In 2015 my husband became unwell, prompting him to retire early for a period of time in order to make memories as a family. We took our children out of school for 7 weeks and travelled through Europe exploring the world and making priceless memories with our two youngest daughters. My husband is doing okay now and we don’t regret for a moment the financial sacrifice we made to do this – money can be replaced but memories and time together cannot. This post is one written in 2015 capturing that adventure and has been posted unchanged and unamended.
So. Where were we? Oh yes, my last post in Europe before I interrupted broadcast with the Business Class flight was chocolate nutella in Rome. Then off we headed on the train to Sorrento.
On the train we hopped with excitement rushing through our veins at the next part of our journey. We followed the plan of catching a train to Naples, then changing over to catch a suburban train to Sant Agnello just one stop before Sorrento in southern Italy. Not far out of Naples as we looked out of the window of the run down, over crowded, rickety old train, we soon realised why our wonderful travel agent had refused to book us into Naples and had instead planned a few days in Sorrento. With each station we passed we could see more and more run down, derelict homes missing windows or doors with makeshift covers.
We saw multiple people (including children and women with babies) entering the train either begging for money or playing an instrument for money. It was sad that these children should have been in school and the flat lifeless look in their eyes was either very good acting or true desperation and despair – to me it seemed like the latter. It became yet another lesson in gratitude and compassion for my children.
When we arrived in Sant Agnello we did spend the first 20 minutes lost and exhausted searching for a toilet. It appears that whilst it is very close to Sorrento and accommodates tourists, it is certainly a cosy little town. We ended up dragging our heavy suitcases for an extra 15 minutes to our hotel before falling in a lump on the couches.
We decided to enjoy a beautiful dinner in the restaurant attached to the resort and I’m so glad we did. Turns out that it houses one of the regions best cooking school, and is run by a family who prides themselves on great service and high quality produce. Of course Mackenzie decided on her usual Margherita pizza, and this time she was allowed to watch the whole process including the throwing the dough in the air in a spin, the cooking in the big ovens, and of course the enjoyment of her eating it – the whole thing that is!!! We were treated to a taste of Limoncella (odd), and Lauren gave us a great deal of humour trying to figure out how to eat her prawns – aka scampi – and since neither my husband or I are seafood lovers Lauren had to ask the staff (who were already looking a little bemused by her attempts) for assistance. Lets just say that she was not a fan.
We were all a little excited by the trip to Pompeii and after a short train ride we arrived. Luckily we did our research before hand because there doesnt seem to be any toilets inside the Pompeii site, so we ensured every person actually went and did a good wee before we entered. The place is enormous so thank heavens little ones bladder behaved throughout or a tree may need to be watered lol. This historic site was so interesting and we learnt alot about the history of society from this place. Although there were interesting things there including a male appendage carved into a stone to apparently guide the menfolk to the local “ladies” if you know what I mean, and beautiful bath houses and eating rooms, it was also a sad place too. At the time we were there we were fortunate to see an exhibit that had real casts of people found in the excavation, and there were also many excavations currently underway too. How sad that these people were going about their every day lives before their most precious mountain burst forth and ended it all for them.
The next trip we did whilst staying in Sant Agnello was to Sorrento, which was just beautiful, so we could board a boat to the spectacular Capri Island. We caught a glimpse of the beauty that awaited us just looking at the crystal clear aqua blue water that was beneath the jetty. On boarding the boat and setting off into the ocean it was apparent that the ocean here was far different to the ones at home. When we looked at this ocean it had a deep royal blue colour that was unlike anything I had ever seen. We got even more excited as we saw the Isle of Capri come into view in front of us, and as we rounded the cliff face we got our first view of the beautiful port with homes and budisnesses stretching upward up the rock face. Now the funniest thing was when we disembarked and walked off the jetty, the street was lined with rental/taxi cars….and yes – they were Capri’s lol.
After talking to the “blue grotto” company that do the trips it was decided we had enough time to grab a spot of lunch at a spectacular restaurant along the waterfront. However when we went out to purchase our boat tickets they had cancelled further trips to Ana Capri due to weather conditions!!! My heart just sank and so did hubbys and the childrens, we had so looked forward to this and I had built up my courage to do it. On a whim I asked if we could hire a private boat and skipper to take us along the other part of the island and to our surprise they said yes! So off we went on our little 2 hour journey on a beautiful boat just the four of us and our skipper. Our beautiful guide just happened to be local, owned a B&B, and was very passionate about the island he lived on. He showed us where Valentinos home was, took us through that famous arch, showed us the spectacular white grotto that as just as beautiful as the blue, and allowed Lauren to jump off the boat into the 9m+ deep water that looked so clear you would think it was 1-2m deep. This place is beautiful, we want to go back, and next time we will stay with our skipper at his B&B where he has offered for us to spend time with him and his family, on his private boat, and where they will include us in their cuisine. My husband and I are very much looking forward to this as he also has young children similar age to our youngest. Capri was so beautiful that the children actually think it is better than Disneyland, and would choose it over anything.
So it was time to leave and we caught the train journey back to Rome before boarding the Leonardo Davinci Express to the airport, where we boarded our flight to Athens and Santorini. Our time in Italy had come to a close, but it wont be for long I am sure. We had a lovely flight to Athens, and changed planes immediately to fly late night into Santorini Island – but you will have to wait for that installment next time.