Sunday, August 3, 2014

Last Stop, Sorrento

Actually, it was supposed to be Capri.  But there was some sort of dispute about tenders. Azamara Quest has its own tenders, but the people in Capri were apparently insisting upon using their tenders, which the Azamara people did not feel were sufficiently safe.  So we ended up going to Sorrento, instead.

We'd booked a tour in Capri, but now that we were starting from Sorrento, the tour would be several hours longer. We'd have to take the tender to Sorrento, and then a ferry to Capri to meet up with the tour. And at the end, we'd need to take a ferry back to Sorrento, and then the tender back to the ship. Tomorrow, I'm thinking, we will disembark and go straight to the airport in Rome for our 9-hour flight back to the United States.  So tomorrow will be a long day.  And yesterday was a long day.  I consult with Xingxing, and we decide that it would be better for today to be an easy day. We'll skip the Capri tour and explore Sorrento, instead.

Sorrento sits on top of a massive escarpment.  There is supposed to be an elevator to take you up. That's what it says in the brochure. But we follow a bunch of other tourists and end up on a narrow, winding, cobblestoned road that leads torturously up the cliff face.  Then we come to the steps. Look very closely at the upper right side of the photograph and you will see them.  Unbelievable steps.  Many, many steps. We can go back down and start over, or we can climb the steps. We climb the steps.

At the top of the topmost landing, we emerge into a noisy, seething crowd of tourists and vehicles jostling for space on a thoroughfare not much larger than a driveway. I consult my map. It bears no relation to the reality that confronts us. We make our way along a narrow pavement, with thousands of other people, most of whom are wearing backpacks. There are shops. There are cafes. But there is nothing picturesque about this particular bit of Sorrento. It is hot, noisy and crowded. We try a side street. That's not particularly interesting, either. And it's steep. Everything seems to be uphill, in Sorrento.

We stop at a cafe, and I have a glass of wine. And I buy a jar of lemon marmalade. I'd hoped to buy some lemon fudge, as well. But I don't see any, and I don't have enough Italian to ask for it. Want to go back to the ship? I ask Xingxing. He wags, enthusiastically. But we're not going down those steps, I tell him. We're going to find that elevator.

I ask several groups of English tourists for directions. Down this street and take the first right, they tell me. It's just across from the Franciscan monastery. You'll see signs. We found the Franciscan Monastery, but we didn't see any signs. Once again, we found ourselves on the narrow, winding cobblestone road. At least this time, we're going downhill.

Back at the ship, we enjoy the luncheon buffet. Xingxing has learned a new command during this trip: Buffet.  It means, sit quietly and in a few minutes, I'll come back with a plateful of food. Xingxing has become very good at this. Xingxing is very good at anything that involves food. But the best thing is that he never once says, You know what? We should have gone to Capri.

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