Italy,  Study Abroad,  Travel

Coast to Coast

“We could go to Amalfi,” Kirsten said looking up to see a smile stretch across my face.  Within the hour our Airbnb had been booked, and our bags were packed. I looked at the clock “did we just book an Airbnb at 12:30 in the morning?” I smiled to myself.

Ten hours later our train was pulling into Salerno. We pushed past the hustling crowd of the train station eager to find the ferry that would take us to Amalfi.

I sat on the ferry, wind blowing through my hair,  refusing to shift my eyes from the coastline. Sailboats past us, gliding through the crystal blue water. On the cliffs, hints of pink and yellow peaked out between the trees indicating the houses and stores of those who lived there. God, wouldn’t it be nice to live there, I admired the houses, unaware that one of those was the Airbnb we had booked.  It wasn’t until 30 minutes later, when Maria, our Airbnb host, took us to our room, that I made the connection. I opened the large windows and looked down to see the lemon trees and the sea in the distance. I knew my early statement had been right; it definitely would be nice to live here, even if it was for just one weekend.

Sunlight streamed in through the window causing me to roll over in bed, my eyes adjusted to the light, the once blurry image becoming clear: through the window, I could see the boats that were floating in the crystal blue ocean down below. That was all the motivation I needed to get ready. Swimsuits on and towels in hand it was time to get some sun.

What felt like thousands of steep steps later I could finally make out the pebbles that lined the shore. If you’ve ever consumed a cold drink on a hot day, then you know the feeling of swimming in the Amalfi Coast. At first, it sends tingles down your spine, the cold shocking you, before becoming an overwhelming relief. I swam out past the people, treading through the refreshing water before finally looking up: wow. The cliffs expanded upwards into colorful buildings. It was a weird sensation, a calming feeling, seeing the tourists bustling about above but feeling complete solitude. I could’ve stayed like that forever, treading and looking up, but Kristen pointing out the sea glass scattered along the shoreline and I had a new mission. Being that I’m from a beach town in Florida, I had grown up collecting sea glass, but these were far bigger than the pieces from home. Needless to say, I filled my hightops before lunch.

Full on burgers and lemonade, what can I say we were missing American food, it was time for the dreaded hike. We arrived back at the Airbnb red-faced and breathing fast. We took the next hour to shower and recover before making our way to the bus station that would take us to Ravello. The first thing we did in Ravello was take pictures…and a lot of them. Then we stumbled over to a ceramic shop, where I spent an hour trying to decide what to get. We browsed through some more stores before stopping at the market to pick up tonight’s dinner: lemon pasta and asparagus.  I apologized for my inability to cook as we carried our meal up to the balcony. We ate staring out at the view.

The next morning we said goodbye to Maria and headed over to Positano. We had initially intended to shop for handmade leather sandals but ultimately decided to change into our suits and dive in. While it sounded like a good idea at the time, we failed to realize that we had no beach towels and maybe salty was not the feeling we wanted for the train ride. Despite having to air dry it was worth it, the feeling of treading in cold water while looking up at the mountains is unexplainable.  We had just enough time to air dry before hopping on a ferry to our train waiting for us in Salerno.

For those of you who are planning a little less spontaneous trip to the Amalfi Coast here are some suggestions:

1. Take the Train to Salerno

On the way there we took the train to Naples, which ended up with us having to grab another train to Salerno. This train, which was supposed to only take a half hour, got delayed resulting in the trip being around 2 hours. Save yourself the trouble and make your end destination Salerno, once you get there, Amalfi is only a half hour ferry ride.

2. Take the Ferry into Amalfi (Not the Bus)

Once in Salerno, you have the option to take the bus or ferry to Amalfi. While the bus may save you a few Euros, the view from the ferry makes it worth the extra cost, especially if you decided not to do a boat tour.

3. Go to Castlionge Beach

Although the beaches of Amalfi and Positano are beautiful, they are full of tourists. Castiglione is just as beautiful but with half as many people, not to mention more sea glass!

4. Don’t forget Towels

While it may seem like an obvious thing, we relied on the towels from our Airbnb, meaning after we checked out we no longer had them. If you desperately need a towel, stores sell them, but they go for 15 Euros.

5. You don’t have to take a boat tour

While the boat tours are a fun, exciting option, they tend to run upwards of 70 Euros, and that’s not even for a private tour. We decided to opt out of this and still had a fantastic time. For those who want a similar experience without the high price, they offer kayaks and jet skis rentals.

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