A Travellerspoint blog

Salerno - Amalfi Coast

all seasons in one day
View RTW 2008 on jezems's travel map.

Jeremy- Back on mainland Italy we headed for The Amalfi Coast. To save some money we decided to stay in the less touristy town of Salerno. The guide books were very brief about this place but this is mainly because there aren't really any tourist attractions here. However, it was a really great place, with a vibrant little old town and restaurants everywhere. It was a short bus ride to the main amalfi attractions, a bus ride that took us around a winding coastal road with a mad bus driver that did the hour and 15 min trip in 45 min. Its an interesting system they have where the bus approaches a corner sounds its horn and then swings around taking up both sides of the road. The rules seem to give way to the biggest vehicle. Rules are give way to the biggest vehicle or else!

We spent a day on the beach and wandering the town of Amalfi with the hundreds of other tourists before jumping back on the rollercoaster back to Salerno. As we rounded the last bend into Salerno a fantastic storm broke on the hills behind the town, we made it back to our hostel just in time as the lightning and rain arrived with a vengeance. From my window you could see the lightning striking the tall buildings across the city. Below are the pictures of the sky afterwards as the sun was setting, quite impressive. The next day we headed for that other famous Italian coastline, Cinque Tere!

Amalfi's church

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Amalfi panni

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Amalfi beach
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Amalfi coast
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Amalfi coast
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Amalfi coast from crazy bus window

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Salerno Skyline
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Posted by jezems 14:56

Taormina

sunny
View RTW 2008 on jezems's travel map.

Probably one of my all time favourite spots on this trip, Taromina is simply gorgeous and my only regret is that we couldn't stay there any longer. Upon our arrival at the Taromina train station we saw a sign stating it was a 3km to the hostel but this didn't mention it was a steep mountain 3 km hike on a road with no pedestrian pavement and
crazy Italian drivers. Somewhat confused I walked into a local hotel asking for directions, when he realized I was intending to walk to the hostel he called me crazy and directed me to a local bus stop. Funnily enough the hostel was called Odyssey Hostel and it felt like we were on one just trying to get there. As we hiked our way forward, with the Sicilian sun searing our backs, fellow backpackers would shout out encouraging comments such as - "you're nearly there," "only ten minutes more." By the time we got there both our backs and our spirits were broken.

However, once we settled into our dorm rooms and sculled two litres of water we discovered a cool little seaside resort. We had a lovely meal at a local trattoria and discovered that the owner had a friend
who lived in Melbourne and owned an Italian restaurant on Glenferrie Road - small world.

Jeremy - doesn't everyone in Italy have a cousin or friend in Melbourne?
We spent our only full day here on the pebble beach, accessed via a funicular. This beach was great and we nearly forgot about the lack of sand. The water was crystal clear and really refreshing, it was a little difficult to get into though,as the rocks were smooth and slippery. After a few hours lazing about we headed back up the funicular, before we got sun burnt, to enjoy a meal on a terrace with views of Mount Etna (as the sun set we could see a line of lava flowing down its side). The next day we left for Salerno.

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Posted by jezems 14:46 Archived in Italy

Eiffel Tower

semi-overcast 20 °C
View RTW 2008 on jezems's travel map.

Ok so we are a little behind in the blog but we are getting there :) However, I think it's worth while fast forwarding a little to Paris, well specifically the Eiffel Tower, before going on with the other places on the way there. On our fourth day in Paris we decided to ascend the stairs to the viewing platform of the tower. We arrived just before sunset and managed to get through the line and up the stairs before the sun had set. This was a great time of day to be here, the crowds were low and you were able to watch the city light up as the sun went down. Now although the tower was impressive it is not the reason for breaking the sequence of the blog.

SO as the sun set and the tower lit up under bright blue lighting, we stood on the quiet side of the tower away from the other tourist discussing life when we get back to Aus. There was a sense of anticipation in the air as we both kind of knew where this conversation may be heading (well one of us knew). This carried on until Emily, matter- o-factly asked if I was asking her to marry me, and I said "Well yes I am" and then got to ask the question to which the "Yes" came before I could finish the sentence. The next question was do I have a ring? Now I had a plan for some time that somewhere in Europe I would pop the question to Ems, but the dilemma had been about the cost of the diamond ring and the effect on our trip. The solution I thought would be to buy a decent ring to make do until we can get a proper diamond nearer the end of the trip, Emily agreed with this and gladly accepted a silver "Roman inspired" ring with two hands clasped.

So there you have it, we looking forward to the Engagement party when we get back and are booking Elvis for Las Vegas!

