Naples, Sorrento, Capri (Villa Jovis), Herculaneum and Pompeii
HOME to Stark Images
Jan. 2, 2006 - Jan. 3, 2006
This has been a most interesting trip so far. First, I got to the airport only to discover that my plane was delayed by 2 hours. I was assured by both Delta airport rep and phone rep that I could get to Rome if I missed my connection -- all that I had to do was get to Atlanta.

After moving the plane take off time back 2 hours, they rolled off 30 minutes earlier than the new time...then stopped on the runway. We sat there for 40 minutes. Lovely. Got to Atlanta and was herded to the International Help desk where I was to be re-routed. Not good. The reps were rude, with 2 or 4 reps for 150 or more displaced passengers (and first class had 15 people with two agents working for them, of course). No compensation for the pain. And no flights out to Europe except for a midnight plane via Air France to Paris or a direct flight the next day at 5:15 p.m. (a full 24 hours later). This ruined everything. I called Mom who suggested that I try for the midnight flight, since they would connect me from Paris to Rome. Fine. I was FIFTEENTH in line to get on as a standby. I figured I had no hope. After frantic calls to Mark (it was 2 a.m. in Italy), his Mom and my Mom, I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, the France plane rolled in (half an hour late). Much to my immense surprise, I was one of the last 3 to get on this flight.

I got to sit in the Business section on a huge Air France plane. My heavens, it was great! I was seated next to a man from LA going to Rome. He was not married, but was very very involved with the Catholic Church (a civil engineer building churches for his diocese and his father is a deacon for the church). We chatted for hours, while being fed and pampered by the staff. The chairs, by the way, are huge and reclined nearly 75% of the way (unlike coach). We had individual TVs, trays pulled out by staff and even napkins placed upon them to act as table cloths. We were given warm cloths to wash up with before dinner, a 4 course meal for eating, and a kit that included a lovely eye cover for sleeping as well as ear plugs, socks and other nice things. I even SLEPT on the plane -- a first for me on an overseas journey.

That is about where the fun ended. We got to Paris and ran from one plane to the other, barely making it through customs and additional security checks, to the gate (10 minutes to spare). At Tampa Airport I had been given boarding passes for Rome, but nothing else. Well, AF pulled me and my traveling companion aside. I had a pass, but no ticket and they did not know what to do about that. He had a receipt but no pass and no ticket. At the last minute, the put me on the plane. He had to stay and be booked for the next flight. I did not even have time to get information to him it was so abrupt. Darn, we had such a good conversation about the way religions were going, the new Pope, and even dogs. Sigh.

Landing in Rome 2 hours later (and 10 hours late) I went to luggage pick up. Guess what, and this should NOT be a surprise: NO SUITCASE. Mind you, I bought a new suitcase for this trip (bright lilac) as well as food and some new cloths. It also has my warm sweaters (I do not have many as I do not use them much in Florida) and a couple of other things that I will probably need upon my return home. Now, I did have the foresight to pack 1 change of clothes and all my important papers in a bag which I carried with me.

I did meet up with Mark in Rome (that worked) since we also had a 3 hour train ride from Rome to Naples, and 30 minutes more from Naples to Serrento. We caught some of the trains by mere minutes (a miracle already). While on the train, but Mark handed me a magazine and when I opened it up there was a pug in one of the articles! I do not know what the rest of it says, but who cares, there’s my Italian pug this trip.

Note: The train system is fun, but full of graffiti (I think they must clean it up during tourist season).

We walked to the Bed and Breakfast where we are staying. The rooms are nice, but for one small snafu -- they do not have heat (the heating system is mysteriously down) and no hot water until today. That is not good. As of this point, hot water is working but heat is rather dubious. Mark and I both had to wait until about noon today to get people in to check on what was going on and the manager, who does not stay at the B&B was supposed to be in in 5 minutes -- though it took him a good hour and a half to get there and help.

