ted & pamela

In the Shadow of Vesuvius: Italy Days 4-7

July 8th, 2011 by Pamela

View from the rim of Vesuvius' Crater

View from the rim of Vesuvius' Crater

2011-07-03 Italy Day 4: Naples

Activities:

  • Breakfast: More croissants
  • 9am train from Rome to Naples
  • Check in at Donna Adelina Bed & Breakfast; Chris helps us figure everything out
  • Lunch: Eggplant parmeggiana & spaghetti nearby
  • Tour ruins of Herculaneum with audioguide
  • Hike to crater of Mt. Vesuvius
  • Back to Naples. Walk to Historic Center, see Duomo.
  • Dinner: pizza in historic center.

Observations:

  • Pamela sick. Everything less enjoyable than it would be otherwise.
  • Not only do Italians drive a lot of small cars; they also drive a lot of small motorcycles.
  • Herculaneum is both incredibly well-preserved and incredibly grand for being 2000 years old. Had houses 3 times the size of ours, with walls and ceilings decorated as if they were churches and inner courtyards lined with pillars, etc.
  • If a hike is estimated to take 90 minutes, Ted and Pamela cannot do it in 75 minutes, even if they are told they must return to their shuttle in that time frame. In fact, they’d be lucky to complete it in the estimated 90 minutes.
  • Pizza in Naples isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
  • Naples is a pretty inner-city sort of city.
  • This B&B is well-decorated and well-maintained on the inside, in complete contrast with the outside.

Downtown Sorrento

Downtown Sorrento

2011-07-04 Italy Day 5: Sorrento

Activities:

  • Sick. Slept in past 7am for the first time.
  • Breakfast served at our B&B: Breads, yogurts, cereal, juice, coffee
  • Train from Naples to Sorrento. Checked in to Casa Correale B&B & Gardens.
  • Asked girl at desk to make phone call to Sicily for us.
  • Laundry.
  • Lunch.
  • Nap. Long nap.
  • Woke up at 10pm to a return call from Sicily from Ana, translating for Maulio.
  • Walked through downtown Sorrento. Shopping, dinner.

Observations:

  • All WiFi hotspots in Italy are extremely weak.
  • We shower more often when on vacation.
  • What I called motorcycles, Ted says I should call scooters.
  • Helpful Italian guy not only understood my poorly pronounced question (“Dove posse lavare vestiti?”), but walked us to the laundromat and made sure it was open before leaving us after debating with the woman in the store with him about which laundromat to take us to.
  • Sorrento is much more of a tourist town than Naples. Both less dangerous and less authentic.
  • We really should eat dinner before 11pm. Really.
  • Margherita pizzas are often just cheese pizzas. No basil.
  • Italian trains are PACKED. Nothing like Amtrak. More like BART to the Castro on Halloween, but all day every day. What on earth are they like during a festival?
  • After a 6-7 hour nap, Pamela woke up feeling more sick instead of less sick. This makes no sense.
  • Rooms are color-schemed. Last night we were in the Pink Room. Now we are in the Blue room. Ted notes that painted walls/ceilings adds color to the room.

Positano, as viewed from the town of Montpertuso 1609 steps above.

Positano, as viewed from the town of Montpertuso 1609 steps above.

2011-07-05 Italy Day 6: Positano

Activities:

  • Breakfast served in B&B’s garden area. Yogurt felt good on sick throat.
  • Walked to bus station to take bus to Positano. Learned that the bus drivers and train conductors were on a half-day strike.
  • Found a ferry to Positano instead. Told it would take 30 minutes; it took more like 90.
  • Lunch at a Bar in Positano: sandwich and tuna salad.
  • Began an attempt at hiking the Path of the Gods, a trail that goes from Positano to Praiano. Followed instructions in guidebook for an alternate route to the road normally taken. Got lost several times. Finally made it up to the town of Montpertuso, 1609 steps above the tourist information booth in Positano at which we’d started. Took pictures and turned around, descending again instead of continuing along the path, as it had already taken us 2 hours for a supposedly 30 minute walk of the 5-hour hike.
  • Shopping in Positano. Did not buy anything. Saw several cute white lacy skirts. Expensive.
  • Dinner in Positano: Lasagna and Seafood risotto.
  • Ran to bus stop to take (now-running) 9:40 bus back to Sorrento. Late by 6 minutes. Sat at bus stop until 10:40 bus came at 10:47. Back to hotel around midnight.

Observations:

  • Italy has this funny toast. It comes wrapped in packages. It’s like sliced-bread-shaped croutons or something.
  • I consider public restrooms here to be really nice if they don’t consist of “squatters”–toilets without a seat.
  • We have now, um, “experienced Italian culture”. There seem to be strikes quite often. I’m not sure how much a strike that is announced to be from 9:30am-1:30pm can really accomplish, but it sure screwed up our travel plans this morning.
  • Why is the U.S. so devoid of diversity in juice? Both in Ecuador and Italy, the types of juice available seem to be far greater than the standard apple or orange, etc. I particularly loved my peach juice this afternoon; great on the sore throat, and I really enjoyed papaya juice in Ecuador. Italy also has apple juice, but it is “green apple” juice, a bit sweeter.
  • Tuna was good.
  • I think Ted is more drawn to windows full of women’s shoes than Pamela is. Luckily, he wants Pamela to be the one trying them on, not himself. =)
  • Positano is apparently a really expensive place to go shopping. Sadness.
  • When traveling, it is best to bring more conditioner than shampoo. You are far more likely to get three bottles of shampoo than any bottles of conditioner.
  • It seems to be common in Italy to have the toilet tank hanging on the wall above your head above the toilet. This just makes the toilet take longer to flush.
  • Yay! No pizza today! I’m not eating any pizza for months after returning home.
  • All the prices listed in our Lonely Planet guide are wrong. In the wrong direction, too.
  • Ted: cats are cute. [we saw several cats wandering Positano.]
  • Hidden staircases from Positano are difficult to find, and our guide was not helpful enough.
  • Exercise makes Ted tired.

The Blue Grotto

La Grotta Azzurra

2011-07-06 Italy Day 7: Capri

Activities:

  • Slept in. Oops.
  • Breakfast in B&B garden.
  • Ferry to Capri.
  • Boat tour around the island.
  • Canoe into Grotta Azurra (Blue Grotto)
  • Lunch on the shore.
  • Funicular up to Capri Town.
  • Wandered streets. Bought fruit and pharmaceuticals.
  • Walked back down to beach. Many steps.
  • Ferry back to Sorrento.
  • Shopping in Sorrento. Bought spoon.
  • Train to Naples.
  • Dinner in Naples station. Train delayed.
  • Overnight train to Sicily.

Observations:

  • Pamela seems to like small towns. She was sad to leave Sorrento so soon.
  • The blue grotto was indeed pretty cool, but we were in there for such a short time and it cost so much. =(
  • Prices here would all seem reasonable if they were in USD. Things cost the same # of euro that I would expect them to cost in dollars. However, when accounting for the exchange rate, everything here is super expensive. Shopping sucks.
  • Given Sicily’s reputation for smoking, it is not as hard to avoid cigarette smoke here as I feared it would be. It does not seem to be more difficult to avoid than it is in California.
  • Bread in Italy does not live up to the reputation of its cuisine. Every piece of bread we have been served has been dry and hard.
  • The toilets on the trains are… holes that go straight down.  When I use them, I am essentially peeing on the track.  There are even signs asking you not to use them in or near a station.  The train tracks must be littered with toilet paper.

2 Responses to “In the Shadow of Vesuvius: Italy Days 4-7”

  1. Robert says:

    Pamela, hope you feel better soon!