Tuesday, April 28, 2015

{Vacation ReCap} Amalfi Coast: Boatrip in Capri & Magical Evening in Positano

As much as we were in love with Positano, we were really excited about our day trip to Capri. We decided early on in the planning stages that there could be no better way to experience the island than renting our own private boat to get around!  So after a quick breakfast, we headed down to make the ferry which would get us to the island.

Lucky for us, the ferry departs super close to our hotel, so it was only a five minute walk.  We were getting a bit nervous because there were clearly clouds rolling in, but were assured it was only a quick 20-30 minute ride to the island and figured they would pass by time we arrived.

Clouds rolling in...

Ferry port

We boarded the ferry and all was well...at first. We sat at the top to get air and avoid sea-sickness but mother nature had other plans...

Very shortly into our ride, the rain started and everyone at the top fled to the inside lower deck. There were way too many people crowded into that hot and stuffy space.  I could see Tom getting more and more green so told him that there was an open air deck in the back that was covered.  We might get a bit wet, but it was better than being crammed like sardines inside the cabin!

Everyone around us on that deck was getting anxious...lots of "now our day is ruined!" but being from Florida, we are used to constant storms that pass quickly and which are usually followed by sunshine to boot. We weren't really that concerned other than being worried that they would have to cancel our 10 am boat tour and there'd be no other openings for the day.

The storm slowed us down - the 20 minute ferry ended up taking about an hour! Oops.

At long last, we met up with Gianni of Gianni's Boats who was beyond welcoming and put our minds at ease.  He said they would just push our ride out to noon instead of 10 to give all of the clouds a chance to pass. In the meantime, he suggested taking the gondola to the top of the island and looking around.  We were more than happy to take him up on that!

After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, we made it to the top and the views were gorgeous!

Everything was so beautiful.  In a way - and this is a stretch I realize - it reminded me a bit of the magnificent mile in Chicago - nothing but Gucci, Prada, etc interspersed with restaurants and gelato shops (ok, so that last part is NOT like Chicago)!   Unlike Positano, where most of the shops featured handmade items (beautiful linen, leather shoes and goods, pottery, etc), this seemed to  made of up exclusively of high-end chains.   If expensive shopping is your heaven,then Capri is for you!   Our guide would later tell us that Capri has about a 25% upcharge so you are certainly paying for that luxury.

At one point in our planning stage, we had considered Capri, and having been to both now (admittedly I was only on the actual island for a small period of time), I can say that while I wholeheartedly recommend both, I prefer and recommend Positano.  I just enjoy being in a place where I am surrounded by things I don't get at home.  Living in a big city, I have access to high end stores, however, I come on vacation to get away and relax and Positano just struck me as being a bit more conducive to that. However, if someone offered me an all expenses paid trip to Capri, I'd certainly take them up on it!  And with all that said, I do hope to come back even if it's just a day trip.  It was stunning.

At noon we met up with Ferrera who worked the Summers with Gianni and the other months in Florence as a designer.   As cheesy as it sounds, I nearly died with surprise when she complimented me saying how much she liked my style! Swoon!

She introduced us to our captain for the day, Pauolo.  He was college age attending school in Naples and worked in Capri.  We were really impressed with his skill and despite the language barrier, managed to communicate very effectively back and forth.  He mentioned there might be "many roughs" at some point but we didn't quite get what he meant...we would soon find out!

Onboard, we found fruit and homemade limoncello (made by Gianni's family) waiting for us, but unfortunately for us, we did not eat any real food before starting the tour  Anyone who is prone to seasickness knows that an empty stomach is certain to set you up for "many roughs!". Rookie mistake!  

We did well overall and and absolutely loved the boat.  There was a quick two minute storm early on, but then the skies opened up and it was gorgeous for the remainder of the day.  He took us all over including a little inlet that was a perfect spot to enjoy a private swim and got us close to the famous caves Capri is known for (we could not go in, due to the recent storm - too many waves).  

