We are absolutely LOVING our travel time in Europe. We want to cram in as much as we possibly can before retirement.
(next year! Squeal!! WOOHOO!!! But that's another post . . .)
Joey surprised us valentine's weekend with a trip to Napoli and the Amalfi Coast!
Now, you have to understand that 'surprise' in this house is never equated with 'unprepared'.
There's a fine line between spontaneity and stupidity and we strive never to cross it.
So even though this was a surprise for me and the girls, Joe had already booked the flights, rental car, and guest house.
We packed a bag, grabbed Jeeves - our GPS with the commanding British accent - and headed out.
It was an easy drive to Munich. We found the holiday parking and shuttle bus. Got through our terminal with no problem, although security took my mousse!
Security: "This isn't allowed."
Me: "It's under 3 ounces."
Security: "It's a canister."
Me: "It's not liquid."
Security: "It's aerosol."
Fine. Take it.
We boarded Alitalia to Rome where we caught the hopper to Naples.
And that's when Murphy showed up!
The language barrier isn't really that much of a problem.
Unless you have a problem!
We'd rented the car online and knew enough Italian to pick it up.
We did not know enough to debate a billing issue! By the time we finally got the car, our bill was over twice what it should have been. But we were on a schedule. The apartment we had reserved was in the hills and away from the city. No workers stayed on sight after 8pm. If we were late, we'd have no one to let us in!
Sooo, grab the car, let the bill stand, fight with Expedia later.
There should have been plenty of time to reach the apartment.
Jeeves absolutely freaked!
He had a major case of the existential willies and couldn't make heads or tails of Napoli.
We drove up a crazy twisty mountain road just to be told to u-turn and go back down.
We merged onto a toll road just to exit again once we'd paid.
After two hours of calculating and recalculating, we realized there was no way we were going to make the 8pm arrival time.
We had seen a side of the city that, well, let's just say you'd never see it featured in a travel brochure. We were tired, hungry, and trying to drive through this . . .
* Just a little side bar here. Yes, we have GPS on our phones. But we live in Germany. The German sim card will not work in Italy. We bought a card in Rome during our layover.
Pop the old card out, put the new one in. No problem, right?
Apparently, the phone was network locked. We were out of luck.
We decided to find the closest hotel and stop for the night. Work everything out in the morning.
There it was. Like a beacon shining in the slums-of-Napoli night!
A Holiday Inn!
No vacancies. We had no choice but to keep trying Jeeves. He said there was another hotel 1.6 miles away.
35 miles later, we arrived.
I checked the internet for our location while Joey and the girls walked around the corner to a pizzeria.
We were an hour away from our intended destination! Frustrating, yes.
But after tasting one of the best pizzas of our lives...
we got over it!
The next morning was bright and beautiful.
Jeeves seemed to be back to his old trustworthy self, so we headed out along the Amalfi coast road.
How do you like the Amalfi style "garage"?
and the famous Sorrento lemons.
Seriously! Look at the size of those things!
It was a perfect day. We saw Maiori, Minori, Ravello, Amalfi, Praiano, and Positano, finally arriving at our apartment in Sorrento.
We got the keys, checked the place out, then collapsed on the deck to take in the view.
Quiet house in the hills.
Great view of downtown Sorrento and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
It was perfect, until the sun started to set. Then...
I'll make this quick;
It was about 40* outside - and colder inside!
No heat, no hot water.
Had to call and get someone to come back up and 'reset the system'?
Took hours to knock the chill off.
Went in to take a shower. There was a whopping 16 inch opening
to squeeze into the corner shower and a steady trickle of hot/cold/hot/cold.
And for some strange reason, there was water pooling up under the corner of the girls bed. It wasn't near the kitchen or the bath so who knows!
Still, It was a beautiful view.
Day three was all about Pompeii!
It was incredible. We spent four hours looking around, and probably could have spent four more!
We decided to let the girls take the reigns!
Maddie was the tour guide...
And Shelby was the navigator.
Panorama shot of the Agora with Vesuvius in the background.
It was awe inspiring, and heart breaking at the same time.
You probably know that there are thousands of mosaics made of small tiles all throughout Pompeii,
Mostly in well-to-do homes, temples and public houses.
We would never dream of damaging an artifact, or otherwise vandalizing an archaeological site.
(I still can't believe people are allowed to walk on some of the original floors!)
But... according to our security guard/impromptu tour guide, if a coin, tile, or tiny shard has broken loose and is in the main thoroughfare, then it's free game.
Joey actually found a piece of glazed mosaic tile! Amazing.
The whole place. Just amazing.
Day four, we packed up and headed for a hotel in Naples. We were able to check out more of Sorrento and the beach along the way.
(The girls were thrilled to have their own balcony.)
And a perfect sunrise the next morning.
We had an uneventful (thank you, Jesus) flight home with a short layover in Paris.
We even let the girls walk around Charles De Gaulle alone to do a little shopping.
*Those of you who know me are either saying, "Good for you, oh overprotective one!"
Or you're repeating my mother's, "Are you out of your ever-loving mind?!"
And that was our experience with Amalfi.
Most of it was great!
Some of it. . . not so much.
It's not where you go.
(Insane traffic, trash everywhere, fighting off window washers and street venders at every red light... yeah. Naples isn't for me.)
It's not what you do.
(Give us your worst, Murphy ole boy. We're Army. We've been through worse.)
It's who you're with that makes a great trip.
And my man knows how to plan a great trip!