Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sorrento - Capri - Ana Capri

Rising at ridiculous o’clock again, we scoffed a wee bit of breakfast and awaited our pickup for said tour.  At first we thought the driving in Sorrento was crazy with its tight, winding, cliff-faced two-way roads (we were gravely mistaken), when we arrived at the pier after collecting two other parties for today’s adventure.
We were met by Sandero, a shuffle old gent with glasses and funny hat who branded us with stickers bearing his name and number and then led us onboard a massive catamaran half an hour later when the rest of the group had arrived.

Opting for the only window seat left for the trip over, we were soon corralled in by a family from Switzerland who broke into conversation with us shortly afterwards and had a good old chat with them about travels and what not until we made Capri’s Marina Grande.
Quickly from boat to bus, we all squeezed into a tiny 20seater van and headed up the mountain to our first port-of-call; Ana Capri.

Sweet Lords of Kobol, what a trek!  With the luxury of hindsight, we both regretted not thinking to film the whole adventure. It was intense!  At times, I was a mere 2 inches from other buses and vans passing us the other way, and I was INSIDE the cabin.  We all were laughing and cursing and shaking our heads in disbelief at what was simply taken as a day at work for our driver.  I am lost for words as to describe this in rightful detail – it was extraordinary.

At the top of the island, 1100ft above sea-level, we made Ana Capri and immediately had the option to take a sky-lift up to a peak that gave 360 degree views of Capri, Sorrento, Naples, Vesuvius and even parts of the Amalfi coast.

So we jumped at the chance.  And then discovered it was not a safe, secure, pod or cabin – no.
But single chairs.
Dangling from a cable.
Disappearing sharply up a mountain side and beyond view.

Back to the Nesh

As Al put it we made our way to the very top of Ana Capri and it was an amazing experience … single seat chairs awaited us as we climbed the stairs to the sky life staging area we hopped on and then made our way up the 10-15 minute climb our legs dangling not too far from the ground on the way up but still a hefty enough fall as if we did fall we would have severely hurt ourselves nonetheless.

But it was all worth it when we crested the top (well we thought was the top) we were greeted by yet another steeper incline than what we were already on. But we did eventually reach the summit and we where rewarded with sweeping 360 degree views of the island, also the steep drop off to the ocean below thundering every so quietly as we could barely hear it. We took the tourists shots and continued to awe at the spectacle below.
We then made our way back down to the town/village of Ana Capri Alan said it best … That was the most unique morning I have ever experienced and he was absolutely right.

We then met up with our crusty old tour guide and then went for a walk with him … which was a pointless exercise in the end because the thing he was going to show us her ended up not showing us … I know that makes little sense but I can’t even remember what he was supposed to show us.

But we had a spot of lunch and then headed back down to Capri … we did a little walking tour around Capri and took some more amazing shots … then were offered a choice of walking around Capri for a while or …. Catching a boat around the island and seeing the island from the seas … Alan and I jumped at the unique opportunity.

So within and hour we found ourselves on  a boat cruising around the island, and here we were in beautiful blue oceans with a completely different perspective … and I can say it was worth every penny or Euro in this case our boat captain was the most talented skipper I had ever seen … taking us precariously close the cliffs of the island and then continued to shock us by negotiating the amazing currents and taking us through seaborne arches and again getting the heart running off the treadmill.

As we continued to power around the island we saw some amazing houses nestled on the cliff faces and even in them. The options people with money have.

As we saw the familiar shore of the dock we came in at I breathed a sigh of disappointment … thinking the tour was over I was … but how wrong I was.
I felt something run through my hair thinking it was a bug or something a fellow tourist and let fly I brushed my hair only to find fishing line running through my hair ?!?!? A split second later the skipper comes over the PA he has been talking on and states we are going to catch some fish !!!

I laughed loudly and a fellow British tourist looked at me and smiled “only in Italy

We then proceeded to start looking at the 2 lines that had been put in the water intently expecting a bite very quickly in the blue abyss below us where no other boats currently were fishing in … Then a bite !!! A beautiful silver 30 cm fish comes flying out of the water … to which the deck hand screams at the captain to slow down, the captain obliges and the deck hand pull the captured fish on the deck of the boat … all the tourists came running (me included) to get a pic of the fine specimen that had flopped onto the deck.
Wow they had caught a fish and then the boat turned around again we were going to catch more … in the end the boat did 4 – 5 laps of the same area over the school of fish they had found 6 fish lost their lives that day … and we eventually made it back to the docks with all our fingers and toes … despite hooks flying over the tops and near our heads.

