Saturday, June 20, 2009

Europe Day 16 - Amalfi Coast, Italy

Sunday, 24 August, 2008

After our island escapade, we made it back to mainland before 4 to catch the shuttle bus back to the Atlantic Palace hotel. Retrieved our luggage and car, and it was time for our Amalfi coastal drive.

This is not your typical scenic drive.. Scenic yes, but it is a drive along the cliffs of Amalfi, on narrow roads that look like 1 way but are actually 2 way. I did quite a lot of consideration about this before deciding on driving. Anyway it's not me who's driving and hey, we got an auto car with full insurance! We have gps so we just have to follow it right?

Very soon, by following the gps, we made a turn into a narrow lane. And boy, was it narrow. After a bit, I asked pb if he wants to turn back, but he thought it would be quite difficult so we tried to go on.. until we heard a loud scraping sound of our left side view mirror and the wall.

Woohoo.. we were stuck in this stupid lane, couldn't go forward nor backwards! At one point of time, some pedestrians walked down the lane in front of us and saw us.. they must have been thinking 'Oh, some idiot drivers again'. They had to turn back of course, unless they wanted to climb over our car.

Trying to manoeuvre our way out. I hate that word, I can never figure out how to spell it. manuveure? maneuvre? manouever?

We finally made it out!!!!!! Thank goodness we didn't have to call the car rental company to help us get out of that sticky situation! The whole metal beam at the side of the car door was scraped out.. and there were also damages to the side mirror.

Time to drive towards our Amalfi hotel.

At this point of time.. there seemed to be something amiss as the car in front of us stopped to talk to these ladies..

After hours of driving, we were already so near to our hotel, yet there was a road closure due to falling rocks at Furore. Why didn't they tell us earlier?! Well, maybe there were road signs.. but they were all in Italian so we didn't understand? I don't know..

Thank goodness the police officer there could speak English and explained to us how to get to Amalfi: By making a HUGE detour.. Didn't know the places he was referring to, so he spelled it out for us. Have to make our way all the way back to Sorrento.. up the hills.. and down again.

The following map shows how we had driven from Sorrento (B) to (A), and how close we were to (F) already if we just followed the coast.. Stupidly we had to drive from (A) back to (B).. and make that huge round to reach (F). Well, there goes our leisurely scenic drive. It's time to make sure we can find our hotel on time in dangerous driving conditions (on the hilly terrain)

We were hungry but didn't have the time to stop and eat =( Saw a little pizzeria and had our best (and cheapest) freshly made pizzas of our whole trip!

Mussels!!!! We had to eat while driving.. No time to lose.

It got really dark.. You can notice that the roads are not very wide, and they were very windy. Not wind-windy but turning-here-and-there-windy. Luckily at some point of time we caught up with a bus, and just had to follow it.. Let it do the bashing through of traffic for us!

On the way there, our hotel had called us to ask if we were there yet.. Sadly we were gonna take a much longer time.

It's hard to describe what happened that day, now that it is almost 1 year ago. We reached the Amalfi area really late. It was pretty dark.. The town was still quite alive and crowded with pple.. However our hotel H.H. Le Palme wasn't in the town. It was actually halfway up the hill. Gps doesn't work here and the hotel wasn't listed.. I thought it sounded kinda cool, Le Palme.

The reviews had mentioned that it would be a 300 step climb. I got this hotel cos it was cheap and yet had a seaview.. haha, suspicious eh?

After driving here and there and asking random people AND the hotel for directions for a long time, we drove up the hill.. Along the way we saw a lady sitting on the fence. We looked at her and she just gave us a blank stare. Didn't think much of it and went on until we reached a dead end at the top of the hill. Very frustrating, we called again.. and somehow figured out that the lady was the hotel personnel.. Very nonsense.

So we drove back.. and she offered to carry my backpack for me. We parked there and she led us through many lemon trees (can't tell at night) and we climbed MANY steps down to reach the hotel. It was more of a family owned chalet. She did not even request for our passports and led us straight to the room. It was all quiet.. and we only met a couple sitting at a dark table on the way to our room. The lady asked if we needed anything to drink.. and pb rejected it instantly.

I didn't think much of it, was just happy to reach our hotel in one piece. However after the door was closed, pb spoke to me very seriously. This place is damn weird and wrong.

Reasons being:
  1. Why didn't they didn't request for our passports?
  2. Why did we have to walk through that dark forested area and climb all those steps?
  3. The lady had called us several times through the day.. why were they so eager to get to us and make sure we were on our way?
  4. The room door couldn't be latched from the inside, it was lockable but could still be accessed with a key from the outside.
  5. If we wanted to get out of here.. we had to climb all those bloody stairs and we hardly knew our way out.
  6. We didn't really like the look of that lady.
Sounds like a horror movie eh. It is true that they could have done anything to us while we were fast asleep.. 

The more we thought about it.. the more paranoid we felt and we decided to plan our escape. We would just walk out of here and go get another hotel room. What's a couple of hundred euros compared to our lives, right?

We decided to just go out and recce first. Got out.. and walked around.. and we realized that.. the living area had been locked . Someone was bathing in the main house.. but.. there was no way out! What kind of hotel is this.. the guests aren't even allowed to go out?

Defeated, we walked back into our room. It was dark, we were tired.. it seemed risky but we wouldn't be able to make our way out of here. In the end.. pb took out our shoe laces and tied it around the handle of the door. He then put a glass on the handle, so that if anyone tried to make their way in while we were sleeping, at least we would know. At least he didn't get some weapons sharpened and ready for our defence.

I then took a shower and went to sleep. Ok honestly I slept damn soundly haha, I was tired! pb was like, how could you still sleep in a situation like this?! 

So anyways. We're obviously still here so nothing happened to us. The glass didn't fall to the ground either so no one attempted to do anything to us. Sorry to disappoint!

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