|Piazza dei Martiri near the hotel|
We are no longer gainfully employed, but the equivalent of business trips remain in our lives. For example, our passports were about to expire, so we went to Napoli to renew them at the American consulate there in person as we do not trust Italian postal service for sending such important documents (to tell the truth, we weren't all that confident when we applied by mail in the USA). Our distrust was a good excuse to check out Naples, so off we went by train to mix business and pleasure.
Napoli, on the Intercity train, is a 2 hour 10 minute journey normally, but for the second time this year, our train was stalled for 30 minutes in the area just south of Battipaglia. At least on the way in, we were lucky to sit out the extra time in good seats. On the way back the train was on time but we got the seats where you face each other (or strangers). Very uncomfortable.
We found a 4 star hotel within walking distance (1 mile/1.6 km) of the consulate which is located on the shoreline about 2km north of where the large ferries and cruise ships dock. The hotel Palazzo Alabardiera is a 10 minute taxi ride from Stazione Napoli Centrale. At €150 a night, it was typical for a large city quality hotel. We have since learned of a hotel very close to the consulate, but further from shopping. One must have priorities! Taxi stands are all about in case you don't feel like walking.
There is a nice park area on the lungomare. Our one bad experience in Napoli was being gouged as foreign tourists at a bar there. We bought our normal double caffe’ macchiato and a gin tonica and they charged us €10,60 compared with €4,60 around home. They also used cheap Italian gin for the drink. Italians are good at some things, but making gin is not one of them. The drink was left behind.
|Consulato degli Stati Uniti d'America|
The American consulate sits near the sea. It has Italian military guards outside with a belt-fed machine gun, and private Italian security. After 5 years of dealing with Italian bureaucracy, this place was soooo nice and efficient. We were in and out in 20 minutes and served by a humorous American man who joked about a man from Cleveland and a woman from Chicago living in Calabria. We’ll return in about 2 weeks to pick-up the passports that are sent from the USA.
|We didn't know there were hills on the northern part of Napoli|
|A Greenpeace boat anchored offshore|
The return walk to the hotel through the shopping area showed us many stores to look into in the future. We both were exhausted and figured it was because of all the dodging of motorini on the streets and walking on the rough stone pavements. On yet another visit, we might try the historic district with its underground tunnels, etc.
The hotel is situated off main streets, so is pretty quiet. Although there is a restaurant/pizzeria within 50 meters (where we had a pizza--because we were in Napoli!), we only spotted one other restaurant in the time we were there. That is surprising as most Italian cities seem to have restaurants every 2 blocks or so. Anyway, the hotel is in the middle of the famous CHIAIA shopping district for those into shopping for upscale clothing and shoes. We might take more time to shop when we return to get the new passports.
FYI, the historic district of Napoli is between this neighborhood and the stazione. There are cheaper hotels nearer the stazione including (God forbid) a high rise Holiday Inn!
Oh, contrary to all you hear about Napoli being filled with bandits ready to pick your pockets or steal a purse, at no time did we see or sense anyone paying us the slightest attention on the streets. Another urban myth--or do we finally not look like tourists? However, the traffic was as bad as people have said.
Ciao a presto, Guido
|A church almost every 3 blocks|
|Residences in the Chiaia District|