Uncompromising Capri

There is just something about Mediterranean Blue. A sense of depth and wisdom so very different from the colors of my native Caribbean. Their intense sapphire and lapis lazuli contrasting against our sparkling turquoise and topaz.

Until the moment we headed out to take the ferry from Naples to Capri we had only seen the sea in the distance. It beckoned. We were ready to answer its call.

We had inquired about transportation to the dock in Naples at the  La Terrazza di Napoli B&B reception but had not really made arrangements, so we were rather surprised when we found a taxi driver waiting for us in the courtyard when came back from getting our coffees to check out. Allrightythen…

The driver spoke a ‘tourist-proof’ Italian, slow and clear enough that we could converse perfectly with our Spanish/English/Pidgin Italian mix. Maybe the running commentary was intended to distract us from the eyebrow-raising, breath-quickening driving required to navigate the narrow, maze-like streets of the Centro Storico and the madness of the traffic around the harbor. But it was very enjoyable, we made it in one piece and the price was not far from the €20 we expected on the 1st of May ‘festivo’ day.

I must say that level of confusion outside the ferry terminal and the ticket offices was not, by far, the worse I have seen. Matter of fact, the transport and purchasing of the tickets went so smoothly that we made it to the 10:35am ferry instead of the later one we had targeted.

Since we had barely made it into the boat, we had to sit inside for the ride. The hydrofoil was so smooth you could hardly feel the rolling waves. There was ‘official’ drink service, souvenir bag sellers, trinket peddlers and several tour sales people trying to capture their clients before disembarking.

To see these professional sellers hawking their tours is fascinating. First, they all speak at least 4 different languages, and very well. Then they come up with maps and pictures, and talk so pretty! Offering to buy the return boat tickets for a small additional fee so that the potential customers did not have to worry about a thing. I’ll give it them, they filled about 6 different tour buses and that was only within my hearing distance.

The one thing I noticed was that no one, not a single one, mentioned the Blue Grotto. But I still did not make the connection….

The arrival by boat to Capri harbor is spectacular. Stuff dreams are made of. Except that you wake up real quick when confronted with the madness and mayhem to go into the funicular to Capri town. There is a tiny sign stating that tickets are to be purchased by the main ferry ticket office. Of course, you cannot see it because there are at least 200 people mobbing the entrance. Thankfully someone overheard us wondering about it and C could go get the tickets while I held our general location within the mob (because this could not be described by any means as holding our place in the line).

It took about 5 trips of the 60-person funicular car and close to an hour before we got our chance to board. It did not take hard pushing or shoving, but if you are not assertive you will stand there until the next boat arrives and spews out another barrage of travelers and you will have to start all over again.

And this is supposed to be the off season! It must be hellish in the height of summer.

I had made reservations at B&B La Reginella being fully aware that it was on the outskirts of Capri town, a 15-minute walk away from the Piazzetta. I had looked at the map and had the directions to get there. I had read the reviews on TA and Booking where it was said that the walk was uphill. I had even read the very detailed instructions given by the owner, where it was strongly recommended to get luggage transportation to the hotel.

I cannot claim ignorance. C did not want to get the transport and I agreed, thinking, you know, how bad can a 15-minute walk could be? Yeah right….

Well, it was smooth enough to roll the suitcases, but it was a constant climb and some sections were on the steeper side. I work out and I’m very fit. I broke into a sweat for the first time in almost 2 weeks getting there. C is cashing in on his past years of physical activity… he suffered; huffing and puffing all the way with several breaks required. The saving grace was that the views were so dramatically beautiful that you almost welcomed the chance to stop to admire them. Almost.

I cannot say enough good things about this B&B: the views are wonderful, even from the bed we could see the sea, the owner is a perfect and caring host, the garden is lovingly kept, the breakfast was excellent, the room was cute, the bed was comfortable, the wifi ran consistently at a decent speed, there was plenty of hot water, and for €130 a night it was a great deal by Capri standards. But you have to get there.

If they were located lower and closer to town they could charge at least 5 times what they do, but then they would not have the views overlooking Capri. And the view…THE VIEW!!!

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As we checked in asked about my #1 Thing to Do in Capri… visiting the Blue Grotto, of course.

-‘Well…. I called this morning and it was closed for the day.’

