The next couple days went by like a dream. Traveling through the south of Italy is something you're not supposed to experience until your honeymoon. Honestly, sometimes I fear that not even my honeymoon will compare to how incredible the experience was.
From Rome, we took trenitalia to Naples, where we exited the train station and eagerly looked for pizza. But, were terrified by how dirty and sketchy the neighborhood we were in seemed, and re-entered the train station quite quickly. Train from Rome to Naples, $16.49, Train from Naples to Sorrento $5.07. Pasta in the train car that served food and alcohol $6.71. Woo, killin' it on the budget!
We arrived at Porto Salvo in the dark and the train station we were at seemed closed. There was a small window that looked as if a worker would either sell you some movie tickets or perhaps provide you with a map, neither of which we're going to happen tonight, as he was safely at home in bed. We had a minor panic as the station we got dropped of at was a few miles from where we were staying. But decided the best thing to do, was to start walking. So, we walked towards the noise until we found a bustling little street, which happened to be the center of downtown. The city of Sorrento is quite magical, the small streets are covered with street vendors selling all your favorite Italian delights, restaurants with open patios welcoming you in for 'just one drink', and gelato on literally every corner. Although we were tired, and carrying our backpacks, we walked around for a bit and got acquainted with our new home. In a small alley, behind the main road, we found a pizza place and each ordered a whole pie for dinner.We sat down on some benches and just watched as people walked back and forth, coming and going from their evening plans. It was at this moment that I decided, this is the place I'm going to retire. I could have that little shop, with a nice big pizza oven, and come out here every night and watch the tourists. My dad would love this.
I'm not quite sure how we found our way home. I think after walking past cell phone shops enough times, we connected to some free wifi and screen-shotted the map. Little did we know at the time, we'd be doing this walk quite a few times over the next few days. We arrived at Porto Salvo (Purple Bed & Breakfast) in the dark and we're escorted to our room. This was the first hostel we stayed in that was literally...just a room. "The bathroom is in the hallway; we all share", the gentleman told us, as if that was a totally normal thing. Our room had a sink and a large closet, and enough room between the bed and the wall for just our two pairs of shoes. We thanked him and went to bed, knowing we had a big day ahead.
When we woke up in the morning we realized just how incredible our hostel choice was. The small window in the corner of our room actually overlooked their large backyard, an apple orchard. Dogs and kids ran around screaming as two men stood on ladders trying to bring down the fruit, but still it was beautiful. Just ahead of us was what looked like a large acacia tree, perfectly positioned so the sunrise shone through it's branches, and a large cruise ship sat in the harbor.
We used Sorrento as a home base and explored much of the southern coast over the next few days.
Day 2, we took the intercity train to Pompeii, where we listened to a Rick Steves podcast as we walked the streets of the forgotten city, and relived the horror these people faced as Mount Vesuvius engulfed their lives on what seemed like just another day. After a few hours of touring the grounds, we grabbed lunch just outside the city, on a beautiful patio, with some delicious fresh-squeezed orange juice and grilled panini's. One month in and we might be feeling a little too comfortable with each other at this point. Why are you licking my face?!
When we got back to Sorrento, I went for a solo walk down the cliffs and explored what Sorrento really had to offer, at sunset nonetheless. I met some fellow solo walkers and we smiled as we passed each other, knowing that we were both in awe of the beauty that was set forth before us.
I checked a few menus of nearby restaurants and went back to the hostel to request Brandon's assistance in choosing one. Most nights we ate street food or cooked for ourselves to save money, so in each city we allowed ourselves one nice meal. We had no idea what we were in for this time around. The restaurant we chose posted their menu up on the street and after walking down a long driveway, and into what seemed like a YMCA, we took an elevator with the maitre d' and the cutest little girl I've ever seen, down...and further down. As the doors opened and we entered the restaurant, we realized we we're actually below the cliffs I had just walked through above, on a large patio, overlooking the port. We sat down and looked over the menu and decided, hey, we work hard, and sometimes we deserve to be spoiled. Save and splurge, right? That's why we're here. So we went big. We ordered a bottle of white wine, which they brought table side in one of those fancy ice buckets. We started with some ricotta stuffed squash blossoms, and ate all the free bread our hearts desired as we waited on our swordfish.
It took a little longer than expected but we were enjoying our time so we just kept drinking and eating the free bread. The moment the man started walking out with a cart and stared me straight in the eye, was the first moment the thought crossed my mind that the price we had seen in the menu, was maybe not the real price of the dish. Here we were, thinking we were being economical by sharing, when really we had just seen the cost (per pound).
Nothing we can do about it now, except watch in fascination as this gorgeous Italian man, prepared our dinner for us, table side. Until this point, I held strong to my denial that traveling through Europe with my best friend would not intensify the feelings I had so successfully suppressed. But alas, here I was, at what was sure to be the most romantic date I've ever been on, with the only person in the world that loves food as much as me. Good work, Stephanie.
