Capri for Carps (Dad)

This summer as we were talking with my dad about our trip to Italy he shared that in 1968, when he was 21, he took a tour of Italy. He was stationed in Germany and had leave for 30 days. It was too expensive to fly home and he was given the opportunity to take a 15 day tour with some of his army buddies for $145.00. That was a whole month's salary for him, so my pop and nani sent him the money to go. He recalled his dad saying, son you've got champagne taste with beer money. 

He talked about the canals in Venice, the cathedral in Florence, but Capri was his favorite. He said it was one of the most beautiful places he'd ever seen. After the Army my dad never left the country, well Canada for fishing a couple of times but this is one place we could have in of my dad, we had to go. We were excited to experience that. 

We took a train from Ferrara to Pompeii ($138.60) and everything went smoothly until we got stuck in Rome. After a two and a half hour delay we found ourselves along with a million other travelers trying to figure out how to get another train. Oh and to add to the fun, one of the train lines was on strike that day. We finally got on a train headed to Napoli, but the delay caused us to miss our connecting train to Pompeii. There was some scrambling once we got to Napoli but we made it, just later than we'd hoped. 

We chose Pompeii as a home base for four days to explore the ruins and of course Capri. Pompeii was cheaper, cleaner and far less populated. 

After the previous day of long travel, early the next morning we caught a train back to Napoli to catch the 9:10 ferry to Capri. Everything had to run smoothly in order to make the ferry. No strikes, no dead bodies, no oversleeping. First and foremost, the train had to be on time with no delays. Then once we arrived in Napoli we had an hour to find the metro, buy tickets and figure out what stop the port was at. Then once at the port we had to find the SNAV ticket office to pick up our tickets, which were purchased online.

Everything worked out but it wasn't a relaxing morning. It involved a light jog, quick stepping the escalators and our famous split the lines to see who gets helped first...but we made it. 

Round Trip for two:
Train from Pompeii to Napoli ($8.20)
Metro in Napoli to Port ($5.56)
Ferry from Napoli to Capri ($106.59)

After a 50 minute ferry ride we found ourselves in Capri and I immediately thought of my dad. He was right, it was beautiful. The first item on our list was to take the funicular up. Because of Jim's awesome researching skills he knew exactly what to do. We exited the dock, took a right and bought our tickets for $5.13. With tickets in hand, we turned around and walked back past the port to the entrance of the funicular where we waited only a few minutes to board. Some people didn't do their research, thinking they could buy the ticket at the entrance and were turned away and pointed back in the direction of the ticket office. The lines weren't long but I can only imagine how this port would look in peak season.

We took some time at the top to take in the beauty and then spent the next couple of hours walking around and getting lost. Up near the plaza, there were no cars or bikes, only walking tours, which we did everything to avoid.

Hey dad, we made it!

We found a classy restaurant overlooking the water. There was only one other young couple seated. We asked the hostess to look at the menu. As we stood there the young couple got up to leave. They told the hostess they couldn't stay due to time constraints, but after looking at the menu we had an idea of the real reason they left. Jim told the hostess that he wasn't going to lie, it was just too expensive for us. The cheapest item was an appetizer for $52. There was actually a bottle of vodka that cost 1,200 euro...yes 1,200, but kudos to the younger couple for getting a seaside view for free..for a bit. As we started walking Jim made the comment that there was a lemonade stand selling Pringles and maybe we could get some to hold us over for the day. As we passed the lemonade stand that young couple was getting a lemonade..... and Pringles. 

The only other item on our list was the scenic hike and if we were going to make it we would need some grub. We ended up at a small pizza restaurant in one of the alleys that we passed earlier, Donna Rachele's. I ordered a fried calabrese pizza. I first tried a fried pizza the night before in Pompeii and loved it. Jim ordered a margarita pizza and we both had two large beers. We skipped desserts and each had a digestivo. $96.00 later, $14.00 of which was a cover and service charge, we were on our way to find the start of the trail.

Ready for the hike or a nap!

The streets leading there were filled with designer stores who catered to those who had money to blow; Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc. We passed hotels and homes where the rich and famous were relaxing on chaise lounges next to waterfall pools, with gorgeous views of the water, enjoying the sun and sipping on cold drinks, all that probably cost more than our whole trip. 

We finally found the beginning of the trail. The hike started out fine, the only complaint, there was little shade cover, but the views were absolutely breathtaking. About midway through there was a path that led down to the turquoise water. We took a moment to contemplate going down, knowing we'd have to climb back up. As we stood there trying to decide, a young German couple were making their way up. As the girl, 30 years my junior, approached dripping in sweat, I asked, if the hike down was worth it? Without hesitation she replied NO! Her boyfriend chimed in, well yes if you have money...$100 to sit on a small part of the beach. She said it was worth the hike if only to warn others not to go. We thanked them and continued on our way. 

See the tiny beach!

Soon we found ourselves alone and it was perfect. We kept the spectacular views, but now walked through tall evergreens that provided a much needed reprieve from the hot sun. We stopped along the way taking pictures with each being more beautiful than the last. We found a small cave and Jim did some exploring while I enjoyed the break and cool air the cave provided. Covered in sweat, we took a moment to take a selfie and as soon as we posed something big flew right above my head into the cave. I let out a little scream thinking it was a bat, Jim laughed it was just a pigeon.

