Tuesday, 21 July 2009

We have computer at home!

We are officially online... Now we just need the rest of our furniture (just have my laptop for now).
So we had a change of plans for the weekend. The day cruise filled up before we could sign up. No worries, it happens just about every weekend.
We instead went to Caserta and saw a palace. It was finished in 1852. The whole place was marble. Incredible. All the ceilings were domed and painted. The art work was never ending. As if the inside wasn't enough, we walked about a mile and a half (one way) through the back yard were there was a series of fountains, ending in a cascading waterfall that eased down about 260 ft. For the Star Wars junkies, the palace and I'm pretty sure (because it looked a little familiar) the fountains/ falls were used in one of the newer episodes. It took a good four hours and we probably could have stayed longer but we forgot to pack lunch...
Carey took a cooking class on Monday. There is a woman who does them regularly at her house. They cook a COMPLETE meal each time (meaning antipasto (salad/ meat...), first course, second course, and dessert). So salad, egg plant, chicken, veggies, cheesecake. All very good.
That's all for now. We are doing the day cruise this weekend.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Still catching up...

So I'll hopefully not run out of time here and spell check this time...

Lucca. So they made the wall thicker. Napoleon ended up giving his wife the town at some point and she turned the wall into a park. There's the history... We rode bikes around the top of it.
All in all a good, and expensive weekend. Its vacation season in Europe too. August will be the peak. That being said, we are going to try to stay fairly local for the next month or so. Base sonsored/ booked tours, train to Rome, maybe try to find where my great grandparents were from...).
Last weekend (7/11-12) we ventured out locally to check out the local malls. They (we) have a big, no kidding, mall pretty close and then we also have a big area with half a dozen big stores (equivalent to Walmart, Sports Authority, Best Buy...). We also went to one of the local beaches. It was okay. Different. The sand is more a grey color (haven't looked into it but probably because of the volcano). You don't just pack your stuff up and find a place in the sand. There are rental chairs all over. Not just chairs... Some look like beds. No topless women (Carey and I walked for a little bit). This was just one beach though that a couple took us to. I'm sure there are more that may be like what we are used to. The water was nice though. Not cold like NH or OR/ WA.
This next weekend we are planning on taking a USO day cruise around the Almaffi Coast. It should be nice.

So some different stuff we've seen.
For those of you that ride motorcycles... Scooters are more prominent and they ride them harder than most Americans ride their sport bikes. We have seen as many as a family of three on scooters. The smallest kid rides up front...
Its not gay, its Italian. It is VERY common to see two grown adult men on one scooter or motorcycle. The best I saw though was a guy riding on the back while a woman was driving.
About a week ago the gas stations went on strike. We got an email on a Tuesday morning saying the gas stations were going on strike Tuesday night for a few days. Everyone in the office that had someone to call immediately called to have the cars filled. Turned out to not be a big deal, everything was open again by Friday night.

All in all not a bad experience so far. One thing we will need to do though I think is to just get in the car and go exploring. Not really have a specific destination but get out and try to figure out the roads (not as scary with a GPS you can just press HOME on...)

We have moved into an apartment on the support site. Its 1600 ft2. Bigger than the place we had in NH. Central air and heat, no electric bill (its 96 out today). The kids can, and do, walk around with other friends. 3 bedrooms 2 baths (yeah we have our own!). Carey and I have a walk-in closet and a balcony of our own. 120 V outlets already built into the walls so we don't need a bunch of transformers (Europe runs on 220V 50 Hz vice our 120/ 60). I do think we are missing out on some of the "Italian experience" by living on base but as long as we keep making it a point to get off and keep touring it should be okay. We don't have Italian neighbors and don't have to speak Italian everyday. We can still go to the local markets (the produce is SOOO much better and cheaper). The kids don't have to deal with long bus rides for school (some kids spend 2 or more hours a day on the school bus depending on where they live out in town). Crime out in town gets a somewhat mixed review. Some people say its not if but when you will get broken into out in town. Most say there is a chance. A few say they've never had a problem. I'll be working mids at some point; I'll take the neighborhood with the high fence and armed guards...
That's it for now. Next post probably next week.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

From the beginning coming to Naples...

For some this will be an abrieviated summary of the past few weeks...

As soon as we get our stuff hopefully in a week or so, we will add pictures.

