Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gaeta Can Be Scary

Gaeta from Old Town

Most travelers have probably never heard of Gaeta, Italy from our neck of the woods. I never had until Laura arranged an overnight get away for Jim and me a few days before Christmas. We have been spoiled rotten in the travel department by Laura and Robert who have planned out everyday and have worked on all the details. Nothing like living with your tour guide and getting every detail taken care of. It has been seamless and we have not had to worry about a thing.

So off we went to Gaeta last Monday in Robert's car with our trusty GPS, aka Susan, without a care in the world. We drove for about an hour and half and then arrived in Gaeta. A beautiful, sleepy, little, beach town on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The problem was that as we approached our accommodations we seemed to be really quite far out of town...like four miles out in the boonies. But Laura is a real professional at setting things up so we just proceeded a long until we came to this sign that said San Travino Villa (or something like that.)

We turned into the short driveway and nearly rammed into a metal, locked, 8 foot gate in front of the car. We both looked at each other and shrugged when the gate started to open and this rather scary man started saying something to us in Italian. That was the first moment we realized we needed some help.

Jim was pantomiming sleep, snoring etc. and the guy just kept talking in Italian, grinning and shaking his head, nodding and giving very mixed messages. The guy who, by the way was toothless, really dirty and wearing some really funny shoes with no socks beckoned us in and we drove down this little steep hill and parked on the side of the property. The guy closed and locked the gate behind us. Hint number 2 something was amiss.

Jim disappeared into the large building which he later told me was a restaurant that was obviously not functioning. Jim did not come back for some time. The thought crossed my mind...no one will ever find us here, not in a million years.

Inside, Jim handed the guy our reservation info and a phone number. The man called the number and got into a big argument and hung up on the other party. Soon Jim convinced the guy we would leave and check things out further and be back...NOT! Fortunately he complied and let us out of the gate! Whew!

We drove on down into the town and found a parking place and tried to figure out what to do. We did have the presence of mind to bring a cell phone but we could not get Laura as they were shopping and the cell phone was...hers! Jim was frustrated but I started to truly get scared.

I cannot tell you how freaky it was to not be able to communicate with a soul, to not even know how to say hotel in Italian, to need a restroom and not have a clue how to find one, etc, etc. We went into a little gelateria, coffee, bar, deli type place (trattoria) and bought a gelato and sat down to get ourselves better situated and make a plan. We stuck out like sore thumbs and I felt so conspicuous as the entire place was full of locals all looking at us!

In the church we often refer to the scripture, " If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." This first hand experience taught us that the opposite is also true.

Finally we did get Laura on the phone and we found out that the real place was not far from where we were. Inadvertently, the wrong place was written down...it was one she checked on but that was closed for the winter. The funny toothless man must have just been a caretaker or something during the off season. The whole experience was pretty disconcerting but this is one thing I learned in addition to being prepared. Anyone that lives in a foreign country and doesn't learn the language makes me nervous. Why would someone put themselves at such a disadvantage and not do anything about it? It defies all logic!

So we landed up having a marvelous time in Gaeta. Our hotel was lovely and had a perfect view of the Gaeta Bay right across the street. The people at the hotel desk spoke English and it was just fabulous! Our room was upgraded to a suite which was very nice and we enjoy a nice nap, then went downstairs for a really good meal about 8:30 pm. We slept in a little and then met some people from Virginia at the breakfast buffet. That was fun. It rained non-stop from the minute we arrived until we left but we didn't mind. It was still beautiful, peaceful and a nice retreat.

We are going to send Laura and Robert there for an overnighter while we are here so we can watch the kids for them, as a special thank you for all they have been doing to make this a nice time together. Here are a few photos. Sorry no photos of the toothless man!

An alley where we found a complete community, shops, church, pharmacy, law offices, a kitchen remodeling place, a soap shop, groceries, tobacco shop, etc. It was so neat. The residents live above their shops.

Jim loved the alley community

View from one of the cliffs!

Gaeta Harbor


Park in one of the piazzas

One great shop in town and I
managed to find it!

Moby Dick's...Whaaa....?

All too soon it was time to go home!

4 comments:

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Hi Bonnie,
So glad your trip to Gaeta ended well. That did sound a bit scary.
I remember when we lived in Germany that when you went from country to country they checked your passport and they would go all around an look in your car.
and under your car. Made me a wreck ( I was only 19 at the time),
guess I saw to many of those movies about drug dealers planting stuff on unsuspecting travelers!~
and I would think the same thing if they ever took us to jail no
one would ever know! Cause their jails are not like american jails where you get your one phone call,
You get nada!! and we had an incident in Paris where they pretended to only speak French to just to give us a hard time. So I know that sinking scary feelin in the pit of your stomach! That is why I did my best to learn some German. I so agree with you. So glad everything turned out so nicely and you guys had such a good time. How was your Christmas??? or is that a post to come???
It was good to hear from you hon,
Hope you have a great time the rest of your trip. and Hope you all have a Lovely Christmas.
Love and Blessings, Nellie

The Hopkins said...

I'm living vicariously...just wanted you to know that I'm checking in! Miss you but sounds like you're having the time of your life! Don't like it so much that you never come back.

LA Adams said...

Never heard of Gaeta! I love your descriptions, I can actually see that little man and watch as you guys get more and more concerned. Lovely pictures, Thanks for everything.

mandy* said...

Aunt Bonnie, I would have started crying!!! I'm glad everything ended up so well. Phew!