Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Car shopping and finally, a day out on the town!

My goal is to write once a week about the previous week... we'll see how this goes!

Last week we test drove car after car, so that eventually we'll be free to roam the city as we please. On base there is a "lemon lot" where people who are moving park their cars to advertise them, so that the people moving in can potentially buy their car. It's a fairly simple process, but cars are moving in and out everyday, and you don't know which car is actually better then the other cuz they're ALL more than 10 years old, some look better than others, etc, and not to mention we know nothing about the quality of European cars such as Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat... etc. James and I go back and fourth because I feel like if we're living in Europe, let's drive a car that looks like we live in Europe! Not a car that looks like we could have brought it over from the states! That doesn't matter to him, so we'll see how this goes...

There was this one total European car that we test drove, it was small (duh!), a pale lime green, French and quite an experience to test drive! The owner was French... need I say more, hah! All the cars here are Manual, which is fine, but they are a little different. Kind of like a BWM, but still- different. For my stick drivers- in the USA, forward you'll find 1, 3 & 5 and then back you'll find 2, 4 & R... in European cars (like BMWs) I believe it's forward: R, 2 & 4 and back: 1, 3, 5... we'll this French car was forward R, 1, 3, 5 and back: 2, 4... weird... not only that, there's loop that you have to lift up in order to put the car in reverse (it's right below where you put your hand on the stick)... It's possibly that you didn't quite follow that, but at least now you can share the confusion I had! As I'm driving the French guy says, "you don't drive manual cars?" And James (knowing that's one of my pet peeves, because I could drive stick BEFORE I even had my license... not to mention, who drives a automatic GT Mustang? I mean really...) says, "actually she drives one back home, it's just different here." Then he says "oh, do you have a car? Is this your second car? Or is this for your wife?" (Background: lots of people have one nicer car and then a commuter or second car) James tell him this would actually be our first, he says "oh, I always thought Americans liked everything big" Hahaha... kind of funny. So as much as the French don't like us- he wasn't doing his people a favor either, just saying...

So, finally, the last day of Area Orientation was Monday, and for that day we were taken out to downtown Naples to explore! We took a bus to another base, and from there caught the metro. It's much cheaper than the DC Metro, 1.10 Euro. The way it works is that the pass is only valid for 90 minutes after you validate it, and you validate it as your walking on. Oh and there is graffiti everywhere, only here it's not gangs, it's kids. We rode the metro and got off by a popular coffee shop where I had my first cappuccino! It was amazing! It was perfectly strong enough and LOTS of flavor that I feel like I've been missing out on in my day to day cup of coffee, or even a Starbucks Capp- no comparison! Anyway, we explored the city, walked down to the water (gorgeous), saw some castles, churches, royal palace, the incredible opera house, etc, and also walked back up through the popular shopping streets. We walking into some more expensive places like Louis Vuitton, where when we walked in a man greeted us with a "hello..." killing any thought we might of had about fitting in! Hah! Then there were some less expensive and local shops, and of course United Colors of Benetton, Armani, Lacoste etc. After that we had lunch. James had small Penne noodles, which I believe had olive oil on them, and Kalamata olives, chicken and tomatoes- I think... whatever... delicious! With Fried chicken breast, bread and potatoes! I'm getting hungry thinking about it! I had Penne noodles with tomato sauce and mozzarella, egg plant stuffed with ham and mozzarella and, of course, a slice of bread. Perfect first real Italian lunch for us both! Lunch was followed up with fresh Gelato, a scoop of vanilla with Chocolate chips and a scoop of Coffee for James, and a scoop of Lemon on a cone for me! It is definitely as good as they say! Finally we walked through the market and hopped back on the metro back home. I hit some zzz's every time we sat. This was a quick review of the day but it was a lot of walking!

Now I'm planning for the holiday weekend. It's July fourth weekend, James has 4 days off and Kendall is supposed to be visiting! They tentative plan is Downtown Naples, Pompeii and Capri! Can't wait!

Random moment of the week:
I was looking at an Italian vendor's leather coats and then he started speaking to me in Italian, I looked at him confused and did the smile and nod thing, then he said "you don't speak Italian? You look Italian," Hah! Good to know that I can some what fit it as long as I don't speak, hah!



Friday, June 25, 2010

Benvenuti a Napoli!

Here we are- Naples, Italy! Actually, that's like me saying "I'm from D.C..." technically we're 20 minutes outside of Naples. Whatever the case, my cousin suggested that I make a blog during my three (3) year stay in Italy, so that family and friends can keep up to date on our life, and I can log all the happenings life (and Italy) brings our way, so here we go...

