Sunday, March 15, 2015

Italia After All, Part Four: Capri

Well folks, we have made it to the fourth and final part of ADD's Italian Adventure: Italia After All! Today, we will hop on the ferry (not the one we planned on taking here, the one after, but it's all good) and take a short trip to the breath-taking Italian island of Capri! (Remember, it's said "Kah-Pree".)

We started the adventure off a little uncomfortably, after having decided to embrace the breeze and the view and sit on the top level of the ferry. Which, under normal summer or spring conditions would have certainly been great, but considering the hour and the time of year, we ended up huddled together, coats up to our ears, trying to stay enthralled by the view and moment for the full forty minutes, as to not be overcome by thoughts of how cold we were. I'm laughing as I write this, picturing us, the typical tourists, thinking, "Yeah! We're going to an island and it's the beginning of March! (More so from him, considering it's quite cold and rainy in The Netherlands.) Let's sit outside and take it all in -- it'll be great!" (You'll be glad to know we did not make the same decision the following night when we took the one hour ferry from Capri back to Napoli.) But in spite of our chilly beginning, the time we spent in Capri was absolutely amazing.

The island isn't too small for an island, and packed full of different things to do and see. Since we arrived in the evening, we decided to do our usual: walk to the hotel, check in, laze-around a little, then get ready, and go to dinner! However, Capri was destined to be different, and it all started when we arrived to our hotel. Now, we'd stayed in really amazing places before Capri, but while the bed in Sorrento was best, what we arrived to on this island takes the cake! May I present to you, the Hotel Excelsior Parco Capri...

{{ The perfect representation of how we felt when we walked in the door, and what we commenced doing after they'd closed the door. }}

I'd made the reservations via, and a couple days before we were meant to arrive they'd notified me that there was an upgrade available for only 8€. It said that the room we currently had reserved didn't have a view, but the upgrade would give us a garden view. Ok, we like views, I'd rather see a garden than nothing at all, book it! Well, what I didn't know, is that their definition of a garden is their amazing outside terrace area, and that, based on the almost-on-the-coast location of the hotel, a garden view also means a sea view, a cliff view, and a Southern-tip-of-Italy view. We lost our minds. Blessings were raining down on us harder than we could handle...almost.

{{ Their 'moderate' garden, and a not-so-moderate mansion. }}

So after dancing around the room like the crazy-fest-faces that we are, leaping onto the bed like they show people do in movies (you know that way, when someone who's been in a desperate, down-and-out situation enters a palatial place, sees the gorgeous, glorious bed they're going to sleep in, and as soon as the person who escorted them to the room leaves, they run and fly onto it, turning over on their back, looking up, and having that giant, "OMG this is amazing" face?), and striding out onto our balcony to assume the role of the queen I must have somehow landed, because, this is too nice to be my life, we decided to take the left-overs from our Neapolitan picnic and the bottle of limoncello we got somewhere up to the massive rooftop terrace, and enjoy ourselves a bit before we got ready for dinner.

Now, just like I made a note about the financial aspect of the trip, I'd like to make one about the alcohol consumption aspect of it, too...

I don't really like alcohol. I spent the greater part of the last 12-13 years being a party girl, and almost all of my time in college getting wasted on the weekends, and the occasional/frequent weekday. And after so many years of doing the same thing, and then realizing it was always the same thing, I stopped being The Party Girl. I had my spiritual awakening in 2011, and then it stopped even more. It was such a drastic change from the person I'd been before, that once, in my last semester of college when I was out with some friends, a girlfriend of mine told me, "I miss the old Fedor. You used to be so much more fun!" What she meant, without meaning to, was that the sober me wasn't as, how do I say this, as inhibition-less as the hammered me (?), and she missed me just being crazy and not giving a f---. That comment took some time to get over, and definitely didn't make it any easier for me to continue on my path of self-improvement. But I did.

After I became a conscious Being, I realized that alcohol actually, kinda, really, totally, sucks. I don't like being drunk, because then the world around me is fuzzy, and I love the world so much, I want to see it and feel it as clearly as I possibly can. So it's incredibly rare that I get drunk these days, and before this night in Capri, I hadn't been sufficiently intoxicated for probably nine months. At least. But we were on holiday, on an island, on a rooftop terrace, with an orgasmic spread of olives, soft cheese, artichoke hearts, salami and bread laid out before us, with a bottle of limoncello, and nothing to do but enjoy ourselves. So I embraced everything!

