Europe Travel Diary (2017)

Day 17: Exploring the Island of Capri

September 15, 2017 – Our ferry to Capri was departing at 7:15 am, so we made sure to leave our B&B by 6:30 am. I bought ferry tickets before our trip so we couldn’t change our departure time. It worked out for us, but if we did it all over again we would have just waited until the morning of to buy them. We had to go to the window at the ferry port to get the tickets printed anyway. The only thing that can be bought ahead of time is a reservation.

So what was the point of buying the tickets ahead of time? First, it was just one less thing we had to account for in our budget. It was already paid for. Second, I read that tickets for the ferries to Capri tend to sell out well ahead of time. I wanted to make sure we got on the very first one in the morning, so I planned ahead. From my research, it’s mostly in the peak summer months that these ferries sell out. So if you’re planning a trip and know exactly when you want to go to Capri, you can buy the tickets ahead of time if you want. Just know that you will have to go to the ticket window to get actual printed tickets before you step on the ferry. Also, you cannot change your ferry time, so whatever you choose, you have to stick with.

After we got our tickets, we went to buy some big waters at the little shop near the port. We heard Capri was expensive, so we wanted to make sure we had enough water so we wouldn’t have to buy any on the island.

The ferry pulled up and we got on. This was a much bigger ferry than we took to get to Sorrento. It took about 25 minutes to get to the island.

Once we were there, we knew from our research that we needed to buy bus and funicular tickets. We would be taking the bus to Anacapri first and then immediately to the chairlift to go to the top of Mount Solaro. After Anacapri, we would then take the bus to the main town of Capri. To get back to the ferry port, we would need to take the funicular. If you’re planning a trip to Capri, here’s how to do it right (we almost got it right, but I’ll tell you where we messed up).

When you get off the ferry, turn right and go to the bus/ferry ticket windows. Buy 4 bus tickets and 2 funicular tickets (this is for 2 people taking the bus to Anacapri, then to Capri, and then the funicular back down to the marina). Now, this is where we messed up. The bus pickup to Anacapri is immediately to the right when you go out of the ticket queue. You’ll see a covered area and 2 different lines. It is marked so you know which line to stand in depending on where you’re going.

When we got off the ferry before buying our tickets, we saw a bus stop. We assumed that stop would be the one where we would catch the bus to Anacapri. We thought wrong. So we missed the first bus to Anacapri because we walked all the way back over to the ferries. It wasn’t that big of a deal, just a minor delay in our day. I don’t know how anyone would figure all of that out without doing some extensive research ahead of time. We researched and still got it wrong. I wonder if the city is in cahoots with the expensive open-air taxis. When you’re confused and frustrated it’s very tempting to just hop in a taxi. Don’t do it unless you have money to burn.

We reached Anacapri around 8:45 am and immediately walked to the chairlift. We could have hiked up and/or down, but I wasn’t exactly dressed to hike and we didn’t really have the time. The chairlift is an acrophobe’s worst nightmare. It’s a single moving metal chair hanging from a wire with a small bar that goes across the lap. I was frozen in fear nearly the whole trip. They say it’s a 12-minute ride, but it felt like forever. The scenery was beautiful, but it’s hard to enjoy when you’re scared for your life the entire time.

The chairlift station

View from the chairlift going up to Mount Solaro
That’s me. The look on my face should say it all.

We finally reached the top. The chairs didn’t stop moving so we had to move the bar and do a bit of a hop/run to get out of the way.

The view from Mount Solara was incredible and absolutely worth the terrifying ride up and down. I am so glad we went up early. There were only a few others up there with us so we got to take in the views from all different angles without fighting any crowds.

A nice guy from the US took this one for us!
This is the little garden area on the very top

The big rock that looks connected to the land in the distance is where we walked to later in the day

While we were up there we ran into a nice man and his wife that were on our Pompeii tour with us the day before. Small world!

After we got enough pictures, we decided to go back down to explore Anacapri a bit. There were a lot more people starting to come up on the chairlift, so we knew it would be getting crowded on Mount Solara soon.

We were nearing the chairlift exit in Anacapri when I saw an enormous line outside of the station. I heard someone say the wait just to get on a chair was about 30 minutes. Riding up first thing in the morning was the way to go for sure!

