On that first early Saturday morning as I headed back to the Hotel room, I noticed a group of young men wheeling a cart of lounge chairs down the road. Curious I followed them down the road. I started to smell the sea air as we topped a very small rise, down the street I could see an entrance to the beach. Most of it was blocked from view by the motels but you could still see some sand and waves. I continued to follow the men as they wheeled their burden down the road.
They headed for the opening between two Hotels that appeared to be a walkway for beach access. I followed at a discrete distance. I didn’t want to appear like a stupid American, which I ended up being once again that morning. I emerged from the ally like opening only to see one of the best beaches I have ever seen in my life. I wish I still had some pictures of it of my own, but during the breakup of Lynn and I they were lost. Here is one I found on the internet
The sand was exquisite not the course sand you find on most beaches and not the ultra fine sand that gets in every opening of your body, but that in between sand that is fun to sit on and sleep on. I stood there transfixed for a moment or two just looking at this beautiful beach. My thoughts were interrupted by the next wave of men with lounge chairs that were behind me. I hurriedly got out of the way by walking forward to the beach only to be stopped by a fence and a fierce looking Italian man that was demanding to see my “beach pass”. I really should have learned some Italian prior to coming over but I was an arrogant American, I knew the the world should speak English and damn it they were going to accommodate me. I tried to bluff my way past by playing dumb, didn’t work. I tried to do the I don’t speak the language thing, didn’t work. I even tried to pay him to let me pass, that really didn’t work. After about 5 minutes one of the younger men came over to help me (young people in Italy are really nice people) and explained to me that beaches in Italy were owned by the Hotels and reserved for the guests of the hotel. That is why during the day they look like this
Also they are very protective of the beach from other hotels. I told the person helping me which Hotel I was staying at and showed him my key and he showed me where my Hotels beach strip was. Not a very big spot but enough to satisfy my need to go to the water.
Another great Shot of the beach . I also found out that the right side of the beach was public beach, which is where the cave is, and that anyone could use that part. Which was nice as I didn’t plan on staying in the Hotel the rest of my stay in Italy. You all need to understand that one of the reasons I joined the Navy is because I love the Ocean, funny that I live in Utah now, but I love to stand on the beach and look out over the waves and imagine what living on the other side would be like. At that point in my life I marveled that now I knew. Once I was down by the water I found out that you could walk the length of the beach as long as you didn’t try to go up into the lounge chairs, or if you did not to sit on any of them unless you were staying at that hotel. When you think about it, it is a great system. You see Gaeta is a tourist hub during the summer time. For some reason the population about triples during the “tourist season” and the beach front hotels have to provide space for their guests.
I stayed at the beach for what seemed like hours but when I looked at my watch it was only 7:30. I decided that I really needed to share this with Lynn and went back to the Hotel to wake her up. As I entered the Hotel I saw the young man that had helped me at the beach, seems he worked for the hotel and was one of the owners sons, his sister was the girl at the front desk. We ultimately became friends. She asked me how my morning had gone so far and I blushed as I told her I felt a little overwhelmed. Her laugh was like the tinkling of small bells, just wonderful to listen to. Had I not been married…. (just like a man to mention that)
I think I have mentioned before that I wasn’t the best husband at the time, but I was considerate of waking Lynn up. Mainly because she could be a little bitchy in the morning if she got startled awake. I had thought about bringing her a cup of coffee but hadn’t. About that time a knock on the door sounded and I answered to see Jakamo ( the beach guy) standing there with a pot of coffee and some fruit and bread. He explained that it was part of the room cost and usually served in the restaurant but the first day here he thought we could use the break. I really liked him for that. Lynn was excited to get coffee and giddy that we were going to go get Mitzie (our dog) that day. We had flight information and were going to rent a car to drive to Naples to pick her up.
Over breakfast I regaled Lynn about my morning stroll, promising to take her to the beach later that day after we got back from Naples. We did our morning rituals (showering etc…) and got dressed. The flight was due in at about 1 PM and if we wanted to meet it we needed to leave no later than 11. Lynn and I went to the front desk and ask Gina (Jakamo’s sister) where to get a car. She was very helpful and asked if we had called the airline to see if it was on time. I told her that we probably wouldn’t get anyone to speak English so we were just going to wing it. Gina volunteered to call for us, which is one of the ways we became friends, and asked for the information. We waited while she dialed the number and spoke to someone on the other end. The conversation got more and more heated and at the end Gina was almost yelling at the phone. She slammed the phone down and turned to us, took a deep breath and told us that yes Mitzie was going to land today but she was scheduled to be quarantined for two weeks, which was standard for Italy. Now you need to understand that prior to us leaving we had investigated how to ship the dog over to Italy and found a boarding kennel that specialized in that kind of thing. We spent a small fortune getting her shots and boarding her to avoid the quarantine period that Italy imposed. We were assured that all we would have to do is to pick her up at the airport when she flew over. Can we say SCAMMED.
Lynn was beside herself. She loved that dog like a child. The only way I knew how to comfort her was to take her out to the beach and shopping. We spent the next several days shopping and beaching. Tuesday rolled around and the Ship was due to pull in, I had to be there at 7:00 AM even though I knew that they wouldn’t actually dock till about 9, that is just the service. Hurry up and wait.
More on that later.