Its Never Too Late For Italian Adventures

Dearest Lovers – Ive been fickle again with our Love Letters, letting drafts sit for months on the internet shelves without updating you on the Random adventures.  There’s been much ado in my life, but we’ll get to that later.  For now, I present to you the continuation of the Italian Adventure.
As the sun set on my time in Trieste, I boarded an overnight bus to the Milan airport to catch my flight to Naples to hit the Amalfi Coast, a bucket list item of mine for quite some time now. It would be a long travel day, with a 5 hour overnight bus, 2 hours in the terminal before a 90 minute flight, 50 minute ferry and 90 minute bus ride to reach my Amalfi Hills stay for the weekend. I got very little sleep on the first two legs of this travel, as the bus stopped frequently, my gate was right next to a foosball table, and my flight was too short for anything but a cat nap. Every book out there will tell you that willpower can be exhausted, and practice will tell you this is absolutely true, so when I landed in Naples, I scrapped my plans for public transport and rented a car for the next ten days…. I was tired of lugging my bags around between check outs and check ins, willing to pay the $40/day just for the luggage storage alone.
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New whip, who dis?
After securing my ride, I hit the highway headed towards the coast, deciding to make a quick stop in Pompeii now that my travel was squarely in my control. As I approached the archeological site, traffic began to back up massively, with parking lots full of busses to my left and right, clusters of tour groups following guides wielding flags, and I quickly decided my sleep deprived state could not handle this adventure, so I drove right on past… only to get stopped at a “road block” just a few hundred meters ahead. The male cops came to my window, immediately speaking English {how did they know}, asking me if I was traveling alone or with a “boyfriend”, and checking my documents. I couldn’t fathom why in the world I had gotten stopped, as it was impossible to speed through this human wrought area, and there had not been an opportunity for any sort of illegal motions… and then the officer returned. And hit on me. Unlike previous travel days and despite traveling overnight, I was in rather cleaned up shape, sporting the hair and makeup leftover from a date before my Trieste departure, but surely that wasn’t the reason I’d been pulled over, right? I was let off, no ticket, no warning (and no date for the inciting officer), and DL told me to take it as a compliment and move on. Eh, it was a confidence booster if nothing else.
I continue my drive into Amalfi, taking the coastal route with all the sweeping cliffside ocean views the area is so well known for. What no one tells you about is the traffic. City jams can last anywhere from 10-30 minutes, and my little Fiat AC is having trouble keeping up during these high noon stops. I eventually make it through Amalfi and up to my Hills area where I grab lunch before checking into my apartment. I grab a much wanted shower, grind out a few Friday afternoon meetings and emails before hitting the market. My apartment is about 10 minutes up into the hills from Amalfi proper, so I grab a couple of steaks and decide to cook for myself for the next few nights. The roads around here are nothing to mess with, parking is a bitch and I’m really just not in the mood.
After a good me night of a home cooked meal, laundry (which is really me washing my clothes in the sink as I haven’t seen a washing machine since week 4 in Sofia), and a Netflix original movie, I’m deciding my day as I sip tea on the grape trestle covered patio that overlooks the coast below. I decide to beach it down in Amalfi, but quickly get frustrated (once again) with the traffic and drive right on past and back up into the mountains, scrapping a beach day for mountain switchbacks and sweeping views. I cruise higher and higher, through villages that dot the mountains nestled between the two coasts, stopping in a village called Tramonti to grab a roadside Italian ice and take in the view of Pompeii, Vesuvius and Naples below. I skirt the western coast a bit before cutting back into the mountains close to Sorrento, headed back over to the Amalfi side. I end the day with another me night – steak, beer, and Dexter on Netflix. I guess sometimes solo travel really means solo, and I’m ok with that.
Sunday I check out of my apartment and realize my next check in is…. tomorrow. Whoops. I scramble to find single night accoms settling on a place on the tip of the coastal peninsula with fantastic views of Capri. I hit the road, winding through the rest of the Eastern Coast and stopping in Positano for some beach time and some lunch. I drop my bags at my new digs which does indeed have majestic views of Capri and head out for a little dinner. The tiny town I’m staying in has 2 restaurants, and the first one I try is full, however, an elderly gentleman in the front lets the host know that his wife and him have a table that seats 6, and they wouldn’t mind if I took one of the other four seats. After my initial protests which they refused to accept, I sat down with this couple, married 36 years here in the town of Termini. They insisted I share in their appetizers, tiny shrimps, local vegetables, a regional pasta specialty, as he showed me pictures of his boat, his home, their weeding, etc… I traded with pictures of my ancestors as well, and although they didn’t speak English and I certainly don’t speak Italian, we were able to get by, and even had help from a neighboring table.
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Positano from the water
My next stop was Sorrento, or more specifically Sant’Agnello, where I had a secured a hilltop villa overlooking Sorrento, Naples and Vesuvius. The villa did not disappoint, and I spent my time up there lounging by the pool, working from the gardens, and only descending into town to hit the local CrossFit gym. A couple days into my stay, the ACs arrived from the States, even with Aaron sporting 9 broken ribs and a Frankensteined collarbone. The next couple of days they patiently tolerated my late night meetings and calls between drinks, dinner and catching up. Thursday however, I took off work so we could adventure properly.
Aaron had secured us a driver and I was happy to give up the role for the day. The reality of driving the Amalfi coast is largely frustrating and includes horrible traffic, narrow, winding roads and mazes of one ways with no room for error – I have long since put driving after two drinks in the non starter column, but these roads bring that threshold down considerably. Needless to say, a day exploring the coast enjoyably means allowing someone else to drive.
We start in Termini, my previous accidental stop to take in the views of Capri before swinging around to Positano. A quick walk around to find a spot to have a few cocktails ends us at a hotel garden bar where we relax before heading to the beach. The beach is even more crowded than my previous visit, so we load back up and head to Amalfi itself. The stop and go traffic mixed with the twist and turns is not being good to Alissa, so we land at the pier and find a local spot to put her on solid ground for a bit with a glass of water. Once she’s appearing less green, we head to the docks to secure a boat, only to be told its impossible as it is too late in the day – but someone forgot to tell them that people rarely tell Aaron “no”. Within 20 minutes he had rented us a boat, sans skipper, and we are headed out for waterside coastal views with Aaron behind the helm – Aaron, with very little boating experience and an entire quadrant of his body practically out of commission. I am highly impressed at his handling of the situation, cruising up and down the coast in what seemed like an effortless fashion.  And he was absolutely right, the Amalfi Coast needs to be seen from the water.  Never not boat.
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From Amalfi we headed to Ravello, more specifically the Belmond Hotel Caruso, a suggestion from Dins and location of our dinner reservation. We ordered pre dinner cocktails before roaming the gardens and pools to take picture to capture the breathtaking scenery. We settle back in for apertivo while we wait for our seating, chatting with the piano man and surmising the situation of an intimate table for two set below our cocktail perch.  We’re escorted to dinner, which is beyond fantastic, and the wine flows as swiftly as the conversation, perfectly facilitating our naps as our chauffeur glides us back to Sorrento.

