Travel Notes — The Amalfi Coast & Capri

Frequent VBT Traveler, Edie A. has been kind enough to lend us her thoughts, responses and experiences on her Amalfi Coast & Capri walking vacation. Her notes are recorded daily and offer tremendous insight into the day-to-day discoveries of a VBT traveler. We’ve included excerpts and highlights of Edie’s walking vacation below. Enjoy!

Amalfi Coast, Amalfi Tours, Walking Tours Italy

Edie’s Journal

I finally got back to Italy. I have never been south of Rome and had heard that the Amalfi Coast was the most beautiful place on earth, so it seemed like a good place to spend a few days.

Friday

The walking group met in the lobby at 9. Ulisse was there along with our other Trip Leader, Vincenzo. They were experienced local Trip Leaders who spoke great English and had great personalities. I was more than happy to turn responsibility for my well-being over to them. The 12 walkers and the Guys hopped into Mr. G’s big van for the drive to Pompeii.

Pompeii Tours, Italy Walking Tours, Travel Italy

On August 24 in AD79, Vesuvius erupted and buried the city along with neighboring Herculaneum. It was discovered in the 17th century and the restoration, begun in the 18th century, continues today. We walked a couple of miles with Laurencio, an excellent local tour guide and I was glad to check the site off of my traveler’s must see list.

…Like many gorgeous places with perfect weather, Sorrento was first discovered by artists and writers. I could have written a novel in my room at the Europa Palace. A restored villa overlooking the Bay and surrounded by lush citrus gardens, the hotel was luxury to this little walker. I threw open my double French doors above the terrace and wondered if I’d ever leave. I did, of course, and followed my guide map for a couple of hours on a walking tour of this charming town.

Travel Italy, Traveling Italy, Italian Food, Italy Food

Saturday

…Back to Sant Agata for lunch at Agriturismo Fattoria Terranova. What a delight this home and family were. They taught us to make mozzarella and braid it – and then served it to us for lunch. I don’t know when I’ve had such fresh food – meats and cheeses and grilled vegetables and fantastic bread and rice balls (a regional specialty).

Travel Italy, Italian Food, Italian Cheese

…It was a beautiful Saturday night in Sorrento and everyone was out. I ran into Meg and Naomi from Chicago and we found a pizza. And then we found Primavera Cafiero, an absolute must for gelato. Two huge scoops later, we joined the locals and tourists alike for the passagiata – the traditional Italian night stroll under the stars.

Italian Pizza, Travel Italy, Traveling Italy, Italian Food, Italy Food

Tuesday

Today we were hiking the Path of the Gods and I was excited…. The 6.5 mile walk is considered the most scenic on the Amalfi Coast and today the weather was perfect and sunny…. This was the best view ever of the three islets of Li Galli (or Sirenuse). Ulisse was our historian and knew well the story of Ulysses and the Siren’s because he’s named after them.

Travel Italy, Traveling Italy, Italy Tours

…Mr. G was waiting to take most of the walkers to Positano. And we were off on the road to our last spectacular destination… Our Amalfi Hotel was an oasis right in the middle of town next door to the small main square and situated in a citrus grove. I loved my balcony over the citrus groves – the view to the left was the majolica tile roof of the church and to the right the vertical houses of Positano going up the hill.

Italy Hotel, Amalfi Hotel, Positano Hotel

I had to see the church of Santa Maria Assunta which is famous for a large 13th century wooden icon of the Black Madonna. Legend says that the icon was looted by the Sarcacens. When they got out to sea, the winds becalmed and they couldn’t move. They heard voices saying “Posa, posa” which means leave it here. They returned the icon to shore and the winds came up again. Hence, the name of the town is Positano. I wouldn’t mind leaving myself there.

Italy vacations, Italian vacation

Thursday

It was our last day with the Guys. We were headed to Rome and places far away. They let us sleep in and enjoy the breakfast buffet for the last time. We met Mr. G for a ride to the Gragnano Pasta Factory…. After a lovely lunch featuring the factory’s signature shell pasta, we said good bye to the Guys. They were excellent guides and I would recommend them to anyone…. I believe that the Amalfi Coast is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Hope you get there. Buon viaggio.

Edie A., The Amalfi Coast & Capri

Queen’s Day in Holland

Every year on April 30, a wave of orange falls upon the Kingdom of the Netherlands as the Dutch celebrate their national holiday, Queen’s Day.

Though the dates have fluctuated over the years, the country-wide holiday dates back to the late 19th century. The day was originally established on August 31, 1885 as Princess’s Day to honor the heiress to the throne, Princess Wilhelmina. Fittingly, the holiday took place on the Princess’s birthday. When Wilhelmina’s daughter, Juliana, began her reign as Queen, the event was renamed Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day, and began to take place on the new monarch’s birthday, April 30. Juliana’s oldest daughter, Beatrix, has since taken the title of Queen, but the holiday is still recognized on Juliana’s birthday.  

Today, Holland’s national day is celebrated throughout the country, but perhaps, the most fervently in its capital, Amsterdam. Festivities include open air concerts, parades, and, curiously, a city-wide flea market. Queen’s Day marks the only day in which Dutch citizens are free to sell wares publically, free from tax and without a permit. Thousands take advantage of the allowance, pedaling second-hand items throughout the city of Amsterdam. In fact, the tradition is so well-practiced that even Queen Beatrix has been known to purchase an item or two throughout the course of the holiday.

Of course, the most popular way to commemorate Queen’s Day is by decking oneself out in orange, Holland’s national color. On the eve of Queen’s Day, Amsterdam’s streets and canals fill up with thousands of passionate, orange-clad participants, who remain in and about the city through the following day. Oranjegekte or “orange craze” is also exhibited in vibrant wigs, lively hats and even orange-tinted drinks as the festivities continue well into the evening. And the party certainly proves that Amsterdam is a city that is proud of its national heritage.

Celebrate a bit of Dutch tradition for yourself this year on one of our popular Bike and Barge vacations in Holland.