I'm not going to post this as a question because I think it's more fruitful as a discussion. Here I am staying in a beautiful city in southern Italy, with beautiful weather, a great hotel with five cascading pools, great restaurants, etc. And today I had a wonderful car hire tour to Positano, Amalfi, Ravello and the Emerald Grotto.
So what's the problem? I would do anything to be in Venice or Greece instead. See if any of you can guess why I'm not particularly thrilled. (I want to emphasize everything and everyone has been lovely; this has to do with me. What about Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast is not doing it for me? But would for so many others.)
What's wrong with you? I'll tell ya what's wrong with you - you're in your room typing away for this silly forum! Get your fanny outside and enjoy the fact that (in spite of some manageable ailments) you have your health, good looks, a cat that loves you, students who can't wait until classes start, and the ability to go all over the world - often as a paid expert. Holy cow, you're like Stacy's Mom, you've got it going on!
Now - Go! Go! Go! A pep talk to get you going - featuring the famous movie technique 'The single clap rally'
Clip provided for our good pal jerrycoin who amazingly has been all over the world, but has yet to watch Hoosiers!
It's more complicated than that -- I'm 6 hours ahead so I'm writing in the morning and when I get home to the hotel before dinner. My tour today of the Amalfi Coast was from 9am - 5pm.
erc, here's a big hint. Why do each of us go to the places we go? What are our main reasons? If those reasons weren't there when you arrived, would you still enjoy yourself as much? I'm not a vacation person per se, which is another hint.
And yes,I have a cat who loves me, students who would love nothing more than the Iceland volcano to blow so they wouldn't have to take classes next week (and I do think I'm a good prof), and most of all I have the ability to go around 1/3 of the world. I don't have my health -- that made the Vesuvius trek impossible (i was dissuaded before I even booked a tour when I asked the question).
I do have a funny story about supposed good looks which I'll tell when I'm back from Italy. I apparently DO have good genes (as in skin texture), and don't have a single grey or white hair at 62. Nice and Easy helps my natural blonde, but thanks to a few shocking car horns and my tour today I felt years younger. The reason? Dark, Jackie O sunglasses that makes your eyes unseeable.
Any more ideas yet of why I should be happy in a place most people love but am not?
Unless the Icelandic volcano got you all jazzed up and you planned on going to Vesuvius to write a book and all roads are closed, you've stumped me. I'm going to have to defer to the Southern Europe experts, because I'm like the dog seller in the story below;
Talking Dog for Sale $10. A guy goes to the house and asks about the dog, the seller sends the buyer into the back to see the Labrador. The buyer and the dog get into a conversation about the dog working for the CIA over in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan and winning medals of honor.
The buyer is blown away, walks back to the seller, "I'll take him, but why only $10"? The seller says, "because he's full of baloney; he's never been out of the backyard".
Similarly, erc is missing the point .
Have a good time anyway. I'll be looking for the answer to the puzzle.
It's getting near my normal bedtime at home (I'm a morning owl) but I'll give you all one more hint before I reveal the answer.
I have never been to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Jamaica, or the Virgin Islands, despite the fact that I love beaches. I did go to Hawaii once because I needed to rebook a ticket in the US because my ticket's taxes could not be less than the original ticket to Europe. But through no fault of Hawaii's (I'm think of you Kharada), but it does fit my equation above, it was a disaster after my terrible fall on the jetway.
There is something common to all those places that I feel is common to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
If I'm still awake in a half hour or hour I'll check in.
My last stab - it's overrun with tourists and you wanted a contemplative, peaceful time before getting back into the classroom. Ok, get your sleep and I'll ask bpelican to use that well educated brain of his to help solve the mystery .
THE ANSWER! I didn't want you to lose sleep.
I am bored out of my mind. I don't take vacations as such. I have yet to find one thing I consider historical in Sorrento, however pretty it is. I want ancient and medieval stuff where I go. Vesuvius was supposed to be that (Herculaneum apparently only warrants an hour).
Now what I am about to say will probably provoke a strong reaction. I was not very impressed by the Amalfi Coast, though I had plenty of time in Positano, Amalfi (it did have a good church) and Ravello). I think taking a sea trip (those tours are available, but I'm not going to repeat what I did today. It was nice, yes, but I have seen far more beautiful places elsewhere in Italy and certainly in Greece. This was despite a great driver and very friendly guy.
I can go into more depth, but I really wish I had taken Pluto's suggestion and somehow figured how to get to Paestum (adding that to this long trip would have been far too long). I guess I'd say my reaction can be summed up as Sorrento is boring, the Amalfi Coast was much less than I expected, and I wish I were in Naples at ancient /medieval churches and museums. Being a historian is in my blood.
There are a lot of tourists, but not as much as other places I've been (like Paris in August).
I guess I'll just wear my Jackie O sunglasses and enjoy the minor rapture of getting honked at like when I was 20-40.
