No Particular Place To Go

This blog entry about the events of Saturday, June 23, 2007 was originally posted on July 09, 2007.

PART 5: “Wouldn’t it be great if I just turned on the radio and that song came on, Riding along in my automobile….  duh nanana nah na nuh naah… No particular place to go…?” I said to Steph, humming that middle part of the Chuck Berry song.  It would have been the most appropriate song as we departed Pompeii and head south towards Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.  However, without the song, we just settled on what we could get on Italian radio and the Harry Belafonte CD.

“Here’s the map,” Steph told me, navigating from the passenger side.  “We can go down this road that goes down the coast.  See, it goes, ‘pretty pretty pretty pretty…’” she continued, tracing the road with her finger.  “You have to say that when you drive along it.  It’s the Amalfi Coast song.”

“Okay.”

Before the way turned into the Pretty Pretty Pretty Road, the Italian towns we drove through reminded me of dusty South American cities — mom and pop shops, hand-painted billboards and signage, crosses, churches, hanging clothes drying out on apartment terraces, and, in this particular country, more signs for the Italian military police “carabiner stores.”  We were riding along in our automobile, with me behind the wheel and Steph taking photos for me.  Once on the other side of the train tracks, we were finally on the Pretty Pretty Pretty Road, stopping at scenic overlooks on the edge of the cliffside. 

The narrow, winding road took us along the beautiful coast of the Gulf of Naples, another sight on the Italian honeymooners’ trail.  I pulled into the parking lot of a cliffside restaurant overlooking the gulf and the city of Sorrento below, for a photo stop.  “It’s so beautiful,” Steph said, astonished at the view — we both were.

“Why don’t we just stay here,” I blurted spontaneously — it was the first thing that came to mind.  It just so happened that underneath the parking terrace we were on was a hotel, the three-star Hotel Mega Mare; I figured why waste the day looking for a place when one was right there in front of us, and with the incredible view.  We went down a iron, spiral staircase down to the pretty hotel level and walked into the lobby.

“Parle inglese?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have a room for tonight?  A double?”

The Italian man looked back at the key hooks behind the counter.  “Ah, there is one room left.  It has a terrace, A/C, [access to the] swimming pool…”

“Can we see it?” Steph interjected, eager and intrigued.

“Okay.”

The three-star room had a terrace with the same five-star view of the bay and we were immediately sold.  The price was surprisingly right too, for what it was.  “Okay, we’ll take it.”  I slapped down my credit card.  “You know, we’re basically living out an American Express commercial,” I told Steph.  “But with a Visa card.”

WITH NO PARTICULAR PLACE TO GO, we decided to chill out and enjoy the hotel until dusk.  It was another afternoon of playtime, relaxing on the terrace, and playing in the pool with a view — we finally got a decent photo of the two of us underwater.  Most of all, we continued to admire the view; it was hard to look away (unless you were trying to do a dramatic, introspective pose). 

“Happy fake honeymoon!”

As the sun set down the horizon of the Tyrrhenian, we dressed up for a night on the town of Sorrento down below.  We had one mission in mind:  to find a place for dinner with 1) outdoor seating by the water and 2) good seafood.  It was easier said than done, at least for what had available seating — one restaurant at the base of the cliffs would have been perfect if only we had reservations.  Instead, I drove the killer switchbacks back up the cliffside, with hairpin turns so tight and narrow I had to K-turn at every one.

There were recommended restaurants in my Lonely Planet Mediterranean Europe pages, but without a map printed they were pretty useless.  Luckily we found Il Capanno, which failed to be outdoors, but made up for it in delicious seafood: baked prawns, grilled swordfish steak, and a fine octopus salad.  “I really like this place,” Steph commented.  The place was popular and busy, so much that every waiter was soaked in his own sweat, which didn’t seem to bother anyone. 

An short evening stroll on a promenade along the cliffs only ameliorated a nice, romantic evening albeit the sweaty waiters.  Down in the bay were the sparkles of boats, although Steph couldn’t help but be distracted by the high society gala going on behind the gates of some country club in the near distance.  She was convinced that everyone there was floating, the way they glided across the floor, and deduced that it was actually a vampire party — they’d party until the break of dawn.

“WANNA SEE SOMETHING COOL?” I told Steph the next morning when we woke up in our bed at the Hotel Mega Mare.

“What?”

I opened the shutter doors to the terrace where the same view failed to get tiresome.  “I’m going to miss this place,” Steph said.

“Me too.”

We sat out on the terrace after breakfast, sipping our cappuccinos (picture above), letting the view burn into our memories forever.  Alas, we inevitably packed up our bags and moved on.

“Okay,” Steph said back in the navigator’s chair of our rented Mercedes, showing me the peninsula on the road map.  “We can go around the tip or just cut across to the other side.”

