Port of Call–NAPLES / Sorrento
Early in the morning as we approach the Port of Naples, the remains of Mt. Vesuvius dominates the horizon as I look eastward from the veranda of our room:
It’s 8:00am now… we have visited the COVE CAFÉ (or at least *I* have) and brought back a large latte for Renée and I am enjoying a triple-shot Americano. We have a cloudy day and about 72 degrees expected for a high temperature. The weather forecast from the bridge is a little uncertain for today with a bit of a chance for rain.
We have a double tour today, first we are off to the lovely city of Sorrento near the Amalfi Coast and then to the ruins of Pompeii. Although we didn’t know it at the time, here’s what the geography of the trip looked like. We would leave from the port at 8:30, drive around the foothills of Mt. Vesuvius, past Pompeii and along the coastal highway until we reached the city of Sorrento. After lunch, we would return the way we came and go to Pompeii for the afternoon and return to the ship late in the day
Here’s the scale of this picture courtesy of Google Maps
Driving directions to Piazza Tasso (Central Sorrento)
1 hour 9 mins A3 and SS145 51.6 km
…something to keep in mind, often nothing is close to the ports!
Since Renee is carrying some really expensive photography gear and my DSLR camera is not very weather-resistant, I’m toting my KATA R-103 backpack which is fitted out with sectioned, padded areas for cameras, lenses, etc. It’s moderately weather resistant and has an additional rain-proof sleeve that can be used if needed. Better safe than sorry. These are stock shots to give you an idea…
Occasionally you’ll get to see some really superior photos. I’ll call them out when they appear. These are taken by Renée with some pretty sweet equipment.
I’ll have a special posting of camera pr0n when my Kung Fu is better…later on
Here’s a shot of Vesuvius I took through the bus window as we drove past it towards Sorrento. Things are looking a bit ominous!
As we neared Sorrento, our lovely tour guide ‘Julia’ arranged for us to pull off the winding two-lane road that was working down the cliff-side towards the city. It offered some interesting shots, which I did a lousy job of capturing. Renée’s will be much better… but they aren’t ‘ready’ yet (smack!) ow!!
…and this was below it. It seemed somebody had a bad idea for this location, whatever it was supposed to be.
Renée caught this rather spectacular vision of that hotel hanging off the cliff-side:
Julia, our tour guide, calls us ‘her family’ and gathers us all together as we get off the bus to make sure we know where and when to meet. This is an ‘on your own’ tour, which we like. The service gets us reliably back a forth to the destinations, but doesn’t clutter up our time for soaking up the local flavor. She offers to walk us down to the beach entrance so we can see the Mediterranean from here. This is an awesome shot Renée took, looking back at the cliff-side we stopped on above. It’s about halfway up the slope and off to the left of the hill you see in the offing.
As you can see it’s already raining back where we came from and looking a bit threatening here.
After a bit of gawking about, Julia points out the way to the center of the town and then we were off…
…just as it started pouring-down rain! The skies opened up on us at this point. I’d already secured my less durable camera in the KATA and stopped to wrap it’s ‘raincoat’ onto the backpack. Renée has planned ahead and brought a large Ziploc bag in her shoulder bag, so she shoves her Nikon into it. She had also thought to bring a Totes umbrella, clever girl!
A few vendors saw an opportunity and stuck small boxes of little, collapsible umbrellas out. 3€ later I am the proud owner of a floppy, but rather serviceable, rainbow umbrella.
So now we were off to see the town. Due to the rain, there’s little evidence of this part of the trip, but we had a fun time walking through this picturesque place filled with folks going about their regular midday lives.
We decided to find a place to grab some lunch. We knew we had about an hour and it was starting to rain even more with a rumble of thunder in the offing. Renée navigated us to the city square and spotted a little pizzeria with outdoor seating tucked under an awning. We dove across the street and slid into a seat. Unfortunately the seam for the awning was right where I sat down and it kept squirting me in the back every once in awhile. Not that I wasn’t already pretty wet, but still… Our server came by and we asked if there was a drier seat available and he offered us a snug place towards the back.
Piazza Tasso courtesy of Street view on Google Maps. This would be standing at the square looking back towards Pizzeria Aurora where we had just been seated. We ate just under the awning a couple table behind the maître d’
We knew we were staying for a leisurely lunch and have learned not to be in a rush when eating in most places in Europe. I saw more people spoil either a pleasant atmosphere or an otherwise great meal by being pushy and impatient. Slow down a bit, relax, enjoy your holiday!
…and if you can’t, please stop following me around
In the meantime, Renée ordered a small Margherita pizza, a specialty of the house at Pizzeria Aurora http://www.pizzeriaaurora.com/en/
I had a slice and wished I’d ordered a pie for myself. Thin, but not crunchy-crispy crust, olive oil, basil, the ‘sauce’ was nobody’s paste from a jar. It smelled and tasted like crushed, fresh tomatoes… just… tomatoes, and finally the most delicious buffalo mozzarella in small slabs, just melted enough.
So while we are drooling over the pizza and sipping this nice local wine, it’s still pouring down rain. By this point there’s thunder and lightning and WOW! I glance over to my right were a couple has just stepped under the awning awaiting a table and become very envious of this great umbrella this guy is carrying.
“Renée! Check out this really nice golf umbrella. This white one with a Disney Cruise Lines logo on it. I wonder if I can get one aboard ship?”
She got that impish look on here face I know so well…“Ummm, maybe… maybe not… check who’s carrying it.”
I look up just as the server is coming to seat them… and it’s Captain John!!!, Master of the Disney Magic along with his wife who is sailing with him on this first trip in the Med for him. Egads! We greeted him and he recalled us from the formal night, as I was apparently the only one in a kilt aboard this entire ship, imagine that! We chatted for just a minute and then let them head in to their table. With all the places to go to, they decided to come an hour and a half out from the ship to this little restaurant. Guess we picked the right place to eat!
I hope they had a bit of anonymity to enjoy a meal ashore. And I still want an umbrella like his!
It was lovely, but we had to make our way back to the meeting place for the bus ride to Pompeii. The rain had eased up a tad but was still coming down as we walked back. On our way back, Renée caught this nice shot from under the umbrellas:
Here I take a pause… We’re off to see the ruins of Pompeii next.
… in the rain