Ms. Toody's Travel Journal: The Amalfi Coast
(This is the final installment of our recent trip to the Amalfi Coast. You can read Part 1: Naples here; Part 2: Sorrento here; Part 3: Positano here; Part 4: Amalfi and Ravello here)
Day 7 - Positano to Capri
We are sad to leave Positano. Despite all of the stairs, Mr. Goo Shoes and I would like to have another night here. At the same time, we are excited to see Capri, which has been called one of the most beautiful places on earth. Supposedly, it's where vacations were invented a couple thousand years ago by Tiberius and his pals. Or something like that.
Our luggage gets a ride with the porter to the ferry dock; we walk the 300 steps down. I'm carrying my backpack which weighs about a thousand pounds because I don't want to risk putting my camera or laptop in the suitcase that the porters take.
It is blazing hot down here, and I'm figuring out where to stand, so that when I faint from the heat, I won't fall into the water with my camera.
There is about one square foot of shade at the edge of a bench, and we snag it. I try some reverse psychology while we wait: I'm not hot-I'm not hot-I'm not hot. I'M SO FREAKING HOT. As luck would have it, the ferry is a half hour late.
In 30 minutes, Capri comes into sight. We wait on the sweltering dock for a hotel assistant to come and collect our bags. We are to look for someone wearing a hat with the hotel name, and a...shovel? We can't figure out what this means. No one shows, so we find a luggage porter who will take our bags to the hotel. We catch on immediately that Capri is more pricey than Positano and Sorrento, because the cost is €12 per bag, vs. €10 in Positano.
Like the other places we've been to on this trip, Capri has an upstairs (top of the cliff) and a downstairs (sea level). An open-air taxi whisks us "upstairs" for a mere €35. Ouch. Later, we will figure out that the easiest and most economical way to get up and down the cliff is via the funicular.
Capri Town, like our previous destinations, is pedestrian-only, so the taxi can't take us all the way. We have to find the Hotel La Vega, which is tucked away from the main square, on our own. It takes only 10 minutes, without, miraculously, any wrong turns.
The room is beautiful...the nicest of our trip. Everything is crisp white and navy. And the view! Nothing like Positano, but very peaceful with its position overlooking the pool and the sea.
We eat lunch at the hotel restaurant, which is poolside. It's a hoot listening to the "beautiful people" at the next table, who clearly seem like the types who flit from Monte Carlo to St. Barth's to Capri every other week. The more I stare at them, the more I'm wishing I'd changed out of my sneakers. Their pool outfits are equivalent to what I'd wear out on a Saturday night.
It's a five-minute walk down a pretty alley to the main drag, Via Camerelle, and for a minute, I think I'm on Madison Ave. in New York. Every designer store under the sun is here...Gucci, Valentino, Moschino, Tod's, Eres. I look in the windows, but I'm not going in to browse if I can't buy. That's not fun, that's torture.
The main square, Piazza Umberto, is tiny, as squares go. More fancy shops, and a bunch of cafes. I hope I find some affordable shops!
Just off the main square is a beautiful colonnaded terrace overlooking Capri.
Just when we think we've seen all there is to see of Capri Town, I notice little alleys off the main square. A sign says they are ancient walkways. We meander down these for awhile. They lead to residences and restaurants.
A great discovery is the walkway between Tod's and the Gran Cafe (via La Botteghe), which is lined with shops and cafes. My head is spinning in a good way. IMHO, this is the best shopping street in Capri. Although my Euros with their excellent exchange rate are burning a hole in my un-chic shorts pocket, I still don't purchase anything, and time is running out.
We eat dinner at Ristorante Il Giranio, about a 10-minute walk from the hotel, but the steep walkways make it feel further. The setting is stunning, and we have our first view of the Faraglioni - the trio of rocks jutting out of the sea, which are one of Capri's most noted landmarks. First course is excellent; our second courses are just okay. Dessert doesn't disappoint (more about the food we ate here). The walk home seems shorter on full stomachs...oh, wait, it's because it's downhill.