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Posted by jezems 14:31

Palermo- Mafia Capital

Emily - Four days in Palermo was probably too much, as it seems like this town is mostly known for its Mafia reputation. However, I have to admit the city surprised me, it was actually a pretty city with lots of great food and the people were quite friendly.
Jeremy - The Mafia seemed to have influence right down to the pavement. We had heard that they had a knack off getting the local municipal contracts, but as we walked around the town we noticed areas that had crumbling pavement. In other areas of Italy they have nice thick stones or pavers but here they had a thin layer of concrete with a stencilled out line of paving. No doubt another dodgy contract...
Emily didn't mention the ride on the train to get to Sicily which took about 11 or 12 hours and involved the train carriages being loaded onto a ferry. It was quite an experience, especially sitting with everybody's favorite TV celebrity Raymond; from Everybody Loves Raymond. His twin was on the train when we boarded in Rome and once we told him our destination he let out a massive sigh as this would mean we'd be in his company for the next 10 hours, after that we ignored him, but couldn't help thinking it would be funny to get a photo of him.
Emily - We did the obligatory tour of landmarks that were used in the Godfather movies, in particular the Opera House Teatro Massimo. This was where the the Corleone Family sit and watch Anthony sing while a dozen murders take place during the end scene of Godfather Part III. We also visited a catacomb where Italian monks have kept the embalmed bodies of locals from the 1800s onwards for tourists to gawk at (sorry no photos were allowed).
Jeremy- While the catacomb was freaky (particularly the room of deceased virgins and the one with babies) the Italian notion of a beach is almost as disturbing. We spent one day at the local beach, Mordello, which was a nice 2 or 3 km stretch of sand and bright blue water about 30mins bus ride from town. We arrived and found we could not access the beach! It was blocked by a fence and covered with wooden beach sheds that went to within 5 meters of the water. We walked along until we found a gate but were refused entry unless we paid, (14 euros each) so we kept walking in the hope of finding a free part. After walking half the length of the beach we found a way of sneaking down to the free 5 meters in front of the beach metropolis and enough room to spread out for the afternoon. It ended up a very relaxing afternoon of reading, swimming and Italian watching. There was also a group of talented Brazilian musicians (including a woman with an awesome voice) sitting near by entertaining us with beachy tunes on their guitar. We also witnessed an intriguing little twist relating to our hostel's staff which I'll come to later.
Emily - In Sicily, they take their siesta seriously so most shops were closed from 2-4pm which suited us as we got to enjoy the saga that was our hostel. Our hostel or should I say it was an apartment converted into a hostel was run by two couples one Italian the other Canadian, and it seems all the Canadian couple did was fight.
Jeremy - It was painful to watch and we started to feel like we had stumbled on to an Italian big brother! For starters the two Canadians were backpackers that had stayed on as workers and they slept in a storage room, with a Japanese guy who was also working there, just off the common room. The owners lived in a apartment next door, so right away we felt like we were in someones home because they were always hanging around. Now this was actually quite nice and very sociable but when the staff act as though it's their "house" rather than "workplace" it wears a little thin.
The first night the staff were putting on a dinner for 10 Euros, a reasonable price with four courses promised and to top it off the Canadian bloke was a "Chef", got to be great, right? Well I could have put on a better BBQ and no one would have been still hungry at the end of my four courses (we only got three anyway)! To make it worse the hostel had a policy of no outside alcohol allowed as they had previous problems (this didn't stop them selling us as much as we wanted at twice the supermarket price!) But back to the wacky staff. It was all hands on deck to cook this "feast" and tempers flared as the Chef had a few Ramsey moments and our first course was served with an accompaniment of tears from his girlfriend at the other end of the table. This went unnoticed by most of us who had got a bit tippsy waiting the hour for our first course. After the saga was over and despite of the obvious lack in quantity and quality of our meal the "Chef" was quick to hunt down his payments, counting his money as he walked around the hostel and even waking one person up to get the final amount owing. Needless to say we went out to get something more to eat with a few more beers (quite a few that night in a back alley with the locals, but that's another story, involving a a strange man in leather offering us cocaine...)!
So the stage was set from the next few days of arguments, strange arrangements and the girls day out on the same beach we happened to visit. Without going into too much detail (which i think I may already have done) while we were at the beach we saw the girl who owned the hostel with the Canadian girl frolicking around on a small paddle boat with a couple of local Italian boys, who were in the cliche white speedos with tanned bodies. At first it seemed like they were all mates and then it started to get hot and heavy with passionate kisses flowing freely. Emily and I took a double take as we were watching the next layer of intrigue in the Italian big brother house unfold before our eyes. I was keen to get some photos to secretly send through to the husband and boy friend but Emily convinced me not to, in hindsight it was a good move as it would have only added to the young and the restless atmosphere in the hostel.
During the rest of our stay were where waiting for the next big argument but it was all subdued and the girls rather sheepish. Needless to say we were glad to move on to the next city, forever tarnished and wondering if we may be to old for hostels.
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Posted by jezems 09:31

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