Got to IAH at 12:30 or so. Our flight was delayed 2 hours so I sweet talked the BA agent at the British Airways Lounge into letting us into the club, even though I didn’t have the requisite level in their frequent flyer program. That few hours in the lounge was our first exposure to the British. This nice Englishman sitting near us gave us advice on both Italy and what to do in our short few hours in London on our return flights. We departed at 6:30pm from Houston.

The lights in Houston seemed to be sparkling as the treetops blew in the wind blocking their view from above momentarily. It was a nice send-off as we headed for the Atlantic.

Later in between naps on the plane Christine saw lights on the horizon in the pitch black darkness. This didn’t make sense because we were over the ocean. Realizing they were stars touching the horizon was such a treat (even during the somewhat sleepless night).

We landed at around 8:40am London time. Nothing like watching the sunrise from 30,000 feet over Belfast, Ireland. Amazing:

Took the National Express motorcoach (bus) from Heathrow to Gatwick. Lots of cars I’ve never seen on the roads, and even though they drive on the wrong side of the road, it seems to work. Didn’t spot a single stop light… Just roundabouts.

The British countryside was quite picturesque with it’s sheep and cows and massive draft horses on the hills as we drove by. Very Emily Brontë/Wuthering Heights-ish.

At Gatwick we grabbed some coffee and water and yogurt for breakfast. Then sat around for a few hours, waiting for our flight to Naples. I played on the iPad. Christine shopped and freshened up.

Had lunch at Cafe Rouge. French Onion soup and Toulouse Sausage salad. It wasn’t bad (much better than American airport restaurants).

We boarded our plane to Naples in time and luckily got seats in the exit row with no one in between us. I watched two episodes of season four of The Tudors. Christine read Pride and Prejudice. We were treated to a gorgeous view of the sunsetting with a crescent moon rising while flying over France.

We landed in Naples. Walked down steps to a bus that took us to the airport (reminded me of flying into Mexico to be honest), and got our bags. A few minutes later we were at the Hertz counter renting a car. The lady told us we were “getting a bigger car at the smaller car price”. A Fiat. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a “bigger” Fiat, but said “Great, grazzie!” once we found the car we put our large suitcase in the back and our other two bags in the backseat. Heh. “Bigger” ?

The drive from Naples to Sorrento was insane. It was dark, raining a little and I was driving a tiny manual transmission car on roads where I couldn’t even read the signs.

I’m talking crazy (Click the image above and zoom in on the area around Sorrento to see all of the switchbacks and tunnels and stuff). We got off the highway in Naples on accident. In probably the worst neighborhood of town. Hookers. Trash. You name it. And we had no idea where we were. Thank God for Google maps. Grazzie a Dio!

After figuring out where we needed to be, and agreeing to stop yelling at each other, we got on the right road and drove to Sorrento. The maps don’t do the drive any justice. It’s a crazy drive. Even more so in the rain at night.

I think Christine takes after her mom. At least her passenger skills (love you Mary) but that may be because I drive like her dad (you too Frank). ;)

We finally made it. Two or three tunnels. Lots of hairpin turns. Lots of other cars. And scooters. And sometimes in our lanes coming at us!

Hotel Gardenia awaited us. And it was nice. Nice in that it was open and was where it should be. We were ready to be done driving ;)

After we checked in, we walked down the street a little to the first restaurant we saw open. It was really just a bar next door to a pizzeria. We ordered two glasses of red wine and one marghatitta pizza. After our second glass of wine, we had a chocolate croissant and decided to call it a night. It was 9pm and we’d been up for basically 34 hours or so traveling.

So glad to be in Italy.