Amalfi – An Epic Bus Ride, And Ruins In The Hills

We are up well before Gianluigi and Sarah even rustle.

We are heading to Amalfi today, and wanna make the most of our time there.

We hoe down come breakfast that the guys had prepared for us, and make our way out for the day.

Amalfi Coast-1

We tame my idea of what should be good directions to the bus stop, and we should have just gone the way that we came the other day. Bec tries to Limbo under the boom gate.

Didn’t pan out.

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We pile onto the bus to head to Amalfi, which we would expect should only take maybe half an hour.

…it took over an hour to get from Salerno to Amalfi.

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Google it and see for yourself. It doesn’t look like it would take that long to see the place, but it sure did. We are in a really big vehicle, driving on really not big roads. The corners are so tight that the driver will literally just toot his horn as he takes the corner so that he doesn’t hit anyone on his way around.

Not even having a giggle mate.

These streets are so tight, I am surprised that it is legal for a bus to be driving them. I even wonder how the deliveries for markets and shops get there. There is no way that semi-trailers would be able to drive these roads.

Houses scatter themselves across the hillside and follow the rise and fall of the mountainous terrain around them. Not phased by the cliff edges, they’ve decided to build right up to the last few meters before the sharp descent into the sea. There are nearly 3 times the Australian population in a country a touch bigger than the state of Victoria, so I’m not surprised that they’ve got savvy with their building over the years.

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We continue to zig zag all over the place, in and out of little towns on our way to Amalfi, all the while being inundated with stunning views of the Italian coastline and equally breath taking views of mountains opposing the seas. What seems to be farms are staggered down the side of the hills on what seem to be like giant steps. Nets cover various citrus trees and old wooden ladders prop up against the face of the staggered farm land.

We reach Amalfi, and head into the the town square.

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Its a beautiful place, again with so much community happening in such a small place. Its apparent that tourism is popular here, but what is a nice surprise is that people aren’t trying to hassle you to buy something. The waiter comes to greet us, and instead of jamming the specials down out throats, or trying to tell us about what discounts and favours he can give us, he just shows us the menu and leaves us to his own devices.

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The funny thing is that this kinda treatment actually made me want to eat at his restaurant more. If it was within our budget, I have no doubt that we would have sat down then and there. A church with a giant set of steps leading to the door is largely the centrepiece to the square. The fountain with locals coming to drink from regularly is surrounded by renovated shops and stores around the square.

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It’s the meeting point for the whole town and seems to be the place that you come to meet with someone, to then head in your direction.

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We continue through the narrow streets of Amalfi, darting into shops that catch our eye, fish mongers with their catch on display and butchers with their meats hanging in the windows. All of it looks delicious. We could literally just spend our entire budget trying food and bar hopping at each place we visit, and we could do that with ease.

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We walk to the point that it starts to get really quiet and there isn’t as much action as a few hundred metres back the way we came.
“Oi babe, lets head back, there’s more going on down there”
“Nah. I think we should keep going up further”
“Yeah, but there is nothing up there”
“Well, you don’t know that”. She convinced me to keep going, and I am glad we did. We chatted about our cafe even more, and found a set of stairs that looked like it just led up to someone’s apartment. We decided to see if it kept going, and then all of a sudden, we find ourselves on the edge of an tiered mini-farm, overlooking a small suburb below us.

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We keep walking along, and no more than a few metres ahead of us, we find an old crumbling building. We have a look through it, and it is at least 3 stories. The roof has caved in, and the floors on each level have lost their strength over time. We don’t venture too far in, and keep making our way along the path with fallen trees and an assortment of other bushes shrouding the path from time to time.

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Then Bec spots it.

This old structure built into the face of the cliff edge.

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There is a giant big arch, begging for you to come and walk through. A thin flow of water passes under the arch, down, toward the city, while another arch, perched over a much deeper part of water elusively begs for exploration. It’s kinda post-apocalyptic and planet of the apes looking. The kind of thing you would imagine to find at the site of an abandoned civilisation.

I really struggle to get the shot that I am after, so I decide to brave the water, camera in tow, and head under the second arch for a better shot.

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There have been a few risky things I have done with my camera on this trip, but I think this tops it. Below me is a good waist-deep passage of water, and my only way across was a tiny ledge that stuck out enough for a foot, or two to stand on. Being that it was covered in moss, and on a pretty good pitch, I had to use both my hands to grip the slippery rock walls.

This meant that my camera had to be slung under my arm and around my neck, so that I could have all my appendages free to grip every inch of the surfaces I could find. I slowly make my way across, picking my finger holds ever so intentionally, and grinding my toes into the spaces on the rocks, not yet covered by moss.

