Elevation Burger

May 31, 2012
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I noticed Elevation Burger opened a a few months ago. It's close to home and located in a strip mall near Walmart. We stopped in on a Saturday afternoon for lunch. We had the place to ourselves when we first arrived, but it later filled with a few diners. Three Elevation burgers were ordered, that means double meat and double cheese. They tout 100% grass-fed organic USDA beef and real cheddar cheese. From the list of toppings: I chose carmelized onions, Frank had lettuce, tomato and elevation sauce, and my brother was left very disappointed because bacon was not an option. Fries are made fresh and fried in olive oil. Service was quick and friendly. Burgers and fries were fresh as advertised. The fries were particularly enjoyable. Yet, I was left craving In-N-Out. This isn't a bad burger joint, but you can get a similar slightly less healthy burger down the street at In-N-Out without the elevated price. An Andrew Jackson will purchase the meal pictured above.

Elevation Burger on Urbanspoon

Our Weekend Without Words

May 29, 2012
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug



Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug



Hang in There

May 25, 2012
The last six weeks have been whirlwind. I've detailed our Italy vacation, but I've also went to Sparks and Reno, NV and last week we took a trip to Anaheim and LA. I fell behind with all my time away, I've been struggling to catch up. I have hundreds of photos on my camera that I haven't touched in a month. That is unheard of, I usually upload photos within a day or two. Needless to say, I owe all sorts of food reviews and photos of the day.

I wish I could say I'll be caught up soon, but I can't. I will certainly try, however.

Tomorrow, my nephew arrives and he'll be visiting for ten days. I'm pretty sure life will remain chaotic for the next two weeks. Hang in there, I'll try to squeeze in a tidbit here and there.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend. Please remember to give thanks to those who protect us and have fought and continue fighting to keep America free.

Final Thoughts on Italy

May 23, 2012
For those keeping score, we visited 14 cities in 12 days. We flew between 6 airports and traveled 41 hours by air and 13 more by train. We got around on various modes of transportation: trams, waterbus, water shuttle, train, bullet train, city bus, tour bus, subway, electric bus, funicular, circumvesuviana, ferry, boat, taxi, and of course, our feet. 2792 photos were taken. Want more? Go here.

Exhausted? Why yes, yes, we were. Jetlag didn't phase me on our flight out, but coming home it seriously kicked my butt.

Italy had been a dream trip for a long time. I'm afraid I romantized it too much. Still, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. And one day, I'd like to return. I'd skip the big cities though and stick to the quaint ones. Siena, Positano and Capri have a special place in my heart.

Restaurants charge a fee just to sit and be waited on, this kept us from trying various places like we usually do in our travels in the states. Paying the premium for a seat is worthwhile. Our feet ached so bad. And meals were such a nice break. The wine helped too. Wine is so cheap in stores and affordable in restaurants.

Ibuprofen was not. The uneven surfaces and cobblestone streets had be popping ibuprofen like candy. I ran out in Rome, it cost €10 for twelve pills at the pharmacy. Crazy.

I read half a dozen guide books before our trip, I thought I was well armed with information, but there was one tidbit that I totally missed. And this being my first visit to Europe I had no idea it is completely common to pay to use the restroom. Best advice when traveling abroad? Use the restroom whenever possible. I learned why espresso is so popular in Italy. Who wants to drink a grande coffee when restrooms are few and far between and can cost as much as few euros to use them? A little shot of espresso perks you up without a need to dash to the potty. We managed to time our breaks with our meals and siestas, until Orvieto, that is. Then I finally had to break down and pay to use the toilet. At only €,40 it was the cheapest we encountered. The cleanest too. The higher the price, ironically, the worse conditions. One of the highlights of returning home was that it was free to pee.

We relied on public transportation completely. Purchasing multi-day passes saved us a ton. Public transit always comes with some hassle, but aside from Rome and the random closures in Sorrento it was pretty decent.

Pack as light as possible. Think you packed light? Pack lighter. That's my second best piece of advice.

And my third is to take time to see the sights away from the tourist attractions. See how others live. Shop in local markets and enjoy neighborhood haunts. Never let the language barrier deter you.

And never. Never. Fly United Air internationally. OK if you are petite and under 5ft - you're good.

