25.07.2011 26 °C
Friday 22nd July
Amalfi Coast and mountains.
Another glorious day in Positano, lovely morning, still and warm, breakfast watching the boats in the harbor getting ready for a day of messing about in boats.
Our day wasn't really planned except for a ferry ride in the morning and by days end I would not have imagined all the fun we had and how much adventure can be had taking a bus ride!
We took the slow ferry to Amalfi, sitting above deck, with very calm conditions and took about 35 minutes following the coastline from Positano, showing some of the spectacular hills and cliffs and remarkable houses, hotels and farms that are seemingly glued to the sides of the hills. Just happened to sit amongst 3 other groups of Aussies on the ferry so we all chatted about our trips so far and everyone was having a great time here.
Arrived in Amalfi, the largest town along this part of the coast, what to do now we wondered? 2 of the other Aussies had heard that there was a very nice town up in the hills called Ravello so after seeking out some bus tickets and locating a nice looking bus and calm looking bus driver, we took our seats, not realising this was to be the first of 5 thrill seeking bus rides for the day.
As soon as we took off the bus driver morphed into a death defying stunt driver, one handed sweeping around hairpin bends on the wrong side of the road, waving at other bus drivers, playing a significant tune on the bus air-horn and taking us up mountains that are covered in lemon groves. The trees are all trellised, I suppose to stop them falling down the mountain. In what seemed just minutes, we pulled up on the outskirts of Ravello. There were no vehicles allowed into town as they were preparing for a annual musical festival.
With no plan we wandered around the quiet town and got some amazing views of the Amalfi coastline on 1 side and cloud topped mountains on the other. Not really much else to do there, we made our way back to the bus stop, jumped on the next one going down and the driver this time made our 1st one look like a driving instructor. Even more extravagant gestures at one time when a French tourist car was in the wrong place, blocking our progression, our driver, all at the one time, yelled at him, waved at him to reverse back up the road and tooted madly at him all the while swearing at these "stupid foreigners who don't know how to drive". Hilarious stuff. Then shortly after, on another hairpin bend, the bus pulls up right next to a little truck on the side selling fruit & veg. Our man jumps off, selects a bunch of Basil and some fruit, pays the man, cracks a couple of jokes and resumes his seat. With the bus smelling sweetly of fresh Basil, off we go again, back to crazy driving!
Somewhat unsteadily we get off the bus, admiring both the scenery we have just seen and the driving skills of the now calm bus driver who is munching on the fruit he just bought.
Checking out Almalfi it didn't take long before the crowds and numerous souvenir shops were too much, apart from the Cathederal and narrow streets, it was just another busy tourist town. We found out the next ferry is not for another 2 hours, so we got our bus tickets and almost immediately the bus took off, with another crazy driver taking control. This time we were on the ribbon of road, glued to the mountains. Our seats were on the sea side so we got to look straight down hundreds of metres into the brilliant blue ocean below. More fun than on a roller coaster ride. The "journey" of about 15km took just under an hour and we were well pleased to get off at the top of the main street in Positano.
After a quick bite to eat and comfort stop at the apartment, we decided, what the heck, while we are at this bus game we will go to Montepruso, a village at the top of the nearest mountain, overlooking Positano. Maybe it was the incident where our bus was going up the mountain and an ambulance with emergency sirens & lights was coming down and met on a bend that was too small for both vehicles. Very calmly our driver indicated that he would back up but there was traffic behind him. Somehow a pillion passenger on a Vespa behind,gets off and directs traffic so the bus could back up enough for the ambo's to get by. With enough room, cheery waves all round and we are off again. However we missed our stop and just stayed on the bus until it terminated at Nocelle, a car park located WAY up on top of another mountain, and after walking around a bit, decided it would be a long sit down at the bus stop, waiting for the next bus in an hour. Sue was doubtful another bus was actually going to come here, but after chatting to some local ladies, yes another would be along in an hour, and yes she did own the little store we noticed and would be along directly. So we went to her store and waited and took some great photos overlooking Positano. The owner arrived and after bringing us a beer each, came outside with us and chatted to Sue about life up here, her family and so on. She told us there are only 120 permanent residents in Nocelle the numbers increase during tourist season between April to October. During the winter months the B&Bs and restuarants close down and the locals find casual work.All good until we saw / heard the bus coming up the other side of the valley. Paid and wandered back in time to get our returning bus all the way back down. Later, we were told it is only an hour or so easy walk back down, but on those narrow roads, it is very unlikely to be easy at all.
Kicking back at our apartment with a nerve tonic or two and laughed about how the day turned out, not what we imagined and a few more stories to tell later on. Chatted with our neighbours and then settled in for a quiet meal on the balcony and enjoyed watching the town lights and yachts come on as darkness fell. La Dolce Vita, the sweet life!!