Saturday, October 16, 2010
Positano - the walk of the lazy
It all started with such good intentions. We'll have a decent breakfast, make our way to Praiano and do the amazing, highly touted Sentiero degli Dei. But after breakfast the lounges chairs grabbed Dave and threw him down. I had to lay down as well lest they eat him alive. It was a worthy sacrifice.
We did finally make our way to catch the bus, and it was so fortunate because while the bus wasn't going all the way to Amalfi, it was going as far as Praiano - our starting point for the walk.
Before I go into detail about the drive, let me just share what we saw at one street corner. I think I've mentioned that the drivers are a tad aggressive and crazy. Add to that passionate - at the most inappropriate spots. This car was stopped at a stop sign - already an unusual choice - but the interesting part was that there was a young woman leaning in to the car giving the young male driver an exceptionally long and passionate kiss. I mean a get to third base type kiss. No worries about the people lined up behind, this young man had a job to do. I'm not sure what happened after we passed by... perhaps she got in. Anyway, on to the drive.
It was our first taste of the famed Amalfi Drive. Wow. Holy mackerel. That's really all I can say. I was impressed with the views from Cinque Terre. Well, this part of the coast is even more beautiful. The mountains are taller and the towns are bigger.
While you are able to capture an appreciation for it's splendor from the water, you really can't truly experience the staggering majesty of the heights until you seem to be mere centimetres away from certain death, clinging to the side of the cliff on a bus.
We read that we should sit on the right side on the way to Positano to get the best views. Heart stopping. I cannot imagine driving it. Thankfully the bus driver had a rosary hanging from his rear view mirror. It's important to make peace with your God when you know you may meet him at any second. Though it was a hair raising experience, it was so worth it.
When we got to Praiano, it was shockingly quiet when compared to the constant scooters and cars of Sorrento. We wandered around a little lost, going up and down switchbacks looking for lunch spot before heading out on our walk. All the while we were followed by a dog who gave us small heart attacks every time he'd go out on to the road. We decided to name him Beppe.
We found lunch at Hotel Margherita. The woman at reception explained how to find the walk. Oddly enough, as soon as she mentioned that it required climbing 2000 steps to reach the start and the hike required 3 1/2 hours to complete, the sky seemed that much cloudier. Definitely a threat of rain. Far too dangerous.
After we finished lunch the hotel's proprietor drove us to the bus stop. He goes down in our books as the nicest man on earth. Another wonderful act of kindness. Instead of the gruelling walk, we ate cannolis and drank limoncello. Seems like a fair exchange really.
You know what's scarier than experiencing those cliffs on a bus? Riding back standing up. I had to keep reminding myself I wasn't going to fall head first out of the bus and into the sea. Thankfully the pouring rain held out until we got out of the mountains.
One last note comparing Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast. The views may be that much more stunning on the Amalfi, but Cinque Terre hold a greater charm for me. Really, the only option is to do them both.
This morning the sun is shining and it's our last full day in Italy. We'll likely take a pass on another bus ride and instead indulge in "Dolce far niente" - the sweetness of doing nothing - and save our energy for the flight and then adventures in Paris.