Celebrity Equinox: Day 2- Amalfi Coast

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This is one of my favorite photos from the ship. The Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful, thus far, it is one of my favorite places in the world to visit.This was our 2nd time to the Amalfi Coast, as mentioned in our previous post. We were so excited to get the opportunity to visit the Amalfi Coast for the second time and in further detail. Our tour went off without a hitch. Salerno was a very easy port, we met our tour guide Nuncio from Joe Banana Limos right off the gangway. We were a group of 8, 2 from Ireland, 2 from Canada and 4 of us from the U.S. Our age range is 27-31, and later in our trip, we are referred to as “youngins” by an Australian woman. (Not in a nice way either..LOL)

We started off our tour by driving up the Amalfi Coast. Our goal was to stop at a few places on the way and end in Positano. Whenever we are on tours, and I like the area I always make note of interesting hotels along the way. That way, if or when we decide to return, I have an idea of spots that I would like to say. While we were driving up the coast I took note of a really interesting hotel built into the cliffside, Hotel Cetus. The prices are VERY reasonable for the area, with rooms between 100-160 euros nightly.

 

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Picture courtesy of Hotel Cetus web-site

 

Our tour guide mentioned that most Italians living in America are from the southern parts of Italy. He also mentioned that many locals do not live in town and that rentals suffer in the area. He accredited this lack of rentals/apartments to the roads. Many tourists find it difficult to navigate the roads (we saw this in action, tourists were white knuckling the steering wheel) The locals do not have many Apartments or VRBO type places due to this. However, tourism is the main industry of the Amalfi Coast.

Our guide also mentioned that a famous restaurant for the area is Torre Normanna. It is famous, because it is inside of a 13th century Norman Tower, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

 

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Photo courtesy of Torre Normanna web-site

 

We stopped at Sal De Riso for some “breakfast pastries” I have to put that in quotes because we obviously do not normally eat cake for breakfast. Joey and I enjoyed a slice of “Sweet Passione Cilenta” a passion fruit cake. It was very good! I highly recommend stopping in to grab a sweet treat, if you find yourself in the area.

When you drive along the coast, you will see lemon and olive trees everywhere. The trees are built terrace style into the sides of the mountains (referred to as the Milky Mountains, by our guide) Our driver pointed out several points of interest, such as the Emerald Grotto, he mentioned that it is an alternative to the famous Blue Grotto in Capri. It is much easier to see and get to as well. Many tourists are unable to get to the Blue Grotto due to tides and weather. He also mentioned stopping in ceramic factories along the coast, versus in the city centers for a better deal, unique and higher quality product. We all voted not to stop in a ceramic factory, it didn’t seem of interest to our group of 8. What we found interesting is that many of the church domes along the coast are made from ceramic. They are beautiful.

We saw a few fishing boats off the coast, so naturally, we asked what they catch. In the area, the main fish is what they call Pezzogna (Pagrus Caeruleostictus/ Blue Spotted Seabream) or baby Anchovies.

We made our way to Ravello, where we walked to the top of the city to check out the Gardens of Villa Cimbrone. If you are in Ravello, you have to check out these gardens. They are absolutely beautiful. The cost to tour is 7 Euros, and they provide a map of the grounds. We confused on our original hike up and almost missed them altogether, luckily we ran into a nun who directed us the right way. If you are walking up alone, without a guide, you should be aware that you will walk around the Monastery of Santa Chiara. This is where we messed up. It looks like the walkway ends in the Monastery, but if you keep walking you will see it loop around.

The walk to Villa Cimbrone is breathtaking, there are flowers and vines crawling up the walls, and there is a tower greeting you upon arrival.

 

Also, commercial photography/videography and drones are NOT ALLOWED. Good thing I am not a professional! I will flood you with photos captured from the gardens.

Here are a few images of the building when you first walk in. There is a restroom in the building (for free) and is located next to the “crypt” which isn’t creepy like I was expecting. It is actually the picture below of all the arches.

We attempted to follow the map so we could capture as much of Villa Cimbrone as we could. Our first goal was to see the water from up high. The main pathway takes you directly to the coastal view.

We loved the vine-covered walkways and the rose gardens. We also found a helipad for those wealthier guests.

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Here are a few close-ups of the rose gardens

 

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Rose Garden Panoramic

 

Once we had our fill of the garden of Villa Cimbrone, we began our walk back down to the main city area of Ravello. Along the way we saw another Villa, Villa Eva. We were unsure if we were allowed to go in, but we walked into the gardens. It is a beautiful wedding venue! If anyone is contemplating an Italy wedding, check out Villa Eva. I hope my photos below do it justice!

We made our way back down to wait for our driver to come pick us up. We took the time to take a group photo. I also grabbed a few photos of our surroundings.

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Such a good looking group of travelers, eh? (that’s for the Canadians)

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We hopped back into our van and made our way to the actual city of Amalfi. There we wandered the main road, admired the large church, and ran up the steps “Rocky” style.

 

 

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Panoramic of Amalfi, from the city center

 

We only spent 15 minutes in Amalfi. We were quite hungry and wanted to make our way to Positano. Our guide took us to a restaurant overlooking Positano. It is Ristorante Da Costantino. The restaurant is unique because only family members work there. The food was fantastic. We did a set menu to get a sampling of all the food. I believe it was around 20 euros per person. You can see in the pictures the expansive views.

Once we finished dining, we were driven to the top of the main walkway of Positano, we walked down and window shopped along the way.

