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  • Day14

    Day 14 - Thu, May 2 - The Amalfi Coast

    May 2, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Before I tell you about today’s adventures, I have to tell you about Doug’s adventure last night. One of our travel mates came down with a gastro-intestinal virus when we were in Venice which laid her flat out. We are fortunate to have two nurses in our group. They agreed that Gatorade would be good for the patient. Doug went out last night on a hunt for Gatorade on a national holiday. He headed uphill and eventually found a little place that was open and he got the requisite medicine. But, in the dark, he missed the stairway that would take him back to the hotel. He got hopelessly lost. He asked for help from two young couples. Between Google Translate and their few words of English, Doug was able to relate his sad story. He didn’t know the name of the street for the hotel, and even worse, he didn’t know the name of the hotel! I was watching Netflix in bed when a message flashed on the screen from him asking for the name of the hotel. I scrambled to find it - there is nothing in the room that says the name of the hotel but I found it in the documentation we got from Great Tours of Italy - and sent it off to him. Then I started watching where his phone is using the “find my phone” technology. I was panicky as I watched him drift off the street he was supposed to be on but then, blessedly, he got back on it before I called out the troops. Turns out the young people took him to a parking lot so they could get their car (which is why I saw Doug moving off the main road…) and drove him to the door of the hotel, finding it all a great adventure that they had rescued a Canadian!! The Gatorade was delivered to the patient, who this morning, was looking and feeling much, much better. Must have been the Gatorade…..

    This hotel is sort of upside down. The lobby (street level) is on the third floor. The restaurant/breakfast room is on the second floor. Our rooms are on the first floor and there are rooms above the lobby floor. That’s how things go in a town where most of the buildings cling to the side of a cliff. All rooms look out over the water. We had breakfast in the hotel dining while enjoying the bright sunshine and the sight of dolphins dancing in the gorgeous blue water. We could have sat there all day watching the fishermen and the birds and the dolphins, but we had a 9:00 a.m. date with Simone. We headed off to Sorrento via the scenic route called the Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast is on the World Heritage List for its unique landscape, its natural beauty and its balance of human settlement with the dramatic topography of the coastline. Amalfi was once a distinguished maritime republic and trading power whose influence was felt in the Orient as well as the West.

    Doug and I have seen a lot of fabulous coastal scenery in our travels, but the scenery we saw today vaulted itself into first place for being the most dramatic and beautiful. Look at the first picture - it’s a map of where we went on the Sorrentine Peninsula. We twisted and turned, navigated tight switchbacks, went through tunnels, dodged crazy drivers, edged past tour buses, avoided the cars and scooters that are parked everywhere, and all the while, we all gawked at the incredible scenery. Steep mountains to our right; precipitous drops to our left; a rugged shoreline far below us; and azure blue water as far as the eye could see on a warm, sunny day. We passed through little villages with houses and tiny shops clinging right to the rock face. We saw precious parking spots cantilevered out over the edge. We saw grand villas, terraced vineyards, and cliffside lemon groves. This is where the lemons for the famous Limoncello liqueur are made. It was simply an incredible experience.

    Our first stop was in Maiori. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the waterfront and soaked up the glorious sunshine. From there, we went to Positano, passing through the town of Amalfi that gives this coastal area its name. Positano is a major ceramics centre. We went to a shop and learned how the ceramics are made and ogled the huge selection of brightly-coloured hand painted items. From Positano, we cut across the peninsula towards Sorrento. We stopped at a lovely little restaurant that Simone discovered by accident a few years ago and now uses for all of his tour groups. With beautiful panoramic views to feast our eyes on, we had a 5-course lunch along with wine and limoncello! Yikes! This good living is taking its toll…..I'm living at the gym starting Monday......

    Next stop - Sorrento - another town perched atop cliffs that separate the town from its busy (and expensive) marinas. We had some free time here. We easily found the main square, Piazza Tasso, which is lined with cafés. All around it is a warren of narrow alleys, one of which led us to a lookout point with a fabulous view of the beach and the marina. We finished our shopping - a little oil painting of Amalfi and Doug’s tie for Patrick’s wedding - finally!

    Another swoop-and-run and we headed home. Thankfully, there is a highway/tunnel system that cuts across the peninsula that took us home in half the time that the morning drive took. Doug’s constitution couldn’t have taken a second trip like that. (He has done fabulously well on this trip. Yippee!!!) On the way home, Doug and I both mused about how services such as fire, ambulance and police deal with the winding, narrow roads and the hordes of tourists. It’s not an area for the faint of heart….beautiful but challenging.

    Dinner was on our own tonight, so Doug and I climbed part way up the hill to a little pizzeria that Simone had pointed out this morning. We enjoyed a delicious pizza and a bottle of water - our cheapest meal by far, but one of the best.! We kept on going up and up and up and found a lot of stores still open after 8:00 p.m. We were on the hunt for chocolate (as if we hadn’t had enough to eat for one day….) but found only flowers, stationery, jewelry, clothing, ceramics, many cafés and lots of meat/fish/cheese stores. Some of these stores are smaller than our bedroom - we can’t figure out how they survive. We finally tracked down some chocolate which has fuelled this typing session. For future reference, the best selection of chocolate is at the rest stops along the highway.

    Tomorrow, the island of Capri is on the agenda. One of its best-known natural sights is the Blue Grotto, a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue, the result of sunlight passing through an underwater cave. However, it’s a two-hour ferry ride to get to Capri and another two-hour ride to get back. Doug’s motion sickness gets badly aggravated by the rocking/rolling motion of boats. No sense poking a snake with a stick when he has done so incredibly well. So, we are going to bypass Capri. (There must be YouTube videos of the grotto.) We’ll explore the lower part of the town and walk on the beach and enjoy a bit of downtime. On Saturday we head to Pompeii and then to Rome. We fly home on Sunday.

    It’s been another memorable day. Time for some Netflix watching.
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