Wednesday, August 01, 2007

July 2 (written July 5th, 2007 while on the train in Stazione Central in Napoli)

This was a strange day, we spent it mostly waiting and sweating. We started by checking out and then stowing our luggage at the hotel. We then walked basically all the way to the port to get a "no fee" Traveler's Cheque Exchange location, Banque de Costa. We entered through the man trap, past the armed guard, and the signs warning of kerchief clad gun toting bandits. Taking a number (117) we took a seat, and read the sign. "Now serving 90," we were in for a wait, ten minutes later "now serving 91" a long wait. . .

About two hours later I was at the counter, and I stayed there for about 20 minutes carefully stringing together from my Italian phrase book "Thank you, and sorry about the problem with the phone." While in the meantime my teller yelled at American Express over the phone. Once every thing was sorted out she handed me my cash and smiled appreciatively as Italian syllables crashed over my lips like a storm tossed ship against the rocky shoals.

We made a swift departure nearly three hours after we arrived, and headed back to the hotel, grabbed our luggage, and a bus back to the port. We grabbed a quick bite, and then boarded our hydrofoil.

Much to our dismay, the windows of the hydrofoil were encrusted with salt, but some of them were open so we got a little view, and a nice breeze.

We transferred at the Island of Salina, with a long enough pause to enjoy a gelato, all be it a very melty one, before on to Stromboli.

We arrived near dusk on the smoking island, the sun reaching the horizon beyond the volcano, it cast its long shadow over the town. We took a taxi from the port and were glad of it. The taxi was more of a pickup truck the size of a Smart Car with a bench in the flat bed. The rocky volcanic flow the town was build on was hilly, and the roads winding and narrow. More then once our taxi bounced off retaining walls of the building's foundations.

Our hotel, which had the distinction of being the only one I booked through, and booked through the use of pigeon English, turned out to be a lovely place. The Villagio Stromboli was a stucco clad Escher painting, of stairs and bridges built into the ancient lava flows (as opposed to over them.)

It had a fine view of the volcano and was perched over a black sand beach, accessible from stairs descending on pillows of magma.

We ended the day with , I daresay too much wine (I need to learn how to say one glass, as I keep getting one bottle) shellfish with eyes, and a canoli.

That night, when our heads hit the pillow, we were already asleep...

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