09-24-2018 Leaving the United States and 09-25-2018 Day 1

As you may have noticed, comments don’t seem to be working properly.  I can’t comment and no one else seems to be able to comment either.  No clue what is going on, but if you saw the post and liked it, you could put your comment on facebook.  Sigh.

Deanna and I have planned this trip for almost 2 years now.  I was only able to buy the tickets a year ago, and then at Christmas we had a kerfuffle with the tickets being changed and rerouted.  Originally we had planned to fly through Vancouver BC on Air Canada, but that route was cancelled and we were moved to Lufthansa out of Seattle.  This was a major problem because we both had flights to Vancouver BC on Alaska Airlines.  Lucky for us, even with non refundable tickets, Alaska Air changed our flights to go only to Seattle instead of to Seattle and then on to Vancouver.  This mix-up and the resulting frantic phone calls with airline representatives did provide some moments of stress for us last winter.

At Christmas, I flew to Deanna’s home in Lincoln in Northern Washington and spent some quality time at her dining table, with a view of the snow, reviewing Air B-n-B locations on the Amalfi Coast and in Florence.  Reservations were made easily, contacts made with the respective owners, and arrangements made for our host in Positano to pick us up at the Naples Airport.

That being said, it was still a bit disconcerting on my Monday morning day of departure to get some google notifications for all the cancelled air reservations, both from Air Canada and Alaska Airlines AFTER I had checked in 24 hours prior to our actual flights.  I simply deleted those emails.  I had paper boarding passes in my hand, and trusted that all would be well.  Or almost trusted at least.  Ha. 

I had Mo take me to the airport 2 hours early.  A bit much for the nearly empty airport, but since my plans for  only taking a carry-on had failed due to being 2 pounds over the 18 kilo weight required for Lufthansa carry-on bags, I needed time to check my one bag.  There wasn’t a soul in line, and a very helpful attendant helped me set up checking my bag all the way through to Naples, thanks to an agreement between Lufthansa and Alaska Air.  I quickly called Deanna and she did the same for her flight on Alaska from Spokane, with both of us arriving in Seattle around 11.  It was great that we could do this because the Seattle airport is  usually all backed up in the security area.  This way we didn’t have to go out, get our bags, and get rescreened again.  As we both arrived and met on the concourse, we were very happy about this choice and opportunity since the lines were all backed up and crazy as expected.  Of course, this added a bit of background noise for me worrying if our luggage would actually make it from two different planes onto the right plane to Frankfurt and then on to Naples.  I had spent a few days with all those little bothersome but trivial worries in the back of my mind so this was just another one.

We barely had time for a bowl of Japanese noodles in the Seattle airport and it wasn’t  a particularly good choice.  However,we had no clue what we would be available besides our own snacks for the ten hour flight to Frankfurt, a quick layover and another 2 hours to Naples. We decided that we should eat what we could find and purchase quickly enough to still get on the plane.  Crazy stuff.

It is a mother daughter trip, but Deanna is a grandmother, so it feels very much like a couple of good friends taking care of each other as the needs arise.  Feels wonderful to me to actually be on this trip that I have thought about for at least 10 years since I started planning retirement and thinking about taking each kid on an individual mom trip.  Of course, I have been dreaming of visiting Florence since I was 14, and dreaming about the Amalfi Coast ever since Pinterest started putting up those crazy colorful photos.  It was a place I wanted to see for a long time.

Our Lufthansa flight wasn’t bad at all.  We were in economy, but it wasn’t horribly crowded, and we were served dinner with a drink, and breakfast before landing in Frankfurt.  The plane was a newer 747 and had in-flight entertainment on seat back monitors, but the best part of the entertainment was the top quality GIS rendering of our flight position.  None of those little dots going over grainy maps.  We had an animated plane traveling over top quality imagery that looked better than the view out the window.  I was thrilled being the old map maker that I am.  GIS is a wonder of our lives now, one of the things I appreciate most about technology.

