Almalfi, Money and Armpits

Written By: Kim - Aug• 21•11

At my urging, we headed to the town of Almalfi. Since we cannot seem to get out of the villa before 11 am, we boarded an already crowded SITA bus. There does not seem to be any other kind of bus here.

Connor, Josef & Abby at the Almalfi Beach. This local came to our rescue. ©Mike Howard

When we finally made it to Almalif town center and we got off the bus, my daughter asked, “Did you see that girl’s pits?” Abby had just been introduced to the European method of female hair removal: It is optional. I chuckled and explained that it is common in some cultures. My American kid was not amused.

There were several public beach front options here, so we picked one right in front of an eatery. Since we did not intend to stay all day nor rent a beach chair, Mike and I sat by one of the deck tables. It was not crowded and we were not taking up space for a paying customer.

A few minutes later, the owner figured out that the kids were hitting the beach, he came over with a waitress and asked if we wanted to order. He did not ask us to leave or rent a beach chair, so we stayed. Since we had already eaten, we ordered a water. It never arrived.

The table next to us clearly had three regular patrons who were quite animated with their conversation. They consumed a traditional Almalfi meal: fried sardines, bread, white wine and mozzarella. I wish we had understood the language because they were a fun bunch. The kids enjoyed the water in Almalfi because it was warmer than previous locations and the rock beach consisted of smaller rocks so the wading in was much easier. We stayed about two hours. The kids changed in to dry clothes and we proceeded to leave. But not without the drama.

The owner asked us about paying for the mineral water. We said it never arrived. He said, “no, you had the water.” An argument quickly ensued. He then threatened to call someone if we did not pay.

Joseph, the regular sitting next to us spoke up and confirmed our story. As he did, the owner also confirmed with the waitress that we never received the bottled water. We also never received an apology. All of this for over a €2 bottle of water.

After we toured the marina and marveled over some extremely big yachts, we headed for a

Abby climbs the steps of the cathederal in Almalfi Town Center. ©Mike Howard

canoli and a cappuccino at the town center. There was a lovely cathedral that had amazing front of mosaics decorating the front facade. Connor and I hit the shops for some goodies to take home for everyone at the office and something for Abby. The salesgirl who helped us was “hot” as my 13 year-old son said. But, she was wearing a sleeveless dress and as Connor said, “I’m not in to ‘optional’ hair removal.”

Back on the SITA bus we went, standing room only. Again. The tight spaces in which drivers must maneuver in Italy continued to amaze us. We had a new respect the bus drivers, but the other drivers are simply rude. A “me first” attitude continued to prevail. Why don’t people in any country learn that the biggest rig on the road has the right away?

We had dinner at a restraunt we had been eying from our balcony. We were one of three patrons since we arrived around 7 pm. The first server was attentive. The last two were awful. Here, most of the servers could care less.

I really miss American customer service.

Resting & Rummy

Written By: Kim - Aug• 18•11

After spending almost 10 days getting up and going, I needed a break. Apparently, the kids did not. So, Mike took them on a hike to the top of the hill where from where our apartment lives after our leisurely

The view from the mountain top above our villa. ©Mike Howard

breakfast. I had enough walking, stair climbing and uphill strolling, so stayed at the apartment and read. I finished one book and started another. It was a perfect way to spend a late morning alone.

After another traditional Italian lunch, we took a brief nap. We headed back to the first beach late in the day. There were more people there sunbathing and frolicking in the cold water. The kids met some other kids who spoke English and German.

It always amazes me that no matter what language barriers we face, activities bring us together. Children are especially adept at adapting.

Abby's Feast. ©Mike Howard

My 10-year-old daughter wanted to host the dinner meal, so she and my husband made dinner: caprese salad, salami and garlic-butter pasta. Her choices were a success. My son and I headed to the local grocery store, Tutt x Tutti and brought home some hazelnut and chocolate gelato. If you’ve ever eaten Nutella, you will understand why we swirled these two flavors together.

Always pack a deck of cards for vacation and road trips. I taught my kids how to play Gin Rummy on the deck at sunset. It was a good thing we did not keep score. After my hubby joined us and proceeded to win several hands, he revealed that he had played often with his family while growing up. Sandbagged.