41st Annual Photography Exhibit 2018 at the Wassenberg Art Center

I entered photos into the Wassenberg Art Center’s annual photo exhibit for the second time.   They accepted one of my photos.   I am surprised to say it was a photo of Monkey.

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Monkey – Flowers & Critters Category

 

These are the other photos that I submitted but were not accepted.

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Does Hoagie translate to Panini?

I love a story about Philadelphians. The people of my adopted city are the most lovable crazy people in the world. They love their city and culture with a vigor unparalleled in the world. One of my favorite parts about any conversation between Philadelphians is that it will turn toward strong opinions about food.

Here is a great anecdote from my time in Italy. Let me set the scene. We are in the small rural town of Castroregio having dinner in someone’s home. This is a vacation space they use in August. There are 4 Italian-Americans, 2 Midwesterners, and 3 Italians. All four of the Italian-Americans identify with Philadelphia in some way.  The only way to properly appreciate this dialogue it to try to read it aloud in 30 seconds or less.  If you can read it with a friend, speak over one another.

Italian-American (IA) #1: When making a hoagie you start by putting the oil on the roll.

IA #4, #3: Head shaking in disagreement.

Italian #1: What’s a hoagie?

IA #2: It’s a sandwich with meat and cheese on it.

Italian #1: Like a panini?

Midwestern #1: Sure

IA #4: Did you know that the hoagie was invented in southwest Philadelphia. The Hog Island shipyard was in southwest of Philadelphia along the Delaware River. Italian immigrants would take the leftover antipasti from dinner and put it on hard crusted roll for lunch at the shipyard the next day. People started calling the sandwich hoggies and it eventually became hoagies.

IA #1: You start by putting oil on the roll first!

Italian #1: (quietly) roll? (makes a burrito rolling motion)

Midwestern #1: (quietly) No, It just means bread.

Italian #1: nods

IA #1: Then you add the garlic salt to the lettuce.

IA #4: I don’t think so. I’ve never…

IA #2: Yeah, we call it Italian lettuce.

IA #4: appalled

IA #3: I like it with …

IA #1: You start with the oil first.

Italian #1: Stanno parlando di panini.

Italian #2: nods

IA #4: We add the oil last. It’s how you dress the lettuce.

IA #2: It’s a sandwich on a long piece of bread with meat, cheese, and vegetables.  It’s very good.  When you come to the United States we’ll get you some.

Italian #3: Like Subway.

The speed of the conversation is cover for ignoring this insult.

IA #4: I was known as the hoagie queen when I was younger. Come to Philadelphia and I’ll make you a great hoagie.

IA #1: I start with the oil on the roll, and then the meat, and the lettuce.

A similar conversation happened around the cheesesteak.   No, it is not a scallopini.  Yes, we are still discussing a sandwich.

Thelma and Louise made it.

It was a great trip. I loved taking my mom on her first big trip to Europe. It was great to follow Cathy Brady through her journey to find relatives. I must give myself credit, that pairing my mom’s first trip and Brady’s search for her roots was a great idea. The two of them got a long swimmingly, and it actually freed me up to be on vacation, and not focus on being a host.

There are plenty of funny moments, not recorded in this travel log. Whenever I think of the phrases “I don’t give a shit,” “The pizza/water/view is better in Italy,” or a debate  on the ease in which one can procure an unlicensed water taxi, I’ll think of this trip. It was a good time.

And let me finish with this story. I was the third and final member of our party to vomit. On my way home, American Airlines fed me a pepperoni pizza as a snack. It was horrible. Within 20 minutes I started to get a headache and a knot in my stomach. When I got into my house I rushed to the bathroom and vomited. This poor man’s hot pocket, was complete and utter garbage and it made me puke. Normally, I have an iron stomach and rarely vomit, but this piece of trash served to me as food was an embarrassment to the food pyramid. Hell, it wasn’t even on the pyramid, it should be in the gutter of the cistern below the pyramid. Foul. American Airlines, you are terrible.