I pass the corner, but now I have at least another two steps before I am able to ground myself on the other side. I find a vine to grip while I wander past, and steady myself onto the new ground. All the while, I am mentally rehearsing how I would jerk my body around and sling my camera into my hands while I fell into the water, if worst came to worst. I look back at Bec, and she is standing there, eyebrows raised with a relieved, but ‘you’re an idiot’ smile on her face.

I set up the tripod and set for my shot.

The shot I was after wasn’t quite what I was hoping to get, but I stick to it anyways. I maintain my point, that if you want to have better photos than most people, you have to be willing to do what most people wont.

Most people are sane enough to not hug rock walls while their camera dangles behind them.

I’d love to come back when its darker and I can play with the light a little better, but one of the beauties of this trip is the lack of time. So, the beauty in a lot of the photographs are found in the fact that the scenes aren’t perfect. They’re not all starts magically aligning. I’m there at the time when the shot is taken, and that is all I get. That, and the memories of what it was like to actually be there to see it in person.

Thats pretty cool.

I’m on my way back, and I see something quickly move beneath my feet. I scour the scene below me, careful not to move too quickly, so that I don’t lose my footing, and spot a pair of frogs hiding among the branches and roots near my feet. I pounce on it, and lob it into the water near Bec.

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We make our way back down from the ruined building, into civilisation. We pull into a little restaurant and get stuck into another round of pizzas. Both as satisfying as ever. We watch and remark on the happenings of all the people around us. Strangers will swing into a group of punters hanging out, give a few kisses and hugs and be on their way again.

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Literally everywhere.

It’s literally like everyone is everyone’s mate.

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We wander back through town, to make our way to the beach. Being that the drinking laws are so relaxed here, we can pick up a bottle of wine, and just go drink on the beach, no worries at all. So, that is exactly what we do. We find a little wine store, and collect a pretty cheap bottle of wine. We then face the issue of a drinking apparatus. We decide to go all DYI on the glasses situation, and buy some bottles of water, to convert into wine glasses.

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Wine and pre-glasses in hand, we make our way down to the beach. Its part pebble, part sand. At least it’s an improvement on the Sicilian beaches. They were all just bulk pebbles. We set up, and there is already this couple on the beach next to us. She’s in her white bikini, and he’s rocking these budgie smuggler shorts.

…with a stiffy.

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Bec points him out to me, and in seconds I have my camera in hand.

The guy isn’t even shy about it.

One hand on hip, the other gesturing as an addition to conversation, dick poking right out of his shorts. Shameless. As our friend, Sara from Iceland put it, “You’re meant to see the best parts”. Maybe this was his mentality? Dunno. Didn’t really care all too much either.

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We sat and drank, and watched and these four workmates rocked up on their lunch break to have lunch by the sea. There is this boat just parked up on the beach, which became the lunch bench and table for one of the attendees on their break, and they all just sat and laughed and chatted by the sea who having lunch. Cant beat that, can ya?

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We spend the next few hours sleeping, chatting, reading, drinking out of our makeshift plastic wine glasses, swimming, and skimming stones on the water from time to time.

Its the best way to spend a relaxed afternoon at Amalfi.

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We wrap up the day, and make our way to the bus stop. We entertain the idea of getting ourselves gelato, but then decide it’s better to spend the same amount of money on a hearty dinner. Amalfi might night be loaded with tourists, but 5 euro for a gelato is still a bit steep.

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We jump on the bus home, and the glorious soft hues of the sky surround us. The sun dips behind the mountains. The light being shone through the sea spray gives a clear shade darker to the side of the mountain already under it’s shadow. We zig zag all along the rocky coastline, this time seeming even more treacherous than the bus journey earlier in the morning.

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The roads are busier and on more than one occasion a vehicle coming the opposite direction to us had to reverse back around the corner to let us through. Again, on more than one occasion, our bus driver slowed down to let the cars behind us pass, in once instance, he let 16 cars pass us. You can imagine that it was a tricky road to be driving, and not the kind that I would like to be responsible for.

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We reach Salerno again, and decide to pick up some cured meats, fresh bread and cheese for dinner. We haven’t had toasties in a while, so we decide that this is the right time to do just that. I head out for pick up a sim card, while Bec starts dinner. I cannot tell you how good those toasties were. Bec had pan fried them, so they were perfectly crispy on the outside, while still soft on the inside. The quality meats and delicious cheeses buried their delicious flavours into the freshly baked bread. It was the toasty everyone dreams about.

We head to bed, and I stay up a little while longer blogging again.

Amalfi did not let us down.

Come back for the next story,

Billy

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