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Sunday, September 2, 2012

In Rome and back on track

Thursday 30th August

Temperature still around 30°

The Grand Hotel Vesuvio is  4 star and is exactly that- very grand with lovely views across the Bay of Naples. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to use any of the facilities but they had a couple of gorgeous swimming pools which under normal circumstances would have been very welcome.  The breakfasts were wonderful with very formal wait staff. From the accents around we knew that there were many other Australians staying there as well as Amercian and Canadian. The hotel was up the hill and about 1.5 kms from the main action and a shuttle bus service operated from 9am – 11.15pm everyday. The trip took about 7 minutes and saved taking the car out.

After breakfast we rang Peugeot and were given advice of where to take the car in Sant’Agnello ( 4 kms out) for a new tyre and given the information about claiming from insurance.

We also contacted the Australian Embassy in Rome and set up an appointment for passport replacements around 2pm for the next day.

We dropped off the car and had hoped that it could be done on the spot to free us up for the day but nothing happens like that here. We were advised to go off for the day and return before 7pm. So it was back on the local bus back to Sorrento. 

We headed to the Port and took the ferry to Capri. This is a very busy but beautiful spot. We walked along the main port area and up into the centre before having rather large icecreams for lunch. Our appetites had been somewhat stifled for about 48 hours but having a lot of the admin stuff done we were feeling a little more relaxed – but not totally until our emergency credit cards arrived.Back in Sorrento, we found narrow laneways that we hadn’t noticed before & hundreds of restaurants. We found a lovely place for dinner but decided to get the cash for our passports and to our utter distress could only withdraw $250.00 with a note that the balance was exceeded. We needed about $500.00. We hurried back to the hotel to check balances on internet, rang Westpac again and was advised that some overseas ATM’s have a low daily limit and to try another ATM. All looked good and when we arrived back at the hotel we were relieved to see our Visa cards had arrived as promised.
We then returned to Sorrento and we able to  enjoy a lovely, relaxing dinner and an earlier night- well midnight for me!

Friday 31st August
Temperature a little cooler around 29° but a bit lower by the time we reached Rome.
Accommodation: Oasis in Harmony

One of the guide books says that the best thing about Sorrento is the road out – well for us, we will never forget Sorrento and unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. The traffic is truly chaotic. I have never in my life seen anything like it. Scooters are the go as well as motor cycles, there don’t appear to be any road rules and certainly if there are no-one takes any notice of them. Scooters overtake cars and buses over double lines and all. It is a real nightmare to drive there and pedestrians take huge risks as crossings don't mean that vehicles will stop. We did notice the state of the cars – mostly dented and scraped. I don’t think you’d ever want a new car there.

We enjoyed our breakfast, packed the car and paid the phone bill of $229.00. Hopefully this will be reimbursed through our insurance – that will be another hurdle when we get home.

We set off for Rome with a clear agenda – find accommodation, then work out the best way to get into Rome to the Australian Embassy to apply for new interim passports. We were a bit tichy about the toll lanes too.

We had a good trip to Rome and shared the driving well. Graham drove from Sorrento and I drove into Rome! Our accommodation was booked on airbnb and the pictures on the web looked lovely. Let me tell you it really is an Oasis in Harmony in Rome –The house is set on at least 4 acres just 8 kms out of the city and situated in Appia Antica – the old Rome. We were met by Marianne, our host’s mother. Federico is in Berlin for work at the moment and mum has been left to run this business. Marianne was fantastic and even prepared lunch – prosciutto and melon with salad and crusty bread. Her friend Michaele went with us in the car to the Embassy after lunch where we arrived at about 3.45pm. The embassy closes at 4.30 so we were under the pump to get the paperwork done and then walk a few blocks to have photos taken, then return with them to the Embassy. We had about 2 minutes to spare and left at 4.45pm with paperwork all done and hopefully we will be able to pick up out interim passports on Monday afternoon. When we arrived home we had the opportunity to chat to Marianne. She manages the gardens with the assistance of a part time gardener. She was born in Germany and her family are all from a medical background. She studied a diploma-working with premature babies. When she came to Italy her qualifications were not recognized so she applied for and got a job with Alitalia where she was the purser for 26 years taking her all over the world - even to Melbourne. She has three sons who are all in the financial/economist field and each in a different country at the moment. She has been most helpful regarding getting transport around Rome. Walking was her best recommendation once we get into Rome itself.

We are really blessed to have found this lovely place which has only been listed since June this year. We feel that we can relax and recover for a few days as well as see as much of Rome as we can.
Marianne gave us the directions to the closest Carrefour supermarket and after coffee, we set off to shop for a few days. Dinner and then set about planning the next few days with the use of the computer, Lonely Planet and Frommer’s Guide to Italy. Did a couple of loads of washing as well! We had planned a later start, with me getting my report sorted for insurance and car insurance claims and maybe Commonwealth Bank if necessary.
We both had a fabulous sleep and awoke around 8am.

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