Oh well, who knows, perhaps something productive may come out of this trip yet;
Hang in there - you'll have some good cocktail stories at the faculty mixer
Stay safe and injury free.
It's definitely been simple rather than existential boredom. Being in Europe usually brings out the best in me in terms of interactions with the rest of humanity. But I travel almost always for historical research (which I LOVE!), so that part was a real letdown. I liked Russell's approach in the article to the usefulness of boredom. Back in 1999-2000 when I could function again I went on numerous pilgrimages on the Santiago de Compostella route, albeit most of the routes in France. That was much more existential, and let to more in-depth thinking about who I am, where I am going and what it all means. And it helped.
I've made my peace with Sorrento once I accepted the likelihood that I would either fall into Vesuvius or tumble down the path knocking other people off in the crash and burn.
Once I decided to deal with what I had, I observed Sorrento was a lovely city (albeit much too touristy like the whole Amalfi Coast) with some good restaurants and best of all a great hotel with 5 pools. And yes, I am actually quite tan now in the parts that show
Glad it all worked out for you. We learn that there's at least a kernel of value (speeches, lectures, presentations etc) in virtually every experience. Like Leonard Pinth-Garnell some of my best tales have been about performances that have gone astray. I once saw a play, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, I won't say where - but it was equity players, where the cast was so ugly (I might be ugly, but no kidding, God made these folks to scare me with) that I actually only listened to parts - it was a fascinating, and as you see, memorable occasion .
Like you said, isn't it terrific that these are our problems and paraphrasing your aunt, "Who'd a thought it?"
Keep on keepin' on.
this may sound harsh - but you certainly chose the wrong Mediterranean location to visit. And you've wasted your money and opportunity that many would love to have in your place. There has to be more to your reasons for being so dissatisfied with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. I could write a book trying to hazard a guess WHY...but only you truly know the answer. I dont know how much longer your stay is in somewhere that you are not enjoying - but I would have cut my losses and went somewhere for the rest of the time that I could at least appreciate the beauty,people, culture and have a glass (or bottle) of delicious vino...and maybe meet some people who are lively and enjoy their company. if you take pictures, try to smile....at least when you look back on the $$$ you wasted you can convince yourself you really did have a good time. Sorry.
Thanks erc, the Professor answered before I could offer an opinion, although I would have tread very lightly when it comes to trying to analyze an individual of the opposite gender. Yes, I am a coward!
How much did you pay for the car tour? I plan to be there next year and am still in the planning stage. Have considered Pompeii and Amalfi Coast. In one day or 2? Ferry to Capri for a day. Will have 3 full days there but jet lag will be a problem since it will be the start of my Italy trip. Any suggestions?
For one person, the full day was 200 euros. Not a small amount, but renting a car (which I would now, NEVER EVER do after seeing the Amalfi coast and multiple near misses). Naples airport to Sorrento was 85. If you haven't been to Capri, that's a definite stop.
I have another hint for erc: I should have stayed in Naples instead. But that won't probably be true for most of you. You can get a Circumvesuviana pass at either Naples or Sorrento (a big triangle/circle that is separate from Trentitalia trains) for one to three days or just a ticket to one place, but Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Sorrento are included. You could not do all in three days. If as I wanted to do you want to climb Vesuvius, make sure everyone in your group is capable of doing it. (The tour company -- with the most to lose -- apparently told the hotel concierge that I'd probably end up dead.) Other tour books say it is 'moderately difficult.' But add high temps to moderately difficult and you do have a tenuous situation.
It would be better if you could stay 4 full days (I have 5 nights at the hotel and got a discount for it, but arrived late the first night (around 8:45pm thanks to my 8-hour layover in Paris). If you want to soak in the Italian sun and hill towns I'd recommend 4 days at least.
profchiara- sounds like to me you need to rethink marriage so you'll have a traveling companion since cats are not too well adjusted for any type travel. And, I would guess only an 8x10 glossy of your furry feline is not much comfort when you're far from home.
If you've never been to Cittadella or Padua, home of the second oldest university - behind Bologna, I believe, and not counting erstwhile Alexandria - and explore each of these next time you're in Venice. You can take train directly to Padua (20 minutes). No Marriott here, but many other hotels and B&B's. You're probably familiar with fact that Galileo studied and taught at U. Padua, and the oldest coffee house in Europe is in the city. A few other, local spots of interest nearby in Veneto are Bassano 'd Grappo, Marostica and Castlefranco. Take time to go up on the Alto Castello at Marostica and have dinner at the old castle.
Get married again??? I'd rather stay two more weeks in Sorrento! I have been to Padua (and loved it -- especially the Arena/Scrovegni Chapel) but it's very far from here (I'm two hours south of Rome). The only Citadella I could find was in Budapest!
