The Fake Honeymooners

This blog entry about the events of Thursday, June 21, 2007 was originally posted on July 07, 2007.

PART 3:  “Do you realize we’re going on what is most people’s honeymoons?” Steph said to me in Venice.  “A [romantic] romp through Europe.”

True, our mere summer romantic getaway was very honeymoon-esque, particularly at our next destination, the Isle of Capri, Italy’s resorty island off the coast of Naples, a place that my friend Alan (a.k.a. LovePenny) called the highlight of his honeymoon.  “I think Venice was his second highlight,” I told Steph.  “And we just came from there.”

Capri wasn’t originally on our itinerary until Steph’s mom told Steph that she loved Capri so much, she’d pay for our hotel if we decided to go there.

“I think we should go to Capri then,” I said, prompting our travels to southern Italy.

THE “HONEYMOON FROM OUR VACATION” started on the jet ferry that took us from Napoli’s port to the one at Capri.  Steph and I stood out on the upper deck of the boat, amongst the other couples looking out at sea.  “I’m glad that I’m here,” I told my girlfriend, “And that I’m not alone.  When I was on the ferry to Santorini [Greece] — which is another honeymoon destination — it was all couples, and everyone would be kissing.  I hated it.  But now I’m on the other side,” I said.  I kissed her.  “Well, take that.”

“You’re mean,” she told me, defending the handful of singles on deck.  “We should have a moment of nothing for the single travelers,” she suggested.  “No touching.”

We stood on the rail, apart from each other in honor of the singles on board — we’d all been there before.  However, our moment only lasted as much as we could take it — about a good ten seconds.  “Okay, that’s enough,” Steph announced before embracing me for another kiss.

WHILE MANY OF THE REAL HONEYMOONERS were dressed to fit the part, it was quite a sight to see the two of us, a couple of seemingly young and sloppy backpackers, disembark from the ship.  “You look like a dirty backpacker,” I teased Steph.  It was even more of a sight to see us approach Giovanni, the port liasion for the J.W. Marriott, and tell him that we had a reservation and that we’d like the transport to the hotel.  Respectfully, he told us the next one wouldn’t be for another half hour, and so we decided to just go on foot. 

Steph and I did the backpacker thing and lugged our bags through town, first up the view-giving funicular from the port and to the main square.  The town of Capri was much like Fira in Santorini, Greece whereas it wasn’t much a livable town, but a maze of boutiques, designer shops, gelaterias, bars, restaurants, and cafes.  As glamourous as it was, it was tainted by the hordes of tourists, many of which were corralled by there tour leader.  “Like Santorini, with all the allure comes the crowds,” I said.  “The annoying ones.”

The J.W. Marriott Capri Tiberio Palace Resort and Spa was our refuge from it all (when we finally found it), and it was another sight to see when us two sloppy-looking backpackers entered the lobby of such a fine five-star establishment and asked for our room.

“It’s beautiful,” Steph raved, seeing our big room with a king-sized bed, walk-in closet, bidet, robes, and fuzzy slippers.  (I was sure to send her mother a well-deserved Thank You postcard when I had the chance.)

“Happy fake honeymoon,” I welcomed Stephanie.

“Happy fake honeymoon!”

The view from the hotel’s pool terrace was impressive as well, with a nice vantage point of the mountain ridge that separated the two parts of the island, Capri and Anacapri.  “That’s Anacapri,” I pointed out.

“And that’s Jurassic Park,” Steph said, pointing at the rock formations on the ridge that reminded her of the Spielburg dinosaur movie.

“And that’s the Capri Sun,” I said, pointing up at the sky.  “When you go over to the other side, they serve you juice in reflective pouches that they stab with straws.”

That afternoon we just decided to chill out and take advantage of our room and the indoor/outdoor pool with bubble jets you could turn on.  We tried to take underwater photos with my new submersible Olympus, getting solo pictures of each of us, but never quite getting both of us completely at the same time (picture above).  Nonetheless, after a tiring day that involved being in Napoli traffic just a few hours before, an afternoon of relaxation and playtime — and a bubble bath — was definitely in order. 

“BEING WITH YOU SHOWS ME everything that was wrong about my last boyfriend,” Steph told me at dinner — it was flattering thing for me to hear, and in such a perfectly romantic setting:  Il Faraglioni, a restaurant recommended by Steph’s mom, and probably some guide books too because it seemed to be the only frequented place in the vicinity.  We had dressed up for the occasion, a candlelit dinner of Caprese salad, prawns with squid ink pasta, and grilled sea breem.  A fine bottle of Vispera complemented our meal, and provided for a toast:  “Happy fake honeymoon,” I said, raising my glass.

