Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Snow Day

Our mission today is to be at Rome airport to meet my nephew Ian's 16:25 flight arrival.

Before we even left our apartment in Amalfi, we noticed that it was snowing in Rome and various webcams showed white dusting.  We didn't get alarmed.  We had chosen to catch the 8am rather than 9am Amalfi-Salerno bus because of the precariousness of  the two-lane coastal road.   Half way through the ride, rain turned into snow, but we were relieved to arrive in Salerno on time around 9:15, only to find our 3-hour Salerno-Rome Intercity had been delayed.  When our train eventually pulled out around 11am, only ~30 minutes late, we congratulated ourselves for our good fortune, not knowing that was the whole extent of our luck.

Our train pulled into Naples around 12pm and sat in Naples for 2 hours, we then followed the crowd onto a faster (Frecce) train, sat for another hour.  At 3pm our train finally departed, headed to Roma Tiburtina, rather than Roma Termini.  A normally 70-minute turned into 180 minutes.  When we finally got off the train, some of the older passengers were shaking their heads with dismay, embarrassed at the ineptness of Trenitalia.  There we were, thinking the Naples-Rome train is cursed for us.  The last time we rode this route planes were crashing into buildings (Sept 11, 2001).  This time only Rome is getting its first snow in 26 years....

The easiest way from Roma Tiburtina to Fiumicino Airport is normally the commuter train, except due to the "critical weather conditions," they were not stopping in Tiburtina; so we take the Metro to Ostiense to catch up with the train.  Finally at 19:30, we got to Ian.  Amazingly his Heathrow-Rome flight was only 30 minutes late.  The poor young man had been patiently waiting for two hours.  John had insisted that we come to Rome earlier, so we would not be in this situation....  

At this point, we had enough of  public transport.  The three of us hopped in a taxi to our apartment in Rione Monti. 

Sun-Ling walks in front of Salerno Station.
Salerno, Italy

Waiting for our train on a very cold binario (platform) in Salerno.
Salerno, Italy

View from the train - somewhere between Naples and Rome.
On the train from Salerno to Rome, Italy

Eventually, as we neared Rome the skies cleared and the sun came out.
On the train from Salerno to Rome, Italy

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Walking in the Amalfi Coast

We had definite ideas of seeing the Amalfi Coast this second time. All we wanted to do was "walk" in the hills above. Instead we ended up with many unexpected highlights.

* The highlight of any walking in the Amalfi Coast is supposed to be the "Path of the Gods." Since there is no bus to the start (Bomerano) from Amalfi on Sunday, we had to do the walk in the rain on Saturday. Since no one else is as crazy as us, we literally had the path to ourselves. Because of the rain, we marched at a steady pace and completed the walk in the "advertised" time, something we never seemed to manage. Even though, sometimes we were completely in the clouds, when there was a break, watching the clouds move in and out was just as mesmerizing as clear views. 

* On Sunday we walked from Amalfi up to Pontone, Minuta, Scala, and Ravello; then down to Atrani. I was amazed to see that all the villages are connected by a maze of well maintained paths and stairs, not evident from studying maps at home. I had gathered from seeing all the terraced fields that the locals must be very hardworking. On this Sunday we came across more working horses/men than tourists on our walk.

* Accommodation is expensive, probably due to lack of competition (most places are not operating this early in the season) than demand. We ended up in a little studio apartment above the Duomo. Navigating to, from, and around the apartment was more challenging than any medina in Morocco; and more fun; and the church bells were much more insistent than any calls to prayers. The little walk between Atrani and Amalfi was similarly super fun.

Lowlights:
* Positano is totally overrated. Maybe it's even better seeing it deserted.
* All the beaches are worthless looking IMO.

Next time, we will stay a few weeks, in a place with a view, and walk more.

