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.