We made it back to dock in time for us to board our ferry back to Sorrento.
Mind you with our crusty old guide telling us to move to the front of the quite sizable line … stating “I do not do queues”

We made it back to Sorrento the old Best Western and settled in after a rather full day, but nonetheless we had a exciting night of the Laundromat since we were running low on clothes … So we did our washing with some friendly help from the locals to help us decipher the languages written and then found the store next door to the Laundromat sold wonderfully cheap beer, much to Alan’s enjoyment …
We then decided on some food takeaway back to the hotel which ended up being some Four Seasons Pizza and a Curry Risotto yummm going choices by Alan.

Trek to Barcelona

Today we woke up late due to the fact Italy had a time change … we knew about it … however we did not expect Alan’s phone to auto change the time. But we did a quick change we had luckily packed the night before so we were ready headed downstairs and caught the shuttle bus too the bus terminal in order to catch the bus to Napoli Airport … after the clenched fists and constant vigilance of the local train to Sorrento we decided against that course of action this time.

We got to Napoli Airport with all our bits and hopped on our flight to Barcelona … which ironically is when Alan and I started writing the section of the blog aver 5 pages ago LOL

But here I am on the plane home … LHR – DXB so I though I would finish off the rest of this blog ….

So we arrived in Barcelona airport and waited for our luggage … and waited … and waited … apparently Vueling like to make it’s passenger wait 30 or so odd minutes for their baggage … so I suggested for Alan to make his way outside and see if he could find our driver and keep in there J

Eventually the bags came out and I met up with Al and our driver and we made out way into La Rambla … Got to our room and we both had a massive grin on our faces ….

The one hotel where we only spend a night and barely 2 days had we got the following creature comforts …

-          ironing board and iron
-          A big room
-          Decent size TV that allows us to change inputs
-          A kitchen with
o       Pots and pans
o       Toaster
o       Fridge with ice trays
o       Dishwasher
o       Plates, cutlery, glasses
o       Stove
-          All the trimmings to allow us to cook and look after ourselves …
But in any case we went for a walk up and down La Rambla watched some buskers and then ended up at a Tapas Restaurant … Alan’s first time and my second neither of us was disappointed … the tastiest food !!!

We made our way back to the hotel for some rest & relaxation.

In the morning we decided yet another HoHo bus to keep with tradition … and then some lunch … more HoHo and back to the hotel to start packing for our flight back to Heathrow.

We did do more in Barcelona … but nothing to write home about.

We hop on our British Airways flight back to London … and lovely Cabin Crew names Alison (I think) hooked us up with a few JW Back and then we settled in for the 2 hour flight … we reached Heathrow in record time … well actually could have been that time disappeared while we were hooking into our scotch.
We walked into the customs area where Alan and his wonderful ears overheard a lady mentioning something about a tube strike on her phone …

Oh gawd was the main reaction we had made plans for London … we were just cursed …

But we made it to Kensington Rooms … and things just got more interesting … the rooms just got smaller and smaller in London … Alan scoffed at the motto of the hotel … “Space to be yourself”
Where exactly we supposed to do that … the lobby perhaps …

We did a hot turnaround and headed straight back out the door … for we had to find a train that was still working … we were in luck we managed to find some trains still working … so our date with Bruce was still in play … YAY

RED was awesome by the way …. Lotsa fun was had. Then we walked out of the movie only to find all tube stations were now gated … we were transportless, So we walked the 2.5 odd miles back to the hotel …after a hour we made it back … all while musing that we felt safer next to a dark park at 11pm in London … than we did the entirety of Europe.

We made it back and crashed out …

I woke up in the morning to Alan cursing at his phone … annoyed that all the plans we had made had disappeared like a fart in a fan factory … the tube strikes were going to stuff everything up.
But in any case we still managed to see “The Social Network” and drink a Costa Coffee … Walked back to the hotel where we got comfortable for 45 mins till my pick up arrived …

30 mins later a man dressed in a suit announced here was there to pick me up. Bugger ….

