23rd April 15 – Left Acquafredda bright and early to head to the Amalfi Coast. Dave, Maggie and Ray headed to Rome, where we will meet them there in a couple of days. We will be in contact re our digs, but Dave assures us he has it in hand.
What a wonderful day, and such spectacular scenery along the Amalfi Coast. One unexpected find was a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at Salerno. As always it was meticulously kept and had more beautiful wisteria. There are 1850 soldiers from the 2nd world war buried here, 107 of whom are unidentified.. ‘known only unto God’. There are also ten Australians buried here, however with so many graves, we were unable to locate them. These men all fell in the September of 1943 during the landings around Salerno, and the fighting that followed. This site was chosen in the November of that same year.The winding roads and low rock walls made for more spectacular viewing, and we were not disappointed. The sea so blue, the cliffs so high and rugged. It is amazing they way they have built houses, hotels etc on sheer rock faces, with gates that look like they go to no where, yet go down the cliff.
Amalfi is noted for lemons.. They are planted all along the steep coast. The sides of the coast have been terraced in every available spot. There are literally thousands of trees, mostly canopied with black sun shade material. Again the wisteria is every where, adding more again to this experience and delighting all the senses.
We stopped at Amalfi to get some stickers and found the bestest ice-cream shop. They also sold fresh fruit, so we were very good and purchased a big juicy apple and a kiwi fruit. What ‘no ice-creams’ I hear you say… Not likely… They ‘just happened’ to also deliver 2 huge ice creams to our table, which of course we felt ‘duty bound’ to eat! The ice-cream here is just scrumptious, so creamy and so many varieties. The waterfront in Amalfi is a buzzing place… So many people (and this is not peak season), sooo many bikes / scooters, and so many buses. There are areas for the buses and parking and this is strictly controlled. We know this very well, cause we were asked to move off from one spot. Took some lovely pics on the water, and headed off towards Sorrento, where we planned to stay the night.
Along the way, we had stopped to take another photo at another fabulous spot. There was as stall there, loaded with fresh fruit that was there for the squeezing. So…. We had a cup or two of fresh orange juice. Met a young couple on holiday from Warsaw, and well we got chatting and
exchanged addresses. Hopefully we can catch up with them over the winter. They think us rather crazy to be going there to spend a winter!!!!!
Arrived in Sorrento at around 7pm, somewhat later than we had planned, however we had stopped so many times to take photos, that we ran very late. Looked around for a hotel, with not much joy. Found one that looked a bit swish to say the least, but we were tired, so it was looking good. Went in to be told that it was €160, without a sea view! Went back to Span, and after much discussion, we decided to stay there because it had a lock up garage under the hotel. We planned to go out to the Isle of Capri tomorrow, so if we could leave the bike in the garage all day, we considered it value added, as parking prices near the waterfront were at a premium. Back in I goes, and with a pathetic look on my face, asked if €160 was the best they could do. He just smiled broadly and said …. ‘For you Madame… €140, with breakfast…..and we will upgrade you to a sea view! Our new best friend! It was also no problem leaving the bike there all day tomorrow. Well back out I goes, to Span with a huge grin on my face.
The Hotel Continental was supposed to be 5 star….. It was more like 10 star, it was just so beautiful. We walked in like a pair of scraggamuffins in our bike gear, into this very swanky hotel, and were made to feel like royalty.. So professional.. So very nice and happy people. The concierge said ‘my friend will show you to the garage, and then bring you back here with your luggage’. After helping us put the bike in the garage, ‘my friend’ had a wee friendly giggle, as he grabbed our Australia bags and headed to the smallest lift ever – it was very squeezy. Up to the lobby we go, and there is a young lass, waiting at another lift with our passports and room key, ready to escort us to our room, while ‘my friend’ took another lift with our luggage. Once at our room, the young lass showed us how to operate the TV, the remote windows etc.,etc. Wow this was just lovely. ‘My friend’ arrived with the bags and with bigs smiles they both left… No lingering for a tip.. Very classy.