Jan. 4:
It has now been 2 days with no bag. The number the airport gave me to contact does not work. I cannot get help from the place I am staying to phone them for me (it is long distance and too expensive). Delta can not help me. Air Italia numbers do not work. Rome airport said they can not help me. I am just stuck. I am very upset and my only hope is that the bag gets home. Mark had to endure going clothes shopping with me and every piece of clothing I came with is hand washed and drying in the room. Not good. Actually, it is downright upsetting.

The good news is that my cell phone did work in Europe, but the bad is I cannot recharge it. I have to use it sparingly now as my calls did diminish the power to 3 bars. Lovely. I have also spent a fortune calling the airport looking for my stuff, Delta, Mom, etc. I dread this cell phone bill.

The only positive is that while I was still in the U.S. I did use the pay phones to call Delta (on their 1-800 number) and complain. I got a $100 travel voucher (ooh) for my trouble -- now I can go, uhm, somewhere, provided Delta does not go under first. Great. Now, get me my luggage and maybe I will be happy. I did keep the AF travel kit and the Rome airport gave me another travel bag with necessities and a t-shirt, which does me no good since it is about 30 to 50 degrees outside. At least I wore my coat and a sweatshirt while I was on the plane.

Despite it all, Mark and I did manage to navigate around this area. Sorrento is very nice as a small town. It is much wealthier than its surrounding cities, that much I can say for certain. The people are relatively nice, but the place does shut down around 9:30 or so. The internet I am on is in a place that is also a bar and is very very loud. It glows in the dark, with neon everything.  And it’s interesting to write with the boom of loud speakers moving through one’s body.

We did get to Herculaneum today (via train). It is a great place. I think I took about 45 photos with digital camera and another roll and a half with 35 mm. I brought a compass to see if there was any ghostly activity in the place. The only thing I can say for certain is that there was one spot that I was walking through where I felt an intense moment of sadness, to the extent that I thought I was going to cry. I saw my compass fluctuate (indicating possible EMF fluctuations) and got my digital ready. I snapped a picture immediately and a double orb image appeared in front of where I was standing. Remnant of the past or total fluke I have yet to decide. However, I got only one other orb image as we got ready to leave, and the compass (and my emotions) remained in check for the rest of the trip.

I did get a book on the excavation of the area. We actually got kicked out of the park at closing (both Mark and I admit that it is the first time we have been kicked out of an archaeological site). However, I thought Herculaneum was beautiful, though a lot of it has been removed to the museum of Naples. Enough of the mosaics, statues, and frescos remained to give a true flavor of the place. It was so much fun.

Note: Erculano is in a modern town built over the site. It is another poor small city with most money coming from the tourist trade I am sure. I did buy a warmer hooded jacket there for 10 Euro.  It’s something, anyway.

Tmrw we are going to Pompeii for the day. Though my delays and the problems with the place we are staying cost us a day and a half, plus I had to go shopping for clothes today since the ones I have are running out (we did find a Laundromat walking around tonight and may need to stop there this week) we are making some small amount of progress on this trip.

In the meantime, I did find a 1 cent Euro at Atlanta airport as well as a penny, 2 once cent Euros here, a £1 coin and a .50£ coin, AND ... drum roll, please, a £5 BILL! Yes, it is my first bill in Europe. Problem is that I do not spend my found money, but since the exchange rate is $1 to £1.24 that is probably a pretty decent find.

I am also amazed at all the orange, lemon and tangerine trees here, locally. Very interesting (and I have snagged a bit of free fruit). The orange I ate here is very very tart -- I feared it was not ripe, but I think that is just what the flavor is.  The only other food of interest is the Napoli pizza I had tonight (greasy).

OK, need to get going now. Catch you all as I can! PRAY for my luggage, please. If I do not get it here, hope that it gets home!

