“Scusi! Can we take a left, here?” – Matera, Italia – 13 ottobre 2105

Travel day!

When I was a teenager, my dad, younger sister, family friends and I went on a multi-day raft trip down the Green River in northwestern Colorado.  We had to completely unload the boat every night – and, re-load it every morning.  (Camping was anything but light back then.)  After that trip my dad would mutter ‘load the boat,  unload the boat’ when doing mundane chores.

That’s how I feel about checking out of hotels.  My backpack was stuffed to the gills!  I didn’t think it could hold another thing.  Then, Antonio offered us a bottle of wine (Greco di Fuco) as a peace offering for the reservation conflict on the first night.  (By the way, this regional wine is delicious and inexpensive.)  I can’t believe I’m carrying wine across Italy again.  During my last trip to Italy I carried a bottle of Orvieto Classico from Orvieto to Cinque Terre.  So tempting to open it and pour in into my colored water bottle!

We really enjoyed our stay here.  I think the only downside was the poor internet connection.  For the fiscally-interested, my half of the hotel bill for the three night stay was  €240/$282 USD, which included the 10% IVA.  (At this point in the trip  €1 = USD 1.17)  For whatever reason, my main credit card couldn’t be processed.  That’s why you bring a back up or two!

Since the start of planning this trip, I knew getting from Positano to Matera was going to be challenging without a car.  Most of the advice was to return to Napoli and take a bus to Matera.  Or, take a train from Napoli to Bari and then a train from Bari to Matera.  I didn’t want to do either.

So, here’s what happened…

First, we took the 10 a.m. ferry from Positano to Salerno ( €12,00).

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There’s Amy pretending not to be nervous about getting on another ferry.

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Everyone except me and a man and his two kids went on deck.  I wanted to check out the cabin.

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Man overboard!  No, just bringing up the anchor.

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I sat with this family.  The kids were singing – the dad was a happy camper.

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We got a sea view of the towns along the Amalfi Coast.  This is the comune of Amalfi.

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Eeek!

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Salerno, our stop.

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Tired babe…

 

With the help of one sign, and friendly locals, we made our way to the train station.  And, then the most fortunate event occurred.  A Trenitalia employee was actually standing at the self-service machines assisting travelers!  It was a good thing because she informed us our train to Taranto was actually a bus!  We bought our tickets ( €12,90 each) at 11:31.  The bus was leaving at 11:35 and we found ourselves running to another unmarked bus stop.  Holy hell…

The bus was nice and comfortable.  (FYI, there wasn’t a bathroom on the bus and the stops along the route were too short for a break.  Yep, so no restrooms from about 9 a.m. to 15:30.)

The ride was really interesting – a lot of hill towns in the distance, vineyards, fruit trees, olive trees…  I’ve never seen a large herd of livestock in Italy – or a feedlot!  The largest herd I saw today was about 100 goats.

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Which hill town is that?!

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I also had this view.  I loved the curly-Q!

 

Amy and I were totally baffled about why we weren’t on a different bus heading north by now – instead of continuing eastward only to double back.  I tried to research it afterwards, but, finding on-line bus schedules is like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.  Supposedly, there are shuttles from Ferrandina to Matera, but, even when I found the website, I couldn’t find a shuttle timetable.  No lo so…

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Our longest stop – 5 minutes.

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Our inefficient route…

 

We arrived at the Taranto train station, on a bus, at about 15:30.  The next step was to bus it to Matera.  We knew our bus was leaving at 16:30 – and, it was the last bus to Matera.  Of course, the bus we were taking wasn’t leaving from this train station.

We asked a Trenitalia agent how to get to the nearest bus station.  He said he didn’t know.  Ya.  Right.  Jerk.  A man on the street gave us directions (to Porto Mercantile).

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It seems like bus centers are almost always in less than desirable areas.

 

We asked a woman in this bigletteria if we could buy our tickets here.  She said no, but, we could buy them on the bus (SITA Sud bus).

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This made me laugh.  If you have a question just pull up to the bus on your scooter and ask away!

