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Trip Report April 16-20th

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Seattle
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Trip Report April 16-20th

After 2 days in Paris & 5 days in Rome we were headed to Sorrento.

You can read my TR from Paris here: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187147-i14-k54241…

And the one from Rome here: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187791-i22-k54241…

We took the train from Rome to Naples. Once in Naples we had to switch train to go to Sorrento. I had a rough idea on how to buy those tickets & I knew we had to catch the train at a lower level. While I was trying to orient myself, a man approached my husband & asked him if he was going to Sorrento. When he said yes, the man said “hurry, hurry, the express train leaves in 10 minutes, follow me”. My husband called me over all proud that he had found someone to help & we started following this man almost running. He first brought us to a counter that had a line. He kept looking at his watch saying “Hurry if you miss the express, the next train stops everywhere & takes a long, long time!” He cut to the front of the line & spoke to the agent who gave him 2 tickets. He showed us the price on the ticket (8 Euros/ea) & asked us for $. We gave it to him, he in turn went back to the counter & gave it to the agent. He grabbed one of my bags & started walking so fast he was almost running. We followed him through a long corridor, down an escalator. At that point he tried to also grabbed one of my husband’s bag but there was no way he was going to let go of the bag as we were more & more suspicious of that man. We finally got to a platform that said Sorrento. We were relieved. We thanked him & handed him a couple Euros as a tip. He said “No, dieci (10)”. My husband handed him another 2 Euros. He insisted “Dieci”. We looked at each other & decided that he had been very helpful & we would certainly had missed the express train if he wouldn’t have helped us, so I handed him 10 Euros. He turned towards my husband “Dieci” . Now he wanted 10 from each of us. My husband looked at him with a firm “no” & a look that said “Don’t push your luck Buddy!” He got it, smiled & walked away.

We barely got on the train as it was so crowded. It was standing room only & we were stuffed like sardines. As soon as the train left we looked up at the sign that shows all the stops. Surprise, surprise, we had 34 stops before our destination. This was not tan Express train at all. We had been scammed! We laughed as we realized we could have saved 10Euros but it was a small price to experience another exciting adventure. We don't even know if there's such a thing as an express train.

We arrived in Sorrento about 1:15hr later. I had the directions to walk to our Hotel (15-20min) but it was raining & the directions looked a bit tricky so since we had all of our luggage we decided to take a Taxi.

I had made reservations with the Ulisse Deluxe Hostel. It was only 50Euros/night & had great reviews. My husband was skeptical. Because of the price & the word “Hostel” in the name, he was afraid I had picked a dump. It turns out to be pretty nice. The room was not luxurious but it was pretty big, clean & the bed, although very hard, was very comfortable.

By this time we were starving. Most of the restaurants close at 3pm between lunch & dinner. It was already 2:15pm so we picked a place only about 5 min walk away. The place was beautiful & we had a pretty nice lunch. We tried fried artichokes & that was a bust. We would not have that again but the pastas although not memorable were good.

We walked a bit further down the main street & decided to sit outside at Fauno Bar so we could have a drink while my husband smoked. This place was really cool. With each round of drinks they brought us complimentary delicious olives, peanuts, cookies & chips. This was a great spot for people watching, being out of the rain & playing cards.

The rain had briefly stopped so we decided to adventure ourselves down to the Marina Grande. Once we got away from the main square we felt like we owned the streets, there was no one else in site. It was kind of sad in a way because it felt like a small fishing village dying because there were no tourists. The cobbled stone streets were really narrow. It had a really charming & eerie feeling all at the same time. The Marina was deserted. We found the restaurant we had heard was good, Delfinos. Fortunately, it was open but no one else was there. Dinner was expensive & a bit disappointing. Maybe the combination of the gloomy weather & the fact that we were the only one in the place kind of made us feel strange. Nothing was bad but just not up to our expectations. The service was excellent though & very friendly.

We had a very steep climb to get back to our Hotel but we needed the exercise after all that pasta :-)

The next 2 days coming soon.

