Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I've hung up my dress-for-success clothes, and pulled my domestic "genes" out of storage.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Amalfi & Ravello: A Travel Journal - Our Trip to Italy (Part 4)


Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody's Travel Journal: The Amalfi Coast

(This is a multi-part journal of our recent trip to the Amalfi Coast. You can read Part 1: Naples here; Part 2: Sorrento here; Part 3: Positano here).

Day 5 - Amalfi and Positano

OMG OMG OMG! I wake up in a sweat, wondering how in the world we will get our luggage all the way down to the beach on Sunday, when we catch the ferry to Capri. There is no way to avoid stairs, and I seriously consider driving all the way back to Sorrento to take the ferry from there, rather than shlep our suitcases down those steps. I don't care what it costs.

I hyperventilate all the way to the lobby, and Francesca quickly allays those fears. Clearly, we are not the first tourists in Positano to have this dilemma. There is a porter service that will take the bags to the dock for $10 per bag. Done deal! Phew. 

I can relax now and enjoy breakfast, which is included with the room rate. It's small, but I'm content with the croissants -- they offer "cream-filled" and "empty," which I find to be hilarious. I learn that in Italy, cappuccino is strictly for breakfast --order it after dinner, and you risk being looked at like you have two American heads.

This morning we walk down 300 steps to the beach. Not bad at all, but up? Never gonna happen. We sit on a bench enjoying the hustle and bustle at beach level while we wait for our ferry to Amalfi.

They say the best way to see Positano is from the water, and whoever "they" are, they're right. I am snapping away like crazy, and it won't be until later that I find out I have a huge smudge on my lens that ruins almost every photo. Good thing there is a return trip. 

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

The ferry to Amalfi takes only 25 minutes. The scenery along the coast is more than ample entertainment. I wonder what it's like to live in one of those little villages. I'm open to giving it a try, even though I've said I could never live in a place where there is no Trader Joe's.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

We spot a few of the Saracen defensive towers (there are 30 along the entire coastline). Fires were lit in the towers to warn of approaching enemies. Very Game of Thrones-ish, and I think I see Sansa Stark standing in the window with a candle.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Amalfi comes into view. I don't realize it just yet, but I believe the big beige building on the extreme left is the Hotel Cappuccini on Dewena's postcard that she writes about when we get home.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

The Duomo dominates Amalfi's main square. As much as we'd like to peak inside, it's our day off from steps, so we admire from below.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

We plan to stay the afternoon, but I wonder how we will fill our time since Amalfi is so compact. Eating is a good way to kill time.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

We walk down the main alleyway, poking in and out of the shops.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Herbs to buy here, ceramics to buy there, gelato to buy everywhere.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Someone's got a sense of humor!

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

The decision on where to eat lunch is made by selecting a place that will stay shady. The pizza is really good, and we linger, until we feel the urge to head elsewhere for gelato. I wish I could figure out a way to hop from restaurant to restaurant all day long, without getting full -- or fat -- as cafe-sitting in Europe has got to be one of life's greatest pleasures.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

A few last looks, a couple of final purchases, and we head back to the ferry.

 Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

A  tour group of Chinese teenagers is on the ferry, listening to their leader. We can't understand what he's saying, but suddenly, he bursts into song, singing in Italian, in a perfect operatic voice. The Italian tourists join in. The whole boat is cheering him on. This will go down in the books as one of those memorable vacation moments. 

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I am looking forward to dinner tonight. I want one over-the-top dining experience at a Michelin star restaurant. Before leaving for Italy, I made a reservation at La Sponda at the very swanky Sirenuse Hotel.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I tell Mr. Goo Shoes that he has to wear pants for only two hours during the entire vacation, because I've read that they turn away men in shorts. He immediately points out the guy at the next table, who is wearing shorts, of course.

The sunset view is to die for...

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

The restaurant is stunning. We are ready for a truly memorable evening!

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I'm underwhelmed when they bring carrot and celery sticks with what appears to be ranch dressing. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think a Michelin-star restaurant should serve something I keep in the fridge for snacks. I won't judge yet.

They offer us champagne, like it's on the house, but we don't fall for that 50-Euro-a-bottle trick.

The menu comes, and I struggle to find something that appeals to me.