“Happy fake honeymoon,” she clinked to me.  “This is great — no thank you cards!”

Service at the restaurant could have been a bit better though; not only did they forget to serve us bread, but never gave us the wine list until we asked.  “Do you think they think we’re underage?” I wondered aloud.

“Maybe it’s because we’re a mixed couple?” Steph speculated.  But if there was any mixed couple around it was the completely mixed up couple at the table next to us, with their bratty son at their side.  I swear, you never saw a most mismatched family in your life:  the guy was this average-looking accountant sort of guy with a receding hairline, while the woman was what you might see in a picture dictionary under the word “Eurotrash” — a tan, slender late thirtysomething-looking woman, completely thin with an obvious boob job, wearing a leather top, leather hot pants and stilettos.  She basically chain-smoked during her entire meal, and had a demeanor like Maya Rudolph’s impression of Donatella Versace on SNL

Despite his parents’ languages of Italian and German (it made sense that they were Swiss), the son had an American accent, and whined about the service as well.  “How can they give me schnitzel without any ketchup!” he whined.  When the waiter finally brought it over, he boasted, “Finally!”  His mother (probably not his biological one we reckoned) just sat back and took another drag of her cigarette.

ROMANCE PREVAILED after dinner when Steph and I strolled around town with gelati from a highly-recommended gelateria that made fresh waffle cones in front of you.  From town we walked the quiet moonlit path out of the town center, and to the lookout — and make out — point overlooking the Faraglioni (namesake of our restaurant), the three iconic rock formations of Capri jutting out of the sea on the southeastern corner of the island.  We were essentially alone out there, away from the crowds of town, watching the boats in the harbor and the reflections of their lights glistening in the still waters below.  Above us, stars shined in the expansively dark but clear canvas.

“Look at the stars… and how they shine for you… and all the things that you do… and they were all yellow…”

“Happy fake honeymoon,” I whispered in Steph’s ear before my lips met hers.

AFTER A WONDERFUL NIGHT, it was quite a rude awakening early the next morning; apparently our room was right outside the transport route of the motorized luggage trolleys that brought bags from the port to the hotel, and all through dawn all I heard was the zipping of little vehicles going back and forth, with the occasional conversation of workers.  On top of that, there was a weird gurgling from our air conditioner that kept me from having a good night’s sleep. 

“Should I complain?” Steph asked a groggy version of me.  “Maybe we can get a free night.”

“Okay.”

Steph did her magic — she had worked in a Marriott before and knew how to play the game — while I attempted to get some more sleep.  The best she could do was get us an extra late checkout of 3 p.m., which was good enough for extended playtime in the hotel. 

We did leave for excursions on the island, before and after checkout time.  After breakfast on the terrace, we took the public boat from the docks to the famous Blue Grotto on the other side of the island.  The boat took us, two other couples, and a trio — a mother arguing with two ungrateful daughters I reckoned — beyond the cliffside of curious caves that Steph speculated were for pirates, and to the crowded entrance to the Blue Grotto. 

The grotto itself was one of these caves behind the cliffside façade, only accessible through a small opening that only a rowboat could fit through — there were many available to take passengers from their transports and into the cave.  Eventually a rowboat made its way to our transport boat, picked Stephanie and myself up along with another couple, and went to the floating entrance fee stand.  From there we ducked low, watching our oarsman above as he navigated us inside.  And then, it was evident what was so special about the Blue Grotto:  inside, through an optical illusion or diffraction of light peering in underwater, the cave water glowed an electric royal blue.  “Amazing,” was the first thing that came out of my mouth.

“Can we jump in?” an enthusiastic Steph asked our oarsman, even though it was posted outside that swimming in the Blue Grotto was forbidden.

“[Hey, I don’t say anything,]” the oarsman said, feigning ignorance to us about any rules as he pulled off to a corner for us.  Steph stripped down to her bikini and leaped off the port side.

“It’s gorgeous!” she raved.  “Come in!”  The other couple in our boat looked on, while I stripped down to my trunks.  “Get your camera!  That’s why you have a waterproof one!”

“Oh right.”

We took photos of each other, and the scene underwater, smiling the entire time with no regrets.  Another couple from another boat got jealous and followed our lead. 

