Europe: Getting There + The Amalfi Coast
I would just like to say, I am a detail oriented person. There are a lot of details here. I like to document and remember where we went and what we did because, lets be honest, I am already beginning to forget the little details. So, if you’re not one of our mom’s or grandma’s, I totally understand if you just want to see the pretty pictures and not read this massive expose. Grazie.
At one am on Saturday August 20th, after sleeping for two hours, we drove to Vancouver B.C. to begin this adventure. Flying out of B.C. was half the price of SeaTac, so the drive was definitely worth it. We went through Canadian customs at the border with only one car in front of us and one border patrol officer working - it was three am after all. We parked our car in a lot that we hope was the right lot, but there were no lights or signs, so who knows? Then we went back through customs again, this time at the airport to get into the US because our first flight was from B.C. to Dallas. Ironic. We flew to Dallas, Texas and hung out in the airport for five hours, had a Corona, then boarded the flight to Paris. We still had not slept at this point, only those two hours.
We boarded the plane in Dallas headed to Paris and it was everything I had ever imagined. It was huge: nine seats across, blankets and pillows on the seats, hot meals, free beer and wine, and the seats went far enough back to actually let you sleep. I think this was half the anticipation for the trip for me. Okay, maybe not half, but some for sure. Then we slept - for seven hours.
We arrived at the Paris airport at 10 am Parisian time and everyone and everything was moving so fast around us, speaking so quickly in French. We had no idea where we were or where we were going. We eventually found our way out and to our Uber driver. He spoke English, that was nice. He took us to our nondescript hotel which was in an industrial area. Looked like Tukwila, did not look like Paris at all. Our tiny closet-like room literally had an airplane bathroom. Modular. The room was maybe 150 square feet. Whatever the size, it had a bed and we took a five hour “nap” at noon. We did venture out to a shopping mall type place where we walked around for a while and ate dinner, then promptly went back to our hotel room and slept until 3:30 am when we had to get up to catch a shuttle to our next flight.
At this point, to us, our trip had not even began. This is still just getting there.
We got to the other Parisian airport, not the one we went to before, and got on our budget airline ride. We weren’t sure they were going to let us take our backpacks as carry-on’s since, technically, there were at least double the acceptable size. But we told them they were carry-on’s, they smirked, we boarded the plane and they fit in the overhead compartment perfectly. This was one of our main worry’s too, so yay us! This flight didn’t even offer water for free, but it was only two hours, so we survived.
Once we got to Rome we hopped on a train to Roma Termini which is the main train station in Rome. We had cappuccino's and croissant at the train station and boarded our final train of the day - to Salerno. Once we got to Salerno our Airbnb host, Pasquale, greeted us in his Volkswagen bug. He drove us to the smallest apartment I have ever been in. It had a loft bed, a “kitchen” with a portable stove, and a bathroom that was smaller than most peoples individual shower. In a space slightly larger than a phone booth, there was a shower, toilet, sink, and mirror. It was impressive and endearing and just enough space for us. Not enough space to unpack our bags, but enough space to live for 5 days.
Salerno was beautiful. It was an actual Italian town. The only real tourists there, other than us of course, were other Italians vacationing. It is a port town at the very start of the Amalfi Coast. The people were incredibly friendly and patient with us Americans. We did our best to speak Italian in our exchanges, out of respect for them, and they seemed to appreciate it even though I’m sure it was terrible.
Every morning we would walk down to the little cafe down the street. There is a cafe on every block (at least one). We walked down to one about a half mile away because we loved the vibe of it. The barista was a middle aged gentleman who didn’t speak English and was vey kind and personable. His teenage son was working there with him each morning. We would order "duet cappuccino and duet cornetti (croissant)” and sit and watch the Italians come in and out, standing at the bar, drinking their solo espresso, bantering with the baristas and each other. We walked around the city, which was very old and beautiful. Most of the streets were cobblestone or brick paved, charmingly not straight, and not quite one lane - almost enough room for a car to drive through and definitely enough room for a scooter to zip past you. There were shops lining the allies with the owners sitting outside in a chair, greeting each person who walked (or scooted) past and yelling down the street to each other. Not any angry yelling, a friendly yelling. The pizza there was exceptional. We ate it numerous times. It also cost only 3 euro, which is insane. We walked about ten miles a day, a large portion of that being on a boardwalk along the Mediterranean. At night the city came to life. People don’t eat dinner until around 9 or 10pm. The whole family would be walking down the street after dark, and it wasn’t strange. There were lights and laughter and a general sense of family and community. People seemed to genuinely enjoy their lives. Salerno is such a happy place.
Positano was as beautiful as the photos you have seen. It is a small town on the Sorrentine peninsula located near the end of the Amalfi Coast. Out of all the Amalfi towns, I would say this one is the most picturesque. The pastel homes built directly into the cliff side, the stony beaches with vibrant turquoise water, and the countless stairs leading you through impossibly small spaces between buildings. All of this makes Positano the beauty it is. We rode on a water taxi from Salerno to Positano. This boat ride was one of the highlights of the whole stay for me. Getting to see the whole coast from the view of the water was spectacular. Also, I just love boats and water. In Positano, there are little shops everywhere, with goodies made in Positano, and goodies imported from China. We ate some delicious pasta, lied on the beach on rented-for-16-euro chairs, and I got to swim in the Mediterranean - something most definitely on my bucket list. It was a gorgeous place, but I personally am so glad we didn’t stay there. We were part of the 99% there. 99% tourists and 1% Positano residents. Almost everyone spoke English, including the residents, and it really just felt like a little resort - the whole town. Which, if that’s what you’re going for, great, but we preferred immersing ourselves into the Italian culture. To each their own, but Salerno was ours.
Amalfi was similar to Positano - a little more spread out, a lot less stairs, and not quite as picturesque. Still, quite beautiful and endearing. We walked around for a few hours, ate some yummy food, but most importantly, got another couple boat rides and more beautiful photos out of it.
Our Amalfi Coast journey was fantastic. We lied on the beach, ate top notch pizza, connected with the locals, and truly felt like we were living a part of the Italian life, which was what we wanted most. Now off for a couple days in Rome before heading to Northern Italy.