It was a great choice. We had a table next to the window looking into the Galleria below, and the breakfast room is full of buffet items. There are scrambled eggs and a mysterious (and cold) bean based dish; plates of cold meats and cheeses; and many, many, pastry goods both sweet and savoury. Plus mini-pizzas.
I loaded up on most of them. The sweet pastries are mostly full of custard, which gets my approval. Actually everything was really nice, including the fruit juice.
Refreshed, we went back to the room and I finished writing up Friday and we set out. Immediately upon leaving the hotel someone approaches us trying to hawk us, I dunno, a walking tour or some random souvenir or something. We kinda ignore him and he chastises me for being so unfriendly.
Predictably, given how late we boarded, inside is very busy and there’s no chance of grabbing a window seat - not that the windows are great anyway. There’s no open deck here, just loads of seating and a snack bar at the back. We grab a pair of seats near the front and off we go. I’m twitchy and nervous - we haven’t actually paid for the trip yet, and I don’t have my passport. What’s going on?
Fifteen or so minutes later a man comes along with my passport and two tickets to Ischia, takes my money and gives us change. Hurrah! With that sorted we could now stand up and see what the small outdoor bit at the back is like.
Ischia is only another 10 or so minutes away, at about 1pm. Everyone piles off and there are loads of taxis about though the drivers aren’t aggressively trying to get people in. Our first plan is to go buy tickets for the return boat, since we want the last one of the day that goes back to Beverello (there’s another Napoli port but it’s much much less convenient), and given how crowded things are we want to ensure we get our space.
One street behind the port is the bus station. It is absolutely crazily busy, well over a hundred people waiting noisily. This totally puts us off getting a bus so sod it, let’s go find an ATM and get a cab. Having not seen an ATM yet we walk around the edge of the harbour towards a few shops and bars and stuff.
I mean, I dunno what to say here really. There’s just loads of plants and stuff. Helen absolutely fucking loves it, which is the main thing. The weather is spectacular, which helps.
It’s a real garden, this. What I mean is that rather than being attached to a university or some botanical society or whatever, the reason this garden exists is because it was lovingly made by the wife of a famous English composer when they lived here. Where there are defined regions it’s because she obviously though “I want a pond here”, “I want some seating here” rather than a fairly sterile, scientifically organised HERE IS THE EUROPEAN PLANTS ZONE or what have you.
On what I’ll refer to as “ground level”, being the same elevation as the entrance, after a few minutes you come to this huge pond with a fountain. In here there are a bunch of fish and lots of frogs. Lots and lots and lots of frogs. Frogs making lots and lots of noise.
This is Lori. We say ciao Lori and she comes back us with by saying her own name. In fact, she makes a load of sounds and it’s cute and funny. I’m most impressed when I point a camera at her and she imitates, I shit you not, the sound of a camera acquiring focus and then the shutter. Remarkable.
Leaving the shop, it’s time for us to start exploring where the paths leading upwards take us. We are yet to even so much as glance at the maps we got on entry, they went straight into our pockets, so at this point we’ve no real clue as to the real extent of the gardens as a whole.
Naturally, we do that thing where we take photos of the same things as before, just from slightly different angles. Like everyone does.
There is a monument to the couple who lived here. Specifically there’s a rock in which the ashes of William Walton are kept, with a dedication from his wife Susana. I think I’ve got that right.
What our garden at home needs, we both agree (for once), is noisy-ass frogs. They are awesome. Around the corner from this pond we sit and take a break to drink water, for Helen to vape, and just generally have a rest from all the ascending in sunshine.
I’m told to guard a bag while she goes to snap the frogs, and as she stands there for 3 minutes or so they get increasingly loud. I shoot a “what the fuck have you done?” glance, getting back a big shoulder shrug.
There’s loads of, I dunno, birds. Some finches and parrots and budgies and tons I don’t recognise. Look at him!
Many of my pics are of birds facing the wrong way, or grooming themselves a split-second after staring straight at me.
Stop facing away from me!
My pizza is a rolled up pizza that’s not a calzone. Can’t remember its name now. Bagarozzo maybe? I could look it up I suppose. Anyway it looked like this, and was bloody delicious.
Helen’s was basically exactly the same, just not rolled up, i.e. with much the same toppings as I had fillings.
We had time to kill before our ferry back so, sod it, un altro vino e un altra birra per favore. Slightly disappointed that the beer is German but whatever.