As I eluded to in yesterday's post, I did indeed head to the airport this morning but it wasn't to board a plane. Instead I sat patiently in the 'Arrivals' area waiting for a familiar face. It was certainly a strange feeling me being the 'local' and welcoming a foreigner to the town :-)
So as a lot of you will know, last month I met with Nick the Greek in Cyprus and now it was the turn and arrival of somebody else. I'm hoping to be free next month too folks so please get in touch and get on out here!
I arrived early and found a lovely little spot outside to indulge in a hot chocolate and a Trancetto cake I had brought with me (more chocolate!) before heading back in not to miss the moment SHE walked out those arrival doors...
Except, I needn't had bothered as here I am capturing the lovely lady in the photo walking straight past me despite me finding an absolutely central waiting position. Classic.
For those that don't know, that's my EX-partner Kate and she's come on over to see me! (Well that and to enjoy a holiday too of course). She hatched a brilliant little plan that if it goes well, could see us have a really fantastic week in some of the most beautiful parts of Europe - and possibly the World.
That leads me on to my biggest test yet - driving to our pre-booked accommodation! Now, a lot of you will know that I'm not stranger to racking up miles on the continent back in the day BUT:
1) This is normally something I don't do without the accompaniment of the #KingsOfEurope - with the exception of Trip Italy 2011.
2) I haven't driven in over 5 weeks now. When was the last time you didn't drive for a month only to start again on foreign soil when the steering wheel is in the wrong location! Let alone drive out of Naples airport!
3) Speaking of which, my past trips may have included drive time in Milan, Valencia, Barcelona etc... but they did not include Naples - the home of all driving craziness!
As I mentioned in a previous post, Naples is by far the worst city I've ever seen when it comes to traffic, driver impatience and use of the blasted horns. Therefore I've felt a little anxiety (okay, a lot) over the last few days leading up to this as I knew the time was soon approaching. In all fairness the drive we're hoping to get should not see us anywhere near the centre as admittedly I wouldn't wanted to have done this.
We get to the car rental place and we are given the keys to this beastly but pleasant Ford Focus diesel. Although I was hoping for a much smaller vehicle to better navigate around these difficult Neapolitan roads.
Together we ran through some basics and then said a little prayer before setting off. This was crazy I kept telling myself as this certainly wasn't my idea! I was thinking this was crazy before I handed over MY credit card for them to take a 1500 euro deposit to cover theft, damage etc... No wonder I've predominantly only ever used my cars before on road trips. That was insane! Try having that hanging over your head as you set off trying to avoid getting smashed into by some crazy erratic Italian driver!
Thankfully, and with a little guidance from the good Lord (okay, and the Sat Nav too), we were on the coastal road in less than 15 minutes. Phew! There were some pretty hairy moments on route but we managed to avoid any collisions and for most of the 1 hour drive, were able to relax and take in the incredible scenery by stopping at choice:
We found our budget accommodation with relative ease and checked in. This was easily more pleasant than anything I've stayed in this last month and for a good price too so fair play Kate on doing some research here. I understand her intention was to find somewhere outside of the main cities for that reason (cost) knowing we have the car and public transport to visit the well liked tourist areas in the days to come. It was nice to see they also had a pleasant lounge area accompanied by a rather striking looking bar:
We chilled in the garden for the rest of the afternoon with fruit, crisps, beer and wine bought from the bar and at a decent price. We also entertained a new arrival in the garden, or rather, it entertained us!
By the time we finished chillaxing we went back to the room to freshen up and do our own thing for a bit before heading out. This is the view from our balcony to down to the garden and then from the garden up to the mountains:
Later in the evening we found a lovely fish restaurant on the front to wine and dine and celebrate a great end to our first day before getting some shut eye for the start of the tourist days ahead and whatever drama and delights they would bring. The end of the day wouldn't be complete without one of these though would it...