A Travellerspoint blog

Miscellaneous.....

The past week has been ordinary. My host returned from his trip on Sunday so I went to pick him up at the airport. For luch, we had swordfish -- the first seafood I have eaten while here. It was really good grilled with just oil and lemon. Why is it back home that we feel the need to drown our food in sauces?? That is one thing I like here....the food is fresh, with no chemicals or preservatives.

I decided against going to the island of Capri. It is the official month of vacation for Italians so it will mean big crowds and long lines for everything. I did go to the beach late one afternoon. It was weird because the sand is grey and not like back home. It is like being on dirt. The water was nice, though. I had rotisserie chicken from a roadside stand that is very popular. The man sprays something on the chicken before he gives it to you...the container looks like one they use for pesticide! ha ha It was really good!

I bought my train tickets for when I leave here next week. That was an ordeal. I had to buy like 7 tickets and one Italian man started yelling because it was taking so long. I didn't let him cut in front of me...I was there first so he had to wait. He eventually quieted down when he saw I wasn't fazed. It did take almost 45 minutes for me to finish.....I booked my rooms so I am all set to backpack and I hope everything goes smoothly. I also hope my train windows go down or that they have AC!!

I went to the beach again this morning before it was crowded. The first hour it was overcast and cool. Then the sun came out and I roasted! There was a man not too far away who kept staring...what a freak! How about you go fix your missing teeth and put on a decent bathing suit!! It was a white speedo...and a little too transparent. He strutted around with his chicken legs, but I never would make eye contact...Personally, when it comes to men's swimming attire, more is better!!!

Then I grabbed an espresso with cold milk and a chocolate pastry -- my daily ritual now -- and walked through the town of Bacoli. It was riposo time so the shops were closing. I caught a bus back to my town and inspected the damage. I now officially have some kind of minor tan.....yeah!!

Still planning an Amalfi Coast trip before I leave next week and maybe back to Naples.

Posted by thedcgroup 09:21 Comments (1)

Caserta -- Royal Palace

Today I traveled to Caserta to the Royal Palace. It is about 30 minutes from Naples. Built to rival Versailles, I am sure it is magnificent inside. The outside is HUGE! However, I didn't go there for the palace, I went there for the Royal Gardens and the English Gardens. I spent over 3 hours wandering outside.

When you first walk out of the palace, there is a looooong walkway with gardens to your left. If you go straight, it is 3 km to the manmade waterfall at the end. They actually filmed the ending scene of the 1977 Star Wars there! Well, I walked all the way to the top of the walkway, which is the bottome of the waterfall -- you can't go up beside it. Along the way are fountains and trails. I chose to walk in the woods to stay in the shade.

At the top, you climb up some stairs and there is the waterfall ending in a fountain. The fountain has several statues in it.....I recognized Venus (I think.) Then, you turn to the right and enter the English Gardens. You follow the path to a marble statue of Venus bathing herself in this secret cove. They even built fake ruins nearby. The vegetation is amazing. I took a lot of pictures of this area.

Then you go on and see a smaller cave, bridge, and waterfall. These lead up to more ponds with fake ruins. I headed back to the waterfall and rode a bus down to the bottom this time! This time I headed to the Royal Gardens and got to wander through shady trails in the woods and see the area where the king liked to fish (a large manmade pond) and a child-size castle complete with moat for the prince to play! I kept wandering because the trails cut off at angles and I didn't want to miss anything. Several trails led to a small Cupid fountain, which wasn't even labeled on the map. I thought this was the nicest area. There was even a cave nearby......Of course, this is when I ran out of film! And I couldn't find pictures of this Cupid anywhere in the bookstore afterwards!!!

There is also a medieval part of Caserta, but I didn't know about it in time to go. I headed back to the house exhausted. I did like Caserta, though. It seemed cleaner and quieter than some places I have been. The sidewalks were actually regular size, not merely 1 foot wide like in some places here! If you are curious to see what some of this looks like, search for the Reggia at Caserta online. You will at least see the waterfall (and maybe recognize it) and the loooooong walk to get there.

Posted by thedcgroup 11:14 Comments (0)

Sightseeing with a travel companion...

Yesterday, I headed to Naples (Napoli as they call it) to visit a castle and ride a funicular (whatever the heck that it)...I rode the thing (a fancy name for an inclined railroad) to Vomero -- a cleaner, middle class, quieter part of Naples that overlooks the city. For 3 Euro, you can ride an elevator to the top of the castle to take pics, but you can't wander around it. What a ripoff! So, I started browsing through some books there of other sights and museums in Naples that I may want to visit and I heard an American voice.....so I introduced myself. That is how I happened to hang out with Andy for the day. He was traveling alone (since his wife and 2 small children couldn't come along), seeing the sights, and heading out of the country for a conference in a week.

We walked next door, but the museum of San Martino seemed boring, so we took some pics of the city overlook (for free!) and caught another funicular down to the lower city. We saw the Galleria Umberto (Mom and I saw that. It's a glass domed mall of sorts.) Then we visited Piazza Plebiscito, a very famous open area to walk...or meet people.

For lunch, we headed to Gambrinu's (a famous spot), but it is slightly more expensive for a light lunch..so we turned the corner and went to a pizzeria. I explained to Andy the fact that you have to pay to sit at a table!!! They call it a coperti and it is a couple of euros to sit down....come on, what do they expect?? You are going to order pasta and pizza and STAND to eat???!!!

Anyway, we visited the gardens of the Royal Palace and decided to go inside. We saw the Royal theatre, where G7 members met a few years back. They had a throne room and some clocks from the 1700's....who even needed to know the time back then???