Jan. 5 and 6:
Well, the next travel log. Yesterday was both good and bad. The good was Pompeii. The place is HUUUUUUGE and great! I think we walked it for about 6 hours and we saw the largest villa at Pompeii (27,000 square feet...I now know what I want my future house to look like! This one even had the early version of a big screen TV with a miniature stage built in -- that was amazing!) We saw an amphitheatre, a large and small theatre, and the Villa of the Mysteries (which totally rocked as it had Egyptian images in it alongside the Dionysian cult figures. I love Mystery religions). We did take a guided tour and the guide was impressed that I was an American who had so much knowledge on the Romans. He said that many of his fellow Italians did not even know their own history. Aw, shucks.

The cobble stone streets were very slippery (surprisingly so) but it was so unique to walk in the footsteps of the people who had gone before. Even walking in the theatre the steps going up to the seats were worn out by Pompeian feet (which were quite a bit smaller than my big American clod hoppers). The city was very large and advanced (not a surprise to me, but to others perhaps) and included political propaganda (with a sundial that had been dedicated by a local politician so that every time someone stopped for the time they saw his name with the dedication). There were marketing ploys (with the porters who used Mercury as their advertisement -- he both protects merchants and thieves (which our guide pointed out were often the same thing) and he is lightning fast).

The casts were rather sad as they caught people in their death agonies. One actually had the skeleton protruding from it. But, they also had casts of wooden things (doors and windows) that came complete with hinges in the imprint (they worked rather like closet doors or shutters). Again, nothing we do is truly new. The Romans did it first!

No orbs, funny feelings, or compass swings at Pompeii, though. Maybe it was the difference in the deaths (hot ash-lava-mud in Herculaneum vs. poison gases in Pompii. I know the folks in Pompeii did undergo at least 6 hours of activity before their deaths).

Note: I did learn a clever Italian phrase from our tour guide today: The mother of idiots is always pregnant. Must file that away as I think the idiom may be relatively true, at least judging by some of the politics and drivers I see.

After Pompeii we got on the train for Naples (late night). Naples was ... uhm ... different. Crowded, dirty, and the guide books that both Mark and I have warned about being in Naples at night. We got there late afternoon and planned to be out around 7 p.m. We wanted to see the Museum there which held most of the archeological treasures raided from both Herc and Pompeii. Well, half the exhibits were closed, and then both my cameras died. Mark had to check his bag...and the gift shop, which I had hoped would have decent replicas of some of the art was the weakest Museum gift shop I ever saw. It was an expensive trip (£9) for this. A bit disappointing, certainly, but they did have an interesting exhibit on Greek arts and sciences....which made up for some of it.

However, trying to get back was a bit of a nightmare. The train line we needed shut down. We have no idea why...and we had to take the autobus (bus). The man could not tell us which bus or which direction we needed to take to get to the main station on the other side of Naples. We ended up on bus 201 going the LOOONG way.

If you have never ridden on Italian public transportation, it is quite a unique way to get to know the people. In America we do have a great amount of personal space. In Europe, that personal space is negotiable. After holding on for dear life (we had to stand for the first 20 minutes of the trip because the seats were taken) I finally gave up and grabbed a chair. (The buses are very jerky with the bus driver starting and stopping at random, our driver may have even bumped a car or two as we went. The driving here is insane and appears to be regulated by a rules system I cannot figure out). I sat for the next 25 minutes, guarding my carry on bag carefully (our books both warned of pick pockets in Naples). Mark stood the whole trip. The bus became so crowded at one point that the driver would close doors and hit people in doing so. There was not a breath of space to be had. And after 45 nerve-wracking minutes we finally arrived at the termini of the bus. We had to strike out to find the train station, which we finally did. I almost had my train ticket eaten by the machine but luckily there was a train attendant who let me through. While our luck has not held with hotel or luggage, the trains have worked nicely for us. We get to the station with about a minute to spare and we get a train. Not bad. However, both Mark and I have agreed that we are taking Naples off of our itinerary of places to visit again.

