Italy, June 2003, Day 1 (ish)

Last year at this time we were driving to our apartment/villa in Praiano.

It seems so long ago — of course, I’m not the one who got married. I’m sure Vince and Kate feel like it was just yesterday and so long ago all at the same time.

I’m just trying to recall day one…

We spent a lot of time in the airport waiting to get our car. We didn’t spend nearly as much time as Vince and Kate and their families, though. Things started off planned and then as the week went on, those plans just slipped apart. We were smart and got ourselves two European cell phones so that we could be in touch. When Bren and I were getting off the plane we had a message from Keith that Kate’s dad’s luggage was misplaced and they were trying to find it so they were still in the airport. Now, Bren and I were a good three hours behind them, but you guessed it, everyone was still in the airport. This was actually good news for us. Originally Bren and I were going to go pick up Keith and his mother Gail at Kate and Vince and Kate’s family’s hotel in Rome. What we didn’t know is that it was in a historic district so we wouldn’t have been able to drive in anyway.

As fate would have it, they were at a luggage belt just a few down from us so we met up with Keith and Gail and went to get the car. But before we got there, while we were on the phone with Keith, Vince and Kate left and Vince apparently said (this is a fact of great dispute to this day) “See you in Pompeii at the train station.” (Part two of our Grand Master Plan was to meet Vince in Pompeii on the two days before his wedding so that he could hang out with us his last nights as a bachelor. Didn’t exactly happen that way.)

Also, even though it was insanely hot, there wasn’t any air conditioning in the airport.

There were going to be six of us on a few days and five on most so we took a chance and reserved a midsize hatchback. They didn’t have any left so they gave us a Passat wagon. Nice, right? So we go from the rental car counter to the parking garage to get the keys and the car. Except that they gave the Passat to the woman in front of us. Both reservations happened at nearly identical times or something. So, we sent Brendan back to the counter. Meanwhile, there’s another couple, not American, maybe German, in the garage waiting for a car. They throw a huge fit and so the guy says to them well, you can have this tiny little Peugeot hatchback right now. They take it and drive off in a huff. Then, Brendan comes back with this huge grin on his face and walks us right to a navy blue BMW 5 series with tan leather interior. That’s what happens when you are nice, kids, you get to drive this:

on some of Europe’s most scenic roads.

Finally finding the guy, Pepino, who was to give us the keys and take us to the apartment was also a small adventure. He didn’t speak much English and kept hanging up on me when I’d call him. “I’m at the Del Sol” is what he actually said, but it sounded much more mangled. Then he’d say “You understand?” and I’d say no and he’d hang up! Fortunately town was very small.

He unloaded our car on the side of the road and then showed Bren where to park. They came down the massive hill on his scooter and Brendan was clinging on for dear life! Then we took off down the ramp past a restaurant and then to a square where there was a church.

And then back around the side (past the obligatory statue of Padre Pio) down at least 90 more stairs until we finally reached our apartment.

The walk was well worth it. This was our view:

I don’t think I could ever get tired of that view. Ever.

We had just enough time to run to the market before it closed and buy some bread, pasta, sauce and water. We were fortunate to be in the store at the same time as an American family who seemed to live there. Bren and Keith were busy talking with the parents trying to figure out what we should get. I wasted no time and asked their 10 year old son what he liked to eat — Barilla pasta! So we had a meal that we could have made at home.

all the photos are in the gallery.

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Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

Jessica has never been cool. She is OK with that.

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