Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Naples, Part III

The final chapter.

One of the trips I'd organised was to the island of Capri which is just a short ( but not short enough for some) boat trip away from Naples.

I'd read some amazing reviews on TripAdvisor and with this in mind booked a personal guided tour of the island.  It's not cheap, but on the other hand it certainly ensured that we saw everything we needed to on the island, were never stressed about anything and possibly had one of our best days out whilst in the area.

Paolo (cute Italian with designer shades to match the rest of his subtley designer outfit) met us at the port, introduced himself and then whizzed off to get the tickets for the boat.

The crossing takes maybe 50 minutes in a very noisy jet boat/ferry thingy (foot passengers only, the island is so tiny they really don't want to allow any Tom, Dick or Harry* driving around their teeny weeny bendy roads) not long, not long at all.   But too much (even on the milk pond we had) for Jasmine's motion sensitive stomach.  She returned from the toilet saying she'd been unable to use it because there was a queue (what a surprise, a queue for the ladies' loo) and anyway she hadn't needed the loo but rather felt sick, as we then tried to get her out of our row of seats and towards the back where there was fresh air the worst thing happened.


And as it's just a quick little hop over, no sick bags.   Simon, the seating and the lady in front took the worst of it.   I was fine, as I was behind her, pushing her out, Paolo and Ben were also out of shot and Jas has been in this situation enough times now that she's learnt not to get it on herself (clever cookie, especially as she was wearing my jumper).   Simon and Paolo took the heaving Jas to the back of the boat (Paolo having magiced a plastic bag from his über trendy little manbag) while I tried to clean up the seats and not catch the eye of the lady who now had rather unpleasant smelling hair and clothes**.

The moment we touched down in the tiny port in Capri Paolo whisked us to a café where he knew the owner so that we coud use the facilities (without black glares) and clean up.  The plan had been that once in Capri we would jump into a smaller boat to travel round to the Blue Grotto.   This plan was changed (I wonder why?) and we were to drive there in one of the oh so cute soft top stretch capri taxis, however this also had to be put on hold as the grotto was temporarily shut (when the sea is too choppy or the sea level itself is too high then the grotto is unreachable). Apparently the boat load of Chinese tourists that had accompanied us visit Capri only to see the grotto and often break down into tears when they turn up and find that the grotto is shut.

Instead, our car took us up to Anacapri (the little and not so in your face glamourous sister to the main town of Capri, where all the money hangs out) from there we took the chair lift to the top of the island.  By this time the weather was turning against us and Paolo cajoled two fleece jackets out of the staff on the chair lift in order to keep Jas and Ben warm.  On the way up the chair lift was deserted but on the way back down (after enjoying the spectacular views) all the seats were full, everyone else who'd turned up for the blue grotto trying to find something to do whilst waiting for it to open, but we'd beaten them to it, a good job as on our way down it started to rain.

The good news when we got back into Anacapri was that the Blue Grotto had just been opened and so off we went.

The grotto is accessed through a small gap in the cliff face at sea level. A gap that is just big enough for a rowing boat to fit through as long as the people in it lie down, this is the closest I've come to getting a hug from my son for some time!  Once through the hole in the rock you enter a large cavern that has no light save that which comes through the hole, but this light is sufficient to illuminate the cavern with a glowing bright blue light.  I know it's called the Blue Grotto, but you just don't expect it to be so blue.   I've never seen such a bright, natural turquoise light, it was amazing. And of course the Italian oarsmen make it even more special, clearly wanting to earn their tips, and sing - a bit like in the Cornetto ads of old, but better, so much better.

We emerged from the dazzling grotto to worsening weather, rain, but not to worry, Paolo had found umbrellas from somewhere (the mandbag wasn't that big, unless it had a Hermione style enchantment on it of course) and we were driven back to Anacapri for a wander (shopping) and lunch.

After yet more pizza had been devoured (although I think Simon had salad) we drove to Capri, our final stop of the day where we avoided the very expensive cafés in the famous square (where people primarily sit to see and be seen rather than to actually take sustenance) and headed instead down to the famous Krupp (Augustus) gardens, free of charge so early in the season but to be brutally honest the only thing worth paying for is the view as the gardens themselves are tiny, there are houses here with larger I'm sure, although they do lack the cliff drop into the sea and the view of Sophia Loren's Capri base (no sign of the lady herself, she's only there a few weeks of the year, choosing instead to spend her time in Rome - see, a personal guide is well worthwhile, the trivia you find out).  And then it was back up through the café square, past all the exclusive boutiques*** and to the funicular railway for the trip down to the harbour for the boat ride back.

Jas and I spent the whole of the return trip on the back of the boat, which was noisy and smelly (from the engines and engine fumes and also from the smokers) but at least it ensured we didn't get to see Jas's lunch again, shudder.

It was a truly memorable day, made so by the attentive Paolo as well as the beauty of the island of Capri, if you ever get the chance you shoud go, just for the day though, it's a small but very exclusive island and to spend longer there would be quite draining, financially.

* Or rather Tomaso, Riccardo and Harald, but apparently there is an Italian equivalent of the phrase, "ogni Tizio, Caio, e Sempronio".
** I mean, what can you say or do in that situation that is ever going to make amends.   After handing over tissues and saying "sorry" what will make it better?  A magic wand I guess, or a time travelling device...
*** Tod's, Gucci, Prada blah blah.

No comments: