See I knew Heinz tomato ketchup was good for me... last year thanks to them, I won a holiday to Sorrento. Possibly the best email I've ever received on a Monday, I was shaking when I read that I had won! It was part of their secret ingredient promotion, they posted a series of recipes which used tomato ketchup as part of the ingredients and you had to make them and post a pic! I made a very tasty lasagna, posted it to their Facebook competition and crossed my fingers. Now I do love entering competitions but winning a holiday was a bit of a dream away! There's no way we would have been going abroad otherwise so I was very very grateful. I wasn't sure how it would work but they were so helpful in organising the trip and even used my spending money allowance to book Squiggle on to the holiday with us. We flew out on a 6am flight which meant my little one had been up since 4am but she was good as gold on the flight. It was really quiet so we spread out and had the trunki packed with goodies. It was such a relief that now she's 2 she gets her own seat. She's very tall and last time we flew I could barely fit her on my knee! We got her a set of 'littlest pet shop' characters for a surprise and they kept her so happy. She was also told she could go and see the pilots in the cockpit as she'd been so good, her little face all lit up was a picture! Once at Naples we had opted to cancel our transfer so we could use our transfer money for more fun things and we took the €10 bus which was great value. It sent us all off to sleep and then I woke to a beautiful coastline. It's really dramatic, and not for the faint hearted by coach! We found our hotel 'Atiche Mura' without any trouble and were delighted when we did. We made it inside just before the heavens opened! It is a beautiful hotel, spotless, inviting, lots of Italian character, and with a fantastic central location. The staff were really friendly and went out of their way to be helpful, I think they cleaned our room about 3 times a day! It's a funny thing not picking your own hotel but we couldn't have chosen better ourselves. The hotel highlight was the breakfast with a view down over a ravine one side and doors to their orange grove gardens the other. The food was fantastic and so was the coffee... and you could squeeze your own fresh orange juice with a splash of champagne if you fancied. I have never tasted oranges so good, my little girl loved them we had sticky fingers galore. Every morning after her cereal and fruit she wad allowed to choose us each a Breakfast cake from the huge selection. We only had a few days and a limited budget so we tried to fit in the things we really wanted to do whilst making sure we took our chance to relax. We spent time wondering Sorrento's cobbled streets, eating amazing ice cream and enjoying the cliff edge views with delicious takeaway pizzas. There is a small beach at the bottom which we walked down to but it was a bit grubby and not somewhere you would chose to sit for the day. Might be a different atmosphere in the summer though! We took a great value bus across to the Amalfi Coast one day and got off at Positano. Still with steep cobbled streets, this town has a lovely holiday feel to it and a nicer beach where we relaxed and played with a very happy toddler! The trip was a great way to see more of the stunning coast.
Positano in the clouds
Our other chosen day out was Pompeii which is a place I have always been desperate to visit. We took the train which, whilst not the most luxurious of carriages, ran on time and was a snip at €9, plus stopped very close to the entrance. We couldn't believe our luck when we arrived at the entrance to find it was the end of national culture week and free to get in! We all loved it, you can't really prepare yourself for how big it is, so amazing to see and very tragic when you stop and think about what you are looking at. Be warned though... it really is not the place for a pushchair!! I had some new found muscles and holes in my boots at the end of that day.
Stopping to make a stick lizard in Pompeii!
Another part of the prize was a cookery class. We found Italy a very child friendly place and they were happy for us to bring our toddler. In fact, they seemed confused I felt I had to ask if we could. We planned it perfectly so she slept for 2.5 hours of the 3 hour course. Trouble is it actually went on for 6 hours in the end! A few people were staring to get fed up, especially when we all realised we had cooked all the food for the restaurant diners that night! It was great fun though, the chef was lovely and I learnt how to make proper Italian homemade ravioli so it was a fantastic experience!
There was plenty more to see in the area that we couldn't fit in... further trips down the coast to Almalfi and Ravello, the boat to Capri and a visit to the top of Mount Vesuvius, would all have been next on my list.
I was worried before we went that it wasn't going to be a great place to visit with a little one in tow but while she may have enjoyed a beach holiday even more, she really loved it. Just the excitement of somewhere new and having mummy and daddy there together for days in a row meant she was happy as can be. And hills, there were lots of hills, and running down hills just happens to be her favourite thing!
Thank you Heinz tomato ketchup, you have and always will be my favourite sauce!