Back out of the grotto, our oarsman argued with another the way Italian men do, with lots of energetic hand gestures.  I didn’t know what they were saying but it seemed like they were arguing for the sake of arguing, to show that “Oops, I forgot to tell them, they weren’t allowed to jump in.”  However, a real argument emerged over three oarsmen who were pulled back into port from our boat, in a funny little caravan behind us.  The only thing funnier came afterwards back in town, when a funny black dog hopped on the funicular with us, hitched a ride and departed the tram when the door opened, as if he’d done it many times before.

OUR OTHER EXCURSION of the day was to the other side of the island via bus (not taxi), the area known as Anacapri, the residential commune where the real Caprese people lived in houses away from the glitz of Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo.  “This is great,” Steph said.  “It’s always best to see this.  Real people.”

A quick stroll through Anacapri showed us real island life:  kids playing in a piazza, big bees buzzing in flowers, nuns walking to and from the local churches, and shops selling normal things like books and baby supplies.  Anacapri was also the site of a chairlift that brought us over kitschy gardens and up to the top of the ridge that cut across the island, the area that reminded Steph of Jurassic Park — it was fitting that we saw little geckos there that, when photographed closely, could look like big dinosaurs eating on human remains.  (It’s chocolate gelato.)  Looking up from the little lizards was a spectacular 360 degress view around the island — the open sea and the Faraglioni below — which inspired us for some more fake honeymooners photos. 

THE ISLE OF CAPRI was fun, if only for 24 hours, but eventually we moved on back to the mainland.  It wasn’t so smooth to do because the J.W. Marriott disappointed again; our bags didn’t turn up at the docks in time for the ferry we had told them we were departing on.  Giovanni the Marriott dock liasion kept his cool despite Steph’s stern, but controlled complaint:  “I understand there’s a problem.  I love your place; the room is beautiful.  But for the amount this place is, you expect a certain level of service.”

Giovanni was all apologies and took care of us, getting us tickets for the next ferry and pushing the porters to get their ass in gear for us.  “At least you’re not missing a flight,” he told us, remaining positive.  “Then you would be in real trouble.”

All was well in the end; we made it back to Napoli in time for a dinner — one that spawned out of an ongoing joke I told Steph about, during my time at Oktoberfest in Munich:  my friend Jack had tried to start a conversation with a Marisa Tomei-looking woman from Napoli, only to have nothing to talk about but some sort of festival he heard of with a big “pizza in a piazza.” 

“I’m so excited for pizza in a piazza!” Steph said, ignoring a Chinese restaurant that could have satisfied her recent dumpling obsession.  “You’re not allowed to call it ‘pizza.’  It’s ‘pizza in a piazza.’”

“Here’s a piazza,” I said as we walked into the Piazza Municipio.  “How about that place?” I suggested.  It was the Nene Bistro Pizzeria, and we were soon sitting outside eating pizza in the piazza to complete the joke.  I called my friends Jack and Terence to tell him where I was, and what I was eating. 

The pizza in the piazza did us good, and settled us for our final farewell to Capri and Napoli.  We drove off that night, us two fake honeymooners, with no thank you cards to send or cans dragging from the back of our bumper.  It truly was an incredible time, an experience summed up in a statement Steph said at our dinner in Capri:

“If this is my fake honeymoon, my real honeymoon better be damn romantic!”


FUN FACT:

Before Matt LeBlanc was typecast as Joey Tribbiani on Friends and Joey, he was on a sitcom that was a spin-off of Married With Children.  In this show, in a very Joey Tribbiani-esque way, he tells an Italian girl from Naples that “He’d like to travel to Italy to see her Naples.”





Next entry: The Most Swingingest Brothel In Pompeii

Previous entry: Practice For The Amazing Race




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Comments for “The Fake Honeymooners”

  • Stay tuned, about 9-10 more entries to go…

    LINDA:  Thanks again!

    Posted by Erik TGT  on  07/07  at  03:26 PM


  • Yeah Coldplay!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/08  at  11:37 PM


  • it’s like reading a trashy romance novel…gross…

    hahaha…i want poo pics!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/09  at  03:34 AM


  • MARKYT:  Haha… well, I DID say, this would was another departure of my usual travel-style, on the other side of the spectrum from tornado chasing.

    But who knows… maybe there are poo pics to come…

    Posted by Erik TGT  on  07/09  at  02:05 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:
The Most Swingingest Brothel In Pompeii

Previous entry:
Practice For The Amazing Race




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