Hike to a Monastery

8 o’clock found me feelin’ fresh and ready to begin a relaxing Sunday. ¬†It felt great to wake up without an alarm and I knew we didn’t have any crazy plans for today and that felt pretty good as well ūüôā This morning started slowly as I caught up on last week’s episode of The Bachelorette (poor Blaine got stuck watching the last 45 minutes or so ūüėÄ ) ate about a million (3) apricots. Sometimes our landlord drops off some treats and yesterday we arrived home to a box full of apricots, plums, zucchini, and eggplant. ¬†The apricots are delicious!!

After this slow start, Dad, Quin, Blaine and I headed off to Carney Park for the afternoon.  Quin went to hang out at the pool and read;  Dad, Blaine and I went for a nice hike around the top of the crater in which the park sits. It was a pretty short hike and took less than 2 hours, but I loved it!

IMG_3662

 

From the bottom of the crater, you can see a monastery up on the ridge. ¬†It has been Dad’s goal for a while to hike up to it, so he finally got to check that off his list today! It was a fairly rough hike because:

  • There were no trail blazes. I’m really glad Dad was there because he got us to the top no problem, but if it had been just me and Blaine I think it would’ve been a¬†looong day
  • The trail consisted mostly of sand or loose soil, so when it got steep it was hard not to slide around
  • Some of the trails were practically straight up and I had to use my hands to climb up!
  • The path we took down wasn’t entirely clear so I managed to accidentally grab onto a thorn branch. Yowza!

We had some great views on the way up, although the monastery itself wasn’t anything to write home about

IMG_3663

 

IMG_3664It is still in use and is fenced off, so we couldn’t get very close or walk around to see the view of the bay. ¬†I’m really glad we went though, because it has been a while since I hiked and I loved the bonding time with my dad and boyfriend!

It took us about half the time to get down the crater than it did to get up, and when we got back to the car Dad decided to go read at the golf course club house and Blaine and I hit the pool. ¬†We didn’t stay very long because it was actually a little cold outside after swimming around! I love hot hot weather and I was sad that I wasn’t baking at the pool ūüė¶ Although somehow I still managed to get sunburn despite putting on sunscreen twice in the 3 hours we were outside. ¬†Boooo!

A question for you: Have you done anything recently that didn’t turn out how you expected but was still lots of fun? That’s definitely how today’s hike went for us!

 

Cruisin’ the Coast

A 5:15 wakeup call courtesy of thunder kicked off yesterday’s odd weather. It was a¬†huge thunderstorm, and while I’m usually all for them, Saturday’s storm actually made me jump a few times. Not the most relaxing way to start your weekend! Fortunately, we had to get up early anyway because we were going on a mini cruise! We had purchased tickets through the USO to take a ferry boat from Castellammare down past Sorrento to Positano and Amalfi. ¬†The ferry offers a stop at Positano and a stop at Amalfi and our group (Me, Quin, Blaine) decided to explore Amalfi since Q and I have been to Positano a few times. I didn’t take my camera on the boat because there are swim calls during the ride and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it unattended on the boat.

We were a little worried when we first started the cruise because it was still raining a bit and sitting in the cabin was making me a little seasick. ¬†My brother made friends with our ‘guide’ Roberto, and he wasn’t really feelin’ the cabin either. ¬†Luckily the sun came out and we moved to the upper deck, which was a better situation for all.

We stopped for a swim call in between Capri and Positano, which is my favorite part of the cruise. ¬†They lower some stairs into the water, but it’s more fun to jump off the platform on the side! The water is so salty, it’s the only place in the world where I can actually back float. We swam around the boat for about half an hour and then hopped back on to continue on our way.

When we got to Amalfi, the first thing we did was tour the church there.  It is incredibly beautiful.

It was relatively small so it didn’t take us too long, but it was in amazing condition and the art and architecture of the cathedral really succeeds in moving your soul. After our little tour, we wandered the streets looking for gifts for Blaine’s family and Quin’s girlfriend. ¬†Quin succeeded with a cute little ceramic octopus and a citrus perfume, but Blaine didn’t find anything that suited his fancy ūüė¶ Next time!

We only had about 2 hours in the city, so we grabbed a quick granita, which is like a slushie, and then headed back to the harbor to catch our boat.  While we were waiting we watched a couple of guys playing water polo in kayaks! I had never seen that before and it was really fun to watch the pickup game.

Our ride home was a little choppier as another wave of rain passed over the boat.  The water was rough and sitting under the cabin again made me reaaally uncomfortable.  I thought I actually was going to get sea sick, but then the rain stopped and we moved up top again, so I dodged that bullet! Thank goodness. After a 14 hour day and some rough seas, we finally made it back home and I was quite grateful to be sitting on my very stable and unmoving couch.

We watched the movie Stand By Me last night, which Blaine and I had never seen. ¬†I really liked it! I’m not sure about Blaine, I think he fell asleep for a bit ūüėõ But it was a really cute story about four 12 year old boys who were learning about their place in the world and were finding out who they were; your basic coming of age story. It’s based on a book by Stephen King and is a great watch.

 

Underground Naples

Yesterday Blaine and I went on a great adventure. ¬†Originally it was going to be me, Quin and Blaine but Q wasn’t feeling too well so he ended up staying at home. ¬†I was a little nervous about navigating the city on my own, but we had no problems! We left around 10, walked to the metro, and made it to our first stop sometime between 11 and 11:30. What was our first stop? The Santa Chiara cloisters!

IMG_3638It was a really beautiful area, I’m sure you know by now that I’m a sucker for any green space. The coolest part, though, was the hand painted tiles lining the entire courtyard on the benches and the columns. ¬†There were dozens of different scenes and the paint was still so vibrant and cheerful. ¬†It was a very peaceful place to be.

