Heading home ….. Rome to Fiumicino

The last night in Italy

Today we woke up in Rome and had a breakfast buffet at the Yes Hotel.  The four of us went for a walk to find Campo di Fiori for some last minute purchases and to explore an area of Rome that most of the gals had not seen before.  As it is near Piazza Navona, and we had seen that a few weeks ago, we trekked through the streets and took some last photos of the magnificent Rome buildings and alleys.

We scattered for 45 minutes of shopping, and sight seeing.   Mary and I found the Grom gluten free sorbet shop so I could have my last gelato in Rome.  Yum.  The server was very pleasant and spoke very good English!

Then we walked back to Yes Hotel to catch our shared cab.  The taxi was to drop off the other two gals to catch their flight to Paris for a few days of fun there on their own.  Mary and I went to the Yellow House, a b and b near the airport that Mary found when she was doing research for the trip.  Delightful little home.  We dropped our bags and headed out for a walk to explore …. And walk ….. and explore…. And walk and explore. Today, over 32,000 steps and 23 kms, we became familiar with Fiumicino!

We saw a lot!  We found where the Tiber River meets the Tyrrhenian Sea of the Mediterranean and marvelled for a few minutes at that spot.  That river starts at the Mount Fumaiolo in Central Italy.  We enjoyed walking along it when in Rome a few weeks ago.

We enjoyed the walkway by the water and then walked back to the hotel spot.  Just after 7 pm we took in a pretty good gluten free pizza at Vera Napoli Pizzeria.  The food was excellent, filling and inexpensive.  Mary was able to get rid of a lot of her Euro change.

We have a taxi picking us up tomorrow morning to take us to the airport for our first flight to London Heathrow and then premium economy flight to Vancouver.  Yay!  

Stay tuned for the last travels.  Here are a few pics from today.

Pamella of Italy

The trek home begins

After a few weeks of a fun and travel, we begin our trek homeward.  Luigi gave us a ride to the Sorrento train station so we could catch a train to Rome via Naples.  A regional train was inexpensive and took a scenic route to Naples.  Beautiful.  

In Naples train station we found a ticket spot to purchase a  fast train to Rome with Italia bullet train,245 kms per hour.  Car 5, seats 17,18, 19, 20 ….

Upon arrival to Rome we walked to the Yes Hotel, the four of us have our old room 215 back like at the start of the trip.  We are happy happy to be back together. A little Prosecco and then out for dinner at Strada Romana.  We were the first at the restaurant but shortly after Fern and Lisa from the GAdventures tour also arrived.  After some texts another five gals arrived, Janie, Adrienne, Judy, Marion and Kathie also were present for dinner.  So fun.  

Tomorrow Mary and I head out for last night at the Yellow House close to the airport.  Eileen and Marni head to Paris.  This leg of the trip is winding up.

Time to sign off for tonight,

Pamella of Italy.

Capri, the island in Italy

Capri for the day

Today we met mid morning for a drive to the boat marina in Massa Lubrense.  This is the town where the lemon farm is located, next to Sorrento.  I was in the first group that arrived in the shuttle van and walked through the small coastal town, along the sea and large rocks protecting the walkway from splashing surf.  It was beautiful and interesting, wild and fun.  I am interested in returning when we have more time, maybe tomorrow?

Then the boat arrived to pick us up.  Holding about 12 of us, we set out for Capri island.  The surf was high, I thought, and some bumps and rougher areas.  A few of the girls felt some motion sickness as we rode across to the island and then travelled around half of the island from the boat following the coastline.  Beautiful scenery.  We watched sea gulls soar in the wind, interesting rock formations, other boats navigating the surf and some residences and resorts scattered on the coastline.  It is a beautiful island with lots to see and discover about its history.  The sailor of our boat told stories and provided trivia information in his strong Italian accent.  I could not understand much, was focused on the sound of the sea, surf and wind.

We landed and shared a taxi to AniCapri, the town on top of the island.  Some cloud cover up high so we did not try the cable car to get better views.  We walked down streets and enjoyed the sights.

After a few hours we took a shared cab down to Capri and walked the rest of the way down stairs and walk ways to Marina Piccalo, the small marina where we had been dropped off.