Seattle
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1. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

Sorrento in the rain

We woke up to rain & thunder. The weather was supposed to clear up by noon so we had planned to take the local bus & visit the Amalfi Coast. We were going to save the Island of Capri for the next day, the only supposedly sunny day of our trip. By noon the rain had already almost soaked through our shoes & there was no sign of it stopping so we nixed the idea of leaving Sorrento. We didn’t want to end up soaking wet far away from our Hotel.

We just spent a relaxing day visiting & shopping in the quaint little shops & artisans workshops of Sorrento. We got lessons on how to do wood work & cameos out of shells. That was one of the things we really liked about Sorrento. The shops were really nice & several of them were unique in their own way. And if you showed interest in what they were doing, their trade, the shopkeepers would enthusiastically demonstrate or explain what they do without putting any pressure for you to buy. They were genuinely nice.

We stopped once in a while in Cafes to dry ourselves out, have drinks & play cards. Our favorite place to do that was really on the terrace at Fauno Bar. They were always very welcoming. it was a great place for people watching & the service was the best we've had of our whole trip.

During a quick break in the rain, we walked to the train station to visit the tourist information desk located there. Like many other establishments in Italy, it was closed for a few hours in the afternoon. Apparently Italians like to take long lunches so they close their business during that time.

Well we became the “information desk” for several visitors that were just getting off the train. We knew how it felt to arrive with your luggage not knowing where to go as we had just experienced it ourselves. We now felt familiar enough with the town so we volunteered our help. Soon people were walking up to us to ask questions.

We even decided to walk to her Hotel a nice lady, who was travelling alone from Boston. She looked disoriented & a bit insecure. We didn’t know of her Hotel but with the address & a map we felt we could find it. It was only 10 min walk & it was actually fun. She was really happy! We reminded ourselves of that guy that offered to help us in Naples except we didn't lie to her & we didn't ask for $, LOL

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

Keep it coming, great reading.

Maggie

Norwich, United...
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3. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

Husbands - what a shower we are.... I do sometimes wonder who'd have 'em, and why?

26 Euro or more, for some help with your bags, and two tickets that should have been only 4 Euro each?

Didn't you find.....

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187785-i421-k5220…

Whether you actually caught one or not, there is a slight difference with the 'Express' trains - since they skip about 14 of those stations, to cut a journey scheduled to take 66 minutes down to 50... marked as DD on:

vesuviana.it/web/…20dispari.pdf

Lovely to see you rising above the weather - one of the least jolly Aprils we've had, and only really improved towards the month's end...

http://www.pbase.com/isolaverde/recisch

Peter

PS... on the subjects of husbands, and of long lunch hours - you may, or may not, be amused by this exchange from an old Jack Lemmon movie that partly shot in Sorrento and also here on Ischia:

Carlo Carlucci: In Italy, the lunch hour is from one to four.

Wendell Armbruster: *Three hours* for lunch?

Carlo Carlucci: Mr. Armbruster. Here we do not rush to drugstore for chicken sandwich & Coca-Cola. Here, we take our time. We cook our pasta, we sprinkle our Parmigiano, we drink our wine, we make our love...

Wendell Armbruster: What do you do in the evening?

Carlo Carlucci: In the evening, we go home to our wives.

See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068240/

UK
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4. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

Certainly not a nice experience at Naples Station, but you made Sorrento in the end, that and the weather not a good start, I hope it improved,

UK
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for Sorrento
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5. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

Enjoying your trip report. It's great to see mention of the parts of Sorrento beyond Piazza Tasso and Corso Italia! Don't forget to post a link to the report in the Trip Report section of the Forum. That way it will not get "lost" and so be available for future visitors.

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g187782-i162-k38…

Austin, Texas
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6. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

I would just like to compliment you on having such a great attitude about some of the travails you encountered on your trip. Some would be raging about being scammed by dishonest Italians and bemoaning the horrible weather, whereas you clearly took it all in stride and thereby prevented it from tarnishing the other opportunities you had to enjoy your time in Italy. Well done!

Edited: 20 May 2012, 13:16
Sydney, Australia
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for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
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7. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

Excellent trip report I'm enjoying reading about your adventures... 34 stops on a train however would send me crazy !!

Seattle
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8. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

Peter, I made a mistake when I wrote my report. We did pay 4 Euros/tickets so it was 8 Euros total. We gave the guy only 10 Euros. I grabbed back from his hand all the $ we had given him before I handed him the 10 Euros, LOL. So it really only cost us 18 Euros.