By the time we finish our first course, I'm finally able to admit to myself, and then to Mr. GS, that I didn't like it. He didn't like his, either, but he knows how much I've been looking forward to this, so he doesn't say anything until I do. Neither of us enjoys our second course. My crab dumplings just aren't good. Mr. Goo Shoes says that Trader Joe's lamb chops taste better than the two skimpy ones on his plate. In all honesty, three of four dishes we ordered should have been sent back. For the life of me, I can't explain why, in the moment, we don't do this.

I'm crushed, so much so that I consider skipping dessert, but I cannot resist the lemon basil cake, which is delicious, especially while being serenaded by guitar and mandolin. But it's not enough to make us forget about this meal. Honestly? The food on Air France was better. And for what this meal cost, we could have flown to Paris and back for a really great dinner.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Yes, we got memorable, all right. While lying in bed, I'm writing a scathing Tripadvisor review in my head, when I come up with "don't spenda at La Sponda!" At least we have a good laugh about it. (More about the food we ate here).

Day 6: Ravello and Positano

Mr. Goo Shoes feels like something different for breakfast. He saw a sign for "American Breakfast" at the cafe where we had lunch on our first day in Positano. Frankly, the last thing I want in Italy is anything American, but in the spirit of compromise, we go. Mistake Of The Day #1. We order omelettes with tomatoes. Two plain omelettes are placed in front of us and we ask, "where are the tomatoes?" The waiter looks puzzled, and says, "It comes with tomato sauce." Now we look confused...and he points to the ketchup...there's our tomatoes.

The teeniest car we have ever seen comes zipping by. Maybe we should rent one of those! Mr. Goo Shoes, the practical one, wonders where we'd park it. I suggest we take it upstairs and keep it in the extra bedroom! But then we remember there's no elevator. Scratch that.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Unsatisfied after our 39-Euro omelettes, we go back to the hotel breakfast room to fill up on couple of "empty" croissants before heading to Ravello.

Ernesto is our driver.  He's very nice, stopping along the way so we can take pictures. Mr. GS and I agree that this stretch of the Amalfi coastline between Positano and Ravello is what all the fuss is about. It is STUNNING.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

"They" didn't tell us that seeing Positano from up here was spectacular! 

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

We recognize some areas from our ferry ride yesterday. Today we see Amalfi from a different perspective.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Up and up and up we go into the cliffs, until we reach Ravello at the top. We've got three hours until Ernesto returns. As soon as we arrive, I wish we had more time. Like three days, maybe. Mistake Of The Day #2.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ravello and Amalfi couldn't be more different. Amalfi is boisterous; Ravello, refined. Our first destination is the Villa Cimbrone, from which some of the most spectacular views in the world are promised.

It's not the easiest walk. Steep walkways and 20 minutes later, we're here. The magnificent views give us permission to stop and catch our breath along the way.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

The garden path to the Infinity Terrace is spectacular.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Good-golly-wolly! The views from the Infinity Terrace are amazing!

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

It would really suck if I drop my camera right now.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

The beaches of Minori and Maiori are below. Way below. Mr. Goo Shoes tells me not to stand too close to the edge.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

The views are great, but I'm chomping at the bit to find some ceramics, for which Ravello is world-renowned. True to form, I'm thinking, this is nice, we saw it, let's go shopping.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Mr. Goo Shoes finds a nice bench, and I run from shop to shop. 


Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Nothing is doing it for me, and I don't want to settle. At my final stop, I think I find what I'm looking for, but I can't decide on an empty stomach.

We have lunch in the main square. I'm obsessing over the dishes, knowing with each bite, that I want to go back and buy them. There is only one thing that will make me snarf down a meal and that is knowing that I'm going to purchase something. Mr. Goo Shoes and I go back for another look.

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Si, signora, I will take them! (see what I bought here). They will make two, and ship them for a reasonable fee. If I spend more, the shipping will be free, but I am too overwhelmed, because we are meeting Ernesto in five minutes. We leave, and I already regret this, knowing I am making BIG Mistake Of The Day #3. 

On the walk to the car, Mr. Goo Shoes sees a restaurant with huge poster of Sofia Lauren. He poses next to it, and when I tell him that's as close as he'll ever get, he's crushed.

Before Ernesto drops us off at the hotel, he takes us way high up in the mountains for another perspective of Positano. Hoo Hah, this is special. Raise his tip an extra five bucks!

