THE ISLE OF THE SIRENS

After taking the train to Rome and checking in to my hotel, I realized I had an incredible headache… whether from not sleeping the night before, my irregular eating patterns, the long climb I made to the top of the Duomo dome in Florence that afternoon… who knows?  I tried to head to dinner (my goal was the Trevi Fountain) but my head was pounding so much I found myself walking in circles and felt lucky to find my way back to my hotel probably an hour later with no sign of the Trevi Fountain or food in my belly.  I ate some delicious gnocchi at a restaurant close to my hotel before heading to bed.

I woke up with a start, to a ringing phone… my tour bus was waiting for me.  “WHAT?”  How was that possible?  I set my alarm!  I asked if they could wait 10 minutes and the front desk called me back and told me the bus would wait five minutes.  Seriously?  Never in my life have I gotten ready so quickly!

I made it onto the bus (which was really a van) and didn’t seem nearly so bad for the bus trip from Rome to Capri, except… the van was only going to the train station where there were real buses waiting.  So the passengers of the small van all shuffled on to the tour buses – and were the last ones on the buses thanks to my trusty tardiness.

The bus ride was long and it took almost that long for me to feel fully awake and smoothed out after rushing around like an idiot.  The woman next to me was Polish and asked me why Obama wanted to get involved in Syria and how he could possibly know who might have let off chemical weapons.  Although it didn’t sound like this woman believed they were used.  I feigned ignorance and gave a non-committal shrug because trapped on a bus IS NOT THE PLACE for a political conversation and I am not the expert in these things anyway.

We arrived in Naples and took a boat to Capri.  Unfortunately I was trapped inside without even a window seat.  When we disembarked the boat on the isle of Capri, it was sheer chaos!  I didn’t see our tour guide, I had no direction on where we were going, what the plan for the day was.  All I could see was people everywhere, rude people, people with suitcases, babies, mostly speaking foreign languages and all in a hurry to get somewhere on this tiny island.  My first impressions were sheer chaos.  I was unimpressed with the island and more unimpressed with the tour guide.

capri_1

However, I hovered near a Canadian family because well… I understand English and better to get lost with a group then all by yourself because then you aren’t lost.  We were found by the tour guide who told us the Blue Grotto was closed due to the rough water conditions.  I was going to both towns Anacapri and Capri.  It turned out my biggest decision for the day would be whether to lay on the beach at the end of the day or take an hour boat ride circling the island.

In Anacapri, I took the chairlift up to Monte Solaro (1,932 feet above sea level). The ride was incredibly peaceful.  Then we had a group lunch where I sat with a lovely French couple who tried very hard to communicate with me and bought me a limoncello shot.  Limoncello is an Italian lemon liquor that the island is known for.

After lunch, the group headed down to the town of Capri near the port and had just over an hour.  I spent the time laying out on the beach which is made up of the smoothest stones, the clearest water and the least shy people ever.  Luckily I did not catch the old man changing on the beach into his speedo till he was already “dressed” if we’re considering a speedo as dressed.  It was beautiful although there were a lot of tourists on the beach.

I fell alsleep on the boat ride back before loading the bus in Naples to head back to Rome.  I arrived back at my hotel after 10pm and left for the airport the next morning to return back to real life.

THE SEA IS CALLING ME

Waves of the Sea 
      by Aileen Fisher

Waves of the sea
make the sound of thunder
when they break against rocks
and somersault under.

Waves of the sea 
make the sound of laughter
when they run down the beach
and birds run after.

 

On Tuesday morning I headed from Rome to La Spezia (a four hour train ride) where I then had to get a local train that travels between the small villages that make up Cinque Terre.  I was staying in an apartment in the most southern of the cliff side villages Riomaggiore.  The apartment was lovely with the sea air coming in through the open windows and shutters which looked out over the main street of the village.

Once I was settled I went exploring and found a lovely spot on the rocks to enjoy the crashing waves.  I felt more relaxed enjoying the sound and smell of the sea then I can remember ever feeling.  After my spot started getting invaded by tourists… I mean other tourists… I went back to my apartment to freshen up for dinner and try to figure out where the wine bar I had researched was located.  I wandered as high as I could coming to a castle and church at the top of the village and then wrapping above the train station.  I could see the wine bar, Bar Vini “A Pié de Mà” long before I could figure out how to get there.  I spent  most of the evening sitting, enjoying the sunset, the sound of the waves, and wine.  Could life be better?  Before it started to get dark, I left the bar because I was a little nervous about making the walk back in the dark.  I was still hungry though.  The food at the wine bar was good, but not a meal… I had foccacia, pesto and olive oil.  The kitchen was closed for the season, so there was only cold food and appetizers being served.  So once I was back on the village’s main street, I bought a cone of ridiculously fresh fried calamari and walked back to the waves, sat on a sea wall and stared up at the moon.  It was an amazingly peaceful way to spend an evening.

That night I slept with the windows open so I could smell the salt air, except I didn’t really sleep.  I listened to the drunk people yelling at the top of their lungs in Italian.  It made me a little sad I was alone and not having drunken fun with friends.  Later after eventually falling back asleep, I was awoken by the church bells, the delivery trucks and the sound of tourist’s luggage being dragged along the street outside.  It was a gray day and without any plan, it was a little hard to get motivated and decide what to do.  I decided to take the train to the next village, Monterosso, since the hiking trail was closed.

Monterosso had a bit of beach and fewer cliffs, so it was a little surprising how different the villages were.  I went exploring and found the most amazing picturesque point.  This point was shown to me by a French-speaking woman who insisted (from what I could tell) that I was sitting in the wrong spot and had to enjoy the view around the corner.  It was lovely, but… it was like the fountains meant to entertain small children.  You know, the one’s where the water splashes where you least expect it – just when you think you are safe.  The waves would look calm, then as soon as a tourist came to take a picture… CRASH… a wave would explode in the most impressive way.  I don’t know why, but this made me giggle and laugh and even though none of us spoke the same language, we all were amused and none of us got drenched.  Adults running away from water can’t help but be funny.

After a little further exploration of the village, I went to a restaurant right over the water because watching waves I really worked up an appetite.  While sitting over the sea, it started pouring and thundering so hard and so loudly.  I enjoyed my caprese salad and then it nearly stopped, so I was able to return to the train station to head back to Riomaggiore.  I still had to pack, checkout of the apartment and wait to take the train to Florence later in the evening.  Where better to wait then MY wine bar (with wifi)?  So I enjoyed sitting under cover this time, because there was still some rain and enjoyed an Irish coffee in the cool weather that had inflicted the area.  Despite the rain, it was still a lovely day.