We woke up to a lavish breakfast at our hotel in Rome. I don’t know if it’s that they don’t pump all their meat and produce with hormones and pesticides in Europe, or that they have a better farming system across the ocean, but I had cereal with milk and it was so good. The milk tasted so fresh, almost like it had been taken from the cow’s utter that very morning. There was such an abundance of food- there were pastries, and fresh fruit, eggs, granola, yogurt, sausage, bacon, muffins, waffles and mimosas, so much more. My eyes feasted. That was the breakfast of champions. We ate up, as we had a long journey ahead and probably would not eat again until dinner time. We took the shuttle from the hotel to the piazza where the shuttle stopped. We hauled our luggage, with us and stuck out like sore thumbs- how tacky- but we needed some of our bags. We had already left the bulk of our stuff in the hotel in Rome since we were coming back after a few days in Sorrento. What looked to be a relatively short distance on the map turned out to be quite an odyssey by foot. It was hot, and the train station felt like a mirage amidst all of the stores, people, steep uphill and downhill roads and traffic. My poor grandmother who was 76 at the time said something that we still laugh at today- “loma arriba, loma abajo, mi rodilla pal carajo” it doesn’t translate well into English, but the gist is-“hill goes up, hill goes down, and there goes my knee.” The train left from Rome to Naples, and then from Naples we needed to catch another train to Sorrento- our final destination for the day. Unfortunately, the train was delayed when we arrived at the station. We sat and waited, then waited some more. The hours passed. So many faces came and went. I sat on a bench and watched people for what felt like an eternity. It’s a funny thing to observe folks from other cultures, especially if you don’t quite understand what they’re saying. The way they dress, the prevalent facial features how they interact with each others…Those things that make a culture unique. Finally, the train arrived, and not a moment too soon. There was a sea of people flocking to the entrances of the train. Finally we were on board. It was about a two hour ride from Rome to Naples, but at least it was a scenic ride. The countryside was beautiful; there were villas, and pastures with hay stacks, and flowers and blue skies. The views were so serene. So serene in fact, that I fell asleep.
We arrived to the train station in Naples. There was such a nervous vibe about that place. I felt like everyone was staring at me. The people didn’t look very friendly either. It was just a strange, albeit, brief experience. We loaded our stuff on the next train, which felt like it had been constructed during the time of the Caesars. Compared to the air-conditioned, comfortable seated, panoramic window view, bullet train we had just been on, this was a disaster. It creaked, and shook, and the people on it were scary. There were no seats left so we all had to stand, with one hand holding our luggage and the other to whatever we could grab to maintain our balance. To say that it was an unpleasant ride would be an understatement. By this time the sun was setting and the three of us were exhausted. We just wanted to get to our hotel and sleep. Finally the train arrived. We hauled our stuff off the train and hailed a cab to the hotel.
We were excited to see the hotel. My mom and I had spent countless hours researching online for hotels in the area, reading reviews, asking others who had traveled. My mom has used venere.com in the past for hotel reservations and had not had a problem so when trying to pick a hotel in Sorrento, we visited that site. Online we found a quaint little hotel with a nice view of the ocean. It was decently priced and there were not very many negative reviews about it, on the contrary, mostly everyone had good things to say about it so we booked it.
On the outside the hotel was really pretty. The lobby was very stylish too. The staff was friendly and promptly showed us to our room. Man oh man were we in for a surprise. The room was tiny! Not only was it small, there were only two small beds, and we specifically reserved a room for three travelers. After setting our bags down and expressing our dismay about the room to each other, we noticed there was a sideways Murphy bed in the corner of the room. This thing was tiny too. I pulled it down and sat on it for a second. The sheets were damp. Yuck. We then looked at the bathroom. I had never seen a shower like that before. It looked like a standing casket. I seriously wondered if I was going to fit into it- really. By that time we were so tired from our excursion that we decided that we would stay there anyway. We were only going to be there for two nights after all and finding another hotel without prior reservations in a foreign country would be one more obstacle in this already complicated and frustrating day.
We decided to go to dinner and call it a night. We walked downstairs and asked the attendant if there was anything in walking distance and he said that there was a great restaurant around the bend on the marina called Il bagni di delfino. Our spirits were down, we were hungry, tired, disappointed with our hotel, and had wasted an entire day making a trip that would normally take only a few hours. But we had to eat. So off we went, following the instructions we had been given. When we got there, there was a chalkboard menu outside listing the specials for the day. They were advertising a few things, but the one that caught our eye the most was the large beer for only 3 Euros. That was a deal. We were greeted by our waitress and seated immediately. She was very petite with boyish hair, but very funny. Without hesitation the three of us ordered the large beer and our meals. A few minutes later the waitress returned with our beverages. They meant what they said- that beer was ginormous. I don’t even like beer, but it was so icy cold, and I was so thirsty that I began to drink it. Half an hour passed and I hadn’t even made a dent finishing the beer. The waitress came by and half jokingly said… “You ordered it, now you have to drink it”. The three of us actually finished it and walked back to the hotel. All I can say is that the walk back was a blur; in fact the rest of the night was a blur. All I know is that I woke up the following morning wearing the same clothes as the night before.
I sensed optimism in the air that morning. It was going to be a better day, I knew it would.
To be continued…