Family vacation 2017!
Let me just start off by saying – if you ever get a chance to visit Italy… GO! (But avoid Naples at all costs, seriously. More on that later.)
Have you ever had a dream (good or bad) that you know you had, but you can’t seem to recall all of the details? That’s what this trip was like for us. It was an absolute whirlwind! Feels completely surreal!
This trip was totally different than anything we’d ever done before. It wasn’t an American beach vaca or an island all inclusive. We were on the move… a lot! Here’s a quick rundown of the traveling portion of the trip:
- Car to Charlie Brown’s
- Shuttle to airport
- Tram to plane
- Plane to Atlanta
- Plane to Venice
- Water taxi bus
- Private water taxi to airport
- Jet to Naples
- Taxi to ferry
- Ferry to Sorrento
- Ferry back to Naples
- Alibus to train station
- Train to Rome
- Taxi to hotel
- Taxi to airport
- Plane to Detroit
- Plane to Pittsburgh
- Shuttle to Charlie Brown’s
- Car HOME!
I knew that traveling abroad with a toddler was a big deal, but our son is a road dawg! He’s a true traveler! So many people were shocked that we were taking such a big trip with our baby. Um, do you know us? Attachment parenting all the way! We barely go to the grocery store without him! We weren’t going to fly across the ocean without him! The first flight to Atlanta went really well. I was super anxious about the 9.5 hour flight to Venice. Luckily, it was overnight and we were all tired. *PROTIP: have your toddler hand the flight attendants chocolates and a “thank you” card. You’ll get 9.5 hours worth of special treatment! Nursing, baby wearing, little prizes, movies on the iPad, and play doh were all keys to success on our multiple flights, by the way! My husband and I didn’t sleep much but our son did. Almost the entire flight! We were so excited we couldn’t chill out! Oddly we weren’t tired when we arrived!
Adrenaline rushes are real, my friends!
Our friend/travel agent worked out almost all of the details! We didn’t have much to stress over! But even still, traveling is a bit stressful! When we got to the Venetian airport we had to decide how to get to our hotel. You have two choices: water taxi bus or a private boat. It was more cost effective to take the water taxi bus so we did, but in hindsight: spend more, get there quicker! (We definitely paid the extra extra for the private speed boat on our return!) The water taxi bus was pleasant but LONG. We were told it would take an hour, but it took two. We met nice people and saw beautiful parts of the city from the water.
Venice was incredible! There are literally no cars, bikes, scooters, etc! Walking and boating are the only means of transportation! We felt safe at all hours of the night and day. All the food we ate was INCREDIBLE (except the black pasta!) We tried the traditional Venetian dish but couldn’t get into it. It was black pasta made with cuddle fish ink! Eek! Not our favorite! We explored the city’s roads and got completely lost in its charm. We did the touristy Gondola ride and loved every minute of it! Our hotel was absolutely charming! Hotel Monte Carlo was small, quiet, clean, and accommodating. We loved their breakfasts in the morning and Adam was thrilled about their afternoon tea time which included coffees, teas, and sweet treats. Everette loved dancing to the outdoor bands and trying mommy and daddy’s gelato. We searched for cannolis in Venice but couldn’t find them! (I made up for this in Sorrento! Lol!) Venice was picture perfect! We loved every minute of our time there!
We packed up and left our hotel early to catch a high speed, private water boat to the Venice airport. It was absolutely thrilling! We loved the air going through or hair and watching the sun rise! We got on a jet and headed to Naples. It was another easy flight for our boy! He loved seeing the planes and the “trains” (aka the golf cart things that loaded the luggage!) “CHOO CHOO!” When we arrived at the airport in Naples we went to the information desk to find out the best way to catch our ferry. It was around 10am and our ferry didn’t leave til 3 so we weren’t in a rush. The woman at the desk was very kind. She told us that all airport taxis were a flat rate of 19 euros. Our taxi driver eagerly loaded our bags and impatiently waited for us to install E’s car seat. He picked him up and put him in the van. Yeaaaah, not okay! Everette was a hot mess from a stranger grabbing him but settled down once he saw the trains and cars. When we arrived at the ferry station, I handed the driver 20 euros and he kept saying “no no what is this? No I’m sorry!” So Adam interjected “19 euros flat rate from the airport.” “NO! The driver became more irritated.” He ended up charging us meter + flat rate AND charging us for baggage… whatever. We were super early for the ferry so we thought we’d grab lunch before departing… but Naples is a shithole. #sorrynotsorry (Adam said I shouldn’t write shithole but I can’t think of another word to describe it!) I spoke with the ferry crew and we headed out on the 11am ferry instead! Thank God! Another scam came our way on the ferry. They wanted to charge us for our bags but didn’t have change… so they didn’t ask again. Weird. Seemed like some people in Naples were just trying to make extra $ off of tourists which was unnerving and annoying.
The ferry ride was pleasant. We sailed ride next to Mt Vesuvius! That was exciting! When we arrived in Sorrento the sun was shining and we were ready for the beach! But we had to find our hotel first! Sorrento is where the Italians vacation so we couldn’t ask for much help because we don’t speak much Italian and most people there didn’t seem to speak much English. (Which is not a judgement, of course we didn’t expect anyone to speak English. We were in ITALY!)
We were absolutely blown away by Hotel Tramantano! It’s garden entrance was breathtaking. Everything was perfectly manicured. The lobby was grand and felt like we stepped back into time- but everything was so clean and preserved. It didn’t have the warm feel of Hotel Monte Carlo. It was much more regal. We loved our garden view room. The marble floors were gorgeous but a bit unnerving with a wild thing toddler running around! The staff was incredible – our room was super clean, the waitstaff was attentive. They all really fussed over Everette. Breakfast was probably one of the best things about the hotel! The views were INCREDIBLE! Every table overlooked the water and Mt Vesuvius! We loved the beach, pool, and the city as a whole!
Our Italian beach adventure was amazing but way different than our experiences with American beaches. The beach was private and you had to pay admission to enter. (We didn’t because of our hotel affiliation.) Children played in the sand but no one laid on towels in it like we do here at home. You had to rent chairs, umbrellas, etc which was fine but because we don’t speak Italian it took us a little while to figure out! Adam loved swimming in the gulf, I loved collecting sea glass, and Everette loved digging with his shubby (shovel), playing in the water, & eating pizza on the beach!
He literally ate pizza and pasta for every meal! He would’ve for breakfast too if they would’ve been available. “PAS-TA peets, mommy! PEETSA, peets, mommy!”
The streets in Sorrento were not quiet like the ones in Venice! They were narrow like Venice but there were cars, busses, golf carts, and scooters were EVERYWHERE! It was super crazy and cool to see vehicles drive down what we would consider narrow alley ways. We felt super comfortable and safe in Sorrento just like we did in Venice. We shopped around and ate cannolis! Not just any cannolis but the BEST CANNOLIS EVER!! I could’ve eaten 1000000!
One day after breakfast we went for a walk. We didn’t know where we were going- we just walked. Well, we thought we’d find a farmers market but hahaha we had no clue how to so we just wandered. We saw barbershops and even a wedding! That was fun to run into. We went into a grocery store and decided to pick up things for lunch. Rolls, salami, cheese, fruit… and it was perfect! We sat outside of the grocery store and ate. Felt super authentically Italian for like 20 minutes! We also found a lemon and orange grove. It was beautiful. Everette loved running through it.
It was an amazing, dream come true kind of trip… until it wasn’t. Part II will be posted later. It still makes my stomach ache – even to type it! Ciao for now!