Sunday, 23 August 2009

Back to our roots...

This weekend we went to Cusano Mutri. It is a small hills side town about 50 km from here. An hour drive. My Great- Grandparents were from this town. As you get to the hills the scenery gets very pretty. Each turn onto a different road meant, for the most part a slightly smaller road. We had lunch and walked around the town. You can walk the entire town in about an hour. That is walking every street, up and down the hill... English... not so much. Its not their responsibility to be able to talk to us. (Carey and I start Italian classes in a week!) The Rosetta Stone is good, but if you don't/ can't set aside an hour or so of your day... Anyway, nice little town. Once we can speak a bit more we will look into contacting the church or something to find out what we can about the family. There were two buisnesses that still have family names. Crocco was a jewerly store (and a convience store in the next town over), and Petrillo was a small bar/ snack shop/ restaurant.
That night Carey and I went out to dinner just outside Naples. Very good. It is still vacation time for the Europeans so the resteraunt was pretty empty. Four courses later we were full. Wine is just as cheap as water (or water is as expensive as wine...). You can get a good bottle of wine for a few euro. We got a carafe the other night for 1 euro (3 glasses worth). There is some expensive stuff out there but I think at that point you are paying for a name, or for being a tourist. 55 euro was it. Good luck getting four courses, wine, and really good service in the states for that!

Safari in Bari

So we went to the Safari in Bari (southeast coast). It was about a 3 1/2 hour drive from here. The first part of it was through hilly/ mountain roads. The Italians don't bank there roads like we do. You take it for granted and don't really notice the banking until its not there. We were following another family so for about an hour it was realistically white-knuckle driving. It was about half way through, during some hard concentration, that I realized it was because of a lack of banking...

The Safari was neat. It started off with different variants of deer (like most zoos), then had lions and tigers and bears (oh my...), giraffes, lamas, zebra, bison, flamingos, monkeys. After the drive through portion we walked around the amusement park part. There is a monkey train you can take. One of the coolest things I've ever been on. You bring your own big bag of peanuts. They stick you in a tram car which is double fenced (you are in the cage), and there are little tubes to pass the peanuts through. The tram starts going and gets around the corner and suddenly there are monkeys ALL OVER the outside of your cage! We were jamming peanuts through as fast as we could, laughing the whole time. Near the end we figured out there were a couple of the smaller monkeys that could fit their hands into the door. So you hand the peanut directly to them. It’s like a baby's hand, small and smooth. After that we let the kids ride a few rides and then headed back. We got to experience another part of European culture. We didn't bring any gas coupons with us so we got to pay 40 euro for 30 liters of gas ($57 for 8 gallons). With the gas coupons we pay about 1/2 what the Italians pay...

All in all a good day.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Day at the beach

Found a nice beach. Without traffic it’s about 1 hour 20 minutes away. (over an hour doesn't seem so bad when 37 miles of Naples area beaches have come up with to much bacteria...)
So we got up at about 7:30 and were getting on the road around 9:00. We needed gas though so we stopped. Randy needed a pen and nicely asked the gas station guy for a "pene". Some of you are laughing already... The correct word would have been "penna." Look it up you'll enjoy...
So a little over an hour if there is not much traffic. Today was not one of those days. There is a lot of beach traffic. 5 traffic lights can really mess with the Italians' day. It added an hour. It’s not for lack of trying either. More driving differences here. Ever seen a two lane road become 4? Better yet ever seen someone pull out into the on coming lane to pass and THEN someone behind him also wants to pass but faster so now they are three abreast into oncoming traffic. In the states this would be a guaranteed head on. Not here. Hardly a slow down. Three cars move a little right, so one is on the shoulder, the on coming car moves to his right so he is on the shoulder and they all blow past each other doing about 40 mph (closing at 80...). Left hand turning lanes are only left hand turning lanes if you want to turn left. Otherwise it is another straight lane. So we got to the beach. The parking lot was full so we did what any good Italian would do; we parked in a fairly random spot on the side of the road. Once on the beach there are tons of umbrellas and chairs to rent BUT there is also a good size spot for us to just claim a spot and put out towels, which is what we did. It is a nice beach, called Sperlonga. Very clear water. We're pretty sure the rumors of Europeans lying around topless have been exaggerated. We did see one woman walking around topless and a couple that weren't modest changing/ fixing tops but that's about it. The ride home was a little better. More of the same for some but not as backed up. Only a half hour of delay.
The pics: First two are downtown Naples. The second today's beach. The road on the side of the hill is what we came in on. This is north of Naples (vice South like Amalfi).

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The building is in Friesling Germany. Hotel Agora is were we stayed before we got into housing. When was the last time you stayed at a hotel and the neighbors walked thier sheep down the road?

On the left: Vietri Sul Mare. The first place we looked at eachother and said wow we are in Italy. Above is a typical produce stand at one of the local markets. This happens to be in Naples.

The castle in Caserta. The pic above is the small church they had inside. The pictures of the garden (1.5 miles of backyard) are still on Carey's phone.


Pictures we've been promising...

These are in Tuscany (San Gimignano) I guess we'll keep eachother for a little while longer...

1 Aug update

The Amalfi coast was nice. Taking a day cruise was definetly worth it. You get a lot of views you wouldn't have otherwise seen from a road. It was a long day. We got on a bus just outside the gate for the base we're on, took about a 45 min to 1 hour drive down to the boat. We got underway around 9 am. The boat made another stop to pick up more people in Salerno. Then we started. We went out to Capri where we had a swim call. The water was beautiful. For some reason it didn't dawn on us or the other couple we were with to bring masks or goggles. No one did but it would have been nice. The water is a little chilly but nice once you are in. Salty. We tredded water for about 45 minutes (tred/ float). After that we got back on the boat, ate lunch (which we remembered to bring with us this time), and enjoyed the cruise. The boat pulled into Amalfi where we got off and walked around for a couple hours. Randy tasted and then bought a small bottle of Lemonchello. Mummm good. After that we got back on the boat and went back. It was nice because now it was late afternoon and the sun lit up the coast better than in the morning. After all was said and done we got back to our house at about 8 pm.
(Above: Positano coast
Right: Off Capri. Was that boat used in a Bond movie?)
Today (Saturday) we ventured into Naples. We drove into Aversa, found the Metro, and caught the connecting train into Naples. Not real hard. We did get some help from a guy at the Aversa station to use the machine to buy the tickets. Once in Naples we walked down Spaccanapoli. It is one of three roads that basicly cuts through Naples. Tons and tons of shops, stands, and food. Churches, statutes, plazas... We ate lunch at a little pizzaria and continued to walk. Then, and most importantly, we were able to find our way back to the metro station and back to Aversa. The big take away for the day, besides that being Randy's first time in downtown Naples, was to prove to ourselves its not hard to do. For instance when the kids start school and Randy has off during the week (because of how the shift work will work) we can leave after the kids and easily be back before they are done... This was a different way down there then what was shown to Carey and Brianna when we first got here. Easier using the subway...