IMG_3641

We made a quick stop inside the museum and the gift shop. ¬†They were neat and there was an archeological area inside the museum where you could see the remains of an old Roman bath, but it wasn’t anything crazy. The courtyard itself definitely stole the show for us.

IMG_3649After taking in the cloisters, we headed towards our next stop: the Underground Naples tour! It was a pretty short walk, but instead of going off my Dad’s directions he had given me the night before (big mistake!) we followed a Google map I had printed. Google took us down a pretty shifty side street. It was covered in graffiti, which isn’t really unusual for Naples, but there were also broken chairs in the middle of the alley and Blaine and I had the pleasure of walking past a man¬†relieving himself in a corner. ¬†Welcome to Italy, Blaine!! Needless to say, we hurried through that alley and didn’t take that way back once we were finished.

We grabbed a quick pizza right by the start of the Underground tour and it was deeeelicious! I’m a creature of habit and ordered the eggplant pizza. ¬†I can’t get enough of the stuff!

IMG_0579It was fantastic and I ate way too much.  We still had a little time to kill after lunch before our tour, so we hopped across the street to get a much needed cappuccino. We asked for a little cocoa on top and it tasted like a full-on chocolate cappuccino. In other words, it was the perfect drink.

Properly fueled, Blaine and I headed to our tour, which we both highly recommend if you’re in Naples! We had a very knowledgable tour guide (she is Scottish but is studying archeology in Naples) and it’s always exciting to be sneaking around underground through little tunnels. You get a history of Naples from when the Greeks founded it up to just after the second World War. There is a planter of flowers in one of the underground aqueducts that is never watered. ¬†UV lamps are used and the soil is changed every once in a while, but the plants grow due to the near 100% humidity in the aqueduct. Pretty awesome! I also really enjoyed carrying my little candle through the tiniest tunnel and popping out in a cistern. ¬†That was amazing, although it was a tight squeeze at some points!

The tour isn’t all underground, though. ¬†We were also taken to an old theater where it is rumored Emperor Nero played a few times! All in all it took a little over an hour and a half and we loved every minute of it. We were pretty tired afterwards and by the time we made it home we were ready to pass out!

 

 

Ravello-ohhh

Yesterday Mom, Quin, Blaine and I went on a great day trip to Ravello. ¬†It’s about an hour and a half away, but it’s full of great views and ‘fun’ switchbacks. When we first arrived, we made a quick stop for the necessary provisions: cappuccini and pastries!

IMG_0577

I love me some cappuccini. After fueling up, we headed straight to the Ravello garden, which was¬†amaaazing. Ravello hosts an art and music festival during the summer, so the garden was all set up for concerts. I couldn’t imagine going to a concert with the mountains and the sea as a backdrop.

IMG_3616The garden had some really beautiful plants, but it was mostly the view that made it so great.  We spent a lot more time than we had originally intended wandering around the small area.

IMG_3628Blaine let me play with his awesome new Nikon camera, but my iPhoto didn’t want to convert the photos so I don’t have any to share with you all ūüė¶ Maybe next time!!

After enjoying the garden we headed to the church that was right across the piazza.  The church is incredible because it still has some Byzantine structures inside!

IMG_3630There are two large lecterns that are from the Byzantine era, complete with gold mosaic and lion-shaped column bearers. We didn’t spend long there, but it was impressive¬†nonetheless. Only the boys and I went in the church, my mom got a head start on some ceramic shopping and we met her there afterwards. Momma bought me a beautiful little olive oil container for my birthday! So I have to wait 6 months to get it, but still. ¬†I’m gettin’ it! The ceramics were stunning, but then again, I’m also a sucker for ceramics soooo.

We hit a pizzeria for a quick lunch and I strayed from my normal eggplant pizza choice to try a potato and sausage pizza.  It was pretty yummy, but I prefer my eggplant!

IMG_0578

 

 

 

Virgil’s Tomb

Except it’s not really. Yesterday Blaine and I took it easy for his first day in Italy and decided to visit Virgil’s tomb. It’s actually just a little park where Leopardi is buried but the plants in the garden are based on varieties found in Virgil’s writings.

IMG_3572It was awesome! I liked it because it’s right off the Mergellina metro stop, so it was incredibly easy for the two of us to navigate on our own. It’s a small green area with a winding path that leads about a third of the way up, then you can take a few staircases the rest of the way to get an incredible view of the city and the bay. You can also walk through part of an old¬†aqueduct!

IMG_3587I thought that was awesome. ¬†There was another little tunnel after a break in the first section, but we didn’t go in it because it was pitch black and we didn’t have a flash light ūüė¶ Bummer! I totally would’ve gone in.

After soaking up the views and admiring the greenery and old old marble, we walked back down to the city and wandered around until we found a waterside cafe to grab a bite to eat.

IMG_3598We ended up stopping at a place called Orange and we split a Sicilian pizza, mostly because it had my favorite topping: eggplant! Yummmm

IMG_3601Our waitress was really nice, although she did literally laugh at my attempted Italian and said it was okay if we spoke to her in English. ¬†Just a tad embarrassing, I thought I was doing alright! Lunch didn’t take too long and we headed back home pretty quickly afterward. ¬†We had intended on getting some gelato or something sweet after lunch, but we hit it right during reposo so 90% of the shops were closed on our walk back to the metro.

We were pretty wiped by the time we hoofed it back to the house, but we found out we were going out to dinner that night with some of my parent’s friends so we had to rally just a little bit later. We went to a really great restaurant called Osteria DOC down by the lungomare and it was fantastic! We had a fixed menu so I don’t even know what we ate half the time, they just kept bringing out the food. ¬†I don’t think it gets much better than that.