more items were added after this photo.
Table was too filled to fit into one photo.
For the Thanksgiving celebration someone had volunteered to teach the cruising children about this holiday.  They made a paper turkey on a poster and placed paper 'feathers' at each table setting.  Each person was requested to write on the feather what he or she was thankful for this year; then tape the feather to the turkey.  
Left side of dessert table.
Whoever started taping the feathers must not have been familiar with the physical characteristics of the bird because the feathers were placed in a circle around the turkey's body rather than forming a big feather tail.  Hope someone showed the children how a turkey really looks.  This was a nice thing to do for the kids -- taught them something and also made them feel a part of the celebration.

Center tables.
Two days before we left for the winter the marina FINALLY allowed us to move from the remote west wall to the center of the marina.  The salt spray over that west wall was horrible during high NW winds and we were so isolated from everyone else while berthed out there since 24 September.  Do not know why it took so long to get the marina to agree to let us move but we were very glad to finally move to the center of the marina.  We had been trying to get them to let us move since the first week of October.  
Tables beginning to fill up.
This new berth location puts us in the middle of all the other cruisers and puts the boat in a location where there should be the least salt spray possible during winter storms from any direction.  It is a much longer walk to the toilets but that is nothing.  Life in this marina might have been more enjoyable had we been berthed in this location from date of arrival.  For anyone contemplating coming to this marina in future, this is something to consider when selecting a berthing location or allowing the marina to select your berthing location.  I would recommend avoiding berthing on the west wall.  While it is the safest location weather-wise, it is isolated and subject to heavy salt spray and also more open to any pedestrian having access to your boat in a location where no one would notice an intruder.

The morning after Thanksgiving Gerard and Elly drove us to the Catania airport where we boarded a flight to Rome.  We had rented an apartment for 5 nights and Bill's brother from Houston joined us.  More postings about our time in Rome will follow.

Castel Sant'Angelo
Just a short walk from our apartment in Rome.
Link:  Castel Sant'Angelo info

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