Naples

May 22, 2012
We ferried back to Sorrento, reclaimed our luggage that was held at our hotel and then we were off to the train station. The Circumvesuviana ride back to Naples was far better than the ride out – thank goodness. Still, it seemed to take forever; although, in reality it was over an hour. From the train station in Naples we walked over the metro system. There were many shady characters looming, one was trying to sell us socks and would not take no for an answer. It was highly obnoxious, but eventually he moved on.

We rode the subway to the Piazza Amedeo in the Chiaia district. Our hotel was just around the corner. We stayed at Pinto Storey our last night. It was a large room with a balcony. The accommodations were quite nice. We were a bit saddened that our stay would be no more than six hours.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug







Pizza in Naples was a must so we fought the urge to collapse in bed and hit the streets in search of some. It proved to be more difficult than we imagined. We walked nearby blocks. The streets were pretty desolate, but cleaner than expected. I heard tales of strikes that cause garbage to rot on the streets. It must have been business as usual during our visit, but evidence of rotting garbage remained.

After walking a few blocks with no dining options we back tracked toward the hotel, down some stairs and by an alley, we found a pizzeria called Manfredi’s. It was a popular spot and seemed to have been around for a long time. Tables outside and inside on the main level were full so we were seated in the basement. At first, we were alone, but two large groups later joined us.





We had house wine, margarita pizza with buffalo mozzarella and a calzone with sausage and ricotta. Both were fine, but nothing terribly special. I loved the gooeyness of the cheese, but the crust could not support it.

Bellies full we returned to the hotel and promptly crashed. We slept for a few hours, packed one last time and headed out in search of a taxi. Fortunately, hailing a cab at 4am wasn’t difficult; they were lined up in the piazza. The ride to the airport was quick and less than €20.

We were flying from Naples to Frankfurt, Germany on Lufthansa, which is a great airline, by the way... Timely, roomy and comfortable. It was wild though, to board the flight we walked outside and up the stairs and onto the airplane. I’ve only seen that happen in the movies. The sun was rising above the mountains as I waived, “Arrivederci, Italia.”

Arriving in Frankfurt was so nice. The trams were so timely they counted down to the second for their arrival. After dealing with weeks of tardiness, this was so welcomed. Lines were structured and orderly. We loved Germany. And that was before we found beer and sausages.

We had a three hour layover so we went in search of food. We came upon Käfer's. We had the breakfast special with white sausage, pretzel and beer.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug







We enjoyed it so much we asked them to bring us more sausage and our waiter brought us a sampler. It was fantastic. As was the beer! Germany was officially bumped near the top of our wander list.

We were flying United from Germany back to the states. That’s where the fun stopped. The plane we boarded was no roomier than those we fly for domestic travel in the states. We had eight hours on this bad boy. But it got worse; they had difficulty counting the number of passengers on the flight, some bug with the new software. So, we sat on the runway for an additional 1.5 hours. We only had a three hour layover in Chicago so I feared we would not make our connection. After nine hours on that ridiculous flight, the airline attendant took pity on Frank and offered to move us to the seats reserved for staff in Economy Plus. Those added inches felt like miles. We could breath. It was wonderful. Our original seats were in the last row of the plane and these were in the third row behind first class. It allowed us to deplane much faster and get into the line for customs before the masses. I think it made the difference of us making our connection.

The four hour flight to Las Vegas from Chicago was just as bad. Teeny tiny. I ached from being crammed for so long. I cannot imagine how Frank felt. Twenty-four hours after we started our day we touched down at McCarran. Home has never looked so beautiful.

Positano

May 21, 2012
Our original plan was to spend our final day exploring Naples. However, we opted to stay in Sorrento long enough to catch a ferry to Positano. Again the ferry was great and hassle free (€18). Positano is striking from first glance, it’s not often you encounter a vertical city built in cliffs along the sea. This characteristic gives all Amalfi coastal towns charm, but I found it most present in Positano.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Positano was a prosperous port in the 16th and 17th centuries, but later fell on hard times. It remained a poor fishing village until the 1950’s when it became a popular vacation spot. The centerpiece of the city is the church Santa Maria Assunta which is easily spotted because of the dome made from majolica, tin glazed, tiles. At only 300 meters, Spiaggia Grande is one of the largest beaches on the Amalfi Coast.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

