Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sorrento on $85 a Day – Amalfi Coast Drive

Note the road clinging to the cliff on the right side of the photo.
 Who wouldn't love a roller-coaster ride that whips around hairpin turns and sweeps down cliffs bordering some of the world's most picturesque white-washed villages while the ever-present sea waits patiently to claim any driver who makes a false move?
This hour and a half thrill ride, always in the top-ten of most beautiful drives in the world, is an inexpensive must-do for anyone visiting Sorrento.

While David and I sat on the chock-full, four people standing-in-the-aisle bus waiting either for last minute stragglers or for the driver to work up his courage, the Australians across from us warned that some people who sat where we were sitting—on the right side of the bus—became so frightened of the view and the realization that they were seconds and an eighth of an inch away from sure death—that they had to move to the other side of the bus.

We tried to laugh. I prayed the driver had gotten a good night's sleep.

We finally took off, swaying this way and that, shooting around corners beeping the horn as we went to warn other drivers there was a maniac on the loose.

I was in the window seat in the very last row of the bus and finally decided the only way I'd survive would be to take photos, pretending that I wasn't actually “there” but merely recording the scene passing in front of me.

Somewhere around Positano, David, who looked white and felt clammy joked that, If your stomach is queasy, this drive isn't easy.

We thought about getting off, but David decided he could make it if we moved to a different seat.

He couldn't make it though. Somewhere well after Positano and just before Praiano, he vomited all over himself and the unfortunate couple right in front of us.

Funny how, at moments like this, there are often saviors that appear as if by magic. As we careened around the cliffs while David struggled to regain his composure, napkins and towelettes were handed to us so that he could clean himself off a bit.

We got off the bus at the next stop, Praiano, and used a gelato restaurant bathroom to rinse out David's shirt. We enjoyed feeling the earth beneath our feet. A shopkeeper gave us a free plastic bag (usually the charge is a few cents) for David's wet shirt, and a photographer loaded with tripod and camera cases, told us there was a bus in five minutes to the next town where there was a marina. We knew David couldn't stand the ride back to Sorrento in the bus, so a boat it would have to be.

View from boat

As it turned out, we enjoyed seeing Amalfi, and we were very grateful we ran into the three women who had been so kind to us on the bus. Not only had they rescued us from a difficult situation on the bus, but these wonderful women, nurses from San Francisco, gave David a Dramamine tablet so that the boat ride back to Sorrento would be tolerable. We are so grateful to Ingrid, Carol, and Connie (I hope we've got their names right). Thank you so very much!

Practicalities -
The round-trip bus ticket on the Sita line is sold at the train station for 7.20 euro. Be sure to get to there at least half an hour early as the line is long.

Although we discovered this by accident, taking the bus one way and the boat the other is truly the best way to see the Amalfi Coast. The different perspectives allow you to fully appreciate this rugged coastline.

Note that the marinas at Positano and Amalfi have the most frequent boats traveling to Sorrento. The cost from Amalfi is 10 euros and the ride takes about an hour and a half.

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