Once Christmas was over, it was time for a getaway. Walks around this beautiful city, eating wonderful Italian food…. and drink! Trouble is; I gained weight so easily, so enthusiastically, that now it’s time to cut back.
The city itself is not the cleanest; yes, garbage disposal is a big problem for this city. But the people are proud of their appearance; open, smiling and friendly. Especially if you make even the slightest effort to speak Italian . . .no matter how horrible your pronunciation! A ‘grazie’ and a ‘prego’ or two can go a long way! Children are cherished.
Castel Nuevo is fun to explore; as is Spacanapoli; several streets that join to make one long one that divides Naples in half. You can find everything there; souvenirs, clothes, tiny jam-packed grocery stores, motorcycle repair shops, you-name-it!
Mount Vesuvius is a half hour drive away after spending a half hour (at least!) fighting your way out out of the city first, through unbelievable traffic! Don’t think I saw a single car without scratches, dints . . . or worse!
Pompeii, which was destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, has only partially been revealed. It was first discovered in 1738. Serious archeological research began only during the 19th century. It’s a fantastic place to visit, but a visit to the National Museum is a must, to look at the relics of the past; from silverware, vases made from glass blowers, clothes, mosaics, frescos, even children’s toys; all the things that were so well preserved for nearly two thousand years, buried under layers of ash and lava.
Colorful. That’s how I would describe this city that is so very much alive; day and night.
Yes–I did go out at night; often to the Piazza Bellini, which was practically at my hotel’s doorstep, letting the atmosphere of music, laughing crowds and playing children seep into my weary bones. (I walked for at least 3 hours a day around Naples, sightseeing.)
How wonderful to be able to enjoy a glass of vino rosso and a pizza (which can be had for just 5 Euros and is great!) any time of day or night!
When I told people I was going to Naples, Italy, they shook their heads, frowning, looking at me as though I was more than a bit daft, wondering why on earth I wanted to visit such a ‘dangerous’ place, murmuring things about the Mafia under their breath . . . Was I really that naïve? Was a trip to Napoli a bad move? I made sure I had a money belt to keep my valuables close to me at all time, then decided to take all the necessary precautions; not to walk the streets of such a menacing place at night . . . pickpockets and muggers, I was ready for you. Trouble was, I didn’t find any. Not a single one!
The little motor bikes, scooters, they call them, are a bit of a hazard though. Beep-beeping away, weaving and darting their way between the crowds, coming at you from all directions in the narrowest of paths or the widest of streets, can be a bit disturbing at first. After a day or two, they just become part of the scenery.
From my room’s little terrace, was a breathtaking view of Mount Vesuvius that is still considered to be active (last blast in 1914 . . . a second or two by geological standards) Turning the other way, we had a beautiful view of the city . . . a fascinating city of contrasts of modern, old and ancient.
This summer when I told friends I was going to Kenya, they thought I was crazy: ‘But it will be so hot in the summertime!’ After all, Kenya’s in Africa, right? Right. But Nairobi and the surrounding nature reserves are at elevations of about 2000 meters (over 6000 ft.) above sea level: Morning outings required pullovers and jackets, and the temperatures rarely rose above 21 C / 70 deg. Fahrenheit. We covered 2200 km (1400 miles) during our weeks’ adventures.
We left Nairobi at dawn and stopped first for a breathtaking view of the Great Rift Valley:
Then we headed for the Masai Mara, a huge reserve famous for its people, the Masai, who are shepherds; the men that is; the women do EVERYTHING else, including building their homes!
The countryside is vast and breathtaking.
And the ‘sausage trees’ (the hanging fruit is edible) are an amusing phenomenon.
But what makes Masai Mara special is the wealth of animals. As long as we stayed in our little buses, we risked nothing. The animals just went about their business. But if you put a foot on the ground; you just might be somebody’s lunch, if you happen to cross a hungry lion’s path. Or a gnu or water buffalo ready to charge.
These long-necked beauties were my personal favorites:
Sometimes we were the ones being watched:
Would you please stop staring at me?
And who could blame them?
The strangest creatures of all were on four wheels!
As we were almost on the equator, evening fell fast at 18:30 (6:30 PM).
But since our days often began at dawn, we didn’t mind.
My favourite lodge was one entirely built on stilts. Around it was a watering hole. As night fell, we were able to observe elephants and water buffalo coming to drink.
Yes. Kenya is truly marvelous.
How wonderful to be able to jump on a train, get out a few hours later and find oneself in a different world. No cars, buses or motorbikes; just boats!
Boats delivering supplies to grocery stores, police boats, ambulance boats skimming down canals, sirens squealing causing tourist-crammed gondolas to pitch and turn. Other tourists look down from an overhead bridge and grin,laugh. The water calms; it’s the gondola tourists’ turn to laugh at themselves.
How wonderful it is to wander, cross a bridge, only to find it is a dead end. You turn around, try to retrace your steps and it is impossible.
Suddenly the air is filled with a wonderful mixture of smells; pasta? pizza? seafood? You put your map away and follow your nose. Ahhhh! You find yourself on a warm sun-filled terrace and receive an equally warm welcome. Easing gratefully into the proffered seat, you order, sit back, relax, and watch the world go by.
A few minutes later, you are served a slightly chilled glass of vino rosso.Shortly after follows a plateful of the most wonderful seafood pasta you have ever eaten.
Then alas, it is time to go. You wander down to the vaporetto (boats that serve as buses) stop and take a trip across the water, to enjoy a waterfront view of this city of secrets.
Then your vaporetto winds its way back toward town, through the Grand Canal.
Ohmygosh! You see the name of the vaportetto stop next to your hotel! You elbow your way through the crowd to clamber off before it roars on to the next stop. Soon you are back at your cozy little hotel, with its own little terrace.