Viva La Travel Weekend
Written by jackreiser October 12, 2022
The schedule at CIMBA allots two travel weekends and a travel week during the semester program. For the first of these travel weekends, my friends and I decided to go to Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano and explore the Amalfi Coast. To see each of these places, we had to hop from train to train to bus to bus and back on another train. The coastal Campanian region has grown to fame across social media and navigating the sea of tourists alongside the actual sea provides plenty of confusion and mountains to conquer.
Naples appears to be the most densely populated area of Europe so far. Upon exiting the train station, steep, winding cobblestone and concrete streets greeted us. The infrastructure of Naples provokes a sense of fright, with Vespas darting back and forth along streets and sidewalks not quite wide enough for a trash can to sit out of the way of traffic. Vendors and apartments stacked and interlaid like bricks block out the sun from reaching the street. Nowhere can provide shelter from the locals’ admonishing gaze on lost American students in search of their hostel.
Nonetheless, we found our hostel, dropped our bags and our first objective of finding a meal began. Luckily, legitimate local restaurants make themselves known late in the evening. Pick a direction adjacent to a piazza, follow that way, and any place surrounded by full tables of the local dialect being spoken will be a wonderful choice. My friends and I found a restaurant with pizza fritta, a delicacy of Naples, and enjoyed watching the last few minutes of the Rome vs Betis soccer match on the television.
If you’re abroad during election time, you can still vote. Go to your elections office and request a UOCAVA ballot. You will be emailed the ballot to fill out, and then you print and mail it back home or drop it off at any U.S. Consulate General. Before we went to Sorrento, I had to drop off my ballot. So, I greeted my second day of the weekend with a mission set mind. We quickly checked out of our hostel and hopped back on the metro. One ticket in the right direction will get you to where you are going, even if you miss the original time. It just matters that you still get off at the right stop. We made our way to the U.S. Consulate, I dropped my ballot off, and after a quick espresso and cornetto, we started our journey to Pompeii.
Unfortunately, Pompeii is in the opposite direction from the Consulate. Back across Naples we go. The metro got us there in thirty minutes. We went and explored the preserved city in the heat of the day, enjoyed lemon slushees to cool off after, and continued our trek to Sorrento. On our forty-minute metro ride, the full grandeur of dormant Vesuvius came into view, as did the continued range of peaks out onto the Sorrentine Peninsula. The ocean bordered against black sand beaches, and maritime vessels ranging from fishing dinghies to container ships all shared the same waters. Our train came to a stop, and our Airbnb was in sight from the train station. We freshened up and made our way to a lemon grove and restaurant for a tour and dinner with dishes made with produced lemons. At dinner, we decided to conquer the Path of the gods hiking trail the next day.
The rocky path overlooks terraced cliffs that fall into the Tyrrenhian Sea. The trail lives up to its name, as each step grants a higher and higher view of the world below. Only a few rails alongside the trail provide a glimmer of safety in the case of a slip, ensuring the importance of each step to be stable. The threat of danger was worth the view. Brilliant blue water glimmered across to the horizon. This was the best view of the entire semester so far. One thousand seven hundred stairsteps down to Positano, and the most relaxing nap on a beach closed out the adventure for the day. We continued the cycle of bus to bus on our way back to Sorrento and relaxed after the jagged journey.
To reluctantly return to Paderno, we purchased our tickets at the kiosk in the Napoli Centrale station. I DO NOT recommend this, because it doesn’t list out each stop and exchange of the journey, and it is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive that purchasing tickets on the Trenitalia app a week ahead of time. Learn from my mistakes.