Marni and I took turns taking a short dip in the sea and changed on the beach while waiting for the pick up to travel back to the mainland beach area.

More boat ride looking at the rock formations on the outside of the island before heading back to the agritourismo for pizza making and our evening chatter and fun.

Daily Life at Agritourismo

Good morning, heading to CAPRI island today

I have long since lost track of days of the week or date in the month.  I think this coming weekend might be Mothers’ Day – wishing my wonderful mother the very best day.  I am so fortunate to have a loving, caring mom in touch with me daily and who is so supportive of my every experience.  So grateful.

The day before yesterday we had a wonderful day at the lemon farm.  We started after breakfast with a tour of the farm, an explanation of its history and present farming practices.  We have a limoncello making demonstration and tasting – yum. 

After lunch we head to Sorrento for a few hours to wander the town.  Local artisan stores selling limoncellos and other ‘kinds’ of cellos, dried red chillies outside the shop.  We spend some time and money here, finding some unique items we want to try.  

We walked toward the edge of town, a cliff walk down to the beach (we don’t take that today) but there is a ‘lift’ elevator that takes 20 seconds (says the sign) and costs 1 Euro per person.  Hmmmmm.  The drop of doom?  

We saw an artist collection by “Rafael somebody” who had a display of black and white photos of Mother Theresa and some other subjects local to the area and these times.  Beautifully displayed in a large courtyard that appeared to be magical with stone columns and a garden in the centre.  The girls had cappuccino and cannoli (Mary had her first cannoli, pistachio and walnut on sweet cream center rolled in a crunchy sweet pasty.)  

We caught the van back with Luigi and arrived to a large multi course dinner.  Every dinner is at least 4 courses, wine and some form of lemon liguor.  One of the delights of this place is authentic local dining in the private home, prepared by the people who live this experience every day.  it creates such a sense of appreciation and familiarity with the local pace and people.  Warmly hosted by the family we stay with.  

Yesterday we had a ‘free day’, meaning that we could do whatever activities we wanted to arrange.  The GAdventures tour leader has moved around activity days to try to accommodate for the weather.  We meet for breakfast in the large dining area at the agritourismo we call home for this week.

Many of the participants prefer to make arrangements to visit Ravello and Amalfi for a drive through the Amalfi coast.  I have done this previously when here a few years ago, but also when on the cruise a week or two ago so four of us decided to stay local.  Three of us walked the steep curvy stone walk down down to the sea.  Beautiful vistas, we stop along the way to notice stone walls, vegetation, views, and I was trying to stay present enough to not worry about how it would be to walk back up.  Ha ha.  Heading to the sea for a swim is one of my favourite things.  Onward!  

One person goes by us on a motorcycle, we see a few cats and then we reach the bottom where there are a few resort beach places, restaurants, a parking lot (there must be another way down than the stone narrow pathway we walked).  There are a few fishermen and mostly the area is quiet with no visitors today.  Some beach change rooms attached to resorts and some boats tied up to the small piers.  Mostly a ghost area with some beach access to the sand and sea.  Several fig trees with full fruit on the heavy branches.  The local vegetation is lovely to notice.  We take some pictures.  

Mary and Eileen patiently wait for me to have a short ten minute swim in the sea (it was beautiful clear, warm and refreshing.)  The sandy beach area is pleasant for walking and access to sea glass and pieces of broken ceramic that had washed up.  Getting changed with the onlooking gaze of the locals was challenging and a two to three person job to cover me as I juggled and tried to balance.  All a fun experience and removing sand and small stones was simply impossible.  

We head back up and up the familiar rocky ‘cliff’.  Part way home, the sky opened up to a torrential downpour.  Yes, cactus growing promises desert dry air …. And today it rained hard and instantly we were soaked to the skin.  Onward we walked.  Up, up.  Taking short stops on even surfaces and then trudging onward.  At one point shortly after the rain started we notice a small pipe used for drainage pouring water like a hose, a fast flowing creek and covering the rock way … it was raining hard!!

Home at the agritourismo we warm up, get together the four of us, and decide to stay home, watch the rain and play cards all afternoon.  Euchre and cribbage, one gal has a deck of cards.  We had some Prosecco and limoncello from previous purchases, we enjoyed a beautiful, relaxing and fun afternoon laughing, safe and warm-ish.  