So I asked him to wait 15 minutes while Alan and I did some goodbyes and muse a little about the trip … and we parted ways …

I now sit on my plane midnight in London, 4 am in Dubai

I have to admit despite all that has happened this trip has been memorable something I will never forget as Alan said when we were saying our goodbyes this is a trip we can both talk about years from now and hopefully just laugh.

Alan will be reading this … so champ thanks for keep me company on my epic holiday, it was awesome having you along for the adventure.

For all of you who have been reading thanks for reading I hope we haven’t bored you too much …

I will probably do a now home blog back in Aus but for now bye from International Skies

Last Day Roma to Sorrento

Alan with the Crowe
Last day in Roma, with our imminent movements to Sorrento (via Naples) weighing heavily on our minds, our last morning was spent moderately eventless... a late rise, packed the room, scoffed some breakfast upstairs and then checked out – where we headed to one of my favourite sites in Rome; Piazza de Venezia and the monumental building constructed for the first King of United Italy (King; 1851, site completed; 1911) and later incorporating The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Similar in wow-factor as its twin in France (Arch de Triomphe), this colossal white-marble building dwarfs everything near by.  With her inviting multi-levels of cascading stairs guarded by three massive bronze statues we climbed as high as we could by foot, and then scaled to the top level by lift.  And like Paris, Nice, Monaco, and Venice before hand; we were gifted by a stunning 360degree view of Rome.

View from our hotel balcony in Sorrento
Behind us stood a unique angle of the Forum and ruins, along with the Colosseum in the back ground. Before us was a birds eye view of the chaotic Venezian plaza, a lane-less roundabout that is always abuzz with numerous vehicles swerving around each other with gay abandon (a spectacle only surpassed by, ironically enough, the Arch de Triomphe and her 12 points of approach) that has to be seen to be believed and in the distance, the imposing done of St Peter’s Cathedral – the largest Christian church in the world.

Opting for a final coffee to wrap up our Roman experience, we headed back to a cafĂ© we’d already enjoyed the Nectar of the Gods at a few days earlier that I had discovered with the parents when here in Sept.  On recognising us, we were greeted by the owner like old friends, shaking our hands warming and imploring us to sit wherever we pleased.  Feeling adventurous, the following espresso went down a treat especially being sipped in view of the ancient arena down the street.  But, alas, we had to make our move.

And again ...
After the beautiful Concierge lady I fell in love with helped me repair a torn 50EUR note with tape (imagine a brunette/Italian Meg Ryan… sigh) our private car couriered us to the Roma Termini – and the craziness it contains – with a good 80mins to spare.

Once on the Eurostar, we made quick friends with a lovely Canadian couple when Nesh coated said gent by opening an overly excited bottle of Coke upon him and our table. Once dry, conversations rolled easily, with laughter and hilarity abounding. I may even have a contact for when in the land of maple and snow in 2012, which is awesome.

Naples, the danger-zone.  After the incidents of Paris and Venice, we were on high alert is this much warned about area. Making our way from Eurostar to local trains was an effort in itself, with the knowledge the metro-lines being ‘beneath’ the main terminal but all lifts being out of action.  Eventually, we found ourselves where we needed to be and when we needed to be there.
And then the ‘train’ pulled in; something that would have looked archaic in the New York subway in a 70s movie, but we boarded nonetheless and stood for the 90minute-30stop trek to Sorrento, unwilling to step away from our bags, conversation limited to a few bellows at each other over the incredible carriage noise until we reached the safety of solid earth.

View from the docks
And we were lost again. Sorrento was one of the only places (originally) we were never able to have ‘pre-organised’ transport from arrival to hotel… we had to wing it today.  A friendly cab driver ended up assisting us, quoting he’d charge no more than 20EUR to get us to our hotel, if the meter ended lower; we’d pay lower.  Most excellent.
Reaching the Best Western La Solara, I went in expecting a ‘no-frills’ environment.
I now eat my words.
Random pic of cars
This BW has to be one of, it not, the best hotel we’ve stayed at on this trip; awesome 
concierge service, free wifi in the room (that worked!), free bottle of wine, awesome view, quality breakfast (though we didn’t get to attack it as planned), and English TV (even if we were forced to watch GI Joe… twice) plus a free BW shuttle bus service to/fro Sorrento central for it was a little out of town.  Kudos!

Knowing we had us a big Saturday ahead touring Capri/Ana Capri, a night in was had, sponging of said net access and free wine and enjoying the perks of a place of safety.