Italy, June 2003, Day 2

In the morning, we go to the market. The market is run by what you might consider a typical Italian family. The old man runs the place and he doesn’t speak much English. He helps us pick out produce. His wife works behind the counter. Most items you have to ask for and she’ll get it for you, bread, cereal etc. Their son also works behind the counter. He must carry boxes and crates all day. The old man is short, comes up to my shoulders probably, and hunched over all the time. His wife is also short and stocky with cropped brown hair and unshaven armpits. But they seem genuinely nice. He helps us pick out produce and she tries to understand our broken Italian. She counts out our change very deliberately as to teach us.

The Amalfi coast is known for its lemons. They are as big as grapefruits! They also had tons of other fruit: types of cherries I’d never seen before, nectarines, apples, oranges that were also massive.

We bought some fruit, bread and gallons of water. The heat is unbelievable. Our apartment has no air conditioning and it’s beginning to get oppressive. The entire town shuts down from around noon until three. There is a breeze coming off the water that cools things some.

The apartment has two floors. You walk in off the “street” (which is actually an alley or sidewalk, but they all have street names) onto the second floor. To the right of the door is Geoff’s room and the bathroom. Directly across from the entrance is our room and next to ours Keith and Gail’s room (which also has a bathroom). Our room and the adjoining room open out to the second story balcony. Geoff is not so lucky. But that’s what he gets for arriving a day late.

Downstairs there is a sitting area to the left of the stairs. Immediately behind the sitting area is the third bathroom. The entire thing was tiled dark blue. It contained a toilet, what seemed to be an ill-functioning bidet, a sink and a shower. The shower was just a drain in the tile floor, a nozzle and a couple knobs on the wall. No divides or anything.

The dining area to the immediate right. With the small kitchen behind it. The best thing about the kitchen was the toaster. Instead of being like a standard toaster where the bread pops up, it had two baskets on handles that you lowered in. Very nice since the bread was a lot smaller than I am used to.

Then farther back another sitting area. The couch there was actually a sleeper, but no one used it for that.

All of the rooms downstairs opened up to the first floor patio.

Being geniuses, we decide to take a walk to the beach in the early afternoon/late morning. It looks like it would be really close, but no. It’s down miles and miles of stairs.

But the views on the way down are just breathtaking. And the Italians are very smart and put in a drinking fountain on the way down the largest hill. Plus the walls of the stairs are just the right height to sit on. The way back is a little rough, but we make it.

Today, Brendan and Keith had to go to Sorrento and pick Geoff up at the train station. They were so proud of themselves, they got to the station all kinds of early, and so they got a prime parking spot and went to wait for the train to come. It arrived (on time even) and no Geoff. Then they realized, they were one town away from Sorrento proper.

So back on the road and they park again and find Geoff waiting at the station. They help him with his bags and walk him to the car. All the time they are telling him about how crappy the place that we rented is. How there’s no AC etc. and then they get to the beemer and Bren says “Well this is us.” Geoff doesn’t believe it, and then Brendan pops the trunk. There is much celebration. Of course then Geoff finds out that in fact, the place rocks.

We decide that we should all go out to a nice restaurant in town. We all eat a whole lot since we’ve been sweating and going up and down stairs for the past few days (which doesn’t change a whole lot the entire trip). All I really remember about dinner is that there wasn’t a whole lot of butter around, but the olive oil and basil was wonderful. And then dessert, we had a sampling of some local pastries. Of my favorite, a light cake with lemon creme filling and icing I said, “It tastes like eating lemon air.” Which inspired Keith to start keeping track of interesting quotes from the trip.

After dinner, we went back to the apartment and drank a lot of lemoncello. Lemoncello is meant to be drunk in small amounts after dinner. It is best when it’s very very cold. Essentially it’s made of grain alcohol, lemon zest and sugar. Strong stuff to say the least. Keith and I got into this heated discussion of God and science and I gave him my second brilliant quote of the evening: “I’m smarter than everyone, and you all know it!”

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

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