 

I started getting an uneasy feeling about not having tickets.  I asked the woman again – just to make sure there wasn’t a ‘lost in translation’ problem.  I got the same reply.

Our bus finally arrived.  Well, guess what?  We couldn’t buy tickets on the bus!  We had to buy them from a tabacchi (€4,60).  My Italian temper was heating up.  This bus is ready to leave and we have to find an open tabacchi!  We just started moving swiftly down the street trying to find an open business at this time of day.  We found a place close by, bought tickets from a woman who is more computer-challenged than me and hauled ass back toward the bus.  I kind of feel badly, but, not really, for stopping into the bigletteria and sniping, “Grazie per niente!”  Karma will get me for that…

The ride to Matera was great.  Instead of looking at the towns from a distance, we went through them.  I had been taking photos along the way.  When the sun went down, I set my camera on my daypack – next to me.  I remember thinking, “I hope I don’t forget that camera when I get off the bus.  It’s kind of hard to see.”

We arrived at Piazza Moro at about 18:20.  We had no idea how to get to our B&B, but some women in a nearby office got a taxi for us – and, are we glad they did!  Because that’s how we met Luigi!

We are staying at Donna Eleonora Bed & Breakfast.  I was a little concerned about the location when we arrived.  As it turns out it is perfectly located – easy access to the sassi!  This B&B has three guest rooms, a cozy breakfast area and a small office area.  Amy and I were the only guests for the evening.  I had the room nearest to the entrance (Guerricchio).  Amy was down the a hall – an empty room was between us.  I loved my room!  Our hosts asked us when we wanted breakfast.  (How nice is that?)

I can’t wait to explore the sassi in this gorgeous city, tomorrow!

Perpetual Beauty – Positano, Italia – 12 ottobre 2015

Too much of a good thing?!  I think not!  Another gorgeous day with no agenda.  Here are some photos and a funny story or two…

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There are more boats out today – the water is calm.

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I wouldn’t object to sitting on the balcony all day, except I might miss something.

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You don’t have to be able to read Italian to understand this sign.

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This kitty isn’t worried about missing anything.

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Hot fun in the sun!

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We’ve made our way to the docks.  A woman after my own heart – a cat at her feet and a kitten in her palm.

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We’re walking north along the coast…

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I wish I could do this at a moment’s notice.

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The local wildlife.

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We have arrived at Spiaggia di Fornillo.

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The beach was quiet.  I’m sure it’s a different scene in the summer!

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These rocks were difficult to navigate barefoot.

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We had a snack and drinks at Pupetto’s.  This is grilled mozzarella on lemon leaves.

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On the walk back to Spiaggia Grande, the water sparkled like diamonds.  It was impossible to for me to photograph, but, I will long remember it.

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Helping the baby up the hill.

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Freaky cloud – reminded me of a trophozoite.

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When shadows are better than the real thing…

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Loving laundry

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I had to lean against the opposite wall so I wouldn’t fall over when I looked up!

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I waved when this Fiat drove by.  The passenger shot up out of the sun roof and waved back.  Ha!

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Donald Duck and the Italian flag.  What did you expect?

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I like use of the vertical space for pots!

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These steps just needed a little TLC.

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Look down – lots of stairs.  Look out – big views.

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Initially, the barking dog got my attention.  But, the sign still baffles me.

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“I’ll get to you when I get to you.”

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I wish I had more than one step leading to my house!

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The Three Sisters

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A break, a snack and a drink…

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Almost lost our rear ends getting this photo – had to negotiate a narrow road with speeding cars and scooters.  We’re getting good at it!

 

We had dinner at Ristorante Max.  We sat on the back patio – it was lovely.  It was a bit fancier than I expected – and, with fancy comes inflated prices.  That’s just the practical side of me coming out.  Same fish – same ocean…

The couples on either side of us offered menu suggestions.  A couple from Texas, celebrating their anniversary, offered us life advice as well.  Some weird 80/20 rule.  (You bring home 100% of the money.  I’ll spend 80% of it and give you 20% of my time.  Something like that.  Some people are not my kind of people.)  When they left some ”Valley” girls were seated at the table – we think they were sisters.  In no time at all, they were quarreling and left in a hurry.  Sheesh.  Lighten up folks!  You’re in beautiful Italy!