The trip is starting to catch up with me (or both of us). Today we went out to find a laundry for my clothes since my luggage has never arrived (now my best bet is to have it sent home. I may have to try to follow up with it at the airport Sunday). I had to haggle with the woman, but it is still costing me £25 to get my bag of clothes done today -- otherwise I am out of clothes, new and otherwise, and the hand washing I have been doing is not cutting it. The hotel room is also so cold that clothes I washed by hand to hang and try 3 days ago are STILL just as wet. So I have to get this done. However, apparently Sorrento has just about shut down for the Epiphany today. The church bells ring away, and only 1 in 5 stores are open. The post, bank, and the original cheaper laundry shop are all closed. That is fine and all but this is not an official holiday, there were no signs posted about it, and I think it took both Mark and myself by surprise. It made those errands just a bit more fun to get done.

We found the bank which allowed me to withdraw some money from the ATM (no one here takes my travelers checks. Shame on AAA for telling me these would be no problem), and a post office. I got batteries for both cameras and film for the 35 mm camera.

Our plan for today is Capri on the hydrofoils. I guess we will see if they are running. I do not know what will be the outcome of today since the Epiphany is not listed as a holiday to shut down for. If nothing else, I do want to try to get into a church today to check it out, and see if there are any celebrations tonight. There is a charming holiday about La Befana, a witch who lived during the time of Jesus. When the Wise Men were looking for the Holy Family, they knocked on her door to ask directions.  She had never heard of the child and couldn’t help.  They asked if she wanted to go with, but she had house chores and declined.  Changing her mind, she went out to find the men but they were gone.  Regretting it, she comes out on the Epiphany searching for the Christ child to give gifts to.  In the meantime, she gives candy to all the good girls and boys (and coal to all the bad ones). This is the time that they use their Christmas stockings. And I think there is a processional tonight! Lovely.

Anyway, that is the update for now. Ciao!

Jan. 6:
Today was unique. We tried to get out to Capri early on but the schedule we had for the ferries was incorrect. We saw the last morning boat left as we approached. We killed time for a couple of hours, shopping for gifts for friends and relatives and looking at aspects of Sorrento we had not seen. We got on the 2 p.m. ferry and headed to Capri. Once we arrived, we took a funicolare, a special contraption that is a combination of a train and a sky car. It lifted us up the side of the mountain to the city of Capri proper.

We got there at 2:30 and started to look for the Villa Jovis (the palace of Emperor Tiberius). We were fighting time limitations as we had to leave by 5:30 on the last ferry back. We ended up asking natives for directions. Unfortunately, the directions were vague and the signage even more so. We ended up finding the Arc de Natural, a huge outcrop of rock that formed into a very scenic pattern. After snapping pictures, we headed back, finally finding the right way back to the Villa.

Now this may not sound exciting to you, but here is the deal: Capri is all MOUNTAIN. I am from one of the flattest states around. We literally walked paths and paths and paths that were uphill and downhill, stairs, straight, flat, bumpy, etc. With the time limitations, we did double time, and with the cold air and the altered pressure (my ears did pop as we walked) it was a heck of a climb. And it took a LOOOOOOONG time -- we did the up portion for almost 1 hour and 15 minutes. We finally got to the Palace to find the gates closed. Very disappointing, but as we turned to go there was an older man who walked up. He said "I am of Capri and I come here everyday. Come with me, we go to the side" -- what he meant was we would skirt the closed gate and go in a gap to the side of the fence. He walked us on our own private tour.

Mark and I were both sweating the time. We had to be back down the mountain and on the boat by 5:10 to ensure we would make it back to Sorrento. However, he asked us what time we needed to go, shrugged and said "Oh, you will make that no problem." So, we saw the rock where from which Tiberius threw his prisoners, we saw the kitchen area, the bath, the pool, the water storage, and walked the top of the ruins (which were at least 2 stories high, if not higher) to see a church on the top. A statue of Mary and the baby Jesus also stood in the courtyard. Beautiful! It was closed, but we did get to see the mountains in the distance, and I think that we were at the level of the low lying clouds ... we got some great photo shots. I can only imagine Tiberius standing on the ramparts looking out and about. The old man was a true dear (and, noting we were Americans by our accents, he told me that his brother lived in Florida, in Miami).

