Time for a country shift! Our country changes are happening faster than they used to, as we are on our 7th country since mid-April. But we want to take advantage of the time we have in Europe before we are summarily escorted to the European border by the visa police at the 90-day mark.
We flew from Barcelona, Spain to Naples, Italy a few days ago. But first we drove the 5 hours from Orihuela to Barcelona and due to our very early flight on Saturday, we stayed one night at a hostel in Barcelona. We like to try new things when we have 1-nighters so this time it was a high-tech hostel. The room had 4 beds in a bunk-bed style. It looked more like a cruise ship quarters, where the staff might sleep! We had to make our own beds, rent towels and the lights automatically went out at midnight. We aren’t sure why it was called high-tech other than a computer lab in the basement. The WiFi speed certainly did not impress us. And even with the hard labor required of it’s guests, it was still 129 Euro a night. But it was clean and the staff were nice and it was a memorable stay so it was worth doing. Most things are.
Our arrival into Naples was uneventful and after landing we went to the rental car place to pick up our car for the duration of our Italy journey. I did not want to rent a car, having read plenty about driving in Italy and experiencing it the last time we came to Italy in 2000 before we had kids. But Dan pointed out that our time is short, our to-do list is long, we do not speak the language and train travel for 4 could add up to a similar cost of a car rental for 20 days. Ugh, I hate it when he has all those good points. Not to mention, Dan used to live in Italy. This is his 4th time here and he has driven every time he’s been here, without incident. So we get a car, fire up the car’s navigation and head off to our Airbnb in the small town outside Naples called Scafati.
After the very first drive we have nicknamed our car’s GPS “Mrs. Potato Head”. She’s ridiculous. We’ve learned that we need to check her work with Mr. Google, who is still faulty but at least has a better head on his shoulders. By the time she sent us up into the hills onto narrow roads that almost took out our side mirrors as we avoided falling off cliffs, yeah, I had enough of Mrs. Potato Head.
The first night we headed to Sorrento for dinner. It was about an hour drive and it had beautiful views. But wow, so many tourists! I don’t blame them for going, it is a charming town with tons of restaurants, street performers and gorgeous scenery. But does there have to be SO MANY of them? We enjoyed our evening strolling around in lovely temperatures. We found a pizzeria thanks to Trip Advisor that was off the beaten path (as in, attached to a bowling alley) and the food did not disappoint. We wandered, we watched the sunset and we watched all the people. Zoe pet all the dogs, it’s what she does. We said “gracias” a lot until we got better at “grazie”, complete with the Italian hand motions.
Haley swears she’ll write a food blog and she might even write several about Italy. There’s a lot to say about food here. So I’ll just lay that right there at her feet and you all can feel free to encourage her as well.
Our first full day we decided to hit the ground running. We wanted to go into Naples to the Museum of Archaeology to see some of the Pompeii stuff, then see Pompeii. We have been told that Naples is the capital of chaotic driving so we planned to take the train into the city. I loved this idea. But then after researching it we discovered the train would take over 2 hours, whereas driving would take 26 minutes. Oh, Italy. Where is the efficiency that we loved so much in Amsterdam? Not here.
So we did what I swore all along we would never do: we drove into central Naples. I could barely breathe I was so stressed but low and behold we found it without too many hiccups (but Mrs. Potato Head was fired again) and we even found a free place to park – ON THE STREET – next to the museum. I was sure that our car would be 1) towed or 2) ticketed while we were doing our museum exploring but spoiler alert: none of that happened.
We enjoyed the museum for the most part. We found cool statues of Roman and Greek gods, which Haley loved. We found Egyptian mummies, which Zoe loved, and we found a room all about penises. We were… curious. I can’t say I have ever wished for a museum room about penises, but now I am glad I saw it… I guess?
When we finally found the Pompeii room (Italians don’t like to give you signs or maps) we were a bit disappointed because it didn’t really give us the info we thought it would, and there were none of those plaster bodies that they made from the entombed people. It’s morbid, but it makes a personal connection so we really wanted to see those. So we won some and lost some on the museum, but just like the hostel, it was worth doing.
After dragging ourselves out of the museum (Italians also don’t like A/C so we were getting cranky), we stumbled into a restaurant that had A/C and ice and we ordered our lunch via pointing at menu items. We had a nice lunch, we regained our strength and our explorers’ attitude and we set off for a few other parts of central Naples. We explored a bit on foot (read: we risked our lives sharing the same road as the motorcycles) and found a few interesting streets and plazas and a church. We also found gelato and small things to put in the tins we buy in each country.
We decided we’d had enough of Naples and we still had some time in the day so off we went to Pompeii to see the archaeological ruins. That’ll be a blog post all of it’s own. It was cool! Not temperature-wise (noooo, definitely not) but brain-wise. Very very cool. Hang on for that blog post, coming up soon. Just like Haley’s food one. Right, Haley?