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Tonight we pack – read ‘stuff still damp clothes and heavy bags of sea glass into backpacks’.  Tomorrow, we travel inland – not an easy feat in il mezzogiorno when you don’t have a car.  We had a lengthy discussion about renting a car, but, decided not to.  We’ll see how that turns out.

Picture Perfect – Positano, Italia – 11 ottobre 2015

While Amy enjoyed a 4-star breakfast, I extended my 4-star rest.  Ahhh…

Antonio, from Albergo California, is picking us up at 10 a.m.  While waiting outside, I watched a man across the street deal with a woman patron.  When she left, he made a hand gesture to the concierge at our temporary hotel.  He put his palms together as if praying  and shook them up and down.  I’ll have to find out what that’s all about!

When Antonio arrived, I asked him about the hand gesture.  He seemed hesitant to answer.  I think he thought someone made that gesture after an encounter with us.  He told us it meant ‘patience’.  Hmmm…I don’t know about that.

We finally made it to our beautiful hotel – room #60.  Remember the movie ”Under the Tuscan Sun”?  Part of that was filmed in room #62.

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Room #60

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Let’s talk about photography.  You could put your camera upside down and behind your back  and take a great photo in Positano.  You could set the timer, throw your camera up into the air and take a great photo (provided you catch the camera).  You could hand your camera to a toddler, let them play with the buttons, and take a great photo.

The rain slowed, then stopped.  The clouds cleared.  The sun shone.  The light changed constantly.  What a magical day!

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Why are fruits and vegetables more appealing when they are displayed outdoors?

 

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An inviting outdoor ristorante!

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Sea glass!  Because you can never carry too many rocks across Italy!

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There was a lot of green sea glass.

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This photo makes me laugh.  It looks like Amy and this man are playing leap frog!

 

I commented to Amy that picking up sea glass was addicting. This young woman overheard – and, agreed.  This is a necklace she made with sea glass.  A few moments after we went our separate ways, she called to me – and, handed me a large piece of glass.  The kindness of strangers…what a sweetie!

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Oh, is it time for lunch?  How about this ristorante on Spiaggia Grande?

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Ohhh, Antonio -yes, another Antonio!  First, we had the bad jokes. Amy asks where the restrooms are and he points to the ocean. We watched him repeatedly hands a plate to guests and tell them it’s a mushroom omelette – regardless of what it is.  He checked out every woman that walked into the restaurant and pointed out his favorites to the other waiters. Mamma mia!

Oh, and I don’t think that guy is picking his nose.  I think it’s another hand gesture I haven’t deciphered.

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Il mio pranzo…(my lunch). Penne pasta, eggplant, mozzarella

 

Good looking man, right?  His name is Gianfranco Russo.  Chez Black is his family’s restaurant.  Come to find out – he’s an actor!  http://gianfrancorusso.com/

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Gianfranco Russo

 

Back to kicking it through Positano…

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Maybe she’s been walking all day too?

 

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If we had drug disposal containers like this in the U.S., they would never make it intact through the night. 

 

We also noticed outdoor dispensing machines – which included beer!

 

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And, now it’s time for dinner!

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Ristorante Bar Bruno

 

So, back to the hand gesture…  From what I can tell this gesture is called Mani Giunte (clasped hands).  It is used to express disbelief or exasperation – the ”Mother of God” gesture.    This could come in handy!

Hope you enjoyed today’s walkabout!

Rolling with the Punches – Ischia to Positano – 10 ottobre 2015

It’s a travel day.  It’s pouring rain.  A trend is emerging.

Getting from the island of Ischia to Positano, on the Amalfi coast, could be uncomplicated, but what’s the fun in that?!  Our plan was to take a ferry to Capri and then a ferry to Positano.  We wanted as few transfers as possible because of luggage – and, we traveled light (one 46L backpack and a daypack each).

