Monday, November 7, 2011

Il nostro viaggio in Italia, il giorno uno e due!

It's time to finally write about our trip to Italy! For once, I was good about getting the pictures up right away and getting our photo book created (jet lag is helpful for somethings). But I was completely lacking in time or motivation to document our actual journey.

Thanks to a wonderful recommendation from my BFF Kacie, I kept a small journal of our trip. Most evenings, just before we went to bed, I would get my journal out and we'd document the activities and food of the day (most importantly the gelato!).

Here we go!

The first two days was really about 36 hours of travel. We left Seattle on September 15th, flying direct to Amsterdam. We had a fairly uneventful (and seemingly fast!) flight to Amsterdam. The only note would be the flight attendant for our section of the airplane was a little out of it and regularly dropped drinks, handed stuff to us at rather awkward angles and just generally acted odd. Oh well, we needed a little entertainment to make it through 9 hours of flying time!

We arrived in Amsterdam on Friday, September 16th. When we landed, the runway must have been at least 5 miles away from the actual airport as we had to taxi for a good 20 minutes from landing to actual gate. Ended up being OK, as it was a beautiful day and the area around the airport is surprisingly pretty.

We connected in Amsterdam to our flight to Milan. Overall, we were very impressed with the Amsterdam airport. It was layed out very well and was extremely easy to navigate. Coupled with every sign being in at least three languages, we were able to make our connections without really any issue. A bonus to Amsterdam, were these "transfer" stations. So instead of going directly to your gate to ask questions, get new tickets issued, etc. You could stop at a Transfer stations at many points throughout the airport. All of which had automatic teller machines (in at least 8 languages). These worked great for us as we didn't have physical tickets yet for our Milan flight.

Once we got to Milan, we had really only completed 2/3 of our journey (although it felt like about half). We still needed to get from the Milan Airport to the Milano Centrale train station (about an hour away). This ended up not being a problem, but the transfer times between everything just kept adding time. Please note: At this point, we'd basically been up since 10am the previous day. So we waited about an hour for the train into Milan, then the train to Milan was about an hour. Then we had the adventure of purchasing tickets to Vernazza (our first place we were staying). Thankfully, the automated machines in the train stations worked out fine (although it took me a while to figure out I could only use cash, the machines didn't like my credit card). The train didn't leave for yet another hour, so we find a corner to sit down for a bit.
24 hours and counting!
The train to Vernazza was fairly uneventful, except for a Darth-Vadar sounding person sitting next to us on the train. We were in a rather small train car that got a little stuffy, but we were so tired at this point (going on 30 hours), it didn't really matter. 4 hours later, we made it to Vernazza!

Once we finally got off the train and into Vernazza, it was early evening. It was a perfect temperature and the town was as gorgeous as I remembered (I'd be there twice before, once in college and once with my mom a few years ago). It was very surreal to be back there and be back with Peter.

We check into our hotel (really more of a B&B). It was our some hundred of steps above the village (not uncommon in the Cinque Terre!). We stayed at the wonderful Gianni Franzi. Mom and I had actually stayed there in our previous trip and enjoyed it. Very simple rooms, but clean and quiet! The bonus to this location was a lovely little common terrace that overlooked the water. We spent most of our time there (more on that later!).

Being EXAHUSTED at this point, we dropped our bags off in our room and headed down to the harbour for dinner. We decided to eat at the hotel's restaurant right on the harbour. We ate a fantastic simple dinner and drank some lovely local vino. I really didn't take many pictures of the food we ate, but I promise it was beautiful and delicious!

Our dinner menu:

Antipasti: Local mussels in a lemon white wine sauce (sweet and divine!)
Primo: Local pasta (little twists) with pesto (the best pesto!!)
Secondo: Octopus alla Inferno (good, interesting, spicy!)
Dolce: Tiramisu (OMG) and Affagato alla Whiskey (Pete's favorite)

While the evening did not include Gelato (one of the very few nights that didn't), we did enjoy a lovely first meal and went happily to sleep! 

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