On the Way to Paradise

October 15, 2014

Since I was a little boy, I’ve had this weird, deep desire to go to Italy. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because I thought gladiator fights were cool. Maybe it’s the thousands of years of history that attracted me. Maybe I just really love pizza. Whatever the reason, my dream came true today. That’s about as cliché as it gets, but I am currently lying in a bed inside a fancy hotel on the majestic island of Capri, listening to the waves crash the shore, and if Heaven is any better than this, I’m not sure I’ll be able to take it. I had quite the journey getting here, though.

My day began with docking in Civitavecchia. Go on and try to say it five times quickly. Anyway, some friends and I had our entire Italian trip planned out because with just four days in one of the most fascinating places in the world, we wanted to squeeze in as much history (and Italian food) as we could.

We quickly hopped on a train to Naples and noticed that the train was traveling extremely quickly. So quickly that we could barely make out our surroundings as we passed them. We knew how long of a ride it was supposed to be, but we were getting there in less than half the time. How was that possible?

Well, we actually got on the wrong train. We were correct in getting on a train that was going to Naples, but unfortunately instead of embarking on the regular train (which we paid about 50 euros for), we got on the express one, which was worth about 200 euros. Oops. Wouldn’t you know that right after we made that realization, a ticket master would come around checking tickets? Wonderful.

I started to freak out a little. My friend, Carrie, was sitting beside me and she tried to talk down the situation. “Okay,” she said, “if we explain our story, maybe they will take pity on us and believe that we are poor, innocent, ignorant, American tourists and not swindlers. The worst they could do is make us pay the difference.”

“The worst they could do is have us arrested,” I replied.

“Well technically the worst they could do is throw us off the moving train.”

“Shut up.”

As the ticket master approached our group, someone carefully and calmly explained our situation. Somehow, by the grace of God, the ticket master believed us and even let us off with a bargain by making each of us cough up another 50 euros and calling it a deal. So goody, I wasn’t thrown from a moving train today.

We finally arrived in Naples and we had some down time before taking our ferry ride to Capri. That meant lunchtime.

IMG_3988They say Naples has the best pizza in the world. That would be correct. Can we just take a moment? OH MY GOSH! Pizza Hut will never be the same!!!! My mouth is still watering! Then, after pizza was gelato. Gelato: God’s dessert. If you haven’t had it, it’s like ice cream, but richer, and with about double the sugar. I’m in love.

Okay, now that I’ve taken a moment, let’s talk more about getting to Capri. The ferry was a little distance from the train station. So we had to catch a cab. Stay tuned for the most entertaining car ride of my life.

There was a mile-long line of taxis at the train station with drivers dying to pick up the next sorry travelers who wondered out. That was where my friend Julie came into play. My best description of Julie’s personality would be Oprah mixed with Kristin Wiig, and just a hint of Madea. She will be famous one day. Julie proceeded to talk to the drivers at the back of the line as we are walking by.

“Hello! Hello! Chao! Chao! Mama Mia!” she would say while waiving. Each of the drivers thought she was motioning to them to signal that she wanted a ride. So they all started following us… and slightly disagreeing on whom Julie was signaling. After finally getting to the front of the line and hopping into two cabs, we sped off and left the mob of Italians still arguing, shouting, and doing that funny Italian hand thing (you know like when they put all their fingers towards their thumbs).

Julie then began to make conversation with the cabdriver – she was in the passenger’s seat – well, she was talking and he was listening without reaction. “Could you roll the windows down, please? I need some fresh air.” The driver rolled down the windows. “Ohhhh we should jam!” So then she took out her iPod. “Do you have a chord to hook up and jam to?” Again, the driver had no reaction. So what did Julie do? She started going through his glove compartment and actually found an aux chord. She plugged it in and “Drunk in Love” by Beyoncé started blaring. The speakers were thumping. Naturally, Julie started dancing in the front seat and raising her eyebrows at the cabdriver who couldn’t help but let a grin crack. Everyone in Naples knew we were there and one man even rolled down his window to take a video of us with his phone. Our backseat section was in tears from laughing so hard.

After all the chaos, we eventually made it to the ferry and took a thirty-minute ride across to Capri. It’s this beautiful island that I can’t even put to words. We’re taking a boat tour around it tomorrow and then doing a little time traveling. Stay tuned to learn what I mean.

Although it was a little crazy getting here, Italy has refused to disappoint yet.

Now, I wonder if there’s a gelato shop open this late?

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