Monday, August 10, 2009


Tuesday, August 10th, 2004 Travel Day to Sorrento plus Capri

Leisurely morning as our train didn’t leave until 10:45 am for Naples. We took a taxicab over to the train station about 9 am; much cheaper and faster than the one we used when we arrived in Rome. He’d given us the scenic route and ran the meter up much higher than necessary. It makes a big difference when the hotel calls the cab for you.

Arrived at the train station and Jim went to check on his travel book that we’d left yesterday at the reservation desk. They were very nice and did look around; but the book was long gone. Hopefully, someone is putting it to good use for his or her time in Rome; one less thing to carry home. Found carts for our luggage, they’re free and located at several places in the station. Helped when we finally got our track number and being in second class, our car was about as far down the track as you could go. Got aboard and of course our seats were at the opposite end of the car. Everyone was trying to find places to store luggage; get their seats and settle in for the trip. We only had about fifteen minutes from the time the train pulled in until we left the station. People were getting off as we were getting on. Spotted space at the end of the car next to a single seat and I pointed to our suitcases and using hand signs and a grandmotherly look pleaded for his tolerances in allowing us to block him into his seat with our cases. He frowned and shrugged his shoulder as if to say, “I don’t like it but okay.” So I tucked them in and put the cable lock on to secure them together for the trip. This was an ES train, Italy’s Eurostar fast train; the trip from Rome to Naples was non-stop and only two hours. Instead of the usual clickty-clack of the regular train; we swooshed along very smoothly. The people surrounding us were all Italians. I thought the conversations were very easy to ignore and read my book most of the way. Jim had trouble concentrating because of all the talking around us, so he was in and out of his book and catnapping. It’s interesting that when you don’t know the language there’s very little reason to listen to conversations and for me at least it increases my powers of concentration to do other things.

The day is sunny and we were along the coast most of the day heading south. Arrived in Naples and then the fun began. We had to find the Orari Circumvesuviana; the little train that could between Naples and Sorrento by way of Pompeii and about twenty other towns between Naples and Sorrento. We had to do the bit with dragging the suitcases down the stairs into the bowels of the earth to get to the local train. Then the man said that our Eurorail Pass was not enough; “private…must buy ticket”; so we paid 3.50 euros each to get on this little chugger! It took a little over an hour to get to Sorrento; we stood for the first half and then finally got seats. We chained the two large cases in the vestibule and kept an eye on them from our seats. The perspiration was dripping off of us…the only air conditioning was the wind blowing in from the open windows. Oh, forgot to mention; I now have two mosquito bites on my arm to go with the two on my leg. I think we’ll put the Fabric Softener sheets out tonight and plug in the electric repellant.

Arrived in Sorrento, found the wheelchair elevator to go up to the street level and put everything into a cab. Had no idea where our hotel was located, I accidentally mailed the information sheets for the last third of our trip home when we boxed things up in France. All we have it my book that has just about everything we need except for maps to the hotels. So, we handed the driver a paper with the hotel name, Hotel Fiorita, the address and asked how much to take us there. He said twenty-five euros; Jim blanched; but it’s an even day and I said, “yes”. Thank goodness…it was up and up and up a hill. We’re at least three miles from the train station “as the crow flies”; the view is wonderful.

We’re sitting on our balcony overlooking the swimming pool. We can see the city of Sorrento, the city of Naples, Mount Vesuvius Volcano and the Bay of Naples plus surrounding mountains. We’re on the road to the Amalfi Coast. The bus stop is only a few meters down the road. So tomorrow we will take the bus, for only one euro each, into Sorrento to catch the boat to the Isle of Capri. Then on Thursday, we will catch the bus going the other way and be in Positano Beach before we know it!

