Yup. The blog resumes with a semi-trip-report.
I research every trip to death, which includes sifting through old-people trip reports on Fodors’ forums. I have to skim them, because they’re exhausting to read — every morsel of food, every moment of the flight, the cab from the airport, the brand of walking shoes (Aerosole/ Merrel), the brand of theft-proof money belt tucked inside the slacks, the difficulty level of the hills, etc. etc.
So I won’t give you one like that. Just the top-line notes.
Where we went:
Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands, which are off of Sicily;
A place at the foot of Mount Etna in Sicily;
Napoli. Or Naples, if Napoli sounds pretentious, but I don’t want you confusing it with the one in Florida.
Notes and tips:
The best places are a bitch to get to.
Trip to the islands took us over 24 hours door to door, including crashing at a hotel for an expensive-but-worth-it nap in between our arrival in Italy and the 5.5 hour ferry. But that kind of a journey is what keeps a place special, and free of fanny-pack rif raf. Rif raf likes things easy and cushy, with menus in 5 languages plus ugly photos of the food. They don’t take 5.5-hour ferries.
Don’t suck at picking seats.
That’s what I do. Suck. As we shuffled with the crowd onto the ferry, Steven said, “Just pick a good seat, make a decision and stick to it.” That’s exactly the kind of thing you don’t say to me. The crew guy pointed downstairs and said in Italian, “there’s space below”, so I bolted down the steps and staked out our seats in what I quickly realized was the loser cabin. Stuffy, no AC, small windows.
Steven thought I’d run down there because “giu,” the word for below, is pronounced “Jew.”
Don’t bother being smug if you’re first in line.
In Italy, “first in line” means nothing.
Because “line” means nothing.
You can try to line up, but the line will sprout branches from every direction. Italians don’t join the back of the line. They funnel in. Or, just throng to the front, so the front morphs into a big, writhing, noisy blob and the people still respecting the “line” concept form its sad tail. Basically, the line becomes a sperm.
People are nicer to you when you have long eyelashes
I know, I keep talking about these lash extensions. But I’m telling you, worth every penny. Not just because I didn’t have to deal with makeup all vacation, but because people who are normally mean to me – in particular, people of authority in transportation situations – were super nice on this trip, and I know it’s the eyelashes.
When I asked for a cup of water, the flight attendant gave me two.
A guy at the Easy Jet check-in counter invited me to skirt the massive line, or sperm (see above), and bring our luggage right to him. These things never happen to me.
On the ferry ride, I went up to the main cabin for a breath of oxygen, and a crew member who saw me staggering around invited me up to the captain’s steering cabin (or whatever you call it, not a boat person).I got to climb up a special-people ladder and hang out for the last hour or two with the crew and the best view on the ship. They let me bring Steven up for a bit, too, even though he doesn’t have the lashes for it.
This hotel is almost flawless.
Monaci Delle Terre Nere, where we stayed for 2 nights and wished we’d stayed much longer.
Don’t worry about how to say it, just go there. Perfection except for these things:
1) Nature. Squishy caterpillars would come out of the shower drain and nap around it.
2) Some of the art. Impeccable, design-magazine decor everywhere, and then this S&M painting above our bed of girls strung up like beef or SVU victims…
…and one in the dining room of a simultaneous, mutual titty grab (somewhat obscured by reflection, but you know what’s going on.
In Italy, everyone knows some place better.
If you tell the concierge you’d like a reservation at the restaurant Antica Marina, someone idly leafing through a magazine on a nearby couch will butt in and say she knows a better place, Tre Boche.
If you start to ask the lady at Avis how to get to a street, she’ll interrupt and say, “I can recommend somewhere nicer.” Without even knowing what street you were going to ask for or what’s there.
We ignored her and went to this awesome fish market that has tables and plastic chairs in the back. You point at your fish and they cook it. It was all Sopranos up in that joint. Table of stomachs out to here, Paulie Walnuts hair, giant oysters, and, no doubt, sanitation-route dealings. “Leave the garbage out this week.” That kind of thing.
They might’ve killed me if I’d tried to take their photo. So.
Siri has no ear for languages.
There was one girl in my 9th grade Spanish class who sucked at Spanish so bad. Just for starters, she would always pronounce, and even drag out, the “h” in “hablo.”
“Yo hhhhabla? Hhhablow? Es-pan-yole mooey bee-enn.”
I thought that was bad till I heard my iPhone GPS speak directions to Hosteria Toledo on Via Ferdinando Palasciana.
Watch out for Dookie Town.
Every rose has its thorn. And every charm-your-pants-off fishing village has a stifling bar where you buy a water to use the bathroom and find a giant turd floating in the (seatless) toilet. This guy smelled it.
Think like a camera.
Steven says that’s what you have to do that I don’t do, and that’s why he takes so much better pictures than I do. Though I take better selfies. Because Steven won’t take them at all.
This one’s by Steven.
These are by me. (Yes, I always pose the same.)
Beware of child drivers.
They’re like, on the loose.
Beware of falling.
Because there’s danger of it.
Beware of no-way-out alleys at night in Napoli
Nothing happened to us in here, but how dumb are we to walk this way?
Strap on your tuxedo bib.
Every restaurant should have these. And they’re not plastic. They’re cloth. They’re also totally un-ironic, as was the strolling guitar player, and I love that. Goin’ black tie on some scampi, bitches!
Because pasta and pizza.
How was your week? Got questions? Travel tips/notes to add? A favorite place you’ve been? An opinion on best pizza in Napoli? (Toss up so far between Da Michele, the “Eat Pray Love” place we went last time, and 50 Kalo, where we went this time. I liked that 50 Kalo didn’t have a photo of Julia Roberts on the wall.) TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.