Italian Adventure Part 5 – Voyage to Capri


I don’t think I mentioned, in the previous posts, that there have been fireworks every night since we arrived. Mostly early evening, up to around 10 o’clock. All of the displays have been across the water, around the base of Vesuvius. Yesterday was no different. Well until around 00:30 when we were woken, me thinking that WW3 had broken out. There had, presumably, been a wedding and party held at the hotel. The celebrations came to a climax with a pretty impressive display just a few hundred feet away from our room. Gerry and I were both hanging out the window for a better view. The most impressive thing was some kind of mortar which fired projectiles out over the water. The projectiles landed and presumably floated. They in turn exploded, creating beautiful bursts of colour. Had never seen fireworks like that before.

 

The display didn’t last very long but it had ensured that we were well and truly awake, so it took ages to get back off to sleep. But sleep we did.

All too soon it was time to get up, get breakfasted and out of the hotel. We had chosen today for an attempt on Capri. It was always going to be weather dependent, mainly because Gerry and boats don’t mix well. Gerry and boats in stormy conditions don’t mix at all. The forecast for today was cloudy with 60% chance of rain and thunder storms. So not looking good.

Suited and booted we headed down the coast to Sorrento, where the Capri ferries depart from. Least ways the shortest distance and fastest route. I had read that there was parking down by the harbour and as we drove down to the port we came across Garage Marina Piccola

The process, is for you to leave your car with the keys. They park the car in their garage (hole in the cliff) and you pay on your return. This is not a fly by night operation but a well established company. The car was there, undamaged, and it only cost twenty-two euros which was not a high price to pay for the convenience of parking very close to the ferry terminus.

As you can see in the next photograph, the weather was appalling.

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View Out To Sea From Sorrento

Capri is around about a 30 minute ride from Sorrento. We found somewhere to park, got our tickets for the ferry and headed of to the dock to join the queue and board our ferry.

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Our transport for our trip to Capri

It wasn’t too long before we cast off and started on our grand voyage of discovery.

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View from the harbour looking up to the town of Sorrento

I took a few shots as we ran along the Sorrentine coast line.

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Good-bye Sorrento

At anchor just off Sorrento was MS Silver Whisper, a cruise ship operated by Silversea Cruises. She is currently nearing the end of a one way,  19 nights / 20 days, cruise from Muscat to Civitavecchia. Very nice.

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MS Silver Whisper

One of the more imposing buildings looking down on the harbour from Sorrento is the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria which has been operating since 1834.

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Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

As we sailed serenely along the coast we were treated to our first view of Capri.

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First view – Isle Of Capri

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One Of Many Small Communities Along The Sorrentine Coast

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Villa di Pollio Felice – Regina Giovanna

No space wasted, no opportunity for a room with a million dollar view unexploited. In this case the houses seem to be tumbling down to the sea.

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Another Small Community On The Sorrentine Coast

The journey to Capri seemed very short. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with beautiful sunny weather and a pretty coastline.

Soon enough we were entering Capri’s port, Marina Grande.

 

On arrival the first thing you have to consider is how you are going to get up to the town of Capri, which is high up on the cliff tops. Needless to say we had no thoughts about walking, certainly not in the bright sunshine we were experiencing. There are alternatives available. These include bus, taxi and the famous Funicolare. This was our choice.

To use the Funicolare you have to purchase tickets across the street then join with the hoards queuing to get aboard. Although there were many waiting when we arrived the whole operation is quite efficient and the trains run every few minutes. The journey only lasts approximately four minutes and supposedly runs every fifteen but it seemed quicker when we were there. We were soon on board and gently climbing the steep hillside. There are fabulous views from the carriage. Unfortunately, it was quite crowded and I was stuck in the middle so couldn’t wield my camera.

Not to worry, on arrival at the top there is a great area, to run off some snaps, looking along the coast, back down to the harbour and to catch the railway in operation from above.

Capri town centre is a real tourist trap. It was absolutely heaving with people, a mix of those on a route march a.k.a. Guided Tour. Those not on guided tours but with apparent knowledge of what they want to see, and where to go see it. And then there were those misguided souls who know that Capri is meant to be really pretty, with lots to offer, but no idea what or where. We settled very neatly into the latter category. My problem was that I had read up on a few things to see and do while on the island however, once we encountered the hoards, all that went out of my head.

