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Naples round 3

November saw Chris heading back to Naples, Italy for another 2 1/2 week NATO exercise. This particular exercise ended up being a little overwhelmingly busy with some complications that arose during production so Chris didn’t get much time to hang out and take in much of Italy. He did manage an excursion to Pompeii with his co workers though as well as a stop at our favorite pizza place, Da Michele!

 

This is now the 3rd time Pompeii has been featured on our blog (1st time and 2nd time). Life definitely takes you down strange and wildly unexpected paths. I never would have thought I’d be able to write about it once, let alone three times and I’m humbled by the course we’re on that has led us here.
I tried to do another photo challenge for Chris for Naples, but since he had hardly any free time he wasn’t able to do much. One of the completed challenges though was a self-portrait eating gelato and I couldn’t decide which one was my favorite, so you get both! I sure love this man! He makes me smile like no other :)

 

Category: Adventures, NATO, Travel, Work  Tags: , ,  One Comment
Menorca Photo Challenge by Chris

In May, Chris went to Menorca, Spain for 2 1/2 weeks for a work exercise. Seriously… he gets to go to all the cool places :)

He’ll laugh at me for writing that, because in reality yes, he gets to go to some pretty awesome places, but he also works 10-12 hours a day while he’s there and often only gets to sightsee at night, if at all. Fortunately, he had a few days in Menorca where he got a chance to explore in daylight and even got to go to the beach after work once!

Before he left, I slipped a little Menorca Photo Challenge into his suitcase, just for a bit of fun :)

So here’s Spain according to Chris’ Menorca Photo Challenge:

 

1) Your hotel room

2) Top 3 things you ate

Yes, there are only 2. He forgot to take pictures while he was eating too many times :)

3) A church

4) A self-portrait at work

5) Clouds

6) Something touristy

7) Something you do every day

8) The beach

9) The ocean

10) A boat

11) Something very Spanish

12) A plant

13) Architecture

14) Something colorful

15) Night

 

Training in the Czech Republic for deployment to Afghanistan.

Can you guys believe it’s May already?? Life needs to slow down just I bit I think!

I’ve been wanting to tell you guys about Chris’ trip to the Czech Republic for about a month now. As I was searching for the photos I realized it was all the way back in March! I feel like I barely blinked and April came and went! Poof! Gone! But I’m still going to tell you about his trip anyway, because it was pretty cool.

So here it goes.

Once upon a time NATO sent Chris to the Czech Republic for a week for Civilian Pre-Deployment Training. That’s right. Pre-deployment. As in pre-deployment-to-Afghanistan. Apparently sometimes working for the military means being sent into a war zone, despite not actually being in the military. He’s most likely be going in 2014. Bummer. In a weird twisted way though it’s kind of exciting. I mean…Afghanistan will forever be in the history books. and Chris will get to be there! Especially since Chris won’t actually get sent to the really crazy combat zones, so he should be fairly safe.

“Fairly” is the key word there. Hence why he had to go  to a week of vigorous training. Because even though he’ll be “fairly” safe… there’s apparently still the risk of roadside bombs and civilian hostage situations. Eep!

He had a blast though! They learned a bunch of survival skills, escape and evasion techniques, how to find and destroy mines, how to deal with chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear warfare, radio communication skills, and kidnapping and interrogation survival. They simulated a whole surprise civilian kidnapping and hostage situation and everything! Oh.. and it was all in the snow and freezing temperatures. Chris came home a bit roughed up, but definitely feeling mighty hardcore.

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Searching for “mines”

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I love a man in uniform!

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Chris and his coworkers.

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Socks hanging to dry in the barracks after a hard day of tromping around in the snow.

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The barracks.

At the end of the trip, Chris got to spend a day exploring Prague! His thoughts after his time in the city: “We definitely need to go back and see more of it!” Ummm… ok!

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Behind Chris is a lady in a dress, leading a donkey with a carrot hanging from a stick. Just another day in Prague… ?

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(Click for a better panorama!)

Chris in Action

Chris has been a bit of a crazy person at work these past few months!

In March, the whole JWC media team went to Grafenwoer, Germany for three whole weeks for a combined training exercise between the US Armed Forces and NATO. They were pretty much stuck on the base and only had one day off the entire 21 days including weekends. They came home for five days, then left again for a week and a half to attend the National Association of Broadcasters Convention (NAB) in Las Vegas. He extended his trip for a few days to hang out with my family and see his bffs but then he was right back at the grindstone. Barely a week after he got home from the States, the JWC began another one of it’s 2 week training sessions. Luckily, it was in town this time, but Chris was working from 7 in the morning to 8 at night every day for the entire 2 weeks. Again, no weekends.

He’s had a bit of an easier schedule these last 2 weeks (during which his crew moved from their old studio into their brand spankin’ new high tech studio) and he’ll have a bit of a break for another two…and then he’s off to Poland to film a promo and then back to Oberammergau, Germany again before we finally head home to the States for a nice relaxing month of home leave.

Crazy man!

Here are some sweet photos of Chris and the WNT news crew in action!

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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!