Tag Archives: Sorrento

Capri

The sun was out first thing so we decided that we would brave the ferry to Capri. They seem to run a random service – one puff of a breeze 300 miles away and the hydrofoil stays in port – but the hotel reception checked and confirmed that they were sailing today.

We got there with 5 minutes to spare and got on board quite a decent catamaran for the 20 minute crossing.

25 minutes, and the catamaran would have had my breakfast on its carpet. The last time I was on a ferry that made me feel so ill was actually the hovercraft Princess Anne in 1979. That was a serious white-knuckle, gripping the armrest journey and this morning I was very close to letting the side down. Still, I just about managed to get there intact, but it took me a couple of hours to feel better.

We walked up to the town of Capri, on the cliffs above the port. There is usually a funicular railway to transport people up the (alleged) 750m, but it wasn’t working today. Instead they had a bus replacement that seriously didn’t appeal, especially when we saw the driving skills on offer… So we walked…

That took about 20 minutes and you knew you’d walked up a mountain by the time you got to the top. I can feel myself getting fitter by the minute this week. Capri town is a nice enough place. Not very big, we managed to walk just about every street. Full of shops that were closed, from Prada to Ferrari, and more fancy sunglasses shops than seems really necessary. In fact, every Italian town down here seems to be obsessed with sunglasses. Have they never heard of mobile phone shops?

Had a decent enough cappuccino in the square in very warm sunshine and then eventually walked back down to the port where we had a light lunch in one of the quayside pavement cafés. For good or ill, I had decided by this time that a beer and a panini might be a good idea prior to the journey back to the mainland. We now have a friend for life in the waitress and are welcome to use her toilet anytime we like, apparently, which is worth bearing in mind. Drop my name if ever you are passing…

We caught the normal ferry back instead of the hydrofoil. Half an hour late, it was amazing to see them load and unload lorries on a quay no bigger than that at Lyme Regis, and once on board the thing was absolutely filthy. For a place that has apartments at €1m+, Capri has some serious transport problems.

Now, it’s the last night of the holiday. Looking forward to Friday and picking up an award, with a bit of luck, and then some serious removal tasks on Sunday when back at home.

If you have ever wondered what Capri looks like, wonder no more.

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Sorrento carnivale

I think I’ve worked out what’s going on now.

It’s Mardi Gras. The town has a half day holiday. The kids get dressed up as Superman, Zorro, the devil or a princess, as do some of the adults. They have actors on stilts.

They close off the town square and throw confetti at each other. They blow up huge balloons and chase each other about the street in a massive inflatable translucent cube. There’s a green snake involved somewhere too, but that might be a caterpillar.

At the end, they inflate more huge, long, thin balloons from which more confetti spews forth.

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OK. So I haven’t worked out what’s going on, but I’m sure that Freud would have something to say.

Lent begins tomorrow.

Amalfi coast

The weather looked a bit iffy, so decided to take the bus down to Amalfi and stop off at Positano on the way back. An hour and a half each way with a return fare of under a fiver and some of the most spectacular views anywhere, on the way. We had thought about hiring a car to do the trip, but having taken advice before hand, in think that the bus was definitely the better option.

The road is narrow at the best of times and less than single lane at the worst. Our bus met another in a small village and it was touch and go for a while – literally.

Amalfi is a pretty small city, with a beautiful duomo and a fabulous coffee/pastry shop next door. Frequented by bus loads of Chinese tourists who just seem to want to use the loo, rather than eat pastries, the coffee, canolli and lemon cake were the best we have had this trip. Mind you, at €20, they should be.

With the mixed weather today, we headed back via Positano, a nice seaside resort town. It’s out of season at the moment, so half of it is closed, but it’s easy to see how busy it might get in the summer. It’s a bit like Portmerion, but with real buildings and people.

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The bus journey got me thinking about “living every day is if it’s your last”. Again. I was thinking that the use of the bus could be seen as a dry run for hiring a car and driving the road myself, but realised that I would probably never come back this way again. Life is not a rehearsal, so they say, and a little bit of me wishes that I’d been braver, found that Arbarth 500 for hire, and just driven down there myself. Yes, I’d have to have been careful on the corners in the villages. Yes, I will have seen much more of the scenery from the bus window as opposed to behind the wheel. But… Oh well, I will just have to drive it in that parallel universe, or that other life.

Back in Sorrento and the sun is out. It’s Mardi Gras today and part of the town is closed to traffic and there is some kind of kids’ festival today where they all dress up as devils, or cartoon and fairy tale characters in readiness for not being able to do so during Lent, presumably.

Rather than surmise, let’s go and find out…

Oh, and most of this fountain works…

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Another excellent conference plus news of beanos.

I attended a conference jointly organised by the Leukaemia CARE and Lymphoma Association charities in Liverpool yesterday. Judging by the number of hands that were raised, there were more Lymphoma-ists there than Leukaemia folk, but I’m sure they won’t mind.

As at the previous conferences that I have attended (although I’ve not been to one of these joint ones before), the speakers were all absolutely first class, especially the specialist nurse from The Christie who gave a presentation on stem cell transplants. I will definitely go again next year.

Heading into another busy week now. Not only do we have the annual office strategy conference this week, but next weekend will be the Leica Forum Annual Beano, The One Challenge. We are heading to the home of Leica in Wetzlar, Germany, this year, but due to the aforementioned company do, we can’t fly out until the morning of the Challenge itself on Saturday. This doesn’t give us the usual opportunity of sussing out the location on the day before, but I am sure we will manage to scrape together something on the day.

We are using the Challenge as an excuse to take a few days in southern Germany and do a bit of touring around. I haven’t been to that part of Germany before (apart from on a visit to a glass factory on the Austrian border a few years ago, which doesn’t count). Our trip takes in the Bavarian Alps, Lake Constance and Baden-Baden, so this should be interesting. Lots to do before then though…

Determined to put my good fortune to good use, we have also decided on our now habitual “first week in March jaunt”. On the recommendation of a friend, we have decided to head to Sorrento for a few days and take a trip out to Pompeii (and Herculaneum, if the time allows). We have to fly into Naples, but have no desire to visit the city, so we will take a transfer bus directly from the airport to Sorrento. Will also try to hire a car for the day and drive down the Amalfi Coast road – one of the best drives in Europe, apparently – and maybe take a ferry to Capri for the day. Could be a busy week if we try to pack too much in, so will have to think about that carefully.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how very reasonable the hotel costs (a decent one according to Trip Advisor) and the BA flight from Gatwick was cheaper than the Easyjet one. Even the hotel we use at the airport, where we leave the car too, is charging about £20 less than they did last time. All very odd, but welcome.

I might even get to take some photographs – that would be a novelty…