I had seen your link (which was great by the way) & I had all the instructions written down. We had just gotten off the train & we were still on the platform when my husband "found" this man who helped us. I was opening my bag to pull the instructions out but the man & my husband, at that point, insisted that we should hurry. It's fine. It was just a good lesson learned. It only cost us an extra 10Euros & we have a good story to tell. BTW, we saw the man again when we stopped in Naples on our way to Florence. I'll tell more about that on the report of that day :-)

I wish we could have visited Ischia. From all your beautiful photos I have learned to love it. Thanks for sharing.

That was an amusing exchange. I'll try to rent that movie :-)

Seattle
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9. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

I'm glad you're all enjoying my TR. I wasn't sure if it would be too long but I figure I like the details when I read the TRs so I'm adding some to to help others.

Once I'm done posting everything I will post a link on the Trip Report Section. Thanks for reminding me modemUK!

Edited: 20 May 2012, 18:07
Seattle
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10. Re: Trip Report April 16-20th

The Amalfi Coast

We woke up to a blue sky & sunshine, woohoo!!! We had to decide if we were going to take a boat to Capri or a bus to the Amalfi Coast. After talking to a few people we opted for the Amalfi Coast.

It’s really easy. We just had to go to the train station, buy the tickets at the little store (7,20E/ea for 24hr) and stand in the line across the street. Fortunately the 10:30am bus had not left yet but unfortunately we were at the end of the line & we were not sure we would make it on the bus. We were the last 2 to make it on the bus :-). Everyone behind us had to wait another 30 min for the next bus. I got the last seat but my husband had to stand. He had the best place in the bus for pictures though as he was standing in the stairs of the back doors & the doors were almost all windows.

None of the pictures give justice to what we saw. This must be the most scenic views in the world. 1:30hr trip of which 1hr is riding on very narrow winding roads on top of cliffs with views of villages & the sea.

I’m surprised I didn’t feel sick as the bus constantly stops & goes with sudden jerks. I think I was too busy “ooing & aahing” at the amazing views. We frequently had to stop so cars or buses would have to back up & maneuver around us or us around them. About ½ way through my husband was able to get a seat as people were getting off at different stops.

We had originally planned to stop in Positano for lunch & continue later to Amalfi but when we saw how crowded the bus was & I had read stories of the bus sometime not even stopping if it was full, we didn't take a chance & decided to go all the way to Amalfi. We also wanted to go to Ravello but after that bus ride we both felt a bit queezy so the last thing we wanted is to get into another bus.

We spent a few hours in Amalfi & had a terrific lunch. Probably the best Carpaccio we’ve ever had.

It’s hard to imagine how they built the houses right on the cliffs. It’s beautiful & very impressive. I thought the town was a bit rundown though & the shops that I saw just carried either the same things as the ones in Sorrento or old very generic clothes & things that I would probably find in any tourist coastal town in the US. We both much preferred Sorrento. It was still worth going just for the ride back & forth.

Later we met another couple that had chosen to go to Capri that day. They said the weather was bad in Capri & the boat rides were terrible because of the wind & waves. Several peoople had gotten sick. So we had made the right choice to go to Amalfi.

We had a great dinner in Sorrento at Taverna Allegra. This was the most fun we’ve had at a restaurant since the beginning of our trip. They gave us the best welcome of all the places we ate at in Italy. They made us feel like family. The service was excellent & very friendly. They had a musician walking & singing in between the tables all through the night. It was very entertaining. It was very lively & it would be my top recommendation for a restaurant in Sorrento.

We have noticed in Italy that some places welcome you very warmly & some others are not shy to show that they are not thrilled that you’re there or that they couldn’t care less whether you’re there or not.

First hiccup of our trip. We found out when we got back to our Hotel that there will be a strike for the train between Sorrento & Naples on Friday. That’s the day we need to get to Naples to catch our train to Florence :-(. We had pre-purchased Mini-Fare so we couldn't take the chance to miss our train in Naples. Thankfully it was only Wednesday so we had the next day to figure out a solution.

Edited: 20 May 2012, 18:15