Thursday, December 31, 2009

Honeymoon VI – to the Strait of Messina and Sicily

From Amalfi we took a bus to Salerno, then caught a train to Reggio di Calabria, located at the end of the boot at the Strait of Messina. When we got off the train, we were tired and eager to find a room. We took a cab to the waterfront and wheeled our bags into a hotel that looked way too fancy.


We were told that a room would cost about $600 a night! Kim convinced them that we should get a better price and reminded them that we were on our honeymoon. It worked!


We got this massive ambassador's suite for around $200. That's a lot of money, but what the hell – we're were on our honeymoon!


Here I am doing my best impression of Don Corleone. Since I couldn't speak the language, I adopted this Italian hand gesture, which is very useful.


Somewhere we read that Reggio was a depressing city overrun by the mafia with very little to see. But that wasn't our experience. There's a beautiful seaside esplanade.


Here's the Strait of Messina, and Sicily in the distance.


We watched as an Italian sailing instructor yelled at his students.


The yelling paid off, as his students zipped all over. It was a maritime ballet.


In the distance we could see the lights of Messina.


The next morning we enjoyed a fancy breakfast!


We walked up the esplanade to catch a ferry.


One of the crew members was overly captivated with Kim's tattoos and brought the captain on deck to have a look. The captain made it clear that he didn't like tattoos, but he was very helpful giving us directions to various places we wanted to visit.


OK guys. Take it easy. That's my wife!


This sailboat made me drool all over myself.


We crossed the Strait of Messina.

Don't get too excited. In Italy it's not uncommon to be served a martini made with sweet vermouth.

We landed in Messina and jumped on a train to Palermo.


We later learned that Palermo has some neat neighborhoods and beautiful areas, but we seemed to end up in the low-rent district. There were some neat areas, but also some dirty areas. Kim took a photo of this graffiti.

We stayed at a B&B. This was the view from our bathroom.


We ate some amazing meals in Italy, but this wasn't one of them. Due to some language barriers, I got a salad with a mysterious flem-like white sauce with hunks of stinky fish and god-knows-what inside. I offered it to Kim, but for some reason she wasn't interested. On the other hand, the deep-fried rice balls were pretty good, as well as the carafe of red wine.


We wandered around and did a little shopping. There were street vendors selling various antiques. A haggled for awhile with a vendor who was selling a World War II-era Leica camera with a Nazi SS logo on the lens cap. He wanted too much for it. When I said "no thank you" in Italian, he and a nearby woman said something nasty back to me, perhaps "thanks for nothing, asshole!"

Other than that, most people were really polite. Some of them went out of their way to help us.

Next: We cross Sicily and visit the Valley of Temples

Monday, December 28, 2009

Honeymoon Part V – Amalfi

After our adventures in Naples, it was time to head over the mountain to the coastal town of Amalfi. We caught a train to Casalmare. Then we jumped on a bus with a bunch of teenagers and weaved our way up a narrow, twisty mountain road.


All the way up and over the mountain there were little towns like this one. The kids were singing and laughing a good portion of the way. As we got near the top, more and more kids jumped off.


By the time we descended to the coast, we were the only ones on the bus.


When we reached Amalfi, we weren't disappointed.


We wandered up narrow streets and found a restaurant.


I was looking forward to eating some stinky little fish, so I ordered "local fish" with smoked mozzarella baked with lemon leaves. The "local fish" were anchovies, but not the kind we think of. These were fresh and delicious – not those nasty ones that we get with our pizzas. Kim ordered a fancy fish dish.


Kim looked up from our patio seating and took this shot. If I had known this lady was watching, I would have sat up straight and tried not to slouch.


After our Thanksgiving Day meal, we checked into that multi-story hotel on the right! We were in Amalfi during the "off season."The hotel was nearly empty. It reminded me of an Italian version of The Shining.


We were the only ones interested in the bar, where I enjoyed a martini, or two.


There was a beautiful sunset with a dramatic sky. I kept imagining knights on tiny sailing ships invading the town.


We practically had the dining room to ourselves for breakfast.


We decided to relax in Amalfi. Here we are on the hotel's main balcony.


I daydreamed about buying this boat and using it to tour the Amalfi Coast during the summer.

We slowly wandered around and checked out the shops.


Here's Kim at the Duomo. St. Andrew's bones are kept in this church. Sometimes they pull them out and show them off. That's weird, but kind of cool.


Amalfi is known for its tiles. We saw some really neat stuff.


This guy makes paper.


If you want fish, you go to the fish shop.


What the hell?


Back to the Duomo.


I like how some of the buildings are constructed into the cliff.


This was the view from our hotel room. We were very happy sitting on the balcony with a bottle of wine.


We spent two nights in this town. We were relaxed, rested and stuffed with good food. We agreed that it was time to get our butts in Sicily!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Honeymoon Part IV – Ercolano & Pompeii

We made Naples our home base for day-trips to both Ercolano and Pompeii, towns that were buried when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.


If you go to Italy, be prepared to eat lots of bread for breakfast. Every place we stayed served a croissant, sometimes filled with chocolate. In addition to a croissant, there were always fresh rolls with butter and a container of yogurt. Sometimes there was fresh fruit and cheese. The breakfasts were good, but after a few weeks we were craving eggs and bacon.


About a block from out hotel we would jump on the trolly, which would take us to the train station. From there, we could get to Ercolano and Pompeii.


Here's what the Italians call Ercolano, also known as Herculaneum. You can see Mt. Vesuvius in the background.


Check out this altar.


We explored the temples.


We came across this mosaic and recognized the dolphins.


They're tattooed on Kim's leg!


Lots of gods.


I was surprised that we were allowed to walk on these floors.


At one point I said to Kim "This would have been a great place to live.' She responded "Yeah, except for the lava."


The ruins were extensive. It took two to three hours to see it all.


Kim's purse was still holding up at this point.


Before getting back on the train for Naples we ate lunch. This was posted in the window.


We returned to Naples and wandered the streets.


Naples is a big city, but it only has small shops. This is about average.


We kept wandering. Boy, were we getting tired.


The sunset was beautiful.


The next day, we woke up and ate some bread with our bread. Then it was off to Pompeii, above.


Pompeii is like Ercolano, but larger.


Here's my lover at the ruins of an old theater.


Oh baby!


More Pompeii.


Here's a 2,000-year-old picture of Venus on a clam shell. I spent a long time admiring this.


The stadium at Pompeii was impressive.


Here I am trying to impress my wife with my massive muscles and overall good looks and masculinity.


I had the same look on my face when I heard that Tiger Woods cheated on his wife.


Fantastic mosaics.


Oh damn that lava. It sticks to everything!


Things haven't been the same for this guy since 79.


This one is kind of sad, don't you think?

We slept soundly that night in Naples.

Next: Amalfi.

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