Day 1: Des Moines to Chicago to Frankfurt to Naples to Amalfi

Actually Day 1 and Day 2 combine to make one really long-ass day. Anyone who’s ever traveled to Europe knows you generally fly in the afternoon/evening but when you reach your destination it’s already tomorrow so you essentially lost a night’s sleep. Such is the price of traveling to Europe. I am not complaining.

First of all, let me just say that as I write this, I can hear waves crashing against the rocks just outside my hotel room. I have a teensy balcony and I just stepped out on it and took pictures of the coastline and wow, I could not ask for a more scenic place to lay my head for the next three nights.

But I have already gotten ahead of myself. First, the travel.

I left Des Moines International Airport at 11:11 this morning, well, I guess yesterday morning, and flew to Chicago. Hung out there for a couple of hours and then boarded my international flight to Frankfurt. It was one of those wide-body jets that has five seats in the middle of the plane and then two or three seats on each side. What you do NOT want is seat No. 3 in the center section – you will never see the light of day. I was lucky to get an aisle seat on the outside row, although the luck of the draw for my seat mate was not quite so lucky as he sniffled and coughed the entire time. He was an odd duck, too; I suspect he was a communist.

Anyway, I landed in Frankfurt, Germany, at something like 5:15 in the morning their time. Nothing was open in the airport – not even a place to get a cup of coffee. It was a real quiet place. But not for long – it sprang to life around 6:30 and I ended up standing in quite a long line for passport check and security. (Note to self: Do this when the lines are nonexistent…what the hell are you thinking?)

So, had a little 5 or 6 hour layover in Frankfurt (5 hours planned; more like 6 actual) and then took a short flight on Lufthansa (motto: we serve free booze and actual food unlike you stingy American airline companies). Flying out of Frankfurt was pretty cool because I had a great view of the city that just kept sprawling and sprawling in little concentric circles. And then a series of stunning views of the Swiss Alps. They looked like they had meringue on the tops, and they went for miles and miles and miles and had some little alpine lakes. It got cloudy as we flew south so I think I may have dozed a bit but I perked back up when we got close to Naples because it was green and, well, it just looked like Italy.

Our drive from Naples south along the Amalfi Coast was spectacular (although if you are prone to car sickness, take your Dramamine…I did not and I had to steel my eyes on the horizon a few times). We twisted and wound and hairpinned our way through lemon groves and purple wisteria and olive trees and vineyards and houses inexplicably built on the sides of cliffs and the every-present turquoise water.

So I am now at my destination, as I said, for the next three nights: The lovely Marmorata Hotel….

Note: I wrote this last night but couldn’t figure out the Internet access in my room. I’m in the lobby this morning and it works. Ciao!

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