Sunday, July 14, 2002

Wow - 23 comments must be a record! Thanks to everyone for your good wishes on my engagement - after 14 hours of travel yesterday, it was nice to come home and read such nice notes!

The rest of our vacation was really just wonderful. Careful, but not overzealous planning really paid off in this instance, as all the travel between places went smoothly and our hotels turned out to be absolutely lovely. The only "lowlight" of the trip would probably be the overnight train from Nice to Rome, basically because we couldn't get a first-class sleeper and had to ride in a couchette with four other people. Also because the train was ancient, with no air conditioning and no bar car. I think the hours-old engagement "high" was the only reason I survived that leg of the trip!

I don't think I am going to do the whole travelogue right now, because I have about a billion things to do here. Laundry, supermarket, etc. And I'd like to get that stuff done in time to enjoy a little bit of the weekend left before going back to work tomorrow. Just a few highlights: we ate like kings in France, thanks to Ryan's father. And I now have a new favorite cheese - St. Felicien. It's a soft, runny cheese that comes in a little crock and is completely yummy. We also had several fantastic meals at Michelin-star restaurants. Yummmmmm!

As for Italy, we didn't really love Naples, so it was good that we didn't spend much time there. But the Amalfi Coast was gorgeous, and we were really pleased with the place we stayed - the Hotel Onda Verde. We were really pleased to have stayed there, in tiny Marina di Praia, rather than in "bustling" Positano or Amalfi. It was quiet and beautiful, and we had an absolutely delicious meal at a little restaurant just a few steps away from the beach. And Capri was just heavenly, and the Caesar Augustus
was even more beautiful than it's website photos. Again, we were glad to have stayed there in Anacapri, rather than down in Capri Town, which is a bit too busy for a relaxing vacation - great to visit town, but nice to escape to the quiet hotel afterwards.

Some oddities we noted: Even at a really expensive full-service hotel, we couldn't find an iron anywhere. Laundry service, yes. Iron your own clean but wrinkled clothes? No way! Kind of annoying. Also, they seem to have a caulking problem in Italy. Even in the priciest place, the shower/tub leaked enough to get the floor wet. Outside the hotels, it was frustrating to have the cabs try (often successfully) to rip us off by charging more than the meter or agreed-upon price. We also got to learn the term "coperto," which refers to the charge (around 2 bucks where we were) per person for the tablecloth, cutlery and bread at a restaurant. That is on top of the 10-15% service charge. Not sure why they break it out like that - we just found it irritating but probably wouldn't have if it had been all lumped together.

Anyway, those were very small prices to pay for a really beautiful vacation. We have hundreds (nearly 700!) digital photos go go through, and once we do, I think we'll be making a little vacation website somewhere. I'll save the detailed descriptions until then, and leave you with one photo from my camera (most of the rest of them are on Ryan's). This was the sunset from our private terrace our last night on Capri. Hmm, maybe I can make it really really big and put it up on my wall!

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