Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back on the wagon

I admit it, it happens from time to time, but I fell off the wagon on this whole blogging thing.  Life was awesome, I did cool stuff.  I intended to write my thesis.  I watched a lot of Criminal Minds instead.  I'm now convinced that most everyone I've ever met or have passed on the street is plotting to kill me in some manner that involved duct tape.  Tom went to Germany for approximately forever.  My mom came to visit.  My bestie, Julie, moved back to America.  We had a harrowing scuba-diving experience.  I met Tom in Germany.  I submitted a draft of my thesis.  My thesis chair destroyed it.  I read the massive comments with an equally massive glass of wine and decided it could all wait.  With procrastination, blogging became an immediate necessity.  Not unlike organizing my photos.  SUPER high priority.  Procrastination makes the strangest things seem really, really important.

I'll now include 1 sentence and 1 picture from the past 3 months of my life and then I'll get back on the wagon and we'll all pretend like this never happened.  Agreed?  Good.

1. Lots of wine in Dugenta, this little town about 45 minutes from Naples, with lots of good friends.  It's like Tuscany but closer and less expensive.  I call that a win.

3 liter bottles of prosecco, they will really change your life.

2. Cantina dell'Averno: Located in Naples, wonderful hosts, amazing 15-20 Euro lunch with unlimited wine.  We seem to buy two cases as an apology for spending 5 hours getting drunk for practically nothing.

Melissa and I revive a game from her childhood: use fish heads as puppets.  It was clearly still as much fun as in her youth!

3. Julie left: Julie went back to America, which we celebrated/mourned over her favorite ristorante with almost all of our closest friends around.  It seems sad each time I think of her not being here but I'm sure that she's having fun being back in our homeland!

4. I sort of wrote my thesis.  No pictures to document that this event ever actually occured.

5. Relatives!  My cousin and his wife spent one day in Naples on their cruise through the med.  I toured them around Naples, took them out to an authentic Italian trattoria, and brought the most absurdly large bouquet I've ever purchased in my life.  Three people + this huge bouquet barely fit in our elevator!
Paul, Cara and I in Downtown Naples!

5. My mom came to Italy for 2 weeks!  Because she is my mom and this whole "one sentence per event" rule was of my own making, I'm breaking it.  I'd say I'm sorry, but this is my mom we're talking about.  She rates more than 1 sentence! 

We started off in Rome, dragging my bleary-eyed mother around.  "Keep going, mom!  You can do it!"  (She did, hilariously, doze off for about 3 seconds at dinner her first night.  Tom and I laughed for about 2 seconds and then woke her up and promptly requested the check)  Once back in Naples, we let her rest, strolled around our neighborhood, ate gelato (introducing her to the miracle of life that is Kinder gelato.  Seriously, it's amazing), and just chatted.  We saw super old stuff at Ercolano, went up to Tuscany, putzed around Rome, had a lovely lunch on the beach in Positano, and Tom and I got horrifically ill.  It was at this point, with a fever and the most horrific stomach virus man has ever known in a hotel in the pouring rain in Tuscany, that my mom, the retired nurse, really kicked it up a notch.  We watched old movies, the entire third season of Downton Abbey (seriously, Downton?  Seriously??  We just broke up.  But we may get back together.  But I'm still really mad at you.  It's going to require a lot of flowers to make this right between us), and just hung out.  Upon return to the US, my mom reported that she particularly loved that the medicine aisle of the commissary (our grocery store on the base) has a glass floor with Roman ruins in it.  She couldn't stop laughing about how the nail polish remover was on a shelf above 2,000 year old pots.
Mommy and me time while we wait for lunch in Rome.  The enormous sign behind us is inadvertent advertising.  I promise.  And the third glass of wine is obviously for Tom, who is taking the picture.  We'd never have 3 glasses of wine for 2 people.  Ever...

