Back in the states

We kept a pretty low profile while in London. Lots of Judge Judy and gas station food.

The day finally came and we boarded our very empty plane back to the states.

A quick, not really, ten hours later we had made it to Miami. After a few basic checks we were officially on the other side of immigration and had made it back “home”. Whew!

It was pretty exciting to be back on US soil. Just something about the comforts of the known.

While in London the kiddos and Dad had convinced me to book a house in Orlando with a pool and  spa while we awaited our flight back to the cold white North.

Oh man am I happy I humored them! Ha!

Not only did we get a deal because, well, Airbnb’s aren’t exactly thriving at the moment but it has given us a chance to “self isolate”.  And of course it’s been pretty awesome to soak up some sun and enjoy the water.

We’ve got a few more days here and then we head north. We’ll face a 14 day mandatory quarantine up there, but it sounds like there’s still a ridiculous amount of snow on the ground so what else are you going to do, right?!?

Today we made a video recapping our European Adventure.

I’m so grateful we got this experience. Even with a health crisis at our heels. I mean would the Cunningham’s do it any other way?!?


Check out my new page “Pompeii”

“Pompeii”

Where to start:

When I first started planning our Europe trip, it obviously started with a budget. You can find lots of information on how to prepare for any trip HERE! So at this point, I’ll assume you’re all caught up, and we can move on with Europe specific planning.

First off, you’ll need to set your time frame and determine your locations. Then you’ll need to plan your route and decide what types of lodging fit your budget and style. Simultaneously you should research flight options and activities and keep plugging all this info into your spreadsheet.

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW WE DID POMPEII!

 

LODGING

Obviously, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where we were going to stay. Typically down in Central America, it’s all about the hostel. But if you’ve read my budget travel tips, when you’re traveling as a group, hostels are not always the best value. Think about it, if the going rate for a bed in a mixed dorm is $10, you’ve already committed to spending $40, and you don’t even have your own bathroom. So it’s best to expand your search to everything from traditional hotels to renting private homes. We never stayed in a hostel during our European tour. Mostly we used Airbnb and Booking.com with a few random sites here and there. All the prices listed include taxes and fees.

POMPEII- Airbnb – $47 per night

CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE

There are several neighborhoods that you can stay in to enjoy the highlights of southern Italy. As with all lodging, you have to determine what type of transportation you have, what sites you are interested in, and overall what kind of vibe you want to experience with your stay. Initially, we were just going to stay in Naples, which is probably what most people do. It’s a large city, plenty of restaurants, shopping, and a major transportation hub.

But once I started learning about the surrounding areas, I realized that a smaller suburb like Pompeii would be a better fit. I don’t love being in the heart of a big city unless I can literally walk to everything I’m interested in. But to explore southern Italy the way we wanted to, we realized we were going to need a car, so that opened up a lot of other areas to stay. Specifically, we stayed in Torre Annunziata just on the outskirts of Pompeii. This location would allow us to stay central to Herculaneum, Pompeii, Matera, and Naples. Overall the neighborhood was great. Lots of food options and markets, although they really stretch out their siesta time at both. Very cheap too! It was a very centralized location, right off the main highway. I would happily stay here again.

ACTIVITIES

We figured this part of our adventure was going to be pretty busy. We wanted to visit Herculaneum, Vesuvius, Pompeii, the Almalfi Coast, Matera, and maybe a quick tour of Naples. We didn’t pre-book anything for this visit, as it was the low season, and because our adventures were weather dependent, we wanted as much flexibility as possible.ย  We had the advantage of time, if you don’t know by now, we really like to take things slow, so more often than not, we spread out our activities to keep it leisurely.

A few notes on activities. When you’re researching things to do in an area, it’s really easy to get lost in the mix. And it seems as though it gets harder and harder to find Official Websites. There are so many skip-the-line websites, and perhaps you decide that the increased fee is worth it, but first, you have to locate the base price on the official website to make that determination.

