The first day of our epic weekend in Amalfi was a trip to the island of Capri. We woke up around 7:00 a.m. in order to take a bus to the ferry to Capri. There, we were loaded onto smaller boats to take a tour around the island. On the way around the island we made a pit stop at one of the seven wonders of the natural world: the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a sea cave that is most notable for its blue-green water, which gets its hue from the way that the two natural light sources in the cave reflect off the water. I was squeezed into a tiny canoe with four other people in order to fit into the small opening of the cave. We only stayed in the pitch-black cave for about a minute, which was just enough to experience the reflections. On our way back around the island we also spotted some massive cliff-side mansions, a lighthouse, and the famous lover’s arch rock formation. Once we docked, the group walked up the hill to where we had some amazing views overlooking the water and surrounding area. Also at the top of the hill we found cute, narrow walkways lined with little boutiques and cafes. We had about 45 minutes to rest and look around, so I grabbed a coffee to go before we continued (in vans this time) even further up to the top of Capri. At the next level we stopped for a limoncello and chocolate tasting before we dispersed for lunch. The sun finally broke through the clouds after a surprisingly chilly morning and so our HC group stopped at a market to grab sandwiches and snacks so we could eat outside and enjoy the wonderful weather. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the town and then talking a very long (900 step) walk back down to the docks. On our way down we happened upon a soccer field, so we stopped for a quick, impromptu game before we made it down the rest of the steps to the beach and then back on the ferry to Sorrento for dinner and festivities.
Luckily the next morning we did not have to leave the hostel until 10 a.m. so we could get a few more hours of sleep. However, at 10 a.m. the buses left and we were off to the town of Positano for a beach day. We took the bus down the winding cliff road and walked the rest of the way down to the black sand beach. On the way down the sun became progressively warmer so that by the time we reached the beach, I was ready to apply the sunscreen and go for a dip in the water. Before I could even get my toes wet our group decided to do one of the optional activities for the day: cliff jumping. I’m terrified of heights but cliff jumping in Italy sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Therefore, despite my nerves, I hopped on the boat to the cliff with the rest of the HC crew. Although I was one of the last people to jump and I only went to the first level on the rocks, I did it! I still can’t believe I made it up to the rocks and actually jumped. After the thrill of cliff jumping it was back to the beach, where we spent the day lounging in the sun until it was time to return to Sorrento.
On our third day we left the coast to head to Pompeii to take a tour of the ancient ruins. A group of us opted for audio guides and spent about two hours making our way through the park. Walking around for two hours in the heat was exhausting, so when it was time to meet our group at 5 p.m. and head back to Rome, I was more than ready to go. Back in Rome we met up with even more HC visitors who had been doing their own traveling in Italy. Our final day in Rome was spent at the Vatican. Because we had a flight to catch that night we had limited time and did not get a chance to make it to the Vatican Museums or the Sistine Chapel. We did spend time in St. Peter’s Basilica and climbed through the inside of the dome and up onto the cupola for some great views of the city. After our last, long, leisurely lunch at the piazza near our hostel and our last cup of gelato, it was off to the train station and then the airport for the Dublin crew.
The entire weekend in Italy was surreal. I’m so happy that I was able to join the trip and visit the Amalfi coast—a place I have always dreamed of visiting. Now that I’m back in Dublin it’s time to get started on studying for exams and prepping for my trip to Amsterdam.
Katie Riley '14