OFC 2017: Day 9 – May 19, 2017

Written by Gail Kerstetter, University Singers Director (or Maestro as I’ve been called here!)

We awoke in our Pisa hotel this morning to lots of sounds from a large group from India who were touring Italy for the first time.  They occupied many rooms on the floor so they decided to keep their doors open and share their eastern music with the floor!  Their eastern attire is very colorful and beautiful.

This was a travel day for us so we had to pack up, eat breakfast and have our luggage out to the bus by 8:30 am.  There were 2 elevators (very very small ones) and the India group was leaving at the same time so it was a bit congested for a while.  We were informed at the desk when we arrived that the elevators should hold no more than 3 guests with luggage.  I think maybe it didn’t translate so well to the India group because when the elevator door opened there were 8 Indians and their luggage stacked inside!  Haha!

Breakfast at this hotel consisted of a few different juices (not traditional to US), Cappuccino, eggs with slices of hot dogs for the meat, different breads for toast, croissants and Nutella and jellies available, a couple of different cereals and apples.  Me – I’m kind of stuck on the Nutella and croissants!  The students eat a variety of these foods and seem quite happy doing so.

We left Pisa and set out for Naples where we will stay for 3 nights.  We drove through the Tuscany region today and saw amazing vineyards on rolling hills!  Almost every home has a garden with beautiful dark dirt, something that doesn’t seem to exist in the Carolinas except in the bags at LOWES!  There were many clothes lines full of clothes as well.  And by the way, we’ve gotten quite good at washing our clothes in the bathtubs, wringing them out by hand and hanging them in various places around our hotel rooms to dry.  Yesterday we even brought them on the bus to dry!

Bus days also give us opportunities for several things; rest, sleep, listen to the new VOCTAVE CD (our new favorite A Cappella group), have conversations, read books, and basically solve the world’s problems.  Mostly, we’re leaving that up to Rev. Sharon Westfall, since she is good at counseling on the bus!

Another thing that happens on these long drives is picture-taking of ones who are asleep or in awkward positions. It’s what we do. Then in the midst of silence and the hum of the bus, just when you think everyone’s asleep – hilarious laughter (by this I mean, screaming laughter that would jolt your pacemaker into high gear should you have one) will erupt. Most of the time it’s about the smallest thing and if we told you what it was about, you’d probably think that wasn’t that funny.  It’s what we do.

The gas stations here are better than anything you’ve ever seen!  We think QT is great.  Well, you have seen nothing like THIS!  Gas stations here are restaurants / food bars … and by that I mean someone is cooking right in front of you.  You can order pastas, lasagna, or buy a great salami sandwich on fresh baked bread and cheese.  All of the formerly mentioned food items are very fresh and DELICIOUS!  Italian food is probably my favorite food, so I’m pretty much in the best place on earth right now!  These gas stations also sell all the cords you might need for ALL your electronics for ALL phones.  It’s quite nice.

Magnum ice cream bars seem to be the thing here too.  Most of us have tried some flavors and all are great!  Today I tried DOUBLE RASPBERRY.   So, what this meant was … it’s raspberry ice cream, dipped in a raspberry sauce, encased in delicious chocolate.  Good!

Every time we stop at the gas station, everyone comes back with some new thing we’ve never had before.  It’s a food adventure here for sure!

And speaking of gas – when we fill the bus up – we’ve seen the number into 350 Euro!  That’s like $400!  YIKES!!

We stopped at two gas stations today.  The first one was for a rest stop for us.  The 2nd one was to actually get gas.  Shortly after pulling out of the gas station the 2nd time, Katy Dyches shouted “I left my purse in the bathroom!”  We were not completely out of the gas station yet so she and Cody Crisp got off and ran back.  In a few short moments, they text to say it wasn’t there and for us to look around the bus.  It had shifted back up under her seat!!  YAY!!  Another catastrophe avoided!!

We arrived in Naples about 4:45 today.  The hotel we’re staying at is in a difficult place to park or get our luggage off the bus.  It’s on a very narrow, busy street.  We had to dodge cars to get to the front door of the hotel.  This hotel has 22 floors so the views are magnificent!

I’m particularly excited about this hotel (Holiday Inn, Naples) as I remember them serving my favorite hotel meal the last time we were here; bow tie pasta with bits of salmon in a white cream sauce.  Dinner’s at 7:30 pm tonight so we’ll see if my dreams come true!

Amendment: no salmon pasta … but the meal was delicious!

And there was morning and there was evening of the 9th day.



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