BTW, I always travel alone -- that's the way I like it. The reference will be lost on the under 40s or 50s, but I am kind of like Greta Garbo. I even turned down a proposition last night (still wearing my dark glasses) to ride on a motorcycle with a very good looking guy in his 30s.
Alas, I think I will hang around the pool and go to restaurants. I came mostly for Vesuvius, having read a full range of opinions on tripadvisor and elsewhere about his difficulties. But to have a tour company turn you (and your money) down pretty much says the physical disabilities would make it impossible.
It seems to me that Sorrento and Capri (I have been there, including to the Blu Grotto; the one place I'd like to see there is described as an extremely arduous 45 minute trek to the top to where the Emperor Tiberius resided) and a lot of the Amalfi towns are all about shopping. I'm no shopper (except online at home).
I'll stop whining soon -- I know most of you would switch with me in a minute!
I'm too old for guessing games But I've heard this from alot of people who dont really know WHY they go to visit somewhere - other than "it seemed like a good idea and it looked pretty." What was the first draw to make you plan a trip to Sorrento? Why do YOU think its not living up to your expectations???
What is it about Greece or Venice that is so appealing over Sorrento? Are you alone? Or is your travel partner not as exciting to explore with? Have you already been to either of those places and particularly miss something you enjoyed? or is there something (someone ;-) more desirable?? I've been to all of those places - heck...lived in Italy for six years and Sorrento is a gorgeous Mediterranean haven. Venice is beautiful, but honestly overrated as it is mainly a tourist destination (unless you know someone who actually lives there). All the islands of Greece are in fact amazing - but they also get to be pricey and boring if ALL you're doing are the "touristy" things. I learned that not everything I wanted to do needed to cost alot of money. Are you ONLY visiting the touristy areas in Sorrento which can be expensive and all look alike - or are you actually exploring all the beauty in areas tourists don't normally visit (the underground wineries, watching the master wood makers, brick over bakeries, watching locals make things by hand, taking in a live tarantella show in a neighborhood, learning how to make an authentic Italian dish from a local, talking to shop keepers and residents etc)... if all you're doing is shopping, hanging out on the water on pricey tourist boats, and dropping $$ Sorrento can be a hugely expensive snooze fest. Sorrento is also a quick drive from so many other Southern Italy historical and beautiful cities.
As just mentioned, the only way I will travel is alone. I like doing what I want and when I want. Sorrento seemed a good alternative to Naples for staying, but now when I think of all the museums and old churches in Naples (as well as archives), I wish I had made the other decision. Since I leave Monday morning it's too late to switch. I guess I thought I should see the Amalfi towns because I've always heard they're beautiful. As for why Greece, I guess I will allow my previous photos to speak for themselves.
And we probably have different tastes, because Venice is my favorite Italian city -- I have now been 15 times!
Historical stimulation (and research) is my primary reason for travel!
Back from breakfast so just one quick addition. I think it is all a question of why we travel. My travel is almost always for business (even when the pleasure is great) as I am doing research for books. In Santorini in June, I went to the Akrotiri, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, the Archaeological Museum, and sailed the caldera. Almost everywhere I go in Greece there are prehistoric and ancient monuments that wow me and great museums that contain artifacts that are sometimes 4000 years old or more. The physical beauty of Greece always stuns me (not Athens, but everywhere else). The combination of the way the sun looks there and the beautiful Aegean have already lured me about 10 times. The only three islands I have stayed on for a week (in order of preference) have been Crete, Santorini and Mykonos. There isn't much historical on Mykonos but Delos is a mile offshore and very important. On two short Louis Cruise ships I also saw Patmos, Rhodes, and in the Athens offshore area Aegina (with its Temple of Athaia, often considered the pre-Parthenon) Hydra and Poros. My favorite on land sites are Delphi (by far!), Epidaurus, Mycenae, and Corinth.
For those who haven't heard the story -- I am definitely meant to be alone. I was an only child with parents who hated each other but only divorced when they were 75 and was bullied in school (when no one knew the word). I wasn't allowed to date or learn to drive or do anything normal kids did, nor did I have any friends.(No one wanted to hang out with me or if someone did my mother disapproved them.) That's when I learned to live in books with my cat(s). So it all turned out for the best -- I never would have had this life had anything been different.
I first got married to get out of the parental home and stuck around 6 years. That's when I finally got to start college. By grad school, my second ex asked me to marry him. I tried to tell him I wasn't meant for it but he gave me an ultimatum. That was 1983. Again we stayed married 6 years, though once in Paris doing research we more or less went our separate ways and lived under the same roof most of the time. I have had boyfriends since the late 1980s, though I have not dated at all for ten years. I realized when first one was another state away; then the next the other coast; the third in Canada; and the fourth in Europe that it was telling me something -- to quote Garbo, I vant to be alone! But of course never really since I have my cat. I may be alone but I am never lonely (except maybe the times I was married). I do have two best friends -- a guy in Wisconsin and a woman in NYC. We rarely see each other, but do talk.
