Goodbye to Salerno, a Crazy Bus Ride and Arrival in Sorrento
April 21, 2013 was my last day in Salerno. I got up early and my hostess Annarosa fixed me a pleasant breakfast and equipped me with some tips of what to see during my final morning in Salerno. I started my walk up the medieval passageways leading up the mountain flanks in my desire to reach the medieval castle of Salerno, called the Castello di Arechi. I made my way past the Giardini della Minerva, the city’s famous 13th century botanic garden and asked some locals how to get up to the castle. To my disappointment, they explained that there is really no good way of getting up to the top of the mountain from where I was, other than taking a bus, which happened not to run on weekends.
So I changed my plans on short notice and explored the old medieval part of Salerno. In the old downtown, Salerno has many narrow cobble-stoned streets, churches and historic neighbourhoods. The city was rather quiet on this Sunday morning. Even on the usually busy Via Roma, only a few couples and families went for a walk. I decided to head down to the city’s waterfront. Everybody was gathered here by the Mediterranean shoreline where a variety of companies and organizations were exhibiting their products and services. Local hotels were promoting themselves, regional businesses were giving away samples, and lots of families with children and couples walking dogs were congregating here and socializing.
Around noon I had to head back to my apartment to pack my suitcase. Just before l had to take the bus to leave Salerno, my hostess Annarosa invited me to join her and her family for a nice lunch featuring a delicious vegetable soup and saffron rice with fresh beans. Since I mostly eat vegetarian, my taste buds were jubilating. After an enjoyable conversation in this pleasant family environment, it was time to say goodbye and take the bus to Sorrento. I had truly enjoyed my time with Annarosa who had been such a gracious host.
By about 3 pm I left by bus from Salerno to Sorrento. The bus was extremely busy and I was lucky to get a seat. Additional passengers that came in after me only had a chance to stand in the isle. I arrived in Amalfi at 4:45 pm where I had to change buses to get to Sorrento. But the bus that was waiting for its 5 pm departure was already completely packed with people almost hanging out the front door. 10 or 15 people were already lined up outside, waiting for another bus since this one was positively full.
I went inside a local bar to buy the ticket and lined up for the next bus that was supposed to leave at 5:15. People weren’t really lining up to get in, but elbowing and pushing one another to make it onto this bus while the bus driver was standing in the corner with his colleagues, smoking. I realized I had to get creative in order to stash my large suitcase in the bus without losing my spot in the line.
Finally, I had a brilliant idea: I put my huge suitcase down in front of the bus, got inside, reserved a seat with my backpack, boxed my way through against the traffic of the boarding passengers,stepped outside to stow my large suitcase in the luggage compartment and got back on the bus. I could not believe how packed the buses were here; locals and tourists alike were using all sorts of aggressive techniques to push their way onto the bus. I thought to myself “If this is how it is in the middle of April, what is the public transportation situation like in June, July and August, when the Amalfi Coast is packed with tourists…”
After another pleasant 2 hour bus ride along the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast, I finally arrived in Sorrento at close to 7:30 pm. A local gave me directions of how to get to the Gran Hotel La Favorita, which was going to be my home for the next six days. This hotel is an elegant 4.5 star property located on the western side of Sorrento, almost right on the waterfront. Sorrento Tourism, who had been very helpful in planning my itinerary here, had arranged for me to stay there, and I was looking forward to the next six days in this enchanting city.
On my first evening I caught a stunning sunset over the Bay of Naples and a nice vegetarian dinner on Sorrento’s main street. I was eagerly anticipating what Sorrento has to offer.