We wandered around Anacapri for about an hour or so taking in all the lovely buildings and beautiful flowers. We stopped in a little bakery and got some focaccia bites. The lady didn’t speak any English, but it didn’t matter. We had been so nervous to go in local non-touristy places in fear of the language barrier. But by the time we got to Italy, we realized language didn’t matter. We didn’t need to speak French, German, or Italian to point, smile, and read the register for the price. I wish we had that confidence earlier because I’m sure we would have had way more incredible culinary experiences going places where we couldn’t communicate with words. By the way, those focaccia bites were incredible. I wish I could have brought back an entire suitcase full of them.

The bakery
Warm, airy, buttery, and full of Italian flavors

It was still relatively calm in Anacapri. I guess everyone was in that line to go up to Mount Solaro.

We were trying to figure out where to eat lunch. We didn’t want to fall into a tourist trap, which is very easy to do on Capri, but we couldn’t decide on a place. In the meantime, we decided to walk over to Villa San Michele. The views from this place were so beautiful. We didn’t pay to go inside, so we just wandered around outside to see the views.

After Villa San Michele, we were starving. We had seen a little restaurant on the walk over and their sandwiches looked promising so we sat down. They had a limoncello spritz which sounded really good so I ordered that and Eric got a beer. For food, I got a margherita pizza and Eric got a sandwich.

Service was fine at first. We were served our food and finished pretty quickly because we wanted to head over to the main part of Capri. My pizza was not very good; I was disappointed. Eric’s sandwich was ok, but we both wished we had stopped at a more authentic place near the bakery we had stopped at earlier.

We kept trying to flag down our waitress to get the check, but she couldn’t be bothered. We were so confused. I finally got the attention of another waitress and asked her for the check. She acknowledged me and said she would be right back. I had to ask 3 more times for the check before I was angrily told that we were taking up a table and I should go pay at the stand across the pathway.

I was irritated because why in the world did she not tell me to do that in the first place. But also because I had been trying to pay for the past 30 minutes! They had a sign outside advertising that they did not have a cover charge (a common practice at many restaurants in Italy) however, they did have some sort of service charge they tacked on to our bill. We were so angry at ourselves for falling into that tourist trap. Our hunger got the best of us. Don’t worry, we left scathing reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. I’ll go ahead and blast them on here too. DO NOT EAT AT Ristorante La Fenicia. If you can’t remember the name, just remember to not eat right near Villa San Michele.

After our terrible lunch, it was time to make our way to Capri. We hopped on a bus for the absolutely insane ride down. I felt like we were on that bus in Harry Potter that can morph to fit through tight spaces. I had no idea how our driver was making it through some of the streets especially when a car was coming from the other direction. The kicker was that we didn’t have seats. We were standing the whole time. I was holding on to a metal bar that hit me right at the hip…literally. He slammed on the breaks a couple times which made me ram the metal bar with my hip bone. I had a nasty bruise there the next day.

We made it to Capri a little banged up, but alive. I know, I’m so dramatic.

We didn’t really have a plan for our time in Capri, so we looked up some of the top things to do. One thing was the Giardini di Augustino. It’s a beautiful garden with incredible views. We had seen some incredible views already, but this was a bit closer to the water and we also got a great view of the via Krupp (the winding road in the picture below).

After the gardens, we decided to hike down to the Faraglioni. I don’t know what the walk down is technically called, but all the signs just said “Faraglioni”. I thought that was what the big rocks jutting out of the water were called, but maybe they were calling the walk down the same thing. For simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to call it Faraglioni.

All of their roads and attractions were marked with these beautiful tiles. The person that decided to do this is a genius! It’s informative, but also artwork.

Just in case you needed to know which direction you were walking

The walk there was stunning. There were some very high-end hotels and expensive homes along the way. They all had million dollar views.

We reached the end of the road where we had to start walking down. It took a while and the whole time we were thinking about the fact that we would have to go back up at some point.

We made it down where we were met with incredible beauty from every angle. It was amazing to see these enormous rocks up close since we had seen them from above just a few hours earlier. There were 2 beach clubs down there and that was about it. We didn’t want to pay to go in the beach clubs, so we just took in the views from the path.

