Our first shore excursion, Capri! It started off wet. And cold. A front had gone through, and the cloud was hovering over the highest point of Capri. The ship anchored out of the harbor, and we hopped aboard tenders straight to the Blue Grotto. Along the way, the tour guide gave us an amusing overview of “Boar Island”, and I wasn’t sure just what we were really going to get to see on a cloudy day in the grotto. From our larger tender boat, we jumped into smaller row boats in groups of four for an intimate ride through a very small hole in the cliff wall. We all had to lie down in the boat to get through, but wow! The water lit up underneath like a giant neon light. The rowers entertained us with song as we ogled the glowing water.
The tenders then took us to the main port of Marina Grande, and a bus weaved us up to the town of Anacapri. We sat for a while to do a wine tasting that Herr thought was “okay”, but we both agree the bruschetta was tasty. From there we got tickets to ride a single-seat chair lift to the tippy top of Solaro Mountain. The ride was a unique and peaceful experience that took a little over ten minutes dangling in the air to reach our destination that sat in a cloud. Despite not getting the view from the top, the ride itself was worth doing.
When we came back down, we ate a lunch of sandwiches we grabbed from the ship (free food!), and I bought a gelato (it was also just “okay”). The shops were cute though; expensive, but I didn’t have enough time to truly check them out (or I’m sure I would have spent a good deal of money). The tour guide shoveled us back into buses to go to the main port of Capri, pointed out the major highlights around the main square, and left us to our own devices. Herr and I looked at a few shops, then took the funicular railway back down to the port for some more quick shopping (just a summer dress). Back to the tender and a good nap for me once on board while Herr dutifully checked out the fitness center. By the time we had left, the sun was out, so we both got a little pinker.
Ah, Sicily! The day was much more pleasant, weather-wise, but there was some frustration with how much time we had. The port of Messina isn’t terribly interesting as most of the city was rebuilt after a 1908 earthquake, so we took another tour that required a bus ride to Taormina, about 30 miles south. The city of Taormina is beautiful with views of the coast from its mountainous location with Mt. Etna (the tallest volcano in Europe, and quite active) in the background. The bus brought us to the south end of the main street, which we walked to get to the north end where the ancient Greek theatre is located. The theatre was retrofitted by the Romans to be an amphitheater, so it has a mix of stone and brick infrastructure. While sitting down to hear its history, one found it difficult to take their eyes off the mountain in the distance.
We ate lunch once the guide let us go and only had 45 minutes to walk the long stretch of road back to the other end. Along the street were several confectionery shops that looked good, so we sampled some of the local food. I wanted to do much more shopping – the streets were just beckoning me – but we hardly had time to get back. We did make one side tour to see the English garden that was visible from the theatre. It was quite a sight, I just wished we could have seen more of it.
Practically jogging back up the hill to the main street, we made it back to the tour group to get back on the bus back to Messina. Unfortunately, Sicily has a three hour siesta during the time we arrived, so we couldn’t get into the church to see the 16,000 pipe organ. So back to the ship to chill out. Amusingly, one of the huge cruise ships had pulled in as our ship was docking; it was so huge! About as big as a mega-hotel on water with roughly 3,000 or 3,500 passengers. I don’t think I would ever enjoy something so crowded and large. The WindSurf sailing yacht is quite big enough for me! We had high tea and chatted with others as we pulled out of the harbor. Herr went for dinner (I couldn’t handle yet another 3 course dinner!), and I finally got a chance to watch A Room with a View (recommended to me by a friend).
Today was a day at sea, with the shores of Italy hanging off one side of the ship for a good part of the day before heading straight into the Ionian Sea towards the Dalmatian Coast. For the most part, I chilled out in the library playing word puzzles and Trivial Pursuit until our afternoon spa appointments. The sea was a bit rough with high winds but sunny; I found walking in a straight line a challenge so preferred to sit.
Herr tried acupuncture for the first time. He came back to the room looking more relaxed than I have ever seen him, so I am curious now to try it myself. Dinner was another three course meal that left me feeling full beyond capacity. We camped out and watched Back to the Future, vegetable-style.