We went to Italy! Naples to be exact. Trevello to be very exact (more on that later). Our niece Amanda is living there (husband Robert is in the Navy). For three years they lived in Belgium, and for various reasons, we never got there for a visit. Still kicking ourselves over that. We didn't want to be likewise kicking ourselves over Italy, and they've already been there a year, so although July might not be the ideal month to go (it's really hot there) we went anyway.
There was the usual flurry in getting ready to go--such as getting the house cleaner than we ever would for ourselves (we had a friend who was housesitting)--so of course things like the fridge going on the fritz and the belt of the vacuum cleaner breaking happened. I sort of blew my top when I picked up a bottle of spray cleaner and the handle broke. C'mon--really?
And, of course, there's always the problem of missing (and being missed) by the ones we leave behind.
The main thing I think about on any trip is not "what are we going to do" or even "what clothes should I take" but "what can I take to keep me from going crazy while sitting around in airports and on airplanes for hour after hour? Of course, a book (Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell--I liked the miniseries enough that I wanted to read the book). And some knitting--decided on a tubular cowl with some really delicious cashmere/silk yarn I had spun. I had an idea of doing the trip in "knitting selfies", showing the knitting growing as I visited various areas, ending with a finished cowl and a finished trip. Started well, that idea. Here's the Tallahassee airport.
And the Atlanta airport.
I got this idea from the blog by the Yarn Harlot, where she does this sort of thing on trips. I did not take into consideration that a)she knits like a speed demon; b) socks are smaller and faster than my lace cowl, so you can see a difference more readily, and c) on long overseas flights they turn off the lights. So even if I did drag my knitting all over and photo it, there wouldn't be any noticeable growth. So here's the final shot at the Paris airport, and it then goes away for awhile.
Whoever said about trips that "getting there is half the fun" never rode in a modern aircraft. We were riding in the sardine section, being unwilling to fork out another $900 for "three more inches of leg room" (and don't even ask about business class, much less first class). In a moment of morbid curiosity I puled my measure tape from my knitting bag, and it was 14.5 inches from the side of the plane (I had the window seat) to Bob's arm. The arm rest on that side didn't lift up, so that took another two inches. I alternated between the arm rest gouging into my side, or into my back if I shifted, for the 7.5 hour flight. There was almost no knee space. And it was hot. I had never before been in a plane that didn't have those little air valves overhead. Maybe we were over one of the engines--my purse was on the floor and my lipgloss melted. According to the little flight information screens it was -65 degrees outside and I prayed for a way of cracking open a window just a little bit. Our dinner (which was pretty good, by the way) came with a wet-wipes and we tried to take baths with them.
But all bad things come to the end, and we were able to limp off the plane in Paris. After that, it was just a little old-fashioned puddle-jumper plane (meaning much more room) to Naples and the waiting family.
They have decided to have the Italy experience and not live on the American base. They instead are living in the little town of Trevello. It turns out that people are very proud of their origins: "I am not from Naples, I am from Aversa" even though these little towns have been sprawled over by Naples. Despite the fact that we were really dragging after the long, hot, and uncomfortable trip, Robert (who is an expert in travelling) dictated "no naps. Keep moving." So we took a walk into town--and then into the next town (Aversa) which sounds like a lot but actually it mean crossing a street from one town to another. Naples (excuse me--Trevello and Aversa) reminded us so much of Oaxaca, Mexico. Pastel stucco buildings, iron railings, laundry hung out, little altars set into walls, narrow streets, lots of skinny stores selling almost everything. An amazing cheese shop (I love cheese--the one thing I couldn't bring home with me). We did pick up some fresh-made buffalo mozzarella--at about a third of the price you pay for regular cow mozzarella here. And we grabbed some pizzas for dinner. Here, a big fuss is made if the pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven. There--every tiny pizza shop is dominated by the big wood oven. It's just how it's done.
Eating, talking, catching with the family news. Dane (their son) at the age of 12, was taking scuba classes. One of his dives had just become rather interesting because of a mishap officially described as an "unexpected loss of buoyancy" which is another way of saying "the boat sank" and the students all had to swim ashore. Dane thought it was a cool adventure; for some reason, Amanda was apprehensive about his next dive.
We finally overruled Robert's dictum that we stay up to 10 and crashed around 8:30 (which our internal time told us was 2:30 a.m.).