  • Vesuvius – $60 – We made the drive from our Airbnb to the base of Vesuvius. You can only drive so far up the mountain, and then you can either walk or take a shuttle to the entry. During low season the parking is free, and it’s approximately $3 per person for the shuttle. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND INFO The shuttle bus takes you farther up the mountain approximately 2-3 miles. After you exit the shuttle bus, you will pay for your entry tickets and walk the short distance to the trail. Keep in mind there are no bathrooms anywhere. Once on the trail, it’s a steep climb to the crater. It takes about 20-30 minutes to reach the first lookout. There are a few souvenir shops and snacks and drinks for sale at the top. Once on top, you can walk about half the crater and enjoy the different vantage points. This is a must-see for sure! It’s an easy enough walk down, if not a little slippery, but overall it was a great short hike! All in all, it took us about 3 hours from the time we parked the car to make the round trip.
  • Drive the Amalfi Coast – Free – We took advantage of our rental car and decided to drive the Amalfi coast. From Pompeii, it’s about a 3-hour loop without any stops. It was quite cold, so we weren’t interested in doing any beach time, but we wanted to see the breathtaking views and experience the famous road. We definitely got our money’s worth! The drive is not for the faint of heart. I would never consider driving it, but luckily my Hubby was up for the challenge. I definitely recommend making the drive, whether you drive the loop, stop for a quick bite, or head to the beach, the views from the coast do not disappoint. I wouldn’t, however, make the trip on one of the many buses that are available unless you are staying somewhere on the coast, but for a leisurely drive doing it in your own vehicle is a must!
  • Herculaneum – $30 – The drive to Herculaneum was not as challenging as others might make you think. Other than a slight wrong turn, it was pretty easy to find the site, as well as parking. And as far as I could tell, there are no ZTL’s in the area, more on this down below. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND INFO Herculaneum is a relatively small site, we easily saw everything we wanted in just a few hours. We didn’t hire a guide as the onsite guides were asking for a minimum of approximately $75 for about 45 minutes. If you are interested in hiring a guide, I would look elsewhere, just based on my short experience in talking with the guides. I downloaded the official online guides, map, and itinerary, but it was a bit of a challenge to find your way around. There are lots of audio guides available in the app store that might be a good option, but overall if you have the patience to scroll through the online guide, you’ll get an overall idea of what you’re looking at.
  • Matera – FREE –ย Matera is about a 3-hour drive from Pompeii. We opted not to stay in the area, but rather make the drive, tour the city and the caves, and head back to Pompeii. The cost of lodging was a bit pricey in Matera, and I didn’t feel we needed a ton of time to tour the city. Turns out, we accomplished everything we wanted on our day trip. The roads are very easy heading out to Matera, wide and well maintained. Arriving in the city is a bit confusing. There’s lots of information regarding ZTL’s, parking, and where to view the Sassi. We attempted to find a parking garage, but we later discovered that this lot was in the ZTL, and there was no way we were going to make it there. There is one main garage in the modern city that has plenty of space. We actually parked at the castle for free and didn’t have any problems. Of course, if you’re staying there, you’ll want to contact your hotel and arrange it with them. Once we parked, we walked in on the main road, and there was a little snack shop with a bathroom and free wifi. Matera is kind of weird. When you watch the vlogs and such, you are expecting something totally different than what you see, at least at first. Matera is very much a bustling modern town, but the moment you walk to the riverside of Matera, you are transported in time, and you find yourself in the old city. The city of caves. This is the Matera that everyone knows. It’s a very small, easy town to navigate. Once we had our fill of the actual village, we wanted to explore the area across the ravine, The Murgia National Park. This area was amazing. The central spot is Belvedere. When we were there, you could either walk the 1.2 miles to the lookout, or you could take the shuttle. At 5 pm, they let you drive your own vehicle down the road. We drove to a couple of churches and explored the caves. I was hoping to drive to the Belvedere lookout at sunset, this is the best time to view the town, but we didn’t quite make it. Our day in Matera was a little shorter than I anticipated. I would allow just a couple of hours to walk around the city, and maybe another hour or two to tour the caves. So time your day accordingly so that you can make it to Belvedere and view the city as it lights up.
  • Pompeii – $35 – Once again, the drive was easy, and parking was even easier than Herculaneum. As soon as you exit the highway, you will see numerous lots charging approximately $10 for all-day parking. I definitely wouldn’t pay more than this. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND INFO Some even offer free parking if you eat at a particular restaurant, probably overpriced, but it’s free parking. There are some ZTL’s in the area, but they can be easily avoided. Pompeii is huge. The map is confusing, and following the itinerary can be a challenge. Again, I didn’t hire a guide, they were quoting a minimum of $100. If I were to do things again, I think I would hire a guide, but I would definitely find an outside source. I hate to say it, but there was just something about the onsite guides that I didn’t love. Airbnb experiences seem to have some really good options. We got around with the help of signs and such, and quite honestly, at the end of the day, all of the ruins kind of bleed together. The highlights of Pompeii are the castes, and these can be found by using the signboards.

