I hate tours. I say hate with a capital 8. In Naples, the only practical way to see the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii is on an 8 hour bus tour which goes for $85. The mini hell bus picked us up at 8:30AM. Our guide was very nice but he sure did like to talk. The first fact is that Naples is inhabited by 1 million people (roughly the size of Detroit), making it the biggest city in Italy.
First we stopped for a photo of the active volcano, Mount Vesuvius.
Then it was off to Sorrento for another photo.
Then it was time for the tradition of all tours– a pit stop for the bathroom which is an excuse to try and sell something. In this instance, it was Limoncello di Capri. I’ve had this sweet digestif many a time and have to say I enjoy the New York one much more than the authentic Italian variety. At the tasting (sales pitch), we had three to try. The first was 22 percent alcohol and was standard. The second was cream which you can put on ice cream. That was not very good. The final was the 42 percent death poison. “No thank you,” was my response, especially at 10AM.
Our tour guide said that every year famous actors come to the Amalfi Coast. Last year was Denzel and Will. This year it’s TPOL.
We stopped in Positano for more pictures.
From there it was off to lunch. I splurged for a bottle of white wine for 28 euros. The waiter said it was the best white on the menu.
I believe the phrase ‘when in Rome’ was coined to make tourists feel fine for the ripoff they experience in Italy. I say this after spending 13 euros on too much Gelato and a double espresso in the town of Amalfi. And also for 6 euros for a double espresso and 7 for a Gelato which included the 1 euro service fee for sitting down at this little table. Amalfi is a bigger tourist trap than Capri. I asked the waiter if he was a millionaire and he said that he just worked there. I guess I’m supposed to shut up and enjoy the moment and do as the Romans do. If only I could duck tourists when they come to the States.
After that it was on to Pompeii, a city that went under thanks to an angry volcano. TPOL hates guided tours, but somehow I was convinced by the tour operator that this guide was worth having. Five minutes in and I’m on my BlackBerry writing this part of the post. The only tour guide I need is Wikitravel and my imagination (think Slumdog Millionaire’s chaiwala tour of Taj Mahal). The true story of Pompeii was written a long time ago, a real long time ago by an Italian poet named Shakur who coined the phrase, “We’ll burn this b!&$h down get us pissed.” And there you go.
Of course, we had to get swindled one more time. Using the bathroom outside the burnt down city costs 0.5 euros.
- It’s better to do a day trip to Sorrento than it is to go on a long, exhausting tour to take hurried photos.
- While tour guides don’t beg for tips, they do beg for TripAdvisor reviews. Be ready for that.
- I was told Amalfi is famous for its gelato. In reality, Amalfi is infamous for overcharging for gelato.