The next morning I’m off, 6 hours south down the coast to Amantea, where the Pino family name hails from, a cute town nested on the mountainous coast of Calabria.  If there were next chapters, they would include me getting my money’s worth out of a stay in an converted monastery, where the staff served me risotto in my room as I rode out a stress induced sickness, followed by a train ride to Sicily where I scootered around under the blue skies of Palermo for a week before heading back to Rome to fly to South Africa.  On this date, those adventures were four months ago, so I won’t be detailing them out in my usual fashion, as memory is not what it used to be. But do stay tuned, My Lovers. There is so much more to come.

Specifically Yours,

SR

Italy pics are up to date!  And in a new, easier to follow location specific album 🙂

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CDMX Part Tres: T Minus Two Weeks

We’re getting down to it My Lovers.  The last two weeks of the adventure that was Remote Year Earhart.  Though my Harts will live on in my heart forever, our time together did dwindle.  And here’s what we did with week three in CDMX.

At some point back in Split, I had voiced to Starbucks that my favorite scotch was a Balvenie 12 Year Doublewood, and unbeknownst to me, he had looked in every liquor store he walked into along the way for that exact bottle until finally, in month 11 – Bogota, he found said bottle and procured it as a thanks for all I had done throughout the year.  I was extremely touched by this action (and slightly confused, as I couldn’t pinpoint said conversation), but I believed that a scotch like that was best shared with friends – and what goes better with scotch than steaks.  I organized a night with my three favorite guys to cook steaks and enjoy the bottle – but I quickly realized that I had more than three guys in my Earhart life that would appreciate this, so before you know it, the night had blossomed into a full blown guys night, complete with a second bottle (a McCallan 12 year) and a smattering of cigars to go alongside.  After an initial steak ordering mishap, we ended up with KILOS of meat, which I promptly cooked up beside my risotto for an evening with the boys.  The steaks were tender and juicy, the scotch was smoky, and the company was second to none.  We ended the evening with invites to others and rooftop chats, capped with a second cooking of the mis-ordered meat. Languages are hard guys.

