I finally made it home from my European adventure after the fun with the volcanic ash. Special thanks to Nick and Peter for their help and advice prior and during my trip.
Easter Sunday- I had purchased my ticket for the 0900 IC train from Rome to Naples the day prior, when I arrived in Rome. The train departed on time and I shared the compartment with a family from Canada who were going to Pompei for the day. I arrived in Naples at 1110 and made my way to the Circumvesuviana station below. The signs were easy to follow. When you come to the turnstiles, look to your left. You will see the ticket office and info office. Bought my ticket and headed through the turnstiles and down to the tracks to catch the 1140 train towards Sorrento. The train was packed with day trippers to Pompei. Once we departed Pompei, I was able to find a seat. I arrived in Sant' Agnello at 1245. I walked to my hotel Porto Salvo. It is a former monastery. My sister and niece had stayed there a couple of years ago. My room (#5) had a wonderful view of Vesuvius and Naples Bay. After checking in, I walked to Sorrento. I used Rick Steves guide book and it's self guided tour to stroll around Sorrento and become acquainted with the area. I stopped into Davides for a gelato and Foreigners Club for a limoncello. At the Foreigners Club, look for the signs to the snack bar and not the restaraunt if you just want to grab a drink or enjoy the amazing view from the terrace. I walked down to Marina Piccola to check out the area for Wed when I planned to go to Capri. I took the blue bus back to Piazza Tasso (1 euro and pay on board). They also have the red buses that make other stops in Sorrento. I then walked to Marina Grande for dinner at Delfinos (Dolphin). I had the seafood risotto and then the fried calamari, shrimp, and sardine plate. The food and service were excellent. Delfinos is at the far end of Marina Grande, right on the water. I walked back up to Sorrento from Marina Grande and then on to my hotel.
Easter Monday- I caught the 0830 train from Sant' Agnello to Pompei. I bought a one way ticket because I planned on going directly to Sorrento when I returned. I also bought my ticket to Naples for Thurs. I arrived at the ruins just after 0900 (less than a 5 min walk from the train station) and was the second person in line at the ticket office. Make sure to grab the info booklet from the info office (left of the ticket office) once you purchased the admission ticket. There is a toilet right between the info office and the ticket office I used the Rick Steves self guided tour and the info booklet for my tour. I saw everything from the tavern to the brothel to the ampitheater. The brothel had the most people. Many tour groups but I could still pick my way through. I listened to a couple of the english guides but Rick Steve book actually provided more info then they were dispensing. The cafeteria was open. I finished touring about 1230. When I left, the line at the ticket office stretched all the way back to the train station. I took the train to Sorrento and stopped into the tabacchi shop on the street level to buy my all day SITA bus ticket for Tues. Cost was 7.20 euros. I knew I would be tight on time tomorrow. I had lunch on the patio at DaGuginos- quattro stagione pizza. Food was very good but service was indifferent. I walked back to Sant' Agnello for a much needed siesta. I had dinner at Il Cappanos. It was located just a block from Porto Salvo. I had the gnochhi and a filet with gorgonzola cheese. Excellent food and very good service. The prices were cheaper than Sorrento. I walked a block down to the water for the night time view of Sorrento and the bay.
Tues- I took the 0815 train from Sant' Agnello to Sorrento. Arrived at 0818 and made my way to the SITA bus stop across the street. I was able to catch the 0830 bus since I had purchased my ticket the day before. I grabbed a seat on the right. There were maybe 10 folks on the bus when we departed the train station. We made another stop in Sorrento and now the bus was full. The bus ride to Positano was amazing. The bus drivers can't have an off day. I got off at the second stop in Positano (Sponda) and made my way down to the water. I stopped into the church on the way. The mosaic tiled roof was very interesting. I strolled around Positano and grabbed a gelato. Part of the time I just grabbed a bench and enjoyed the view. There were folks on the beach even though it was barely 70F (20C). I caught the noon ferry to Amalfi for 6 euros. I wanted to experience the views from the water perspective. The ride was less than an hour. I tracked down Da Gemmas for lunch. A friend at work had reccomended Da Gemmas. The restaraunt is a little tricky to find. You will see signs on the main drag just past the Cathedral but it's located upstairs. You will eventually see the stair case up to the restaraunt. There is a convenient ATM right at the top of the stairs with even a little awning if it's raining. I ordered the house speciality of noodles with a slow cooked meat and onion sauce and house wine. They brought me soup for which I was not charged (I checked the bill). The food was outstanding. The slow cooked sauce made the meal. With the restaraunt being upstairs, it made it fun to people watch. After lunch I strolled around Amalfi and visited the Cathederal. I walked about halfway to Atrani using the directions in Rick Steves guide. Part of the time you feel like you are walking through a tunnel and then other times you have a great view of Atrani beach. I headed back to Amalfi and grabbed a seat at a cafe for a beer and more people watching. I thought Positano was more impressive than Amalfi just because to is so steeply built but I enjoed both stops. I caught the 1700 bus back to Sorrento. This was a great tip from Rick Steves to catch the bus back from Amalfli and not Positano. The bus only had about 5 people on board when we left. When we arrived in Positano it became standing room only. I arrived back in Sorrento around 1815. I grabbed a gelato from Primavera. I think they are better than Davides but maybe also a touch more costlier. I strolled around and bought a bottle of crema limoncello. For dinner, I ate at Da Vincencos right on Piazza Tasso. I had the veal. The food and service were good. I walked back to the hotel after dinner.
