By 8am, Azamara Journey was anchored off the picturesque cliff-top town of Sorrento, where we have two full days to explore. Sorrento is 50 kilometres from Naples, 5 kilometres by sea from Capri and about 31 kilometres from Pompeii.
Our plan was to take the train from Sorrento to Pompeii but when we arrived at the station we discovered that there was a rail strike – these occur at random with little or no warning. Plan B was to take the local bus along the Amalfi Coast to Positano – but of course that was everyone else’s Plan B as well, so the queue was horrendous.
We waited, more or less patiently, and were eventually rewarded by a spectacular bus ride around the coastline to the former fishing village of Positano. Apparently by the middle of the 19th century more than half the population of Positano had emigrated, many to Australia, but it recovered and its popularity as a tourist destination began in the 1950s and has continued unabated ever since.
The town featured in the movies Under the Tuscan Sun and The Talented Mr Ripley and while its winding steps, tiny alleyways, flower-filled cafe windows and cute restaurants are incredibly photogenic, it is chock-a-block with tourists and difficult to get shots that don’t feature somebody’s back/head/hat.
We strolled down to the black-sand beach for lemon granita at a restaurant and decided to head for Capri by boat rather than re-track our bus route. A 50-minute, 50-euro (each) ride on a powerful rubber ducky on thankfully calm water took us past dramatic cliffs and three tiny islands (only one of which is inhabited) to Capri’s Marina Grande.
Naples was clearly visible across the bay – yet another destination to add to the To Do list of 10,000. The funicular railway took us up the rocky hill to La Piazzetta. This is the island’s main square and, like Positano, was thronged with tourists, so from there we took a local bus to Anacapri. As I tend to suffer from a fear of heights (which I’ve just learned is called acrophobia, not vertigo), taking the chairlift from Anacapri to the peak of the mountain was a challenge, to say the least.
It was an almost surreal experience, so quiet and peaceful, and the views, when I dared to look over the sea or down below to the rooftops and farmers’ gardens, were worth the panic. Here’s a photo of me at the top … A couple of stiff espressos back at a cafe in a peaceful sidestreet in Anacapri helped the recovery, and then we took a hydrofoil (15 euros) back to Sorrento in the early evening. I would like to see more of this beautiful, historic town than the port and Piazzo Tasso but tomorrow we make our second attempt to see Pompeii and, as on any cruise, it is simply impossible to do everything.