December 08, 2012

Birthday Adventures, Part 4

Saturday morning (Nov. 24) we fueled ourselves for a morning of strenuous hiking, as the plan was to hike to the top of part of the island to see Villa Jovis, the ruins of a Roman palace built by Emperor Tiberius and completed in 27 A.D.  We knew the hike would take almost an hour and that it would be difficult hiking, so this time we brought the umbrella stroller so Kenna and Lucan could take turns riding.

They weren't kidding when they told us the path would not be an easy climb!  But it was a beautiful morning, crisp and cool, which was helpful as we all began to sweat.  I can't imagine doing this kind of exploring in the heat of summer!  (Well, we wouldn't be doing it in the heat of summer--we'd be down on the beach!)  As on Thursday, the winding road took us right past people's homes and businesses.  And as on every other outing, we attracted a lot of attention as people saw Ted leading the way, followed by uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei--SEI?!  Sei bambini?!

Si.  Sei bambini!!

I'm going to get t-shirts made for Ted and me that say, "Si, sei bambini!  Tutto nostro!"  (Yes, 6 children, all ours!)  Our family is an anomaly in a country where most families have only one or two children.  I can't imagine what the responses would be if folks saw our friends Bob and Claire, who just welcomed their 9th baby!  It's sweet, though, that the Italians who exclaim over seeing us always close the conversation with a hearty, "Congratulations!"

Anyway, we slowly made our way up the mountain.  I tell you, if I could do that hike once or twice a week, I would be fit for life!  I have never worked so hard in the space of an hour aside from labor and delivery!  Ted had the added burden of Zaden being on his back, and I was pushing the stroller with a 30 or 50-pound child in the seat!  Once again, I was so proud of the kids for hanging in there and making the trek.

Resting a bit on the way up.  Most of the way was inclined path--these stairs were some of the only ones we encountered.
 Once we arrived at Villa Jovis, however, we found to our chagrin that it did not, in fact, open at 9 a.m. as the brochure said but instead opened at 11:00.  This was a problem, as we had a ferry to catch at 1:30!  We decided to stick around (it was 10:00 at this time) and see if anyone showed up to unlock the gate on time.  (We weren't terribly convinced that that would happen!)  There was a trail that led around the perimeter of the property, so the kids and I set off to explore a bit, leaving Zaden and Ted at the gate with our things.  Our tromping through the woods (and yelling back and forth trying not to lose people in the process) killed some time and gave us the opportunity to see some beautiful views, and when we returned we heard from Ted that a caretaker had indeed arrived but seemed to not be in any particular hurry to open the gate for us.  It was probably 11:03 when we finally tumbled inside, paid our entry fee, and began a very hurried exploration of the ruins!

It was a big place, as you can probably imagine, but we were determined to see as much as we could before we felt we simply had to leave in order to collect our possessions from the hotel and catch the ferry on time.  What am amazing opportunity, to explore a structure that was built during the time Jesus Christ was on earth!  There were goats climbing all over the place, too, adding to the intrigue!

Look very closely...can you find Tobin?!

Thankfully the hardest part of the day was behind us; going downhill is an activity that has challenges of its own, to be sure, but the trek back was much faster and less strenuous!  We treated ourselves to gelato in the village square before taking the funicolare down to the beach.

We had plenty of time as we waited for the boat to arrive; Charis bought some postcards and we soaked up the sun and the view before loading up and heading home.

The ride to Naples was less than relaxing, as we somehow managed to be smack dab in the middle of a gaggle of junior high boys going to the mainland for a soccer game...they were so adorable (Italians do make beautiful children!), but completely oblivious to everyone but themselves and the Japanese tourists they were trying to impress!

It was about 4 p.m. when we finally arrived home, but it felt much, much later.  We packed so much activity into a fairly short period of time!  We feel so blessed to have been able to spend time together exploring a beautiful part of God's creation.  Though nothing about our vacation "felt" Thanksgiving-y, meaning what we are used to thinking about when Thanksgiving rolls around, it was impossible not to bubble over with thanksgiving the whole time we were away.  The entire week after we returned, it rained, but we couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather during our time in Capri.  We made some incredible family memories we will cherish always!

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