Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Travel Days the way home:

When planning this trip we knew we had to take different modes of transport and we have done them all: taxi, airplane, bus, ferry, and finally the railroad. Rome to Salerno was by train and today we did the bus to Salerno and the train t Rome. A contrast in travel. The bus from Amalfi to Salerno was interesting, A twenty-two kilometre road trip took an hour and a quarter. This was because we travelled on the famous Coast Road. Never a straight piece longer than fifty metres and plenty of bends. One can only pass in certain places and the road is usually only wide enough for two small cars. 

Riding the rail here is fast, we took the fast train not the bullet train but we still arived in Rome in just over two hours, and we never did have to fight for seats. Back in Rome we travelled to the overnight by Metro and the Regional Rail. Not knowing where the connection was at the connecting station we asked, "Out the door and two hundred metres on the right." Leading us to another metro station one wondered why no underground connection. But that's Rome where building subways is always held up by the diggers finding ruins that have to be excavated first. Finally in the hotel - another three room hotel in what might have been the former Olympic Village.

Outside at 5am, the taxi was waiting and took us to the Terminal 3. We had agreed on a price of twenty-five euros when we booked it, obviously the driver was laughing all the way to the bank - the fare on the meter was twenty! Easing our way through the security lines was made easy by the abundance of booths and the lack of travellers. The layover in LHR was spent in a coffee booth and idling on the free wifi. The only knock against the organisation of this trip and its multiple legs was the last piece - getting on the plane at LHR. British Airways's setup for boarding was pathetic, no lines just everybody fighting to get in line.

A day in Positano:

Positano is about thirty minutes away from Amalfi by ferry. Embarking at 1030, we had the choice of return times, we chose to come back at 1530, so five hours to kill.

Positano is much like Amalfi except that the alley ways are the only way to get around as the main road only goes through the Town and is not a shopping thoroughfare. The difference here is that there are a number of Art Galleries and jewellry sellers - more than Amalfi. The buildings in the Town were much brighter than Amalfi - the painters must come round more often in Positano.

Returning on a smaller ferry, it is easy to see why ferry accidents can kill so many - every seat on this boat was taken, but sitting outside was not uncomfortable or cold, a very pleasant return journey. Takeaway was supper this night.

The beach is much larger and more established, and cost 12.50 euros a day to visit. Here we did find some clothing to buy - tee shirt for me and a top for Doreen; prices higher than normal but it appears to be top quality and worth it. Walking along the beach alley, which wound upward we came across a restaurant hanging on the cliff - stopped in had a Calzone Pizza and beverages - good food and good prices.

A day in Amalfi:

Yesterday Capri, today a day off in Amalfi. Our hotel is steps away from the main square and a stone's throw from the main street. Most of the stores and booths are on the main street, which winds up the hill. Not looking foranything in particular we just browsed, all of the usual souvenir stuff, very little Amalfi clothing but plenty of Lemon related products - juice, distilled drinks and tons of ceramic trinkets.

Amalfi is famous for the lemons grown on the massive, and old, terraces, Limoncello is the standard local drink and it is very sweet and lemony. the liquer is just as sweet but with a bite. The other claims to fame in Amalfi are the Cathedral and Museum and the Paper Museum. Amalfi used to be the main source of quality paper in the Middle Ages and there is a Museum dedicated to the industry. It was closed on both occasions we dropped by but the Cathedral is always open. Obviously a 'working' Cathedral the day we visited we came across a Wedding in progress. The next day, as we were on the way to Positani we came across a funeral.

We ate twice in Amalfi this day and lunch was a pizza and supper was at a restaurant that served the same menu as the others but was a couple of Euros cheaper than others. The Fish and Beef were excellent. Prices are higher in this art of Italy than we expected and the cover charge was definitely not expected, but the mandatory service charge makes tipping easy - you don't!

