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Pleasant Road Trip

by on August 18, 2012

We’re back into the heat and traffic of Rome, after a very nice trip to Sorrento.  It’s south of Naples, on the coast overlooking the Mediterranean. We stayed in a very nice B&B on the hill above town, with a beautiful view of the sea, the Bay of Naples, and Mt. Vesuvius (in the distance)



Renee especially liked the “B” part of “B&B”… namely, someone else cooked breakfast!  



The kids liked the “P” part… the pool with an awesome view of the valley.



The pool was especially refreshing after a rough train trip… the small, creaky local train broke down for 25 minutes in the middle of the track in the hot sun, and with standing room only in the cars.  Good thing we had lots of water, and no, we did not share with anyone!


The big attraction in the area is Pompeii…  everyone warned us that it was going to be very hot and dry, but when you’re in the neighborhood, how can you not go there?  We carried lots of water and brought umbrellas for shade.



The site is HUGE, and pretty amazing.  Giovanni our tour guide was a lot of fun.. there were a bunch of kids in our group so he skipped the red light district of town and told us fun stories that the kids enjoyed… like the archaeologists found that the town laundromat washed the laundry with pee, so everyone peed in the central urinal, and they therefore also imposed a tax on pee to pay for the whole thing!    🙂

The thing that wierded us all out the most, are the plaster casts of human bodies… they’re not the bodies themselves, rather casts made from the gaps in the hardened ash that were left by bodies that eventually deteriorated.



(That’s Giovanni with Renee… debating whether the person in the cast was tall or short)



And then of course that night we went into to the town of Sorrento and had gelato



One aside:  we’ve always heard about crazy drivers in Italy, but we hadn’t seen as much of that in Rome as we had expected.  I think that’s because all the crazy drivers went to Sorrento this week!  OMG, it was insanity!  There’s only one main road along the coast and through the town, but it’s only 2 lanes and totally packed with cars and buses and scooters.  The scooters are the worst… there must be a law that if you buy a scooter, you have to drive it as fast as you possibly can, in and out of traffic without regard for which lane you’re in or whether another scooter is coming right at you at 50mph.  I tried taking pictures but they don’t do it justice.

We figured out the real key to traffic and trying to cross the streets on foot…simply never, ever make eye contact with other drivers. Don’t look to see if a car is coming… just step out and assert your position. They’ll zoom past you but won’t hit you.



You’ve all gotten good insights into Alex from his (sometimes cryptic) blogging.  Anna doesn’t like blogging, so I have to give you the insights myself.  

For whatever reason, the kids really like to ask complex questions when we’re on long walks from one site to another.  It’s kind of hard to discuss the meaning of life when dodging cars and pedestrians, but that’s the way it’s worked out, and I’ve been trying hard to stretch their minds by not fudging the answers to their questions. So, here are a few gems from Anna that show how she’s reaching to get her head around the world:

1)  After visiting the Vatican, she asked “Daddy, have there every been any girl Popes?”  That led to a discussion about the Church’s view of women over the years, the difficulty of changing culture in a very large, conservative organization, the limits to the Pope’s power, etc.  But she wrapped it up with this question:  “Well I don’t understand, why would any girl want to belong to a church that doesn’t think girls are as good as boys?”

Aunt Ginny, I’ll let you tackle that one when we get back home!

2)  At Pompeii, we saw a tour bus with Cyrillic writing on the side and a web site with “.BY” domain name. Alex was intrigued to know what “.BY” is, and we found that it’s Belarus, formerly the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.  

We had already talked about the USSR on the trip, but this time the kids focused on the Socialist part. So we talked about what Socialist means, how it’s different from capitalism, how it’s worked or not worked over the years, etc.

Once again, Anna had the wrapping up question… and this is an exact quote:   “I don’t get it.  If you’re in a socialist country and doctors live in the same houses as shopkeepers, why would anyone spend all that money for school and work extra hard to be a doctor if you don’t get a nice house?  Why wouldn’t everyone just be a shopkeeper?”

Take that, Karl Marx!


Last aside:   I mentioned last week that we were reading Pinocchio as our bedtime book while in Italy. Well we had to put a stop to that. Wow, is that a strange and violent book!  The puppet kills the talking cricket with a shoe, etc.  We’ll watch the Disney movie when we get home.

So we’re back to Don Quixote, which is a little odd but at least has cute horsies and donkeys.  (Sancho Panza’s donkey has no name in the book, so the kids call him Donkey Hotey).  Anyway, I enjoyed this bit:

“He was more than fifty years of age, and quite tall and slender. His face was thin, his nose was long, his hair was turning gray”.

The truth finally comes out… I am Don Quixote!  Time to go tilting at windmills methinks.


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  1. Bobby youstra permalink

    That B&B looks so amazing! I wish I was there! Anyways, the reason I have not commented is because I was in the beach in Delaware

  2. The Vercruysse's permalink

    Kudos to Anna for her remark on why girls would want to be part of the Catholic church organization!
    This is the explanation the new archbishop to SF was giving on NPR last week (interview on the occasion of his appointment by the pope).: the males (priests) are the representatives of Jesus; the females are the brides of the church… really good pr to attract more females, if you ask me.

  3. Bill permalink

    I have some doctor friends that Anna can talk to about why they do what they do. The answer doesn’t revolve around money. There are some of us who would choose to do what we love to do than do rather than what would provide the largest possible paycheck. Some people get lucky and don’t have to choose.

  4. You go, Anna! Hope You had a fun trip!!
    Hey, speaking of pie, I think you parents should defiantly promise you a pie when you get back!!

  5. Aunt Ginny permalink

    Very insightful remarks from Anna. I never thought of the Church in that manner…possibly why I rebelled. Personally after the recent scandals I think it’s time to have the Church run by women!!!

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