Thursday, June 2, 2016

Roma, Sorrento, and Capri, Italia.

In late March I had the opportunity to travel with a school group to Italy. It was with a group of 18 students and 3 other chaperones. I was meeting them in Rome on Easter Sunday. They had arrived in Rome the day before. I flew Lufthansa from LAX to Rome (FCO) through Munich (MUC). This would be my first flight on an A340-600, which was the longest passenger plane for a while. There is now a newer variant of the 747 that is longer. I've been on the A340-300 on Gulf Air and the A340-500 on Thai Airways. 

LH A340-600
My flight was almost completely full and it left just before sunset. I took a picture of the flight path because my home was on the map.

I was excited to see that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was one of the movies in the entertainment system. I had only seen it once and that was on opening night.

I had a bulkhead seat in the middle section and there was a family with a baby. I was a little annoyed. They set up a bassinet and the baby actually slept for a lot of the flight. 

One of the interesting things about this plane was that there were no lavatories on the main deck with the passengers in coach. You had to walk down some stairs where there were 5 lavatories and the crew rest area. It was very strange and the line would back up the stairs and into the cabin. It made me think about if someone had a mobility issue getting to the lavatory could be quite difficult. 

This is the crew rest area.
This is looking up the stairs from the lavatory deck.
I watched Mockingjay Part 2 before Star Wars.
Dinner was served about 2 hours after take off.
Breakfast was served about 2 hours before landing.
The flight landed a little early in Munich even though it was a good 11 hour flight. That's right at my threshold before I go stir crazy and want to get off the plane. I had never been to Munich and I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the airport was. The efficiency and the layout is great. Since I had a connection I stayed in the terminal and finding my gate was easy. I think I arrived on the top floor right into the international area of the terminal. Since I was connecting within Europe I had to pass immigration at the Schengen area of the terminal. All of it was super easy and my gate was one more level down. I found a Lufthansa lounge and was able to take a shower since I had about a 2.5 hour layover. 
This is my A340-600 as I entered the terminal.
This is the private shower room in the lounge.
Lufthansa has these free self-serve coffee stands all over the terminal.

My flight to Rome was on an A321. The flight was really empty as it was Easter Sunday. I had a whole row to myself which was nice after my previous flight. 

They even served a small snack on the 1.5 hour flight. 

Soon after take off we were flying over snow-capped mountains which was a nice surprise coming from Southern California. Arrival in Rome was easy but we parked at a remote gate. It took a while to get to the terminal, but the good thing was that my luggage was there by the time I made it to the terminal. 

I actually had to scramble to make the train that I wanted to catch to Roma Termini, which is the central Rome station accessible by the Leonardo Express nonstop train. I walked very fast and bought my ticket at a kiosk and had zero time to spare. By the time I found my train the door literally shut in my face. I forced myself through the door and made it. I found a seat right next to the luggage area. The total travel time was maybe 28 minutes. 

It was about dinner time when I arrived at my hotel which was walking distance from the train station. I met up with my group at the dinner restaurant and met everyone I was spending the next week with. The next day we were actually leaving Rome to go south, but I did get to experience the Rome metro (subway) and I got to see the Coliseum, which was amazing. From there it was a quick walk to the Roman Forum. Luckily we able to use the group entrances and get right in, otherwise we would've been waiting a long time.

It was about a 4 hour bus ride down to Sorrento. Without traffic it would take less time, but the traffic was so bad once we got to the peninsula. We stopped at a rest stop along the highway and I bought a ton of Nutella and hazelnut candies that I had no idea what I was buying. But it all ended up tasting great. Our hotel was not actually in Sorrento, but was in Sant'Angello, which was a long walk from the Sorrento city center. The next day we took a ferry boat to Capri. It only takes about an hour to get there. Capri is very posh and such a neat little getaway.

We spent the whole day in Capri and we took a boat ride around the island with a stop at the Blue Grotto, which was incredible. It isn't accessible all the time and I imagine that you are at the mercy of the tides and water conditions. There is a boat "mafia" that runs the grotto tours. You have to transfer to these tiny boats that hold just three or four people and you navigate through a tiny cave opening with your boat rower. It's completely odd, but totally worth it.

The natural light bouncing around the cave gives it the name.
The boat mafia.
This is a lighthouse on the western side of the island.
The boat goes through all kinds of nooks and crannies of the island.
There is a house above the giant arch.
You actually go through this arch.
This is the view from the center of Sorrento down to the marina area.
My hotel for the two nights in Sorrento.
Sorrento has the cutest little streets.

After the full day in Capri, we left Sorrento for Pompei and then to Naples to catch a train up to Florence. I think I could live in Sorrento and the views are just amazing. 

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