Sunday, August 31, 2008
Some ports have really neat things to look at when we turn on our underwater lights. Sometimes (like in Naples), you don't really want to see what's in the water.... but here in Ischia we could see the urchins on the rocks and the water was crystal clear.
Pulling into the island of Ponza.
I really enjoyed the interesting landscape of Ponza, it was like nothing I'd seen yet in the Med.
We were the biggest boat in the harbor and docked onto the end of a floating dock surrounded by little tiny boats. There were many sailboaters out enjoying their weekend, the weather was lovely.
The rock formations out the window were pretty interesting. We were supposed to stay on dock for the night, but a storm came through and everyone freaked out, yelling and screaming in Italian over the rush of the wind and waves. In the frenzy, they kicked us off the dock and dropped our lines. It ended up being a lot of fuss for nothing since the storm never came. Twenty minutes later and it was dead calm once again when we dropped anchor.
I had jumped off the boat to buy some bread that afternoon and passed this little old man tending to his garden. He's the little blue blob in there somewhere.
The next morning we departed for Elba. With the clouds and a cool breeze it was an absolutely gorgeous day.
Elba looked really neat, but I didn't have any time off the boat while we were there. Crewmates said it was awesome so I'll take their word for it. ;)
It was a charming little harbor. Quite a nice place to spend a few nights.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Yikes! I'm so far behind in blogging that I can hardly remember where and when and what I'm blogging about. Here's me trying to get a shot of diving into the water while anchored off of Positano. ...but the next shot was a splash so it didn't work out so well. Ha.
The sunset was pretty.
Then the town of Positano came alive with light. That night after the guests had gone to bed I spent some time out under the stars on the bow. So lovely.
We then returned to Capri. We were here for two more days, but I didn't get a chance to get off the boat at all. So no Blue Grotto for me. I'll just have to go back sometime in the future. ;)
We didn't have dockage in Capri for a second night so we anchored out. The guests dined that night on the aft deck to this sunset and it was absolutely gorgeous.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I mentioned Naples was trashy, right? This was the lovely view of the water out our window complete with maxi pads. The mate saw hypodermic needles and condoms float by, too. Classy. We weren't sad at all to leave that port.
After Naples we ended up back in di Stabia for the third time. On a provisioning run, the store had this large roll of meat in the center isle and I thought it was interesting enough to photograph and share. Also, the stores here lack the strangest items. For instance, despite the generous display of candles, we couldn't for the life of us find a single lighter. Even after asking someone we had to leave empty handed. I was, however, entirely impressed by the pasta selection. Being in Italy, it shouldn't be surprising, but the whole back wall was dedicated to hosting just about any kind of pasta known to man. You could spend the afternoon deciding what kind to have for dinner. I considered bringing some home, but there just wasn't time to shop for myself.
I've already forgotten what the name of this cute little town was. They are all starting to blend together in my mind. (It was Agropoli.)
We anchored out one afternoon and while the guests went into town, we jumped in for a swim. Even thought it may be only fifteen minutes, it's still fifteen minutes of valuable down time. And it's of course such a treat to jump off the back of the boat and enjoy the water!
We docked here for the night. I forget the name... I'll look it up or ask someone, but I just want to get this blogged for now--I'm so far behind. It wasn't memorable since I didn't get off the boat that day. (Salerno.)
Fruit tarts waiting to be plated and prepped for the guests. Don't they just look so yummy?? Our chef makes the cutest desserts. We eat well. Too well.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
On my third day off I took the train to Sorrento to board a bus that would take me down the Amalfi coast. There are a lot of touristy things that I find to be overrated, but this was certainly not one of them. I'd recommend the Amalfi coast to anyone. It was incredible.
The bus winds you around the cliffs that drop into the water.
The view down from the bus window. Straight down!
I learned a lesson that day: Always check your camera batteries. When I boarded the train and took my camera out to take a picture, the little red battery light angrily flashed at me. How could I have started a day of picture taking without a spare set?! My photo routine for the trip was to turn the camera on, and since I didn't dare turn on the screen, guess at aiming it and snap the shot right before turning it right back off again. I must have looked really silly and I got a lot of blur, but for the most part it worked.
We passed through several little towns along the way, Portofino being one of them.
There were sections of street that were just barely wide enough for the bus to pass. There were a few turns that I swear we avoided brushing the buildings by less than an inch. Those bus drivers got skillz. Yes, skillz with a z. That's how good they are.