With a "Have a good trip" he waved us a good bye, pointed out the exit stairs and we were off. We climbed the mountain for 1 and one-fourth hours but we literally descended it in 25 minutes. Coming down, gravity is our friend. It was AMAZING!! We made the funicolare AND the boat and got back in time.

However, both Mark and I are in a great deal of pain. I have at least 5 blisters forming on my feet in various places and to stand causes pain. Aspirin tonight, eh?

Other small miracles of the day: I found a place to cash my travelers checks (this was a bad problem as no one here would take them). Mark and I also happened to glance into a storage closet at the B and B and we saw -- gasp -- portable heat! After all of this suffering (no heat for 2 nights with the lows in the high 30‘s) complaining at least 4 times and asking for help from the manager and two assistants, they had the closet. So, there may be some comfort here at last (for the last night, naturally).

Also, the airport called. They found my bag. Naturally, it does me no good (after I picked up my cleaning today) but I have to call. I need to let them know to hold the bag. Tmrw, I am going back to Rome so it makes no sense for them to send it out. After limping along for 4 days now, I may actually get my bag back, but I do not want to jinx it. I will believe it when the bag is in my cold little hands.

Tonight was some shopping. We saw part of a parade today (one guy walked with a toilet on his back and something that popped out of the toilet top) and saw part of a mass today while waiting for our boat in Sorrento. So, it was an interesting overall day. Only Saturday left and then I fly out on Sunday. PRAY that the flight home is on time and MUCH better than the stuff I had to go through going up!

Jan. 7:
I have luggage, but it is not quite all as rosy as that sounds.  Today I did and found out that my luggage had been shipped to Naples WITHOUT the consent form I signed in Rome for it to be searched by customs. So, because the delivery driver was already present, I had 10 minutes this morning to find a fax and send them a note to have it searched and released by customs. I had to rouse Mark and we ran out to the B&B desk for help. As per usual, there was no one there (we actually speculate that night person who was there and gave me the message quit. She said that she was upset working on the holiday and working many hours. A huge wad of keys on the desk this morning and no one to man the station). So, we ended up running down the street to a fax place where I pushed aside several folks to get to the front and send my letter with permission. I called the woman back (using some of my precious 3 bars of power left) and she said that the fax had come into Naples, but that the delivery man had left. The luggage would be in Sorrento at 3 p.m. The only problem: Check out was at noon. We had planned to get out earlier as well to get to Rome. However, the scary aspect of Naples did still gnaw at us, and to get to the Naples airport to pick the bag up would entail ANOTHER LOOOOONG ride on the bus, costing us at LEAST 2 hours of time and more money. I called the woman back and asked her to see what she could do about getting us the bag sooner. She called the driver and got him to come back and deliver the bag to us, but when I spoke to her she said it would be closer to 1 p.m. Mark and I checked out and actually stood by the gates outside the B&B (which lock without a key) waiting. The man arrived at 12:40 and I saw my beloved luggage. Nice timing, of course. This meant that I now had all of the food in the baggage I had intended to eat on the trip (lots of drinks) to lug ALL the way BACK through Sorrento and to the train station, through Naples termini, to another train to Rome. That is 4 hours of lugging, people. Not good.

We did manage. We also got a daylight train trip (first class, unfortunately, which was expensive but contained the only seats back to Rome). The Italian countryside is beautiful! Hills with farms in front of it as far as the eye can see.

We got to Rome and checked into the hostel. There is one other person in the room with us -- a 4 bed dorm-like room -- named lass named Mel from Australia.  So, we will need to let Mel know I have a flight tmrw and need to be up early.

