"Okay...hold on, I'll come with you."
Ten minutes later John was no more awake than when I had informed him I was leaving but he holds my hand and successfully navigates the air conditioned hallways with me to our daily continental breakfast. Breakfast is one of the highlights of the hotel on base. Compared to the military-run inns I've stayed at before, this place is five star. In our room we have a spacious living area with tile floors and charming Italian-themed paintings. We also have a kitchenette which includes stove top, dishwasher, microwave, full size fridge, sink, and various dishes and cookware. Definitely enough to sustain ourselves and make meals of our own if we so choose. Though I don't see that happening anytime soon.
I grab two strawberry and cream cheese muffins, some apple juice and an orange and meet John at our usual table. We've been doing this for three days now so we've got a nice little routine going. He's already cracking and peeling his hard-boiled eggs while drinking his first espresso. First of many, that is. If John has taken to anything Italian it's definitely the caffeine packed shots of coffee or cafe.
John glances at me and laughs;
"You're just ready to go, aren't you?"
"Um, yeah...pretty much!" I've stuffed nearly half my muffin in my mouth so it comes out as a garbled semi-confirmation. John understands me anyways, one of the perks of being married I suppose. Today we've planned to go into town for the first time and I'm bouncing with excitement. We have finally remedied our awful jet lag( I swear they put drugs in that airplane food to make me sleep the way I did). I've been up for about two hours by now and I'm more than ready.
We finish our breakfast and hurry back to our room. I pack my backpack with everything we might need while John finishes getting ready and then briefly searches the internet for a map of the area.
"Why don't we just go to the front desk and ask them the best way? They probably have maps and are used to this sort of thing."
We are planning on walking into town. Seeing it as an opportunity to enjoy more of Italy and not pay for a taxi.
The front desk girls balk at our plan to walk into town and inform us that there is a bus stop just outside of gate that is very cheap and easy to ride since it's about five miles into town. I don't want to but John convinces me, logic on his side and we head for the proper gate to take the bus.
Five minutes into our walk John asks about my feet. I've chosen some very flattering strappy sandals as I know we'll be taking a lot of pictures. I assure him it will be fine and that I need to build up some 'summer calluses' anyways. He gives me a disapproving look but changes the subject.
We get out of gate with no problem and head to the bus stop, it was simple to find and we couldn't have waited more than five minutes before our bus shows up. It is two euro per person to ride the bus, and your ticket lasts two hours, so if you need to switch busses or you're going for a short trip, you don't have to pay multiple times. It's a great value and very clean and simple for public transportation. It seems in this country they value eco-friendly measures much more than in the states.
We hop off the bus at the stop the front desk girls suggested and start walking. We're allowing ourselves to wander and though it's fun for the moment, I know it will frustrate me if we do not form a plan for later. John is eating up the idea of getting lost in the city but with neither of us speaking the language and having no phones to reach the outside world, I am not as enthused with the idea.
We hobble down a narrow stone-lined street and John darts into the first open door he sees.
"You probably can't just walk in there!" I yell. It is a large wooden door that opens up into a courtyard of sorts with statues and balconies and trees and bright green foliage. It's gorgeous and picturesque and just the kind of thing you hope to see in Italy.
A few pictures from the 'Teatro Olympico'.
"Take out your camera!" I prod John, worries of trespassing gone from my mind as I notice others wandering in.
"Fine, if you want to be tourist-y this early on in the trip..." John trails off opening up my pack to retrieve his camera. We have a big thing against being "tourist-y". Tourists were always awful in Alaska filling up our favorite restaurants and hiking up prices on nearly everything. We know how annoying it is so we try to avoid it the best we can wherever we go. It's proving to be a bit harder here.
After taking a few pictures we walk out of the beautiful courtyard and notice a sign in English that we missed earlier perched just outside the door we came in. "TEATRO OLYMPICO" it boasts with a brief historical description. Just the sort of thing we were hoping for, randomly wandering into historical landmarks.
We continue to walk for about ten minutes and come upon a large cobble-stone looking bridge. It's beautiful, stretching itself over a aquamarine-colored river and lined with sunwashed buildings and greenery. We stop to admire and take a few more pictures.
The gorgeous bridge we happened upon
early in the day.
We walk some more, for about half an hour, after initially entering what we assumed was town and passing a few shops and restaurants, and one rather large government building. We wander in and out of side streets, and down alleyways, even through some peoples yards but no one stops us. By this point I'm getting a bit irritated with the randomness and worried that we're lost so John leads us back to a main road and down towards a large roundabout.
My feet are beginning to hurt and I'm starting to feel hungry so John suggests going to the Italian grocery he had spotted a ways back. We enter the Interspar and it's bustling with people as any grocery store is on a Saturday morning. We peruse the aisles and marvel at the food choices and prices. It's huge and everything looks delicious.
"Hey, I bet they have your Kinder here!" John waggles his eyebrows at me and smiles.
"Oh my gosh, I almost forgot!"
We locate the candy and sure enough they have my favorite chocolates. Though they are called a different name here in Italy, the picture is the same so I know it's them. They don't sell it in America so it's been years since I've had it and it takes every bit of adult self-control I posses not to rip into the packaging right there. Instead we grab a giant bottle of water and go to pay. We pay for our goods( a mere two euro and some change) and head out of the Italian super-centre.
We stop at a bench so that I can open up my candy and we can hydrate a bit. John had never had Kinder before and agrees it ruins all American chocolate and I feel accomplished.
When I was in high school, my mom had a friend who
would travel to Europe and bring these
I've craved them ever since.
My feet have swollen while we are sitting and John suggests we head back the way we came. I agree.
About a ten minute trek takes us back to the small shopping area we entered into and we stop at a quaint Trattoria for some pizza and drinks. I order a slice of margherita, and John asks for a slice of whatever the man who's helping us likes. They crisp it up for us in their large stone oven and serve it to us warm and fresh, wrapped in paper so that we can walk with it. Instead we sit and eat. John's pizza has tuna and onion and he gobbles it up as do I my cheese and we smile at each other. Another amazing meal in Italy. We have yet to be disappointed in the food anywhere.
A shot of the food selection at the Trattoria.
Trattorias are small restaraunts that cannot be
classified as cafes because
they do not serve coffee.
John wants to continue exploring but I can feel blisters forming from my shoes and have been sure to vocalize it for approximately the last hour or so. John makes an executive decision for us to head back to the bus stop. We hop on the bus that took us downtown and ride it for about ten minutes. As we ride we realize we did not even penetrate halfway into the cities core and that we were merely on the outskirts. We are not disappointed but now know to get off the bus a bit later. Everyone but us gets off the bus and it has yet to turn around when the driver motions John forward and through a brief conversation of broken Italian and English lets him know that we need to take a different bus back to base as the busses here do not run in circles like they do in the states. We thank him and get off only to immediately get on the next bus going the opposite way.
We ride back through town while John converses with an elderly Italian man with eyebrows longer than most men's hair, and get off at our stop to go back through the gate to post. I complain the entire five minute walk to the hotel as I can feel the skin on my feet peeling up where my shoes rub them and John tries his best to be supportive when really he's disappointed we didn't get to stay out more.
Overall it was a successful day in my book and I promised John the next time we go I'll wear my running shoes. So, what did we learn today kids? Calzature è Fondamentale.
Footwear is key.