September 13, 2017 – We didn’t need to be anywhere early on this morning so we woke up a little later. Our check out time for our Airbnb was 11:00 am, but our train to Naples wasn’t until 2:40 pm. So we decided we would plan to leave with all of our things at 11:00 am and just slowly make our way over to the train station. Ok, now put two and two together…yes, we walked. Again, 1.5 miles with our packs. It was much hotter than Florence though.
We started our walk heading in the direction of the train station and decided we would walk halfway, then just find a cafe somewhere to sit to cool off before continuing. The only place we found along the way was the most touristy place I’ve ever seen. We were sweaty and tired so we didn’t care. Eric got a €5 Coke and I got a macchiato.
After our expensive break, we continued on. Eric found this cool little sandwich place called iPhame on the way to the train station, so that was our next stop.
This sandwich place was SMALL. How small? We barely fit inside with our packs on. They are very well known for having excellent vegan and gluten-free options. Although, you can’t have a sandwich place in Italy without meat, so they had that too. Eric got a sandwich and I got a smoothie. They do their sandwiches like sub shops in the US. You pick your bread and meat then add whatever toppings you’d like. Except in Italy, the toppings are what you would find on the fanciest charcuterie board in the US. It’s all delicious!
The food was incredible, but that wasn’t even the best part! The guys who ran the place were so incredibly nice and welcoming. We wanted to take a break from wearing our packs in order to eat, but we also didn’t want to clog up their tiny space with our stuff. We didn’t even have to ask. After we ordered, one of the owners said, “you guys look like you need a break. Please feel free to hang out here and enjoy your lunch for as long as you’d like.”
They talked to us the entire time we were there asking us about our travels and where we were headed. They got so excited when we told them we were headed to Sorrento because it was a place they always went to for vacation in the summer.
We finished up our lunches and decided to finish the rest of our journey to the train station. Luckily, we only had less than .5 miles left. We said goodbye to the awesome people at iPhame and continued on.
We reached the Termini train station around 1:30 pm. The one thing I liked about this train station (not sure if they’re all the same in Italy) was the fact that you couldn’t get to the platforms without a ticket. In many of the other stations we had been to, anyone could just walk up to the platforms (including panhandlers).
We had first class tickets, so we thought we might have access to the Trenitalia lounge. We tried, but apparently, you have to have executive or business class to access. Note to self (and others).
There was a nun hanging out in a little bench thing in between 2 pillars near one of the platforms, so we figured it was ok to sit in one. We found one to ourselves and settled in for an hour. No one asked us to move so I guess it was fine.
About 15 minutes before our train was supposed to depart, we were assigned a platform. We grabbed our things and walked to the train.
Riding first class the entire time was so nice. If you’re not on a really tight budget, I’d highly suggest it. It’s not like air travel where first class is like paying for a semester of college. It’s also not as fancy. We got youth pricing since they consider youth to be 27 and under (just made it!).
About 5 minutes before departure, a very eccentric couple walked on. Of course, they sat in the seats right to us. They looked to be in their late 50’s and decked out in the fanciest clothes. The guy had a cigar in his hand the entire time. It wasn’t lit, but he held it for the entire train ride like it was. I think they made out for a majority of the trip. It was very interesting, in an Italian mafia kind of way.
We arrived in Naples around 4:30 pm. From all my research, the Naples train station would be the worst out of everywhere we were going in terms of pickpockets and petty crime. We went knowing this, so we were prepared.
We planned to take the ferry from Naples to Sorrento. If you’re flying to Naples, they have a bus that’s $10 per person that will take you straight there. Coming from the train station is a different story. We decided the ferry would be our best option.
In order to get to the ferry port, we had to take the metro to one place and then walk a little bit. We went to buy metro tickets and this is where it got sketchy. There was a little Italian kid standing by the kiosks; he couldn’t have been more than 12. He would pretend to help every person that went up to the kiosk – well I guess it wasn’t pretending, he was actually helping them – but then would expect money in return.
Eric was determined to figure it out on his own so we shooed the kid away and he went to “help” someone else. This machine was SO confusing, I could see how this kid was making money standing there all day. I wish I could remember exactly what the process was so I could explain it. It did not have a big, clear screen like all the kiosks in Paris. There were 2 buttons and you had to press it enough times to get the number of tickets you wanted and then put in the exact change. I don’t even know if Eric knew what he was doing but somehow we ended up with 2 metro tickets and quickly went on our way.
We hopped on the metro and got off at the first stop. Then we walked out and had absolutely no idea where to go. There were zero signs anywhere and Eric’s phone kept losing signal. We just started walking based on Eric’s memory of the map and the proximity of the ocean. It was dirty, there were homeless people everywhere, the dogs all looked like they had rabies… all I could think about was how much I just wanted to get to Sorrento.
