A Cold Day in Capri
Tuesday, April 26th 2011: Sorrento & The Isle of Capri
Heading down to breakfast, we could see it would be another dreary morning – overcast with a light drizzle like yesterday, but there was more bite in air today with the cool breeze off the water… definitely not setting up to be a good beach or island cruising kind of day. Nevertheless, most people were dressed with the hopes of some weather improvement.
After a short bus ‘adventure’ back into Sorrento, we trekked down a long, steep flight of wet stairs to the winding cobblestone road that took us out to the port to catch the ferry to Capri. Looking back at where we were coming from, the town was perched perfectly on the cliffs and getting smaller and smaller as we pulled away. On the port side of the boat, we spotted the dorsal fins of a group of dolphins swimming along side us and once they were gone I watched as the cliffs of Capri got closer. My hands and face were freezing from standing on the side of the ferry (as opposed to sitting in the middle) with the wind taking its full toll, but I was distracted by the gorgeous deep, dark blue of the water as we neared the dock. There were countless boats sitting in the marina with the coastal town nestled right along the shore and other residential buildings spread out over the hills in the backdrop. I wished so badly for the weather to get better, because even in the chilly gloominess the sights were a pleasing eyeful to see, so I could only imagine how much better it could be if it were warm and sunny. Once we got to our designated meeting point, some stopped for cappucinos and pastries at a small nearby bakery and then we headed right back out onto another boat for the optional cruise around the island.
So I was in the bunch of people who sat at the bow of this boat, and after a while I realized that might not have been such a good idea. Having already been on the ferry from Sorrento for a half hour before, the breeze blew right through to the bone now and I was a little more aware of how choppy the water was and the size of the waves coming at us. The cliffs were high, rocky and jagged, and a vertical drop into the cold water below. There were many crevices along the bottom where the waves crashed against the limestone, slowly wearing it away over time. As we left Marina Grande, we passed by the rocks where the statue of a young boy waved, welcoming (or bidding adieu to) whoever was passing by and as we rounded the first corner, we could see the cave of Tiberius high up on the rocks. We came up to the White Grotto and got close enough to see the statue carved in the likeness of the Virgin Mary at the top of the cave’s mouth. The Green Grotto was next, and our boat actually went into the small bay-like area where the water was an entirely different colour than the water just outside the entrance. It was an amazing, almost luminescent aqua and just below the water level, you could spot bright red coral attached to the rocks. Again I found myself wishing that it were nice enough to swim! Leaving the grotto, we came upon two stand alone rock structures just off the island, one of which was the Lovers’ Arch (where it is traditionally good luck to sail under as a newlywed couple). After passing by the zig-zag pathway that connects Anacapri to the Marina Piccola, we were at the halfway point of the cruise and directly on the opposite side of the island from the Marina Grande where we started. We stopped shortly after for a chance to swim and there were a few brave souls who dared to jump into the frigid Meditteranean. The last major sight to see was the Blue Grotto, which was closed because the weather was bad so we saw the tiny entrance but weren’t allowed in. It is the perfect excuse for me to have to come back though =). The rest of the cruise was a little hard to get through because we’d been rocking and teetering on this boat for so long now that I was getting pretty queasy and I was more than ready to get back onto land. I popped a piece of gum into my mouth and silently prayed for it to be over quickly.
When we finally docked and got off the boat, I took a deep breath of relief and headed up to Anacapri on the Funicolare with Lizzie and Laura (say that five times fast =p). There was really nothing up there… (yeah, right) just more great views, fancy restaurants and gorgeous buildings that housed designer stores galore! Looking in at the window displays, it was surprising to see that everything in the store fronts were shown with price cards. The Salvatore Ferragamo store had a handbag in the window that would have looked fabulous on my shoulder, except for the 5000€ cost attached (i.e. $7,000+ USD). We ran into Ashleigh and Chavonne (from South Africa), and Shannon (from Canada) on our way back down to the town below. The café we chose for lunch was determined not so much by the menu available, but more by the heaters that were warming the sidewalk dining tables. I had the bruschetta caprese (taking Marlen’s advice to having something ‘caprese’ while in Capri) and a small bottle of white wine. We ate slowly to kill time and eventually moved to a table inside, upstairs near the kitchen where it was nice and warm. It was a slow afternoon, so the other girls headed back to Sorrento on an earlier ferry than we were scheduled for and I stayed and had another glass of wine with Marlen until the rest of the group was ready to go.
Back in Sorrento, back up that cobblestone road, and back up those dreaded slippery stairs, some of us stopped at an internet cafe before we split up, and then those of us who opted in for it went to the group dinner at the Ristorante Il Borgo. We drove up some pretty steep roads to a more elevated area and, from our vantage point that high up, the town, the bay and Mt Vesuvius were the perfect backdrop for every picture taken from the large windows in the dining room. Naturally we started with an aperitivo of prosecco, which I followed up with another glass of white wine and a plate of four different kinds of bruschetta – tomatoes, peppers and zucchinis, grilled veggies and a crushed olive paste all with a side of buffalo mozarella (antipasto) . The pasta dish (primo) came next, gnocchi in marinara and penne in a white cream sauce with zucchinis and, right behind that, a serving of pork with potatoes and mushrooms (secondo). The lemon cake and limoncello (dolce) that topped off the whole meal pretty much left me in the first of many food comas I would experience over the next week or so. The night’s entertainment was the oh-so-passionate-while-singing keyboard player and the restaurant owner who came out and threw down some dance moves to YMCA with one of the girls from our group. After lots of chatting, lots of laughing and LOTS of food, we drove back down to pick up the rest of the group and went back to the hotel for the night.