Vacation Blooper – Blue Grotto Snuggles

Being American, I love to hug, snuggle, cuddle, whatever.  But as one of my favorite movies so aptly puts it, “No hugging, dear. I’m British. We only show affection to dogs and horses”*, not all cultures are as huggy as well, me.  So why is this important?  Well, entering the Blue Grotto in Capri involves very close quarters potentially with strangers.

When the seas are gentle and the Blue Grotto is open, about 20 – 25 row boats are ready outside the grotto waiting to accept passengers from other boats or from those taking the stairs (like moi).  Since the physical entry to the grotto itself is fairly small, everyone, including the boatmen have to lay completely flat upon entry and then can pop back up once inside the glittering blue expanse.  Fast forward to me and Scube getting in a boat with an Austrian couple in their late 40s.

Knowing we had to lay down I said to the woman, “It’s okay, don’t worry about it, we’ll all be friends here after this experience!” with a huge grin on my face.  Her face however was ashen and horrified.  She flat out refused to lay on me.  She cowered in a small nook on the boat inches from my spread legs and cuddle ready arms and at the last moment tipped her head back to avoid injury.  Once inside the grotto, her no touching policy continued.  And I get it, not everyone wants to lay on a young, chesty American woman who’s bosom is ready to welcome anyone with open arms in these circumstances, but in the spirit of new experiences, would my breasts have killed her?  Or maybe they would have?  We will never know.

blue grotto

 

*The cult classic Amanda Bynes film What a Girl Wants featuring Colin Firth…swoon.
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Pics of the Week – Blue Grotto Edition

Two years ago I had never heard of the blue grotto.  The human fish, aka Scuba Steve, saw some sort of look of the world’s most amazing swimming holes, with the Blue Grotto atop the list.  Seeing pictures did not nearly prepare me for the incredible beauty inside.  In fact, if you are able to swim in the blue grotto, it is imperative to bring a snorkel mask with you to see where the grotto gets its magnificent blue color from, an archway actually under the entrance!  Additionally, I have a post coming later on the ultimate insanity on getting inside during normal operating hours so stay tuned for my turn “snuggling” with an Austrian woman.  Until then, enjoy this iPhone 6 pic inside the Grotto Azura, a little blurry but you get the idea.

blue grotto
Up to 15 boats can fit into the Blue Grotto at one time, it is SO big!

The Friends you Make

Full disclosure, I’m 30.  And it’s really hard to meet new people and make friends.  I’m sure that will get easier when a little nugget comes into the world (no, this is not an announcement), but I’ve found that traveling is a great way to take the social anxiety out of trying to meet new and wonderful people.

Travel is a bond.  Doing study abroad my junior year of college has forever intertwined my life story with a group of girls forever.  The memories you make when trekking through cities without a map, or the skills to adequately read one (the elusive Duomo) are those that you’ll never forget and laugh about 10 years later, like we still do.

In the past few years, Scube and I have met some really incredible people. Ones I haven’t necessarily kept in touch with although I should have, like the young woman who lives in Scottsdale whose parents live down the street from us, the famous fashion blogger and her husband from Melbourne (#WCW), the young accountant from New York trying her hardest to see as much of the Amalfi Coast as humanly possible, the young mom who lived down the street from us (and had us over for a lovely brunch), the wonderful couple from Yorkshire who own a tea and flower shop, and finally, the woman from LA who’s day I ruined when I told her Joan Rivers had died (whoops).  Run-on sentence complete.

So what’s the point of this post?  There are many reasons to travel but one that I put a lot of stock in is opening up yourself to new people where you otherwise wouldn’t.  Maybe others have an easier time with this in their day-to-day lives, but I find that traveling is an easier segue into new relationships then say killing someone with kindness over raw meat at the grocery store.

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The lovely Kay and Sam of Yorkshire
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The incredibly kind, talented chef and host, Lucia

Airline Review: Meridiana

Our recent vacation to Italy hinged on the fact that we found insanely cheap airfare direct to Naples from JFK.  The airline?  Meridiana.  I had never heard of it, and it seemed that much of the internet hadn’t either when I went to do my due diligence before clicking “buy now”.  Well, for anyone who’s found similarly cheap airfare, here are some things to know before you decide to close your eyes and check your credit card statement later.

The basics:

  • Comfort – solid leg room in economy class
  • Amenities – No personal TVs at each seat, a few “larger” TVs in the aisle, 80s/90s style
  • Food – Totally frozen (I’ll get to that later)
  • Timeliness – On time arrival in Naples, early in to JFK, but no gate for us for an hour!
  • Friendliness – Unique

The stories:

When we boarded our flight at JFK the air conditioning was not and had not been turned on in hours.  The flight was sweltering hot.  As someone who is always cold, I was fine. Scuba Steve on the other hand, not so much.  Paranoid that the entire flight would be a fire ball he was in a panic.  At one point he may or may not have threatened to disrobe if this kept up.  Fortunately, as the flight got underway the air conditioning did turn on.  Crisis averted.

During dinner on the flight, the staff was incredibly rude.  One flight attendant missed the glass when pouring drinks completely and poured water all over Steve.  Instead of apologizing, providing napkins, offering any show of empathy, the flight attendant glared at my husband and then kept serving.  It was really bizarre behavior that was indicative of the overall attitude the rest of the staff as crossed the pond.