Heart Cave:

We laid out on the boat, drank, ate and just enjoyed the ride...for the most part.  When we started to make it to the other side of the island, we quickly understood what Pauolo meant by "many roughs". It was extremely choppy!  I was overall fine - I could tell I just needed a little food, but Tom was definitely green around the gills. He decided it was the perfect time to take a nap under the sun and that saved him!  

At one point we got to an area where we could grab a bite to eat, and asked Pauolo to stop there so we could fill up a bit.  The restaurant was gorgeous and had amazing views:


Tom didn't have much of an appetite but I convinced him to at least eat some of the blander foods: bread with oil, a few of my fries (I enjoyed the grilled octopus) and he was able to stomach a few bites of their almond cake.  It definitely helped him, but I felt so bad about forgetting my prescription strength anti-nausea pills at the hotel.  He definitely could have used it!  I won't make that mistake again.

Around 4:30 we hit the ferry to Positano.  We were happy to get back, but the boat trip in Capri remains a highlight of the trip. Even though it didn't go perfectly, we would definitely do it again and still think it's the best way to get around.

After cleaning up, we enjoyed a bottle of our Tuscan wine on the balcony and then set out in search of the restaurant Tony recommended.

Mediterrano was everything you could want - warm, family run, with delicious food, fun servers, and live music.  They started us off with prosecco to welcome us, and had singers with guitars serenading everyone.  At one point, a patron with an amazing voice jumped up to sing "Fever" with them, but hands down the star of the night was Ulysses - a Fabio look alike.  He was flirting shamelessly with some single older ladies at a nearby table and they were eating it up.  He kept coming over and sitting with Tom and I making funny conversation.  I'm pretty sure Ulysses did not go home alone that night...

The food was some of the best we've had with extremely fresh seafood including some of the most delish clams I've ever eaten.  We also shared red wine and then had panna cotta and lemon ice for dessert. The limincello they offered at the end was a perfect finish.

We kept saying how it reminded us a bit of Greek Islands in Chicago, which always charms tourists and locals alike, but the live music and interaction here made this hands down one of our favorite dining experiences ever.  They ran their restaurant the way all restaurants should be run, by making us feel right at home.  It was cheesy in some regards but in the best possible way.  What a fun place!  We later thanked Tony for the recommendation and would go back in a heartbeat.

But, man let's talk about those Italian boys.  We loved our server (the owner's son I believe) who went out of his way to make us happy (when I had trouble deciding between chocolate or caramel on my dessert, he gave me both!) and  he definitely charmed a pair of college ladies a few tables away. After we paid, we saw him drive off with one of them on his vespa, ha!  Not sure what happened with the other one...she continued to sit by herself for quite a while.  That's an understanding friend!

Tom & Ulysses - BFF

We began our walk back down to our hotel sufficiently full and happy!

When we were almost there, I looked to my right and saw a beautiful  archway which had a stunning view of the cliffs and a gorgeous yard.  (This pic is a different day - I wanted to remember the location).

What made it remarkable is that you just don't see yards in Positano because everything is on a cliff.  This seemed like a secret garden and I couldn't resist checking it out.  I called Tom over and we popped our head in.  A gentleman came up to us and kindly invited us to walk around (this being Italy, I thought for a moment that he was about to charge us, ha).  We learned that he's an Australian businessman who was vacationing with his family.  He proceeded to show us the "goals" his kids use to play soccer using the trees on either end of the yard.  The wife came out and she was also super nice.  To their credit, they didn't seem fazed to have two random strangers looking around and were extremely welcoming.

He pointed out a fig tree and mentioned that it had been there 14 years earlier when he first visited this place and how he happy is to be able to share this with his family now -  the figs are still delicious!  It was such a nice story and I couldn't help but hope we too we will lucky enough to come back to Positano and share this amazing place with our family one day :)

After saying goodnight (they were on their way out! Wild animals), we headed back to our rooms where we crashed while listening to the waves.

I'll be back to wrap up our last day and a half in Positano!


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