Well, Mother Nature demanded a little attention and said, “Oh no, ladies!  I’m not letting you off that easy!  Punt!”

The hydrofoil to Capri was cancelled.  Only the large ferries were sailing.  And, they were only sailing to Napoli.  So, we were going to have to do what we didn’t want to do – ferry to Napoli, taxi to Piazza Garibaldi (the scene of the crime!), train to Sorrento, and, lastly, a bus to Positano.  Ugh!

We bought our ferry ticket (17,60 euros) at Ischia Porto and were fortunate to find a sheltered place to sit and wait for the 11:45 ferry.  We thought these seats were across from where the ferry would dock.  But, no.  So, that put as at the back of the line, in the rain, waiting to board.  Oh well, last on, first off.

To say the sea was rough is an understatement.  The ferry would ride to the top of a swell and then crash down.  My travel partner turned white (well, lighter than her fair-skinned self) and starting digging for a zip lock bag in her pack.  She wasn’t the only affected person.   Fortunately, I wasn’t one of them – and, secretly thought it was kind of fun, like an amusement ride.  An Italian man on the other side of me kept saying ole’ every time the ferry jumped the sea hurdles.  He was also singing a comforting little tune (for others).  Very nice of him.  Everyone was relieved to see the shore – and, about that time one of the ferry employees starting passing out barf bags.  A little too late, sir…

When we got off the ferry, Amy turned to me and said, “No more boats!”  Eight minutes later, we were on another ferry to Sorrento!  As it turned out, the 13:00 ferry from Napoli to Sorrento was indeed sailing (12,30 euros), and, we made the very quick decision to avoid the planned taxi and train.  Amy took one for the team.  Thankfully, it was a much smoother ride without incident.  Amy confessed she was thinking about the mechanism of  vomiting on the first ferry.  Ha!

We hauled our backpacks from the shore – up!  And, up!  And, up!  We finally arrived at the stazione (train and bus station).  We bought our SITA bus tickets (1,80 euros each) and, again, found it less than obvious to find the bus stops.  There were two, and, we chose the wrong one.  Hey we had a 50/50 chance!  We enjoyed the beautiful ride to Positano (those poor drivers – it’s a bitch of a drive in a bus).

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We got to our hotel,  Albergo California, looking like drowned water rats, only to find out there was a problem with our reservation for the first night of the three night stay.  I was not happy.  I had made that reservation almost 10 months ago on booking.com.  And, I had called the hotel during our travels to find out where to get off the bus – they didn’t mention a problem then. 

Antonio, at Albergo California, had arranged for us to stay the first night at a 4 star hotel – Hotel Poseidon.  He drove us himself.  (The main reason I was disgruntled was because our bags were soaked.  I really wanted to hang things out to dry – not leave them festering in a bag for another night.  Oh, well.  We are here and it is nice to be here after a long travel day.)

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You climb these few stairs and step through the window to access the balcony.  (Room #45)

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The balcony was huge!  Too bad it was pouring rain.  I might never have left!

This is a 4 star bathroom.  That’s a lot of white on a lot of green!

 

We decided to get a light lunch at Caffè Positano – you know, to hold us over until dinner!

 

Oh, look!  It’s time for dinner (cena) already!  And, dinner was wonderful!  We ate at da Vincenzo Positano.  Marcella, Vincenzo’s wife, took our drink order.  We told her we wanted to practice the language and asked if she would humor us by speaking only in Italiano.  A few minutes later, a young waiter (geez, they’re all adorable) came to our table and started speaking English. He said to us, “Tell me everything!”  Marcella asked him to speak Italiano to us. And, of course, he did. At one point, what seemed like a mild hurricane blew through and caused a huge ruckus with the outdoor portion of the restaurant, but, they quickly got their act together. Great place if you’re ever here!  Super family!

da Vincenzo Positano

Dimmi!”

 

Tomorrow’s a new day – may the sun shine brightly!