Today we awake to rooster crows, bird song, sunshine (wet clothes from yesterday) and blue skies. Off to the island of Capri for sightseeing and maybe I will get in another swim!

Pamella of Italy

Lemon Farm, Sorrento.

ARRIVED at Il Giardino di Vigliano, Sorrento Italy

I believe it is my fifth time here.  Once a while back I stayed a week on the GAdventure tour, three times bringing groups I travel with from the cruise ship (Oceania) when docked in Sorrento or Naples and I am now back, returned for another week on GAdventures tour.

This is a magical place.  Up the twisty driveway, hairpin turns for the larger vans.  Luigi meets us at the walkway to his home, the agritourismo that becomes our home for the next week.  9 of the women from the travel club coming together for this experience.  14 guests being led by the CEO, Silvia.  

I believe this building has been in the family since 14th century. We settled in to our room last night.  Up up and up the stairs, some older grey stone, others marble.   Our balcony overlooks a stunning view of the bay, the special tree that is iconic in this area and on the slope of this land.  One light curtain pulled to one side.  The yellow, blue and white tile floor is stopping us each time we enter the room – with its beauty and design.  Beds are comfy and room uncluttered and spacious.  

I can’t stop staring out the window at the beauty that is this place.  Even in the grey morning after a rain day in Pompeii yesterday.  This is magic, this is adventure and I feel the love from this family as they care for my food needs and also opening their home to strangers in such a warm way.

It is time now to go on a tour with Luigi to the lemon farm lands and hear the family story and feel the legacy.  This afternoon Sorrento.  Prego.  Andiamo.  Ti amo

Pamella of Italy

Last post from Napoli – as we depart for Pompeii and Sorrento

It’s a new day here we go to Napoli and Pompeii. I am trying to see if I can record this message today and it types out as I walk around. Never done this before …. Kind of fun and much faster! Spellcheck seems to come up with interesting thoughts also.

We are packed, had breakfast and ready for check out at the Correra 241 by 845. On walking tour by Sylvia, our GAdventures tour guide for the week. Here are a few snippets and trivia from that walk:

Piazza Dante, where the writer, Dante, is celebrated. There is a huge statue and behind him many many statues of all of the moods that he writes about in his book – probably Dantes inferno, etc.. It’s beautiful square we came here yesterday and the day before but I didn’t know the details. The stories fill in the blanks as described by our guide today.

Men’s clothing stores as we walk along – we see pale green suits, and penny loafers for the men. We were laughing at the comparative difference between back home, such as Birkenstocks, pants that zip off to make shorts, plaid shirts and jean jackets … quite the difference! 

Marni and I talked about the benefits and privilege really of doing a gratitude practice every day and sharing it with each other, sharing it with others. Commenting on how it makes the whole gratefulness practice expand bigger, more powerful, more strong.

Going into the oldest church in Naples in the migrant district. It was built in 13th century. It was a hospital at one time also. I lean against old pillars, marvelling. Old frescos still partially visible on ceilings. 

As we walk out of the church, the bells toll. It feels like a significant sign. Another sign today ….. was the name of a shop. It was called ‘Blessings’. We are thinking about being open to receiving whatever the messages are today. Yay! Grateful!!

I’m going into the ‘Church of the black Virgin Mary’ and it’s right inside the old fortress walls down by the sea. Santa Maria del Carmine. When migrant people first came to this country via the port, they would come to this church and there’s a register in the back of the church with the names of the people that came. I believe she said it was built in the 13 century. It is worth a look!

We head to the oldest market area of Naples to see where the migrant people help each other to get established with work, clothes, food – to settle in the area as a safe stable start in this new country.

Several other churches are in the district. One is now a hospital helping battered women and one to assist migrants to get papers and medical assistance.

She took us to a small cafe with ‘the best coffee in Italy’ and she treated us to a small shot of espresso in very tiny cups and saucers, also provided a sweet snack local to the area. Our guide left us there and we were walked back to the Correra to have a quick lunch and rest as we prepare to depart for Pompeii stop this afternoon on route to the lemon farm. The adventure continues!

