Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Amalfi Coast.

My last stop in Italy was in hands down, the most beautiful area yet. At least -- in my opinion -- it just took the cake. Plus, it was exactly where I needed to be to come down from the crazy Rome high.

I made it to the train station fairly late at night since I had to connect in Naples and take a local train out to the smaller towns where I'd be staying for 5 nights. Although it was pitch black, it seemed charming and the hostel was by far the nicest one I encountered on my trip-- and the same price as everywhere else.

Really, this place shouldn't have even been called a hostel-- it was fully equipped with a lounge/bar/restaurant that was basically transformed into a club when necessary. The food was actually decent and cheap and the breakfast was free. The staff was full of the most sincere people I had met and I got the feeling that they actually wanted to be there. There was a rooftop balcony-- actually, a few of them stacked on top of each other. Sure, I had to share my room with about 11 other people, but it was immaculately clean and the bunks were actually built into the walls-- an extreme luxury from what I had been used to! I even had a little bedside table to put my crap in. AND, the elevator actually worked.

Since I hadn't seen Sorrento or any of the nearby cities in daylight, I went running the first morning to get my bearings. I'll never forget that run, simply because after every 6th of a mile or so, I was getting more and more blown away by the beauty, charm, friendliness, and tasteful architecture this place had. I automatically thought; If I live in one place in Italy, it will be here. Absolutely.

There were little outdoor markets lining the streets, all the locals were so cheerful and friendly, and just happy to be there. Well, I get it. They live in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. And it's hard to lose sight of the ocean when you're in any of the towns along the Amalfi. And the water's unbelievable translucent pale green color that has the ability to capture my mind's attention for what seems like forever. It's just not what I am used to on the Florida beaches, which have their own wonderful features, but this was just different.

I spent my 5 days there, wandering the streets of Sorrento, eating freshly caught seafood, and riding motorbikes along the Amalfi coastline with two friends who lived in my room. They were Jarn, a "Kiwi" or New Zealander and Magdelana, a Chilean girl who was traveling for 9 months -- half of which she would be spending volunteering with children in Africa.

We split the cost and got two bikes. With my track record behind the wheel of any sort of motorized vehicle, I figured it would be a good idea for me to ride with Jarn, who seemed to know what he was doing. Magdelana, on the other hand, basically lied to the renter guy and said she knew how to drive one. She pretty much taught herself, which was great, but this meant Jarn and I were always about 50 miles ahead of her!

Anyways, that is a picture I will have in my mind for as long as I live-- spending a day cruising along the Amalfi coast-- hopping from city to city-- Amalfi, Positano, Ravello-- and stopping wherever we pleased to take photos, talk, and just relax in the natural beauty which surrounded us. That day was surreal.

I spent the rest of the time mostly by myself-- took a ferry to the island of Capri, which was obviously pretty, like the rest of them, but much more "upscale," you might say. I was honestly a little disappointed when I spotted a Prada store after taking the long but beautiful hike to the top, where the actual town was located. I took a quick glance in some of the shops and quickly realized this was a place for mostly Americans who had so much money they didn't know what to do with it. There were stores full of nothing but designer everything. That's all fine, but not really what you call authentic! So, I just got a beer and watched the sunset over the water-- really can't complain anymore about that one.

I thought about taking a day trip to Naples, but changed my mind after I heard one girl's horror story. This girl and her boyfriend were staying in my room, and they had just spent a few days in Naples. They were walking down the street around 9 p.m., and some dude rides by on his motorbike and yanks the strap of her purse (which is going across her torso), pulling her along with him across the pavement. Eventually, I guess the guy gave up and she was fine-- left with a few bruises and scratches, and well--obviously horrified. I decided it would be a wise choice to stay away from there- especially as a female traveling alone.

I've gotten lucky with this type of stuff I think-- knock on wood. There has not been one time where I have felt unsafe or in danger of anything. It may have something to do with me knowing I have to be alert and conscious of my surroundings at all time-- and I must take care of myself. I think any female can travel the world if she knows how to do that.

So my plan was to go to Pompeii one day... Figured I'd catch the train and spend a half-day there exploring. Funny thing I learned quickly about public transportation in Italy (especially in smaller towns)-- and many countries in Europe in general-- They really don't need much of a reason, if any, to just shut down for a day or two. Once I got to the train station, I learned that the trains were just not running that day-- for apparently-- a reason that no one knew of or even really cared about at all. And, buses were not running either because there were "large boulders" in the middle of the road. Let me just say, I saw these "boulders," and they were more like big rocks that I could move with my own two hands.

I was bummed a little I couldn't get to Pompeii. However, I really didn't mind this carelessness in transportation-- I actually appreciated it. It is so drastically different from America's stick-up-everyone's-ass mentality, and quite frankly, it was refreshing. People are less obsessed with plans and constantly having to go somewhere everyday at a certain time. Some may call it lazy. In my opinion, it's a much better way to live-- learning to go with the flow and realizing that things just aren't going to happen the way you necessarily thought they would, and usually for the better.

That day, I ended up just wandering around and allowing myself to get lost-- no time constraints of a train, no agenda, just being. And, to me that is when traveling is really becomes the most fun, and the most transforming.

Leaving Italy was sad for me because I was actually become somewhat conversational with my Italian and I really had developed a strong love and respect for the entire culture. It is such a beautiful place and I will cherish the time I spent there forever. I know I will be back one day.

Onto Spain!

No comments:

Post a Comment