While Helen showers I take a peek outside, leaning over the Juliet balcony. Yes, I learnt the proper name for this style of balcony courtesy of a WhatsApp message smartening me up (hat-tip: Alex).
It’s noisy and echo-y and lots of people are walking around and cafes are open and etc. It feels warm and looks sunny. We head out, down the spiral staircase because the lift requires a €0,10 coin to operate at certain times of day and we don’t have one. This gives us the chance to notice that as well as hotel rooms, this huge building also houses loads of offices too. It’s a pretty stunning building.
I would prefer to use the lift because old school lifts with manual doors and stuff are ace, and spiral staircases are horrible. Helen is of the opposite opinion, but appreciates how it looks especially because it gives her a chance to flex her new camera. Yeah, about that, many of the pictures in this and subsequent diary entries will be pictures Helen took.
My immediate reaction, and one which has not changed 18 hours later, is that it the whole town felt like one big structure, unlike any modern town or city. I’m sure before the disaster the neighbouring buildings wouldn’t have looked as uniform as they do now, but stripped back to the brickwork the dwellings and public buildings feel more to me like rooms in one giant building than individual elements.
There are roads between them but they are super-narrow, making it also feel very built-up. Maybe I’m just ignorant but this surprised me. Most of what remains here is single story though there are plenty which are double, and being so close together it’s .. well, not claustrophobic, but more reminiscent of wandering around New York or the City of London than I expected. I thought that closeness was a modern phenomenon and expected more space in something 2000 years old, and I don’t doubt that there are myriad reasons I should not have expected that.
This is a kitchen. The holes are where stuff get stored like grain, olives, etc.
Some of the buildings still have pretty remarkable decoration. As well as houses there are schools, fraternities, a court, and so on. Very few of them have any labels so, without map or guide, we’re ignorant of much detail but it doesn’t really matter to us.
Helen’s very much enjoying her new camera, while I feel like perhaps I’m getting to grips with mine. I’ve attached my 12mm wide lens with no zoom and manual focus. Focusing is a problem and I end up discarding a bunch of pictures, but for those that do work, I feel like I’m vaguely getting the hang of adjusting aperture and shutter speed and stuff to get a bit of control when lighting is challenging. Mind you, most of the good pics here are still Helen’s and I don’t understand why this software seems to reduce the detail of many pics. Hey Adobe, does iOS Spark Page reduce resolution or something? Or am I just making excuses?
OK, it starts to get a bit samey but our interest is nourished by dicking around with cameras. And anyway, then there are some non-samey bits - much larger buildings, some gardens, some earthenware.
Looks like Gordon Liu headbutted it in 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Surely I’m not the only person who thought that?
Descending this long metal staircase down a tunnel of doom, it’s mostly empty until we get to the end and our way forwards is hindered by two different school groups. One leaves the interesting stuff only to be replaced by the other, so we scoot past both up to the relatively uninteresting stuff first. Like this handless guy.
We can relax now, where “relax” means “send photos of our drinking in a gorgeous setting to numerous people back home in an attempt to make them jealous, because we’re dicks like that”. It seems to work.
Sorrento is a big town on the Amalfi coast. I’ve been describing towns on this peninsular, Positano especially, as “vertical” because the pictures are so stunning. Like this one on the front of our guide book.
But actually Sorrento isn’t vertical in that kind of very-steep-town way, it’s more literally vertical: the town is flat, but up the top of a bunch of cliffs, and at the bottom there’s just the port and these beach bars with piers. Not that it isn’t nice, it just isn’t what I expected.
At the platform we find some space and wait for the train, which takes 5 minutes to arrive and is too short to fill the platform length, meaning we need to jog up to fit on the end carriage. Fucks sake.
Thankfully it’s only two stops to Municipio and I’ve already scoped out the location of a nearby supermarket, which is easy to find and open.