Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sorrento

Have you ever decided one day that you should just take a few days off and go somewhere next week? Well, the kids had a long weekend coming up, so we decided to depart Jeddah and fly over to Italy for the weekend. The idea was to base ourselves out of Sorrento, then visit the Roman ruins in Pompeii one day and drive along the Amalfi Coast the next day. It was a great getaway vacation, and here are the highlights.
Sorrento


Departure from Jeddah
We dropped our dog off at a friend's house just after 7:00 am, and our girls rode their bikes around the pool until 8:00 am when our ride arrived to take us to the #1 worst airport in the world. We loaded up into the car and were on our way to a much-needed vacation. On the way to the airport, I checked our flight status and discovered that our Al Italia "operated" flight departs out of the south terminal. I wouldn't expect you to know this, but normally, only Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) uses the south terminal and all foreign carriers use the north terminal which is around a 20+ minute drive...if you still have your car/weren't dropped off/driver departed before you realize you're at the wrong end of the airport. My guess is that it was a code-share thing, but we now knew that we would be checking in with and flying on a Saudi-operated aircraft and not Al Italia. So much for our hope of an early glass of wine.

There was long line at international counters, but the kiosk actually worked for us this time. We were flying direct and not checking bags, so that helped. We did have a little hiccup at immigration, however. When we arrived in Jeddah in 2015, Kacey's iqama was issued to also cover both of our girls but apparently now iqamas are issued per individual, so our kids would have been issued their own.
One ID photo for three people?
Since we were extended beyond our initial two-year tour, our original visa expired two months ago and we now have to carry visa extension paperwork with us in addition to the passports. And remember, as diplomats, we also have two sets of passports to deal with (Tourist & Diplomatic)...which is probably why 8-pocket family passport carrier books exist. We're also looking forward to going thru security as a family again, rather than subjecting ourselves to the hassle of gender-separated lines which requires us to separate out our boarding passes and passports before Kacey takes the girls to the women's lane while I take the bags to the men's lane. But, I digress.

We departed on time, around 10:30am. Since everyone else was napping and the in-flight entertainment consisted of Mr. Bean re-runs, I spent some of the  time thinking about process improvement. Specifically, how I'll organize my work email at my next assignment. Look for a post about that some time during the summer.
(photo of moving map not available)
Pretty standard Saudi in-flight entertainment

Arrival in Italy
We landed in Rome on time, around 1:40 pm. We followed the directional signs to the rental cars, but somehow ended up having lunch (pizza margherita and a bottle of San Benedetto) in the train station at 2:30pm instead.
This plane looks like it's about to crash. Nose up!
While we were waiting in the rental car line for the keys to our VW Polo TDI, I found a nearby espresso bar to pass the time. When in Rome, right?

The drive from Rome to Sorrento is just under 4 hours, and we didn't get on the road until after 3pm. We stopped at a service station along the way and got some prosciutto, milano salami, cheese, crackers, and water to snack on as we drove. Satiated, our kids slept much of the remainder of the way (their internal clocks are still set two hours later).
Full tummy and white noise: she never stood a chance
Our GPS brought us to the address for our accommodation around 8 pm, but it really seemed like a dead end. There was a narrow cobblestone alley leading down and away to our left, and a narrow cobblestone alley leading back up to the main road, and in front of us was a wrought iron gate blocking our way. Fortunately, when I got out of the car I saw a small tile on the wall with the name of the hotel "Capo Santa Fortunata " written on it in tiny letters. We've found our destination!
Imagine this at night with the gates closed.
I buzzed the intercom, and the caretaker came out to open the gate for us. Our suite is enormous. We had some coffee (there is also an open bar), and I'm looking forward to the view of the property in the morning.
"Coffee" during this trip means "espresso"

RRR and the open bar
We plan to visit Pompeii tomorrow, and maybe a few local sites as well.



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