Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Amalfi Coast (28th Sept)

Hi all,

I forgot to tell you last email about our 'place your life in the hands of the bus driver' 2 hour bus ride from Sorrento to Amalfi the first day we arrived on the Amalfi Coast.  The drive is along the coastline (and quite high up the mountain) and although it caters for traffic to travel in both directions, for the most part it 'appears' to be one lane.  However, we have proven that you can fit two very large buses, side by side with a millimetre in between, in one of those one lane sections of the road.  We were on the 'drop' side of the mountain, which is probably why everyone else in the 'other' bus were smiling and waving (if the windows were open we could have hugged as well).  I'm sure the looks on our faces were more of sheer terror!!  Sometimes cars travelling in the opposite direction were required to reverse a short distance so we could fit past them.  It appeared as though the bigger vehicle always had the right of way??  Which is probably why the Mexican stand-off with the other bus!!!

On Friday morning after meeting with our Intrepid Tour Representative (who gave us our self-guiding instructions) we headed off for our first trek along the mountainside from Ravello-Atranti-Amalfi-Ravello.  What was to be an 8.9km (3.5hr) walk ended up being at least 13km (& 5.5hrs) - 10 km of which were up-hill!  Apparently, when the instructions say main 'path' it does not mean main 'road'.  Therefore, you shouldn't risk your life walking along that narrow one lane road for 2km's before you realise that!!!  And then of course have to return along the same road to find the tiny steps (which miraculously appeared out of nowhere) which led to that main 'path'.  When the Instructions say 'there are a lot of steps' - they are not exaggerating!!  And finally, when the instructions say 'Scala is a nice town and offers gelati and refreshments', you must rest, taste test several flavours of gelati and ask locals if short cut exists to get to next town (as instructions very long and involve too many steps).

Saturday's walking tour was to be a 13.8km (5.45hr) trek from Ravello-Amalfi (via Valle De Ferriere).  We love these 'self-guiding' tours.  We happily guided ourselves to the bus stop in Ravello and the nice bus man drove us to Amalfi in 15 minutes!!!

We gave ourselves a well deserved break and instead of walking up 10,000 steps, we decided to wander aimlessly through the streets of Amalfi (which strangely enough were once again lined with pretty, new and 'uncharted' shops).  We also sat outside a lovely coffee shop trying to spot some famous people.  Melinda and I both read recently that Sonia Kruger (Dancing with the stars) and Todd McKenney had spent some time in Amalfi (as well as some Hollywood celebrities).  Now, if you were not privy to such information then you are not spending enough time at the hairdressers!  My wonderful hairdresser has all the latest magazines and takes long enough during a cut/colour for me to read at least 3 of them.  Either that, or you go to the same doctor as I do, who still has 1997 Women's Weeklies in her magazine stand (poor Lady Diana - that really was a tragic accident)!

Hey, Melinda was reading a Marie Claire magazine last night which said that '50 is the new 25 - not just older and wiser, but hotter and healthier too'.  Does that mean that I am now the perfect age for Donatello???

We had free access to a computer in the hotel in Ravello, so I downloaded some of my photos to free up a memory card.  Unfortunately after viewing many photos, I am beginning to think I might be producing a 6 month calendar!!  Apparently, photographing something from every possible angle only guarantees you end up with 50 useless photos, instead of one!!!

The hotel we stayed in Ravello was run by the Mancini family and the two sons, Antonio & Leonardo were the front desk clerks (and served us breakfast).  They were sssooooo nice!!!  We invited them to be our walking guides, but they said unless we were still walking in November (good possibility the rate we are going) they were too busy to leave the hotel.  Yes, I took their photos (and took their business card with the Hotel email address, in case we go walking in November!)

Sunday, we were back on track!  We ate a huge breakfast (energy food) and headed off to Conca dei Marini.  Sunday's trek was only a short 2.5hrs (5.7km uphill again) and we kept to the timings, arriving at lunch time.  We are scoring the most amazing hotel rooms.  Our balcony in our Conca dei Marini hotel room overlooked the Amalfi Coastline.  I could see the town of Amalfi while lying on my bed!!

We looked over our walking instructions for Monday (Conca dei Marini - Praiano) and they just had way too many steps uphill (with little photographic gain), so again we guided ourselves a few steps to the left of our hotel and caught a bus to Praiano, arriving at 10.30am this morning, instead of 3pm!!  Again, a very rewarding decision as our hotel here in Praiano is a very special 4 stars!!  We were even given complimentary white slippers!!!  We spent some time having lunch on the hotel dining room balcony (over-looking that same gorgeous coastline) after a short stroll around the village.  Melinda even managed a swim in the pool (too cold for me).  I'm sure this is how the Amalfi Coast is to be experienced!!!

Having said that, we are off walking again tomorrow.  There is a tough walk (the instructions say it is the hardest of all the hikes) which follows a pilgrim's path along the stations of the cross to the monastery of San Domenico HIGH above Praiano, on our way to Positano.  Another reason why we had to rest today!!

Anyway, that is all the news from here.  We will have two nights in Positano and then it is off to Rome for 4 nights.  Looking forward to Rome!!!

Hope all is well with everyone.

Love Joy x

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great pics. Amalfi coast is beautiful! I'm glad you enjoyed your stay.