“The continent is so close. Two hours and you’re in Sorrento” so sayeth the Brits. It just ain’t true. Today it took us 9 hours.
Packed, checked out and rolling down the street towards the bus at 7:30am. Another glorious day…of course. I was left with the luggage, waiting for the airport bus while Mirinda went pootling off, window shopping and saying a last goodbye (I guess).
The bus arrived and I managed to score the front seat – an instruction from my dear wife who was off somewhere getting a drink.
The bus ride from Naples airport was pretty hairy given the twists, turns and cliff edges but it pales into insignificance when you consider the traffic on a Monday morning heading back. Bumper to bumper with scooters like wasps popping in and out on all sides and little vans putt-putting into smaller spaces. And then a traffic jam. For ages we sat in the traffic not moving, barely crawling when we did manage to move. Eventually we found the cause of the jam. A broken down bus, effectively cutting off over half the road. The driver was frantically trying to fix his engine and meanwhile the hordes of commuters and tourists abused him.
This held us up for half an hour but otherwise the trip was only blighted by the driver forever flipping radio stations, something I can get quite passionate about when Stevie B does it at work!
Naples airport was packed! We had just over the obligatory 2 hours before our flight and dutifully stood in the business class queue…which was stalled behind a wheelchair. The economy class lines were whizzing through and we just stood there. But eventually we managed to head off for the business lounge. But before we leave the inefficiency of the Naples check-in desk, I’d just like to mention the desk clerk who dealt with us. Pity I didn’t catch his name because I’d love to say how appallingly bad he was!
The Naples Airport Business Lounge
Not sure this is what it should be called. A few comfortable sofas in a lounge room and a sun burnt terrace overlooking building works doesn’t quite match Heathrow I’m afraid. I did find some rather interesting cheesy snacks, which look like Twisties, are in a pack exactly the same as a Twisties pack and even taste like Twisties but are called Fonzies. Being Italian, the cheese is lighter and so there’s no cheesey fingers at the end – a bit of a shame.
The bestest thing about the business lounge is that you get your own security check! It’s so quick and easy and pleasant. The best and fastest trip through security I’ve ever had!
Then we waited for the plane. And waited. While we waited we listened as someone, whose name sounded uncannily like Rosanna Arquette, was called over and over again for the flight before ours. About 30 seconds after the flight closed and took off, she turned up at the desk, nonchalantly handing her boarding pass to the girl at the desk. She was taken away complaining. She didn’t look anything like Rosanna Arquette.
And then, guess what? Our favourite check-in guy turns up to check people onto the plane! Again, he proved completely useless. Needless to say we took off late and were delayed for reasons unknown.
The flight was fine and our purser was fantastic – Angelika someone or other – she’s British Airways’ number 1 hostess, I reckon. I even splurged and bought a new watch – the thinnest in the world (3.7 mm!!).
Back in Britain, the weather was unusually fine. Our luggage was almost the first off the plane so we were out in no time. The taxi driver took us through country lanes and the greenery was wonderful and soothing. Actually I slept most of the way.
We had hoped to get home in time to pick up the puppies but we didn’t! We walked in the door around 4:30, unpacked, watched some telly and crashed.
So…this brings me to my opinion of the Sorrentine Peninsular. I’m going to be quite harsh but it’s important to remember that we aren’t package tourists who like everything on a plate and we’re also not tourists who cram as much into a holiday as is humanly possible. But…this place was pretend tourist, manufactured Europe.
One of the things I love about coming to the continent is being able to badly speak the local language. In other places I’ve had the opportunity to and it’s been great – they’ve had a laugh and so have I – but here it’s just not encouraged. If you try Italian, they answer you in English, like they can’t be bothered. They want to get rid of you so they can get money from the next tourist. This sort of thing may be ok for the torrents of bus-ridden tour groups but it sure isn’t for me. If I go somewhere foreign I want to go somewhere that doesn’t speak my own language as well as I do. AND I don’t like being ripped off and this is the Kingdom of Rip-off. Independent tourist beware. I guess Peter was right!
But I have to say, apart from the smog and the lollipops, the entire place is beautiful and very different from England. If you find a great restaurant like we did, you can manage to sit back, away from the bad things and really enjoy it.
And what can I say about Pompeii? It was brilliant and worth every inconvenience and other bad things that happened. And, after all was said and done, we had a fantastic 15th wedding anniversary.
Whew! Sorry about the length of this diary and gold stars to anyone who makes it to the end. Also, because there were no photos on this page I just HAD to include this picture of Mirinda and one of her Pompeii chums.