FOOD

We were fortunate enough to find a great little pizzeria literally just a few minutes up the steps from our Airbnb. Pizzeria Del Corso was amazing! The best owners and such amazing pizza and paninis. We relied on this restaurant primarily for dinner options and opted to purchase breakfast items at the market. Again, the area was very reasonably priced for food options. We did find the “siesta” to be somewhat of a hindrance, though. We are definitely not on siesta time. Luckily for us lazy Americans, it was McDonald’s to the rescue. You see, the markets and restaurants shut down between about 1 pm and 7 pm. And just because they open back up atย  7 pm doesn’t mean they’re going to have food, that may take an hour or so. Definitely, not a problem, just a part of their culture, you just need to plan for food accordingly. Needless to say, we kind of got sucked into the McDonald’s vortex while in Pompeii. It was easy, convenient, and familiar!

TRANSPORTATION

We did not take any public transit while in Pompeii as we utilized our rental car the entire time. We picked up our rental in Rome at CIA and made the drive down to Pompeii. We had been warned about the roads, moreover the drivers, in Italy but for the most part, we did ok. The highways are wide and well maintained. They should be considering the tolls that are collected. Of course, when you get in a little town or something the roads get pretty narrow and indeed the drivers don’t slow down one bit. If you are a hesitant driver, I would not recommend driving in Italy, it is intense. But for someone who enjoys going fast and pushing the limits on the narrow winding roads, it looks like a lot of fun. Of course, I wouldn’t know because I had my eyes closed at least half the time!

  • Dollar Rental Car – $145 – Expedia – I had a lot of hesitation with renting a car in a foreign country. My first questions was insurance. Of course, the rental company provides liability insurance, but you also need to cover yourself against theft, vandalism, and damage. I learned that my insurance, Progressive, did not cover any damage to the vehicle like it does here in the states. It’s my understanding the most US insurance companies do not extend to international rentals aside from maybe Mexico/Canada. Be sure to check your current provider. So then I was left with a choice to purchase an additional insurer like Allianz for approximately $11 per day, or the other alternative is to rely on your credit card benefits. Another option is to purchase directly from the rental company, but these rates are approximately $30 per day, entirely unreasonable. Information regarding renting in Italy makes things even more confusing as the rules have changed recently. I was not forced to purchase their CDW, I solely relied on my credit card benefits. Thankfully we didn’t have any issues, but my hope would be that the credit card company would come through. Just be sure to check the terms with your credit card provider. I was also hesitant about navigating the roads in a different language and parking. We used Google maps to navigate, it was easy, even in the little towns. Parking definitely would have been a challenge if we would have been forced to park on the street. That is not something I would feel comfortable with, especially in a rental car. I saw people actually slide their bumper along the wall in order to fit. That’s crazy! We just committed to taking extras time to find a suitable space and/or pay the extra money to park in a dedicated lot. We never found it to be a problem.
  • Tolls/Fuel/Parking – $150 – We drove a lot in this area and got hit with a lot of tolls. I didn’t have a problem using a route that contained tolls because I felt this was usually a safer option and worth the money. Overall our fuel was fairly inexpensive, the cars here get excellent gas mileage, but the fact is it all adds up. If I were to do it again, I would have no hesitation about renting a car and paying the fees that comes with that choice, as long as hubby’s diving, of course!
  • ZTL (Zona Traffica Limitado) – I had no idea what this was until I happened to come across a random forum when I was in search of a car park for Herculaneum. It’s just not something that had ever come up. Basically, these are zones, primarily in the big cities, Rome, Venice, Florence, maybe Naples, that are literally areas where traffic is prohibited, and you may face hefty fines if found driving in these zones without a permit, which as a visitor you cannot obtain. I saw these signs in Matera and Pompeii, although they could be avoided fairly easily. The bottom line is if you are planning on going to one of the bigger cities, I would do a little more research. These zones don’t show up on google maps or anything, so it may take a little digging, but as far as I understand, they don’t impact major highways, it’s more in neighborhoods to keep traffic off the streets.

TOTAL BUDGET

Lodging Total Lodging Per Night
$326 $47
Food and Misc Total Food and Misc Per Day
$320 $46
Transportation
$293
Activities
$124
Total Pompeii Expenses Total Per Day Total Per Person Per Day
$1,064 $152 $38

 

Check out my new page “Europe Flights”

“Europe Flights”

Where to start:

When I first started planning our Europe trip, it obviously started with a budget. You can find lots of information on how to prepare for any trip HERE! So at this point, I’ll assume you’re all caught up, and we can move on with Europe specific planning.