Rome is very very very cold, but Mark and I walked to the Trevi Fountain (I threw in my coins), to the Pantheon (closed at night but lit up) and to Capitoline Hill. We saw the tower of Marcus Aurelius again, walked through the Spanish Steps district, and stopped by a quaint cafe for dinner.

Tonight I view my packing (it is very cruel to deprive a person of luggage for 4 nights, then give it to her for the last 18 hours of the trip, only to have her have to turn it in to the airport AGAIN tmrw morning. Much to my chagrin, the first comment I heard in the hostel was, "hey, I bet that you can NOT lose that luggage!" Uhm, you wanna BET? Try flying Delta.

A flower vendor "gave " me 3 roses, then asked for money to pay for them. Interesting. I had £.50 left, so I gave that to him -- and ended up with one rose. Ah , whatever. I have my rose from the Trevi (will dry it). I also got a bottle from dinner and filled it up with Roman fountain water. Mmmmm.

I will try to complain to the airport tmrw. They have really made this trip MUCH harder than it had to be. I spent over £100 - £150 that I would NOT have had I had what I needed. The stress of not being able to reach anyone (even Mom tried from the US) was terrible, then the stress of the arrival of the bag (since the timing is so late, Mark and I agree that the bag was probably left in Atlanta, came over the next day on the 5:15 p.m. flight, went to Rome, flew out to Naples the NEXT day (when the woman called me) and I got it today). In addition, the late flight cost me 1 day in Rome, and the luggage fiasco cost me what I would have had today (at least another half day).

Anyway, I go home tmrw. I look forward to seeing the pets, Mom, and some warmer weather. And not having to worry about my luggage.

Reflection: Other things that I learned on this trip:
1) Ancient Romans used sea sponges for toilet paper. Every Roman would carry a personal sponge with him-her to use in the public latrines. If they forgot their sponges, a public sponge could be used.  (Think about that for a minute).

2) Roman patricians had perks. They would send slaves in to sit on the cold toilet seat for a few minutes to heat it up for their own aristocratic bottoms. They also had their own walk ways above the crowds in the forums to keep out of the ranks of the mere plebs. I want to be a patrician! Heck, I want a slave to warm up my toilet seat for me! 

3) It is NOT good to go shopping in Italy. My experience is that the clothes are very expensive. I went into a store that had a decent sale and was looking at clothes to try on. At home, I am a medium. After no help, a clerk finally asked me what I was doing. I told her. She asked size and I said "Medium" -- at which point she said, "You, a medium? Oh no, not here. Here is the largest size we have. Go try that on." (For those not in the know, Europe has different sizes than America. Apparently, my big American rear is far larger than their "medium" size. Just shove a dagger into my heart next time).

4) S. Italy is more conservative with hair. I got a LOT of stares from people whenever my head was uncovered. I can only assume it is the hair as with a scarf over me I was left alone. It seems that I saw only 2 women with short hair the entire time I was here. One was in Rome and the other was a tourist. The rest had shoulder-length bobs at the shortest. Okay....

5) I can now attest to my first Italian conversation at the Laundromat.  Laundromat woman:  "Freddo, si?" Me:  " Si, no calore!" -- (Her) “It is cold, yes?” (Me) “Yes, it is not hot!” I also learned phrases for "too much" (pronounced TROP-pho) and about the holiday witch (female version of Santa Clause) called La Befana.

6) There are tons of forms of transportation. This trip I rode the bus, train, boat, (plane on the way in) and the funicolare (which I did not even know existed before this trip).

7) I can survive, unhappily, on two outfits, some shopping, and a heck of a lot of hand washing.  Hairdryers can dry small items over a lengthy period of time.

8) It CAN be too cold for laundry to dry in a room. There are strong benefits to having some form of heating system.

9) The airports suck in both America and Europe.

10) I like Italy better in the summer time.