{{ The rooftop view during the day }}

I'd just finished pouring us a bit more limoncello, when P started talking about our plan for the night. He said, "We'll have half the bottle tonight, have half for tomorrow night, then when we're finished, go to the room, get ready, and go to dinner." I started laughing immediately, and held up the bottle, which was less than half full, adding a little, "Half the bottle tonight and half for tomorrow night? There's not even half a bottle left!" Sayonara, sanity!

Surprisingly, after finishing the bottle we were still in great condition, and returned to the room effortlessly and got ready. I even put on eye make-up! I mean, I mustn't have been drunk, because I pulled off some awesome cat-eyes! You cannot do that if you're drunk, have you seen Jenna Marbles' drunk makeup tutorial?? And after we were finished, we phoned the front desk to tell them we'd like to take the shuttle (car service they provide from 9-9) into the center for dinner.

Capri is divided into two, the Capri side, and the Anacapri side, and we decided to take our favorite advice, where to eat well, and go to one of the recommended restaurants in the Capri center. Which is so small I feel funny even calling it a town center, but it is, and it's beautiful and cute as can be.

We ate at a really nice restaurant called Michel'angelo, and were pretty happy to see there was already a bottle of wine on the table when we got there. (The recommended bottle that was on each table...they didn't read our minds before we'd arrived.) I took the waiter's recommendation for fish, prepared how he suggested, and P had some oysters and something. Now is when things started to fuzz together a little bit, and I do distinctly remember having a moment with the wine, probably sometime during my second glass, that I decided I should not, and could not, drink anymore. But, we finished the bottle anyways. The food was delicious, the setting divine, and it was yet another incredible eating experience in Italy. (Thank you, Italy, for treating my stomach oh-so right!) Then, we walked around a little bit, and found our way to the bus stop in time to catch the last one of the night.

I'm not sure what the bus hours are during high season, but we were told the last one ran at midnight. Also, we were able to tell the driver which hotel we were staying in, and he stopped right outside the property. We were really fortunate, actually, to be there in the off-season, because I'm not sure you have that much flexibility when the island is crawling and crowded with people. Just some of the perks to going somewhere when it's not the busiest time of the year. (Somethings to consider if you're planning a trip.)

The next morning I woke up feeling like one of the adorable little island buses had run me over as I slept (I think the bottle of champagne that we took from the minifridge when we got back to the room did NOT help), and was shocked to learn I'd only been asleep for a few hours, and it wad barely 7am! But waking up to the amazing view helped, and within moments, I was jumping around the room, dancing, and feeling right as rain (thank You, God, for not allowing that hangover to linger too long!!!!), and we decided to take the hotel up on their offer of bringing breakfast to the room for no extra charge. (I HIGHLY suggest staying in places where breakfast is included. It's so convenient, and does help the budget a bit!) So after some writing, which I surprisingly hadn't done at all the whole time, and freshening up (whilst remaining in the bathroom and house slippers they provided with the room), our beautiful breakfast spread came through the door, and onto the table outside!

{{ Princess-ing out, 100% }}

We feasted, did some reading and writing, got ready, then went downstairs to check out and figure out how to rent a scooter for the day!

Through the research I did before going, I heard that the best way to get around the island is on a scooter, and after having rented a quad to smash around Santorini the year before, I was all in for this motor-ing around experience! And so grateful to learn that P has a scooter license, because even though I had my friend give me a little lesson in his city before I caught my flight, I was far from confident enough to navigate us around the curves this island was sure to behold. Also, again, so grateful that it wasn't high season, because the roads were nearly empty, which gave us a lot of room to get comfortable on the bike and take wider turns.

The hotel called the company, I believe it's called CapriLand, and it cost 55€ to rent the scooter for the whole day. We didn't need to worry about returning it with a full tank of gas, and the guy was soo casual when running through the logistics of it with us, I would have been surprised if he'd notice us taking it away on the ferry that night. They even tell you where the first limoncello factory is, and give you a coupon to go have a free sample. I love Italy.

He mapped out a full route for us, telling us where to go, what to see, where to park, if parking was free, how much this cost, how much that cost, and where to go for lunch to have some great pizza. The day was already going great, and we'd only just begun! We took off, and made our way to his first suggestion: the lighthouse beach, which he described as, "Very beach." And although there wasn't a grain of sand in sight, the more we explored, the more we came to understand what "very beach" meant.