First off, you’ll need to set your time frame and determine your locations. Then you’ll need to plan your route and decide what modes of transportation you will use. Simultaneously you should research lodging options and activities and keep plugging all this info into your spreadsheet.

I determined that we had about 7 weeks, and it was in our best interest, mostly for financial reasons, to fly to each new location. Train travel sounds like a dream, but it is expensive, at least for the short time frame I was looking at. Perhaps if you had months and several different countries, a Eurail pass might be beneficial, but every situation is unique, and you just have to find the sweet spot for what you’re doing. We are primarily hopping from city to city via budget airlines. We also plan on renting a car in a couple of spots. Once I determined that flying was our main mode of transportation, I hit Google Flights and started checking routes and prices.

How did we determine our route?

It took me a long time to decide what path we should take. I literally have columns and columns on a spreadsheet where I took each location and priced our flights in every direction. Here’s a little glimpse into the madness:

As you can see, we had a set of areas that we wanted to travel to, and it was just about finding the right order. Cost is always at the forefront of my decision making, but if the price difference is negligible, then I start thinking about flight Length, flight departure and arrival time, and overall flow of the trip. You may have an experience that limits your dates in a specific location, or perhaps prices are significantly higher at one time or another. All these things need to be considered when planning your route.

After I sifted through my research and got a rough idea of our itinerary, I was confident in booking our big flights. We decided to fly to London and fly out of Paris. This was mostly driven by cost. Overall the cheapest cities that I found to fly in and out of were London, Barcelona, and Paris.

Our Long Haul Flights:

We opted for Norwegian Air. It’s here that it pains me to say I overpaid for my flights, ugh! I hate it when that happens. I purchased our flights in late August for a February Departure and a March Arrival. I was so close. Basically, the flights went down about a week after I made my purchase. I overpaid but about $20 on our departure and about $40 for our Arrival. I was happy with the price I paid, but obviously, I could have saved a little more, I just get too trigger happy I suppose! Now that I’ve been tracking the price, I can see that the flights have been roughly the same since the beginning of September and don’t appear to be fluctuating.

Total for our Long Haul Flights:

Norwegian Air (No Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

MCO-LGW $160pp

CDG-FLL $189pp

Roundtrip $349pp

Family Total $1396

While it’s not the best price in the world, I still think it was a fair price. This does not include seat selection or baggage. Every passenger on Norwegian gets 1 bag at 10kg or roughly 20lbs. And while we did not pay to select seats, we did wind up getting seated together. In fact, it was one of the best flights I’ver ever taken. No frills, no food, no perks. But we were very satisfied.

Our Hopper Fights:

After we got our long haul flights booked, I was able to hit our reservations at both ends. For anyone who knows me, they know that I am horribly noncommital. But for anyone who understands budget travel, they realize that spontaneity and budget don’t go hand in hand. So for me, I start with the things I know are not going to change, leaving what little room I do have for spontaneity along the way.

The first flight I booked was from LGW-ATH. This was a must because no matter what, we had to get out of London, and once again, it came down to price. Based on all of the research, I determined that this was the cheapest way to get to Athens.

Easy Jet (Prepaid Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

LGW-ATH$34pp

Family Total $136

The next flight I booked was from RAK-TLS. Now, this is where it gets a little weird. We really hadn’t talked about Marrakesch, but one of us got a wild hair, and I ran with it. I happened to find an amazing flight from Marrakesch to Toulouse, France. Only $25 per person. I thought, WOW, this was a deal. Marrakesch is generally a little more expensive than say getting from Paris to Rome, so coming across something like this was awesome.

Plus, Olivia had gone on her European tour over the summer and really wanted to take us to some spots along the coast of France and Spain, and the only way this was going to happen was on a road trip. So, we decided that we would fly into Toulouse, rent a car, dip down into Spain and then drive back up to Paris. Back to the amazing flight, I decided to take a chance and book a flight out of Marrakesch even before I had a flight to the city, but I figured it would all work out.

Easy Jet (Prepaid Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

RAK-TLS $25pp

Family Total $100

Next up, I booked our flight from ATH-CIA. By now, I had a pretty good plan of where we would be staying and for how long. Marrakesch was still a bit up in the air, but once again, I only had us going as far as Athens, so we had to get somewhere, and Rome made the most sense. At the time of booking, we were either going to fly out of Naples or Rome to get to Marrakesch, either way, flying into Rome from Athens was way cheaper than Naples.

