Sunday, March 11, 2012

Back in the USA!

All has gone well thus far and we are back in the US, in Philadelphia. Everyone has found food locations and most have checked in with family. It's around midnight Italy time, but naps on the plane helped out. Hopefully everyone will be alive tomorrow morning!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Final night in Capri and Rome

Morning on Capri came grey, windy, and with a writhing sea. The wind and heavy whitecaps meant a boat tour was out of the question. We decided to pack up and head back to Rome on an earlier train to enjoy one last afternoon and it turned out even the medium-sized ferry was shut down due to the weather! Fortunately, the big ferry was still in operation and right on our schedule. Another Naples cab ride and a short wait for a delayed train brought us back to Hotel Piemonte around 3pm. The kid favorite Piazza Navona drew them in once more while St. Peters Square beckoned me for a quick sketch. We met up at Barbablu for one final, carefully planned, delicious dinner. Baylor wore his prized Barbablu shirt, much to the enjoyment of the staff. He says he "feels like part of the Barbablu family now". One last wandering around the area and everyone is already in bed, dreading a looong day of travel tomorrow. It's been a wonderful trip!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another day in Capri

View from Marina Piccola

We started the day with hopes of heading out on a boat tour, but the choppy water prevented that. We woke up late and headed off to the Anacapri chairlift up to the very top of the island. The views are astounding, with full panorama. Back in the main piazza, Ms Vogt asked around and found the lone Capri penny machine!

We then proceeded down to Capri-town and on to Marina Piccola, the small harbor on the south side of the island. We grabbed lunch and ventured out onto a trail walk, only to be foiled by the windy conditions, forcing a closed trail. Instead, we climbed back to Capri-town, spending time to buy souvenirs. Ms Vogt and I decided to go find the lone soccer field we had noticed from the heights, spending an hour on the walk.

We came back to the B&B just in time for sunset, napped/rested, and then headed into town for dinner and the Napoli soccer game. Our first stop had no space in front of the TV (reserved) and only had lunch/bar food, so we moved on and found a much better option that had two TVs and "real food". Napoli is the "home team" around here, due to proximity, and they sounded stomped Cagliari 6-2. A brief night on the town followed, with an hour of live music, mostly disco hits. Sadly, Saturday night is disco-dancing night.

Now it's rest/bed time before a day of boating (hopefully) and travel back to Rome.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Above is a picture of Capri from the dock where we caught our ferry. The next picture is the amphitheater in Pompei. 
Here are a few pictures/views in Pompei. The sun finally came out and it was a beautiful site. 

 Here are tired kids after a tour and hike through Pompei. We learned a lot ! Below are the ruins when we first walked in.

Update from Capri

Wireless Internet isn't functional at the moment in our bed and breakfast, so this update comes from the iPhone.

We woke around 9am, high on the Isle of Capri. It was another overcast day, with choppy seas, preventing us from taking a boat your around the island. We decided to head for Sorrento and then on to Pompei, planning out the careful ferry timing. A bus down the cliffs of the island, a ferry to Sorrento, and the Circumvesuvienza Train to Pompei Scavi took almost 2.5 hours all together. It's Festa Della Donna day in Italy, which turns out to be International Women's Day. This doesn't mean a whole lot other than lots of women with flowers, dinner gatherings, and most importantly, free entry for the ladies into the Pompei ruins! We also saved E$20 by starting just after 1:30, allowing our tour guide to give us a discount.

Lorenzo, our guide, was great. He has been giving tours of Pompei since he was 17, and is certified in English, French, Spanish, German, and Portuguese. He is also working on Arabic, Japanese, and Hebrew! He lives 7 months of the year in New York City, married a girl from South Carolina, and asked if we are from Alabama when he noticed Baylor's Auburn hat. He definitely made a great tour. We learned lots of cool things about store fronts, the illumination, sanitation, drainage, home ownership, baths, brothels, and life in general at the time. Pompei is amazing. It's truly a step back in time and you can almost see life as it may have happened. The preserved buildings, furniture, pottery, mosaics, and frescoes tell stories. My favorite part was the theater, which probably fit 3000 or more people, as well as a half size theater next door.