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The next day we had a track that consisted of a tasting of mezcal.  We gathered at Cicitriz Cafe where the owner indulged us in both his knowledge of the local liquor as well as a generous tasting of his signature bootleg collection.  I excused myself for a work call, missing out on a particularly good round, but the host made it up to me when I got back by bringing out some of his private stash, the good stuff, bottles I would eventually purchase to take home.

Wednesday I deviated from my #freshink Friday tradition to tag along with Mel, Becks and Meilz for our Earhart inking.  Mel had come up with a fantastic design that both her and I got, and even to this day, I haven’t gone one day without a compliment on this tattoo. It is my favorite, for sure.  I just hope this isn’t the beginning of a sleeve…

That night was Duff’s birthday celebration, the last Earhart birthday of the year.  There was plenty of the aforementioned steak left over, so Marky and I got to work on cooking birthday steak tacos, complete with Oaxaca cheese and many satisfied customers.  The crew sat around, celebrating our resident optimist in proper fashion.

Thursday was date night, and Marky had outdone himself by getting us reservations at Pujol for a Michelin Star dinner for two. The boy even showed up with a rose. I was impressed and flattered to say the least. We had eight courses of delicious cuisine with the wine pairing, of course. The signature dish, the mole two ways did not disappoint. Afterwards we found a whiskey bar that was VERY generous with the Balvenie 12yr Doublewood pours, after which we stumbled off for late night tacos where we decided we were too whiskey laden to attend DL’s frat party, a decision he made us both pay for.

Friday was lunch calls with Marky, Kiwi and the best chilaquiles in CDMX. Kiwi accompanied me back to mine, where we perused photos from the year while he did his wash. There was only one load of laundry, which means we didn’t even make it through Europe before the clothes were done. After our trip down memory lane, Kis left with all his clothes clean and the roomies and I settled in for another pantsless, Rappi kind night. We throw on some chick comedy, open a bottle of wine and post up on the couch. Crushin’ Friday night.

Saturday we hopped on a bus and headed to Las Estacas, a natural reserve outside of CDMX for our final farewell of RY. The day was far from perfectly executed, but it was perfect for us. There was lunch by the lazy river followed by love and reminiscing. Polaroid camera were brought out, keg stand were taught, and a “romantic” float down the river was interrupted in the most Earhart fashion. The Mommas and Thrill threw some trivia at us until it was time for our evening BBQ, which looked like it was going to get rained out. Never a group to shy away from a little rain, we rallied and set up the fire, weather be damned. After brats, beers, marshmallows, music and whiskey, we got back to story telling and Earhart praising. I’m always humbled by this groups willingness to open up about what they have gone through on a personal level as a result of being a part of the tramily.

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As you can imagine, movement on Sunday wasn’t a lively as Saturday, but we all managed to find our way to a pool, throw around some pigskin, and catch up with some crashers from Kaizen and Meraki before boarding the bus back home.

I had the apartment and the evening to myself, as my roomies and three other closest Harts had taken off on a business retreat. I settled into my comfy PJs, threw on some Netflix and got to writing a bit. Before I know it, there is an intense hailstorm outside, and I have to run out to our balcony in said PJs to save some items that were baking in the sun out there. Thinking that would be the excitement of my evening, I nestled back in. About an hour later, I hear a noise…. it’s familiar… a low wub, wub wub… I know that sounds… it takes me about 10 seconds to realize its the earthquake alarm.

SHIT.

Previously mentioned comfy PJs is really a white satin night slip, and its raining outside, so I take the next 10 seconds deciding that I don’t need to be going out in the rain in this.

SHIT.

Now I’ve got 20 seconds to change, get downstairs and outside. Not enough time. Time to find shelter inside. The last time the alarm went off, Mel had decided my interior closet was the safest spot inside, I so grab my phone, crouch inside the closet, and prepare for another few minutes of nothing, like the last time. Then I hear the building start to creak.

Its all in your head, Pino, it’s fine.

But its not in my head, and the three doors I’m crouched in between start to sway in their frames.

FUCKFUCKFUCK.

Yep… I start to panic.

Run outside! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!

I’m frantically texting our roommate chat, letting them know exactly where they can find my crushed remains after my epically bad decision to stay indoors.

