Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Ride (And Thrill) Of A Lifetime

We decided to take the bus from Sorrento to Amalfi. Ed had done all the driving on our trip and I didn't want him to have to concentrate so intently on the road that he'd miss all the scenery. And there was NO WAY I was going to trust anyone else in our group to make that drive.

There was a trick to the bus though; on the way to Amalfi, you had to sit on the right side of the bus for the best view, on the way back, the left. When we got to the train station in Sorrento though, there was a line. And if you were in the back of the line, the chances of getting a seat by the window was non-existent and the chances you'd be standing, high. So we passed on the first two busses and took the third. This was our driver:

We sat not only on the right side of the bus, but in the very front seat. So we had the side window and the front window to look out of. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake.

This was the view from our VIP seats as we left Sorrento; sunny, beautiful, serene. A crossing guard directing traffic. The driver was obviously obeying because he actually stopped. That's where the serenity ended, as this bus ride would turn out to be the most trecherous of my life.
I don't know what the speed limit was, but it was clear that he wasn't doing it. We made a few stops in town, people getting on and off and then we headed up the winding mountain, past our hotel and toward the coast. The winding, hairpin turns of the coast. I have to say, half way through our ride, I was feeling nauseous. It was like being on an amusement park ride. And you know how much I love amusement parks.

I literally had to avert my eyes because I was getting motion sickness. I think I even closed them at some point. I didn't at all question the ability of the driver, as he was excellent and clearly very skilled at driving this route. I just couldn't look. After I took a minute to compose myself, I commenced looking out of the great big picture window I had.

And this is what I saw...
I believe that's Positano, I don't remember. You have to go through Positano before getting to Amalfi. Later, when we got back to the hotel, I found out that our friends who had taken the earlier bus, got off in Positano because they couldn't take the switchbacks and hairpin turns and didn't think they'd be able to continue on to Amalfi.
The roads are narrow and there are cars and scooters everywhere. People pass on curves and play chicken with oncoming cars and busses, with no care at all to what lies on the other side of the railing...
We could see the deep of the Tyrrhenian Sea glistening in the distance a we rounded turnes and drove through tunnels carved in the mountainside...
Where just beyond, lay the town of Amalfi.
We watched the locals and tourists walk beside the sea...
Dined on mozzarella di bufala and fresh tomatoes and basil, both made and grown locally...
And even caught an "aspiring" model taking part in a photo shoot on the main drag...
After some shopping and a stop to the Farmacia for a little cure for Ed's sore throat, we steeled ourselves for the bus ride home. The driver on the way back was just as capable as the one who took us there and just as I did with the driver on the way to Amalfi, I told him. I learned to say, "Sono camionista" ("I'm a truck driver" - which brought raised eyebrows every time I said it), to explain that I understood the skill needed to do what they do and that I thought it was fantastic. Amazing, really.

And next time, I'm doing it in a Fiat with the top down!


4 comments:

Katie said...

Amazing, beautiful, awesome... just three little words that do not even seem to express the emotions I have as I look at each picture and read posts. I wanted to post to let you know that, yes, I am reading every post.

I should come up with something to say at the end of each one, it all just sounds so lame when I write it!

mental mosaic said...

Wish I could take a bite out of that fresh mozzarella photo. I miss bufala mozz now that I'm in the states... ~Tui

mental mosaic said...

p.s. Kinda funny how both Katie and I are peeking out over our cameras in our profile pics here.

Gil said...

The first time we went to Italy my wife and daughter had me driving from Naples to Reggio Calabria to get the ferry to Sicily. Of course they had me take the Amalfi Coast road and the worst thing I came upon was one of those gigantic German tour buses heading North taking up the complete roadway through the corners!!! Oh and not being able to look at anything...