So here's the deal. I wrote out about half of this post on my iPod, and then for whatever reason every single text file on my iPod will happily sync to my computer except for this particular post. So I'm just going to start from scratch. This is the main reason I've been putting this off. I've also wanted to update on more recent things as they have happened. So here goes...
After I had finally had my fill of taking photos of the church I decided that what I needed more than anything else was some food, or at the very least some water. Luckily, there was a small grocery store just down and across the street from the church. This was one of the few places I went on this trip where no one spoke any English at all. I looked around for a bottle of water, and having not found any eventually asked one of the owners if she had any water. She told me that they did, and motioned toward large, gallon-sized bottles of water - A bit more than I was looking for. I tried to explain that I wanted a smaller bottle, and eventually she was able to understand what I was looking for. Fifty cents and the longest conversation I've ever had in Italian later I was out the door with my bottled water. Now in Europe when you ask for water you have to choose between what we'll call Good Water and Bad Water (still and fizzy). Lucky me, I had just unknowingly bought the bad water. Regardless, I finished that water pretty quickly. I took even more pictures of the church and then decided I needed to figure out a way to get back to Amalfi.
As I've said previously, the taxi driver who brought me to the church had joked that I could just take the stairs back. With no other idea of what to do (I wasn't about to follow the dangerous winding road all the way back) I headed down the stairs for what ended up being one of the greatest walks I've ever been on. The steps wander through all of the houses built on the mountain. On both sides of the steps are doorways, patios, and often a collection of lemon trees. I could have walked up and down those steps for hours (Well no, I would have eventually collapsed). I reached the bottom of the stairs and began to walk along the road toward Amalfi (having a coastline really helps your sense of direction!).
At times the road was peaceful and I could enjoy looking at the buildings and the sea. There was a cool breeze coming off the water and in the distance I could see sailboats, and closer to the shore swimmers. Occasionally I would come across a set of steps which led, in a crazy, winding fashion, to a small beach on the rocks below. There families would be set up, the children running back and forth from the water, old men standing in two feet of water - unmoving, and many on their stomach or back getting some sun. It seemed almost perfect.
Then there were the times when cars, scooters, or buses were on the road. This is when I would press as closely as possible to the guardrail and hope not to be hit. At times this wasn't a problem, more often than not a bus would pass within inches of my face. Once I was forced to hop the guard rail in order to avoid being hit. With my feet planted directly underneath the rail and behind my back there was nothing but a long fall to the sea (or the rocks below, forgive me if I can't remember the exact details). Sometimes I would wait just before a curve in the road in order to let cars I saw or heard in the distance pass, other times I had no such warning and would find myself in the middle of a sharp turn in the road where the cars and buses would inevitably take up well more than their fair share of the road. The fact that I'm writing this tells you that I made it out okay, but I won't lie - there were some times that made me nervous.
After a while (and that was a long while) I made it back to Amalfi. When I got close to the town there was a staircase that led up into the town so for some time I wandered the maze that exists between the homes in Amalfi. I got a lot of "Ciao's" and "Buongiorno's" from the locals as I made my way through the twisting passageways. When I made it back to the main piazza I stopped and had lunch, a sandwich and a glass of the greatest orange juice I have ever had. I have never tasted orange juice so fresh. It was as if they had literally pulled the oranges off the tree seconds before and then it had been hand-squeezed by the gods.
After lunch I walked through the Cathedral of St. Andrews which just happened to be 20 feet from where I was sitting and having lunch. The cathedral is beautiful. The cathedral has housed the remains of St. Andrew since the 13th century. The main sanctuary was amazing to see. I didn't take any pictures in that room because I was unsure if I was allowed to - There were signs telling you the rules in every other room. Regardless, I got a lot of pictures of the rest of the cathedral which are in the flickr set.
After seeing the cathedral I headed back to the hotel and fell asleep for awhile. All of that walking had completely exhausted me. When I finally woke up I headed out to find some dinner. I managed to find the restaurant I was looking for the night before, but the prices there were unbelievably high so I decided to go somewhere else. I ended up at Trattatoria e Pizzaria Guiseppe. I had, true to form, the margarita pizza. It was really good. I think the margarita pizza at Brixx is my favorite, but this was clearly a "real" margarita pizza. It's too bad that you can't find pizza like this back in the states.
After dinner I went back to where I had lunch and ordered a glass of lemonade and a gelato. If the orange juice was as good as it was, I figured the lemonade (this region being known for its lemons) must be good. It did not disappoint, though it was a bit powerful for my taste. I'd have to say I preferred the orange juice to the lemonade but they were both fantastic. The gelato was very good as well.
After I was finally done eating I wandered around town for a couple hours. I didn't take pictures or anything, I just walked around enjoying the town. I will not hesitate to go if ever given the chance to return to Amalfi. Around 1 am I headed back to the hotel and fell asleep.
The next morning I was up at 7 and had a quick breakfast and then headed to the bus stop. The bus was late but I got to Sorrento with time to spare before the bus to the airport left, so I didn't mind. The bus trip was similarly nauseating but I survived. When I got into Sorrento I checked to see when the bus to the airport left and then, with about 45 minutes of free time, ran to the town center to purchase a small gift. I won't reveal what it was (I don't want to ruin the surprise) but I had seen the gift on Friday when I was walking through the piazza. At the time I thought about what a great gift it would make, but then quickly decided that it just wasn't worth the hassle of keeping up with it and keeping it safe for the rest of my trip in Italy. As time went on over the weekend I began to regret not getting it so I was glad to have an opportunity to run back to that shop. The shop was interesting in itself. The doors were covered with anti-government bumper stickers, but not in a "young angst-ridden person way" like the back of a car you might see on the highway. Rather, the shop was run by a couple of old women and their husbands. It was kind of amusing.
A quick note... This post was written before I returned to the US but is being posted after. So the gift mentioned previously isn't actually a surprise anymore but I don't have a picture of it to share with you so I'll just leave that part in.
After another bus ride I was in Napoli, and soon enough I was checked in and ready to go back to London. The gate I sat at had a glass wall dividing it from a gate for domestic flights. At the other gate was a little girl (maybe 4?), her father, and an old man. The father asked the old man to watch his bags while he took his daughter to (presumably) the bathroom. After that the three of them would talk with each other. I sat there for probably an hour watching these three interact. I felt like I was watching TV. The girl might wander off so the dad would scold her and then she'd pout for awhile until the old man cheered her up. I honestly couldn't stop watching. At one point the old man stood up and walked toward the giant windows looking over the tarmac and the girl began to sneak up on him. She'd press herself against the desk by the gate and peer around the corner and the moment he moved, even slightly, she'd dart to the other side of the desk and peer at him from that angle. For awhile I don't think he even knew that she was spying on him, but once he figured it out he played along. It was very funny.
Boarding the plane was a mess. There was no organization but after a long wait I was on a bus headed out to the plane. Everyone boarded the plane and then... Nothing. We just sat there. It ends up they had lost a passenger. They needed to either locate him/her or remove his/her baggage from the plane. Great. What made it worse was that the small engine in the back of the plane that is used to power the AC while the plane is on the ground was broken. So we sat there, in the middle of a tarmac, in the hot Italian sun, for close to 45 minutes. Eventually they discovered that the missing passenger was a baby (I think) and had been there all along. With that settled we left.
I've enjoyed my time in London a ton, but I have to say that the trip to Italy was my absolute favorite part of this entire summer.