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DANGER! American Airlines pizza is microwaved food poisoning.

One last day in Italy

We woke up in Sorrento to enjoy the view and start packing our bags. Then terror struck. When we arrived home the night before, I put my camera bag down on the ground while I opened the gate. Can you guess what I did not do? Answer: I did not pick my camera bag up. I rushed to the entrance, but my camera bag was not there. I tore through the house looking for it, but it was nowhere to be found. I was sure that I forgot it outside. Genarro was at the house gardening, so I told him what I thought happened. The old coot, asked me if I had been drinking the night before. (Answer: No)

There’s one road that leads to the beach, so I thought I would jog down to see if anyone had picked it up. No luck. Of the few places that were open, none had seen my bag. As I started to jog back up the hill I remembered the keys to our rental car were in that bag.

The oncoming logistics nightmare came into realization and all I could do was run faster up the old cobblestone roman road. When I got back to Casa Peach, Genarro greeted me with wonderful news. The neighbor found my camera! He returned home around midnight and spotted my bag outside the gate. They grabbed it for safe keeping and returned while I was out looking. Crisis averted.

While we were leaving, we met the tenants who moved into the second house (Puolo Relax House). They were an Italian couple with their daughter vacationing for a week. The little girl spoke perfect English that she learned it all from Youtube! The parents are  attorneys in Naples, but the husband is a DJ on the side. This is a video he produced. His wife is the lead actress in the video.

We said good-bye to the new family and Genarro. I drove us out of Sorrento until we got to a highway and from there Cathy took over on the highway. We dropped our rental car off at the Rome airport and took a taxi into Rome. When we got to Rome, Cathy went to talk to a guide about the remainder of her trip, and Glenda and I got a hop-on hop-off bus. We only had a few good hours in Rome, so this seemed like the smartest way to give Glenda a taste of Rome.

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Cathy, Genarro, and Glenda.

We hit many of the major places. The Colosseum, St. Peter’s square, Trevi fountain, the Imperial Forum, and finally the Spanish Steps. Glenda loved the Trevi fountain. This is also the spot we got gelato our first taste of gelato in Rome. I had hazelnut and it was delicious. We arrived at the top of the steps and met Cathy at the Barcaccia fountain at the base.

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Glenda is checking out ancient Rome.

As soon as we arrived it started to rain pretty hard, which cut into the plan to wander the streets looking for that perfect final meal. We popped into Ristorante Piazza Italian Bistrot Roma that was near the steps. There was nothing fabulous about it, but I ordered the cacio e pepe and it was wonderful. My mom had the carbonara rigotoni and Cathy has a lasagna. We had a smoked salmon and arugula salad that was really good.
It was a long day and we quickly fell asleep in Bettoja Hotel Mediterraneo.

Conclusion: Thelma and Louise made it.

Not all pizza is the same.

Our AirBNB host, Genarro, offered to drive us to the train station in Sorrento for our visit to Pompeii. Instead of stopping at the train station he drove us all of the way to Pompeii! It was incredibly generous of him. We stopped for coffee at a road side gas station for coffees and sfogliette. He claimed that it was the best coffee in all of Sorrento.  My espresso was quite good and Glenda and Cathy loved their creme cafes.

On our way to the ruins of Pompeii, Genarro wanted to show us a church in the center of contemporary Pompeii. It was Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary. We were rushed for time, so it was just a quick peek inside. This is the first time my anxiety about timeliness came to a head with the relaxed nature of the trip. While we were in the church, communion was happening. Cathy expressed interest, but I was quick to remind her that this stop was not a visit. This was merely a quick peek and we needed to get back in the van if we were going to be on time for our Pompeii guide.

