Perhaps it is a self fulfilling prophecy, but it has blown my mind just how many mishaps we have dealt with while traveling this year, which just so happens to be the busiest year of travel we’ve had.
At the early hour of 4:00 am the morning after the wedding, Will and I pried ourselves out of bed so we could catch a train from Sacile to a stop near the Venice airport, with plans to catch a bus from there. We ended up opting for a cab from the train stop after wrestling our luggage up and down stairs at the train stations.
We made our flight with plenty of time, everything went relatively smoothly except the screaming banshee of ours that made the flight a bit stressful. We arrived at the Naples airport, the sun was shining, and we couldn’t wait to get to the awesome private villa we had booked.
Normally when I plan a trip, I spend weeks if not months researching and planning out details. I don’t plan every minute of a trip by any means, but I always look into options, get any potentially needed information for transportation and the like, and generally prepare for any circumstance that could present itself. I didn’t do that for this trip due to being home in the states for a month, home to Turkey for two weeks where I scrambled just to get laundry done and the house cleaned up again before leaving for Germany for a week, then the wedding, all right before leaving for Amalfi. And I regret the lack of planning terribly.
It first reared its ugly head when it came to the transportation from the airport to the villa. I had researched minimally online and knew there was a combination of trains and buses that would get us to the meeting point for the villa. I had inquired about a private car transfer, but at the €120-160 price, we chose to take our chances with the public transportation.
Will and I found the information desk and were directed to the 11:00 bus that would take us to Sorrento, where we would transfer to a different bus that would take us on into Amalfi. We paid our €10 euro each, loaded up and were on our way, happy for the easiness we had experienced thus far. At some point on the trip to Sorrento, the bus driver learned that there had been a few fires in the Amalfi area resulting in closed roads, meaning buses were no longer traveling from Sorrento to Positano or Amalfi. Kindly he arranged for a van taxi to meet us along the way, to take the 7 of us that needed to get to Amalfi. We were thankful to be able to share the cab so it didn’t cost us a fortune to get there. Or so we thought.
The ride was nothing short of miserable. Constant narrow one lane winding roads that made it nearly impossible to keep a very tired Aubrey still enough to get her to possibly fall asleep. We were packed in like sardines, and it wasn’t until Aubrey had an all out meltdown that the driver finally turned on the AC. Will’s international phone chose that moment to not work, so we were unable to call our contact for the villa. Oddly, the cab driver took note of the number when we were showing him the directions on my phone and called her himself. When we finally got to the meeting point he requested €120 euro for the trip…for just the 2 of us! I nearly blew a gasket. I tried to calmly explain that a private car transfer all the way from the airport in Naples would only have the same price, and that we had already paid for transportation all the way to Sorrento, so I couldn’t understand how he could be asking so much. After a few minutes of heated arguments of broken English and Italian, he finally “settled” for €100. Not a great start to our vacation.
The villa contact came a couple of minutes later and after filling her in on our rough arrival, she then reminded us of the cleaning fee and the deposit we needed to provide for checkin. I knew about the cleaning fee, but somehow I did not realize the deposit was also to be made in cash at checkin. AND we had just spent all the euro we got out at the airport just to get to the villa. Oh, and the closest ATM was back in Amalfi, an €80 round trip. She politely let us know that we would have to come up with the money by the end of the day, but directed us toward the villa for the moment.
In the meantime, my aunt Jill and Missy had arrived in Naples a few days earlier and were also making their way to the villa. Outside of the occasional wi-fi we really didn’t have a way to contact each other. I knew they were planning to take the ferry from Naples to Sorrento, then a bus from Sorrento to Amalfi to the meeting point – except the bus of course wasn’t running, so we assumed they would be taking a taxi instead. I hurriedly sent a few texts explaining the euro situation and prayed they would get them in time to find an ATM so they could bring the cash with them.
Miraculously they did, and they also informed me they would be taking a ferry from Sorrento to Amalfi, and would then taxi to the villa.
Then hours passed. More than a reasonable time for them to get to Amalfi and text us so we could meet them and show them the way to the villa. We checked with the ferry, everything ran on time. We had to get groceries and it was getting near closing time. Finally we sent a text letting them know we were going to the store and would hopefully be back by the time they arrived. At the last minute they responded that they were at the meeting point already. Whew!
The meeting point was the Santa Rosa Hotel. We had just been informed by a curious local that the hotel went for close to €2000 a night! A quick google search and we learned that was almost true, the “cheap” rooms start at €1650. We were definitely haggard looking after our morning, I had cleaned Aubrey’s face at least twice just since arriving at the villa but she was still somehow covered with dirt and grime, so we felt more than a little out of place as we meandered through the hotel trying to find the bar where Jill and Missy were waiting.
When we finally found them, they looked as if they had had a wonderful time traveling. They had the euro we needed to give the villa host, had enjoyed their ferry ride tremendously, and had just ordered a round of drinks for us to enjoy while we soaked in the amazing view in front of us.
Afterwards we went farther down the hill to the small supermarket to grab some groceries, also picked up a pizza from the restaurant next door, then trekked back up the hill and the 180 steps to the villa and settled in for the night.
Man did it feel good to finally sit down and relax and take this in.
Our villa was located in the Conca dei Marini. I didn’t know much about the area prior to booking other than it was halfway between Positano and Amalfi, offering what I thought would be easy access to both. After reading a little in the books at the villa I learned it is a popular spot for the rich and famous when they want to get away from it all. I would bet they stay at the Santa Rosa.
That’s Amalfi in the distant left in the picture below.
The villa was just spectacular. Five bedrooms, 4 full bathrooms plus a half bath, a small but adorably efficient kitchen, multiple terraces, a garden, a private pool, and a breathtaking view.
Any other time it would have been absolutely perfect for what we needed and wanted for this trip. A place to retreat to and relax, with plenty of room for us all to spread out if needed, and a pool so we could swim and sunbathe while Aubrey napped. The bus stop was just at the bottom of the stairs, and for a few euro we could be to Positano or Amalfi within a matter of minutes.
Except, the buses weren’t running remember?
The fires and road closures meant that the only way to get to any of the neighboring towns was to take a taxi. The taxis were already unreasonably high for the short 10-13 minute drive with their normal rate of €30-40 euro, but because they could, they gouged for everything they could. We were even quoted €70-80 euro for one way by a few drivers!
Obviously we couldn’t really afford to pay out €80-160 euro a day just to go into town so we had to reassess how we planned to spend the week. Ultimately we planned to alternate one day out then one day in.
And that worked out beautifully until the last day.
But at this point we set to making use of the pool, and shedding our stress over morning glasses of prosecco with peach juice.
Aubrey worked on learning to walk.
And constantly kept us on our toes.
We swam in the frigid pool.
I promise I did pack bathing suits for her, but they just seemed a little unnecessary at the time.
And we dined on fresh ravioli from the market while sipping on some local wines.
Life was pretty good.
The next day we journeyed into Amalfi.