– ‘But the sea is so smooth!’   (read WHAT THE F…!?!?! I knew this was a possibility, precisely the reason I opted for 2 night in order to increase the chances of success.)

– ‘Yes, but it is the wind that causes problems. I’ll call tomorrow morning while you have breakfast and ask if they will open.’  (The emphasis was put on the IF part of the sentence.)

Oh no. This was the reason I wanted to come to Capri, to see the Blue Grotto. Now it made sense that it was not being offered by the tour sellers on the ferry! But I’m a positive person and tomorrow we would have another chance. No reason for despair. Yet.

We dropped our things in the room and went to the restaurant that is over the hotel, La Palette, to get something cool to drink, relax a little, and maybe have a bite to eat before heading out to explore. Boy, and we thought that the views from the hotel were great… this was Glossy Travel Magazine porn.

The sea was THAT blue. That deep, sensual blue which cannot be described without the golden light of the afternoon sun…. The kind of blue that makes it hard to tell exactly where the sky meets the water far away in the horizon. This is the sea where the sirens beckoned and the monsters lurked. The sea of heroes, pirates and demigods.

Of course I gawked for quite a while. We both did. Then we had one of those monosyllable conversation which only bff’s, siblings, or couples which have been together for a long time can have:

-Ha!

-Yeah…Ha!

-Oh!

– Damn!-

– Umhum…

– Wow

– Yeap.

This goes along with a lot of slow nodding. You can also have this type of conversation with your cat, but you most likely just meow back at them. And soft blink.

We wound up sharing a bottle of a deliciously crisp white wine. C had a… wait for it…. wait for it…. Can you guess? …. A $%#$% pizza. OF COURSE. 3 nights in Naples he did not want pizza. At least it was a good pizza.

I had a short pasta Carbonara that was excellent; creamy and gooey in all the right ways. The portion of my dish was sized to be served as part of a multi-course dinner but it was perfect for what I wanted, something to tide me over until dinner.

But with that view they could serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and still get away with it.

After being suitably revived it was time to make good on our short time in Capri. You can call me a glutton for punishment but the ‘closest’ item on my to-do list was to go to Villa Jovis. Another steep climb, though I will claim ignorance on this one. I knew the distance but I did not know (as in really know) that it was that high up.

Capri has been blessed with one of the most spectacular settings on the planet, but the people of Capri put in the extra effort to make it and keep is as nice as they can. And they show how proud they are of their island with the beauty of their flower gardens. Even the vegetable and fruit gardens were picture-perfect. And then they have a lot of fat, lazy cats laying around making everything even more photogenic. I can only imagine what it takes to ‘keep of the Jones’ in this flower garden completion.

We stopped at every corner to look at the different cacti, flowers, fruits, vine covered pergolas, and everything and anything which caught our eyes. That was how we made it all the way up to Villa Jovis. C plunked down by the entrance and announced that he was not going any further. So I was left to go and explore by myself through the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ old palace.

Needless to say, the views from up there are breathtaking.

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The way down was easier and therefore much more enjoyable. So we continued descending, all the way into Capri town. We had ridiculously overpriced drinks in one of the cafés in the Piazza Umberto I, better known to locals as the Piazzetta, and debated what we should do with the rest of the evening. We were beat. And not that hungry. It was anyway too early to eat and restaurants were still closed. C wanted to take a nap, but he did not want to walk up and then back down for dinner.

There was more thing I did not fully realize when I booked the hotel: this is a 100% pedestrian area. When they offer luggage transportation, it means that they only transport things… not people.

I had incorrectly assumed that if we did not feel like walking back after dinner we could call a taxi. There was no taxi to be called. You are on your own with your two feet.

So for the first time we actually did something we had talked about doing many times, but had never come about to: we went into a small alimentari and bought bread, cheese, cured meats and wine and took it back to the hotel for a picnic overlooking the sea while we watched the lights of Capri and the road to Anacapri begin to glow. It was magical.

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The bill was still €45 for the groceries and these were pre-packed items, not high quality or specialty store items. Capri is expensive. And they do not make compromises. The people behave like it is a privilege to be on the island. Because, if truth is told… it IS a privilege to be on the island.

Notes from Monday, May 1st 


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