Mar 4, 1985
(I'm such a terrible daughter! I've owed my mother a letter for 2 or 3 weeks, but I keep writing my sister instead!)
A thousand dollars?-- that's crazy!!! That's ridiculous! Utter nonsense! You can fly from Naples to Rome for about $125 for each adult, some less for Laura. My neighbor is suppose to be making me a Xerox copy out of his office's airline book showing all the charter flights, time, cost, etc. I should have it by tomorrow afternoon. We flew on Britannia Airlines (a subsidiary of British Caledonian, which is a subsidiary of British Airways) for $125 each in June of last year. We made the reservation 2 days in advance. It's probably cheaper now since the exchange rate is better. Your travel agent may not be familiar with these regularly scheduled flights but at charter flight prices.
Michael just went and looked up our Visa bill for last year and said we paid $344.50 [total] for our flight last year. It should be cheaper this year. If your travel agent just can't find this for you, we can make that reservation for you, but I'm sure you'll feel better if it's all done on that end.
I don't think a Eurail pass would be a good deal for you-especially at that price + 3 days of travel time. You won't need it once you get to our house. You will have seen all the major Italian cities before you get here. We will hop the local train/subway system some in Naples, but a Eurail pass will not work for that. It only costs 25¢ to ride the local train/subway system, anyway.
Please let the tour guides take care of you on your tours. We'll take care of you once you're here. After talking around with other people, it seems more feasible for you to take the train from Rome to Naples and we'll pick you up here in Naples. I just called a friend who took the train to Rome last week. She paid $20.00 (£41,000) for a round trip ticket. The train ride is a little over 2 hours on the Rapido (Express) train. I should think a one way ticket would be between $10 & $15 each. Make reservations as soon as possible upon your arrival at Rome. Your tour guide or the hotel personnel should be able to help you do that. Perhaps your travel agent can make the reservations for you. I don't know. There are 2 big train stations in Naples - Garibaldi is the major station. Mergellina is the other. I would need to know which station you would be getting off at. So be sure and ask when the reservations are made and give me a call from Rome to let me know time & station.
NOTE (warning): Neapolitans are rude when it comes to travel. Even if you have paid for a 1st class reserved seat, some Neapolitans, who have only paid for a 2nd class, no-guaranteed-seat, may sit in your seat if they get there first, and seemingly refuse to budge. Be firm and demand your seat politely and find the conductor if necessary. This probably won't happen, but has occasionally.
If we come to Rome to get you, it will be at least a 7-hour ordeal: at least a 3-hour drive from our house to the edge of Rome, a bare minimum of 1 hour to find your hotel, load up, get out of Rome (most likely 2-3 hours; Rome traffic is awful), + 3-hour drive back to our house. We would be spending about $12.00 to drive on the autostrada to get to Rome + gas (we are limited to the number of gas coupons we can buy) + wear and tear on everyone's nerves getting out of Rome, & arrive home exhausted. We can come get you if you think you just can't handle the trains, but I think we'll all be more rested for all our southern touring if you just took the train down. What do you think? We know many people who take trains all over Italy and they keep doing it, so it must not be hard. Billy & Freda did it.
Michael has 10 days off - July 1 through July 10. He may work some of those days if he is not needed for our touring.
We will take you to: Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Vietri/Salerno, Pompei, National Museum, Mt. Vesuvius, many places you probably haven't heard of (but good places), perhaps the Royal Palace, Ercolano, Paestum, Don Carlo Opera House, markets, good shops, plus good ol' NSA (Naval Support Activity, i.e., "the Base"), pizzerias, ristorantes, beach, etc., etc.
Frommer's Europe on $20 a Day is an excellent book for travel tips. It will tell you how to pack well, expected weather, city maps, sights to see, cheap places to eat, where to wash laundry, etc. It costs about $10.00 & should be available at any bookstore. We consult it on any trip we take.
Our weather here should still be pleasant, not too hot, 70º-upper 80's, possibly 90º. I would recommend mostly short sleeves with a light weight jacket. Bathing suit! Italians rarely dress skimpy unless they are at the beach. In downtown Naples you would probably get your bottom pinched or at least a "pick up" offer if wearing shorts. I like to wear culottes or cool skirts when touring in the summer. Bring at least 1 dress. Laura will probably do fine in shorts (unless she's starting to show quite a bit of shape). No, she'll be fine in shorts.
We got into London about the 20th of June last year. We wore short sleeves, long sleeves and light jackets in early morning & evening. Mostly short sleeves should do you for London. I would suspect Edinburgh would require long sleeves & light jacket.
Money exchange: Hotels will exchange dollars to country's currency, but it will not be the best exchange rate. Your best bet will be the banks. Your tour guide may encourage you to exchange at the hotels, but I wouldn't do that unless I just had to. Don't buy a lot of Lire before coming to Naples. We can get your money exchanged on the Base at a good rate. Also, if you get this far and have run out of travelers checks, you can write a personal check to us and we'll take it to our bank on base and get it cashed for you. We can mail a lot of your purchases back for you also.
Do you know about the "Smuggler" (one brand name) type suitcases that fold down real small, i.e., 8"X12"X2", to pack inside of large suitcases, then opens up to a good size suitcase when needed? We use ours a lot.
While touring here with us, we will almost have to eat one meal out each day unless we are staying close to home. A pizzeria/trattoria meal will run about $10 for the 4 of us. A good restaurant will run about $20. If we should decide to go to a very fancy restaurant, plan on $50.00. You will have to let us know when you get here how tight a budget you will be on. We might be able to take sandwiches a couple of places if necessary. But eating out is part of the cultural experience that we really enjoy.
5 Mar - Tues Night
Well, I'll have to get you specific rates on the Britannia Airlines charter flight a little later. My neighbor's book didn't have it listed. I will go to a travel agent and get information on it as soon as I can & mail it right away.
I'm including a current conversion rate chart from the Stars & Stripes newspaper. Now the British pound is just about the same as a dollar. The Italian lire rate is about 2 [thousand] lira to 1 dollar so everything seems to be half price to us Americans. When we were in London last year, it took $1.60 to buy a British pound. So this is an excellent time to come money-wise.
Michael will make you a copy of the Print Shop program that does the graphics, cards, etc. He wants to copy some more things for you so it may be awhile before he gets that done.
Laura's doll's name is Arlechino. Supposedly, he was a little boy from a very poor family. He wanted a nice costume for Carnivale (Italian version of Mardi Gras), but his family couldn't afford it. All the neighbors gave his mother their scraps of material and his mother sewed him one of the best Carnivale costumes ever. You can buy that printed material here easily. I may buy some before we go back to the States in case one of us needs a neat costume for something.
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