A few years back I went to Europe, mid-March, where I just happen to spend my 41st birthday. I recommend any and all birthdays in Europe but have yet to return. It was so beautiful - there aren't enough adjectives to express the feeling of awe that I encountered daily. Traveling with my daughter, we traveled via Delta Airlines out of Springfield, Missouri with layovers in Atlanta and Amsterdam; destination: Milan, Italy. The worst part of the trip (and only negative experience) was the eight-hour flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam. It was an overnight flight, but we couldn't sleep. Maybe we were just excited, but personally I can generally always sleep on an airplane, I just couldn’t find that comfort zone that allowed me some zzz’s. However, the movie options Delta provided were top notch. It was like having your own personal free Redbox.
On this leg of the trip, Atlanta to Amsterdam, I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting by the most charming man from Brussels. Considering the events of that particular time (terrorist attack in Brussels, March 2016), I occasionally think of this kind man and his family. He was returning to his home in Brussels after visiting his daughters and their families in Pensacola, Florida. He was ready to be home to see his wife. They were home for a week, then taking holiday in Italy. I hope he was not traveling when Brussels endured terrorism on their beautiful land. He gave me a lot of pointers about traveling in Europe - pasta in Italy, wine in France - he spoke five languages (German, French, Italian, Dutch, and English) and was very sweet (and he didn't snore - haha)...
Upon arrival in Milan we were picked up and driven to our first destination of Lavagna, Italy. The views were stunning, very picturesque, but as we would discover, the views were stunning throughout our entire trip. We stopped at a little place along the way - almost like a convenience store, but with a deli/coffee counter. We ordered our first 'real' cappuccino and a sandwich called a Capri. OH MY GOSH - the bread was incredible - everything I had hoped and dreamed it would be. I looked around, absorbing my surroundings...we were in Italy, eating and drinking local flavor; a little slice of Heaven on Earth, in a C-store. This is a moment I will forever cherish.
The cappuccino is not like here in the States. It is served in a small coffee cup (not a to-go coffee cup; Italians do not take their coffee to go...or in their words 'take away'), and it is not a sugary drink. If you want sugar, you must add it, and it is strong - that being said, the kiddo did not like hers, so I had two, and I loved them both.
Arriving in Lavagna, our hotel was within walking distance of the beach. The weather was quite cool while we were there (again, it was mid-March) so we did not go swimming, but if you have never seen the Mediterranean Sea, I suggest you make it a destination at the top of your list. The views of the Mediterranean are breathtaking, with cool blue waters, rugged rocks and cliffs, and miles and miles of stunning shoreline. While in Lavagna we stayed at the Hotel Doria. The hotel was very nice, but the rooms are quite small compared to hotel rooms in the United States. Our room had two twin beds (which I believe is common in Europe, because that is how all our rooms were at various hotels), and the bathrooms are even smaller, but hey, it's ITALY – chi se na importa (who cares)!
At this point my only regret is not signing up for the Italian language lessons that I intended on signing up for a year and half prior to my trip - shame on me. This just proves, don't put things off...the opportunity might pass you by (lesson learned). Lucky for us, most of the Europeans we encountered along the way spoke English, apart from just a few.
Our first dinner in Italy was at the hotel restaurant - we ate here each evening we were in Lavagna - which consisted of Pesto Pasta (delicious) and bread (delightful); the second course was a type of pork chop with a mystery sauce and some "pudding", which was a type of mashed potato (lovely). The third course was dessert, a type of butter cake (wonderful) - very moist and full of flavor (insert salivating emoji here).
All in all, although it had been a very long day (we left Missouri at 2:00 PM on Sunday and had this dinner on Monday evening at 6 PM) it was a successful day, jet lag and all.
Monday, March 7, 2016 ~ in the books.
Photo by yours truly #nofilter, follow me on Twitter: @krista_watkins