Our first port of call on arrival at the top was to find somewhere for a spot of lunch. We ended up in Piazza Umberto I, where we were enticed into il Piccolo. Suitably fortified we embarked on an exploratory tour of the Capri town.

We browsed the windows of many high-priced jewelry stores but to be honest you can go to any city around the world and see such things. We were soon fed up with being jostled by the crowds. Whatever happened to being polite and courteous ? Without being specific, certain nations with a culture of being polite and courteous, even to their enemies, seem to be the worst when out of their home country.

So we struck off into the myriads of tiny alleyways, barely wide enough for two people to walk side by side.

Here we found pretty entrance-ways,  religious shrines and mystery stairways. Also there were many ceramics used for house names and numbers, identifying trades and professions.

All too soon it was time for us to consider the trip back down to the harbour. So we shuffled our way back to the funicular. Descended serenely down to Marina Grande where we had time to walk along the water front. A mixture of bars and touristy tat shops. Perhaps that is a little unfair, many of the shops were selling quite good quality tat.

And we still had time to settle into a bar and have a cold one, people watch and observe the general chaos as taxis vied for the business of newly arrived passengers.

Just like being at an airport waiting area we were able to see an information screen which listed the mooring positions of the many ferries and their times. Our ferry was due to dock at location number five. We made our way to the allotted place, had our tickets checked and confirmed by a sun ripened employee of the ferry company that we were in the right place. The ferry, or perhaps I should say a ferry, arrived. It looked like ours. It had boards on the stern which stated Sorrento, our destination, and 16:05, the departure time on our tickets. It was looking good.

Then that same old sun ripened employee started yelling in Italian, no translations, accompanied by much gesticulation, apparently our ferry was now going to be at dock position number 12. Quite a distance and now we were being harassed and harangued, as we would be late for the boat, or maybe even delay its departure.

Anyway, we made it onto the boat which was pretty much fully loaded. No upper, outside seating on this boat, unlike the outward journey. We managed to get seated and soon after the ferry was underway. A couple of niggles for this short journey, there was little or no air in the passenger area. So it was quite warm and humid.

The safety instructions over the tannoy were non-existent but there was a video that played throughout the trip. It might actually have been worth watching but there was no sound. I gathered part way through that the reason it was repeated  was that there were subtitles in various languages, but on a nineteen inch screen, viewed from fifty plus feet away, nobody could read them. Oh, and to cap that a crew member came and stood in front of the nearest screen while he was talking on his phone.

Still, we had no drama’s, the safety instructions were not needed and we arrived safely back in Sorrento.

We headed away from the port, rescued our car from captivity and set out along the coast, back to our hotel.

So in summary, Gerry didn’t get seasick on the boat, we didn’t get the weather that was forecast which all came together to ensure we got to Capri. All in all a great day out.

Would I recommend Capri ? Probably not. Maybe we didn’t do it justice. The best bit was the tiny back streets where it seemed like someone had turned off the noise. Maybe, we are getting too old for dealing with the hoards. Having said that, we have previously visited Rome, several times. Paris, several times. London, several times. At no time, in any of those cities, have we felt the crowds to be too much, even around the major tourist attractions. Maybe Capri town is just too compact. I certainly wouldn’t want to be on Capri in the peak season, around July and August.

Italian Adventure Part 4 – Spa Day


Typical, about as accurate as any British weather forecast, the local Italian forecast was for rain and thunderstorms today, 65% chance of precipitation. So far we have had a mix of blue skies, sunshine, and clouds. Yes there were a few specs of rain, but nothing that would have stopped us from doing that touristy thing. Because the forecast was so dire we had opted to stay at the hotel and for Gerry to visit the spa.

After breakfast we dropped in at the spa reception and booked Gerry in for a Hot Stone and full body/facial massage. Her session was booked for 14:00, which left us with a couple of hours to fill.

We went for a stroll  round the grounds and took a few external photos of the hotel.

Whilst standing down on the dock, we were accosted by a lady offering to take our photo. We gratefully accepted and then I  did the same for her. As we were chatting, I asked her where she was from.

Well, what a small world. Turns out she is from the other side of Waterlooville, where we live. Much of her family are scattered around roads close to our home. After a bit more chat we went our separate ways.