Wed- I set up my taxi ride to the Sant' Agnell train station for Thurs. I didn't think folks would appreciate me rooling my luggage across the cobble stone at 0430. The receptionist at Porto Salvo called the local Sorrento taxi company. The company wanted to talk with me directly. The receptioist rolled her eyes. The guy was trying to talk me into taking taxi for 120 euros to naples Airport and I explained to him I was taking 0503 train to Naple, arriving in Naples at 0606 and then catching the 0640 Alibus to the airport. He finally quoted me a price of 35 euros to go to the San' Agnello train station (a 2 min drive). I told him forget it. The receptionist then called another service and they wanted 15 euro (Reino was the gentlemans name). I walked to Marina Piccola and caught the 0845 hydrofoil to Capr for 14 euros. Upon arriving in Capri, I quickly made my way around the tour groups and headed directly to the ticket office across the street from the funicular to but the Unico Capri all day card for 7.80 euros. The card includes the buses and funicular ride between the marina and Capri. It does not include the chair lift to Monte Solaro.
I rode the funicular up to Capri town and then made my way directly to the bus stop (towards your right when you exit the funicular walk about 100 yds). I hopped on the bus to Anacapri. I walked to St Michaels church. The entire floor is a mural. There is wood planking around the sides to walk and view from different angles. There is a spiral staircase to your left when you enter. Climb up here for a better view. I then took the chair lift up to Monte Solaro. The chair lift is one person wooden seat with an arm bar. The ride takes about 15 min. About 2/3rds up there is an interesting display right below. There is a statue of a woman and a little pond with porcelain items. Maybe the experts know what I'm describing and the symbolism. There is a restaraunt at the top of Monte Solaro, where you grab a beer and enjoy the panorama view of the entire island and nearby islands. I spent about 30 min at the top enjoying the views. I took the chair lift back down and checked out the pool at the hotel (glass view of pool from street level) on the way to Villa St Michelle. The sign for the villa is a little skewed. The hotel will be on your right and the chair lift at your back. The villa provide some more excellent views. I grabbed a slice of pizza for lunch. This was the worst food on my entire trip. I took the bus back down to Capri (if you want a seat use the bus stop a 100 yds down the road from where you got off the bus in Anacapri...there is a bus station right next to the stop, I think it's considered the cemetary stop). Everyone else waits at the stop by the small piazza. I strolled around Capri going down Rodeo Drive. I stopped at Buoncore for a gelato. Next, I walked to the public gardens (finally something cheap on Capri- free). There are excellent views from the gardens and a few benches to relax. I then debated between walking to Villa Jovis or taking a one hour boat ride around the island. My legs won and I decided to take the boat ride. I took the funiclar back down to the marina. The Laserjet ticket office is located across from pier 23. The cost was 14 euros. The boat ride was a lot of fun. You pass through the Faglioni Rocks and even enter a couple of green grottos. I chose not to do the blue grotto but I still wanted the perspective from the water. I bought my ticket for the 1815 ferry back to Sorrento (9.80 euros) and took the funicular back up to Capri for a cafe espresso on the piazza. I then headed back to the marina and another stop at a cafe for a beer and more people watching. I caught the ferry back to Sorrento and then the blue bus back to Piazza Tasso. I walked back to Sant' Agnello for an early dinner at Il Capannos since I had an early start on Thurs.
Thurs- The taxi was waiting for me even before 0430. I arrived at the train station and it wasn't open yet. The taxi driver hung out down the street by a cafe just in case. The lady opened up the doors about 10 to 5. I had previously bought my ticket so I was ready to go. I sat in the car next to the condcuctors but never felt any issues with thieves. I arrived in Naples on time at 0606 and almost caught the 0610 Alibus to the airport. I waited for the 0640 bus with a few other folks. The local bus stop is next to the Alibus stop but is closer to McDonalds. Taxi drivers kept stopping and trying to get us to take a taxi. Lets see 3 euros for the bus or 16-20 euros for the taxi. Easy choice for me. Saved money for vino mandorla on Sicily. The bus came right at 0640 and we arrived at the airport in less than 15 min. My 0900 flight to Catania didn't even have the check-in counter listed yet so no problem on getting to the airport in time for a 0900 flight.