As we stepped onto the beach, Frank immediately noticed boat rentals were available. We walked up to each one and he negotiated the best price for couple hours. You have the option to pay additional for a captain, but we wanted to go alone. Before we set off on our adventure we walked up the steep stairs into town and found a Delicatessen at the top of another set of stairs. We ordered a caprese sandwich with proscuitto and we couldn’t resist a hot pocket type pastry – think savory crepe. We bought water, admired the ginormous parmesan cheese wheel and we were on our way.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug





We were starved and had a bit of time to kill before boarding the boat so we sat on the church steps and dug into our tasty eats.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug





We headed back down to the beach and we gathered our boat. After learning about its features – no different than boats we’ve rented at home – we were off. We were in heaven. Frank loves to be behind the wheel. And we were alone. Totally isolated with only beauty surrounding us. We grinned from ear to ear from Positano beyond Amalfi. We toured the coast nearly to Salerno. I never got to step foot on Praino, but it was lovely from the water, as were the other small villages.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the water. The only negative was that time flew and we found ourselves back in Positano within a blink of an eye. We returned the boat and learned that a full day rental is very affordable (€200). It is a must for when we return.

We were a bit hungry when we returned so we shared a Diavola pizza at Covo Dei Saraceni. It was yummy and cold beers hit the spot. We finished with a refreshing treat of lemon sorbet.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug



Afterwards we sat on the pier and Frank soaked his feet until a jellyfish neared. The water was positively freezing. I refused to touch it.



Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug



Next, we found a random staircase that was pretty weathered. We climbed and sat perched above the city we enjoyed the solitude and stunning views. Before long it was time to board the ferry and return to Sorrento. We had the best day. I hated to leave, but loved that we were persistent and actually got to experience Positano.

Capri

May 11, 2012
After the trying day in Amalfi I wasn’t sure I even wanted to attempt Capri. I figured it being an island would only complicate things and I wasn’t sure I had it in me to deal with more disappointment. However, Frank insisted we continue on course. To make it as trouble free as possible, the night before, we scoped out the ferries and armed ourselves with every nugget of information imaginable.

We returned bright and early the following morning. We knew being the early bird would aid in success. And it did, we were able to get tickets for the second ferry to Capri (8:10, €30 each round-trip). Purchasing a round trip ticket meant we had a boarding time of 3:30. So, we had to get all sights out of the way as soon as possible. The ferry was pricey, but it was timely and orderly. It was fantastic.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We beat the crowds to Capri and immediately reserved our spot on the first Blue Grotto tour. The Blue Grotto was a must! I believe the boat ride to the grotto was €12 and then the row boats into the grotto were €6.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug











It’s a quick 10-minute boat ride to the grotto, followed by a shaky shift into the row boat. We had another couple crammed into our boat with us; it was not comfortable so I didn’t mind the short tour.





Our captain waited for the water level to drop and then we swept right into the small opening that reveals a large cave. The water glows beautiful shades of blue from the sunlight that is able to enter the grotto.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug







I’ve heard tales of songs being sung but there was none of that for us. We oohed and aahed and our time was through. We were extremely lucky that there was no wait to enter. I hear there are typically queues of an hour or more. It was such a joy to have a plan come to fruition without any hassle. I had a grin from ear to ear on the boat ride back to the Grande Marina.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We waited for the bus only to find our bus passes were no good on the island, a separate ticket was needed. There is also a cable car to the town of Capri, but there was crowd already waiting so we walked hiked up the winding Phoenician Steps. It was exhausting but we made it. We stopped at the grocery store for our reward of salami and cheese. It hit the spot. We continued to walk around Capri stopping at various shops for take away snacks.





Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We took the bus to Anacapri and walked all around there as well. Somehow, missing, both, the chairlifts and Villa San Michele.









We rode the bus back to Capri and had sandwiches and beers overlooking the serene waters. We had the best caprese sandwich of the trip at the restaurant near the top of the funicular, of all places. We also had a tasty eggplant sandwich. The views were stellar too.



Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

It was a lovely way to pass our final hour on the island. We took the funicular down to the Grande Marina, grabbed gelato and waited for the ferry to whisk us back to Sorrento.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug





It was a great, great day. I’d love to return to Capri and spend a few days on the island in a beautiful resort overlooking the gorgeous Tyrrhenian Sea.

Search This Blog

Loading...