 

Playing Dirty – Ischia, Italia – 9 ottobre 2015

Shall I start this post with a rant or end with one?  Let’s just get it over with.  I almost always have problems with buses in Italia!  Buying a ticket during normal business hours isn’t a problem – you can get them at most tabacchi.  But, if you’re traveling early or late, or have to make a quick and spectacular transfer, you had better remember to buy them in advance because you can’t always buy them on the bus .  And, finding the bus stops is another matter.  The stop might be marked – it might not.  And, why can’t schedules be posted somewhere?  Anywhere?

I would consider this the ‘off’ season.  Yet, the buses on this island are stuffed.  People are pushed, pulled, packed, poked and groped.  I feel sorry for the very senior citizens.  The only good thing is they can’t fall down – there isn’t room.  Heaven forbid should you try to travel with luggage.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to do that.  But, I felt like I was doing some new funky dance – trying to avoid being guillotined by the door at every stop.

You’re required to validate your ticket in a stamping machine when you board.  What a joke.  The person holding onto the machine for dear life is the unsuspecting schmuck that ends up validating all the tickets passed to him or her.  I would love to see the driver check for validation stamps. Ha!

Ok, that’s all for now.  There will be more later…

Once we got on the right bus…

…we were dropped off near Porto di S. Angelo on the southwest portion of the island.  It’s very breezy and chilly, today.  There were great views walking to this very small town.

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It wasn’t raining cats and dogs, but, we saw cats and dogs!  And, Italians don’t use that expression anyway.  They say, “Piovere a catinelle”.  It rains from washbasins.

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Look at this cutie pie!

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And, this dog was sleeping!

 

We learned that Porto di S. Angelo was hosting the first annual outdoor apnea championship!  Yep!  How long can you hold your breath underwater outdoors?

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Ummm…yes, this contestant took our breath away.  We win!

 

So, you might be wondering what we’re doing in this sleepy little town.  Well, we’re headed to the natural hot springs at the Baia di Sorgeto.  The waters are supposedly therapeutic.  And, there’s the volcanic mud!  We finally found a small boat to transport us to the bay.

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The view of Porto di S. Angelo from the water.

 

After a short ride we arrived at the bay.  Oh, this is going to be fun – and, there are very few people!  Basically, this is a small rocky beach in a cove.  There is a small restaurant is in the center of the beach.  There is a woman’s and a man’s changing room and a bathroom to one side of the restaurant.  The thermal waters are on the other side.

We changed in the men’s room (gosh, woman take sooo long!) and walked the narrow path to the springs.  The rocks adjacent to the springs were really slick – and, really hot!  It’s safest to enter the water from the plank.  The water was wonderful.  Steaming hot riverlets fed the ocean.  If the water was too hot or too cold, you just had to move a few inches.  It was so peaceful sitting in the water and looking out to the sea.

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Io (me)

 

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Amy (the fair-skinned Irish girl)

 

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The fish and crabs were kind enough to share their habitat with us.

 

I think this guy was the self-appointed caretaker.  It appeared he lived, or, at a minimum, spent a great deal of time in a cave at the water’s edge.  He was helpful to the visitors (no fee, by the way), played easy rock on his radio and cooked his dinner (weanies in a foil pack, eggs and potatoes) in the riverlets.  He believes in the mud!

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As more people came, more people gave up the ghost and just changed out in the open.  We were ready to leave, but, waited because there were a lot of naked bodies hovering over our bags.  Scusi!

Instead of taking the boat back to Porto S. Angelo, we took the stairs to the overlook – always stairs.

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My new friend waving goodbye…

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We walked.  And, walked.  And, walked.  Finally, a town.  Panza Forio?  Thank goodness for photo ops along the way.  I needed to catch my breath.

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Enter a caption

 

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Let me in!

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Chill bro…

 

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Stay away!

 

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Let’s quit pretending there are sidewalks!

We finally found a bus stop and went to Casamicciola.  I had the worst meal of my trip here.  And, at this outdoor café, some poor dog in heat was being hounded (pardon the pun) by an unwanted suitor.  Both dogs were in terrible condition.  It’s so hard to see – and, so preventable.  Ugh!  We morphed into sardines and took another bus from Casamicciola to the road leading to our hotel.