We turned down what we thought would be the ferry port, all the signs were in Italian, but we saw the word ferry. A guard came running after us asking us where we were going. We said ferry to Sorrento. He pointed in another direction and said we were at the cruise port. Fantastic.
Luckily, we didn’t have to walk much further to get to the ferry. Once we got tickets, it was just a waiting game until 5:15 pm.
We were taking a high-speed ferry, so the seats were all inside, no one was allowed outside. The Bay of Naples was rough! A few times our ferry went airborne and I got that stomach drop feeling like when there’s turbulence on an airplane. It was actually pretty fun. The girl in front of us was terrified.
We arrived in Sorrento just in time for the sunset.
It was GORGEOUS! I was so relieved to finally be there. We had no idea how we were going to get to our hotel, but I was just so much more relaxed to have made it in one piece.
Our hotel contact told us we should take the bus from the port. However, when we got over to the bus area, there were no signs, no one around to ask, and nowhere to buy tickets. So we just started walking. All we knew was we needed to get up to the top of the cliff.
We saw a sign for an elevator to the main part of town. It looked promising, so that’s where we went. It was €1 per person to ride up. We could have walked up, but it would have been quite a strenuous walk going uphill with all of our stuff on our backs.
Once we reached the top, Eric pulled out google maps so we could find our way to the hotel. Sorrento looked very posh. All the men were walking around with their sweaters draped over their shoulders and tied in the front. The women were all wearing beautiful dresses. Everyone was super tan. We did not fit in at the moment all sweaty with our backpacks.
The hotel was about a half mile from the elevator… all uphill. Once we reached it, I was confused. It was a slightly rundown building away from the main part of town. There was a call button like there would be to someone’s apartment. I pushed it and it rang, but there was no answer. There was a sign that said, “Check in for English Inn Rooms please call…” I called the number from my phone, but again no answer. I started to panic. Did I make a mistake? Was this place legit? The reviews were almost all 5 stars! Were they fake?!
After about 10 minutes, I thought I would just email them to see if that might work. I got a response almost instantly and as soon as I looked up from my phone, there was a guy running down the stairs to welcome us. It was Fabio, the owner! He said he wasn’t sure what was wrong with the phone and apologized over and over. We all climbed in the tiny elevator and rode up to the 5th floor. At this point, I was just relieved we actually had a place to stay. It might be a dump, but we had a place to stay.
Fabio opened the door and it was like a different world. Everything was brand new, super modern, and super clean. You can’t judge a book by its cover! It turns out, this “hotel” was actually more like a bed and breakfast. There were only 3 rooms, 2 of which had bathrooms outside of the room (so you had to walk out of your room to another room to shower or use the restroom). I thought we had a separate bathroom, but Fabio walked us to the end of the hall where we were given the room with the bathroom inside the room! Score!! We also had a beautiful balcony.
Fabio explained how everything worked. Breakfast was served in the kitchen at 8:00 am each morning. If we would be leaving earlier than that, we were free to have any of the snacks on the table along with coffee from the fancy espresso machine. Lana was the housekeeper and would do any of the dishes for us, make our breakfast, and clean our room each day. We had a refrigerator in our room that was stocked with bottled water and fruit. To top it off, Fabio gave us 2 small airplane bottles of local limoncello as a welcome! I was so relieved (again) and pleasantly surprised at how wonderful this place was!
We were exhausted from our day. We walked a lot with our heavy packs and had quite a few stressful moments. We just laid down for a minute to calm down, relax, and figure out what to do for dinner.
Eric found a place with good reviews for pizza. We had to have pizza since this is the region of Italy that’s known for it. So we headed out on the town around 8:00 pm.
The walk to town was so easy without the packs. It felt a lot further with all that weight on. We reached the restaurant and were promptly seated. We ordered some house wine and 2 pizzas.
The pizza was out of this world. We were in heaven! Our dinner was incredible until it was time to pay. Our waiter disappeared. We were trying to pay for about 30 minutes and then our waiter finally appeared again. This actually happened to us several times in Europe. We didn’t make a big deal about it, but 2 British ladies at the table next to ours did! As we were leaving one of them was giving the owner an earful. Granted, they were waiting to place their order. Maybe I would have been angrier if we hadn’t eaten yet.
We were both so tired. We knew we had an early morning the next day for our tour of Pompeii, so we walked back to our hotel, took showers, and went straight to bed. This was the moment I realized we hadn’t watched any type of TV in almost 2 weeks. Random, I know, but interesting since we usually watch TV every day.
Continue reading the Travel Diary here: Day 16: Mount Vesuvius and Ruins of Pompeii