Time now for a walk into the town. Came across St Francis church, that has a Dominican convent and Franciscan monastery attached to it. A wedding had just happened, and of course Span photo bombed one of their photos.. shame we do not have a copy! Went inside to light a candle for the boys, and low and behold, there was an organist and clarinetist playing … Such wonderful acoustics, so we just sat for a wee while and listened. Bought a pair of olive wood rosary beads for Will for his 1st communion – they were made by the Franciscan monks and Dominican nuns . The knots are the same as on the monks rope belts…. Hope Wills likes them, and more importantly that we don’t forget where we put them, while waiting for his First Communion… It’s only a couple of years away!!!!!! Asked the priest to bless them for me and he just smiled saying everything in the shop is already blessed by 3 Franciscan priests… Guess they do mass blessings, so they do it in threes! Had a lovely tea of bread (of course), with bruschetta 3 kinds, tomato, salmon and a mixed one. Span had carbonara (his favourite) and I had the sea bass, all washed down with a lovely red, then a short walk back to the hotel to pack the bags for the morning, in readiness for a big day.
24th April – Up around 7.30 – took the bags down to the bike in the luxurious locked garage. Up in the tiny lift again .. Did I mention that these are the tiniest lifts we have ever seen– 3 to 4 people only, and slim ones at that, for breakfast.
WOW …. just does not cut it!!! What a spectacular buffet it was… Annnnnnd topped off with a bottle if Moët in an ice bucket for self service as well!! Joey has died and gone to heaven! Suppose you think it was too early for such lovely champagne.. Ha.. Ha.. think again! We were introduced to the breakfast, and well the pictures can tell the rest.
25th April – Caught a ferry across to the Isle of Capri, and we were not disappointed. It was €59 euro each, which included catching another smaller boat to cruise around the island. We were keen to see the renowned blue grotto. Boarded the smaller boat, and it was not long before we arrived at the blue grotto.
There were boats everywhere! Waited about half an hour for a five minute boat ride into the grotto, but it was worth it. It cost €13 each to go into the grotto plus an ‘asked for tip’ by to the boatman, who told us with the straightest of faces, that he does not get paid and survives only on most generous tips .. Yah right! We gave him €4 anyway.
To get into the Blue grotto, we had to lie down in the little boat to go through the cave entrance. The boat men all laughed and sang as they effortlessly paddled us around. Unfortunately it was not at its best as it needs bright sun to reflect the blue inside, and today was a bit overcast (suggest you google it to see it at its best). It was a wonderful experience none the less. Inside the grotto, the boatman showed us the steps down to the cave that where used by the emperor Tiberius, in the Roman era, to come down to the grotto to bathe.
We saw so many caves (the romantic in me says smugglers caves) on the cliffs, and also caves with stalactites and stalagmites; the water so blue, despite it being an overcast day. The coast is so very rugged, and we saw goats running and fighting up the mountain side…..They don’t call them mountain goats for nothing!!!!!!
Met a mum and daughter from Florence on the boat, they were good fun, particularly when the boat started to rock n roll, and we took some great pics together, and of each other. They have invited us to call them when we get to Florence next year.
Once back on terra firma, after circumnavigating the island, we were off to the cable car to ride up to the top of Capri.. €1.80 pp each way. Lovely gardens and views from the top. The best wisteria we have ever seen and this was capped by the most spectacularly magnificent winding roadway down to the sea. We arrived back at Sorrento at around 4.30pm. Caught the lift that goes up inside the mountain (now that was a unique experience), to take the short walk back to the hotel to pick up the bike an our gear. ‘My friend’ was on duty again, and he helped us down to the garage with our luggage. When we indicated we needed to get changed into our bike gear, he just giggled, made sure we knew how to open the roller door and waved us goodbye. It was about 5pm when we headed off to Rome to catch up with Dave, Maggie and Ray… about a four and a half hour ride, after an already long day. Arrived there at around 9.30pm… our longest day yet!