Entering the town of Amalfi.
Got off the bus to wander through the streets. Among the restaurants, the main square was dominated by the church.
View from the entrance to the church.
After a look around (and gelato) I took the ferry back to Naples. The windows were so caked with salt that you could barely see through them. The yachtie in me found it a bit painful to see it so dirty. Yeesh.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Day Two of my time off I spent wandering the streets of Naples.
I had a serious love affair with Naples' Margherita pizza. It was mouthwateringly tasty each time I had it in Naples--whether it was a street vendor or restaurant, it didn't seem to matter. For a Euro, one of these little guys became my lunch.
One thing that is immediately noticeable about Naples is the sheer amount of graffiti that covers every surface. Really, it's everywhere. In general, it is not a pretty city.
Outside the church, the wedding party was posing for the photographer. When directed to a small back alleyway, the bride argued that it was not "bella" enough. Note the ubiquitous graffiti in the background.
The Galleria Umberto, a shopping plaza enclosed under an impressive glass ceiling, was a nice place to take a break from walking. (Again, note the graffiti.)
The plan was to get gelato, but I was abruptly led astray by this cannoli that beckoned from the other side of the display case. Curiosity stemmed from its unusual appearance--it wasn't like the ones back home--but the unexpected change in game plan was a marvelous idea. I'll tell ya, it sure was tasty.
More Naples graffiti as seen from the train. The stations boasted the most thorough covering in delinquent paint.
One evening, a friend from another boat came and picked me up for a tender ride. This was looking back at the sunset as we scooted away from the cruise ship that followed us from the dock.
With nowhere particular in mind, we ended up at the Castel dell'Ovo. Literally the "Egg Castle," it was named as such after an old legend that it was built atop a magical egg. When the egg broke, it would be the end of Naples. It now houses a small marina and a cute little array of eateries.
This was, by far, the nicest place I had visited in Naples. There was no graffiti, the water was crystal clear and it wasn't trashy or overrun by vespas. We tied the tender to the dock beside a restaurant and had a nice meal. The tourist translated menu offered such gems as "small shrimps with rockets," which amused me to no end. Our chef informed me later that rockets are arugula. ...it still amuses me....
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Aaaaaand, we arrive in Naples! Good ol' Napoli. We docked right here between cruise ships and ferries in the busy commercial port across the street from the center of town.
Went for a walk first thing in the morning as the markets in the back streets were opening. The stores weren't due to open for a few hours still. Note the vespa and the cars competing for space through the narrow streets. Naples is notorious for its horrible traffic. Crossing the street can be a nightmare! I found it's easiest if you just cross with a local since they seem to know that the cars will stop when you step out in front of them. I have to admit, despite the crazy traffic free-for-all, for all of the time I spent here I never saw a single accident.
Proud to show off his catch for the camera, we were welcomed in for a little tour of a fish shop, one of many along the way. The octopods in the foreground were live and swimming around. We were invited to touch them.
After seeing us pull out our camera, the shop owner warned us to leave the back streets and return to main public areas. The neighborhoods are big trouble, especially if you're a tourist. In her broken English she said we were in danger of being mugged and needed to hide our cameras because it wasn't safe. We knew not to have anything flashy and have our wits about us, but getting a warning like that at nine in the morning was a bit creepy.
So we headed back down to the public square and got coffee standing at the bar like the locals do. The coffee here is so good! Actually, it's been great everywhere we've been...
When the guests departed in Naples, it was the first time we had any time off in three weeks. The down time in between trips allowed us to have three whole days off! Considering that's as many total days as we've had since I boarded the airplane in May, I was stoked.
Day one, I hopped on the train. I found the transportation system in Naples to be rather confusing. Poorly marked, each different method of transportation is comprised of different companies that go to different places. It took me some time to get acquainted, but I got my seat on the train and watched Naples disappear into countryside. But not before I snarfed down some street vendor pizza. The pizza here is simply the best I've ever had. It's incredible!
I ended up in Sorrento, a cute little city perched on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples.
Spent the day exploring and just enjoying the time off. The freedom was wonderful.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Cruising the Amalfi coast to Positano was such an incredible treat.
We sat out at anchor while the guests went in to explore for the afternoon.
As the night went on, the weather created large swells that tossed the boat around and we weren't able to stay long. We ended up back in Marina di Stabia for the night, but it was fun while it lasted.