Day 32: Capri

Plans changed again, we decided today to go to Capri, a famous resort island just off the Amalfi coast.

Leaving around 9 we headed back to Sorrento to catch a ferry to Capri. We were told the fare was about 8 euros, which meaning round trip was a bit expensive but definitely affordable. To try to save costs me bought some fruits, drinks, and stuff for simple sandwiches (bread, cheese, salami), before heading to the train station.

On our way we got lost (even though we walked this way back to the hostel just the evening before), and had to backtrack like 15 minutes before getting to the station.

Arriving at Sorrento we went straight to the port to buy our tickets, but to our shock the ticket seller said they were 25 euros each way. The man working there claimed that this was the only company going to Capri, and that the prices had been like this for years. He was incredibly rude, and told us in a very condescending tone that we had made a mistake. We told him we had been told by the tourist office in Pompeii, and he says they must have old information, we told him it was from a recent newspaper that they had found the prices, and he told us it must be a foreign news paper. He told us there were two ways to get to Carpi, their ferry, or to swim, he told us he could point the direction if we wanted to swim. Fuming we left, but as we were leaving we asked a doorman at a restaurant near by if that was true, and he said there was another company that did cost 8 euros, but only had ferries 4 times a day, the next one being more than 3 hours later at 2:30. We decided to have lunch find a local beach to relax at.

The heat can be really suppressive, and makes even little walks seem quite tiring, but after a bit of a break and some food, we got going again and found a nicer beach than the one we had been at the day before. There were still bits of garbage floating around in places(like wrappers) but not much, and the water was more more clear. We spent most of the time sitting on the beach though just doing nothing. Oh how doing nothing feels good. This feels like the essence of Summer, sitting on a beach with nice company with hot hot weather, doing nothing.

After a bit we went in for a dip, but decided that we should probably get some food before the ferry left and got out to go back to town. Its hard to find cheap food in Sorrento because its very upscale, but we managed to find a cafeteria style place and got an assortment of things. I had a personal size pizza in a local “rustic” style with no tomato sauce and a rice ball with tomatoes thats been breaded in a way I haven’t seen before. I have to say Italian Cuisine is much more than what we find in restaurants over here, and its really very good and accessible. In many of the countries I’ve visited before they’re so homogenized with the rest of the world it can be difficult to have regional cuisine, but this is not the case in Italy.

Back down at the ferry dock we bought our tickets and sat in the waiting room for our ferry. Just before we were to get up and head out, the Canadian group we met before showed up. Apparently they had done the hike up to Mt. Vesuvius and had wanted to do something else for the day, so they were going to see if they could go to Capri for a few hours. They had impeccable timing. I have to say though I would rather have done what we did instead of gone for that hike. The heat is just so wearing, and with the volcano being asleep for now, and it costing 11 euros for the bus ride and entrance to the park… sitting on the beach sounds like a whole lot more fun to me.

The ferry to Capri is really pretty quick, you arrive after only 25 minutes, I think Capri must be less than half the distance Catalina is from Long Beach. My first impression of Capri was that it reminded me strongly of a Mediterranean take on Catalina and Avalon. The island’s cliffs are quite steep and plunge down into the sea. The town is in a small valley going down to the water, and is filled with tourists and tight winding roads. The scenery is just stunning. We get dropped off in the middle of town and look around for a place to go swimming. The best beach we are told is on the far side of the island and we need to bus, but we only have a little over 3 hours here, so we have to find one locally. The main beach appears completely filled with beach chairs and umbrellas. It looked at first as though we would need to pay 8 euros for a deck chair, but we noticed a small path that was supposed to be for a hotel, we figured they wouldn’t be checking our room numbers or anything so we walked down and found a patch on the small pebbly beach. After putting on a bit of sunscreen it was time for some real swimming! The water was nice, not all that warm, but still more so than Huntington Beach. It was refreshing, though very packed, I don’t mind though, most nice beaches are packed, even HB as long as it is would be nearly as packed this time of year thanks to its status as a place to go these days.

We must have swam for an hour and a half before getting a bit cold and decided to get out and walk around town for a bit before the ferry came to take us back to the main land. I wanted to go up into the hills, but really there was no time, so we had to stick to the touristy beach front. I felt like having some gelato, and we went around looking. The first place we found turned out to be the cheapest, two scoops for 2.50. By no means cheap. At some of the more upscale places a large gelato sundae costs as much as 9 euros if you can imagine. Again we found ourselves up against another rude Italian. I think there might be a lot of animosity towards tourists, and as much as I would rather think of myself as a traveler or as we differentiate ourselves as backpackers, we’re really just a different flavor of tourist, a flavor with no money to spend without consideration. This guy got so confrontation with us, as we were leaving he asked “what do you expect? Free ice cream?!” I wanted to go back and yell at him, it seemed like the right thing to do, but I figured it was better to just let it slide, I had better things to do with my time then tell off some asshole. Eventually I got my ice cream at the first place we found and we walked up some of the roads close to the ferry stop, going up some back alleys and walkways. It really seems like a nice place to live, though I’m sure its even more expensive than Catalina.

Time was up however and we had to go board our ferry. We didn’t see the Canadians anywhere, and figured they must have taken the ferry to Naples an hour later for more time, which would actually have been very nice. Back in Sorrento however we ran into them again, and exchanged stories about what we had done. We all headed back to the train station. Along the way I ducked into a grocery store I saw was selling clothes in the hopes of finding a cheap towel, and sure enough I found one for 6 euros. I’ve needed one of these for a while, and I wish I had bought one as far back as Madrid, but with Greece coming up, I really couldn’t put it off.

We got to the train station and didn’t see the Canadians, we thought they might have gotten lost, and I felt a bit bad because if I hadn’t stopped they wouldn’t have any trouble, but as it turns out I worried too much. When we arrived in Pompeii they were there too, so we walked back to the hostel together. I had expected when I got back to Pompeii there would have been room, but apparently they had already filled up by the morning. I had to find a new place to sleep for the night. I went down to an internet point to try to find a hotel, but the only one with room listed in booking.com was way out of the city two train stops down, or a **** one in town for 130 euros… Not good options. On a side note while I was at the internet point I met a guy from Mexico also backpacking and it turns out he was leaving in the morning for Bari to head down to Greece, so we decided to meet up the next morning and head down together. I went back to the hostel and asked if there were any others in town, I was told no. I asked the Canadians for suggestions and they said that there were camping grounds with rooms. I asked the guy at the desk and he said sometimes, and I was able to get him to call ahead for me to see. He was not pleased with me one bit. He lectured me on how I should make bookings, but I couldn’t explain that if I had, I probably would have a booking for a ferry in Bari which I would have missed. I guess thats only part true in that I would have been more concerned about it and not gone to Capri if I had already spent that money. After my time in Budapest I’m even more worried about making plans ahead of time. He told me they had an opening so I started walking the long walk out to the camp grounds just outside of town, I decided to stop in at * and ** hotels on my way, and the first one I came across was looking to fill a room that went for 70 euros usually, and offered me 45. I took it since that would put me almost at my budget for the day, but $8 under, I was t ired and needed a good night’s sleep anyway.

I had promised Rachael that I would use my laptop to burn a disk with the photos she took so she could empty her full memory card, so I went back to the hostel after a shower, and found she had gone out for dinner and drinks with the Canadians. The Mexican fellow I had met earlier was there, and we chatted it up for a couple hours before we decided it was time to go back to our respective rooms and sleep.

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