Italian Vacation 2018

I didn't take my first trip on an airplane until I was married and in my 20's. The plane was delayed by six hours and we were only going from Oregon to Las Vegas. We almost could have driven there. Still, once I experience the thrill of take-off and seeing the country from 35,000 feet, I was hooked. I couldn't wait for another excuse to fly.

From the airplane

To this day, I'm much happier if I know when our next trip will be, even if it's months away. That's why we had a trip planned to go back to Italy before we even left when we visited last year.

Our son is serving in the U.S. Navy over there, and has room for us to stay with him. Since this was our second trip, we were a little better prepared for things like how long it actually takes to get there, what a bear jet lag is, and how completely insane the driving is in Italy. 

There is a lot about the area he lives in that we appreciated seeing again. For one, the grocery store on the base in Naples has ancient ruins underneath it, so there are windows in the floor with lighting in some of the aisles so you can see them. Definitely not something found where I usually shop.

Ruins under Navy grocery store

A couple of days after we arrived, we woke up at about 5 am to the sound of cow bells. We went out onto the balcony to see a herd of cows being moved right through the center of town and past my son's apartment. He said they typically do it every few months or so. We felt like gawky tourists until we looked around and saw that all the locals had come out to watch too!

Cows being herded through town

Our sailor had to work most of the time we were there, but he did take a week of leave so we could all go on an adventure together. We had visited Rome and Cinque Terre last year, so this time we decided to check out some other countries. It's pretty inexpensive to fly between countries in Europe, especially compared to the whopping price of a ticket there from the U.S.

I recently did a little ancestry research, along with a DNA test, and found out I'm mostly Scottish, Irish and English. I also discovered a castle that is still held by my family's clan in Scotland, so we decided on those countries to visit this time. We wouldn't have long in each area, but we'd at least get a taste.

After a three hour delay, we left Naples for Dublin. We had debated taking a formal tour, but our son (who spends many of his weekends country-hopping) has just been there a couple of weeks before, so he acted as our guide.

Dublin

We wandered around town the first day, visiting the famous Temple Bar (only from the outside), then we found a pub with good food and a live singer. 

On our second day in Dublin, we toured the Guiness Brewery and Jameson Distillery. Included in our ticket for Guiness was a pint in the bar at the top of the building. The 360 degree view was spectacular and both tours were very interesting.

Dublin from Guiness

We left Dublin for Glasgow. We chose it because it was closer to the castle, but next time we're in the area I'd like to visit Edinburgh. 

Glasgow

The second day we were there we took the train from Glasgow to Oban, then hopped the ferry out to the Isle of Mull, where the castle sits. We learned it's one of only four castles in Scotland still occupied by its clan. Like many of the sights we saw on our trip, it was covered in scaffolding for repairs, but the history was fascinating. 

Duart Castle

I bought a scarf with the clan dress tartan and one for my daughter with the hunting tartan. We got a snack in the tea room, and my son snuck back to the gift shop and bought me a necklace with the family crest. Yes, there were a few tears.

After the castle, we headed back to Oban. Our Airbnb overlooked a quilt shop, but my husband reminded me we were travelling light and couldn't pack fabric back to Italy. Sigh. Actually, it turns out we both had some harsh seasonal allergies in Oban, so no one was feeling up to it anyway. I did have a good laugh at these yarn-bombed posts though.

Yarn bombed posts in Oban Scotland

When we got back to Glasgow we were detoured by some protests, but found an interesting museum with a huge conservatory and a nice park. 

Peoples Museum in Glasgow Scotland

From Scotland we flew to London. After the rain in Scotland, we were happy to find some sunshine, and we all got sunburns.

London England

We took one of those red double-decker bus tours, which also included a boat tour on the Thames. We were able to see many of the big sights during our short time that way. 

The Tower Bridge London England

I knew it was happening before we left, but it was sad to see Big Ben surrounded by scaffolding and not chiming. 

Big Ben

Our next stop was back in Naples, where we took an extra day to visit Pompeii.

Painted walls in Pompeii

We didn't make it there last time, and it's something that was on my husband's short list. 

Pompeii

It rained like mad, but I'm so glad we went. It's definitely something you should see in person if the opportunity arises.

Ruins in Pompeii

After we got back to our son's apartment, we all crashed for a day before he had to go back to work.

The next couple of weeks were filled with my husband and I relaxing, eating, drinking cappuccino, and walking. In fact, there's a really, really good restaurant just a block or two away that serves Chinese, Japanese and Thai food. Yes, in Italy. They were closed the last couple of days we were there because the cook's wife was having their baby back in China, but we had lots of meals there. I also ate my weight in buffalo mozzarella. 

On our last couple of days we visited Gaeta again, which is a fun beach town, then we drove up into the hills. 

Itri and Gaeta

Some of my favorite views in Italy are up in those hills. Apparently I'm still an introvert, no matter where I go.

Hills in Italy

Obviously on the last day we had to say goodbye to our boy (who I may not see for a year and a half) and head home. We had made sure we had our seats booked on an airline we liked, and paid for upgrades, so the trip would be comfortable because we knew we'd be emotionally wrecked and tired. Yeah, things didn't exactly work out as planned.

Our flight out of Naples was delayed by one hour because there was an air traffic controllers strike in Germany, where we were connecting. That was all it took. After that the day was just one disaster after another. The highlights were getting stuck on a different airline, walking for literally four miles over the course of a couple of hours in the Frankfurt airport (my husband used his fitness watch to track) because we kept getting redirected, and taking a side trip to Iceland. On top of everything else, they lost one of our bags for a couple of days - the one that had our comfy bed pillows in it that we took along because we love them so much.

The sum-up is that we had a rough time getting home, but the trip was great and getting to spend time with our kid was worth it!

Castle in Itri