Joined September 2017 Message
  • Day32

    Day 32 - Pope Francis and Rome Departure

    October 11, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Since it will be Thursday by the time we land in Hanoi, I figured I would do a short day entry for today...

    Every Wednesday, Pope Francis does a free public mass in St. Peter's Square. Yesterday, we were able to get tickets from a guard in the Square (although it seems those were just souvenirs and we didn't really need them). After we showered and packed, we walked the couple of blocks into Vatican City, went through security, and entered the Square. We thought we were early - the mass was supposed to start at 10:00 and we got in around 9:15 - but when we saw thousands of cheering people, we were happy we got there when we did! We walked up to the crowd and noticed that the Pope was doing his rounds through the crowd, riding on the back of a truck, standing and smiling and waving and kissing babies. Within 5 minutes, he started coming down the empty lane right next to where we were standing. We got within a foot or two of Pope Francis. It was really cool!! We stuck around for the mass and then left to get to the airport.

    Now, we are sitting at the airport, eating ramen, and ready for the long flight to Vietnam!!
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    Kathy Youngquist

    Nice!

    10/11/17Reply
    Kelly Thompson

    Pretty crazy!

    10/11/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    He's so cute.

    10/11/17Reply
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  • Day31

    Day 31 - Last Day in Rome/Italy/Europe

    October 10, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Another long and great day in Rome! We started our day waking up early for our Vatican tour. The tour was a very small group (us and a family of 3) that started at 8:00, an hour before the Vatican is open to the public. We walked through all of the Vatican museums, including the royal apartments decorated by Raphael, and then went into the amazing Sistine Chapel. After the museum, we went to St. Peter's Square and then into St. Peter's Basilica - the largest Catholic Church in the world. Of all of the churches that we have seen, this one was definitely the most extravagant.

    After the tour ended, we had a quick lunch (Chinese food!) and then took a very long nap. We woke up, and ventured out for more wandering, including a visit to the huge Trevi Fountain (and tossed in some coins for good luck!). Then we walked around for miles and finally found a good Italian restaurant for our last dinner in Rome - we started with mussels and sausage/sun-dried tomato bruschetta and then we both got fresh pasta - clam and mushroom for Tim and spinach ricotta ravioli for me. We walked for a bit more and now we're ready to read (Tim got 3 new books at a bookstore today) and bed!

    Off to Vietnam tomorrow!!!
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    Kathy Youngquist

    Wow!

    10/10/17Reply
    Kathy Youngquist

    Wish we had visited Vatican City! Didn’t have enough time!

    10/10/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Beautiful.

    10/10/17Reply
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  • Day30

    Day 30 - Rome!

    October 9, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    What an awesome, long day! After breakfast at the Airbnb and dropping our laundry off at a laundromat, we set off to explore the city. We crossed the bridge towards the city center and ended up in Piazza Navona where we bought a mini map. Then we walked a couple blocks out of the piazza to the Pantheon - one of the oldest monuments/buildings in Rome, built in 27 B.C. We wandered around a little longer and then split a salad and salami pizza for lunch. Next, we picked up our laundry and went back for a long rest.

    After a nap and showers, we headed off for more city exploring. We walked along the the Fiume Tevere river towards the southern part of the city and then crossed over to the Teatro Marcelo, the only ancient theater left in Rome, conceived by Julius Caesar. It is huge and surrounded by the ancient ruins of fallen columns. Next, we had one of our best dinners yet in the Jewish Ghetto - an appetizer of fried codfish, zucchini flowers, and Roman artichoke. Then, Tim had lamb chops with rosemary potatoes and I had another spaghetti carbonara (last night's wasn't very good and I needed to get it right, which I fortunately did tonight!). For dessert, we split the best tiramisu of the trip.

    After dinner, we went to meet our tour group for a night tour of the Colosseum and several other historical monuments around it. We saw the Trajan tower, the ancient Forum, the Venezia Square (where Mussolini lived), and several other ruins and monuments. Then, we went inside the Colosseum, after hours, where our tour of 20 was the last group of people inside. It was awesome. We walked along the upper corridors, walked down onto the arena, and even went down into the basement of the gladiator and animal chambers, which is closed to the public. Now, we are exhausted and ready for bed before our Vatican tour in the early morning!!

    Rome is probably my favorite of the big cities (Madrid, Barcelona, Florence) so far on this trip - everywhere you look, there are ruins and monuments and beautiful historical buildings. Can't wait for tomorrow!
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    Patti Conrad

    Looks great with the lights.

    10/9/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    😍

    10/9/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Pretty.

    10/9/17Reply
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  • Day29

    Day 29 - Rome Arrival

    October 8, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    We were very sad to leave Positano this morning! But excited for Rome (and even more excited for Vietnam in a few days!!).