Pamella of Italy

Weefee is weak so will post pics later

Napoli, day 2 – one more sleep till we leave Naples

Hot sunny, crowded Sunday on the streets of Naples and out we went for a morning walk. Did some sight seeing on back streets for a few kilometres this morning, taking pics then stopping for Gluten free pizza for lunch at Vesi restaurant. Satisfying.

We came back to the hotel and made a plan to do a long walk down to the Tyrrhenian sea, through the Spanish quarter. We walked again through the huge gathering crowds of people who filled the main artery streets and little alleys. Hundreds, thousands? Of people Honking noise makers and waving flags. Small children in strollers and some walking along holding hands with parents. Dog walkers. Solo folks. Young couples.

We kept together, wondering, watching – just us three constantly keeping an eye out for each other. We walked on cobblestones and larger surface which likely would be slippery when wet. Big brand name stores lined the Main Street where most of the action and people were walking.

Museums, churches and old buildings. Lots of apartments still decorated in blue and white ribbons, and many hanging this weeks laundry out the windows. Some residents lowered buckets We walked to the water and spent some time watching people, taking pictures. We walked back on back streets taking stairs and guessing – well, Mary and Eileen were very good at keeping us moving in the correct direction. We found our way back to the hotel. 6 kms total round trip.

Tonight we meet the GAdventures tour leader (Silvia) and learn a bit about the upcoming week and activities we can expect. Out for dinner and for some, more Napoli pizza. The street party continues – I can hear the fireworks and honking, shouts from the crowds that fill the streets.

Tomorrow orientation walk then on to Pompeii and arrival at Lemon Farm in Sorrento. Yay!

For now, I will sign off, Pamella of Italy.

NAPLES, Napoli Italy, day 1. We arrive!

We pack up after breakfast at the Parnon Hotel in Athens and then head out to pick up a few things, decaf coffee, chargers for the Europe plugs, some of the gals picked up food to nibble on.  I wanted to mail post cards, we found a place to get those mailed.

Our prearranged taxi driver, Petras was on time and seemed happy to see us.  Big hugs all around, packed up the taxi and headed off to the airport in Athens.  We waited and waited.  I walked over 5 kms up and down the airport waiting area C.  By the time the flight arrived we were pretty happy to board, we had ‘priority speedy boarding’.  Seated in row 1 on the plane was pretty nice.  We relaxed and put our luggage in the overhead area.  We arrive 4 hours late on EasyJet … not so easy 

Beautiful sky with blue as far as you can see …. Nice weather.  About an hour and half flight …. “Naples, here we come!” 

Nuevo (9) women in line for the taxi to town, says one of our travelling gals who speaks several languages fluently, Italian is one.  It is beautiful to hear her speak …. A taxi driver says, “yes, of course” come with me. 

Seatbelts for 8. We squished in. No stops at stop signs. He drives us into town. One way streets. Honking horns. He’s on cell phone. Oh. Argh. Sucking in my breath. Moving my legs so we don’t get side swept. (As if that helps, ha ha). His rear view mirror tells the story that he does not always gets through exactly as he thinks.  Many cars, many dents.  Motorcycles do not follow any rules of the road, up and down one way streets and between cars and trucks, more honking.  Oh vey.  Hang on!  It is a wild ride.  I don’t think we take many breaths!  One gal who shares the front seat with me and the driver is able to capture some of the ride on her phone and the commentary is pretty funny after the drive …..  Streets are strewn with ribbons, blue and white.  The town is completely decorated for celebration!  

We are dropped at our hotel, Correa 241.  I have stayed here before and GAdventures uses this hotel so we know it is simple, clean and safe – with breakfast included.  We will stay two nights.  We get one key and drop it off at front desk whenever we go out of the hotel so it is here for our roommate.  Dropping our bags we head out on the search for pizza!

