We left for Sorrento on Friday October 2nd and drove about 4 hours to the town. We arrived in Sorrento and checked into our hotel. I must say, these excursions definitely take the stress away from having to plan your own trip...where to stay..how to get there, etc. It's very nice having it all planned for you! Anyways..after we checked in we had free time for the rest of the day. Unfortunately it was rainy outside but we still scampered off to do some exploring!
My friends and I walked down to the port first and saw the M. Sea and the boats. After we walked around the town center
and did some shopping. Sorrento is famous for inlaid woodwork and limoncello! Naturally I had to buy something wood and we tried the limoncello (Not the greatest thing I've ever tried actually). Later in the evening we grabbed dinner at a Rick Steve's recommended place. (Rick Steve's writes tour books and he has become a comic friend to our group!). After dinner we decided to check out the nightlife. We ended up having one drink at a bar and going back to the hotel to rest since we needed to be up early for our trip to Capri!
We woke up on Saturday and got ready to leave for Capri. I was kind of nervous because we were taking a ferry over to the island and after my ferry experience to Mykonos I was a little unsettled about getting on another one. But it turned out to be fine and it was a quick trip. We had the whole day to do whatever we wanted and we were recommended to rent a boat and go around the island. Our hope was to be able to go inside the Blue Grotto (which if you don't know what that is it is known for its size and the intense blue tones of the water. Here's a link of a picture if you want to check it out: http://meirasworld.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/blue-grotto.jpg ).
My friends and I finally came across a guy, Alfonzo, that would take us out on his boat and let us go swimming. It was a 2 hour trip around the island. So...here begins the big adventure of
First of all it there were 8 of us on the boat and then 2 random guys joined our group. It was great! They turned out to be awesome 1-minute friends and we really enjoyed having them along with our group. When we got in the boat, Alfonzo asked
who was the boss of the group so my friend Jeff told him I was (because naturally...the one that ALWAYS gets our group lost has to be in charge!). So Alfonzo became my best friend. :) The first thing he said to me is "You have Italian blood!" Ha I laughed and told him no, no, only Spanish but he was insistent that I was Italian. I told him my name was Kristen but that name doesn't really exist in Italy so I was either Christina or Christine. And for the rest of the day Alfonzo would say "Look Christine! I give you the best tour! Isn't that beautiful Christine?! You like, Christine? See I show you all the best things!" He constantly wanted my affirmations and even wanted a picture with me. Mind you, this is an older (like 55 years) Italian man who spoke great English but in a heavy Italian accent. He was great!
So our group was pretty disappointed that the Blue Grotto was closed, right? Well we arrive to where the Grotto is and we can see why. The small opening is pretty much covered with water and the waves would hit the opening and almost cover it entirely. There is a staircase down to the opening but you can't really get inside from there. Well...we get close and Alfonzo says to us "The Grotto is closed...but for you...today..It is open!" And all of us are
like WHAT?! And so Alfonzo says "Yes, yes, go quickly. And don't get to close to the edge. But go quickly...and don't tell anyone!" So all of us are like well heck! Swimming illegally into one of the most beautiful places in Italy..why not! Of course, for me, I am terrified of water and it took a little bit of coaxing to get me to do this. I mean we are talking, big waves, 50 meter swim, no life jacket, tiny opening, M. Sea...the works! Well, our group swims over and there is a chain that you grab onto and pull yourself (normally rowboats go in there) in. Once you are in it is very calm! I couldn't really appreciate the beauty as much as I would have liked because I was so focused on treading water, staying alive, and not freaking myself out. I didn't even really look down at the water because I was terrified of what could be lurking in that cave! Well..the waves were getting bigger so we needed to get out. Emily helped me leave but of course my timing is never right, a wave comes right as I'm leaving. I swallow a ton of salt water and get knocked up against the wall. Thank God there was that staircase right by so I was able to pull myself up that and get my breathe. Emily noticed that I was all cut up. I didn't even feel anything! After a few minutes I was able to jump back in and swim back to the boat. After calming down I took inventory of my battle wounds. I ended up scraping up my feet and toes pretty badly and I cut my knee and left leg a lot and I had a few cuts on my arms. But it was so worth it! Me, Kristen, terrified of water and all things related, just swam illegally in the Blue Grotto! This may be the highlight of my study abroad experience so far!
Well after that high...we continued on our tour around the island. Alfonzo showed us all the other grottos and definitely gave us the best tour ever! The rest of the day we walked around the island. Not as eventful and exciting so our boat experience! :)
Around 6 pm we left to head back to Sorrento. Returned to our hotel and cleaned up and got all the salt off our bodies! We had a great dinner out and then went to the Foreigner's Bar and had a glass of limoncello. We all went to bed fairly early because we had to be up early again.
Sunday morning, we checked out of our hotel and headed to Pompeii! I was so excited about this part of the weekend. We arrived and got to have about a 2 hour guided tour (by professors not tour guides!) around Pompeii. It was incredible! For anyone that hasn't gone, you all have to visit Pompeii.
It's so sad yet incredibly....incredible how well preserved it is! We only saw abut 25% of the city. I want to go back and just get lost in Pompeii. We saw a few of the body casts that they have made and it was extremely heartwrenching. One cast was crouched down like they were hiding and another was a pregnant woman. She was face down covered her face with her hands. It was awful yet so interesting to see.
This weekend was incredible for me because I finally feel like the adventurous spirit I have always craved for my life is finally becoming a living part of who I am. I mean...months ago I would never have done what I did on Saturday in Capri. I would never have gone swimming in the Mediterranean Sea let alone with no lifejacket into dark, closed grottos! But I love it because I feel like I am not only conquering fears that I have had but I am finally being adventurous without the help of another person. I love feeling like there are adventures to be had, experiences to experience, things to see, things to do, chances and risks to take, and life to be lived...and I'm doing it! I'm doing it all now and now I crave the adventure with every fiber of my being. And this adventurous spirit has always been a part of who I am but I have always needed another person to bring it out of me. And now I'm doing it on my own and with Jesus and it's incredible!
I'm not missing out on a single thing :)