By the time we reached the pool Gerry decided it was warm enough to brave catching some rays by the pool.

Meanwhile, I was foolish / brave enough to test the arctic waters of the pool.

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Towers Hotel – Pool

Bearing in mind this is an outdoor pool, unheated and we haven’t seen any real sun for a couple of days. Despite knowing this, I still went in. Although there weren’t any icebergs it certainly felt cold enough for them to put in an appearance.

To be honest, once I was in, it felt ok. And after a few lengths, I was so acclimitised, I was reluctant to get out. There is a shower room close to the pool which I made good use of. Back in dry clothes once again, we strolled along to the bar for tea and coffee before Gerry headed to to the spa for her hot rocks massage.

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Although no storms or rain the wind had picked up. These two guys had to walk backwards to carry the pictures or risk having them bent and broken by the wind.

Having escorted Gerry down to the spa reception and made sure she was checked in OK, I headed back to the bar for a spot of lunch. Tuna & Tomato in a Ciabatta roll accompanied by, yep you guessed it, a Nastro Azzurro.

Gerrys spa treatment lasted for just about an hour and by the time she caught up with me at the bar it was time for her to have a plate of fries and a Nastro Azzurro all to herself.

We then headed back to our room to finish of that second bottle of Sicilian Syrah.

Our room has windows looking both North and East which makes it a great vantage point for any nautical activities.

And to finish off for today here are a few photos from my phone.

Well that’s it. Going for dinner shortly as it is just after 20:00

Good night all.

Christmas Lady


I have just been trawling back through some photos I took during our visit to Amsterdam last December.

This was is a shot of a mannequin in a shop called Christmas Palace …..

Christmas Lady

Christmas Lady , Maybe the Ice Queen

Straight out of Narnia, Jadis the Ice Queen or the White Witch. Perhaps she is a bit too colourful for that role, but she does have a pretty stern demeanour about her.

Italian Adventure – And Then There Were Two


Ate at the hotel again this evening. I had Rissotto with a chunk of Grouper for my main, Steamed Octopus Salad for my starter. Gerry had soup as her starter and a pasta dish with Mussels for her main.

Most importantly we had another bottle of the Sicilian Syrah.

And then there were two …

Sicilian Syrah

Feudo Principi di Butera

Italian Adventure – Paused


It rained last night and by and large it has rained pretty much all day. Consequently, we have been skulking in the hotel.

We managed to miss breakfast. So by way of a consolation prize, we treated ourselves to lunch.

I had Octopus Salad, followed by Sea Bass with bacon wrapped asparagus and mashed potato while Gerry had Veal Escalopes with Bacon Wrapped Asparagus and mashed potato. All washed down with the ubiquitous Nastro Azzurro.

I must say that the restaurant food at the hotel is pretty good. Cooked well and nicely presented. The breakfast buffet is pretty comprehensive with cold meats and cheeses, hot scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms etc. Plenty of serials and cakes / pastries on offer along with various breads. Not brilliant stuff but will give you a good energy boost to get your day under way.

I should mention that last night we decided to have a bottle of wine with our meal. We chose an Italian Merlot but they had sold out. The waiter suggested two alternative wines one of which was a Syrah.

Syrah

Sicilian Syrah From The Vinyards Of Feudo Principi di Butera

We chose the Syrah, from the vineyards of Feudo Principi di Butera in Sicilia. It turned out to be both a good suggestion and a good choice. Lots of flavour with a dry after bite. In other words a damn good anaesthetic.

Today hasn’t been a total loss. We have arrange an excursion for Monday.

We are going to visit Pompeii, come rain or shine. According to the extended forecast we can expect clouds with sunny periods and just a 25% chance of precipitation

That leaves us with Saturday and Sunday to fill. Saturday is showing 65% chance of rain so I think we will try to get Gerry into the Spa. Sunday is looking a bit better. We may chance  trip to Capri, it depends on the sea state. Gerry loves the sea, to look at, but she doesn’t mix well with boats on the water. If it’s a bit fallollopy then a stroll around Sorrento may be in order. Where we can at least dodge the showers by ducking into one of the many bars and coffee shops.

After Monday we can start looking at perhaps a trip to Herculaneum. Again, this is very weather dependent.

Fingers crossed.