Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Venice to Naples to Sorrento

We woke up this morning around 6 AM local time, and surprisingly felt pretty good. None of us seem to be suffering from jet lag. Even though Lori wanted to throw things at me for suggesting it, waking up at 5 AM and going to bed early over the last week in preparation seemed to work.

The complimentary breakfast at Pensione Gueratto started at 7, and we got there right at 7 because we had to make our way to the airport. The fresh croissants and cereal were fine, and the coffee was strong and excellent.

To get back from the airport we took the Vaperetto and the bus, just like yesterday's trip, but in reverse. It was a bit sad to say goodbye to Venice after such a short stay.

The airport was crazy. We had read that queueing in Europe was less "neat" than back home, and the check-in line for Alitalia was our first glimpse at that. After we got past security, we found a coffee bar and had cappuccino. My sister learned her lesson from yesterday about not overtipping and left just a little change. Yesterday she had left a 3 Euro tip, which was promptly scooped up by an old Venetian guy who bought himself a caffe at the bar.

For the kids, taking a bus from the terminal to the plane and boarding outside on stairs was a new and fun experience. The flight was short, but exciting as we flew past Venice, Rome, and Mount Vesuvius and had great views of all of them.

When we arrived in Naples, we met the rest of our family who was flying in from New York via Frankfurt. They arrived a half hour after us. By the baggage claim, there was a whole flight of people who looked like an angry mosh pit. They were "queueing" to make baggage claims because United Airlines has put an entire planes' worth of luggage on the wrong plane. It reminded me why we like to travel with carry-on bags only.

My parents had arranged a private transfer from the airport to the Bed and Breakfast in Sorrento. We had great views of Mount Vesuvius from the minibus, and awesome views out over the Bay of Naples as we got closer to Sorrento.

Villa Adriana is amazing. Andrea greeted us warmly as we arrived and took us on a tour. Wow! Every room is beautiful, the pool and garden area are wonderful, and there's such a nice warm, welcoming vibe here. The kids saw the pool and immediately wanted to go swimming, so we hung out by them pool for a while.

After showering, we walked into town to a place that my sister Jayne and brother-in-law Drew had been to and recommended. Drew lead the way and we pushed a few tables together to fit the 11 of us by the back wall. I had a seafood risotto, which was delicious. We all tasted and shared each others' food, and everything was excellent.

After dinner we felt the need to compare the gelato in Venice to the gelato in Sorrento, so we walked to Antica Gelateria Sorrentina. The owner welcomed us in like we were family, shared stories of how each flavor was made, gave us samples, and chatted with out kids. I loved her. Also, her gelato was far better than the stuff we had in Venice. We'll be back there this week.

We ended the night by wandering down to the cliffs that overlook the Bay of Naples. Amazing! Then we strolled back to the villa through the town.

It was another fantastic day. I can't wait to see what we'll find tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Via Sant'Antonio,,Italy

Monday, July 30, 2012

1 Day Layover in Venice

We had no problems checking in for our 8:40 PM red eye flight out of JFK to Venice. We arrived at the airport at about 5:15 and got through the process pretty quickly since we wen't checking bags.

I gave each of the kids a surprise present that I had gotten for them: a leather journal to keep during the trip. They each eagerly started their first entry.

Soon after getting through Security we met up with my sister and brother-in-law who are traveling on the same flights as us. We had dinner together, then boarded the plane where we all fell asleep pretty quickly, although it was a light, broken sleep.

When we arrived at the Venice airport we got through customs very quickly, easily found the transportation window, where we bought 24 hour Vaperetto passes with transfers to and from the airport on a ground bus, and caught the #5 bus to Piazalle Roma in Venice.

From there we took the #2 Vaperetto to the Rialto Bridge where we walked to our hotel, Pensione Gueratto.

It's a quaint place. Not fancy at all but clean, and oozing with charm and old-worldiness. The woman who greeted us was very nice, and my sister instantly took a liking to her Pug.

After dropping our bags and throwing some water on our face we took the Vaporetto #1 to St. Mark's Square and set off exploring. We got lost and it was great. We found little dead end walkways and cute little bridges.

For lunch, we found a cheap panini cafe a few blocks from Saint Mark's Square. Abby learned there that US toilets are not the only kind of toilets.

After lunch we took the elevator to the top of the Campanile. The views from the top were awesome. We thought it was going to cost us 32 Euros, but the guy at the ticket window only charged us 20. Maybe the kids are cheaper? Either way, it was worth it.

By then, we were exhausted. We walked back to the room through the main shopping drag between St. Mark's and the Rialto Bridge. Along the way, we took a quick peek in the Disney Store.

Abby and Michael picked up postcards to send to friends. I was very proud of Abby. I gave her a Euro to pay and let her buy the postcards herself. She completed the transaction without using any English.

We asked the receptionist at the hotel to recommend a reasonable place to eat. She drew us directions to Birraria, a short walk away in Piazza San Polo. After relaxing in the room for a while, we splashed water on our faces and went to dinner. It was decent, but nothing spectacular.

By the time dinner ended, we were thoroughly exhausted. I'm sure every one of us could have gone to bed right then, but we decided to make our way to St. Mark's one more time to see it in the evening. We walked through the east side of Venice and over the Accademia Bridge and stopped along the way for Gelato. If you've only got one day in Venice, you'd better make the most of it, right?

When we got to St. Mark's, we sat on a step for a while listening to the Quartet at Cafe Florian play. Serendipitously, the first song they played was "It Had to Be You", the song that Lori and I danced to at our wedding. So, of course we danced. That was pretty cool.

The day ended with a Vaperetto ride back up the Grand Canal with Venice bathed in a warm nighttime glow. Fabulous.

We showered and crashed. Tomorrow morning we fly to Naples and make our way to Sorrento to meet up with the rest of our family that we are spending time with in Italy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad