You know I like my chicken fried, A cold beer on a Friday night A pair of jeans that fit just right, And the radio up
Another early start with the alarm set for 6.15am to ensure we could get some breakfast before heading down to the meeting point in the theatre for our only booked excursion of the trip to Capri for the day.
Now Capri is a place Karen has wanted to visit for years, in fact 38 years to be precise. Back in 1984 we visited Italy and stayed at Sorrento whilst on a coach tour. The memory of that overnight coach journey still haunts me. We had saved every penny we had to go on that holiday and we were on an extremely tight budget. The extra price of a day trip was way outside our budget. Ever since she has wanted to see what she was missing. So as our package contained some excursion credit, we decided to splash it all on this trip.
The prospect though did not thrill me. Mostly I was worried about being herded around like sheep with a load of old people and also whether this would be the time I would succumb to sea sickness which I had avoided all trip.
The trip did not start well which we should have taken as a sign. All people on excursions were told to meet at 7.45am for a 8pm departure. We were about 5 minutes early. Others were still ambling in at 8.05am. Eventually our excursion was called. This caused many people to start running to the exit because as we heard some say to get the best seats on the coach. I wanted to shoot myself and them already and I hadn’t even left the ship.
More fool them though as they had to wait for us outside and then it was just a walk to the ferry.
On route we were rounded up by our guide for the day called Rosario. With reasonably good English he got us all kitted out with radios for the day, and handed us our ferry tickets. It was a big boat and already quite full but we found seats and settled in for the 1-hour journey. Fortunately, the crossing was quite smooth.
I was already questioning the £180 that it would have cost us each for this excursion. We would have been more than capable of getting off the ship and sorting out the ferry ourselves.
Once we arrived on Capri, there was shambolic disorganised chaos everywhere. A tiny street ran the length of the port. There were hundreds of people walking in both directions or standing around with luggage, with cars and buses trying to get through. We both looked at each other in disbelief. It was like the worse day imaginable in Disney.
Trying the split our group onto small buses seemed beyond Rosario’s capability but eventually we got moving on the bus, up stupidly tight switch back roads to a place called Ana Capri. Rosario started to give a little bit of commentary but soon got bored with that and the radios were discarded as was any real information for the rest of the day. It didn’t help that he had somehow allowed 4 people from a different tour group onto our bus who spent ages complaining they couldn’t hear him – basically because their radios were set to a different frequency.
Capri was not as pretty or anything we had imagined and so far, we hadn’t seen why people and celebrities raved about it.
We were dumped in the town for 90 minutes, which was about 60 minutes too long. There was a chairlift we could have ridden for 12 Euros each but there was no way Karen was going on it. It didn’t look particularly safe. You rode it individually and it was non-stop and she was very concerned getting on and off with her arm in a sling.
We walked around for 20 minutes and then found a café for some drinks to while away rest of the time. The drinks were not great and cost 11 Euros – a tourist rip off.
As we expected people were late in getting back to the meeting point. We were very fed up by now. Whilst we were waiting a small child was attacked by a local dog which caused some commotion.
Then we were taken to a restaurant for lunch. Just what we didn’t want. It was too early for food, we were still full from breakfast and I just knew I wouldn’t like it. I opted out from food but went in. We were told it would be a simple but traditional Italian meal. I never knew that French Fries were traditionally Italian.
To make matters worse by the time we were seated all the tables for 2 were taken so we took one for 4 and hoped for the best. We were joined though by a policewoman from Chicago and her husband. That turned out to be the highlight of the day as she talked me through her arresting process for drivers she stops she suspected of DUI. He was a Doorman at some fancy hotel and also had some good tales.
After this there was even more chaos as we had to get on some different buses and were shipped to Capri Town. This place may well have been quite pretty but it was like trying to walk in a Football crowd and you couldn’t get near anything to see or really look. We followed Rosario for a walk down to some gardens and a viewpoint down to the sea the other side of the island. We would like to have stayed here longer but were only given a few short minutes.
Then out of the blue we were given Funicular tickets to go back down to the port on our own. The queue was inside, long, slow and hot. A nightmare. The journey down was not enjoyable. Back down we managed to get Ferry tickets from another guide hoping to be able to escape earlier. Trying to get back on the ferry was just a crowded free for all.
Eventually the ferry set off and we sat in disbelief at what a disappointment the day had been. An organised excursion had been everything I feared it would be. Waiting around, people being selfish, spending too long at places that didn’t interest us and not enough at places that did. We had no control over what we did and when. We absolutely hated it.
On top of that Capri itself was a real disappointment. They need to restrict visitors number to make it worthwhile. Then we could not believe how they could have the cheek to charge £180 per person for the trip.
Rosario made us wait when we got off the ferry ostensibly to show us where to leave the redundant radios but in reality, to receive tips. He didn’t get one from us as he had majorly contributed to the chaos.
We headed up to the Pool Deck to hopefully meet with our Kiwi chums for the last time. It had been a loose arrangement to meet them but we were much later back than we thought and they were not around. It was a shame as we never got to say goodbye. We don’t even know their surnames to track them down.
Back in the room we did most of our packing before heading out for dinner. Karen was also not happy that we have to put our suitcases outside our cabin door tonight so that collect them in the port terminal tomorrow. She was worried about never seeing them again and also what she would need to leave out to use in the morning.
Dinner was fine but not as busy as usual as we suspect many people had eaten early because of the early departure in the morning.
We watched one last set from the band in the lounge (Disco Hits) which they played with their usual level of enthusiasm before retiring and with trepidation putting our bags outside the cabins.
If we learned one thing today it was that we had done the right thing in not going on the organised excursions. It had been everything I had feared before this trip. I did think that everything else on board would be like that too but we had managed to avoid that. We thought it was going to be the only way to get to Capri but we could and should have done it ourselves. We are used to being independent and prefer it.