The Cloister, Crypt and Museum costs three Euro to enter and it was well worth it. There are valuable artifacts on display and the remains of St Andrew are interred under the altar in the crypt.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Isle of Capri, a place of contrasts - tourists and film stars.  We never saw the film stars but tourists packed the place.
On the ferry at 0815 and sat for ninety minutes on a ferry.The trip out took twenty minutes longer than coming back because the Captain detoured to show us the Grotto Blanco and to sail through Lo Arco. Most impressive and saved us an eighteen euro boat ride, if taken from Capri. We arrived at 1000hrs and we had until 1650 to amuse ourselves.
Didn't do much - strolled around the Town, after riding the funicular to get to the Town, wandered through the really skinny lanes and paths and window-shopped at the high-end fashion stores, that probably cater to the filmstars. We did people watch at times and each time we were hit with a cover charge, the first time this charge has been so blatent. The practise of adding service charges to the meal is also prevalent - so the waiters only get a 12% tip instead of the usual 15-20%. But considering there are a lot of people who don't examine the bill and tip anyway the waiters are still ahead. We did a lunch too but it was pricey 50 Euro ($75cdn).

The sights to see on Capri - Tiberius's Villa, the vineyards and the Town of Anacapri we left alone. We did take a short bus ride, just to see how crooked the roads were. Climbing for fifteen minutes showed us how windy they are and we congratulated ourselves for not driving. Back to the Grande Marina and more sitting and another cover charge until the ferry arrived. Nothing against Germans but they do have a well deserved reputation for being bad tourists - pushy and loud. There were at least three tours of these people who placed themselves at the front of the line of people trying to get on the ferry and jostled their way onto it. No patience I guess. Luckily they were on the ferry that left before us and we didn't have to get involved. A short trip to the Isle to say we went and see what all the fuss is about - we did it, enjoyed and came back to Amalfi.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Salerno and Amalfi:

Two and a half hours on the train thirty minutes on the ferry and we have arrived - in Amalfi. The hotel room isn't as posh as last night's but has a balcony that overlooks the seafront. Looked around this small Town and like all of these Towns is a mix of old and new. Old streets and passageways and new merchandise for the tourists. The tourists are in constant supply, being ferried in on highway buses. The restaurants here impose a cover charge, that means no tip but they don't seem to care.

The roads here are a challenge even for the locals and as we noticed on a bus trip to Revello, twenty minutes up the hill, even the locals seem to be intimidated by them. As we are not driving who cares. But they had better be clear on Sunday morning, we have a train to catch. An indication of the roads - the bus takes ninety minutes to travel 22 KMs to Salerno!

Back into the Town tonight - a distance of about two hundred metres and four floors down, you definitely do not need a cab in this Town.

At the hotel Easyrome. One of the things about Roman hotels is that small ones are located on different floors of big buildings. It is not unusual to have many hotels in the same place - just on different floors. This hotel is only three rooms, great rooms, and very modern and clean. Wonderful place well deserving of the Traveladvisor 9.5.

So after the smallest breakfast of the trip we will walk to the Termini and get the train to Salerno, 2.5 hours later we will be on the ferry to Amalfi and if all goes to plan we will be at the hotel by 2pm.

stay tuned

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A tale of the airlines

Well OK only one - BritishAirways. Travelling on BA revealed two things - the chintzyish way the airline nickels and dimes the customers for legroom and the selfishness of certain passengers. The first issue leads to the second one. If you have limited space, because an airline wants to cram in a couple more seats in a 300 seat fuselage, it only takes a certain type of jerk to stick the back of a seat in your face - which leads to air-rage.

After two flights, two airports and a ton of walking we arrived at the Rome airport. Intending to walk to the train that connects the airport with the City Terminus we were waylaid by a tout pushing a shuttle. "The train cost fifteen euros each, I can deliver you to your hotel for thirty-five". One look at our tired faces and the thought of finding the hotel after finding the train and we capitulated. The good thing about the drive was that as the tout drove around looking for the other passengers' hotels we did get to see a lot of what we saw on the last trip to Rome.

Practising the walk to the station for tomorrow morning, we do not want to miss our train, we came across the usual inviting sidewalk cafe - we stopped for a couple of paninis and beverages, I can report that the Peroni beer still tastes as good a ever.

Tomorrow the trip to the Amalfi.