When we plan a family holiday…..there are so many factors to consider….specially with my son’s schedule……husband’s 8 weeks’ notice…….last but not least, school holidays…….(I am the only flexible one, lol! ) but it does come together in the end.
I used to be the “principal planner” but not anymore. Now, usually my husband takes charge right from looking for a holiday to planning the nitty-gritty, I might help him out if needed (do the “chotu” bits)……so, that leaves me completely relaxed.
Once we are off and away, we always end up actually enjoying ourselves, a great achievement for us!!!! (lol again!!!). We always choose a warm and sunny place….we try anyway and have been lucky up until now…..I get in touch with the Creator before we leave and I pass on my list of requests (including lovely weather and a safe and stress free trip) and it usually works…….
And, oh yeah…we always end up in “out of the norm” spots… I mean, we don’t aim for Paris / New York / London / Madrid…..we try and steer clear of big cities and popular places. For us holiday is a time to relax and do just that……we hate queues and crowds……so, we end up in Gibraltar or Pompeii or Cayeux sur Mer (yeah, I know most of you would not of heard of this one, it is a small seaside village in France)…..
Last October, we travelled to Italy. We landed at Naples airport and our hotel was in Pompeii. Didn’t know much about the region except what we had read in history at school (yes that was ages ago, another era, LOL). My older one had done it all recently and knew most things and wished we would keep up with him.
Anyway, we landed at Naples and to our surprise, just walked through as if we had come on a local flight, no immigration and no checks whatsoever. That was the beginning of out relaxed Italian experience, relaxed being the operative word (except for the drive on the hillside, round the hairpin bends, will come to that later, oh yes, another LOL!!!)
My husband had hired a car for the trip but as we reached quite late at night, I had insisted on getting a chauffeured car from the hotel to pick us up from the airport (that is me. carefulness personified, wonder where I get that from!). In retrospect, I needn’t have bothered, it was the easiest and safest drive of the trip and the airport was lively and bustling even at that time (read: restaurant and other services were open).
Reached Pompeii at midnight and for people who do not know, Pompeii is a very small town. We had not eaten. As you probably know, food on European short haul flights is usually a couple of dry slices of bread with cold cuts. Occasionally, if you are lucky, you might get a vegetarian option of cheese sandwich. The driver dropped us off at a small family –run pizzeria (yes at 12.00!!!), they were closing up but actually stopped for us and made such delicious pizzas, fresh from the oven and served it with a SMILE J . (People living in the UK will know what I mean). It was so good that we actually ended up there quite a few times.
(Italians are relaxed and friendly and hospitable except when they are behind the wheel J. Then for some reason, their personality changes and they become very aggressive, don’t as k me why)
Pompeii is a good base if you want to visit the Amalfi Coast and not spend a bomb and Amalfi Coast is a destination, which you should visit at least once in your lifetime if you can. It is beautiful….Sorrento. Positano, Ravello…you cannot stay away. We braved the hairpin bends and crazy drivers a few times to enjoy the pleasures of Amalfi.
It is very picturesque and the views from the hills to the ocean are amazing and in the evenings (read late night), it is lively and vibrant and bright with plenty of shopping and restaurants to choose from….or just chill at a roadside bistro with a drink and watch humanity pass by……
In and around Pompeii you have the famous ruins of Pompeii, well worth a visit if you have the time and energy and if you are interested you could catch a show (play or concert) at this venue. I am sure it would be a beautiful experience. We did not as we had our little one with us. Also, there is the lesser known “cousin” of Pompeii, the ancient city of Herculaneum, which is beautifully preserved as well. The volcanic ash has played a significant role in preserving these cities almost in their original state…..
A trip to the region would not be complete if you do not visit Mount Vesuvius. It is quite a bit of climb for people like us but once again totally worth it. A view of the crater and the panoramic view from the top make you forget your longish uphill trek. My advice would be to wear sensible shoes and the right sort of clothing and carrying lots of water. Actually that would apply to all the excursions. You do walk a lot. It is a good antidote for all the pizzas and gelato J
Before I recount our trip to Naples, I have to tell you our primary reason for choosing Naples (well at least my older one’s). We went to Naples “TO TASTE THE BEST NEOPOLITAN PIZZA IN THE WORLD” (LOL again). Anyway, so we had to make the pilgrimage. After much research, my older son decided on a pizzeria in Naples. It was in the centre of town down winding lanes and we walked and walked in the afternoon heat but once again, our efforts and my older ones thorough research paid off and the pizzas were indeed out of this world. So much so, that for a long time after we got back, my son and husband refused to even touch a pizza in the UK.
As we had our own vehicle, it was convenient to go wherever we wanted and whenever and also stop in tiny towns along the way. It gave us a lot of freedom and we could stop and walk around, have gelato at a local gelateria or have a cup of coffee but driving in Italy would not be everybody’s cup of tea.
All in all, it was a lovely experience. If asked about the positives, I would say, friendly people, fresh and cheap food (cheap if you ate where the locals do), lovely weather (even in October) and lots to see. On the down side, we didn’t have much choice for vegetarian food (halal was non-existent) and Italian drivers were a nightmare to contend with.