III. Life Lessons and Moments of Glory (Amalfi Coast, Italy)

Sun, Jun 28, 2009 at 4:12 AM

Friends and Famiglia,

Reminder: all emails are to be read in a High British Tongue, as that is the original dialect in which they were written (the dodgy native American accent of East TN will leave our wit dry and meaningless as all the bread in Italy). In order to convey maximum educational content, we have inserted roman numeralled life lessons into this saga as we learned them ourselves–i.e., LL I. ITALIAN BREAD: no. Save yourself and your jaw for the pasta and pizza.

Hello again! Since our last report at the conquering of Roma, we have journeyed to the absolute edge of this blessed, and yet often quite forsaken, country (the Amalfi Coast) and at this very moment are beginning a 11-legged journey Eastwards towards Corfu (bless you), Greece that will span a time frame of 23 hours (it will be as if Sunday did not exist at all though it will take you nearly that long to read this manifesto).

Friday morning we casually caught a train to NAPOLI from Roma in quest of crusty pizza margherita in its birthplace and the legendary cliffs of Amalfi. LL II: NO WORKING ESCALATORS in the entirety of the city of Naples, though they exist in abundance. LL III: USCITA “exit” THIS WAY does not always carry the meaning of its direct translation.

One terrifying and overpriced cab ride later (a trend in Italia), we arrived at Napoli port bound for Sorrento. LL IV: TRUE NAPOLENONIC PIZZA is not served at the port-side ferry station where we were forced to lunch; PERONI is.

The highly recommended ferry ride along the coast was a major disappointment due to mild nausea and greasy obstructive windows, but it did transport us safetly into town where we were received at HOTEL ELIOS (more of a grandmother’s home than a hostel of any sort). Our new grandmommy expressed concern at our vibrant, glistening youth and beauty and made sure to stress the early curfew and “famiglia” atmosphere of our new bunking, which we dismissed immediately.

Our first MOMENT OF GLORY was to set up a paint shop with a bottle of Siennese vino on the deserted but lovely back porch facing the Bay of Naples and only mildy obstructed by another hotel, which we simply included in our paintings (this mature, sensitive project got us in  grandmommy’s good graces, though she was not around to see the accidental shattering of aforementioned glass bottle on the porch floor in a moment of artistic frustration and an unforseen gust of sea breeze).

The rest of our first evening in Sorrento can be explained in a few words: Prosseco, prosciutto, Prossecco, pasta, PERFECTION and 9 pm bedtime. Another MOMENT OF GLORY arrived swiftly with the sunrise as we magically, predictably, awoke simultaneously and, silently, knowingly, moved to the window where we enjoyed a brief but sublime breath of sea air and regarded the twinkling lights of pollution, radiating across the bay from Napoli. Following this blissful mountaintop experience, Annie made a near fatal error that resulted in her returning to bed where she refused to move until nearly high noon. LL V: READ SIGNS. Feeling a bit parched after our sunrise rise, she stumbled to our private bathroom and consumed no less than 4 glasses of sinkwater, reading a sign on the wall during her last sips that warned WATER IS NOT DRINKABLE, and returning to bed where, within moments, she was struck with severe and accute nausea coupled with blinding headaches, only exaggerated slightly in memory of them, but bed-ridden was she no less. Amanda was forced to sneak a bottle of ACGUA NAURALE from grandmommy’s kitchen and revive Annie with probiotics, omega 369’s, complex B, magnesium for balance, and 3 advil gelcaps.  She refused espresso but felt “like a phoenix from the ashes” after breakfast (a “magnum” ice cream bar) and a brisk walk through the quaint town center and to the bus station.

LL VI: RICK STEVE must be strong of stomach to recommend a busride down the Amalfi Coast. We set out from Sorrento through the winding cliffside towards Positano, taking out tourists, locals, and other vehicles alike at every hairpin corner our bus driver so ambitiously navigated. Even with our RIGHT SIDE premium seating, as Rick insisted, we found the entire passage to be undesirable in all ways, as we sweated through our daydresses soundlessly, wishing we could see the view through our veil of misery and fear. Perhaps the stagnant air of sealed windows and a last row seat were to blame. Perhaps not. Perhaps.

Once in Positano (exiting the bus in the first possible town, though reportedly “seedy” by Jeanie Sims and just shy of the “most scenic coastline view” said Rick) we spent the afternoon enjoying homeade intestine-shaped pasta with anchovy sauce.

A few life lessons from Positano: LL VII: even the smallest anchovies, while still decadent, have bones. LL VIII: a robust sneeze from an American can frighten even the smallest Italian child to tears. LL IX: “Deutzsche” (pronounced DOY CHAY, two stressed syllables) is not the Italian translation of “two” as Amanda has been confident of for days. LL X: the supplest olives come fresh from the vine and are served for free with cocktails. LL XI: one will always feel at home in the FOREIGNER’S CLUB. LL XII: TRUE NAPOLEONIC PIZZA does exist, but it’s in Sorrento.

Now, fast forward to 2 this morning (we returned to Sorrento after a few short hours in Positano–by ferry this time–for dinner and curfew at grandmommy’s) when Amanda, insomniac that she is, arose from slumber with a violent thirst. Spitting in the face of experience, reason, and clearly posted signage, she cupped her hands at the sink and lapped greedily at the forbidden fount. Returning to bed with obese hubris, she was, predictably and utterly stricken with the same symptoms Annie had experienced just hours before. Unable to return to sleep for the duration of the night, she passed the hours on the Blackberry Internet Server with intermittent trips to the balcony for fresh air.

Until 5 am, that is, when she woke Annie to begin The Odd-issy, a 23 hour passage entailing:
1. A sunrise walk, with baggage, to the Sorrento train station from Pension Elios, about 30 minutes in duration. The day’s first MOMENT OF GLORY came with the gathering of roadside lavender, which Annie stuffed into her pockets gluttenously so that we could relive the aroma of Sorrento all the day long.
2. An hour-long train ride from Sorrento to Napoli. Along the way, we lept of the train, climbed mount Vesuvious, and wrote a small but detailed guidebook in Pompeii, rubble-lovers that we are.
3. Traversing the Napoli train station, a war zone of piddlers, homeless people (once tourists like ourselves, no doubt), broken escalators, construction-ridden corridors and false USCITA signs.
4. Train from Napoli to Caserta.
5. Pepsi Light in the Caserta station.
6. Train from Caserta to Brindisi, where we currently reside for about 4 hours in totale.
7. Exploration of Brindisi, from train station to port, in a yet to be determined manner.
8. Fairy/ferry from Brindisi to Igoumentas (11 hour, overnight, luxury cabin).
9. Lag time in Igoumentas between ferries.
10. Fairy/ferry from Igoumentas to Corfu (bless you) About one hour.
11. Limo to the Pink Palace, our final destination, for now.

Now. Wish us well on this journey as we twiddle our thumbs and stare at each other. Please, do not be afraid to respond with praise, commentary (positive only, please), and glowing reflections on our journey thus far. We look forward to your corresponance, and if necessary, similarly crafted details from your life.

Chin chin! We love and miss you. Chin chin!

Annimanda (Annie Haslam + Amanda Sims)

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~ by soleilsphere on January 7, 2010.

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