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

We actually have dinner plans up here tonight. The hotel recommended the restaurant, C'era uno Volta, and I double check the reviews on Tripadvisor, which are excellent. We have high hopes, especially after last night's debacle. 

The restaurant's free shuttle picks us up; we are led to an outdoor terrace with a view of -- oh, poo, an obstructed view -- of the sea. And sadly, the food is fair. Mistake Of The Day #4. 

Amalfi and Ravello: A Travel Journal | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

The evening does end with a happy twist, when there are fireworks over the cliffs, as we have our dessert. Perfect, as it is July 4th, after all.

To be continued...

Sneak Peak: Capri


Capri, Italy | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

RESOURCES:
Caffe Il Protontino- Amalfi
Hotel Cappuccini - Amalfi
Ristorante La Sponda- Positano
Hotel Le Sirenuse - Positano
Villa Cimbrone - Ravello
Caffe Calce - Ravello
Ristorante C'era Una Volta
Pascal Ceramiche d' Arte
Rick Steve's Amalfi Coast (TV episode) 






 

29 comments:

  1. What an outstanding trip! Looking forward to more!

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  2. Oh Italy has long been on my bucket list. And looking at your amazing photos is truly making me want to go right now. What a spectacular place. The architecture and natural beauty is incredible. I would certainly keep an eye for over-rated restaurants. I do prefer the smaller places that the locals frequent when I travel but the view from that restaurant is just a once in a life time.

    Thank you for taking me along. Now I can dream away. I do want to thank you for visiting me and introducing yourself. Nice to meet you here in blogland. I will certainly follow.

    Janet

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  3. Lovely to read and look at your photo's.
    Positano does look great from the water,
    My nephew got married a few years back in Ravello, that was a most special day.

    Looking forward to reading more ...

    All the best Jan

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  4. Lovely to read and look at your photo's.
    Positano does look great from the water,
    My nephew got married a few years back in Ravello, that was a most special day.

    Looking forward to reading more ...

    All the best Jan

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  5. You should be a travel writer Amy. You're good at this. Truly.

    I think we'd make good travel companions. I'm the same way. I could be looking at heaven's gate, but after I've seen it I want to move on. Exception? Maybe dining at a place like La Sponda would be reason enough to linger. Except for the food. That sucks, but I can't say I'm surprised. It's sorta like eating someplace on the beach at the jersey shore...you go for the view. If the food is good, it's a bonus.

    You'll need to do a round up post...your favs, what you didn't like, what you would change, etc.

    xxx

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  6. What wonderful places! We've got such great memories too.

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  7. I enJoy how you narrate your travel posts. If only you had been standing guard to watch Sansa light the candle instead o Brienne of Tarth! J/k. Sometimes I find restaurants that are "really good" really aren't and people buy into the hype and continue to say it's good because everyone is afraid to say that it was gross because they feel like they might be judged for "missing thepoint". Also, I've never had any luck eating American food in Europe -almost always a disappointment!

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  8. Everything is so interesting and lovely but the view from that terrace...oh my!

    I felt bad for you at the what-shouldn't-have-a-star restaurant but by the time I got to the omelet missing its tomatoes I had to chuckle....because here I am in PA, going to the garden for a fresh ripe tomato to have with my eggs for breakfast and that's the sort of romantic picture I'd have of Italy and there is the guy telling you that tomato sauce is ketchup. Sheesh :(

    Well I look forward to reading the next installment :)

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  9. Everything is so interesting and lovely but the view from that terrace...oh my!

    I felt bad for you at the what-shouldn't-have-a-star restaurant but by the time I got to the omelet missing its tomatoes I had to chuckle....because here I am in PA, going to the garden for a fresh ripe tomato to have with my eggs for breakfast and that's the sort of romantic picture I'd have of Italy and there is the guy telling you that tomato sauce is ketchup. Sheesh :(

    Well I look forward to reading the next installment :)

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  10. I can see why you loved the scenery there. Very pretty indeed! Was it hot there? it looked like it was. That's a shame that the food didn't meet up with your expectations. I hate when that happens!

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  11. Amy, it's like you were in a movie, I think I even hear the soundtrack playing! And you spotted the hotel! Now I'll have a story to tell any time I show the postcard to people.

    What gorgeous views you'll have to remember! I always pick something ahead of time when I'm going to be in the dentist chair to think about--this can be your dentist chair getaway trick. And opera on the ferryboat, how perfect is that! I am such a people-watcher that I'd probably trip walking down those twisting roads and alleys, trying to take in both sides of shop windows and store away memories of the many different faces and what they were wearing.