The last part of the hike turned out to be the hardest, with step after step, after step. There was actually an AED machine on the trail. WTF. I hate steps so I play this little game in my head. I start by counting 50 steps, then stop to take a break. Next I have to get to 100 steps and then take a break. Then I start back at 50 and so on. There were lots of breaks! 

I finally heard music, laughter and I could see a restaurant above. Pushing through the last 138 steps I finally found myself at the top with others who were resting and catching their breath. Here I waited for Jim, who was a little behind me, only because he was carrying the backpack so he had some extra weight that thankfully slowed him down.

Once he reached the top we sat there a while and another couple came up the trail who were closer to our age. First appeared a woman who was wearing a dress and flip flops. With a flush face she plopped down across from me. Her husband followed, his shirt drenched in sweat. We all laughed at how we thought it would be a nice easy way to explore the coastline of Capri. She asked us which way to town, Jim said right. She asked what was left, he said more of the trail. She told her husband they were headed right. I looked at Jim and he said left. WTF! 

We went left and around the corner and saw more steps, a lot of steps, leading down which means we would have to come back up. That's when we decided we were heading back to town as well.

We stopped at restaurants along the way scanning the drink menu for anything under $15.00 beers. Finally we found one that overlooked the water, with houses on the hill and beers for $8.00. We spent the next hour and half enjoying some cold beers and splurged on a few cocktails to ease the pain we were both feeling. $86.00 later we made our way down to the port, which yes involved more steps, to catch the ferry back. We boarded the ferry and plopped down in the first seats available. 

We didn't purchase train tickets back to Pompeii because we wanted to take some time to explore Napoli and have some famous pizza. We got back to the port at 18:00 and there was no more walking left in this girl, so we made our way to the metro and back to Napoli station. Jim had the train app opened on his phone ready to purchase two tickets but was holding off until we reached the right platform. We couldn't find that train on any of the monitors. We went to a self-serve ticket stand to try and purchase the tickets, but there were no available trains showing up. 

For some reason when we got off the metro we were a little disoriented and went to Napoli Centrale station instead of across the street to Garibaldi station, which is where the local trains leave from. Once we realized our mistake, Jim hit purchase on the app. However, when we got to that station we still didn't see that train on the monitors. We went to the help desk where Jim showed the gentleman his phone. The guy looked at it and said it leaves from platform one. This is the same platform we took the day before, but for some reason it looked different. As we scanned the ticket into the turnstiles it remained red and beeped. Jim showed the ticket to the guy working the area and he just waved us through, saying platform one. Two minutes before our train was supposed to depart, a train rolled in on platform one that said Salerno via Pompeii. We jumped on and it took off. Hmmm, this looks like a different train with red, green and black line stops on the wall and the final stop being Sorrento not Salerno. WTF. 

Okay no need to panic, the red line shows a stop at Pompeii Scavi, but not central. I asked Jim which line we were on, he just shrugged. Hmmm, the train is going fast and not stopping at any of the stops listed on ANY of the color lines! UGH! I asked a lady who didn't understand English, but another lady said they were also going to Pompeii. She informed me that some people on the train told her it was the right train and some said it was the wrong train. Oh Great! 

My auntie said we should visit Sorrento, it looks beautiful, but a little out of the way and too late for us to be exploring. I came to the conclusion we were on the wrong train. Jim still was sure we'd be fine. Meanwhile a woman asked us which stop she should get off at to reach her hostel. Like we had a clue. Jim told her to click the map to expand it three times before she said it's just a screenshot. We got her squared away while we blew through stop after stop. It finally stopped at Pompeii Scavi, which is about a 30 minute walk to our place. We had just moments to decide and I said we should get off. A 30 minute walk in the dark is better than another 30 minute train ride to Sorrento and who knows if we could get another train back. The doors closed as I gave Jim the pleading look of no more adventures right now. He pushed the button and the doors jerked back open and we jumped off.

Inside the station Jim asked if there was a train to central, the guy laughed and said no, go out, take a right and then used his two fingers to make a walking motion. Funny guy...I had a finger I wanted to give him. 

Thankfully the streets were well lit and there were plenty of people out for a stroll.  We arrived back to our place completely spent, unable to move and enjoyed some cold leftover pizza and a bottle of wine. 

We woke the next day with shin splints and sore calves. Thankfully past Alisa and Jim were thinking ahead and gave ourselves a rest day before exploring the ruins of Pompeii. 

Laying in bed that afternoon, I called my dad excited to swap stories about Capri and possible places we both might have been. I asked him if he remembered it being expensive. He said his tour included food and transportation. So I proceeded to ask him about the ferry ride, knowing how he is not a fan of boats. He said...oh I never actually went to the island, I just saw it from the mainland. You what?? 

Note to self, ask dad more questions when talking to him about his travels or anything for that matter. 

Capri was absolutely worth it, it was breathtakingly beautiful, but quite pricey.


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