Monday, August 1, 2011

Isle of Capri by day--Dancing with French Tourists by night

Sunday, May 22, 2011:

Today is Marianne's birthday and a sunny, magical day to behold. We met at 9:00 a.m. to indulge in the hotel's buffet breakfast, which is included in our room price. Each room is given 3 free Internet access hours on the hotel's guest computer, so Laura tried to send photos to Snapfish but it just wasn't happening and she had to abandon the project.

Taking advantage of the hotel's complimentary shuttle, we forged into Sorrento. We located the port, which involves walking down 100 steps, during which the knees feel as though they might cave in at any moment. Once we arrived at the bottom of the hill, we reviewed our options for visiting Capri. There are ferries, fast ferries, and hydrofoils that frequently depart Sorrento for Capri, as well as other destinations. Interestingly, during April through October, Capri is closed to non-resident traffic. A visitor might bring a car on the ferry during those months, only to discover that they cannot drive on the island. Without a vehicle to be concerned about, we purchased our round trip tickets for 30 Euro and boarded the boat that would take us to one of the most gorgeous settings imaginable.

Sharon and I opted to sit inside while Laura and Marianne were enjoying the fresh sea air on deck. I happened to recognize a lady who was on my flight from Charlotte to Rome, amazed to see a familiar face during the boat ride. I stopped to confirm that she was indeed on my flight, and we spent some time chatting. Millie was traveling throughout Italy for a month with her husband and two young adult children. Although they live in Florida, she was originally from the Bronx. They were a delightful group, and I thought about how special it must be to bring your family and travel together in such a fascinating location, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

While I was visiting with Millie, Sharon was approached by Giuseppe, who guides a Capri tour for 20 Euro, taking visitors throughout Capri and Ana Capri (translation-above Capri) which are the only two towns on the island. Sharon assured him that we would confer with our friends to see if this was something they might like to do. He gave us stickers to wear, designating us as part of his tour group, and told us that if we decided not to join the tour, we could just dispose of our stickers. That was pretty cool. We thrive on flexibility. Presenting the option to Laura and Marianne, we all decided a tour might just be the ticket since we had no clue where we were going when we arrived on Capri. It paid off in more ways than one. As our boat entered Marina Grande, the island's main harbor, we could readily see that Capri's reputation of vast beauty was not overstated.Giuseppe's group consisted of about 15 people (including Millie and her family) in a comfortable, modern tour bus. Giuseppe was a native of Capri and told us that the highway to Ana Capri was appropriately named "Oh, my God!" for a reason. He didn't exaggerate. It was a high, narrow, winding path on the side of a cliff. As a victim of height issues, I honestly couldn't look off the side during a great deal of the ride. We stopped at a particular restaurant recommended by Giuseppe, where we ate bruschetta (I'm sampling it in every town), pizza, salad, melon and prosciutto. Millie's family was dining at the table next to us, so we had another opportunity to chat. I thought it was so crazy that I talked to her as we were exiting the plane in Rome, only to run into her on a boat in a very different region of Italy. Talk about a small world!

We walked all over Capri, visiting some mighty upscale shops on Via Camerelle. These were budget-busting stores, and we did more looking than buying. We also took some fabulous photos from our cliff-side vantage point. Limoncello, anything made from lemons or sporting a lemon theme, handmade sandals, ceramics and perfume are the prevalent items offered on Capri. We ventured back to La Piazzetta, the central square, lined with cafes and touristy shops. Deciding it was time to give our fatigued feet a well-deserved break, we sat at one of the outdoor cafes and enjoyed a beverage. For some reason, the waiter was collecting writing utensils and wanted my pink pen. With all of the notes I am feverishly writing so I don't forget anything of importance on the trip, I wasn't about to relinquish my trusty pink pen. We said goodbye to exquisite Capri and were not really surprised to see Millie and family on our boat returning to Sorrento. I have a feeling that their day was just as memorable as ours.

In the main square, known as Piazza Tasso, there are numerous restaurants, outdoor cafes, and shops from which to choose. We ate dinner at Light Aurora Ristorante, where we chose nice salads, dessert and wine. Since it was Marianne's birthday, Laura arranged for the waiters to bring her a special dessert with a candle while everyone serenaded her with "Happy Birthday to You!" We presented her with a Limoncello-designed apron from Capri. Now when she is in her kitchen at home, slaving away, chopping onions and garlic in preparation of spaghetti sauce, she can protect her clothing with this apron that reminds her of great times in Italy.

We walked back through Sorrento past three live statues to reach the store, Lucky Cuomo, which was our landmark for catching the shuttle. Recovering from the winding, treacherous road to our hotel, we suddenly heard music as we entered the lobby. Curious, we peeked into the lounge area and noticed a singer/guitar player and a handful of dancing couples. We intended to sit down and listen to the music for a few minutes, but somehow we got a second wind and before we knew it we were singing with the music, and then one thing led to another. The music got the best of us and soon we were on the dance floor and the room became filled with the French tourists who were dining here last night. Before long, we were ALL singing and dancing to every song, enjoying a lively, spirited atmosphere. These adorable people couldn't understand a word we were trying to say to them and vice versa, but apparently music is the international language and dancing can be a path to global peace. We had a blast with these people for hours. We requested "New York, New York" and loved the fact that some from their group joined our kick line, while others watched and urged us all to kick higher.
We danced genuine disco style to "Night Fever" and formed two lines to let two people at a time dance through the center. Then Laura started a Conga line, and almost everyone there joined in. It was totally hysterical and such an enjoyable time with these nice people. According to their affable photographer, Girard, who was from Versailles and spoke enough English for us to be able to communicate, these were all neighbors from the French Riviera who were vacationing together. I'll bet that during the rest of their vacation, they didn't experience another night quite like the one they had with us! They were sweet and adorable people, and we enjoyed their company in spite of the language barrier. At the end of the evening when the musician was exhausted, we all hugged and said goodbye. We'd like to offer a warm and special thank you to Girard, who provided the dancing action photos. We all agreed that when our reality show is aired, it would work wonders for foreign relations!

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