Ryan Air (Prepaid Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

ATH-CIA $34pp

Family Total $136

Lastly, I booked our flight from NAP-RAK. This one really got dicey. I track flights regularly, review historical averages, and scour the blogs for good prices. But sometimes you just get sucked into wanting to save even more. It’s kind of like a gambler’s mentality, ha! Anyways, I missed out on a good flight, and then the price shot up and wouldn’t come down. Day after day, I waited and refreshed with no luck. Then one day, the price finally came down, and I jumped on it immediately. This was the last piece of the flight puzzle. While it wound up being an expensive flight, I am pleased with the price we paid.

Ryan Air (Prepaid Seats/Cabin Bag 10kg)

NAP-RAK $75pp

Family Total $300

Check out my new page “Europe with Teens”

Europe with Teens

We’ve dreamed of visiting Europe for years, I mean, who hasn’t? And for 2020, we finally made it happen. The countries on our list:

England

Greece

Italy

Morocco (Yes, I understand this is part of Africa)

Spain

France

More specifically, we will be spending:

7 nights in London

7 nights in Athens

7 nights in Rome

7 nights just outside of Pompeii

6 nights in Marrakesch

6 nights on a road trip through Spain and France

3 nights at Disneyland Paris

and

7 nights in Paris

Obviously, Europe is a big place. But I think we are hitting the touristy highlights. Some would say that getting off the beaten path is a truer way to soak up the culture and have a meaningful trip, but when it comes to Europe, I think I’ll save that for my second tour. For now, I want to see what has made Europe famous, the Louvre, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. All the greats!

You also may be wondering how Morocco got put on the list. To be honest, I did want a little bit of an authentic experience, and I felt that Marrakesch may offer that, but mostly it came down to cheap flights. You’ll find plenty of budget specific information on each countries page.

As for the kiddos, they are now 15 and 13 and have really matured quite a bit since that first trek to Central America. They’ve been exposed to so much world history over the years, and we really hit the books and You Tube hard prior to our trip just trying to soak in all the history and prepare for actually being here.

During the summer of 2019, I really began to realize that my kiddos were starting to become their own little people. Actually big people. At 13 and 15 I just don’t have much time left with these guys, and quite honestly I wanted to do a big trip to capture this moment in time. Of course, we will continue to travel and vacation and spend time with each other, but you never again have what you’ve got right now, so you might as well do something with it!

Plus, Europe was the only general destination that I could get the kids to agree on, moreover they were both really excited about Europe. So away we went!

Pompeii Days 6 and 7

This is going to be a short one folks!

We got tired and maybe a little virus phobic and opted to sit at the Airbnb for the remainder of our stay.

We accomplished all of our goals Except eating at a particular pizzeria in Naples, which would have required public transit. And to be honest we had gone the whole stay with the rental car with no need to hop on a crowded metro, and pizza just wasn’t worth it.

So we hit the market and stocked up on groceries. Plus we got to save some money. It’s a win!

We did however need to do laundry and for the amazing low price of 5 Euros we dropped off our giant bag and picked it up the next day all folded and ready to go. Seriously our clothes have never been this clean!

Good thing because we’re about to hit the Sahara!

Africa here we come ๐Ÿ™‚

Pompeii Day 5

Seriously. 5 days in a row and we’ve managed to get out and about. This must be a record!

They say what sets Herculaneum apart from Pompeii is the preservation. And perhaps from an archaeologists perspective that’s the case. But honestly I was a little more impressed with Pompeii. At the very least I think they’re on the same level.

That said it is true that Pompeii is a much larger site. But to be honest at the end of the day, unless you have an archaeologist guiding you with fun stories, once you’ve seen one shop or house or bath they all kind of blur together.

And when we did have our guide for Rome, she definitely made me realize that much of the information these guides share is completely hypothetical. It seems so easy to believe this fountain was named after that God and this Emperor enjoyed bathing at this pool, and so on. That’s not to say that there’s not information left behind that’s reliable. But I think archaeologists take a lot of liberty when they’re retelling the past.

In any case we opted not to hire a guide, and just enjoyed the sites on our own.

We’ve watched a lot of documentaries and such to prepare and anything we can’t answer on-site we quickly look up when we get back to the internet.

On with the tour!