After Pompei, we grabbed a quick bite outside (not TOO terribly priced) and reversed our train, ferry, bus process back to Anacapri. We stopped in Sorrento for an hour to wander town. We were all pretty exhausted from the travel today! Fortunately, dinner was solid and settled us all down for a while.

Currently, the kids are watching Borat (she has quite a movie collection here) while the adults read and update journals. Tomorrow has been decreed a "late day", probably followed by a lazy day on Capri. Saturday morning looks like the best boat tour time, so we may do that before heading back to Rome.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Today was filled with both very intense moments and very relaxing moments. We started off early to catch a train toward Napoli (Naples). We had to ride backwards on the train but it didn't seem to bother anyone. Once there, Mr. Schaffer decided that we would have time to fine the lone penny machine. We sent the kids on a taxi towards the ferry port (Molo Beverello). This left us 45 minutes to collect the pennies and meet the kids at the port. Mr. Schaffer got out his map and we were on our way. Naples is a very busy and crazy place. I am glad we did not walk (with our luggage) the entire way to the port-- this was the original plan. The streets are very small and it can be difficult to tell where you are. We went a bit too far and had to head back the way we came (30 mins to go). We finally arrived at the street where the machine was suppose to be located (25 mins to go).We were surrounded by souvenirs of all kinds. About half way down the road, my keen penny machine senses KICKED IN and I spotted the machine. Luckily, the owner of the shop closest to the machine was standing at his door and gladly exchanged 10 cents for five 2 cent coins (20 mins to go). It was the quickest smushing event in history!!!! We were quickly on our way to hunt for a cab. After walking a quarter mile (or so) we found one (15 mins to go). He had to pull off the main street to pick us up and it took him a while to get back to the main street (11 mins to go). Once he made it back on the main street it went pretty smoothly. We could see the port but he had to go past it and do a U-turn because we couldn't pull in from our side of the road (7 mins to go). We shoved money his way, jumped out and ran to the ticket area (5 mins to go). We saw the kids waiting at port 7- the one our ferry was to leave from. We bought tickets, got our luggage and loaded it on.. (whewwww 4 mins to go). We found seats and rested as we journeyed across to Capri!

Once on Capri, things began to slow down : D. We collected our bags and took a taxi up to Anacapri, where we would be staying. Roads here are scaaary, and we all panicked at oncoming traffic, looming cliffs, crazy scooter drivers, and ridiculous U-turns several times. We met the owner of the bed and breakfast- Luciana. She was very welcoming, offering us peanuts, drinks (her own freshly made lemonade), and a list of things to do while staying. We rested there for a while, enjoying the nice balcony and fresh air. Once we had a plan we set out towards Capri. Buses are much easier here than Rome, but much scarier because of the extremely narrow roads. In Capri we did a long hike around one side of the island. We saw these amazing rock structures, mountains in the distance, and the sun setting behind the city.  The pictures throughout this post are just a few of the fabulous views. Shops close early here-- sometimes 3:30 but at least by 5:00. We had some time to spare between our hike and dinner (which begins promptly at 7:00) so we just walked around Capri and Anacapri to fill time. Right at 7:00 the restaurants opened back up so we ventured in to one for dinner. We all enjoyed our dinner--- nothing like Barbablu but still excellent food.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

 We enjoyed another adventurous day in Rome. We explored Vatican city- where we ate the best gelato yet- and more of Rome. I (with the help of Mr. Schaffer) was able to collect 9 more pennies today! Here are some pictures from today.

Saint Peter's at twilight from the Ponte Umberto.

 Looking out over the city after a 500 step climb to the top of Saint Peter's Basilica! Mr Schaffer always knows where everything is, pointing out the Colosseum in the distance or a hill we climbed by bike.

Best crepes in town! We had two of the meat/cheese/tomato types, plus a Nutella and strawberry jam.

The climb up to the top. One lady had some serious issues at the top, asking for a doctor. Fortunately, we are young (other than Mr Schaffer!) and in shape.