“That’s what she said.”  There was an awkward pause to digest how corny that joke was.

We moved on, driving along the Pretty Pretty Pretty Road (picture above), continuing bad jokes about “carabiner stores” and that it was “time to get a watch.”  We also sang, as best we could:

“Riding along in my automobile…  duh nanana nah na nuh nah…  Da nanana nah na nuh nah… duh nanana nah na nuh naah… Da nanana nah na nuh naaah… duh nanana nah na nuh nah…  No particular place to go… duh nanana nah na nuh nah…”

(We didn’t exactly know all the lyrics.)

OUR DESTINATION WAS POSITANO, not to be confused with Punxsutawney, the Pennsylvanian town famous for its groundhog.  “The groundhog didn’t see its shadow, so we have six more weeks of summer!” I said.  We cut across the tip of the peninsula to get there, a town Steph heard was “cute so it’s touristy, and touristy because it’s cute.”  Once parked on the hill above the town center, we walked in and saw that it was just that: a cute village of souvenir shops and Italian ice vendors, where bus tour groups came in for the day to shop and eat in cafes.  Our stay in Positano was brief; we walked the strip of stores, ate lunch at a restaurant on the beach, and had an internet session at an air-conditioned internet cafe/wine bar — a nice escape from the sweltering day outside.

“I’m hot, Tom Cruise,” Steph said, quoting “Planet Unicorn” again.  The heat didn’t help when we walked about a million steps through the residential neighborhood to get back up the hill to the car.

“No I will not race you up the stairs!” I said out of the blue, struggling — we were both out of shape with our recent regiments of rich Italian food.

“Maybe I can get a guy in a Vespa to bring me up and I’ll come down and get you,” Steph told me.  “I’ll say, ‘Please…?  Mister…?  Can you please bring me up the hill?’”

“You’ll have to show him some leg or something.”

“Maybe I’ll show him my Naples,” she joked.

“Oooh, hey now…”

Positano was our starting point for the actual and officially-marked Amalfi Coast, the stretch of coastline designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its dramatic cliffside scenery of pretty pretty pretty winding roads and postcard-perfect rock formations.  Passing the Vespas whizzing by, we drove from town to town, one having the same name as the coast itself.  “Why did Amalfi get the honor of the coast being named after it?” I wondered aloud.  “Why isn’t it the Positano coast?”

“Maybe Amalfi got here first.”  Getting to the proverbial “there” first was barely an argument on the narrow road of the Amalfi Coast; when two buses tried to get by each other on a tight corner, the second didn’t stop to let the first one get by — neither could stop on the side to let the other go, with the lack of space, but somehow they patiently managed to squeeze by, even with Vespa drivers trying to inch in.

“Excellent driving, by the way,” Steph complimented me.

“How are you doing with your phobia?” I asked.  While my one phobia was snakes, Steph’s was being in vehicles on cliffsides. 

“I’m a little carsick.”

We took a break from the Pretty Pretty Pretty Road in the town of Maiori, for Cokes and quick phone call at a pay phone:  Steph called her friend Franco in Vermont, who had grown up in a small Italian village in the mountains somewhere.  She called him for details, for it was where we’d go next.

“Say ‘Goodbye Amalfi Coast!’” I said, as we got back on the road and head away from the coast.

“Goodbye Amalfi Coast!” Steph said out the window.  “Goodbye Pretty Pretty Pretty Pretty!”

“But there’s still Pretty in here,” I said, all corny and cheesy like.

“Aww…” she said, before making a vomity gagging noise.  “That’s for Asher.”  (Asher was her good friend from college that started the on-going comment, “I’m going to vomit in my mouth,” after hearing any cheesy and god-awful romantic pick-up line.  I’ve actually edited out many utterances of such lines, for the sake of keeping vomit out of the mouths — and off the keyboards — of you, the blog reading public.)

And so, another chapter of our journey came to an end, a chapter in the southern part of Italy and its pretty pretty pretty Amalfi Coast.  Our automobile head out west to begin the next adventurous chapter, this time with a particular place to go.






Next entry: The Mountain Town

Previous entry: The Most Swingingest Brothel In Pompeii




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Comments for “No Particular Place To Go”

  • Steph - About the phobia…. Word!  There’s something really quite terrifying about being in a moving vehicle at the edge of a cliff.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  12:05 AM


  • Wow, that hotel was amazing. I’m jealous. In fact, I’m pretty much jealous of this whole entry. Except the vomit-inducing comments.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/15  at  07:57 PM


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This blog post is one of twelve travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Two in The Boot and Beyond," which chronicled a romantic getaway through Italy, plus jaunts to Croatia, Switzerland, and London.

Next entry:
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The Most Swingingest Brothel In Pompeii




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