I am FORCING myself to stay awake long enough to log our voyage to Sorrento today. Mom and I have been up for 36 hours straight at this point – maybe longer, who knows – and we’re both knackered. It’s been quite an adventure.
The flight was about 8 hours…just long enough to make you think you’re gonna scream in another minute…but we hit the jackpot when our economy plus seating area turned up with TONS of extra seats. Mom and I each snagged empty double-seats near the windows over the wing, therefore getting to spread out a bit. Even in economy plus – an extra $100 or so each way – people our height are cramped. It drives me up the wall. Mom said the folks in “The Back” were just shoehorned in. Poor folks. (What made Mom’s flight was the fact that after she bought her FIRST bottle of gin, her second one was free.) =)
Anyway…got to the airport…found our bags…blah blah blah…got on train #1 of 3…managed to find Roma Termini Station and marveled at the heat, the lack of places to sit, and the staggering amount of cigarette smoke in the air. These Italians are totally unaware of the dangers of smoking. Blows me away, both the universality of it and the fact that they’re allowed to do it pretty much anywhere. Once we figured out how and where to catch the train to Napoli, we found a gelato stand…
…and the obsession begins. Mom got chocolate, I got some kind of berry sorbet. Oh. My. GOD. It’s every bit as amazing as people told me it was.
The train to Naples was pretty rough. Unbeknownst to us for half the 3-hour trip, we picked seats in a smoking car…amazingly, no one in our car actually smoked. We did get treated to some other interesting smells, though. And toilets on trains are AWFUL!! Seatless, lidless commodes full of TP and smoking cigarette butts. Pretty foul. And if we thought the poor guys in the back of the plane had no legroom…well, I’m sure a fair number of you have traveled on European trains where two seats face two seats with about a foot between them…where on earth are knees supposed to go? I tried to fake sleep when a woman approached to take the seat next to me, facing my mom…it didn’t work. I felt like a stinker, like the “ugly American,” but at this point, my body was saying it’s 3am and both of us were desperate for some sleep.
This probably sounds awful. It wasn’t. We managed to keep high spirits all day, and the countryside we’ve passed through has been beautiful. Mountains, seascapes, olive trees, funny tall trees that look like they belong in Africa, all kinds of buildings both new and old…it’s been pretty cool. Very much what I expected, I suppose. And hard to appreciate when you’re so overtired and you’re wrestling heavy bags on and off trains, up and down stairs, and trying to get along on NO native language whatsoever…but I think we both made a Herculean effort, and it worked.
So we get to Naples and the train station is a 9-minute blur in which we realized the train to Sorrento was leaving like FIVE SECONDS AGO and we were stuck in a line for tickets behind little old ladies, seven-foot-tall Bavarian hikers, and other slow-moving obstacles all conspiring to keep us in The Land of the Worst Pickpockets in the World (according to what we’ve been told). We barely made it through the system and onto the platform for the train to Sorrento…we were at the top of the line…
…and Sorrento was at the bottom of the line…THIRTY-FOUR STOPS LATER. Ha ha. I counted ’em. And didn’t believe the train would really stop at 34 stations. It totally did.
So we FINALLY get to Sorrento, and take a taxi to our hotel. It’s a friggin’ villa. Gated, pathway through lemon trees…the desk guy comes out to meet us, shakes our hands, introduces himself, takes our bags, leads us out onto the verandah overlooking the Bay of Naples and its glittering water and Vesuvius in the distance…seats us at a white table, tells us he’ll take care of our luggage, brings us lemonade on a tray with a sugar bowl…and as he’s bringing us two pieces of chocolate cake…
…he breaks the news to us that “there is a problem with our booking.” Uh oh.
Some chick dropped the ball on our reservations. Now that we’ve fallen in love with this hotel that appears to be everything the pictures showed it to be, we’re leaving…Elio is taking us himself in his own car to another hotel across town where we’ll have a room that’s just as nice in a hotel that’s just as nice. BUMMER, DUDE!!
It’s not quite. As. It’s not bad. There’s a pool…it’s WAY closer to the heart of town, which is good (the taxi ride to the first hotel was pricey), but we have no balcony, no terrace, no ocean view (which is one thing we wanted more than anything on this trip, a Sorrento room with a view of the bay), and a king-sized bed. SIIIIGH. Enh. Neither of us wants to be bitter on Day One, and we won’t be in the room much anyway, and it’s the same price and closer to where we need to be, so we tell the desk we need our king (really two twins pushed together) re-made into twins, and throw on our swimsuits and go for a dip. Restored, showered, refreshed, we head out into the early evening for dinner.
We found this great little place called Aurora Pizza on Tasso Square…very good pizza, can’t BELIEVE how much we ate. Wandering through town was amazing. The merchants were all bringing their wares out onto the sidewalks…kids on bikes, people everywhere, gelato stands everywhere you look, beautiful buildings and churches with breathtaking insides popping up when you least expect it…just great. We had Cup of Gelato #2 for DAY ONE…ain’t even ashamed of it…and wandered back towards the hotel through tiny little street markets strung with Italian flags overhead. For some reason, I couldn’t quite believe that my friend Trinity was not somewhere nearby in something drapey and diaphanous, musing over bangled sandals in a storefront window as she absentmindedly scrapes at her gelato cup…it just seemed like the perfect place for her to be.
And now we’re back at the hotel…and we’re both about to keel over…and Mom’s feet look like hamhocks…and as I peck away, she mumbles, “gelaaaaaaato….” =) It was a good first day.
Tomorrow – Pompeii. 4-hour tour. If we’re up for it, Capri in the afternoon. See you tomorrow!