November 8, 2014
Original title: I'm f@&!ing tired.
The weather today is perfect for hiking so after an early breakfast we head out to walk the Sentiero degli dei or path of the gods. The famous path hugs the cliffs along the Amalfi coast and is said to offer spectacular views of the rocky cliffs and the towns seemingly tumbling down the hillsides to the sea.
The 6km path starts near Bomerano and ends just short of Positano. Problem is, to get to Bomerano you need to pass through Amalfi (the town, not the coast) but the road to Amalfi is closed due to a landslide. So we take the bus to Praiano to hike to the trailhead. This allows us to skip Bomerano but it adds two kilometers in the form of a steep climb.
The Amalfi coast bus ride reminds me of a roller coaster: imagine a full-sized bus speeding along a narrow hairpin-curvy mountain road, dodging parked cars, mopeds, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Add to this the fact that much of the road is hanging off a cliff high over the Mediterranean. It's spectacular - the views are picture postcard stunning - but the ride is scary. I keep telling myself the bus driver does this every day so don't worry. By the time we get off the bus I feel like I need a strong drink.
Once in Praiano we search for the trailhead. We walk up steep narrow streets. The local bus, smaller than the one we rode in on, is said to require 8-point turns along its route. The streets get smaller and smaller until they are merely passageways and stairs. Soon we are walking up one long staircase, with awkwardly high steps. We are on the stairs almost two hours because we take several breaks on the way up. Finally we reach the trailhead at about 600m elevation.
The path itself, the Sentiero degli dei, is an easy hike. Reasonably well marked with both text signs and the red/white paint stripes we are familiar with having hiked so many times in the Alps. The views are stunning: the blue sea, the rocky cliffs, the flowers and trees, and the cities of Praiano, Nocella, and Montepertuso. It is a treat for the eyes. Along the way we talk to fellow hikers and befriend a few dogs. One dog puts on a show by herding a small group of bell-ringing goats.
The trail ends in the small town of Montepertuso at which point we are back on stairs but at least we are heading down.
In Positano it's a short wait for the bus that will take us back to Sorrento. We are really looking forward to sitting down. The bus pulls up. It's full. I've read that the Amalfi coast busses are typically full but since it's off season and the road is closed before Amalfi we're surprised. Paul and I and several others stand the whole way back to Sorrento. We also soon find that the bus driver goes just as fast when full as not, and we spend the hour ride hanging on for dear life.
It's been a perfect day - thrills, chills, and lots of pretty scenery.
Two of the accompanying pictures were taken with my iPhone from the bus while we were in Positano. The rest (taken with the 24-120 at about 24) are of the Path of the Gods, which parallels the Amalfi coast. The water fountain isn't much to look at but when I saw it I felt such relief. I knew we were on the the path and were through climbing the steps out of Praiano. I've never climbed so many bloody steps than that day.