    Isn't it a shame you couldn't have just knocked on someone's door and said "What's for dinner?" From all the Frances Mayes books it seems like dinners in a private home are to die for.

    Dishes, can't wait to see them!

    I agree with Doreen, Amy. You are the very best and most interesting tour guide!

    Dewena

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  12. We had a Michelin starred disappointment while in that same area of Italy - enough said on that, but it was the most expensive meal and such a disappointment. We don't read reviews of restaurants any longer, and go in search of some place that looks (and smells) wonderful, we'll ask where the locals eat and it may be a hole-in-the-wall type place but the food is good and the price is right. Love your travel tales these photos!!!! Keep 'em coming please.

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  13. The views are absolutely breathtaking! I could even go through it with a hungry stomach. :)

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  14. I had to laugh at your comment about asking your husband to trade his shorts for pants for two hours! I've given up on the shorts/jeans vs dress pants argument. It never failed wherever we went for dinner after insisting he change that someone would show up wearing exactly what he previously had on!!! AAGH!!! It's not worth the hassle any more. He wears what he wants and I wear what I want, and if we look like we belong to someone else, then so be it! : )

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  15. OMG. Isn't that one amazing place to be at. I need to start saving for my Europe trip from TODAY!!

    -Tanya
    http://tanyaanurag.blogspot.com/

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  16. Oh, lovely Italy. You can never go wrong choosing to visit Italy. I loved your story of the operatic Chinese tour guide. Sorry about the dinner. I enjoyed the photos of the mountains, the shops, and the ceramics. I saw your link at Rooted In Thyme's Simple & Sweet party.

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  17. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos of your Italy vacation Amy! I can't wait to see Capri photos which is one of my favorite places to visit!

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  18. Oh Amy - you should be writing a humorous travel book - seriously I was snorting with laughter at some of this !
    That memorable moment you had on the ferry? I had one of those on a Manhattan tour bus LMAO !
    And that teeny car? It reminds me of the car that Peter Sellers drove in " The Party " lol
    What a fabulous post - and those photos? Award winning !
    xoxo

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  19. You are showing me an Italy I did not see the first time! And it's fabulous! I do remember that the food on our trip was not very memorable. "They" say that our American version of Italian food is nothing like the real Italian.....

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  20. Oh, I want to go to Italy so bad now! Meanwhile, you took so many great pictures and explains everything so well, it's like I was there with you (only you didn't notice me).

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  21. How wonderful that you got to see things both from the water and from the road. Cafe hopping and store hopping sound like a wonderful way to spend a few days there. You made a good call to let the porter carry the luggage down the stairs. I suppose it wouldn't do to have them all tumble down and hope that nothing breaks or hits anyone along the way.

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  22. Great views everywhere! At least that compensated for the daily mistakes a little bit. A 39 Euro omelette? That sounds crazy. I do not want to know how much the food was in 5 star restaurant.

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  23. Good lord it's so beautiful out there. Beautiful doesn't really start to describe it and I'm just looking at pictures. If I saved all my Starbucks coffee money for a year, I probably could go there :) I wanna go there badly.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  24. Thanks for taking us all on this lovely tour! Loved all your photos!!
    Have a Happy Week!
    Peace :)

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  25. Interesting journey and that landscape is beautiful. The mainsquare is grand.

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  26. Fabulous shots! The Duomo is spectacular!

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  27. The Amalfi coast line looks divine just as all the guide books promise. I have yet to visit but will one day. I see you need to be quite fit to do all that climbing of steps in the heat of an Italian Summer. Sad that the food is not living up to expectations and since when is ketchup a replacement for tomatoes. I would have thought tomatoes would be plentiful in Italy!

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  28. Wow, it looks like you had a fantastic time, in spite ot the Mistakes of the Day! I've been meaning to read more about your trip to Italy, and I'm glad I did-- going to Italy is one of my dreams, and I love to read about other people's vacations there. Those views!!!!

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  29. I love your pictures.
    Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, Capri are amazing.
    I invite you to visit my blog page to see some pictures from my vacation to Positano, Ravello, Amalfi and Capri.
    http://www.comanmihaela.com/positano-capri-ravello-amalfi-part-3/

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