I will do my best to enjoy Sorrento till I leave Monday morning, and am heading out to the pool now!
I've decided my motto through Monday morning will be
Mangiare, Bere e Nuotare! (Eat, drink and swim, not necessarily in that order )
I spent two hours this morning at the pool then walked more around Sorrento and ended up having a great lunch at Ristorante Museo Caruso (would you believe I had lobster). I read up on it at tripadvisor on returning and it is one of the best restaurants in town. Then I went back to the very top pool of the cascading pools and combined with the tan I got two times in Greece in May and June I am now surprisingly dark. The Capodimonte gave me a coupon for a pre-meal drink so I'll be eating at the hotel tonight. Since I'm only eating fish and swimming a lot, no guilt !
ProfChiara - Do you recommend staying at Capodimonte in Sorrento, or Marriott Renaissance in Naples? Considering flying into Naples in early November.
I am planning to be there next year and will be staying at the Hilton. It has decent ratings and I have status with Hilton as well as Marriott. I have been finding that Hilton has hotels in places that I want to go and Marriott does not and have staying with them more often. I have also been finding that Hilton has been treating me very nicely and with being Gold with them and Platinum with Marriott, I sometimes feel that Hilton treats me better.
That's funny, Shoeman and MissGee,
Why did you not think I was a tanning person? I don't go to tanning booths or anything like that but I swim a lot.
When I was a kid my mother and I spent every summer in Ocean City, NJ (relative peace since my father was back in Philly), and in those days (50s-early 60s) suntan lotion was intended to GET you a tan, not prevent one. So as a fair-skinned person with lmost 100% Swiss background I got burned a lot. But then when I moved to Paris for my dissertation (which is latitudinally north of Maine) and on weekends would lay out on the apartment balcony and got tanned for the first time in my life (no lotions one way or the other). Ever since the only parts of me that seem able to burn are my face (which I take care of by first using moisturizer then waterproof foundation that has a high SPF) and my upper arms, upper back and chest. I think that's because I spend SO much time in the water. So for those parts I use an SPF4; nothing on my legs, which after a while lightly tan. Plus after reading some medical reports about ingredients in sunscreens I'd rather not.
Had a most interesting dinner unexpectedly last night. I reserved a table for me on the candlelit balcony over the lowest pool and was enjoying my appetizer when a woman and her two 20-something daughters arrived and were seated at the next table. Here comes the oddity of my being more outgoing when across the Atlantic. She invited me to join them. At first I demurred but she said please, so I did. They are from London, and she is the daughter of a Holocaust survivors. Her girls were amazing and very intelligent. We ended up talking openly about every topic that in the US would usually be considered taboo -- politics, the situation in the Middle East, religion, and it was fascinating. To my shock, I got back to my room at midnight.
Anyway, I was already at the pool all morning (Vesuvius probably wouldn't have worked anyway because there's a very heavy mist and haze over it, which various people on tripadvisor said in that case you can't see much. So even if on my own I could have made it up Vesuvius, the danger (when I usually fall because my knee goes out) is going back down.
Off to lunch, after which I will go back to the pool.
I have no idea why, Prof! I guess it's just the "character" you assign someone whom you only "know" through the written word; but it's constantly evolving as you read more and more of what is written. So now your "character" has evolved again! I'd honk at you if I were an Italian guy too. hahaha
I love that you met some friends at dinner! I understand what you are saying about the taboo topics. I learned very quickly, when I moved to the US, that I am not to offer my opinion about that or healthcare. lol
The funny thing was that when Julia had invited me to her table and introduced her grown girls, I thanked her and asked her why she'd invited me. (I'm not shy about these things.) I LOVED her answer, because it's goes to another post about eating alone. And it says a whole lot about her as well.
She responded: "You looked so content and confident and happy to be there. There wasn't anything apologetic (I am paraphasing now) about your body language, pretending to read a book, etc. -- you were just looking over the pool and the bay of Sorrento -- and I thought it would be interesting to have you join us."
I obviously sensed the same about her. I had a wonderful evening. And it truly is wonderful being able to have opinions, which in my view it is very hard to do in the US, whether it be politics, world events, international issues or wars, or personalities. We ended up almost entirely on the same pages (her girls were a little more exploratory in terms of why I thought what I did, but felt again very comfortable explaining), obviously with some nuances.
But it was an exceptional experience. I feel increasingly in the US that one has to adhere to a party line (and I don't even mean Dem or Rep here, just opinions in general).
PS re tanning: I am not your typical professor, assuming there is such a thing -- and I personal think there is. I'm REALLY good at my job, teaching, researching, and writing, but I've always felt in a way that I don't belong because I don't come from that class of society.