This afternoon after catching our breath and changing from our travel clothes we ventured into the nearby town. The manager gave us very explicit directions for the footpath. First we had to walk up the hill about 300 meters on the highway (very narrow shoulder) to a covered bus stop. Then we turned down hill on another smaller side road. When we came to a “Y” we were directed to go right and start uphill. This was not a road; more of a very rough sidewalk. The only reason we kept going was that there were streetlights every once in a while. It was mostly high walls, weeds, trash, irregular stones and a house here and there. Finally decided we couldn’t be on the right path so we turned around. We’d gone about a block when an English couple came walking up towards us. They explained that yes, we had been going in the right direction. Turned around and sure enough we’d only gone about half way to the village. Once there we found a nice sized little town with stores, churches and everything. The mountain is laced with paths for people to walk between the villages; much safer than walking along the twisting two lane highway with people speeding by in their cars and the ever present tour buses.

Found the grocery store, purchased our water, checked out the local church and headed back towards the footpath. This time we encountered scooters and an Apia (sp) or the Italian word for “bee” so named because they are very busy buzzing around town I suspect; the bee is a three wheeled enclosed truck that is used for these small path/roads that Italy loves. We first saw them in villages on Lake Como years ago. Took turns carrying the bags and finally arrived back at the hotel where we decided to get pizza for dinner by way of room service. We enjoyed our dinner on our private balcony. Jim is rapidly getting bored with the television. It’s a small unit hung from the ceiling with just a few Italian channels plus it has rabbit ears! Will miss the air conditioning tonight…but we’ll go Italian and leave the windows open. Lights are coming on and I’m ready to shut this down. Tried to sign on to the Internet without any luck. Manager says it should work…will try one more time this evening. The cell phone does work well.

Wednesday, August 11th: Other than the Cicada’s in the trees….we’ve had them all over Europe this summer; it was a quiet evening. Some of the tourist stalls sell ceramic Cicada’s that have a battery operated sound system that sounds just like the real ones; the perfect souvenir for the tourist who has everything and wants something different.

After breakfast we walked to the bus stop for the bus to Sorrento. Missed the closest sign and walked twice as far as we really needed to; but chalked it up to good exercise. About twenty minutes to Sorrento…all down hill so it goes faster that direction as it’s only a two-lane road with no passing lanes. The bus took us all the way to the train station. Jim wants to use the bus on Friday morning to go to the train station instead of a taxicab; it’s an “odd day” so we probably will. We will have to catch the 6 am bus.

By asking directions several times we managed to walk all the way from the station to the port area. Found the ticket seller for the hydrofoil boat to Capri; and boarded the boat within minutes. Sat outside on the top for the ride over; we managed to find a shady spot with a good view of the harbor.

In Capri we went straight for the Blue Grotto boat that circles the entire island before stopping at the Blue Grotto. The ride around the island was well worth the price of the trip. We thought we were going to the Grotto and back; so everything else was a plus for the money. Even went through the rock with the hole in the center.

At the blue grotto we were all off loaded into small wooden rowboats that looked at least one hundred years old. We teamed with a young American couple and the four of us had a rowboat to ourselves instead of the usual six. Our oarsman took us over to the money boat where we paid our fees and then we got into line to go through the hole. All of our boats were white; there was a gray haired man in a blue rowboat that directed the traffic in and out. I told Jim that he was the “Big Kahuna”. We all had to lie down in the boat while going under, very exciting. Inside all the oarsmen were singing (great echo effect). The water was extremely blue and it was all very beautiful. We lay back down in the boat to get back under the opening. By the way, there are no seats in these rowboats; you sit directly on the bottom of the boat!

Back to the harbor in Capri; purchased a postcard and we each got a double dip of Lemon Gelato before heading back to the hydrofoil boat and Sorrento. We enjoyed the air-conditioned interior of the ship on the way back to Sorrento. Walked all the way back to the train station (it’s a hike and a half all up hill on steps); recommend taking the bus to the main square if you ever do this. It would be well worth a euro each. We had to wait about fifteen minutes for our bus back to the hotel but we were back in our rooms by 3 pm. A good trip that was worth the time and expense; now it’s rest time for the travelers; they call it siesta time. We’re taking the rest of the day off to relax and recuperate for tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed going to Capri with you again. Notice that you recommended using the bus to go back to the train station... rather than all the steps uphill....was sure that I would never make it back up all those steps but I did..thanks to your encourgment. Hugs Mary