    We had a long travel day to Rome - walked down the windy Positano rode to the ferry port, ferry to Salerno, train to Rome, and then a bus to our Airbnb right outside Vatican City. The plan was to immediately do all of our laundry, then go to a market and stock up on some of the toiletries that we are running low on. We got all of our clothes together and got to the laundromat and it was closed on Sundays! So, we ended up not doing too much. We relaxed for a couple of hours, then went out to dinner - split a pear and arugula salad and two pastas (carbonara and sausage). Then we walked through Vatican City before heading back for an early night.Read more

    Kathy Youngquist

    I imagine there won’t be anything to top your experience at Positano! But then again, with each new day of your adventure, there seems to be an exciting new twist to experience! Try the coffee shop across the Street from the Hotel Pantheon! I’m sure they have decaf too!

    10/9/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Buongiorno, Roma!!

    10/9/17Reply
     
  • Day28

    Day 28 - Path of the Gods (for Tim)

    October 7, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

    Today was a fairly uneventful and relaxing day for me. I woke up, had breakfast, walked the long windy road through Positano, checked out the city center and shops, then laid out on a chair at the main beach and read my book for awhile. Then I got a sandwich at a cafe overlooking the sea and headed back to the B&B for a nap.

    Tim, on the other hand, had a very long and eventful day. He woke up, had breakfast, and set off for the famous Path of the Gods hike through the Amalfi Coast. It took a few hours, lots of walking, and two crazy bus rides to get to the start in Bomerano. He met a couple of friends and they set off for the 8 km or so walk. He said it was definitely the coolest hike he has ever done and that the views were amazing. The hike ends at Nocelle, a small town at the top of Positano, and then he walked the long road back home.

    (The walk is apparently not for anyone with severe fear of heights or vertigo...that's why I didn't go. I went back and forth for months whether I was going to do it. But I'm glad I didn't. Tim said there were definitely parts where I would have panicked.)

    Even though Tim was exhausted, we went out for our last Positano dinner. We split a cheese and meat plate with jelly, lobster pasta, and grilled sea bass. Yum!
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    Patti Conrad

    Beautiful and scary!!

    10/7/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Good job, Timmy!!

    10/7/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Cool.

    10/7/17Reply
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  • Day27

    Day 27 - Positano Beach Day

    October 6, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Today was a much needed relaxing beach day. After breakfast on the terrace, we climbed down to the beach. We got some chairs and laid out for about 6 hours. Tim went for a long swim, which included a small cave swim and jumping off of some rocks. I just read all day! We had an awesome lunch on the beach - mussels and clams for me and sea bass for Tim! After the beach, we hiked back up to our room for a few hours of more relaxing, this time in bed with the beautiful views of the cliffside outside our terrace. We finished the day with a wonderful dinner - prosciutto and melon to start, spaghetti with clams for Tim, spaghetti with shrimp for me, and tiramisu for dessert! Yum!Read more

    Kelly Thompson

    Cool pic!

    10/6/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Nice.

    10/7/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Looks relaxing.

    10/7/17Reply
    Kathy Youngquist

    So apparently it’s warm enough for swimming and sun bathing?! You’re living the dream!

    10/7/17Reply
     
  • Day26

    Day 26 - Positano Arrival!

    October 5, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Wow! Positano is stunning.

    After checking out of our bed and breakfast in Anacapri, we caught the (wrong) bus down to the Capri marina (followed by a taxi to the right place) to catch our quick 25 minute ferry to Positano on the Amalfi Coast. After we arrived at the Positano port, I saw our arrival message from our host, telling us to take a taxi or bus to the B&B. I looked the address up on Apple Maps and it said 0.3 miles, 7 minute walk...

    Tim gets a quick shot of espresso (bad idea!!) and we begin the walk (with about 30 pounds on our backs). Well...this 0.3 mile walk is essentially a hike up 400+ steep steps into a completely vertical cliff in the blazing sun. With no water. And without the phone navigation working, so I was pretty sure we were also lost. BUT...then we saw the B&B sign at our entrance...we made it!!

    Our awesome host gave us some water and let us settle in. This is the best place we have stayed by far. Our view of the cliffs and the buildings and the water is amazing. Of the 4 rooms in the B&B, ours is the only one with a private terrace. We also have a sitting area on the main terrace. The views are incredible.

    We caught our breath, changed into our bathing suits, and walked down the 400 (now easy) steps to the Fornillo beach. We had an awesome lunch on the beach, then got some chairs and an umbrella. I started a new book, Tim went for a quick swim, and we laid out in the sun for a couple of hours. We returned to our room to relax for awhile and to rinse off. Then we had some wine on our beautiful terrace and got ready for dinner. Our dinner was at a beautiful restaurant on the side of a cliff (as everything is here) - a bottle of Amalfi white wine, a pear and walnut salad to split, sea bass for Tim, and clam pumpkin ravioli for me, followed by tiramisu and decaf espresso. Amazing.

    Now, back to my book!! Goodnight!!
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    Ellen Wood

    Beautiful pics!! Glad you are having such a great time!

    10/5/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    It looks like "The."

    10/5/17Reply
    THJMonterey

    Absolutely lovely !!

