Sunday, October 28, 2012

Isle of Capri – October 19, 2012

Isle of Capri – October 19, 2012

My goal was to visit the Blue Grotto and take photos of the blue waters, a place where I had never been.  Owen and Judith, friends from the ship, had also never been there, and we decided to go together.  Everything worked perfectly.  We met at breakfast and decided to leave the ship early.  That decision was very fortunate, as our timing was perfect.  We were able to get a tender from the ship quickly, as a ship tour was just leaving, and the tender had a few extra seats left.  When we got to shore, we quickly purchased ferry tickets to Capri Island, and the next ferry left in only five minutes; the next ferry was not for another hour.  When we got to Capri, we quickly found the place to purchase tickets on a small ferry to the Blue Grotto, and again, we had to wait only a few minutes.  Most important of all, the seas were very calm, so the Blue Grotto was open for visitors; it is closed to visitors if the sea is not calm.  Everything worked perfectly.

As the ferry left the dock, three small rowboats hooked their lines to the ferry to be towed to the Blue Grotto, evidently a common practice, and it was amusing to see the line of three row boats following along in a train to the grotto, which was about 15 minutes from the dock.  When the ferry arrived at the Blue Grotto, small groups of people were helped into the small rowboats; the three of us were helped into one of the boats, and we were instructed to lie back almost flat to enter the small opening into the grotto.  The boatman pulled the small boat into the grotto using a chain that was attached to the wall.  And then it was dark.

Inside the grotto, we heard other boats, and it appeared that about half dozen boats were inside the grotto at a time.  Some of the boatmen were singing “O Sole Mio”, and our boatman joined in as he slowly rowed us around in a circle inside the grotto.  At first the darkness was pretty overwhelming, but slowly our eyes adjusted to the dark.  Soon we could see that the cave was completely black, while the water was a light blue color that was amazingly luminescent.  The sensation was wonderful.  The water glowed bright blue.  What an amazing sight and sensation. 

Then my problems arose.  My camera would not fire in the darkness; it would not focus, and so it would not fire.  Sometimes I feel completely inept with my camera, and that was one of those times.  I quickly adjusted my camera to different settings (in the dark), and finally I was able to get a few shots; however, they were out of focus because of the slow shutter speed.  I wanted to shoot at a fast shutter speed in order to get photos that were in focus, but I was not able to make that happen.  So the only photos that I was able to capture are out of focus.  The color is correct, but the photos are out of focus. 

And then it was over.  The entire time inside the Blue Grotto was only two minutes.  The boats slowly make a circular path inside the grotto, and then they go out again as others enter.  The sensation was wonderful, but it was also very short.  Still, it was worth the effort.  I will never forget the luminescent color of the water inside the grotto.

Capri Island is large, and there are two towns on the island.  The island is tall on the two ends, and less tall in the middle, forming a notch.  The first town, Capri Town, is located in the notch, at a lower level than the second town, Anacapri.  After the ferry boat arrived to the dock, we took the funicular up to Capri Town, and walked the length of the one street in the town.  The street is narrow with souvenir shops along both sides.  When we got to the end of the street, we took a city bus up to the second town, Anacapri.  The bus ride up the mountain was along a very narrow switchback road along the edge of the mountain, with barely enough room for two vehicles to pass.  It was a harrowing ride, made more anxious by the fact that the bus was packed, with most passengers standing and almost falling down as the bus swayed and turned on each switchback curve.  When we reached Anacapri, we walked the length of the one street in the town.  Again, shops and sidewalk restaurants filled both sides of the street; however, many of the shops were upscale clothing shops rather than souvenir shops.  We walked the length of the street, looking at the few interesting buildings along the way, and then we walked back to the center, where the bus stopped. 

After getting a gelato, Owen and I walked in another direction to the end of the sidewalk, out to a spectacular overview of the harbor below.  The walk was beautiful, with elegant pottery and clothing shops lining the walkway, and evergreen trees forming a canopy above it.  The walkway led to a large mansion built by a very wealthy man a hundred years ago, and now open to the public (with an admission charge).  We did not enter the mansion; we only wanted to see the scenic overlook, and it was spectacular.

The bus ride back down the mountain was equally harrowing, but we arrived safely.  Then we took the funicular back down to the dock, where we found the place to catch the ferry back to Sorrento.  We had to wait for half an hour to catch the ferry back, so we found a shady bench.  Then when we went back to the dock to catch the ferry, we found that several tour groups had formed a long line, and we were at the end of the line.  We ended up getting less than desirable seats on the ferry.  The ferry ride was only about 30 minutes, and I decided to stand, giving my seat to a young Japanese girl who did not want to sit in the sun (my seat was in the shade, but faced a wall, rather than the sea).  Another seat soon opened up, as someone else decided to stand, so both of them were able to sit together.  Afterward, as we exited the ferry, both of them bowed to me for giving them my seat, which I thought was nice.

The weather was sunny and beautiful, and the day was perfect.  

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