We are just wrapping up 5 of the most wonderfully relaxing days of our trip so far. Positano has proved to be the antidote to the mayhem that is the European high season, even though it’s been pretty damn busy here too. It’s been so relaxing that I seemed to have developed some form of location-specific narcolepsy, which has seen me fall asleep at the drop of the hat in all manner of places. This is a bit of a transformation given I’m usually a total Goldilocks when it comes to going to sleep – everything has to be just so, and I can’t sleep without ear plugs and an eye mask, even at home. It’s really nice to slow down and properly relax.
Our apartment in the heavens has provided some structure to our days – namely by incentivising us to schedule activities so that we only have to walk up and down the hill once. The journey in and out of the village really is a game of two halves – on the way down you get to saunter, smiling like a smug git, and say things like “only a thousand steps to go, ha ha!” at everybody making their way up, and then sweat and pant and curse when it’s your turn to go up. By the time you’re at the top, you’re seriously thinking about turning around and going all the way back to the beach to cool off. It’s a vicious cycle.
Our routine has seen us swim in the morning/early afternoon on Fornillo Beach directly down from our house. Campbell has finally accepted that he will have to wait until Greece for white sandy beaches, and managed to get in the swing of the “beaches” here. With his trusty pair of goggles he transformed into aqua man, and left me reading John Grisham and other trash on the beach. Our accommodation has a modest selection of books, which has been an absolute blessing – the bill to keep my kindle updated is quickly getting out of hand. We hit town in the afternoon to get groceries for dinner, a mandatory gelato or lemon slushy, and then joined the queue for a bus to get us part-way up the hill to our house (because of this assistance, we can only crack peanuts, not walnuts with our butt cheeks).
The Positano bus service leaves a little to be desired – the buses are quite small, seem to run irregularly and never quite get you as close to your destination as you would like. The real issue though is the total lack of any manners by most of the tourists trying to use them. People clamber over the top of each other, cut in line, push and elbow one another and generally act like animals trying to get on the bus. It is the last thing anybody needs when they’re hot and bothered and stuck in wet togs. After an hour wait at the bus stop yesterday, and being constantly pushed around and barged in front of, the red mist descended. I ended up giving an impromptu tutorial on manners to a group of people at the bus stop – “that is not the front of the line, this (big sweeping gesture) is the front of the line”; “don’t even think about pushing in there, buddy”! I would like to think that it was an informative refresher course that was greatly appreciated by my audience but admit that, on reflection, I might have gotten a little Jerry Springer on it. People with bad manners make me so angry.
Locals themselves are not immune to the frustrations of the bus system. As we boarded the bus today an elderly Italian man absolutely lost his shit with the driver (something about the driver not opening the back doors for the man to board), and started whacking the bus with his walking stick and standing in the road so that it couldn’t drive away. When he finally got on the bus, he yelled a lot of things in Italian including “bastardo!” over and over again. We all knew what he meant.
We haven’t really ventured out much in the evenings, but sat on our balcony and watched the activities on the harbour and in the village. Someone even put on a fireworks show for us one night, which was very kind. Voices travel a long way from the boats and the beaches, so we have eavesdropped instead of watching tv. There is also a local band that does the rounds of the restaurants playing Italian classics and cliche tunes (“That’s Amore”, and the “One Ton Rodeo” song, which turns out is actually called “Guantanamera”), so we listen to them for a good few hours while they serenade diners at all the different restaurants up and down the hillside.
Based on a quick reccy, the food in Positano looked to be pretty average and over-priced, so we have been quite happy to cook at home and make the most of our little apartment. Campbell has been on cooking detail and has done wonders with our single hotplate and fry pan. Of all the kitchen bits and pieces we miss, tongs would be top of the list. It has now been 4 months since we laid eyes on a pair of tongs, and are totally baffled at how people in America and Europe can live without such a kitchen staple.
We haven’t done any real sight-seeing, or excursions while in Positano. Yesterday, we caught a little boat to Arienzo Beach Club – a private beach club where you hire a lounger and a brolly for the day. It’s a really popular option here since the beaches are pebbles, rather than sand. There was a lovely little restaurant where you could get drinks and food, and you could hire kayaks and paddle boards if you’re that way inclined. We settled in for a day of cruising, reading and swimming. After a few hours, Campbell decided to pop up to the bar for a few drinks. We ended up with a jug of the gnarliest white wine I have ever tasted – it came out of a 10L plastic container, and was the type of wine that you usually drink knowing full well you’re going to wake up in several hours cradling a cheeseburger, with serious doubts about whether you can make your “fit and proper person declaration” next time the Law Society requests it. It’s funny how things you would turn your nose up at at home, are suddenly far more palatable when they are served up overseas in a cute jug accompanied with sliced peaches.
Tomorrow we leave Positano for Naples. It’s only a 65km journey, but connections to the Amalfi cost are difficult and expensive, and Positano is not a transit hub. After poring over bus timetables (and bearing in mind our experience with the bus), we have elected to take the easy option and arrange a shuttle van. We will be holed up in an airport hotel tomorrow waiting to fly to Greece early Saturday morning. After lots of angst and working through lots and lots of options (thank you for the recommendations) we have finally decided to take the path of least resistance and stay in Greece for the 2 weeks we would have been in Turkey. We are going to grab a car and explore an area called the Pelion Peninsula, which is known for its beautiful beaches, walking trails and lack of tourists. It will also give us a chance to recover from our Greek Island Tour, where we expect to the oldest and least able to back up night after night of drinking.