However, it was fun to travel a bit with someone I knew. We did have a lot of laughs, and both experienced a heck of a lot. Mark was very good at navigating on the public transport system. If I did not have the expense of buying clothes, this trip would have been much cheaper for me with that system of getting around.

He also was a pretty good sport (though he now calls me a drill sergeant as we hiked up Capri to Villa Jovis in record time. Hey, look, we were going to achieve SOMETHING on that trip). And at least there was someone to talk to about what was going, it is a different experience.

Anyway, it’ s getting a bit late. Pray that my flights are ON TIME, my baggage comes home, and the planes stay airborne. I hate overseas flight.
Vale from Momma Roma!

Jan. 7 and 8:
Last night of Rome:

As I mentioned, we managed to hit some of the sites and got back to the hostel shortly after that last e-mail went out. It turns out that Mark got a male buddy in the room -- someone who traveled from Poland. Both he and Mel were already attempting to sleep when we got in. Mark and I hurriedly got ready for bed, but I forgot to take my sinus pills and melatonin. Gods, what a horrible night of sleep that was. Not only that but the new guy was a snorer! The room was situated above a bar which throbbed through the floor until at least midnight. After that, roomie four snored so loud that he woke me up -- for hours.

Without the sinus pills, my face hurt (clogged up sinuses), but I couldn't find the pills in the dark. When I finally got back to sleep, I started to have anxiety dreams that the alarm didn't go off and it was 8:30 (I planned to get up at 6:30 to get ready). And, naturally, the snorer managed to get himself up and disappeared from the room right as we got up!

We staggered through the morning and the "free breakfast" from the hostel. Rome was very cold this morning....colder than usual. We trekked to the train station and I managed to make it from Termini to Airport just fine. Mark gets a couple more days out there....sigh. I teach tmrw morning.

The airport was not as bad as summer. However, I must say that after finding the main entrance, turning to the left for Delta, there were many lines to stand in (just like in summer). The first was with a guard who checked passports and verified I was with Delta. Then we went to a long line where we were asked the standard questions (Anyone give you anything, bag unattended, etc.), passports were rechecked, and stickers applied to them and the luggage. Then, there was the check in line, which divided up into 5 mini-lines. Then, once baggage was checked, there was the security line, then the passport stamping line. Whee! Once again, I got there 2 hours early and got to the gate with 15 minutes to spare.

Oddly, the Nice Young Gentleman from my arrival flight to Paris was ALSO going home on this VERY SAME plane. While we didn't sit together, I did manage to catch up with him in Atlanta and pass on the SPIRITS URL and my e-mail address. That  was WEIRD. Found out that his luggage was also lost, but he got it much sooner than I (probably from his staying in Rome).

Return trip, naturally and thankfully, ran on time. It was a long flight home (11 1/2 hours) of cramped space. We were continuously fed mediocre food and subject to "B" rated movies (at least 3 of them, plus Cosby family reruns). My headphones didn't work, so I mostly read. Sat next to a nice enough woman, though.

Arrived in Atlanta, grabbed my stuff, did passport and customs, and bolted to Terminal T to get on the plane home. It was also -- gasp -- ON TIME. Sat next to a nice couple from San Fran who I lead to the baggage claim. And, since I sat at a window seat, I got to see my luggage -- the only lilac bag on the plane -- get loaded in amongst a series of drab black and olive suitcases. I'm sure the luggage man must have wondered why I was staring at him so intently, but I wasn't taking any chances (as I watched the bag go plummeting into the belly of the beast filled with my stuff, including Mom's set of fragile set of glasses from Sorrento. Though the luggage man tried his best to crush them, the glasses DID survive).

Getting off the plane I did make this observation: Americans ARE bigger than Europeans. Whereas in Italy, I saw all skinny folks with occasional "well rounded" individual, in America EVERYONE had a gut and a butt in the airport, with the occasional skinny person (usually young) popping up for show. That was strange to see. However, I'm glad my rear is back to being "average" again.