The Grounds

The Casts

The Art

The Artifacts

Pompeii Day 4

Wow. We have really been productive so far. And we’ll keep the ball rolling with a visit to Matera. It was about a 3 hour drive from Pompeii, but really easy. Good roads. No windy mountain passes or anything. And plenty of services along the way.

Matera is one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world dating back nearly 10,000 years.

Matera includes the Sassi area, a complex of cave dwellings
carved into the mountainside. Evacuated in 1952 due to poor living conditions, like malaria. The Sassi now houses museums and rock churches, but as you can see indicated by a line of drying clothes there are still plenty of homes that are inhabited.

Across from the city is Murgia National Park. It’s these Paleolithic caves that paved the way for the city. The cave dwellings and rock churches on this side of the ravine are just as spectacular.

Getting there is easy, until you reach the very modern town that is. Getting down to the Sassi areas can be quite complicated when driving.

We parked at the castle and walked in because of the ZTL’s. This is really the only way to get to the town if you’re in a vehicle.

It’s an easy walk and once you’re on the other side of the modern town it’s a complete transformation. Instantly you know you’re in the, “Matera from the pictures”.

Around the Sassi

A view of Murgia from the city

We wandered around the narrow roads of the Sassi for a bit and decided to head over to the national park. We really enjoyed being at the park and exploring the caves. Even if I still freak out and tell the children, and Dad, not to get too close to the edge!

And on our way out we were met with these guys, kinda funny! I don’t know if I have ever seen a cow bell actually attached to said cow before ๐Ÿ™‚

Pompeii Day 3

So today was our visit to Herculaneum.

We’ve all heard of Pompeii of course, but Herculaneum lies at the foot of Vesuvius just NW of Pompeii.

Herculaneum is far better preserved than Pompeii and gives a much clearer picture into the lives of the over 4000 people who inhabited the town before that fateful day in 79 A.D.

The thick layer of ash that blanketed the town also protected it against looting and the elements. Unlike Pompeii, the mainly pyroclastic material that covered Herculaneum preserved more wood in objects such as roofs, beds, and doors, as well as other organic-based materials such as food.

It is much smaller than Pompeii and only bout 10% is uncovered today.

I think we forget how much color was used because typically when we tour ruins all the colors have been lost. But the ruins of Herculaneum give us a great view of original flooring as well as frescoes.

It was definitely an eye opening experience especially down in the boat yard.

The Grounds

The Art

The Boatyard

The Structures

The Museum

After our tour we had worked up quite the appetite so it was off to McDonald’s! This whole siesta thing really messes us up, ha!

Coolest McD ever though. Who doesn’t want this coffee/bakery at every location in the states?!?

Pompeii Day 2

We climbed Mt.Vesuvius!

So this has kind of been a dream since I was in Junior High. I’ve always wanted to visit this area of Italy.

Vesuvius was the volcano that erupted around 79 A.D. that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Today it is still considered an active volcano.

And from these pics you can see our hike. We drove our car quite a ways up the mountain and parked along a road where the shuttle bus comes as this is as far as you’re allowed to go.

The shuttle bus took us about 2 miles and dropped us off about 5 minutes from the entrance.

Obviously special people got to drive their car farther. Some even got chauffered to the top. Which is crazy because the path isn’t very car friendly.

The trek up the volcano is seriously steep but only takes about 30 minutes to reach the crater.

Almost there!

Finally we reached the top!

After our volcano tour we wanted to head south and cruise the infamous Amalfi Coast. Too cold of course to do any beach time but the views were incredible.

And if you look really hard you can see Sicily way out there.

Dad did a super great job driving. I mean this road is crazy. Between the narrow roads. The busses. And the steep cliffs. This trip definitely took years off my life. Ha!

Pompeii Day 1

We left the Airbnb in Rome and began our short walk to the bus stop.

We had to catch a bus to the airport and pickup our rental car for the drive south.

As I said in my last post I was quite anxious and well I was walking too fast, looking at the map on my phone, and splat there I went on the pavement. Ugh, so lame.

Luckily I didn’t hurt myself too bad. Thank goodness for my bag, it saved me, and I proudly saved my phone! But I’m feeling it today. Ha!

Anyways.

At least with my little mishap it shook me out of my funk and I came to the realization that it’s ok not to know everything and if something goes wonky we’ll figure it out just like we always do.

Our new wheels for the week

The drive was nice. Kind of nice to get out of the big city. I think we’ve all realized how much we love Central America.

Our Airbnb is great. An amazing pizza place literally up the steps. A great view. Jacuzzi tub.

Couldn’t be better.