Napoli, Sorrento and beyond

Naples - City Streets
Naples - City Streets

After our adventures in Rome, our next stop was Napoli. We headed to the Termini train station to reserve our seats - two seat reservations in 1st class came to 10 Euro.

In recent times, having traveled a fair amount on the trains in Italy, we had noticed that the train conductors were not overly concerned with our Eurail pass - it was always the reservation (which looks almost exactly like a regular ticket), that they were interested in.

It was at this point we decided to take a punt. Could we get to Napoli from Rome for 10 Euro in 1st class? The answer is yes. In fact it appeared you could have ridden the entire journey without paying, proving you got off before the last stop, being Napoli. It wasn't until about 5 minutes before our arrival in Napoli that the conductor came rushing through our carriage.

He looked at our 1st class reservation... stamped it... and moved on.

We navigated our way from the train platform down in to the Metro, finally emerging about 500m from our hostel.

First impressions of Napoli are of a chaotic city - people every where, and for every person walking there are about 10 motor scooters buzzing in and around people, cars and anything else that gets in their way.

The green pedestrian lights at crossings often don't mean much - especially to scooters who seem to be above the law. Stepping onto the street has to be an act back by full confidence - its as though the traffic can smell your fear, and the slightest of hesitations could end up with a very close encounter with a Moped.

After the initial shock, and after putting the heavy back packs down in our hostel we set out to absorb more of what Napoli has to offer - in particular delicious pizza.

On our second day in Napoli we decided to catch the train out to Pompeii for the day and explore the old city. We had been told that the Napoli train station was a pretty dodge place, and we found out first hand how dodge it could be.

On entering the train station we immediately walked towards the automatic ticket machines to purchase our tickets for the day.

After waiting in line for a few moments a friendly man wandered over to us and asked if we required help. Immediately recognizing the blue shirts worn by the Italian train staff we responded by asking for tickets to Pompeii.

With this he led us across the station, away from the lines at the ticket machines to a newsagent stand. Here he asked the owner for the tickets we required to Pompeii and back - a total of about 10 Euro. We handed him money and received our change.

The man then took the tickets from the news stand owner and took us to the ticket validation machine. He validated our out-bound tickets for us and handed them to us. He was a little reluctant to give us the return tickets - at which point we began feeling like something was up. He eventually gave us the tickets and then mentioned that "Tips are nice."

At this point we looked closer and his blue shirt, while remarkably similar to those worn by the Italian train staff did not actually carry the train companies logo.

It then hit us that we had been taken for a bit of a ride, and were even in doubt that we had the correct tickets.

Mean while the man continued to request tips, "10 Euro is nice." The return tickets didn't even cost us this much! At this point we thanked the man for his help and began walking off. This was obviously not to the mans liking as he began yelling at us - "Tips, Tips, give me tips!"

We were both a little spooked after that, and every loud noise or bang that we heard as we hoofed it to the platform made us turn and check behind us that no-one was in pursuit, which they weren't.

We verified that we had reached the correct platform and that we had the correct tickets - which made us feel a little better, but we were still a little unsettled by the fact that we had not picked up on what was going on. In hind sight, the man had actually helped us - although it was help we could have done without.

Pompeii - Body
Pompeii - Body

Once we got to Pompeii we had a fantastic day. Pompeii was dry, hot and dusty, with virtually no shade in the whole place.

Unfortunately we don't often travel on day trips with much ID (except photo copies of our passports) - this meant couldn't get one of the audio guides that had been recommended to us by others at our hostel. This was a little disappointing, however we managed to get around most of the city (which is huge), and saw most of the main sights.

The following day we left Napoli for Sorrento - with a little apprehension about what we would find, as the Lonely Planet guide had not given it a great wrap.

We arrived in Sorrento and were surprised. The town was actually very nice, and our camp ground was huge and resort style. We had booked into a small cabin van, and were within 50m walk from the pool, the mini-market, and the restaurant.

The cabins were arranged into a group of about 6, with a small basic kitchen and fridge in another separate half cabin.

We were also lucky enough to have two other great groups of people in the cabins near us - one young Australia couple, and a group of three Irish girls. Other groups of people came and went over the time, but our three groups were the constants over the week that we stayed there.

We actually loved it there so much, we extended our stay by a day. We couldn't see any reason to return to Napoli - especially with the weather as good as it was and a pool and the ocean on our door step.

We also found we were able to live reasonably cheaply, yet another reason to stay on.

From Sorrento we made a day trip to Positano, which was an interestingly windy 20km, 1 hour bus ride.

The following day we ventured out to Capri, with the intention of seeing the blue grotto  - however on arriving we quickly discovered that the tides had been wrong, and there was no way to get into the grotto. This put a bit of a hole in our plans for Capri. We eventually decided to do a boat tour around the island anyway, which turned out to be quite nice.

The remainder of the time in Sorrento was spent lazily by the pool, at the (rock) beach (with its amazing blue water) or around the cabins at night with a few drinks and a chat with the others staying there.

Today sees us finally return to Napoli - back to the heat, but at least its only for one night. Tomorrow we are off to Benevento and San Lupo for three days!

We do have photos, but until we find a new iPod cable, we may not be able to put any of them up...