    10/5/17Reply
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  • Day25

    Day 25 - Capri - Best Day Ever

    October 4, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    Today was absolutely the best day ever. And Capri is absolutely the best place ever. It is basically a giant island made up of giant cliffs and giant rock formations that stick hundreds of feet out of the Mediterranean Sea, with views of the Bay of Naples, the Sorrento Coast, the Amalfi Coast, Mount Vesuvius, and, at some points, just water as far as the eye can see. About three quarters of the island is beautiful empty cliffs while the other quarter manages to squeeze a couple of small towns - Capri, down on the water, and Anacapri - up in the cliffs.

    We started our day by walking the short but steep walk from our beautiful bed and breakfast down to Anacapri town (with a friendly kitten) to catch the chair lift to the top of Mount Solaro. I am terrified of heights and was terrified to get on this single-person chair lift to the highest point on the island. I didn't do well. I gripped the railing and either stared at the cliff on my left or closed my eyes the entire way...not once looking at the beautiful view of the water and town and cliffs on my right. Once we made it to the top, we got off and walked around and I got to actually take in the beautiful scenery. It was amazing. I am so glad we took this trip in September/October because there were not that many people on the mountain. I imagine in the summer there is barely room to stand, let alone grab a seat overlooking the cliffs. We had a cold beer and relaxed and I built up the strength to take the lift down instead of hiking all the way down. The ride down was beautiful.

    Once we got back down, we had a quick pizza, and took the crazy bus down to the Capri marina for a private boar tour around the island. I'm not sure what to say about this tour except that it was the absolute highlight of the trip. I can't think of much else I've ever done to top it. We spent three hours in a private boat, riding around the entire island of Capri, sipping wine and beer, swimming, and taking in the views. We went into several caves, swam in caves and grottos, and saw the island in the best way imaginable. The white grotto was amazing, with it's natural Madonna statue. The green grotto was beautiful, and Tim was able to scale the rocks inside and dive in. But nothing could ever compare to the blue grotto.

    I had read so much about the blue grotto this past year. I knew it would be amazing. But everything I read said that you paid a small boat a lot of money to take you inside the grotto with a dozen other boats, turn you around, and you're out in 2 minutes. I had also read that, before and after hours (9-5), the boats and the cops leave and sometimes the locals just swim in. I had wanted to do this and had told everyone I would do this for the past year. Well that's how our boat trip ended. He dropped us off near the entrance and told us to have fun. We swam over to the tiny opening (I have no idea how any boat can fit in), we pulled ourselves in on the rope, and we saw the most beautiful thing imaginable. The entire cave is lit up with a glowing bright blue water that I can't even describe. We spent a long time in the cave, swimming and climbing and diving off rocks. It was unreal.

    Then we rode back to the marina, dried off, changed, had a good pasta dinner, and now we're ready for bed. What a day!
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    Kelly Thompson

    So cute!!❤️❤️❤️

    10/4/17Reply
    Kelly Thompson

    Sounds amaaaaaazing!

    10/4/17Reply
    Tim Corallo

    !!!

    10/4/17Reply
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  • Day24

    Day 24 - Capri!

    October 3, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Wow...Capri is beautiful! We left Naples this morning for the short ferry ride to Capri. Then we hailed a cab from the ferry port and rode in the back of the open convertible up through the mountains and along the windy rode to our Airbnb in the highlands of Anacapri. We decided to stay up here in the quieter Monte Solaro area instead of down in the crazy packed Capri, filled with day trippers. Our Airbnb, which is actually a family owned bed and breakfast, is probably the highest point that we could be staying, with gorgeous views of the cliffs, the Mediterranean Sea, and the island of Ischia. We ordered delivery salad and pasta and set up on the pool deck for a late lunch. Then we walked down the steep hill (about a 5 minute walk down...but about 20 minutes back up) to the Anacapri town. We walked around for a little bit and then returned to the pool deck for the beautiful sunset. We decided not to go back down for dinner, since I am still not feeling great. We are going to have another relaxing night and hopefully I will be feeling better tomorrow to explore the island.Read more

    Patti Conrad

    Wow!! That is beautiful.

    10/3/17Reply
     
  • Day23

    Day 23 - Kayaking Naples

    October 2, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Well...the slightly sore throat that I've had for a couple of days turned into a full blown cold overnight. But I decided to push through and make it to our 11:00 kayaking tour that we had scheduled. And I'm so glad I did! We were the only people on the tour. We basically paid less than it costs to rent a kayak for an hour in a tourist beach town for a 3 hour kayak tour around the cliffs and caves of Naples with a private guide. We were the only people in the water and had an amazing view of the entire Bay of Naples. It was awesome and beautiful - definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far. But by the time it was over, I had no energy left for the underground tunnel tour we wanted to do so we went back to the Airbnb for a much needed rest day. We napped, ate pizza, and watched Netflix all day and night. It's been great. Hopefully I feel better tomorrow as we set off to Capri!!Read more

    THJMonterey

    What a fabulous trip! So happy for you both. 👍❤️

    10/2/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Very cool.

    10/2/17Reply
    Patti Conrad

    Hope you feel better.

    10/2/17Reply
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