Starting the Path of the Gods walk.
Path of the Gods - Amalfi Coast, Italy

Clouds moving in.
Path of the Gods - Amalfi Coast, Italy

Even these goats were staying inside and dry.
Path of the Gods - Amalfi Coast, Italy

The clouds clear...for a minute or two.
Path of the Gods - Amalfi Coast, Italy

Almalfi Coast, Italy

Of course it rained the hardest on the toughest part of the path. Sun-Ling could easily spot my orange umbrella. ;-)
Path of the Gods - Amalfi Coast

Path of the Gods - Amalfi Coast

View to Nocelle.
Path of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei) - near Nocelle, Amalfi Coast, Italy

And as the trail gets easy, the rain almost stops and the clouds lift - we can see to the horizon.
Almalfi Coast, Italy

We saw several of these "cable cars" used to move loads up the steep hills.
Path of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei) - near Nocelle, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Path of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei) - near Nocelle, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Ran into guy in Nocelle moving a load up the stairs with this mini, uh, .....What would one call it?
Path of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei) - near Nocelle, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Positano.
Path of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei) - near Nocelle, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Very cool Romanesque dog-fish image on the Positano Duomo Campanile.
Positano, Italy

Amalfi at dusk.
Amalfi, Italy

These Japanese guys were acting as if they were John, Paul, George and Ringo. ;-)
Amalfi, Italy

Amalfi, Italy

The Amalfi Duomo and Campanile.
Amalfi, Italy

View from our apartment window of the Campanile on morning two.
Amalfi, Italy

Heading up to Pontone.
Amalfi, Italy

Amalfi Coast - Italy

Looking down to Amalfi.
Amalfi, Italy

Looking down to Pontone.
Nocelle, Italy

In Pontone, men and boys were using horses or donkeys or mules to move bales of feed for sheep and goats.
Pontone, Italy

Pontone - Amalfi Coast - Italy

View to Ravello from Scala.
Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

In Ravello there was a 19 km trail run in progress.
Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

The finish was in front of the Duomo.
Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Inside the Duomo: 11th century workmanship.
Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

View to Maiori.
Amalfi Coast, Italy

We walk through amazing terraces of lemon trees on our way to Trani.
Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Trani - Amalfi Coast - Italy

Trani - Amalfi Coast - Italy

Trani.
Trani, Italy

A fun maze of stairs and alleys on the walk from Trani to Amalfi.
Atrani, Amalfi, Italy

Atrani, Amalfi, Italy

Amalfi at dusk.
Amalfi Coast - Italy


Friday, February 23, 2018

First stop: Salerno

September 10, 2001, at the height of our "amazing race" fever, our one-day program was Naples-Pompeii-Sorrento-Amalfi-Salerno-Naples, with only a brief touch-down in Salerno. However, this visit is more like a continuation of Sicily: the magnificence of Paestum easily rivals Agrigento and Segesta; the Salerno duomo is reminiscent of Palermo and Cefalu; the general care worn look of the place with super hospitable people, all makes Italy particularly compelling and endearing to me.

There are three very, very impressive Greek Temples at the Paestum Archaeological site. They were built of local stone about 2500 years ago.

Temple of Athena
Paestum - near Salerno, Italu

Second Temple of Hera
Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

Inside the First Temple of Hera
Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

Inside the Second Temple of Hera
Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

When the Romans conquered Paestum, they left the temples standing, but rebuilt the city in Roman style and added a fortified wall.

Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

Looking across the Roman Forum.
Paestum - near Salerno, Italu

Paestum - near Salerno, Italu

Pool.
Paestum - near Salerno, Italu

Anfiteatro.
Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

The Site museum features some cool artifacts and the amazing Tomb of the Diver.
Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

Paestum - near Salerno, Italy

The Salerno Duomo.
Salerno, Italy

Salerno, Italy

Salerno, Italy

Salerno, Italy

The colorful Duomo Crypt contains holds the body of St Matthew.
Salerno, Italy

Alley.
Salerno, Italy

Port.
Salerno, Italy

The train station at dusk.
Salerno, Italy

Bonus pic of new-to-me gender symbols in the Lisbon Airport.
Gender Symbols - Lisbon Airport - Lisbon, Portugal



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