We landed in Italy 9 days ago. This move overseas was so much different than past moves. I've always traveled and moved solo. This time it was with an (awesome) husband, a dog, a bun in the oven, and a whole lot of help from the US Navy. When we found out that we were going to be stationed in Italy, I got a quick lesson in moving with the military. It's a whole different ball of wax. No longer was I packing 7 50lb suitcases and hopping on a flight. Nope. This time, we had movers. And when I say movers, I mean we had THREE different packing experiences. The Navy allows us to put some of our stuff in storage, ship some of our stuff in an express (air) shipment, and ship everything else on a cargo ship. Sounds great, right? And it is. Except, what needs to happen before the movers arrive? Well, you have to sort your stuff into these three different categories. All your stuff. Every single item in your house. And don't forget, there is a 4th category: whatever is going into the 4 70lb suitcases that you will live out of during transition and that will go on the plane with you. So June and July were a time of organized chaos as Marty and I sorted and sorted and sorted. And then the storage people came. Followed by the express shipment people. And finally, the cargo shipment. And then we said goodbye to our first house as a married couple, packed up the cars and the suitcases and the dog, and spent 8 weeks visiting family, traveling up and down the eastern seaboard, sleeping in more hotels than I can count, and attending a 6-week schooling for Marty. And then the day finally came when we boarded that military flight for Italy and began our new lives. And I can say this with certainty...moving overseas solo is fun and adventurous. But moving overseas married brings a whole different level of joy and fun and I wouldn't trade it for the world!
Since most of this initial post is catch-up, I thought it would be fun to post one Napoli (Italian for Naples) adventure story, so here goes. Our first week in Naples was primarily spent in an orientation program, learning about the culture, doing paperwork (lots and lots of paperwork...it's the military way!), buying a car, and getting settled into our apartment. But today we decided to venture into downtown Naples. We visited the area back in June and did some exploring in a rental car, but today we decided that it would be smart to try out public transportation so that we could see what works for visiting family and friends when they are in town. Being 8 months pregnant, we didn't want to be too overeager so we decided on one destination: Christmas Alley. It's a year-round market street in Naples that sells absolutely stunning nativity scenes. We had done some research into how to get into Naples, so we put on our walking shoes and headed off. It's important to note that the area where we live is fairly isolated, so there is one bus that goes by roughly once an hour. That bus takes you to a train station about 10 minutes away. Then you can train into the main Naples station and catch the metro from there to other parts of the city. Simple, right? But this is overseas living, so it's never simple! So in 10 simple steps, here is a recap of our day:
1. Drive from our apartment to the espresso shop where they sell public transportation tickets. Decide (wisely as it would later turn out) to spend more on the 140 minute tickets instead of the 60 minute validity tickets. Leave the espresso shop feeling very accomplished, tickets in hand.
2. Park near the gate, walk through the roundabout, and to the bus stop across the street. Realizing there is no bench, perch on the edge of a random box sitting in the stop and try not to touch anything since the entire street is covered in trash. Avoid swarms of bees lurking around said trash. Look up expectantly at every vehicle approaching since you expect the bus to arrive momentarily according to the schedule.
3. One hour later, sweaty and stinky, decide that it is entirely possible that the bus will never come. Decide with Marty that we wouldn't want our visitors to go through this, so we'll just drive them to the train if they want to go into town without us. Decide that we should learn how to drive to the train so that we can be ready for visitors. Walk back toward housing, get car, and successfully drive to the train station. Feeling very accomplished as we find a parking lot and make our way into the station!
4. Find the correct station track and sit down. Realize that we are now 1.5 hours into our adventure and have only made it 10 minutes from home. Sigh with 8-month pregnancy fatigue but decide to power on. Wait expectantly for the train that is due in 5 minutes.
5. 25 minute later, hear multiple announcements in Italian that seem to indicate that various trains that might or might not be ours might be late. Start asking some very kind Italians for guidance, and realize that yes, the train is late. After 40 minutes of waiting, the train arrives and we are off to Naples!
6. After 2+ hours in transit, we make it to Naples. This pregnant lady is starving, so instead of catching the metro to the Christmas Alley stop, we exit the central station and stumble upon a Kabob shop. Excitement ensues! Giant sandwiches in hand, we decide to hoof it to our destination instead of going back to the metro. Thank God I am married and my man is good with directions. 20-something minutes later (traveling at a snail's pace due to the aforementioned pregnant me), we made it. And it was so cool!
7. Walk through Christmas Alley oohing and ahhing at the exquisite creations. Make our first Napoli purchase- a very cool ceramic pasta measuring tool. End up at a gelato restaurant and thoroughly enjoy a Nutella gelato cone.
8. Overcome by fatigue, we head back to the closest metro station. Unfortunately, we had to climb a mountain to get there. But we made it, easily got on the correct metro, and rode it to the central Naples station so that we could transfer to our train back to the suburbs. Unfortunately, our orientation did not include instructions on how to get back home. So with phones in hand, we did some quick research, decided we knew which train to board, and headed in that direction. We found a train bound for our town, got on, and quickly realized that this was a very different looking train (individual compartments). After walking the entire length of the train, we saw an official looking dude and asked him for help. It turns out that we were not on the local train, so we quickly exited stage left with 2 minutes to spare before the train took off.
9. Stopping for more directions, we were pointed toward the correct train. And miracle of all miracles, it all went smoothly! We got on the train, successfully arrived at our stop, and easily drove back home.
10. Enter house, collapse on couch, don't move for next 2 hours. Decide that any other public transportation trips will wait until after this baby arrives.
And here are a few photos from today's Napoli adventure...