As we strolled home, we stopped for a bottle of wine, sat down on a bench over looking the cliffside, and just talked; you know, about space and stuff.
Day 3: We spent the morning running errands, walked back downtown and found a place to do laundry. Bought some shampoo and conditioner and macaroni au four, just like Nonna makes it. Thinking we were going to Capri today, we packed our day packs and stood at the bus station, for hours. We must have watched 30 buses pass us, before someone told us, "they don't always come." Fair enough, Capri tomorrow. So, we bought a few bottles of wine, and spent the day in bed, watching Seinfeld, and dancing to taylor swift. Can't all our days be just like this?
Day 4: The island of Capri, an expensive ferry and some seriously sketchy bus rides but views worth every dime. Upon arriving at the port, we received a map of the island and tried to decide where we should start, and how much we could see in a single day. Staying on the island was so expensive so we knew we had to see as much as we could before the last ferry departed to take us home to Sorrento. As I tried to navigate, Brandon played paparazzi with the asian couple, that seemed to be having their own private photo shoot. We walked around the beaches on the shore before walking up small streets and millions of stairs to the centro, or center of town.
We had lunch in town and wandered through the shops before taking a bus, that drove way too fast on very small winding roads, to the top of the island, Anacapri. I'm still unclear how, but I convinced Brandon it was a good idea to take a seemingly unsafe chairlift to the top of the island. This, from the man that was scared of walking across a bridge made entirely of stone. And he was about to get scooped up by a 100 year old, rickety chair lift. Here goes. We stood in line, and I did not say one word, knowing that now was not a time for jokes, if I wanted him to go through with this. The weather was a bit overcast and we we're two white folks in a sea of maybe 200 asians traveling together with selfie sticks, but what an incredible experience it was. We took photos of each other back and forth from our chair lifts, and a million photos of the ground, as we got higher and higher into the clouds. Once we reached the top, we had views of the entire island on every side. B! Take my pictuuuure! The wind struggle was so real.
Spoiler Alert: we made it, and we didn't die. We took the bus and ferry back to Sorrento and packed up as we got ready for a quick stop on the Amalfi coast.
Day 5: Oh man, we're going to have to take a bus today. Not just any bus, an overcrowded, un air-conditioned bus, way too close to the edge of the cliff-sides between Sorrento and Amalfi bus. As we sat in the staircase, because there were no open seats, clutching our backpacks and each other for dear life, I started to feel sick. I remember Brandon being upset that I hadn't warned him of my motion sickness before our trip. As if he was somehow suffering with me. We made it through Positano and over to Amalfi, where we walked around for a bit before grabbing some lunch and sitting down, on the steps of the church in the center of town and eating our first meal of the day.
Brandon booked this one, so he took the reigns, we met our host Enrico at his men's clothing store, where he gave us the keys to the apartment and pointed in the general direction we were supposed to go, while spouting off vague directions, in the likes of, "go up the stairs until there are no more stairs, right, then left, past the big table and when you see the big door, you push, past the big table again, and on the left you find the stairs to your place, inside." Sure thing Enrico, we'll be right back. We're doing to pretend we understood anything you just said and we'll be back in about 5 minutes so you can come and show us to our door. Thanks!
We spent one full day in Amalfi, on the beach, and swimming. We shared two bottles of wine and lunch, which were all hard to come by, since everything closed during siesta. Siesta? These are our prime drinking hours! We don't own a cork screw, shoot. As Brandon went back up into town to try and buy us a cork screw and another bottle of wine, I took a little nap on the sand. I was rudely awakened by the shadow of someone standing over me. I was a bit startled but opened my eyes and asked, "yes, can I help you?" This boy, who could not have been over 20, sat down next to me and made himself at home over the next 20 minutes as he inquired about my life. "Do you have a boyfriend? Is he here with you? Do you have a boyfriend in the states? Do you want a boyfriend in Italy?" He then told me about how he just worked at the hotel to make some extra pocket money, but he had 3 homes in the south of Italy, and if I were to be his girlfriend he would let me live in all of them. Sweet deal! But really, can you leave so that I can get back to my nap? What could Brandon be doing that is taking this long? He probably forgot about the wine, and found some girl to flirt with that we'll never see again. This would be a wonderful time to show up, and also pretend to be madly in love with me. Queue friend. Nothing. The Italian boy eventually left, and Brandon returned, with two bottles of wine and a cork screw. Back on track. We finished the day with a drunken stumble up through the streets of Amalfi, into a mom and pop shop, where we bought some pasta and sauce, and returned to our little apartment to make our dinner. Brandon passed out around 7pm and in his sleep, asked me 'if I thought Tupac had ever been to Italy, because if he had, he probably would have rapped about it, and he doesn't rap about Italy in any of his songs.'