We boarded a boat in Naples this morning, the temperature already reaching about 90 degrees and it was only 8:30am. Lining the docks are colorful stands selling hats of all kinds, I considered buying another since I left mine on the train from Palermo, however, I would probably just lose it again, hats are too much of a floppy excuse to make my head more stylish. Besides, my sunburn was fading and I was enjoying taking in fresh morning rays. Before we walked to the docks we went to a cafe for our daily dose of espresso. Espresso seems to be more of an essential than water in Italy. Although this morning, we ordered something a bit different, a Macchiato, it is nothing like the sugary drink you would buy at some chain coffee shop in the States. It was in a small cup, the espresso brewed, then a splash of frothed milk to leave a foaming surface that is intricately designed with hot, dark chocolate. Now, I am not much of a fancy drink person, usually just give me a black coffee and I am on my way, yet this was divine, and only in Italy. We also picked up some food to take to the island with us since Sam was attune to knowing that food in a touristy destination would be more expensive than what we could buy at an off the map cafe.
The boat ride was about 45 minutes from the coast of Naples to the island, Capri. The water is smooth and a deep navy blue with rising, light turquoise sandbars out in the distance. The boat has air conditioning, which is a luxury for any place that we encounter. As we approached the island, I took in my last dose of the coolness, and headed towards the stern to step onto the rocky boardwalk that lead to the base port of the island. I needed a shirt to go into the water with because my back was recovering from the sun blisters, and I was not quite ready to relinquish my fair skin to the sun again. It was a classic, “I (heart) Capri” cotton shirt, touristy, yet it did the trick. I put it in my backpack for later. The main piazza of the island was straight up the mountain. There was a huge line for the trams, and it was hot. Sam did not even give the option of standing to wait, so we found the path that began our assent to the top. Have I mentioned how hot it is? Hot, scolding, dense sea air filled every breath I took. I have swam for hours straight and stood on point for a collection of time, yet no workout I could have ever done would have prepared me for the exhaustion I felt at this moment. Meanwhile, Sam is at least 20 steps ahead saying, “Kelsey, andiamo!” which is the consistent buzz in my ear for when I am not keeping up with his pace. Even though I was slowly but surely making my way up, we would also stop to take in the true beauty of this island. The very path we are taking to reach the top is lined with a blue and yellow mosaic pattern, homes are stucco and plastered with beautiful brick and tile artistry, lush flowers native to the island spring from bushes, and lemon trees create a slight overhang above us, a Capri signature.
For about 30 minutes we climbed, and it was completely worth it. The main piazza is vibrant with deep yellow and blue hues with green and pink shrubbery around each corner. It is a shopping haven for the elite, Prada, Valentino, Jimmy Choo, Todd’s, and Cartier. I found a beautiful coral ring in the shape of a rose for the blooming price of 700 euros, which is well above our target spending budget of about 25 euros a day. It was fun to look, and Sam and I swore that we would come back some day to achieve one of these grand purchases. We started to move more into the island, beyond the shops and into the lemon tree gardens. The trees down this one particular path bloomed with bring pink flowers that line the stone covered street. Sam stopped at the end to pose for a silhouetted picture under the tree molded archway.
We ate lunch on a ledge that over looked the entire edge of Capri, seeing clearly down to port and all the tops of the homes we passed along the climb up. We caught a bus to head to the other side of the island, Anacapri, where after 5pm you can jump from the side of the mountain and swim in to the Grotto Azurra, the Blue Grotto. Most tourist take a small boat during the say, yet for the adventurists, this was the way to experience this wonder of the world. Little did we know, the bus we were on would have taken us all the way down to the grotto, but we got off in the town, and followed the signs down. It took a while to walk there, yet it seemed like most people who lived on the island preferred to walk down anyways. At one point we walked down a path that if we took one misstep we would have toppled down at least 50 feet into the rock lined water edge. I did not care how many times Sam called, “Kelsey, andiamo!” I am taking my sweet time.
We made it, about an hour later. The sun is parallel to our position on the rocky edge. We made our way to where people jump off a ledge and into the dark blue water. For as much as I love water, swimming, and the like, it was a bit intimidating to see the waves crash up against the rocks and the water fill the tiny opening we are suppose to swim through. I had no idea what to expect. I did not need my shirt after all, the sun was low enough where there was not much of a chance of making my burn worse. Sam went first, as I was still thinking if I wanted to test my fate. I saw a child jump in from a lower position as if it were nothing, so I took my adrenaline filled heart and jumped too. The water felt amazing on my hot skin, like putting your back against a freezer door on a hot day. My burn felt surprisingly better, the salt water is a great exfoliater. I let myself get use to how the waves moved me in the water, and then I felt comfortable to swim into the little opening in the rock. It was dark at first and then once I got past the initial opening, it was pure magic. Everything is blue. The rocks, the water, the people, my arms, my legs; I can see clearly into the water’s depths. The grotto expanded its width about 70 feet up and 100 feet across into what I saw as complete darkness, I swam towards it until I could not see the end of my arm. It was colder and I found myself plunging down to take a look under water. My eyes burned a bit, but nothing like the chlorine in a basic swimming pool. I could not see anything as I fluidly spun around towards the back of the enclosure, yet I kicked my way towards the opening I could see the rocky bottom with a sanded floor. Everything was still blue. The sunlight would be gone soon, and then the grotto would be completely dark, which is not something I would want to be stuck with navigating out. I took one last dive as far as I could get down and resurfaced towards the grotto opening.
We missed our boat back to Naples, so we had to wait two hours for the next one. Note to self, buy a round trip ticket so you do not get caught by the massive amount of people buying their tickets back too. We sat on the port’s edge admiring the rest of the sun set and finishing the remainder of food we had brought. I could see myself coming back to this island. Life is colorfully simple. Who knew an island could have so much life and vibrancy, yet be so calm when the day comes to an end. I am glad we missed our boat back because we truly got to see what people do when tourists are not populating the streets with hectic movements. Restaurants are lively with music, people are strolling the coasting beaches, Fishermen are returning from a long day on the water. There is a line from a poem I wrote, “This is where I became magic” in reference to this place where some of the things I saw truly must have originated from a magical nature, just as the water danced in the moonlight as our boat approached.