Landing in Frankfurt was easy enough until we discovered that not only did we have to go through Passport checks, we also had to go through two more security check points.  My status was TSA  precheck in Medford  but not so lucky here, so out came the laptop and liquids, but I didn’t have to take off my shoes.  Deanna had an RFID wallet attached to her bra in a way that it couldn’t be removed without removing her bra.  That flagged her in both airports, and she was required to do the private screening so that they could check out her travel wallet.  Lucky for me, my waist money belt could be removed and put with my personal items in the bins.  Just a heads up, those RFID money carriers are great but TSA doesn’t like them.  They even went through all Deanna’s money.

The layover in Frankfurt was short and our plane was late. We were doubly stressed with all the extra security stuff but lucky for us  our plane to Naples late enough to make the transfer easier than we expected.  Arriving in Naples had just one more little bit of stress associated with it…would Enzo be there?  Would our ride be waiting for us?  Would we be able to find him?  Would our bags arrive as well?  Silly how I worry about all this little stuff when not a bit of the worry was warranted.  Both bags arrived when we did. Baggage pickup was slick and easy.  Walking out the gate was a piece of cake and Enzo was there just like all the other drivers with his sign with Deanna’s name on it.

In no time we were cozied up in his nice little BMW, (me in the front seat to avoid car sickness) and on our way from Naples, driving the freeway beside Mt Vesuvius, through the 3 five year old tunnels that cross from the Sorrento side of the mountains to the Amalfi Coast side, cutting off more than 90 minutes of travel time between destinations.

First view of the small city of Sorrento near Naples

The road is tight and narrow and we were grateful that Enzo could drive while he talked because he talked a lot!  He filled us with information about Naples, Vesuvius, the tunnels, Pompeii, the wineries, the mozzarella farms, the olive groves and lemon trees protected by chestnut sticks and draped against the sun and wind.  He talked so much that our brains were worn out.  Of course we were worn out anyway from more than 24 hours of traveling and neither of us were able to sleep on the plane in spite of ear plugs, eye masks, travel blankies, and neck pillows. All the comforts and not a speck of sleep.  Ha!

The drive to Positano for the first time was breathtaking. The sea and the mountains, and the narrow road took our breath away. I have driven and ridden Highway 1 on the California coast in our motorhome, but this highway has that one beat for sheer thrills. 

That little narrow ribbon you see along the cliff is our road from Sorrento to Positano, the city in this photo

By the time we arrived in the tiny village of Montepertusso, high about the town of Positano, we were definitely crazy tired and a lot overloaded.  Enzo suggested some restaurants but we told him we were just too tired to go anywhere and would eat what snacks we had left over from the flight.  His wife Sara is the one responsible for the yummy breakfasts here.  However on that first day they both said, “No No.  Let us bring you a bit to eat.”  Within minutes, Sara arrived with a beautiful spread of gnocchi with home made marinara from their garden tomatoes, tomato slices in their own olive oil, mozzarella and prosciutto slices, bread, olives, and sun dried tomatoes, with fresh oranges on the table from the garden as well.  And yes, a bottle of delicious red wine  “Lison Pramaggiore from Santa Margherita” cabernet.  Deanna was thrilled with this one because sometimes red wines can give her a headache, and this one didn’t.

We ate on the lovely terrace in a strong breeze which later turned into a strong wind. After dinner we walked back to the village to check out the view of the sea and look down on the town of Positano as it began to light up for the evening.  We found our entrance to the famous stairs to the town. (More about THAT tomorrow).

So many people are so friendly, and especially so when I make an attempt to speak in some version of Italian. My Italian  is so bad that it elicits laughs like this one from Concertina. She is about 5 feet tall, lives in Montepertusso, and has Quattro Grande sons. She told me in Italian that one of her sons has a restaurant in Apopka, Florida.

It was a lovely introduction to our time in Montepertusso.

A link to the rest of the photos for this post is here

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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