but it was a beautiful weather day!

I am scare of heights, yet every vacation, I always take some weak looking contraption up a mountain and get freaked out

Really pissed we couldn't hike down, the scenery look so beautiful

I was really, really bummed about this, b/c this was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Capri.

I wasn't that oblivious, I noticed those young, skinny girls that my husband was gawking at.

Even tho I was very disappointed we couldn't do the blue grotto tour, I was very happy with our boat tour, it was one of my favorites and we did go into a Grotto

Italy II: Sorrento and Rome


So another Sat morning finds us getting a report on the girls, and convening for breakfast in the terrace room overlooking the bay. An army of waiters is ready to seat you and point you to the buffet, but they seem extremely proficient in turning away at just the moment you want to get their attention so you can get some coffee and tea. This scene repeated itself nearly every day, but when the tea and coffee do come, they are in individual silver pots, so that is pretty sweet.

Our hotel (I think) from the ferry
Today is also Lin-Wei's birthday! And to celebrate we are off to Capri, an island just off the western coast of the Sorrentine peninsula! Our ferry leaves early, so we had to wolf down the food and hoof it over to the port. Sorrento is, however, perched in the cliffs above the sea, so we had to walk down miles of stairs to get to the piers. Once down we got our round trip tickets for the speedboat ferry, and we were off! The trip over took about 20 minutes, but we were packed into that boat like sardines packed into a sardine packing can thing. I think I just made that analog up! Maybe we shouldn't have picked a Saturday during high tourist season to go... but no matter.

Capri looks pretty sweet, what with the soaring cliffs rising out of the sea, and we had gotten rave reviews from our neighbor Anne regarding the serenity and general coolness of the island. Our ferry landed in the city of Capri itself, and I immediately started scoping out the city to find...the funicular! Yeah, Capri was up in the hills as well, and you can walk up like a chump, or you can ride up in style in the funicular. And that we did.

Typical "street" in Capri
Our first stop: The Villa Jovis, a vacation retreat build by Emperor Augustus himself and expanded by Tiberius (who ended up spending his last years here). But it was here the maps failed us, or my reading of the maps failed us. We ending up going East instead of Northeast, through very narrow and twisty streets that were actually super cool and reminded us a lot of Naphlio in Greece, but as we were going generally uphill, moods were starting to darken as we didn't really seem to be making any progress. Finally after surmounting a nearly vertical alley of stairs and being totally disoriented, we found an older Italian couple who were very gracious in helping us find our destination, once they understood where we wanted to go. The wife actually started pointing in the general direction that we had been heading, and that make me feel good, until, with a wave of disgust, the husband brushed her aside and led us in the opposite direction.

They were fast walkers and stayed about 10 paces ahead of us, not saying anything. I was starting to wonder if he remembered (or cared) that we were blindly following him. Finally after a few minutes he paused by a slight gap which became another "road" heading Northeast, and pointed. There was a small brown sign with "Villa Jovis --->" written on it. Hurray!

So up up up up up we climbed, to the very tipy top of the Northeastern part of the island to where the Villa Jovis lay. We were totally exhausted, and panting a request to the ticket guy for some english literature describing the place, he could only offer us Japanese....so we stuck with the guidebook.

Sorrentine Peninsula from the Villa Jovis
The tour itself was your standard "old pile of rocks tour", but we had to admit that Tiberius picked a pretty nice spot to spend his twilight years. The sheer drop down to the sea was a terrifying sight, and must have been even more terrifying if you were being thrown off those cliffs by Tiberius men. We also got some free tour-guiding care of an American college class that was there at the same time. They left the same time as we did, so we had to bob and weave our way through to get past them and back into the city of Capri.

We found the bus station and got in line for the bus to Anacapri, the other major city on the island. The bus ride was, uh, not AT ALL for the faint of heart. You're on this rickety old red bus going 40 miles an hour along a road carved into the side of thousand foot cliffs, with the dreaded vespas whizzing by, narrowly missing buses from the opposite direction by mere inches. And it was packed. Yeah...it was pretty awesome.

We got dumped off near the center of town, and took a nice pizza and pasta and beer and water lunch break. Lunch was a disappointment, and I'm sure Anne will kill us, but we tried to find a nice quaint place off the beaten path. Really we did. But all we found was a small church and some women doing laundry in a cute, but fairly empty square. And we were starving and tired from conquering the Villa Jovis, so back to the tourist area we went and sat outside and had our mediocre pasta.

But did I mention we sat outside? Yeah, not counting breakfast, we ate a total of THREE meals inside restaurants the WHOLE trip. It was 77 and sunny nearly every day and well into the evening. We even ate outside during a monsoon, but that is coming up...

Chairlift to the top of Capri
The guidebooks all mentioned a chair life ride to the top of the tallest peak on Capri, and now I am on it! Clutching my backpack to my chest I gaze back to see the two cigarette smoking guys guiding a nervous Lin-Wei onto her chair, and relax on the ten minute ride to the top. At the top we scurry off the chairs and take a short tour of the top of the mountain, gazing down at the Faraglione, across the sea to Sorrento, and to the ocean beyond. We snap the obligatory pictures, assist others in their obligatory pictures, and discuss hiking back down to Capri. Those in favor are crazy, and those against are not, so those against win, and we take the ski lift back down, and the bus back to Capri.

For those of you in the know, you are know wondering, "What about the Blue Grotto? What about the BLUE GROTTO, man?" The seas, however, are angry that day, like an old man returning soup at a deli. When the seas are calm you can take a small rowboat inside this sea cave, where the water glows blue from below as it is lit by the sun... sounds pretty awesome, eh? You even have to lay flat against the bottom of the boat as the boatman pulls you in cause the opening is so narrow... and therefore when the seas are choppy they close the Blue Grotto so you don't smash your brains all over the rocks. And of course the day we choose to visit Capri, the seas were too choppy for those tours.

But that didn't prevent us from taking a boat tour around the outside of the island. We hopped the next tour, and as we waiting in the boat to depart, hot college chicks were spotted getting on. And darn it if they didn't lay out in the open space in the bow, right in front of us. Lin-Wei was oblivious and was happy to pose in my pictures as we set out to sea... until she noticed how the camera was angled.

The tour, all internal boat sights aside, was fantastic. The tour guide brought the boat in and out of small grottoes, drove back and forth through the Faraglione, and often waved at the other boat tour guides as they rode by, making the international sign for "holy crap there are hot chicks in my boat" and pointing towards the bow.

After the ferry ride home we had dinner at a very nice restaurant called l'Antica Trattoria. Of course there was no one there at 7:30 but they still asked if we had a reservation. The food, however, was fabulous, the wine delicious, and the only weird thing that happened was after our meal he asked if we wanted to have a free dessert, on the house, but at a different table at the entrance to the restaurant. Not sure why we had to move, but the dessert was free.

Resting? Relaxing? Not on my watch!

Copyright (c) The Sticklers 2009