Our first week:

We, My husband James and I, we're dropped off at the airport in Washington, D.C. by my mom and brother to board a plane bound for Norfolk,VA on Tuesday, June 15th (My sister's birthday :-/ ). We arrived an hour and a half early, expecting little or no delays. We checked in our bags, and as they're rode the conveyor belt around the corner of no return, we learned that the Navy had reserved our tickets but not paid for them yet... Excuse me, WHAT! We had 1 hour to work this out... and already checked luggage... I will spare you the painful details and several phone calls, etc, and just tell you that it all worked out and gave us 20 whole mins til take off! Thanks to many days on the treadmill, we were seated on the plane 5 mins before take off... just enough time to catch our breath and stow our carry-on items under our seats.

In Norfolk we were able to hang out with James' cousin (who happens to be stationed in Norfolk) and his GF for a few hours, and enjoy one last meal at The Cheesecake Factory. We left Norfolk, VA late that night and, had one short layover. We finally arrived in Naples on Wednesday evening, where our sponsor, J., along with our friend Jeff, picked us up. We got to drive through and see the town before getting to our base, and it is gorgeous here! The town is a little trashy but we had previous heard that- the gorgeous part is the fact that there are mountains and a volcano surrounding the area. We see the volcano, Mt Vesuvius, on a daily basis from the base (I love it!). On the other side of the Volcano is Pompeii, for those of you who know what that is... Pretty cool... scares my mom a little but I think it's beautiful, hah! Anyway, the driving is a little intimidating! The rules aren't really followed but it almost makes more sense... it's weird- in a good way. So, once on base, we checked into the hotel, got settled and then headed to Jeff's place where his wife, Keda, made us dinner, because pretty much every thing closes at 8 on base, and we wouldn't be able to get dinner or groceries. Then we went to bed around 2am (only 8pm EST), and that's only because we're addicted to Super Mario on Wii, hah!

On Thursday we woke up at 1:30pm on accident (7:30am EST... yeah, almost 12 hrs of sleep) and then had to rush and get ready to go to a hail and farewell BBQ at 2:30pm where we met people that James will be working with, and a few people he actually already knew from passing in either Bethesda or Djibouti, kind of cool... After the BBQ we went grocery shopping and checked out the "mall." The mall consists of the commissary (grocery store), Navy Exchange (NEX aka department store/everything-you'll-ever-need store...), a bunch of random stores (sunglasses, souvenirs, framing shop, book store, etc), random shops the Italians have set up to sell their various goodies, a bank, movie theater and, a food court (with KFC, Taco Bell, A&W and Subway). Very exciting Thursday ;-p We forced ourselves to bed at Midnight (6pm EST!!!) because we had to be at Area Orientation (AO) at 7:30am... and then we woke up at about 2:30am WIDE awake... good times...

Friday was the first day of AO. It was basically random information and paper work. But we did find out that we'll be living on base in a two bed room on base... apparently they changed the rules (again) and newbies HAVE to live on base unless there's nothing available... but it's allll free so no complaints!!! Yay! And now the parents don't have to worry about me being "taken," from my home out in town ;-p After AO we went to the chapel to see when services were. On Sunday there are two services, a contemporary Christian one at 915am and then a "Hallelujah Full Gospel Service" at 2:30pm so we planned to check out both. Then we saw an "Apostolic home fellowship" on Tuesday night with Charles Luff. We wonder what organization he was with and then looked over at another sheet with the Chaplain's information, only to find out that he is UPCI! Awesome :-) We are pretty thrilled about that and can't wait to meet him. After that we cooked, chilled and conquered Bowser :-)

Saturday we woke up at 11:30am (getting better!) and ran errands... nothing too exciting so I won't bore you :-) But we did get to the gym, which is pretty nice, did a little car shopping (no pun intended ;-p), and we talked to lots of people on skype which was great! Oh and I had a revelation... here they only drink espresso (in baby sized mugs), so if you want want we call coffee you have to order a "Cafe Americano," which when I worked at Starbucks was espresso with water... yeah, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what it is here... that only took me 4 days to realize ;-p Oh and Lattes are also served in little tiny mugs... coffee drinkers beware...

Sunday, we hit snooze a bit and woke up at 11:00am, (jetlag is still a work in progress...), which of course means that we missed the first church service :-/ But we did make the Gospel service, where we were the only white people :-) It was really good, just very different than what we're used to. So we'll see what Tuesday and next Sunday morning has in store for us!
Oh, and it rained all weekend, but it's actually really beautiful and the clouds move super fast! There were like 3 thunderstorms in an hour, and in between each was a calm...

Monday-Thrusday, we had more AO. It was pretty interesting. We learned more base stuff, but also about driving out in town and just Naples culture in general... that was quite entertaining! They make driving in sound kind of like go-carting or bumper cars... anything goes as long as traffic is still moving! Although, I did have a heads up on this, thus the reason they drive little cars AND why we didn't bring either of our cars... But I'm not gonna lie... I do miss my Mustang!!!

Til' next time...

Good bye DC!

Benvenuti Vesuvius!