Mom came to pick me up. The pick up lanes at the TIAirport are now run by petty tyrants. They won't let cars park anymore unless they are picking people up. If someone slows down but doesn‘t pick anyone up, these miniature marauders give out tickets. They yell at anyone (pedestrian or otherwise) near a crosswalk (?! -- Aren‘t they there for pedestrians?). They blow whistles nonstop at cars. Very stupid stuff. However, Mom managed to get me and my lilac bag in and off we went.

Arriving home, I discovered that one of my hamsters is missing. Mom is beside herself as the hamster was "high maintenance" and was there this afternoon. I've not found her yet. I don't know how she got out, unless she lifted the lid to the cage. No other way for her to go. Mom is devastated, but I'm too tired to really worry. I've searched the corpse. However, no hamster either. I dunno. I hope she shows up! Also, Mom's guinea pig, Lambie, is sick. He's huffing a bit. I don't know what that is, but I gave him the meds I have for resp. infection. :(

A stack of mail and one measly phone message....ah, how exciting. Little art was returned as of yet and I'm still missing some checks.   Pugs are elated. Jasper finally wore himself out, and Ody is sleeping behind me. Held the rats and even the sugar gliders came out to greet me.

Need to crash out soon. My right sinus is bleeding and the left won't stop dripping so I am probably going to have to see a doctor ASAP. Morning class will NOT be easy, either. So, hope all is well with the rest of yens, and I'll catch you after the jet lag wears off.

Brandy, formerly of Rome

Addendum:  I got the hamster back!  I put a blob of peanut butter in her cage and left the door open; I woke up at 4 a.m. to take my meds for this nasty sinus infection (yep, double bleeders this time) and found her sitting by her cage.  YES!  Little twit tried to get away again but I got her on my second grab.  She's been securely entrenched in her cage since, none the worse for wear.

This sinus infection is one of the worst that I have had in YEARS.  Both sinuses were bleeding, my head has been in constant pain.  My voice is iffy (tough to teach like this) and it comes complete with fever.  It's been a week and I'm still struggling.  Today is the first day I have felt on the side of "better" moreso than "worse".  I don't think that I will be travelling in the winter again, unless it is further south or to other compatible climates. 

Sent off my letter of complaint to Delta, complete with 2 pages detailing info, 8 pages of e-mailed travel log, photocopies of itin, receipts, and ticket stubs.  I also e-mailed a copy of the letter.  To date, no response other than confirmation that the e-letter did arrive.  I hope Delta does the right thing for this.

35 mm photos came up with no anomolous images, so digital is it for orbs and whatnot.  Fin!

The evil cold room from Sorrento B&B -- note large orb.  I actually remember trying to take a pic of the room and getting a false positive, then asking if anything was present to show up for the image.  This is what I got.  I then put the camera away.  If I was going to be cold, heaven forbid it should be for paranormal reasons.  Note:  the heater on the wall DOES NOT WORK!
Herculaneum with Vesuvius in the background.  Belwo, another image of the ruins.
Me in my one measly outfit sitting in the ruins.
Orb images:  (Below) Strange feeling of sadness, almost burst into tears.  Compass turned about 5 degrees.  Snapped this shot, then another one in a few seconds of one another.  This one appeared with an orb.

(Right):  As we were being thrown out of Herculaneum (park was closing) I snapped one final shot.  Did someone stop to say goodbye to us?
One of the body casts.  From another angle, you can see the skull protruding from the top.  Note the belt around his waste -- he may have been a slave.
Statue of Apollo (patron of the arts) with an artist!
Ruins of Pompeii:  big theatre
Pompeii's own LITTLE Theatre!
Our escort from the little theatre.  He wouldn't leave until I took his picture.
An arch created by natural
Villa Jovis:  Ruins
The view Tiberius had of the world around him.  (top of ruins)
Iliad in the infamous (formerly missing) lilac suitcase.  She is NOT risking my taking another trip without her!