Ahh . . . Elba. It is a lovely island and I imagine a quite active one, before 15-September. It seems that we arrived after the tourist season and the town where we were staying is basically for the locals. Even the tourist information center was "Closed for the Season". We saw a bus stop down by the harbor and actually saw a bus pull in at the early morning, however, it was going away from where we had decided to spend the day. After trying and calling the landlord who had no idea about the bus schedule for Rio Marina, we decided to venture into town and as luck would have it, a bus pulled past us and stopped about 100 meters ahead of us. We waved as it rolled past and sent our young, athletic passengers ahead to hail the driver. He waited for us and I climbed aboard and asked in my best English, "How much for the four of us?" He answered in perfect Italian, and I didn't understand a singe word. I started handing him money and he just shook his head. Since this isn't Libya, I knew he wasn't saying that the ride was free but was muttering something about how stupid this tourist was getting on his bus and then I noticed that all of the older women on the bus were trying to help. They were saying the names of the towns on the bus route. Finally the light bulb went on and I realized he couldn't quote me a fare until he knew where it was that we wanted to go. That settled, and the fare duly paid, we settled in for a lovely 1-hour bus tour up and down, over and under and through the mountains of the island. We stopped at every village and hamlet along the way until we finally found the town where we knew there was a beach. We got off in the center of town since we had no idea of where the "proper" bus stop was located. After wandering around a bit, we found the beach and a couple of lovely restaurants. The kids left us to contemplate a lovely bottle of the local favorite and went exploring and said they would meet us at the beach in a bit.
When they returned, we all enjoyed a dip in the sea. I had no idea that the Mediterranean was so salty! It was quite easy to float. Anne and Ryan purchased a couple of goggles and we were able to swim with the fishes.
While Ryan was purchasing goggles, he found the local bus station and the list of times for busses returning to Rio Marina so we had no trouble retracing our route to return to the village for the night. I forgot to mention that while in the beach town, we found an internet café and not only got to check on the birth of John and Robin Alexander’s baby but confirmed the schedule for the train and ferry for the next day’s adventure traveling back to Rome.
We were all packed and lugged our back packs, day pack and gear down through the town in the dark at 6:30 to catch the 6:50 ferry so we could find a train that would get us to Rome by noon. To make a long story short, we got there, not without a little confusion about which regional train that we needed to be on at our connection, but that’s the fun of the adventure. On the way to Rome, again, I ventured to call the landlord to alert him that we would be arriving. It appears that the service that was renting the apartment, expected us but spoke very little English (beginning to see a trend here?). It appears that they were as frustrated as us as soon a text message appeared saying that they would meet us at 5:00 at the apartment. Since, we had a confirmation for 2:30 arrival, and we didn’t want to roam Rome with our packs all afternoon, we texted back asking them to meet us at 2:30. Now being the good techie that I am, I had down loaded a map of the apartment location and we hit the Roman metro/subway to get there. Talk about a ground zero location, 5th Avenue, Rodeo Drive, rolled into one. High end fashion from the Spanish Steps all the way to our apartment. Only one problem . . . There was no apartment with the address that we had reserved. Before I went into total panic, I texted the rental guy saying that I would meet him at a bar close to the address nearest to the one I had. He arrived and spotted me instantly, the guy with the 30 pound orange backpack standing in the middle of the street/alley. He looked at his instructions and told me, “I’ve never been here before.” His address was the same as mine and wandered around for a couple of minutes muttering before finally calling his office. It turned out we were in the exact location but the address they had in their computer was wrong. He had the keys, they worked, we paid him, and had a wonderful time.
(to be continued with more photos)