All of these places are next door to each other...even the Castel Nuovo....New Castle. This time we could walk in this one. It had this neat area where skeletons were exposed beside ancient ruins and walls....you actually stand on plexiglass about 5 feet above the crypts so it is strangely like you are walking on air..disconcerting at times. I, of course, wondered why they didn't hide the skeletons and put fake ones out to be respectful to the dead....

We headed over to the Church of Santa Chiara and walked in only to see a couple getting married way up front!!!! on a Tuesday!!! There were several other tourists inside..that would be irritating if it was MY wedding....we politely waited and then wandered around. There were many sarcophagi (big boxes with bones in them) all over the perimeter! It was too late to see the cloister, but we did see a monk...strange to me because it was a Catholic church...but I am not Catholic so maybe there are Catholic monks around.....?

We went to the Church of Gesu Nuovo. They are trying to get a famous Catholic doctor made into a saint to the best of my understanding. He died in 1927, but miraculously healed a young boy of leukemia first. It was a HUGE place and his rooms had been left just like he walked out a moment ago. (It does appear that he lived there.) People were praying to his statue and I even saw a nun go to confession...guess I never thought that they would have anything to confess.... The confessional was odd..you walked right up and faced the priest, not secretly to the side....

Enjoyed a pastry with Nutela in the middle (yum) and a lemon slushy granita and more cold water.....I swear that you sweat so much that you would sell your soul for cold water! In fact, I have been carrying around a frozen bottle of water...it is heavenly when it starts to thaw....but it makes my back hurt from carrying my pack of maps, ice, camera, etc....

At this point, my feet and back were hurting from all the walking so we parted ways...of course, I took a picture so you all wouldn't think I just walked around the city talking to myself....ha ha He's heading off to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast and I will visit there before I leave Italy.....

Posted by thedcgroup 02:37 Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Hiking and shopping....

Well, yesterday I hiked up Mt. Nuovo. It is right near where I am staying. It is a young volcano...it just erupted 500 years ago so it is still a baby! I hiked up the trail, passed a decaying cat..is that a sign, I wondered...kept going up, up, up...It got pretty steep at times. At the edge of the crater, I looked down..it is even steeper on the inside of the crater! It had trees and rocks in the crater...nothing like I was expecting..then again, if I saw lava and steam, I may not be here typing this now!!!! Took a picture and then turned around and took a picture of the coastline, bay, and all the boats...it was a nice scene from up so high.....

Sat on a wall and rested a little...thank goodness I brought ice water! Returned home, passed the cat again...caught some rays....not too many, but I definitely scream "tourist" with this pale skin!

On to today....I went to Pozzuoli...had this wierd feeling that I should go see this church for St. Gennaro..not sure why except that I knew an Italian in high school with that last name so maybe that was a factor...anyway, I get there just as a bride and groom are being pelted with confetti...it was nice...so I sat and watched from a distance while they visited.... Then it struck me as odd...they (pretty much everyone except the bride) were wearing black AND this was a Monday wedding at noon...hmmmmm...

Well, I waited until they cleared the area and a man who was sweeping informed me that the church was closed...I think it closed at noon....DARN!!!! It didn't open for 3 more hours or some such nonsense based on what he mumbled in Italian.... so I caught a bus back to town and it was time for stores to close so I went home, made pasta and had to open a can of tomatoes by stabbing it with a knife!!! I couldn't find a canopener in the house!! Of course, I didn't hold the can with my other hand...what am I, stupid??? It was messy, but it worked.

Then I got some sun, knitted, and when it was cooler I went back out to shop a little. I ended up buying a bathing suit and a tanktop. I wasn't looking to really buy anything, but if the suit fits....and it's on sale....you know the rest.... Now I can lay out in my new suit and get no tan lines on my rear if you know what I mean...JUST KIDDING!!! They have those here, but I didn't get one!

My favorite little pizzeria is closed on Tuesdays so I went by and ordered a sandwich to go..I can make 3 meals out of it! I also ordered tiramisu because who goes to Italy and doesn't try that??? It was good, by the way......

Posted by thedcgroup 12:37 Comments (1)

Living the life of the locals....

Well, it is Sunday and I haven't done too much since Mom left. I went yesterday to Pozzuoli to the Rione Terra. It was the oldest part of the city, with streets dating back to 194 B.C. It is mostly subterranean and so a guide must take you so you don't get lost! There were several areas for taverns, even a bed and breakfast, and a bakery for their bread. The giant grindstones were still intact! They even had cisterns to collect water and a sort of sewer system. Nero had a walkway made for the people and there were very small rooms that are thought to be part of a brothel. Whoo-hoo!

I lucked out since my guide spoke English. That doesn't usually happen until late afternoon with a group reservation...

The group I ended up with were Bulgarians traveling as a delegation on Regional Development. Their own personal travel guide translated a few words for me when the site guide's English was difficult to understand. They were all very nice and polite and one even took my picture overlooking the city. At the end, I spoke to one of the girls and one of the men hit on me. Imagine that! I travel to Italy to get hit on by a Bugarian! Their guide even offered to give me a lift on their tour bus to go to a castle with them....I had already been, so I declined. Nice people, though....

I stopped by my favorite veggie restaurant, ordered several veggies to go, and headed home. It is about 1/2 mile to the house....uphill.....I heated up my lunch since they like to eat things cold here. I even put ice in my Coke! That is unheard of here. Then I did what all good Italians do that time of day.....NAP! When I woke up, I lounged on the terrace, getting some sun. Later, I went to the grocery store. They have Special K cereal here! I may get some next time! I bagged my own groceries (It's not Publix, you know.) and walked home. I tended the garden and fed the cats and researched some online for my trips to N. Italy. I even watched a little BBC..it's the only English channel I can get! That's all so far....It's Sunday morning and I may attempt to do some hiking today....

Posted by thedcgroup 01:55 Comments (1)

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