Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Honeymoon Part 2, The Amalfi Coast

Riding on the high speed train from Rome to Salerno was quite a treat. The Italian countryside just whips by you. Tiny villages are situated on the sides of towering mountains just so. Being from flat-as-a-pancake Texas, the mountains seemed enormous. Golden fields sprawled across rolling hills and we whipped through tunnels. It was incredible. When we arrived to Salerno we took a SITA bus to the tiny town of Atrani. The bus was an adventure to say the least. For those of you going to the Amalfi coast beware if you get motion sickness. There is only one "highway". I say "highway" because it's a two lane road that meanders along the coastline with hairpin turns around every corner. I also use the term two lane loosely. The road barely fits two cars side by side and a passenger bus even less so. You also cannot see oncoming traffic around these turns. The Italian solution this is to honk your horn incessantly while not slowing down in the least as you go around the corner. I imagine the honking means "I'm coming around this corner no matter what mother f*ckers, watch the f*ck out because I'm not slowing down". Motorcyclists will also pass you by going into oncoming lanes of traffic while going around said turns. This highway also had numerous bridges that passed high above gaps in the mountains that truly only fit one car crossing at a time, oh, and the railings on these bridges were pieces of wood that came up no higher than your knees. So there we are on the hour long bus ride holding on for dear life, struggling with an Italian woman who wanted to close the windows in 90+ degree heat, me trying not get car sick, and not knowing where in the least we are supposed to get off at. Luckily I was distracted by the incredible view outside.

Finally we made it to Atrani and waited for the landlady to come get us. To get up to our apartment was a trek all it's own. We had to cross through about 5 doors, all locked, and climb 121 steps (yes, I counted). Once we settled into our apartment Scott's words said it all, "Are you kidding me with this apartment?!". This was our view...

...no jokes here people. This was the view FROM OUR FREAKING BALCONY! After some squealing we decided to walk the 1 kilometer to Amalfi for dinner. On the walk there we turned a corner and viewed what could have only been the town of Amalfi and saw this...

"You've got to be kidding me!". Words (or pictures) can't describe our excitement at all of this. The sun was setting, the clouds were rolling out to the mediteranean sea between the mountains, the town was beginning to glitter with evening light. It was the quintisential Italian coastal town.

We walked past a row of buildings to the main square of the town. Amalfi is a total tourist town but it feels so quaint and authentic. We wandered to the end of all the shops and restaurants and back before settling on a place to eat.

This beautiful church overlooks the square. It has gold leaf on the side that makes it glitter at all times throughout the day.

The balcony of the church.
After we went to the apartment to sleep. We planned on waking up early the next day to catch a train to Pompeii. The next morning though we woke up early and decided not to go. We desperately wanted to just lay on the beach all day and take in the ocean. I thought we would later regret this decision but you know what? I don't in the least. We will have another chance to visit Pompeii and lounge on the mediteranean in this lifetime. So the next morning we walked back to Amalfi and the sight in the daylight took our breath away just like the night before.

There's not much else to say about what we did this day. We found some chairs on the beach to rent and pretty much layed there all day. Then we took a walk and went home. It was awesome.

The following day we took a hydrofoil boat to the Island of Capri. The view of the shoreline was amazing.

After we got to Capri we had some breakfast that cost 50 effing euros and then took this walkway we found that said "To Capri", meaning to the actual town of Capri, there are a few towns on the island. The walk up was pretty rough and steep. We had to stop several times to rest but as we made our way to the top we peeked in some beautiful courtyards.

At some point we stopped to pet this cat who promptly jumped in my lap. It was great!

Once at the top it was all worth it!

We spent a while walking around Capri, which has some amazing shopping if you're loaded. But we're not so it was not that fun. The streets are also very narrow (par for the course in Italy) and the sidewalks are narrow with tons of people and the cars are all noisy and smelly diesel ones, you get the point. Then we decided to take the trolley car back down to the beach.

Scott's hair and un-shaven face were getting scruffier by the day, it was so cute!
Once we go the water and realized, just like our breakfast and all the shops, the chairs were way too expensive to rent. Then I got a little cranky because we were spending too much money, we couldn't lay on the beach, and our boat didn't leave for another two hours so we were stuck there. Scott insisted that we blow about 80 euros on the grotto tour and I'm glad he did! The thing is a tourist trap don't get me wrong. You take a boat ride around to another side of the island for about 60 euros then you get into a smaller boat where you pay some other guys about 11 euros each to take you into the grotto for about 2 seconds. Then you're back at shore and the whole thing only took about 45 minutes. But you can see by the pictures it was like nothing you've ever seen before...

To get into the grotto you have to lay down and they pull a chain to get you through the opening. This freaked me out because I hate small spaces but it only lasts a second and then you're in a huge open area with luminescent water all around you. Incredible!
The next day we took another hydrofoil to spend a few hours in Positano. While we waited for the bus we saw this super sleepy dog.

Notice the tongue
Positano was by far my favorite city on the coast. The town itself has buildings from every color of the rainbow. The chairs on the beach were affordable, I was able to do some souvenir shopping (there are also almost the same designer stores as Capri), and we had the best pasta in the entire country of Italy here. Should you visit I believe the restaurant was called Pergola, right along the beach.

This is the largest sailboat I have ever seen. It's just chillin in the port at Amalfi, probably some millionares just cruisin around.
That evening we decided to try out this trail near our apartment. Our landlady said it lead to the town of Ravello and we could get there if we were "good walkers". We thought "sure we're good walkers let's do it" We were sorely mistaken. I must preface this next photo that it was the lowest incline on that whole trail. Most of the trail was stone steps so steep we could reach out our arms and climb them like a ladder. Everytime we would see what we thought to be the top of the stairs hid more stairs around a corner. After 45 minutes of this and still seeing signs that said Ravello was a kilometer away we gave up.

The pink building with the green doors is our apartment.
The next day we took the frightening bus ride back to Salerno to catch a train to Florence. Part 3 is next!


Bonnie said...

Just found your fabulous blog via Decorno and her post about Amalfi Coast! Your pics of Italy are amazing! Capri is my all time favorite! I wish I could go to these places again. its sooooo incredible! Thank u for taking us on the journey with you... its bringing back some great memories. Hope you are havin' fun!!!

Paisley said...

Bonnie-Thanks for the complement. Glad to bring back memories of Italy. Stay tuned for parts 3 and 4!

Eric said...

Just read your blog - thanks for sharing some great insight. Can you let us know the names of the places you stayed - they sounds a bit off the beaten path which we like a lot. We're actually planning our own honeymoon to the amalfi coast in may.