We had intended to go to Castello Aragonese, today, too, but ran out of time.

So, we agreed that while Ischia has some gems, if we had to do it over, we would stay in Napoli and just take a ferry over for the day.  Unless, you just want to stay in your beautiful hotel and enjoy the pool and spa!  There was enough grime, smell, traffic and poor public transportation to prevent it from ranking higher in our books.  (Since the trip, I read that sewage goes directly into the sea.  I haven’t told Amy that news, yet.  Gulp.)

We leave for Positano, tomorrow.  The weather is supposed to be nasty.  It should be interesting!

Back to the buses…I would like to say one positive thing about the buses.  His name is Giovanni.  We met him the day we arrived at Ischia.  He was helping people get on and off the buses – another self-appointed ambassador.  We ran into him again, today, at a bus stop.  He was all smiles, hugs and kisses.  He gave us each a rose.  Grazie mille, Giovanni.  Sei molto simpatico!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going where our feet take us – Ischia, Italia – 8 ottobre 2015

 

The plan for today is simple.  We are going to walk from our hotel on the northeast portion of the island to the northwest portion of the island.  Our destination is Giardini La Mortella – created in 1958.  We had our swimming suits and umbrellas with us.  Prepared for anything, right?

Ischia map

Hmmm…8.7 km one way.  We didn’t know that before we started.  It’s OK.  We’re on island time!

 

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An all too common sight in Italia.

 

Amy and I stopped to take photos when we had unobstructed views of the sea.  While we were stopped, a nicely dressed man on a yellow scooter (and, the required helmet) beeped and waved to us.  Who was that?  No lo so.

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A few minutes later, the same man on the scooter, now going the other way, beeped and waved.  We finally realized it was Antonio from the hotel!

 

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Does this mean no sprinkles on your gelato?

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Pretty worn doors – with a hole just begging for a look.  Ick!  That wasn’t a good idea.

 

I had to practically beg Amy to go down this little side street.  They are what I most love.  She relented.

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A couple of these people were sitting outside enjoying the day.  I asked if I could take their picture.  So, they went into the house and brought out the rest of the family!  We walked by another home – the door to the house led directly into the kitchen.  A senior woman was sautéing garlic – it was hard not to follow my nose right into her kitchen!

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Il Fungo off the coast of Ischia’s smallest town – Lacco Ameno.

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Morning chat.

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This will be me someday – fishing in a no-fishing area.

 

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I like the mosaic tiled risers.

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A pink bicycle duo – dresses up any alleyway.

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Let me repeat myself.  I love Italy in October!

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Moms walk their kids to and from school in this little town.

 

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We asked the proprietor of a store for a restaurant recommendation.  She directed us across the street – it was her family’s place.  And, it was delicious! (Ristorante Il Delfino)  I had pasta with olive oil, chilies and huge hunks of garlic.  I will never finely mince by garlic again!  Yes, that is an Italian/English dictionary on the table.  I don’t have an app for that…

 

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Lest you think it wasn’t beach weather.  That’s the only reason I took this photo!

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Yep, we’re starting the climb.

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Well, it’s hard to believe we got lost on what seemed like the only road.  But, daylight was burning and we wanted time to see the gardens so we grabbed a ‘taxi’.  It dropped us off about 500 yards down the road.  So close but yet so far.

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Finalmente!  The entrance fee was 12 euros.  The gardens were beautiful – as anticipated.  There were a lot of stairs, but, of course with stairs come views.  Too bad there wasn’t a concert tonight!  If you want to read more follow this link – http://www.lamortella.org/en/.

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These lily pads had about an 18″diameter!

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These beat the heck out of my black umbrella!

 

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Here a cat…

 

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Indoor concert area…

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Outdoor concert area…

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Now, that we knew the not so elusive way, we began our return walk back to the hotel.  The narrow roads were challenging on curves – for us, not the vehicles.  Move it or lose it!