The bed is so comfy...sleep comes easily...and then...rrriiiinnnngggg! It's Junior Goo Shoes calling from camp at 4:00am to let us know that "Tribal" broke (that's camp's color war)...and they're all so excited, they just had to call their parents...and oops -- he forgot about the time difference.
Day 8 - Capri Town and Anacapri
The hotel breakfast is nothing special, but when a huge seagull swoops down on a table and steals cheese off a woman's plate while she's sitting there, her screams add a great deal of excitement to the meal. She asks everyone if she over-reacted. Me? I think she was quite calm compared to how I'd have reacted, which makes her feel better. I'm glad to help. And go figure, I stopped bringing my camera to breakfast because 63 photos of croissants and cappuccino seemed like enough. Darn.
We try to make arrangements for a "giro" (boat) tour around Capri, but they are booked for today. Instead, we go to Anacapri, the other village on the top of the mountain. We opt for the bus, but question the wisdom of this frugal decision as it is not air-conditioned, and is packed with people. The 10-minute ride is terrifying. We are zipping around the winding roads at the edge of the cliff. I feel like it's payback for gloating over the fact that we didn't find the Amalfi coast drive to be scary.
Anacapri is quiet compared to Capri Town, which is flooded with day-trippers. It is oppressively hot, and as much as I want to check out the shops, it's no fun with sweat dripping down my face and back. I'm even too hot to take pictures. The only thing to do is find a shady place and eat. I think we are in Anacapri all of an hour.
We take a taxi back to Capri Town, which is scarier than the bus ride. The driver whips around the bends, and I feel like I'm on an amusement park ride that goes faster and faster around the curves, until it suddenly comes to a halt. Phew. We made it.
I'm determined to have a great meal in Capri. I survey my Facebook friends for recommendations, but they don't come through. Reluctantly, I turn to Tripadvisor again, hesitant after the La Sponda debacle. I decide on the #1 restaurant in Capri -- Ristorante Da Tonino.
We have no trouble getting reservations, because at 7:30pm, we're eating about two hours earlier than most everyone else. I'm aware that it's about a 20-minute walk, but I ask the concierge if it is a difficult walk...a steep walk. "No, no, no, not steep," so off we go.
"Not steep" to someone who has lived on Capri for their entire life is like "not far" to someone who lives in the boondocks, and thinks it's no biggie to drive 50 miles for milk. It is WAY steep -- lots and lots of stairs -- and takes at least a half hour (more?) to get there.
Although I remember to bring directions with me, they are hard to follow, and we ask many people if we are on the right path. Finally, the restaurant appears like manna in the desert.
We're drenched with sweat, and don't think we're ever going to cool off, but somehow we do, and by the time the incredible bread basket arrives, we're in better spirits. Finally, the food gods have responded, with a perfect meal from start to finish, and service to match. It's the best meal we've had on vacation!
It seems to take no time to get back down to the hotel, as it's all downhill from here. We notice, as we walk along, that most of the restaurants are just starting to fill up at 9:30pm. We are clearly old fogeys.
Day 9 - Capri
I couldn't sleep last night. The darndest things keep me awake. I am worried that I'll be too hot in my bathing suit on our giro tour... that's how hot it is here. It seemed like a great idea to buy one of those "miracle" suits to look ten pounds thinner, but it's so tight, I can't imagine how I will survive in the heat wearing it under my clothes until we get on the boat. I'm convinced that I will pass out somewhere between the hotel and the dock. I have got to buy a two-piece before that boat ride. I don't care what it costs, or how I look in it - I'll wear a tank top over it.
I grab the first bikini I see; it fits and it's on sale. Hmmm...I don't look half bad in it. Mr. Goo Shoes says I look great -- bless his heart! There's still no way I'll take that tank top off, though.
It is stifling hot as we walk through town to the funicular, which is super-crowded, but in a few minutes, we are down at sea level. There is a completely different vibe here than "upstairs." I wonder how many day-trippers only see this part of Capri, and never venture to the top. We grab lunch at a cafe before heading to the dock.