Something you should know about traveling around Europe. There are selfie stick salesmen everywhere. They will even put their selfie sticks into your shots when you are attempting to capture panoramics. We were getting pretty annoyed about this, and Geoff decided it would be funny to mess with the salesman a bit. The convo went like this:

Geoff (to selfie stick salesperson): Will you take a photo with me?

SS Salesperson: Sure

Geoff: Perfect (holds camera at arms length) YEP! My arms work just fine!

Nicole has a collage of photos from this incident. It was funny, and needless to say, we didn’t have a selfie salesman in our additional photos.

 

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The ferry pier in Positano

 

As I mentioned previously, we tailored our itinerary to include a ferry on the water back to Salerno. We thought this would be a way better view, versus the winding roads. What we didn’t take into account was the cold. Due to the rainfall during lunch, the temperature dropped quickly. It was freezing! Make sure to bring a light jacket or scarf if you are traveling in May. The ferry was through Travelmar and was 12 euros per person. We sat on the open air portion of the ferry for about 20 minutes, we then became too chilled and moved inside. The coast is absolutely beautiful from the water. I would have loved to see it from a sunnier position.

So this is where our day gets really interesting. We arrived in Positano at 5:20, or a little thereafter. When we were exiting the gangway of the ship that morning, it had a sign that mentioned we needed to be back onboard by 6pm. This was something we were not concerned about, we gave ourselves an hour to get back. The ferry was a little delayed, but we still had 40 minutes or so once we arrived. We were told by Celebrity that there was a shuttle in Salerno that we could grab on our way back. We exited the ferry drop off (which was 2 miles up the port from our ship) We couldn’t find the shuttle so we started to get concerned. We waited about 10 minutes before making the decision to walk back to the ship. Keep in mind, it was windy and very cold. We were underdressed, and it started to sprinkle on us. We began the 2-mile walk back to the ship. The most frustrating thing is seeing where you need to go, and worrying you will not make it in time. We kept our eyes on the ship the entire walk back. We made a wrong turn twice. The first we walked into the port entrance for private vessels. The second time, we realized we had to pass the ship in order to enter. At this point in our journey, we began to run. We made it into the entrance of the port, but they would not allow us to walk to the ship. They held us at the bus stop type entrance with security. The security guard didn’t speak English and we had to attempt to explain that we needed to get on our ship, which had smoke coming out of the stacks. We were TERRIFIED we would be this close, and miss our ship. Luckily he was able to radio to the last shuttle coming back from the city and we hopped on just in time.

 

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Panoramic of us departing Salerno

 

We were sad to set sail from the Amalfi Coast, but we were excited on what was on the horizon ! Our next day would be at sea, and then on to Athens, Greece for 2 days!

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Celebrity Equinox: Day 1 – Rome/Civitavecchia

We are back in the states after 13 days away! I didn’t give myself any downtime during our adventures to write. Instead, I took notes so that we could revisit our experiences and relay them to anyone who stumbles across the blog! We walked 60 miles, traveled 2,594 miles through the Med and flew 9,608 miles. I tracked all of the mileage on foot with my fitness tracker, Misfit Shine. I love the device, it is light, and most people assume it is a watch.

Our flight to RoIMG_7948me was on time leaving and we actually had great tail wind and arrived an hour early. We both used the restrooms at the airport, and we both talked about how nice the bathrooms were when we came out. So…when in Rome! Make sure to check out the airport restroom.

We were concerned that we were going to have to wait an additional hour for our driver, who was scheduled to grab us at 11am (we were supposed to land at 10:15a and arrived at 9:20a) We were pleasantly surprised when he was waiting as we exited the airport. Just a heads up to anyone flying into Rome, it is CHAOTIC at the taxi area. There are hundreds of names on placards. We also saw the Celebrity Cruises shuttle (very easy to spot). Sad side note, during our flight EgyptAir flight 804 crashed, a woman on our flight was in hysterics when we landed in Rome after she received a phone call. We were not sure if it was related  but very sad to hear.

The drive to Civitavecchia is straightforward, it took roughly 45 minutes. We arrived around 11:00 am. The only traffic we experienced was in the town of Civi.Our driver cost € 110 and he was very kind. He drove us right up to the drop off area for luggage. Joey and I managed to grab a few hours of sleep on the plane, so we both felt ok. Check in took less than 10 minutes. Make sure to have your forms completed, passport and forms in hand. We boarded the ship around 11:30 and since the rooms were not ready we went to the Sunset Bar.

 

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view from the Sunset Bar of Port of Civitavecchia

 

We both determined that if you just start drinking, you can avoid jet lag (not scientifically proven) If you sail with Celebrity as Concierge or above, you will be invited to have lunch in the dining room, it ends at 1pm. We were not hungry, so we didn’t attend.

The layout of the ship is great! We were room 1124 on Deck 10 and were close to the elevators on the AFT/Starboard side of the ship. We were able to get into our rooms around 1pm. Concierge provided a bottle of champagne, a tote bag, a wallet , and a tray appetizers. Our balcony is extra large and had loungers on it, we utilized the balcony for room service nearly daily!

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We were traveling with our friends Nicole and Geoff from Nova Scotia. We ran into them at check-in so we made plans to meet up and get our table together in the dining room. Which was super easy. We ended up at a 6 top next to the window, and we sat with a couple from England.

We had a pretty relaxed night. We met up with fellow Cruise Critic passengers at the club on  deck 4 of the ship. Once we left that venue, we had dinner and then returned to our room. We wanted to catch some Z’s and at this point, we were super underslept. Next Up… Salerno, Italy (The Amalfi Coast).

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