Friday, January 06, 2012

I forgot school started. Plus, photos of Pompeii and Venice, to cheer me up.


So I was thinking about starting my diet on Tuesday, but then I got a call from the big kids' school. They wanted to know why Ross and Jane weren't there in class, with the rest of the children. 

That's real, folks. I'm not making it up. We forgot to come back from Christmas break.

They were only like 3.5 hours late. 
Both of them were mildly ill.
Jane might have cried all the way there.
It was moderately stressful.

On the way home, I took the three remaining kids to Sam's Club, where I forgot to remember the diet I was supposed to be starting, I had a hot dog with mustard, onions, relish, and kraut. And some of Tommy's blue Icee. And a soft pretzel. I felt better.

So anyway, all this made me remember that I'm not very good at remembering things. And that I've gained 10 pounds since the above photo was taken 3 months ago. In Pompeii.

So now I'm thinking how it would be nice to be skinny(er) and in Italy again. I think I shall relive those heady days, while I eat some of Jake's leftover birthday cake. You should come along.

Jake at the bakery. They didn't have any doughnuts.

So, Pompeii was really fantastic. Before we left, I spent days researching how we should get there and how long to stay. It would have been better to stay in Sorrento and spend a few nights checking out ruins and the Amalfi coast. But we didn't have the time. So I easily spent thrice as long researching as I actually spent visiting Pompeii. Because it seemed like a day trip that could go terribly wrong.

We took the Eurostar train from Rome to Naples. It is more expensive, but faster, and more comfortable. Then, at the Naples train station, we got a taxi who would take us to Pompeii, wait for a few hours, then bring us back to Naples. (If you want to go cheaper, go downstairs in the station and take the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. It costs like 3 euros each way, stops approximately 30 times, and you'll likely lose your wallet, but Jen says it's no worse than the NYC subway. Except that there are entertainers on board who play toy keyboards horribly, right in your ear, and won't stop until you pay them to leave. So you'll need to allow room for that in your budget.) (Jason has never been on the subway, and he was mildly traumatized.)

Mom and Dad

Inside Pompeii, we just used the free Rick Steves audio guide we'd downloaded at home, and bought a cool book inside the bookstore with info and plastic overlays to tell us about each house. It was like 12 euro, and we gave it to the kids when we got home, after I removed the kama sutra-style brothel art frescoes. Plus a couple others. Pompeiians had a funny idea of what made good family room art. (I tucked all my censorious bits (and by bits I mean oversized phalluses) under Jake's pillow, to creep him out.) I think what we did would be fine for 98% of all tourists. But my Dad says he wishes we'd had our own guide and stayed longer than two hours. Maybe next time. I was happy with our taxi chauffeur. He was the nicest driver we had in Italy. 

Back in Naples, we had him drop us off at the famous Da Michele pizzeria. It is supposed to be the best in Naples, which is the best in Italy. I'd read about it in Rick Steves and Eat, Pray, Love. Apparently everyone else had heard about it, too: There were more than 100 people in line. We went across the street to Pizzeria Trianon. It was delicious. Maybe my favorite meal we had in Italy. The sauce was unbelievable. The crust was unbelievable. The line was unbelievable: there wasn't any.

After lunch, we headed to the Archeological Museum. All the best art and artifacts they dug out of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the 1800s was brought here by the Naples' king. And now they reside in the museum that time forgot. It is amazing how these priceless items are just open to the elements (there were windows open and it was raining outside), how the displays have faded typewritten cards and dust inside them. I guess in a country full of treasures, there just isn't enough money to go around. But dust bunnies and all, you can't get a real feel for how life looked in Pompeii, without seeing these incredible mosaics, frescoes, metal and glassware.)

From there we headed back to the train station and hopped a Eurostar back to Termini in Rome. Our taxi driver apologized for all the traffic; but, he told us, there have been many manifestations today. (We think he meant government protesters, and not angelic visitors, but who knows?)

The next morning we hopped the train for Venice.

That's me and my backpack and Jake getting our first glimpse of Venice. We got on a vaporetto bound for St. Mark's Square, where our hotel had a free water shuttle out to the Isola di San Clemente.