We met our tour guide at Pompeii. His name was Antonio and I thought he was excellent. We hired him through a company called Emiliano’s Archaeological tours. The sun was brutally hot and intense that day. Cathy decided to take a break half-way through the tour to check out the visitor center. Glenda and I stuck with the tour, but we were hot and exhausted when it was all over.  I am not sure what to say about Pompeii, but if you enjoy history you should go. I really loved learning about the city and the ancient/extinct culture.  It was super fascinating. It’s a massive site and we only saw 5% of it during our 2.5 hour tour.  Sexual libertinism seems to have been quite popular in ancient Pompeii.  The erotic art in the brothel is cool and silly.

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The people in Pompeii were really into big dicks.

When Pompeii was finished we grabbed the train to Naples to find pizza. We made our way to a pizzeria called Jeri, Oggi, Domani Trattoria-Pizzeria (Trattoria-Pizzeria Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow) that was Sophia Loren themed. It was verified by the Naples Pizza Association (Vera Pizza Napoletana). That is how serious they take pizza in Naples. Pizzerias get certified. I want to be very clear. I am not a pizza snob. I love and prefer a slice of pizza from an uninteresting pizzeria when I am at home. I like cheap pizzas with things like pineapple and banana peppers on it. I’m into garbage pizza and I know it.

Then I had pizza in Naples. This was the best pizza I’ve had in my entire life. It was amazing. I am smiling as I write about it, it was that damn good. We ordered the Margarita DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta translates to Protected Designation of Origin), which just means the mozzarella and tomato sauce was a higher quality. The crust was perfect, the ingredients were delicious.   I loved it.

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Margarita DOP at Ieri, Oggi, Domani

After lunch, we planned to take a hop on hop off bus tour, but the last tour was at 5, and we didn’t get to the ticket counter until 4. The attendant suggested that we do not buy the ticket. We decided to take a taxi to the historic center of Naples.  We walked on a couple of old streets and looked into some shops, but did not spend much time in Naples.   We discussed taking the ferry back to Sorrento, but it left too early for us to be able to make that happen.  We said good-bye to Naples and took the express train back to Sorrento.  I’d like to return to Naples and dig into its art and museum scene in the future.

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An ancient street in Naples.

We returned to Naples for some shopping, a drink, and a small tram tour of downtown Sorrento.  After all of that we headed to dinner.  For our final meal in Sorrento we went to Restaurant Bagni Delfino.  This was the best meal of the entire trip for me.   It’s a nice Italian seafood restaurant on the water.  We had a lovely bottle of white wine from southern italy.  It was dry with a hint of citrus.  I really enjoyed it.  We started with a fried shrimp appetizer that was wonderful.  It was not overdone and the shrimp were soft and flavorful. It was perfect. Cathy had gnocchi with fresh arugula and shrimp; Glenda had pasta with clams, shrimp, and zucchini; and I had the seafood risotto.  We told the waiter we were celebrating Cathy’s 60th birthday and my mom’s upcoming 60th birthday.   They brought us tiramisu with a candle and limoncello for dessert.

 

When dinner was over we did not have Genarro to take us home.   We had the restaurant call us a taxi and they dropped us off at the top of our hill.   We took the 10 minute walk down the hill with our cell phones as flashlights.   We all went to bed pretty quickly when we got home.

Next: One last day in Italy

A speed boat to Capri

We took a boat to Capri on Monday. We hired the tour through our AirBnb rental. It was €95 for 8 hours. We met at the port in Sorrento at 9 AM and boarded with 8 other people. Our boat traveled along the Sorrento coast on a calm sea and lots of sun. Our captain’s name was Jean-Carlo and he brought his wife/girlfriend and daughter with him. We sat on the front of the boat and while we made our way to Capri. There was beer, prosecco, and aperol spritz. It was a lovely way to enjoy the sun and water. We made our way to the different grottos that are on the outside of Capri island. After the white grotto we anchored and swam from the side of the boat for 20 or 30 minutes. The water is a cobalt blue color that reminded me of the water off the northern coast of Oahu. It is beyond beautiful.

