Red Ribbon for the Blue Ribbon Drive

Friday was our last day in Italy for this trip. We lingered over another excellent breakfast and our last morning cappuccino. 20140310-053557.jpgThen we gathered up our belongings, reunited with Fiesta whom we hadn’t seen since Monday, and bid ciao to the wonderful town of Sorrento and the lovely Hotel Antiche Mura.20140310-054011.jpgThe streets were busy as we headed out of town. The motorcycle parking really tempts one to try out the domino effect. 20140310-054411.jpgThis morning we were headed up the Amalfi Coast. We were about to tackle the ‘Blue Ribbon Drive’!20140310-055454.jpgThis drive follows one of Italy’s most stunning and dramatic roads. Completed in 1853, it winds it’s way along the Amalfi Coast’s entire length, snaking around impossibly tight curves, over deep ravines and through tunnels gouged out of the sheer rock cliffs. It is a magnificent feat of civil engineering but was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages. It has been described as a ‘severe test of driving skill and courage’, ‘hair-raising’ and ‘a white-knuckled drive’. There are numerous switchbacks and plunging drops to the sea, often with only waist-high barriers between you and oblivion! Needless to say, Harvey was looking forward to checking this drive off his bucket list with great anticipation. I on the other hand was hoping it wouldn’t be the last thing off our lists!20140310-062706.jpgOf course, Harvey handled the drive magnificently, without any near misses and all the while commenting on the scenery. This is definitely the time of year to do this drive – traffic was light and there was minimal bus traffic. The thought of meeting a bus around each corner is somewhat terrifying!

The views are spectacular! Stunning scenery, towns hugging the cliffs and spilling down to the sea and the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean greet you around each corner! 20140310-062336.jpg20140310-062409.jpgFinishing the drive near Salerno, we hopped on to the Autostrade and headed north. We stopped for a panini lunch at an Autogrill and toured some of the countryside around Naples. Then it was time to head for the aeroporto and Budget rental car. We are proud to say we returned the car with no additional scratches, scrapes or dents – which is quite an accomplishment in Italy! 20140310-063341.jpgIt was now time to start our interesting trip home. We arrived at the Naples Airport around 6 pm – a mere 12 hours before our 6 am flight. The rental car depot closed at 8 and we didn’t want to be driving in the dark. A complicating issue to the night is that there are no hotels within a reasonable distance of the airport and we really didn’t want to be trying to catch an Italian taxi at 3 am. So we decided to be crazy and spend the night in the airport. A dozen other travellers made the same choice. The night actually went quite well – we napped a bit, snacked on the various food items we had brought along and read a lot. This fellow really didn’t help the napping, but I guess you have to replace floor tiles in a non-busy time. 20140310-064101.jpgOur journey from Naples took us to Munich, where we spent 4 hours, and from there to Toronto for another 4 hour layover. Many in-flight movies, on-time & uncrowded airplanes and airline food that was actually pretty good and we arrived in Edmonton at 9:30 pm on Saturday night. By the time we hit our beds, it was over 48 hours since we arose in Sorrento on Friday morning – with ~5-6 hours of various naps. But we were home safely and all was well at home. 20140310-064738.jpgWe had a great trip and once the jet lag has passed a bit, I will post some final reflections.