Since our flight was a red eye that left at 3pm, I popped a few Nyquil in the hopes of passing out (which I did, hallelujah!) and woke up just in time to reach Italy raring to go. Because I was comfortable, with leg room.  Even if the person in front of my put their seat back, my 5’5″ frame was unobstructed. On the other hand, Scube was left watching movies on the TV they had in the aisle on this circa 1970s airplane.  Could have been worse, but could have been better.

On the flight home, the sentiment of the staff improved, and the food got worse.  In fact, the pasta salad served on everyone’s plate was frozen completely solid.  WTF?  How can an airline do that?  When Scube pointed this out to the flight attendant, she was incredibly apologetic and said everyone’s food was frozen.  How is that right?  Or possible?

So here’s the deal with Meridiana.  If you want to get from Point A to Point B with zero frills, frozen food, and a piss poor attitude, book this flight.  You’ll get all the way to Italy for really cheap ($600/rt), but if you prefer to pay for a bit more amenities, smiles, and warm food, go elsewhere.  Would I fly Meridiana again?  Possibly, but at least I’ll have both eyes wide open if I do.

Sidenote:  For those that love reality tv the way I do, Caroline Manzo, of Real Housewives of New Jersey fame, flew Meridiana with her family to Naples en route to Positano.  So, the airline is in fact “celebrity” approved.

Vacation Blooper – Napoli Edition

I’m trying something new here.  Sometimes on vacation, really funny things happen as a result of something I or Scube do, and felt that these little anecdotes haven’t quite made it into our travel stories.  So while this isn’t a video of me falling on my face or scaring Chris Pratt with a fake dinosaur, this is a silly story from our last full day in Italy.

Our hotel in Naples didn’t offer free breakfast, and since hotel breakfasts are wildly overpriced (why is cereal $12?!?!), we decided to go out and do as the locals do.  To be a local in Italy means walking up to the bar and ordering your pastry first.  Once you eat your pastry, you order some form of an espresso, and then wash it down with a small, free of charge water.  Well I don’t like coffee or espresso for that matter, but I am however in love with drinking chocolate (Italy’s version of hot cocoa). So in my awful broken Italian (beyond Grazie! Ciao! and Prego! I’m at a loss), I tried to order a drinking chocolate.  “Vorrei questro cioccolata, por favore?”  Well, L-O-L.  This poor bartender was sent into a tailspin.  It was like I asked him to conjur Willy Wonka as a patronus with Silvio Berlusconi in the role of Grandpa Joe.  He looked at a shaker full of cocoa powder, found it was empty and started fumbling around behind the bar.  The elderly man who owned the shop started yelling at him in Italian.  What I gathered back and forth was “where is the cocoa??”  and “how do you not know how to make a cioccolata you fool?!”  After a lot of hand wringing, the elderly man escaped to the back and returned with a massive bag of cocoa powder and starting frothing the milk.  Meanwhile, in my head, and unable to articulate to these two adorable men who didn’t speak a lick of English, I was saying “I just wanted a small little cup of drinking chocolate…”  Instead, I was left on the sidelines watching this hilarious little horror transpire.

Scuba Steve was squeezing my hand hard as we were both thinking the same thing, which was “OMG Sara, what have you done??  These poor men.”  Cue 5 minutes later and I had been served a pint glass, an actual, full blown pint glass full of piping hot cocoa.  Adopting an “I don’t want to offend” attitude, I downed the crap out of that cocoa.  Granted, it was delicious, but feeling so full from my chocolate pastry, I was not expecting to drink 16 ounces of hot chocolate at 9am.  Scube was shocked, but let’s be real here, I can down a disgusting amount of chocolate in all forms with feeling zero digestive side effects.

And that my friends, is one of my many vacation bloopers.

donut

Pic of the Week – Capri

Capri is an absolutely magical and beautiful island with so much to offer.  I’ll be blogging about our trip to Italy in the upcoming weeks, and I hope you followed along via Instagram as we traveled around Capri and the Amalfi Coast.

Below, the pic of the week is taken from atop Mount Solaro, the highest point on the island, in the town of Anacapri, which can be reached via walking, or a 13 Euro round trip chairlift ride.  The views are breathtaking during your ride up, down, and upon arrival at the top.  Enjoy!

View  of the Il Faraglioni from atop Mount Solaro in Anacapri
View of the Il Faraglioni from atop Mount Solaro in Anacapri

And we’re off!

Hi all!  We are off to Capri and the Amalfi Coast for the next few weeks.  I’ve scheduled a few posts, but you can follow our adventures on Instagram @appetite4travel.

Thanks for sticking with us, and new adventures will be posted soon, including a guest blogger’s scuba diving adventure, our trip to St. John, and many others.  Obviously, Italy included!

planes
I want to fly in that heart plane with a dancing bear and monkey

Pic of the Week – Venezia

venice 1
Campanile di San Marco

In honor of my upcoming trip to Southern Italy, I wanted to post an almost 10 year old throwback from my time in Venice.  I was shocked that Venice ended up being my least favorite of the Italian cities I visited on that trip, despite being the most unique geographically.  I think with more time and better preparation that very well could change, as I was such a travel novice back then.  With that being said, I certainly loved being on the canals and enjoying the view.