6. Tom spent 2 weeks in Germany while I was horrifically ill.  After a trip to the ER, TONS of antibiotics, and a week of chicken soup, I joined him for some R&R in Frankfurt.  It was beautiful, surprisingly new, and full of exciting food.  THAI!  Mmmmm!  Applewein = not so mmmm.
This was when we learned that Applewein is not that delicious.  Don't let Tom's smile fool you...
7. Beach daze: When it was too windy to go boating, 15 Americans decended upon the NATO beach in Miseno (in Naples) and spent the day drinking beers and juice box wine with baloney sandwiches (deep down everyone secretly loves them as much as I do) and inflatable duck floats that we bought from the guys selling stuff on the beach. 

So that sums things up here for me.  I'm officially back on the wagon!  Ready to blog on more regular intervals.  We're in our last year here in Naples and I'm starting to wonder both where the time went and how we will ever fit all of these trips into our last year.  While we may not be getting that much better at Italian, I've become less afraid of the life here.  The mystery of this lifestyle seems to be a bit less mystical and whatever level of logical I can make of Neapolitan culture.  Driving still drives Tom and I nuts and we mutter, perhaps far too often, "f*cking Italians" during car rides.  But that's a story for another blog.  Which will be coming shortly.  I promise.  Girl scout's honor.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Capri: Twice in April

I look out at Capri from my porch and have caught myself thinking, 'That island is so smug' on more than one occasion.  During my first few weeks in Italy, I went to Capri on a day trip with my dear friend, Kristine, and we had quite the day.  But we also had quite the snobbery and I hadn't gone back since.

Until my dear friend Julie went and raved about how we should all give Capri a chance and it was heavenly and blah blah blah.  Yet again, like in Barcellona, I rolled my eyes and thought "Sure, Julie..."  Well we went.  Twice in the month of April and I must say, publically, that I was wrong.  Capri, but more importantly Anacapri, is amazing.  Below is a picture of the Island of Capri, mocking me from our porch.  Anacapri is the higher part. 


Capri is the land where Kim Kardashian went on a mini-moon for her mini-marriage, where the Real Housewives of [Insert Major American City] travel for vacation, and where luxury yachts are never in short supply.  It's the place where the girls at Zara openly judge you even more than regular Zara (seriously, you're in retail.  I'm actively buying something.  Stop it with your judgment!), where gelato is 12 Euro a cone, and touristy trinkets are about 5 times what they cost in Sorrento or Amalfi.  But it's Capri.  There's a part of all of us that feels even more fancy being there, eating the food, strolling the streets, casually mentioning "Oh, I just spent the weekend on Capri." 

Which brings to mind the level of asshole that I know I've become.  Calling home, talking about the weekend I spent at winery or on a Mediterranean island makes me realize how ridiculous my life has become.  Looking back and comparing this to the joys I got in the States from a stroll through Best Buy - it's so far beyond the norm that I have to pinch myself to realize that this is still reality.  For now, at least.  Next month marks our two year mark in Italy.  From the beginning, the lows, the tears, the discomfort to now - finding a solid group of friends, cutting loose some of the things that held me back, and finding the hidden gems of excitement in our little section of Italy - I finally feel like I'm settled.  Funny how long it took, how much I complained, how the norms are so different from our life back in the States.  But somehow, it's all more normal now.  But I've digressed....

Capri: The island is a beautiful place but most importantly, for me at least, the food is what sets it apart.  Seafood is abundant in this part of the world.  We eat it more often than I have ever had seafood in my life.  And it's good in Naples, don't get me wrong.  But then we went to Capri (and Anacapri) and it's just so different.  The food is made with such care - the clams, mussels, squid, it's all so delicate, like it was made by a little mama in the kitchen of her house, making sure that her children and family were all pleased with her work.  Off the beaten path of Capri, where an American college student wouldn't dare trod, there are little trattorias which made food for the soul.  We ate at these little places, enjoying their unique version of the dishes we see daily. 

Here are some pics from weekend one and then weekend two, just girls, below. 

And the trip just with the girls....