The hotel was gorgeous, the service wanting. It was fab if you don't want them to feed you at 3:00 p.m., which they will not, under any circumstances, do. It doesn't matter how hungry you are. Although the concierge was nice. I didn't mind staying outside town a little, either. The boat ride to and from the island was relaxing and made me feel like a fancy-lady. I'd recommend San Clemente Palace Hotel, if you can get as great a deal as we did (off season). It doesn't say this anywhere in the literature, but the hotel was an insane asylum for hundreds of years, and became this HUGE fancy resort hotel only recently. So that's mildly creepy. But if, like me, you don't watch horror movies, you'll be okay.

Doge's Palace
St. Mark's Cathedral. Jake and I never got inside. We slept in. Turns out, insane asylums are very restful and quiet.
On a water taxi, headed to Ca' Rezzonico, a grand canal palazzo turned museum of 18th century Venice

See the table I'm parked on? They make those into a walkway, so tourists don't have to wade through a water-logged St. Mark's square during high tide.

Picnicking. Salami, cheese, fresh basil and oregano, and fluffy bread. Focaccia, maybe?

Outside the best gelato place in Venice.

See the top floor? Synagogue.
We spent an afternoon in the Jewish ghetto (world's first ghetto. Or maybe first place in the world to be called a ghetto). Took a fascinating tour of 4 synagogues. You should go, because it looks like they will fall down at any moment. Boys: they've got lender kippot (yarmulkes) if you don't bring your own.

The ghetto had a big square, which held a big market. If you'd been here about 1500, you could have procured some nice used clothing, full of plague infested lice.
Rialto bridge, on Jake's way out of town. Only like two boats, eight trains, a stroll with a kind and helpful housekeeper on mainland Venice, a wild west-style overnight train with a layover with some petty thieves in Bologna (that's pronounced Baloney, I'm pretty sure), some new Turkish lady friends to protect, two buses, a taxi, two airplanes and 30 hours later, he was home in the warm (100 degrees in October) bosom of Gilbert. And I was in Florence.

Did your kids start school?
Did you forget to take them?
Did you try to start a diet?
Is it working?
Do you have another resolution?
I might need some alternative ideas


Bee said...

My kids haven't gone back to school yet . . . they go back on Sunday night. Yes, it seems odd to an American but they go to British boarding school and that's how they do things here. They've been off for a MONTH already so I'm unlikely to forget about the starting date.

I'm also unlikely to start a diet, although I like to think about losing weight. Do you suppose just thinking about it will do the trick?

My resolution is to go to Italy this year. x

Barbaloot said...

I remembered to start my diet Tuesday...I just forgot to stay on it.

And I think it's quite awesome that you forgot about school:

Tami said...

I forget things too...ALL THE TIME! You are mom of the year for driving them 3 hours late--I would have just taken one more day off! If you have dieting success--do share. I have gained 20 lbs. this year since I hurt my foot & can't exercise, and eating well is not really in my list of things I can do well. I have no self control. Plus, just reading that Sams club has soft pretzels makes me want a membership there so I can try them. Costco's churros are getting boring.

Amber said...

I did not forget to take them to school, because I actually thought we were a day ahead. This is much worse, because I had the sudden horrible realization that I had another ENTIRE day with my whiny children home from school. Not good. They were extra early the first day back.

I am excellent at planning my diets when I am pregnant, only because the thought is not a reality. When I really need to wire my jaw shut, around next September, I will somehow "forget" to do it I am sure.

Brett and Shireen said...

I forgot to take my daughter to her first day of preschool in the beginning of the school year. She ended up going half way through the day, with her sobbing/semi hysterical mom taking picture of her while still in her pajamas. Was quite a sight. So at least you didn't forget their first day EVER of school.

And I wish I could vacation with you. Then instead of trying to creatively blog about it, I could just direct people to your blog. Makes me miss Italy. And want some Nutella.

And birthday cake. I'll be right over.

My resolution is to not complain. And so far, it's not going so well. I would tell you all about it, but that would put me even farther away from said goal.