Thursday, May 13, 2010

Get Outta Town - #5

Time to pack up again and head for a new destination. Of course we had to get some shopping in before we left Rome, because we have unfortunately learned by now that the best shopping possibilities were behind us in Florence, Milan, and Siena. But I did not want to lug trinkets all over Italy with us when we faced the goods the first time. So we headed off, hitting one too many souvenir shop. We were not in much of a hurry because we were catching a train and we knew they were plentiful headed south towards Naples.

Goods in hand we decided to try again to get one last taste of the heavenly focaccia from our first night in Rome meal. And we made sure we walked the extra half-mile back to the place before the closed for siesta. Arrived, it was open, we were drooling. We even had the same waitress who knew exactly what we were talking about when we ordered famed focaccia. “solo notte” was the reply. We were confused. “only nighttime.” She settled our confusion. It was enough to make us, well me, start crying on the spot. But I held it together and ordered caprese and a frittata in stead. It was so disappointing.
Trying to help the situation, I asked for a little plate for the olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip some of their dry, bland bread in. We already had the vinegar and oil for the salad. To add insult to injury, they ended up charging us 4 euros for using the vinegar and oil for our bread. Apparently it comes with the salad, but not the bread. Always the cheapskate, that made me cry on the spot (ok, not really).
Back to the hotel to collect our bags and make a reservation at a hotel in Positano, on the Amalfi Coast. That’s’ right, we didn’t have anything booked. We wanted to leave it open just in case we really liked Rome and wanted to stay longer. We were ready for some down time and couldn’t wait to get outta town, For the 5th time now.

Our leisurely pace soon turned frantic as we realized the next train left in 20 min and if we really hurried, and used all of our positive thinking powers, we might just make it (Better with my time management skills than some, I knew we’d never make it no matter how positive we were thinking). So off to the metro, up to the Termini train station, miss train, buy tickets for the next one, and spend the next 40 minutes wandering from “info desk” to “tourist help desk” to try and figure out what “NO POSTO GUARENTO”, which was printed on our tickets meant. I was seriously amazed at how everyone we asked seemed unwilling (tourist desk woman who spoke perfect English but said –no train information here), or unable (language barrier), to help us. The last man said, “ Just get on the train. Ask on train.”

So we got on another high-speed train and we figured out soon enough what NO POSTO GUARENTO means. Basically they over sell the train by about 10%. So most of the passengers have assigned seats, but those of us with NO POSTO have to wander the train cars in search of an empty seat and hope that no one came to claim it. It was a little nerve racking to be so clueless about how it all worked. Ian found an empty seat, asked the girls sitting near it if it was taken, and they both got up and left the seats. I think they mistakenly assumed they were our seats. Their loss.

We were feeling pretty comfy in our seats as the train pulled away from the station. But as more and more people came down the isles and kept kicking squatters out of their seats we got a little nervous. Eventually a man kicked Ian out of his seat and he got to stand for the hour and 10 minute trip to Naples. But don’t’ feel bad for him- he was entertained by Avitar on someone’s laptop for the trip.

Arriving in Naples we had to find the next train to Sorrento. In all of my advanced reading and research I somehow missed the fact that the “train” to Sorrento is actually a Metro train with 36 stops!! And the train was packed with all kinds of rowdy Napolites so we enjoyed the ride standing until the 22nd stop. The scenery slowly changed from heavily spray painted everything with hanging laundry in between to glimpses of the sea and terracotta roofs. (but the graffiti was always lurking.)
The graffiti has matched the areas we’ve been in, modern graffiti in Milan, more colorful and better quality graffiti in Florence, simple but plentiful graffiti in Rome (I actually saw a guy carrying a baby in a baby bjorn pull out a paint pen and write all over the walls while waiting for the Metro and in the middle of a conversation with two pregnant women… kind of weird), but the graffiti in Naples reached a whole new level. You could hardly see out of a lot of the train windows it was so bad.
It was dark as we got of the train and headed out of the station to the local bus that drives the road between Sorrento and the Cliffside towns of the Amalfi Coast. Little did we know, but the 9pm bus that we hopped on was the last of the night. So glad we made it! As we took off from the station it started to rain. We knew it was forecasted to rain all of the next day, and although we hesitated going all the way down to Positano to be in the rain, we decided we were sick of the rain in Rome, so might as well go.

Mario Andretti has nothing on the SITA bus drivers. The roads they drive on are INSANE! Although we could see what was out our window, something Ian and his fear of heights was grateful for, we knew we were on some very curvy, sheer cliff-side roads – in the rain !! I am not one who gets motion sickness, but when our bus came to a stop, I was pretty happy to get off.
A college student girl in the seat in front of us only made it half-way through the trip before she started barfing. That was fun to hear the rest of the way. We felt bad for her, but were glad it wasn't us.. I was on the verge.
So we unload all of our stuff off the bus, in the rain, on the side of a poorly lit cliff and the buss pulls away and just leaves us there. That mental image will be forever burned into my memory. It was like a scene out of a comedy, so we just had to start laughing. We started to walk down the only road we saw and hoped it headed into Positano and towards our hotel. I don’t know how we ended up choosing the Maricanto Hotel, but I am so glad we did. Main reason- it was only about 100 yards down the hill from the bus stop.

Into the room and off to the nearest restaurant for our 10:30pm dinner. Right on schedule! Ian was in heaven with another seafood dish which I was happy to observe disappear from the sidelines. Back to the room (3 times the size of the closet we just left) where we fell asleep to sound of waves crashing on the rocks below.


The Loader
The Washer

1 comment:

The Trammell's said...

Your trip sounds AMAZING! Traveling w/ the Carter's would be a BLAST :)