We have a destination in our phones and following the leader through the throngs of people laughing, partying and singing, drinking, eating, smoking and generally celebrating 

So many people in town. Blue and white ribbons on all streets overhead. For soccer celebration Napoli SSC football team.  For European trophy. Last time they won in 1989.  Throngs of people standing, walking, riding motorcycles, beeping, hugging, drinking, celebrating, laughing, eating ….  A few of the alleys are quiet enough from what I can see so I snap a few pictures.  These are in no way an indication of what we are walking through.  We keep an eye, 7 of the women travelling are trying to keep each other in sight as we navigate this wild and crazy city and all the many happy celebrating participants.  A sea of heads we keep moving through ……..  about 20-30 minutes of walking I think ….. we find a destination.  We passed many places but our hotel person had helped us find this one on google maps.  

The ‘pizza bouncer’ at the restaurant hustles a group off the table and quickly resets the table for us all.  We sit and many enjoy the pizza and drinks.  We pay individually and the waiter counts the money.  Off we go …….  On search for gluten free.  Next stop says yes senza glutine however, no take out for that.  We try again and again ….. finally finding a spot that will let me have gf focaccia bread to go.  

We stop to purchase Prosecco and head back to hotel, again through all the mayhem and chaos that is this town, Saturday night.  The gal at the restaurant says Naples is always this way – ha ha.  OK – we keep going.  Out on the square we hear and see 
Fire crackers and fireworks as we leave the populated streets. Probably could see 200 people at any moment. Sea of heads. More than 40 pizza places overflowing with guests.  

We think it is a highlight of the trip. So much adrenaline and yahoo as we walk through the crowds. Keeping an eye out for each other. 7 quiet Canadian women travellers with eyes wide open and laughs.

We sit and enjoy quiet relief with a paper cup of Prosecco in the outside quiet courtyard at the hotel.  Then sleep comes and another day passes on this great adventure.  

Day two in ATHENS, Greece

Breakfast Greek Salad provided by the hotel (Parnon) was fabulous and tasty.  The thought of a bit of rain today made a few in our group seriously consider the Hop on bus.  I have done that in Athens previously and not a huge fan of bus drives at the best of time …. So Mary and I opted for a walk to find some green space and a few huge parks that I have not previously explored.

We stopped to watch the guards at the Parliament building do their fancy march.  Then to the National Gardens.  

A great day overall – we had good talks, lots of bird watching and listening to nature.  It was magical and relaxing.  Another 12 Kms today :). There was a little bird sanctuary, some goats and bunnies with wire around their area, ducks, and more foul.  

We saw some very unique trees, bright flowers and old rock stuff including the temple of Zeus.  Another great day exploring Athens.  We found a spot for lunch after circling the area we were searching – ha ha … Atitamos on road Kapodistriou …. Had a great local traditional Greek salad (why don’t they just call it ‘salad’?).  Not as authentic or local as last nights but feeling full we walked back to the hotel, met up with some travel buddies.  We went back out searching for some cheap wine and Prosecco.  Tonight we have to pack (again) and head to the airport for EasyJet flight to Naples for the next part of our adventure.

Pamella of Greece, going back to Italy and the Amalfi coast for another week!

ATHENS, a few days in Greece

“Look.  It’s (a) OK – no problem!”

We disembarked the Oceania Marina today.  Taxi to the Parnon Hotel, dropped our bags and headed out for adventure.  Patros was our driver – and he apologized when there was traffic which slowed our ride.  He was talkative, answered questions and we enjoyed him.  He gave us his number for calling for our airport transfer on 6 May. 

Too early to get our room key so we stored our items at the Parnon Hotel and headed out walking.

We first walked through and around Plaka area, dropping in to a little cafe pub place for a light lunch.  It was not good and we miss the plentiful food on the ship already!!  Then we wandered and found the Acropolis, climbed up and up and up.  Beautiful sights.  Breathtaking view in the hot sunshine.  We enjoyed the sights and found our way home.  We asked for recommendations for an authentic eating experience.

AFLE says my friend:  “Another f-ing Learning Experience”

We found and ate authentic Greek (for locals)  at Kriti!! As recommended by our hotel service persons.  When I tried to order a Greek salad – the wait staff ‘suggested’ strongly that I have the special of the day …. ‘Would it be gluten free’ she responded “of course”! (As if I should know that – ha ha).  We were brave and ordered.  The dining was fine, the tastes fabulous and we left very happy and full.

We walked over 12 Kim’s through the day.