6/7 – 6/22/2011
We had an eventful trip with the Talley family in the Summer of 2011. I planned this trip for months and arranged it where we could use airmiles and hotel points or a good portion of the trip. We saw some amazing sites and stayed in some cool places. The negatives were that the Talley’s were sick for the first part of the trip and the Newhouse’s were hurt for the second part of the trip so our group was never 100%.
We flew to Paris with a stopover in New York to change airports. We lugged our bags around New York and saw some sites and got some NY Pizza
We landed the next morning at 6:30 am. We had almost 5 full days in Paris. Our hotel was the Crown Plaza Republique. It wasn’t that great, but we got it for pretty cheap on Priceline. This was our 3rd time to Paris, so we acted as tour guides for the Talley’s. We saw most of the major sites and ate lots of baguettes and pastries. We did a the LeOpen Tour hop on, hop off bus for 2 days. The girls were so cute with their matching clothes and they bought matching berets. One of the days, we surprised the kids and took them to Euro Disneyland. They didn’t know where we were going until we got off the train. Tyler and Angie had a pretty bad cold for all of our time in Paris. I followed the Mavericks in the championship series against the Miami Heat while in Paris. I learned that the won and spent the rest of the trip reading articles about it on my phone.
We left Paris and took the overnight train to Venice. We tried to cram 8 of us in a single cabin for 6. It was pretty miserable. We eventually got another cabin. It was a pretty miserable night. It was hot, loud and we stopped for a couple hours because of a forest fire. We arrived in Venice at 10 a.m. and went to check in at the Hilton Molina Stucky. We both got our rooms with points. The hotel was pretty awesome with a great lounge or snacks and breakfast (awesome pastries) and a pretty amazing roof top pool overlooking Venice. We did all the Venice stuff, Doge’s Palace, St. Marks Square, Bridge of Sighs and just wandered the streets. We also had pizza and of course got some gelato. We even had time to swim on top of our hotel. The next day, we saw a few more sights and then picked up our rental van. Wes would be driving all around Italy for the rest of our trip and he did a great job!
We drove all day and arrived in Sorrento late at night. The drive in Italy was beautiful and very easy. We stayed 2 nights at the Hilton Palace in Sorrento. The rooms were tiny, but this hotel had an awesome lounge and breakfast. The kids enjoyed the fresh orange juice machine where they could load orange and it would squeeze out juice. The hotel had a nice garden area with orange and lemon trees. Walking through the garden smelled amazing! The hotel also had a pretty awesome pool that overlooked Mt. Vesuvius and the Gulf of Naples. Our first full day in Sorrento, we lounged by the pool and then took the public bus to Amalfi. This is the most beautiful drive in the world. I might have fallen asleep for a little while. Amalfi was pretty awesome too. We explored the town, got pizza and did some shopping.
The next day derailed our trip. We were going to go back to Amalfi and hang out at the beach. Susan, Trey, Angie and Tyler took the bus. Wes and I and the girls rented scooters for the day. This proved to be a bad idea. In hindsight, I probably should have chosen the most dangerous road in the world to drive a scooter for the first time with a child on the back. We were going too fast, had trouble with a turn and ended up running into a wall. I cut my knee and right hand up really bad. Natalie got a bad road rash all over her right leg. A nice, young, Italian lady stopped and took me and the girls to the hospital. Wes stayed behind to take care of the scooter. BTW, I did end up having to buy that scooter for about $2000. I ended up disputing the charge on my AMEX and I think I got the money back. Italy has universal healthcare, so everything was free. The care was below standard. They bandaged Natalie up and gave me lots of stiches. We had a couple of problems. First, they only gave me some Tylenol for the pain. I needed some much harder stuff as I was in pretty bad pain for the rest of the trip. Secondly, the bandages they used stuck to our wounds, so when it was time to clean and change them, it was agonizing. While we were getting fixed up, with flies buzzing around the room, Wes drove his scooter to Amalfi to get Susan. She wouldn’t ride the scooter with him, to they all took the bus back to Sorrento. We didn’t have service on our phones, so I don’t know how they finally found us. After a few hours, they came to pick us up in the van to drive to Rome. On the way, we stopped at Pompei. Unfortunately it was closed. They all got to look at if from the other side of the fence.
We spent 3 nights in Rome at a pretty spare Sheraton. I was pretty much immobile and stayed in the room most of the time. Susan, Trey and Natalie got out to do some sightseeing with the Talley’s. In our room, I bought an unlimited movie package for about $50 to occupy my time. The only time I left the room was to go to the lounge for food or to the pool area. The hotel loaned me a wheelchair for me to get around. It had a flat. We did have the hotel get a doctor for us, to change our bandages. Because of the aforementioned bandage issue, it was the most painful thing Natalie and I ever went through. There were many tears. According to the pictures, they saw lots of sights in Rome.
We left Rome and drove to La Spezia. This would be our home base for a trip to Cinque Tierra. On the way, we stopped at Pisa to see the leaning tower. There weren’t very many hotel options in this area. We stayed at a dumpy hotel. Cinque Tierra was what I was really looking forward to. I was in really bad shape so Natalie and I stayed behind while the rest of the crew went. Susan was nice enough to leave us with a half of a bag of gummy bears for the day, without any way to get food. The hotel had no A/C and tv with only Italian channels and poor reception. It was a pretty miserable day for us. According to the pictures, Cinque Tierra is beautiful and the rest of the crew had a great time hiking, swimming and taking pictures of guys in speedos. I’m sure they ate food too. The next day, Susan took Natalie and I to a hospital to get our bandages changed. It wasn’t quite as bad as the first change. This trip was memorable because they put us both on gurneys out in the hallways. They finally put me in a room with about 10 other patients lined up in gurneys. I’m pretty sure the old lady next to me died as we waited. We were so happy to get out of there.
We stayed at an airport hotel in Milan. We got there early and were planning to take the train in to do some sightseeing. Everyone was tired, sick or hurt, so we all stayed in the hotel. Wes returned our van to the rental car place. Wes was definitely the hero driving and taking care of things. The next morning, we flew back to the states. I got my flight upgraded to business class and it was so welcome. I think I smelled pretty bad, so I don’t know how well the guy next to me welcomed me. We flew to New York. We were supposed to change airports, but I think they felt sorry me so they changed our flight. We said goodbye to the Talley’s as they had to change airports. We went to the American Airlines Lounge to waste time until our flight. As we were getting off the elevator, we are nose to nose with Liv Tyler as she was getting on. When we got home, I was so relieved. It is not fun getting hurt when you are out of the country. All you want to do is get home. We were worried about infection. It all worked out and we got into see our doctors the next day. I missed the next week of work as I healed.
This was a very memorable trip. We did have some fun, even though I was laid up for the last half of the trip. We do have some interesting stories to tell. I think if I would have had some good pain medication, I could have got out and done some stuff.