We got to Logan Airport in Boston thanks to Jen. We got there with plenty of time to spare. It did take a little longer than a normal flight but not to bad. Noone even looked at Maggie in her kennel. We weighed her real fast for them and that was it... Murphy's law I suppose.
The flight to Munich was good. We had a 10 hour layover though. We ended up taking the advice of some friends and got a hotel room for the day. It was a little pricey but worth it. It gave us a place to shower, leave the bags, and just relax. Germany loves dogs. We were able to walk Maggie everywhere.
We took a bus into Friesing, which the the small town the airport is really close to. Munich is really about 45 minutes away... Friesing was nice. Its a small town. It was Sunday so everything was closed. Still pretty though.
We landed in Naples at about 9 PM Sunday. Remember, when we left it was about 5 PM Saturday in Boston... My sponsor and a couple other guys picked us up and drove us out to the Navy Support Site in Gricignano and then out to our hotel in Lago Patria. We finally got settled in about 11 PM. Factor in jet lag and we all finally fell asleep sometime after midnight.
Monday morning we were up at about 530 AM. We had to catch the free shuttle from the hotel to the Support Site to get the kids into camp and Carey and I into Area Orientation.
I can't really express how proud of the kids we were that day. Two kids getting taken from school Friday afternoon, get on a plane Saturday evening, fly across the Atlantic (essentially loosing a day), crashing in a hotel with jet lag just to get up and be sent to a day camp were they know no one and in a forgien country... They did great. Austin is still going to the camp 3 weeks later...
Area Orientation itself isn't extremely useful. Its kinda a group check in. We missed the first day though so not all of it worked for us. The last couple days though was an Intercultural Relations course. That was useful. It ended with a field trip to show you how to take public transportation into Naples and also some site seeing.
The first weekend we had a rental car and we went with another two families down to Vietri Sul Mare. When we got off the highway we pulled into a overlook spot. Carey and I looked at each other and said "Now we are in Italy." Naples really is dirty, in the trash sense. There really is garbage all along the highways. Down town isn't that bad. As soon as you get 30 minutes outside Naples (the area) it gets much better. Vietri was a nice town right on the coast. Very pretty views. We ended up buying a picture there.
We got our car that next Monday. Perfect timing, we rented the car for a week. The week was spent taking care of little odds and ends and checking into work. Next was a four day weekend!
Thursday night we went to a Hail and Farewell (officer get together for those coming into the command and those leaving). Amazing food!
Friday we left for Tuscany. I start giving a little more detail here... We drove up, about 5 hours. We stayed the weekend in San Gimignano. Great town between Florence and Pisa. The town was really neat. It is surrounded by a wall, like a lot of towns in the region. It, as best I understand the tourist books, was a pit stop for royalty as they traveled north and south. At one point there were about 40 towers, now there are 13 or 14 left. We stayed in a room that over looked the little square. There was an old well in the center and it really was the gathering place day and night. Amazing gelloto. Plenty of history to see just here. There was a guy who played flute in the square at night. For about 2 1/2 hours he would use his ipod and speakers as the orchestra and he would play the flute parts. Batoven to Memories (Cats), he played a lot.
Saturday we went to Florence. We used the GPS and tour books and got to a free parking lot in Michael Angelo square. From there we took a city bus down to down town. Florence is big but definetly doable in a day. We will probably go back at least once more to see some specifics. We saw the Duomo (chathedral), the Duomo museum, walked by the Uffitzzi, the square that its in, and an old castle. When we go back we now know we can get reservations for the Uffitzzi and the other large museum ahead of time. They only let a certain number of people in at a time. No big deal though there was still plenty to see outside.
Sunday we went to Pisa and Lucca. Pisa really is a tourist trap. Easy though. Again we used the GPS and ened up in a parking lot a block away from the area the all the sites are in. The leaning tower really is leaning! We wen in the Duomo there, the Babistri, old cemetary, and a muesum. All of this is in the same place. Beautiful arcetecture, paintings and statues. Luca was simple. We rented bikes, Carey and I got a tandem bike just to say we had (we'll post a picture). We rode around the top of their protective wall. They origanally had a thin wall but then cannons were invented so they made it about 100 feet thick. It was defense from Florentines and Pisians (and anyone else). It was also lined with cannons.Getting kicked off the public computer. More later.