Am I overreacting? Of course, because in a moment, the swaying subsides, the door stand still, and I emerge from the closet unscathed. Lovers, I had survived my first earthquake, a 4.0 that occurred several miles outside of CDMX central.

It was quite the way to finish out week 3 of CDMX, and with only one week remaining in the adventure of RY, I’ll bet you’re more excited to read the next chapter of CDMX that I am to write it. The final week… all the feels.. and to share it with you means reliving it, all the feels, all the memories. I miss my Harts everyday. But don’t fret my Lovers, though this next and final chapter of RY Earhart will be difficult to write, I will deliver the last week in all of its pain and glory.

Stay tuned.

Specifically Yours,

SR
Pics are less and less, but there’s still posted.

CDMX Part Dos: T Minus 3 weeks

Considering this is a continuation of a series, I’m thinking there’s no need for the usual witty intro, the Lovers greeting, the quippy jokes. Or maybe I’m just a little lazy about it these days. Either way, in lieu of this year long staple, I’m just going to launch into week two of CDMX.

The night after the Klingande show, the majority of the crew went on hot air ballon rides at the Teotihuacan Pyramids. Knowing my propensity for being an absolute grouch on not enough sleep and need to crank out some work, I had decided to skip the trip and spent the {Sun}day catching up instead. When my roommates arrived back looking like zombies, I patted myself on the back, put the work away and fired up some Netflix.

The next day was more work work work with a side of PI planning. This month I had stepped up to help run our positive impact event, so I met up with Duffs, KSheng and the city team to throw together some plans for an epic last month event. I was suffering a second (and thankfully less severe) bout of Montezuma, so couch and girls time was in order after PI.

I was grateful to be feeling better later that week, because it was Temazcal time. Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? It’s a sweat lodge experience. In a teeny tiny clay hut. Month 12 and I’m still facing fears. Dark. Claustrophobia. OPENING UP. Fears aside, the experience was like no other, and I left it pretty raw and open about some things. I took the opportunity to channel those emotions into some brutally honest conversations, because at this point, we’ve got less than three weeks left, so if there are to be no stones left unturned, let’s start kicking rocks.

After some air was cleared, the boys and I took to the bikes the next day to change the scenery for work a bit and pop our laptops up on Polanco. We start at Pujol, where we drank overpriced cocktails in between client calls. We moved to a new spot where we indulged in Italian dishes between rounds of mezcal. The Earhart crew is doing some damage nearby at a bowling alley, so we join up for a few rounds of pin dropping and beer drinking. As with most evenings, we cap it off with some tacos el pastor before calling it a night.

The next adventure proves to be more of a challenge than I bargained for. We’re signed up for a track where we are dropped at nearly 14k feet to hike up and into a volcano crater. I’ve tackled many a feat with a hangover this year – climbing up and rappelling down waterfalls, hikes to remote Thai villages, boat rides, etc… but today was different. Once we reached the edge of the volcano, before hiking down into it, we were offered the chance to summit one more peak. Being the guys girl I am, I followed the boys up without question. Mistake. I made it about 75% of the way up this peak before began to feel dizzy. I sat down and prepared myself for the descent. We made it back down, but I was light headed and irreconcilably nauseated. A few of the crew stayed behind with me, only forging ahead when I requested them to so that I didn’t have an audience to the eventual loss of my breakfast. The remainder of the day was a struggle where I continually felt like I was trudging through molasses. Add altitude sickness to the list of experiences for this year.  But the views….

In typical RY fashion, there wasn’t much time for recovery, especially considering the number of citizens in town that weekend. Rooftop bars, dance parties and mezcal ensue, with a late night taco stand stop soaking it all up before Trajineras in Xochimilco the next morning.  The roomies and I are running a bit late, grabbing supplies and hustling our way to the morning bus.  I’ve donned my shades for more reasons than one, but as we approach the bus, I’m grateful to have them as a shield for the tears that stream down my face when Kiwi pops off the bus, a surprise month 12 reappearance that has me smiles all day.

The trajineras are all of the fun and total shitshow that was promised by previous groups and when we pour our sun worn, alcohol saturated, over tired bodies onto the bus, I take it upon myself to remind everyone that the mother’s day surprise for our PLs that Marky and Mel put together is still a go at our place 30 minutes after our return.  A rally effort was made on all parts, and the Mommas appreciated the effort, even if we scared one and make the other cry.

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Temazcal, altitude sickness, and the return of good friends made for a good week two.  We’re cranking though it guys.  Week three coming your way shortly.

Specifically Yours,

SR