After spending an entire night in Schipol airport, attempting to sleep on a bench, whilst my flight got delayed & delayed, I finally made it to Naples. Unfortunately, having wrapped up in jeans, for the air conditioned setting I'd come from, I failed to have the foresight to change my attire, before leaving Naples airport.
I stepped out into sweltering heat & whilst I've always been quite confident in my Italian language skills, suddenly I realised how little I knew, as I approached people to ask for directions. Having nothing but a few screen shots to guide me, I pointed avidly at my phone, in the hope that someone could send me in the right direction.
Two of the men working outside the airport pointed to a bus & ushered me to get on. I dragged my rucksack over the road to the bus & then proceeded once again to gain advice on where to go. The bus driver told me to get on & then get off at the next stop. So I did. Only the next stop seemed even more confusing & further from where I was aiming for.
Three bus rides later, I was on the right street. Sweat pouring off me & my jeans sticking to my skin. I walked down the hill, following the map I had on my phone, then got told to go back up the hill by the guy in the local pizzeria, when I couldn't find the road I was looking for. Then another guy on my way back up the road, told me it was by a church down an alleyway. Choosing not to believe him, I carried on walking back up the hill. At the top, another guy told me to go back down, take a left & go up yet another hill.
By the time I'd managed to drag my bag to the top, I realised it wasn't the right road. Ready to give up & melt into the floor, an old man approached me & told me to go back down & head for the alleyway the earlier guy had suggested. Muttering to myself, I headed back down the road, into the alleyway & there, next to the church, was the bloody hostel. I arrived soaked in sweat & headed straight for a shower! Never been more grateful for a cold shower in all my life.
Within a minute of being in the hostel, I made my first friend in Naples. A young guy from California, who'd been traveling for a little while. We walked into the old town together for a look around. The buildings in Naples are all crumbly & battered & the streets littered with garbage. In essence, I think this is roughly what I had expected from Naples.
Every few streets, you come across a piazza, centered around a monument & always with a beautiful church. Through the lanes there are endless shops selling tiny hand crafted figurines. These stores are often small & every space is covered in an array of tiny people & animals. Makes your eyes boggle at the sight of them.
That evening California & I sat in the hostel's garden, with two Parisian girls. It was a Saturday night & the hostel got very busy, both with guests & people from outside. There was a little sausage dog with a bandana wrapped around his neck, who ran around, attempting to extract food from people. Made me miss my Pig.
The next day, California left for Venice & I made a new friend; a guy from New York. Young & enthusiastic, he'd been cycling round Europe for about a month. We too went into the old town & determined to taste a true Naples pizza, stopped at a tiny pizzeria in the lanes. The pizzas were only €4 each & tasted amazing. This was truly Naples pizza! The only thing that bugged me was paying to sit down. In Italy, they charge you a cover fee to sit & eat in a restaurant or cafe.
After filling ourselves on pizza, we headed down to the port & walked along, until we got to a tiny beach. I took off my sandals & went in for a dip. The water was filthy & there were families all in their swimwear, wading around. If it hadn't been so incredibly hot, I wouldn't have gone in, but it was so damn cooling! Although, once a tiny crab started jerking towards me & then I saw a rather large school of fish, I ran out. I'm not big on small creatures.
Back in our hostel, we met an English guy from Brighton & two Canadian girls & the five of us went out for pizza, again! This time I could only manage half. Two pizzas in one day is kinda pushing it.
The next day New York left for Geneva, Brighton & the Canadians went to Pompeii & so I got the ferry to Capri island. Everyone kept telling me it was only €20 for the boat, but when I went to buy my ticket they charged me €40! I handed over the cash, but felt like I was getting the ripoff tourist treatment.
Capri was only forty five minutes on the boat & I slept the whole way there. Once there I avoided shelling out more money for the funicular & headed up some stairs, in direction of the center. Unfortunately, the steepness of the stairs, combined with the ridiculous heat, lead to me almost hyperventilating like an idiot & nearly fainting! It didn't help that I would get to the top & then suddenly there would be more bloody stairs!
Eventually, after nearly forty minutes, I made it to the top. The views were amazing. I found a quiet road & followed it all the way down to the beach, on the other side of the island. There weren't particularly any tourists, just Italians & I just about got a spot on the pebbled beach, right near the waters edge.
For anyone that knows me, it is pretty common knowledge that I have a fear of the sea. Seaweed under foot. Fish brushing past my legs. It all freaks me out! But, in an attempt to get over my fear, I left my things on the beach, within viewing distance & went into the clear sparkling clean water. It was the clearest, cleanest water I've ever been in & not one fish in sight. I fully immersed myself. Although, I did get out once some of the kids found a jellyfish. There is a limit.
Heading back up on the bus, I grabbed some gelato & headed back down the stairs. The thing about Italian ice cream is, it doesn't roll into some perfect ball, it's thick & gloopy & is just scraped & piled high onto a cone. For €2 you get a small cone & a huge scoop of which ever two flavours you like. It melts down your hand within a minute of leaving the store & you have to devour it as quick as you can. My favourite flavour has definitely been Kinder.
On my last day in Naples I tried to prepare myself for moving onto Sicily. I gathered up my laundry & headed down to reception. There was this lovely Italian guy who worked in the hostel, who helped me with the machine & rather than charge me the €4.50 fee, let me do my washing for free. You cannot appreciate how good it is to have clean clothes when you're traveling!
Shortly after, I met a Cuban guy, who was working in the hostel, to pay for his traveling & the two of us took a final trip into town. I tried a panini napolentani, which is apparently a typical Naples staple. It's a bit like a bread roll, which ham & cheese inside. It wasn't amazing. Then I tried a cannoli. A hard pastry shell filled with a sweet cream filling. I wasn't convinced, although, it's meant to be Sicilian, so perhaps I shall try them again in Sicily.
Four days in Naples, was quite sufficient. Bar perhaps Pompeii & Mount Etna, which didn't come back with rave reviews from the other guests, I feel I experienced most of what Naples had to offer.