Sunday, April 5, 2015

Naples


Apologies for the last couple of wordy, rambling posts, people. It's what comes out of an exhausted brain. This one will probably err in the opposite direction. I took so many photos in Naples, I can't even believe it, but this is a very visually stimulating place. So if the page gets slow to load, that's probably why.



We only spent one day in Naples, spent about 7 hours walking and looking at interesting things. And eating and drinking. We really liked and enjoyed the city. We'd never been here before and we are glad we made time to stop in this time, however quickly, because it was definitely different from any other place in Italy we'd visited before. It really looks like a cool place to live, too, though probably not for me.

Martha and I were talking the other day about how different we are getting to experience places these days, than when we used to travel many years ago. Part of it is definitely staying in residential neighborhoods, using AirBnB. But the same thing is true of the places where we stay in hostels. So I think the main difference is all the walking we are doing.

The miles and miles of walking through so many neighborhoods shows us so much more than we could see even riding buses or driving through them. And some of the greatest things we've seen have come from taking a wrong turn, or exploring something unexpected we pass along the way. That's just not something you can do when moving quickly in vehicles, certainly not while traveling underground.

It's also had the benefit of being great exercise, and allowing us to eat mostly whatever we like. However, I think I may have finally begun outeating my daily walking calorie burn. But, especially here in Naples, there are like 3 pastry shops on every block. We have been continually surprised by how many bakeries we come across all over Europe. It makes me feel better to know I'm not alone with my gigantic sweet tooth, but they are also hard to resist, and I have a feeling most people aren't totally out of control the way I am around sugar. Still, if it weren't for the walking, I'd probably be a good 15 pounds heavier by now. So, it's WIN all the way around.


So...Naples.


We are staying with a very nice couple, on the 7th floor of an apartment building. Probably the 8th actually, because they count weird here. It's the top floor and there is a rooftop terrace with an amazing view.

We are supposed to have breakfast there, but it was a little nippy up there in the morning, and we prefer to hit a restaurant anyway. Martha, however, needs her coffee upon awakening.


I very well remember how that is, so I helped her figure out how to use the old fashioned coffee pot, but we were both stumped about where to get water for it until she found the wall spout. Neither of us wanted to navigate the pretty, but steep, stairway unnecessarily.



The building is old, but nice, and we are very comfortable in the large living room.

There is a sofa bed, love seat, TV, table and chairs. Curtains are hung across the  doorway for privacy. The bathroom is fabulous, all marble with rainfall shower and bidet. We are here for two nights and have been perfectly happy.






Well...except for the tiny elevator that Martha abhors.


Royal Theater




















Today, we mainly walked to the Palazzo Reale, the Royal Palace. Personally, I think it is the most impressive thing we've seen on this trip. Even more grand than the Vatican. The size is just immense and the decor is pure, over the top lavish.

Theater Box for King & Queen



Throne Room
I like the table and mirrors combinations...




















 ...and the long, low sofas
















...and the tapestries.













There was a Queen's Chapel, which I thought was very well done.




















Although we saw a couple of other churches, as well. There is one directly across from the Palace, but we only saw one of the chapels. It was a really cozy, pleasant place. Although it had an enormously high ceiling, it wasn't that big.

There was also a statue of St. Augustine, who is very well liked in our family. So we sat in there for a while and just quietly enjoyed the space, even though it wasn't anywhere near as lavish as other churches we've seen.










The exterior of the Palace is being renovated at the moment. So while this is the view we should have seen from the big church across from it...









...this is what we actually saw. But the interior was still impressive.









The third church we saw actually had people going to confession. We had seen in other churches that the confessionals only had an enclosed space for the priests. People going to confession were just out in the open, where others may have been able to hear. Awkward...













It was a huge place, just dwarfed the two chapels we also saw today. And it had big alcoves, like many other churches we've seen in Italy.






But, as I was talking about earlier, what we find most interesting is just walking around. Although, just like in Rome, Google Maps doesn't note when a route includes a great many steps.


Click to see stairs we climbed at back of this photo.













So. Many. Steps.













This...










...turned into this.








We traipsed through very cosmopolitan major streets, and very crowded tourist areas.















We saw a castle, just plopped in the middle of the city...

















...and shrines everwhere.



Unusual parking.


Lots of art on and around buildings.















We think one officially had something to do with the arts. There was gilt on the exterior of the building and a very modern fixture in front.







 Those little brown things are skulls.










And they seem to indicate very strange ideas of what to do with animals.















Squares, small and large.
















One had a great looking little fruit stand.














Another had a building that reminded me of Valentino Rock Stud shoes.



 Great doors, everywhere.





There were like 3 pastry stores on every block. And everything looked like edible art.








There were a few unusual things to note:

We couldn't leave Napoli without having pizza. Realized American pizzas need more olive oil, but Italian pizzas should be cut before serving.


Fried potatoes are big in Italy. Big everwhere that we've been so far, actually, but we hadn't seen shops devoted to them before.















Street food looks great here, we saw crowds with cones holding fried calamari from this place.









A major surprise, to me, is that Naples wins the Magnificent Subway Award. I did not even imagine it was possible for subways to look so great.

The Toledo one is my favorite.



























But our own metro stop is pretty cool, also, with cool greens. Both are extrememly clean. Really impressive.

















We stopped at Bar Maria, near our metro, before heading home. Martha ordered a glass of wine, I got an enormous donut. The waiter brought those, plus a tray of appetizers and fizzy water. When Martha ordered another glass of wine, he brought two more desserts and some olives. Perfect for an evening snack.

It was a bright trendy place with comfy seating near a big window, which we enjoyed even though the weather was a little dreary.

And that brought our time in Naples pretty much to a close. We leave early Sunday for Pompeii, so we can see as much as we can in one day there, as well. Because we only spend one night, and then we are off to Sicily on Monday. But though we weren't here long, and there probably isn't a huge chance we'll be back, we really did enjoy our time in Naples. We're very glad we came, and that is our measure of a successful visit. So far, we've been lucky that it's true of every city we've been to this trip.

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