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A lot of different boat tours try to get into the grottos, so each boat needs to wait a few minutes. While we were waiting to get into the coral grotto, vomit spell number 2 hit our group. The boat was rocking enough to flip a stomach and within minutes one of us were vomiting off the side of the boat. The captain was incredibly accommodating and no one was judgmental. If you are keeping score: 3 people, 2 have vomited on this trip so far.

However, if you want to write a comedy scene (it was not funny in the moment) this could be a good one. Piture it: Youthful hard bodied lovers drinking proescco on the bow of a speed boat rushing toward Capri; Joie de vivre at its finest. This scene is juxtaposed next to a woman 2 to 3 times their age trying not to drop her sun hat while vomiting over the side of the same boat. Funny in the darkest sense possible.

Our tour included a Caprese sandwich at a restaurant for lunch. Cathy and Glenda stayed on the beach in Capri at Marina Piccolo and I hiked up to the main town. I had a lemon gelato and snapped a number of photos. On my way out I found a boutique in Capri that had the cutest shirts and I bought my husband one. If there is a god, I am praying to her right now. The shirt was way more money than I thought it was going to be so I am praying it fits him.

We made out way back to the boat. The transfer from the water taxi to our boat was only a slight issue for us and then we were back on the water. We tried to go to the Blue grotto but the sea was high and rough. Our guide said that he recommended that we do not try to get into it. We parked the boat in a nearby cove and went for one last swim.
On our way back to Sorrento a storm came in and the water was very rough. We all had to leave the sun deck and come back with the captain. When we made it Sorrento we discovered an elevator from the port to the main town for €1. We took it to town and had dinner at the Red Lion.

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This is my only bad meal of the entire trip. I decided to order a pizza. I was not paying close attention and saw “Sorrento Special” so I ordered it without really looking at it. What came was a white pizza (I never prefer it) with with a couple of types of meat (not a huge fan for pizzas), and french fries! Here’s the thing, was it prepared poorly? No, the execution seemed spot on, I just did not want that pizza. It was totally not my style. That’s on me and not the restaurant. Glenda had a good steak and Cathy ordered pasta with mixed seafood. Both liked their meals, though the thick noodle pasta (scialatielli) that Cathy ordered was not her cup of tea. We ended the night with gelato and Genarro volunteered to pick us up and drive us home. That’s right, I had gelato twice in one day.

Next: Not all pizza is the same.

Driving through Italy is a roller coaster

We checked out of Masseria Stomato and headed up to Castroregio one last time. Cathy left mass and we jumped in the car for Sorrento. The GPS told us that we should drive through Parco Nazionale del Pollino. This is a beautiful drive that was nothing but small  winding roads. This made the ride an absolute hell for my mom and Cathy. Motion sickness was their enemy for at least 90 minutes. This was the first vomit spell of the trip (first? You ask. Sorry, spoilers.) We should have driven south from Castroregio to Amendolara and drove the highway to Sorrento, but we did not do that. If anyone on you trip suffers from motion sickness do not follow our path.

We eventually made it to Sorrento and went straight to our AirBnB home. It is called Casa Peach and it is owned by a generous man named Gennaro Iaccarino. The view from the home is breath taking. It looks at Mt. Vesuvius and overlooks the Bay of Naples. It sits on small Roman road that leads to Marina di Puolo. The property has lemon and plum trees, 3 bed rooms, a roof deck and plenty of chairs.

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The view of Mount Vesuvius from my AirBnb.

We walked down the hill for 10 minutes to get to the beach. It’s a small, clean, public beach. We swam for an hour and then had an early dinner. We ended up at La Tavernetta Sorrento by the beach. I had a perfectly cooked sea bream, Glenda had a really nice pizza with arugula and prosciutto, and Cathy had a mediocre steak. The mediocrity of the steak was very disappointing as this dinner was Cathy’s gift from Anje & Dennis for her 60th birthday. The bruschetta was excellent and my marinated fish appetizer was lovely. We schlepped up the hill and went to bed with the sound of a breeze coming off of the sea.

Next: A speed boat to Capri