We meet our captain, Giancarlo, and set out on our private tour. I forget to take a picture of our giro, but it looks like this.
Okay, just kidding...like this...
Giancarlo asks if we want to go to the Blue Grotto, which is a must-see, but when he tells us that the wait is 45 minutes to get in, we decide to skip it. Our boat ride is only for two hours, and time is money. Giancarlo says, "Don't worry. I show you the green, white, and coral grottos." Sounds good to us.
|Green, white and coral grottos|
The sheer size of the cliffs are staggering, and there are caves everywhere. This is clearly Capri's best side.
We see the lighthouse (top left), Tiberius' cave (middle left), Napoleon's forts (bottom left), Little Boy of Capri Waving statue (top right) the Natural Arch (middle right), and Sofia Loren's former house (bottom right) .
The "crown jewel" is the Faraglioni, which don't look like much until we get up close.
The boat ride ends all too soon. We agree that it's the highlight of our stay in Capri. We also agree that three nights in Capri was two too many.
After last night's hike, we eat close to the hotel at Le Camarelle. The row of outdoor tables covered with canopies and colorful glasses is picture-perfect. The food is less so -- we have a great pasta dish, followed by a fair second course. After 10 days on the Amalfi coast, if we would have stuck with just pasta and dessert, our food experience would have been much better.
Day 10 - Capri to Naples
Today is our last full day in Italy. On the one hand, it went so fast; on the other, it seems like we've been here a long time. I'm not ready to leave.
I do one last lap around Capri in hopes of buying something. I go back for another look at a necklace I considered, but leave without it. I know even then that once I get home I'll regret this; still, I don't turn around and go back in. At this point, I'm just too hot and sweaty to care. How is it that everyone else looks so elegant in this heat? I am the only one wearing baggy shorts; the only one wearing sneakers; the only one with frizzy hair, and the only one sweating like a pig. I have not mastered that chic Capri look.
To cheer myself up, I finally go into the bakery, R. Buonocore, that we've passed dozens of times over the past three days. When I hear someone raving about the Caprilu Limone, I buy a few, and a custard-filled lemon tartlet, too. The caprilu are amazing, and clearly one of the best things I've eaten in Italy. Why did I wait till the last day to try them? I bring the rest back to the room, and Mr. Goo Shoes and I have a little feast, before checking out of the hotel. On the way to the funicular, we stop and buy a few more for later.
Soon we are on the ferry; it's like a 747 on water. In 50 minutes, we're in Naples, heading to the Hotel Excelsior...right back where we started 10 days ago.
We've got the afternoon to kill, and now we can see a little more of Naples. We walk down through the Piazza del Plebiscito...
Into the Galleria Umberto...
Up and down the streets; in and out of shops.
Mr. Goo Shoes calls the waiter. "My wife would like to know if we can purchase one of these pitchers." The waiter says, "No buy, just take!" We insist on paying, but he won't let us. He comes back with a bigger one, and says, "You pick which one you want." I feel greedy going for the bigger one, so I take the smaller; and besides it's the one my wine came in. I love it...and it makes me happier than anything I could have bought. We leave him a big tip.
It's a beautiful night, so we take one more walk down by the water; I pose for a last photo in front of the La Fontana dell'Immacolatella.
In the morning we're off to the airport.
Ciao, Italia! Till we meet again!
Hotel La Vega (Capri)
Ristorante Il Geranio (Capri)
Ristorante Da Tonino (Capri)
Ristorante Le Camarelle (Capri)
Marcello's Boats (Capri)
R. Buonocore (bakery - Capri)
Hotel Excelsior (Naples)
Ristorante Da Ettore (Naples)
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Home Sweet Home
Weekend Travel Inspiration
The Weekly Postcard
Our World Tuesday
Treasure Box Tuesday
Tweak It Tuesday
Wake Up Wednesday