“I do not know why I go on. I do not search for truth. I do not believe in it. But I believe in something. Maybe simply in the beauty of the world which I wander or in the will to live itself.” – Unknown
Arlene, our roommate Jen, and I all head to the island of Capri. It was a bit overcast in the morning, but luckily the sun came out and it ended up being a beautiful day! It is spendy to get to Capri because of the boat ride, but well worth it. The “boat” that takes us to the island is more like a mini airplane inside. We were expecting a small shuttle-boat but instead were on this giant ferry meets airplane with a bazillion seats inside. I have to trust that all those seats are necessary in the peak tourist season, because at the moment, it seems completely unnecessary.
Upon arrival, we decide to take one of the small, normal boats around the island. It took us first to the famous “Blue Grotto.” Our main boat is anchored and we exit into a little rowboat where we are asked to sit on the floor of the boat. The three of us cram into the back section of the rowboat (another girl in the front) and the rower sits in the middle. We soon learn this is necessary because the cave entrance-way into the blue grotto is only a few feet high. After some tetris-like maneuvering, we are all comfortable enough and in we go! The rower leans all the way back on us to save his head as we enter, and we nearly crash into a boat exiting, but all is forgotten the second we look around inside the cave. The water is a brilliant, glowing blue caused by the sunlight passing into the cave though the water. I learn this used to be Roman Emperor Tiberius’ private swimming pool. Like an idiot, I still had my sunglasses on, so I was amazed for a second time once the rower told me to take them off! Wow…even more brilliant blue! We row around for a few minutes admiring the magical water while “O Sole Mio” is sung to us and soon we are back out into the main sea and onto the original boat.
The hour-long boat ride around Capri is a fantastic way to see the island. We see a couple more grottos (green & white, but nothing like the blue grotto) and the rest of the natural beauty that is Capri. The water everywhere is a beautiful turquoise.
After docking back at the pier we decide to wander. Here is where the story goes bad strange unexpected…well, I don’t know how to describe it! We see a sign that says “City Centre” and decide that is where we shall head. Following the arrows, we quickly learn that the city center is at the top of the island. This means we are walking uphill, through the while picturesque, also torturous, stone walkway to the center for about thirty minutes. Oh no. I am so miserable and hot. We were expecting this pleasant, relaxing day in Capri and here we are under the hot (formerly pleasant) sun hiking uphill for what felt like forever! Even Bill Bryson agrees, “Neither [of my guidebooks] so much as hinted that Capri town was miles away up a vertical mountainside. I looked around for a bus or a taxi or even a burro, but there was nothing, so with a practiced sigh I tuned and began the long trek up. It was a taxing climb, mollified by some attractive villas and sea views. […] a mile or so along, some steep and twisting steps had been hewn out of the undergrowth and they appeared to offer a more direct, if rather more precipitate, route to Capri town. I have never seen such endless steps. They just went on and on. They were closed in by the whitewashed walls of villas on both sides and overhung by tumbling fragrant shrubs – highly fetching, but after about the three hundredth step I was gasping and sweating so much that the beauty was entirely lost on me. […] it looked as if the summit might be just ahead, but then I would round a turning to be confronted by another expanse of steps and yet another receding view of town. I stumbled on…”
Finally we arrive (thank you God) and window shop the trendy, expensive stores filled with jewelry, crystal, clothing, swimwear, and accessories. The view from the city center was fantastic as it overlooked the entire island and the sea. Well, it’s the LEAST that I expect after that unexpected workout. Haha. We grab lunch and discover we have time to explore. We read in Jen’s guidebook that here we can find Villa Jovis, the remains of Tiberius’ palace he created after fleeing Rome to escape assassination. The book states that Tiberius enjoyed secret pleasures in this palace. Huh? They can’t be that secret if a couple thousand years later it is in a guidebook, can they?
For nearly an hour we follow these tricky little signs up, yes up, more picturesque, winding roads to try to find Villa Jovis. The signs began at the City Center, but only provided the name and an arrow. We constantly thought we must have arrived, but looking around and seeing no palace, we intelligently assumed we had not. The arrow signs were now being accompanied with informative signs about Villa Jovis, so we think, “Ok, if they are telling us about the place…surely we are here now.” Nope, not quite.
This continued and continued. We did enjoy ourselves along the way. The walkways through Capri took us past a plethora of beautiful homes and gardens. The weather was perfect and we could look down upon the island and the sea the whole way. I could smell the lilacs the framed many of the home’s entrance-ways. I could also smell the lemon trees all over, so the walk was quite pleasant besides the thoughts that we may never reach the palace…which ultimately we never did! We got SO close. We saw some ruins… but not the right ruins. Finally we came to a clearing, in which no more of the teasing arrows would even point our way. We looked up ahead and saw, at the very peak of the island…Villa Jovis. It was at least another 20 minutes away and at this time, we had to turn around to catch the boat back. Ah, what could’ve been.
On the walk back down, we treated ourselves to gelato, and ultimately had to run the final stretch to make the boat. On the boat ride back we all instantly crashed. All that uphill walking!
Back in Sorrento, we wandered the shopping streets and we grabbed a nice dinner. Back in the hostel, which was very quiet tonight, we hung with a couple new friends also staying in the hostel, Ian & Tori, grabbed a table and enjoyed our bottles of wine. Ian, Tori, & I unexpectedly stayed up until sunrise listening to music on Ian’s laptop, reminiscing our youth. Ian even danced the “Cupid Shuffle” for me!
Tomorrow will be our last night in Sorrento…after visiting Pompeii during the day.