{{ Seriously, brilliant }}

We basked a bit in the sun, got totally soaked by a MASSIVE wave that came up to remind us who's boss (bow down to the sea, she will thrash thee), and then decided to continue on our tour to the next spots. Of course, by this time we were hungry, so we decided to go out of the suggested order, and go straight to lunch, which we enjoyed with a sea view at Ristorante Onda D'Oro in Marina Piccola (small port).

There were so many things calling our names on the menu, and we had decided to share a caprese salad, pizza, and something else, when the waiter came over with a baking sheet full of pasta, and said that today they had fresh, handmade pasta available, filled with pumpkin, proscuitto and cheese.

{{ Dang setting on my camera got switched, so you can't really see the fresh pasta on the sheet, but it's there, it's fresh, it's beautiful, and it's }}

Ok, I guess we can reconsider.

So we ordered the caprese salad, and I asked if it would be possible for them to add proscuitto to it, to which he replied, "Here, we can make for you whatever you like." Great news, really, wonderful (!), and then embraced his idea of us both getting the fresh pasta, but them making it two different ways, so we could try different things. Perfetto!

I have loved few things as much as I loved that buffalo mozzarella. My eyes were rolling around in my head so much, just trying to make sense of how good it was. When it came time to take the last bite, I was so sad, so I spoke to it, and then welcomed it into my digestive system with joy. Then, it was fresh, homemade pasta time!

{{ This photo does it no justice }}

And for dessert, something they made that day, like gelato, but with what I perceived to be a lot of rum, and what we both perceived to be as a nut we can't eat (we both have certain allergies, nuts being a main concern), and ended up having little pseudo-allergic reactions right then and there. Had to happen at least once, I guess! I found the dessert to be too sweet, and waay tooooo alcoholic-tasting, but I can see how many people would enjoy it.

Overall, amazing meal, again! Thank you, Onda D'Oro for pleasing our palettes! After saying good-bye, taking a couple scenic photos, and looking at the map, we decided to hit the next stops on the list, but when we got to the Blue Grotto, one of the most famous tourist attractions on the island, the water was too choppy, so they weren't taking people to see it, since it's in a cave. And then, each thing we tried to do after was also closed, because it was past four o'clock and low season (things to consider!). So we didn't get to ride the chair lift that gives you an amazing view, or go into San Augustin's gardens, but we wandered around, hit the limoncello factory, had our sample, and enjoyed the peaceful feeling of the place.

By this time, our time in Capri, and in Italy, was coming to a close. It was really hard to accept that the trip only had one night left in it, which we spent back in Napoli because our flights were in the morning, but we felt completely satisfied and blessed to have been able to experience any of it at all. We terminated our time in Capri by strolling around the town center, then trying to go back to Onda D'Oro to get a pizza to go (sadly, they were closed), and finally enjoyed one last deli section raid on the rooftop, before heading to the port to depart for the mainland.

The entire trip was comprised of living in the now, being grateful, and being blown-away by the Italian's sense of service and refinement. It was a never-ending series of beautiful experiences, good service, incredible food, wonderful views, and happiness. I will forever return to Italy, and, as a silly online quiz recently told me that Italian is my true nationality, I wouldn't be surprised if I end up living there for some months in my life. (Let's be real, I know I'm going to. Italy for three months is already on My Life List, and when I consider the way I'm still in Spain after over two years, well, nothing would surprise me about spending a year or two in Italy either!)

I'd like to thank God for blessing me so richly and deeply, for allowing me this existence, and providing me the strength to pursue my dreams, in turn causing me to end up in situations like these. And P for spending such special time with me, and sharing such an amazing trip, full of celebration, love, and presence. I'd like to thank all the hotel and B&B staff members that helped us and made us feel like everything was taken care of -- Ana and Mario, the ladies at the Excelsior Vittoria, everyone at Excelsior Parco, and Federica from B&B Casa Tonia, where we stayed on our last night -- you all were so wonderful and added so much to the trip. To everyone who cooked, cleaned, or played any part in our eating experiences whilst there, and to the people on the streets who offered up directions and friendly conversation/curiosities everywhere we went. And finally, to the grand country of Italy itself, simply for existing, and existing in such a way to suggest that we all relax a bit, but remain stylish, while enjoying amazing food, and the art of being alive.

That's all for now of the adventures in other countries, but stick around, because in two weeks, I'm off to Bratislava, Slovakia, Vienna, Austria, and Budapest, Hungary! Travel on my loves, fly freely!

Blessings, Love, Light & Wonder to all you special being out there
I adore you, I love you, and I'm happy to exist with you
Love always,
Allison :)

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