Adventures in Italy

Chris loves his job. Why? Oh…because they sent him on a business trip to Italy for 11 days back in November. (I know…I’m behind and out of order again…But I have to catch up somehow!)

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I also love Chris’ job. Why? Because I got to meet up with him halfway into his trip and hang out with him in Italy for 5 days!

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Sometimes life just seems so unreal.

 

In reality though, while hanging out with my lover in Italy sounds über romantic on paper, it was actually a trip full of awesome highs and icky lows. For one thing, Chris had to work from 8am until about 6 or 7 at night, so I was on my own for most of the trip. Also…the NATO headquarters in Italy is in Naples. Also known as the armpit of Italy (not my words). We were heavily warned before we went that Naples is NOT what you always imagined Italy to be, so we went with fairly low expectations…but we were still caught off guard a bit. It really is the armpit of Italy. (My apologies to any Neopolitans out there who are reading this…) But despite all the warnings about the dirty streets, purse snatchers/slashers, and being a single woman exploring Naples (“Seriously…DON’T go out alone after dark”), in my mind the trip seemed magical. Just me, exploring the wonders of beautiful Italy.

Flying over Italy on my way in, I may or may not have teared up with excitement. Two hours after landing, however, I found myself tearing up for a different reason. I was completely lost, unable to separate Italian from Norwegian in my head enough to ask for directions, and half rolling-half dragging my suitcase through the crumbling streets while avoiding the dead rat carcasses and trash littering the streets and the creepy looks from Italian men, completely terrified someone was going to run up and swipe my purse. Not exaggerating. It was almost dark by the time I finally figured out where the hotel was and as I trudged up the hill physically and mentally drained all I could think was, “Grumble::grumble::I hate Naples::grumble::grumble::Naples sucks…grumble”

Luckily, once I settled into the hotel and joined up with Chris I felt much better.  My next few days in Naples were much brighter and cheerier than that first afternoon, although still dirty and full of purse snatchers. Having lived in New York City a few summers ago, I came to the conclusion that Naples is simultaneously three times more beautiful and three times more horrible than New York City. On one hand, Naples is really, really dirty. Not at all the beautiful Italy you see in pictures. Theft is a really big problem. I was extra diligent about my purse while I was walking around and the only thing valuable I carried was my little point and shoot. Luckily nothing got stolen, but it was really stressful worrying about it all the time. Although it was very empowering to be alone and completely self-sufficient for most of my time there, I REALLY wouldn’t recommend wandering as a single woman in Naples. I got hassled quite a bit and the one time I got caught by myself out after dark I had a pretty scary experience being followed and taunted by a group of men. It was always much better when I could be with Chris.

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On the other hand though, Naples was absolutely beautiful. The history of Naples was mind blowing. It was the oldest city I have ever set foot in, and walking the streets of was like walking through history. The architecture was beautiful, the food was amazing, and aside from a few creepers, the Neopolitans were very friendly. My Italian came back much faster and easier than I expected after hearing it everywhere on the streets, and by the end of the trip I was actually able to have full basic conversations with people I met. I had a great conversation with one guy on the train who was fascinated by the fact that I was American and wanted to know all about corn dogs (he had heard of them from an American a little while ago but never really understood what they were.) I realized that this was the first time I had ever been in a place where people didn’t speak my language. Even here in Norway, pretty much everyone speaks at least a little bit of English. It was a completely new and great learning experience to be forced to use a foreign language in order to get around and not have English to fall back on. November was also a FANTASTIC time to go to Italy. There were very few tourists at any of the places I visited.

Overall it was a wonderful experience. I feel like I grew a lot from my experiences exploring and navigating a foreign country on my own. I’ll be posting more stories from the trip, complete with more photos over the next few days. It was all WAY too much to put in one post!

 

Here are some of the basic details though:

Where we stayed: Montespina Park Hotel – outside of the main downtown area in Bagnoli. The hotel is about a 15 minute walk from the Bagnoli metro stop, which takes you right into the downtown area in about 20 minutes. It was a nice hotel. No air conditioning, but it didn’t really matter in November. The free breakfasts were pretty good, but the restaurant was a bit hit or miss. Some things were quite delicious and other dishes were rather blah.

How I got around: I bought the tourist transportation pass. It was 20 euro and covered most of my train and bus transportation all the way to Amalfi. In hindsight though, I would have gone for the Campagna d’Arte card. It gives you all transportation in all of Campagna, as well as free entrance to 2 or 3 attractions of your choice. If you planned it out right it would save you a bundle!

Where I went:

Vesuvius and Pompeii

Sorrento and Amalfi

Downtown Naples

What we ate: More on that in a separate post!

 

Category: Adventures, Norway, Travel  Tags: , , , ,
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