Sorrento, Italy was a milestone in our home free adventure. Making it to Sorrento means we made it through Italian customs (there wasn’t any), negotiated our way from the Port of Civitavecchia to Sorrento using two bus lines, three trains, and successfully meeting our landlord on the other end. Had it not been for our years of experience riding the subways of Chicago, we never would have made it on the Circumvesuviana train car in Naples. Running past many train cars which appeared to be 110% full, we managed to push and shove our way onto the last car with our two large suitcases, two back packs and two carry-ons. It may sound like we over packed, but I brought along 30 pounds of camera gear and a large tripod which required a large suit case. Also, I packed rain gear for Ireland and Scotland. Generally, the rule is to not pack more for a 6 month trip than for a several week trip. However when packing for hot and cold weather as well as strenuous hiking trips, the volume expands.
Making our way to platform, or binnario, 10 for the train in Rome, we were passing gates 30, 29 ,28, seeing the stairs up to each platform. When we got to the stairs for #10, they were boarded off, no access! These dark train hallways are full of ‘gypsies’ who hang around, with no luggage, waiting to take advantage of dazed and confused tourists loaded down with excess baggage. One came to our rescue despite my insistence we were doing fine. He led us up #12, down another stairwell, up yet another, and we boarded the train with moments to spare. Payment for his service was well worth it.
Sorrento proved to be a very good choice for our first foray into Italy and Europe. It was clean, safe and we discovered most all gelato stores also have a full bar. What a bonus! We were picked up at the Circumvesuviana train station by the landlord’s father who speaks no English. He drove us the short distance to the apartment on the 5th floor with ocean views. Banging into the garage walls and denting his too big Mercedes further, we unloaded our luggage. We learned the elevator required 5 cents to operate, the coffee maker made one caffe Americano at a time, and how to light the stove. Public restrooms also often require a euro for entry. Cash was paid to the owners as required by most places in Italy. Immediately upon unpacking I blew a fuse and ruined our nightlight, mistakenly using the power adapter, not the power converter. Europe uses different sized light bulbs, I discovered. I researched and learned that the most expensive electronic equipment we have, like IPhones, and a laptop computer, do not need a power converter, only an adapter. Trying to find a store which sells the required adapters is simply part of the adventure and a fun outing. I had seafood at every meal, which was excellent. Eventually we will get our fill of pasta during later stops in Italy.
The most exciting part of this stay was a bus ride along the Amalfi Coast. It would have been great to rent a scooter for this, but we settled for a bus ride. See what it was like in this You Tube video. Words do not accurately describe this hair-raising experience on the twisting, winding road perched high above the Mediterranean Sea.