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Very cool house.  Are those Bronco colors?!

 

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…there a cat.

 

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The sun was starting to set as we trudged up the hill to our hotel.

 

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A pit stop?

 

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Antonio’s scooter.  While I was taking photos he offered Amy a ride.

Well, it was a lot of walking, but well worth it.  Tomorrow?  Thermal baths and a fort?  Buona notte!

Fire in the Trees – Ischia, Italia – 7 Ottobre 2015

After becoming acquainted with Porto Ischia, we headed back up the hill toward the hotel.  We rounded a switchback to see this spectacular sight.  Ok, this is why we walk so much…

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Ahhh…

We decided to have dinner at the hotel.  The menu for the evening looked great.  It was at this time that we met Antonio – the ruler of the dining room.  No request was too small or impossible.  That’s something I’m not used to!  He was easy on the eyes, too.

I’m sure tomorrow will be a big walking day.  Time for a good night’s rest.

Vitamin Sea – Ischia, Italia – 7 ottobre 2015

Oh, Napoli!  You threw down the ‘love me or hate me’ gauntlet.  I only got a nibble of the carrot dangled before me.  I want more!  I fell for you hook, line and sinker.  I’m not ready to leave you – or, your wonderful people.  But, leave you I must.  Well, kind of…

We’re headed to Ischia, today (yes, by-passing the every popular sister, Capri).  It’s one of the islands in the Golfo di Napoli – supposedly less crowded and less expensive.

We said our goodbyes to Pino at check out.  I’m surprised I didn’t cry.   He was so kind and helpful to us during our stay at Hotel Toledo.  And, not in the ‘I have to be nice to my customers’ kind of way.  But, because he is a genuinely kind man.  Ciao, il mio amico!

We took a taxi to Porto Beverello.  On the way to the port, there was some interaction between our driver and a motorcycle cop at a traffic signal.  The driver looked very nervous.  I think he was allowed to drop us off, but, had the deal with the police afterwards.  Hope it went well…

We bought our Alilauro hydrofoil ticket (17,60 euros) and set sail at 10:50.  This is exciting stuff for the land-locked Colorado women!

We arrived at Ischia Porto after an uneventful ride.  Uneventful is good when you are on the water and can’t swim well…

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A complimentary van transported us to our hotel – Grifo Hotel Charme & Spa.  Amy and I are sharing a beautiful superior double room with a sea view.  My half for 3 nights, including a 10% VAT was 241 euros – this included breakfast.

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The view from our balcony (Room 202).

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The pool – which we never found time to use.  Well, I take that back.  We did sit by the pool one night and drink in the dark.  They also have a spa I didn’t use.

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We unpacked and walked down the hill to the main road (about half a mile).  From there we followed the main road to the east -back to Ischia Porto to explore.

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Our timing was bad.  Most places were closed for the afternoon.  I tried to buy postcard stamps at a tabacchi, but he only had one.  So, we went to the post office.  What a trip!  You have to take a number – for the relevant counter!   There were seven or eight counters with different services.  I didn’t see anything that resembled ‘comprare franco bolli’ (to buy stamps).  We punted – and, missed.  We had to take another number and try again.  As it turned out, the post office didn’t have any stamps, either!  Go figure!

 

We finally found a place to eat by the water – and, were treated to Christmas songs!  Yep, Winter Wonderland, Holly Jolly Christmas, and I’ll be Home for Christmas!  And, yes, it is October!  That caprese salad looks great, doesn’t it?

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Great place for a beverage and light snack. The owner is such a nice man.

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We were trying to find the public beach and ended up on this path.  It was very secluded – we didn’t see another soul.  But, there weren’t any signs declaring privato so we kept walking.

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Well, at least we found the ocean.  Not, that we doubted it was there.  There were a lot of boulders to scramble, but, not really a place to throw down a towel.

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This reminded me of the boat house full of skeletons in Ercolano.  There haven’t been any eruptions on this island for over 700 years, but, that’s what they said about Pompeii!

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Ciao for now!  And, have a Holly Jolly Christmas!