World Travels: Positano Day 1

Welcome to the second part of my Italian blog series as I divulge all of the must-see spots and activities of the second city on my journey, Positano.

 

Still in its infancy as a popular tourist destination, Positano is a true treasure, boasting grand cliff-side views and some of the juiciest lemons I never even knew I needed. This city is situated along the southern part of the Amalfi coast, providing visitors the opportunity to spend time in each of its dazzling cities, depending on their plans. Selecting this location to spend my birthday was a no-brainer, as I love scenic views and long days lounging on the beach.

Departing from Venice was a sobering experience. How could I leave this new place in all its splendor, where the buildings and the people were equally as colorful? Despite these feelings of sadness, I got my things together and headed off to the airport. As I strategically maneuvered the Marco Polo airport and strolled to my gate, imagine my surprise as my name crackles from a hurried voice on the speaker. My plane was about to leave without me! But how could this be? What I've experienced of the airports in Europe is that the shuttles that take you to your plane depart 30 minutes before your departure, and the gates close with them. Much different than how airports function in the States. Thankfully, they've thought of us late-comers and had a late shuttle to get us to the plane to join our fellow passengers. 

A short 55 minutes later, we landed in Naples. After getting my bag and communicating my arrival time to my next host, I made a quick stop to have some breakfast at a nearby counter. Italian breakfasts can always happen while standing. Most breakfast shops have a counter at the front where you can order a quick cappuccino and pastry. Cappuccinos here are never more than a couple euros and are served at a reasonable temperature since guests drink them at a rapid pace in order to move along with their days.

A woman at the information desk directed me to the bus I needed to take in order to get to my next home. Getting to Positano is either an expensive drive (at least 100€), or a cheap bus ride that includes transferring buses at nearby Sorrento. I opted for the cheaper route, as saving my coins over the next few days would be a true test of self-discipline. Our bus drove through the gritty streets of Naples (home of pizza and ice cream) then up into the hilly, windy roads that made us aware that we had entered the region of the Amalfi Coast. After about an hour's ride, our bus arrived in Sorrento, situated on the northern part of the coast. Tourists then flocked into the information center for directions to get to the popular cities along the southern part of the coast, Positano and Amalfi. After hurriedly going back to our initial starting point, we were able to purchase bus tickets to our destination (3€!). Now comes my moment of brief frustration and embarrassment. A bus arrived in front of the long line of travelers with an"Amalfi Coast" electronic sign scrolled across its front. My stop in Positano would be a stop on the way to the Amalfi coast, which was the final destination. I needed to be on this bus! But I didn't know that. After clarifying the destination with the ticket attendant, even my brief question was answered incorrectly (or probably just misunderstood); I just assumed my bus was soon on its way. I let people ahead of me, slowly reassuring myself that this was not the bus I should be on and to be patient. As the bus rolled off leaving me in its figurative and literal dust, I overheard a man ask the ticket attendant when the next bus to Positano would be. While normally the bus arrives every 15 minutes, today was Sunday and Italy is known to slow down on this much needed day of rest. Since it was Sunday, the next bus would not arrive for another 1.5 hours! Not something my tired and hungry ears wanted to hear. I contemplated teaming up with the man to split a cab ride, but soon found out the price would be the same 100€ that it was back in Naples.

After berating my lack of common sense for several minutes, I decided my hunger was much more important. So I followed other travelers down the hill to a nearby city center, filled with restaurants and stores, locals talking forcibly in their dialects to friends and family on the street. I settled for the first restaurant I saw that offered wifi, ordered a chicken sandwich and limoncello, and enjoyed the time reading as time passed by.

I got my things together, as the time for the bus' departure was arriving shortly. As I approached the bus to put my bag below, the driver came out to tell me there was no more space. WHAT! My facial expression of exhaustion, frustration, and anger must have alerted the driver, who quickly corrected himself that there was no more space below the bus for my bags, and I would have to bring them on board with me. Phew! As I clumsily dragged my luggage up the stairs, imagine my surprise to find that there weren't any more seats! Despite the fact that I'd given myself what I thought was considerable time, it was clear the other passengers hadn't even considered going off to relax in case they would miss the bus. I managed to situate myself and all three bulging bags into the aisle way and hold on for dear life. As our ride commenced, I was quickly reminded of the windy roads and fearless drivers in this region. These roads just barely had space for our large bus, let alone the compact cars that many people drive in this country. The ride lasted for what seemed like an eternity, as I gripped the bars around me, simultaneously trying to avoid falling in someone's lap and keeping my bag from rolling into other standing passengers. It's in these moments I'm grateful for the strength training I do back home, as it took far too much agility and strength to stay on my two feet.

 

After a long, tumultuous ride, I finally arrived at the main bus stop in Positano, Sponda. Our bus arrived to a long line of sunburnt tourists. The doors released me into the crowd as I again, clumsily struggled to get my 40 pound bag down the steps. Seeing my struggle, a man at the bottom of the stairs assisted me with the bag, as I escaped the commotion to catch my breath. He then turned to me and asked "Are you Brianna?" To which I answered in the affirmative. This man was Ciro, my host at Airbnb. What a relief it was to finally see him! He quickly took my bag and led me down the street and up 138 stairs to his home. At one point during my trip, I actually took out the time to count the number of steps, as it felt like a physical achievement each time this was completed. Positano is essentially a vertical city, requiring its residents and visitors to trek to nearly every one of their destinations - something to consider for those physically handicapped. Upon arriving, I learned that I would have my own personal apartment during my stay, a fact I hadn't realized based on the posting. My favorite part of the space (indeed, anyone's favorite part) was the ocean view from the balcony. Yes, I would indeed have a MARVELOUS time here.

After getting a chance to refresh, I set out down the stairs and around the hill to the main city center for dinner. I indulged in a pasta dish at L'ancora with a beautiful view of the sunset against the infamous Positano cliff. After dinner, I walked a bit towards my home and turned around to enjoy the sunset a bit more. This is where a nice local man pointed out where I should go during my stay. After a chaotic journey to this magical city, my first day in Positano ended in happy contentment.

 

Check out a preview of some shots from Positano below:

Interested in my trip to the city filled with gondola rides and bright colors? Check out Day 1 and Day 2 of my trip to Venice!