We were about to walk back up when 2 guys approached us. They were speaking Italian, but we understood they wanted us to take their picture. The younger guy realized we spoke English and immediately switched languages. He told us he and his father were visiting from Romania. He thought we were Italian, which I took as a huge compliment. We told him we were from the US and he said, “Oh it’s like all of the US is here. All we hear is English wherever we go!” At that moment, a British couple passed us. I knew they were British because as they passed us they said, “Hello, pardon us, thank you” enough for me to hear an accent. The Romanian guy said, ” See? Americans!” Eric and I laughed. Of course, he couldn’t hear their accent. He heard English and assumed they were American. I wondered how many others he heard during his trip that he thought were American.

We took their picture and they reciprocated. I was so glad because he got some great shots of us!

After our picture taking experience, we decided it was time to make the exhausting trek back up to the main part of Capri. I have no idea how many stairs it was. All I know is we were sweating all over the place by the time we reached the top.

After we caught our breath and cooled off a bit, I was dying for some gelato. We spotted this great place near the main square (can’t remember the name) where we both got a small cone. We decided to just wander the streets for the next 45 minutes. The small back alleyways were so charming. I could have stayed lost back there for hours.

Once it was nearing our time to head back down to the ferry port, we decided to spend some time near the funicular. There were a few cute shops and great people watching. We even saw a bride walk through the center of town with her bridal party!

Our last treat was a lemon slush from a stand by the funicular. I’m sure it was overpriced, but it was so delicious and refreshing.

Our ferry to Sorrento wasn’t departing until 6:45 pm. Again, a drawback of purchasing tickets ahead of time: you’re stuck with that time. We were ready to head back to Sorrento at 6:00 pm, but we had to wait until our ferry time. All things considered, it wasn’t a huge deal. We just wandered close by the marina for 45 minutes and even got to quickly run over to the public beach to dip our toes in the water.

We boarded the ferry at 6:45 pm. It was much more packed on the way back. It was the last ferry to Sorrento from Capri so that made sense. There were a bunch of drunk college kids from the US along with some priests and a dog that was sleeping under the seat next to us. Interesting group of passengers. I wish I had more confidence to yell at the American kids. They were obnoxious and screaming obscenities the entire trip. I almost felt obligated to apologize on behalf of the United States to the other passengers around us, especially the priests. It was embarrassing.

We arrived back in Sorrento and decided to walk up to the main part of town this time rather than take the elevator.

Once we reached the top, we were hungry for dinner. We had seen a restaurant the night before that looked good so we decided we would eat there. So we made sure to read reviews before we went to avoid a double restaurant fail in one day.

We walked up to Ristorante L’Abate around 8:00 pm and asked to eat outside, so we just had to wait a few minutes. After we sat down, we were going to order a small plate to start, but the guy running the front of the house brought us pizza bread as an apology since we had to wait. This was already 1000X better than lunch. We ordered a half liter of wine per usual. I was going to get pasta, but the pizza looked incredible. So Eric got gnocchi and I got pizza. Both were so delicious.

While we were sitting there, a very elderly dog just waltzed in the restaurant like he owned the place and plopped down next to our table. A waiter saw and immediately came over and started petting and baby-talking the dog in Italian. The dog stood up and walked with him outside the restaurant. The waiter walked him across the street to a little park in the center of the main square and then the dog went on his way. I noticed this about several places in Europe. No one ever shooed stray animals away. They were never clapped at or yelled at. They were treated with respect and given love. It was very refreshing and sweet.

We finished dinner around 10:00 pm and realized we needed to get back to the B&B to pack. We would be heading to Athens, Greece early the next morning!


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Continue reading the Travel Diary here: Day 18: Traveling from Sorrento to Athens

2 thoughts on “Day 17: Exploring the Island of Capri”

  1. Capri is beautiful. Your comment about the bathroom in Vesuvius reminded me of my bathroom at a ski resort in Italy. The toilet was a hole in the ground and I had on a one piece ski suit. That was fun. It was also 1988. I wonder what it is like today.

  2. The bathroom story reminded me of some of the hole in the ground toilets in China!
    Loved this Capri story. I’ve been there before with two sisters but going back with my hubby in July. Forgot you had to take bus up to get onto chairlift! Copied into my notes! Thanks! We do not have ferry tickets from/to Positano. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get them there. It will be crowded because of summer!

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