Tag Archives: Capri

A Postcard From Sorrento

Postcard From Sorrento.jpg

In the spring of 1976 I made arrangements for my very first trip to continental Europe and booked a Cosmos holiday to Sorrento in Italy with my girlfriend Linda.  We were due to go on the 12th June but at some point shortly before travel she fell for the charms of a reporter on the local newspaper and abruptly ended the relationship.

This created a problem because it was within the no refund period and so I was faced with the prospect of losing all my money.   I could have begged I suppose but that would have been undignified so instead we had a family crisis meeting and the solution was found when dad enthusiastically stepped in and agreed to take her place. That’s what dads are for, I would do exactly the same!

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Travel Memories – First European Holiday

00 Monarch Airlines

In the spring of 1976 I made arrangements for my very first trip to continental Europe and booked a Cosmos holiday to Sorrento in Italy with my girlfriend Linda.  We were due to go on the 12th June but at some point shortly before travel she fell for the charms of a reporter on the local newspaper and abruptly ended the relationship.

This created a problem because it was within the no refund period and so I was faced with the prospect of losing all my money.   I could have begged I suppose but that would have been undignified so instead we had a family crisis meeting and the solution was found when dad enthusiastically stepped in and agreed to take her place. That’s what dads are for, I would do exactly the same!

54 Look Capri

And so, on the appointed Saturday, we travelled to Luton airport for the Monarch Airlines flight to Naples.  Apart from the Isle of Wight this was the first time that dad had been overseas as well and to be honest he was slightly overdressed for the occasion in his rather formal sports jacket and tie.

There again this was still a time when passengers still wore their best clothes to travel, it was something special, airport departure was far more civilized without the dehumanising process of security checks and where officers at passport control called you Sir.

Airline travel was so different in 1976, the flight had proper seat allocations and the plane had comfortable reclining chairs with adequate leg room and stewardesses who wore smart yellow uniforms seemed genuinely pleased to see you and served a complimentary hot meal and free drinks.  These days they are called Flight Attendants in the same way that actresses are called actors.  I really don’t understand why women/ladies/girls don’t want to be treated as feminine any more.  I guess I am getting old.

Monarch stewardess

The plane landed at a rather Spartan military airport base near to the city of Naples and after I had already taken a picture of the plane on my Kodak Pocket Instamatic we were firmly warned against taking photographs.  It wasn’t an especially welcoming sort of place as we passed through a rather austere passport control and baggage reclaim hall both decorated in varying tones of slate grey and in dire need of a welcoming makeover and then made our way through to the coach that was waiting for us.

The twenty-mile drive to Sorrento took about forty-five minutes along a busy road running alongside the Circumvesuviana railway and on the way we got our first look at Mount Vesuvius which towers up dangerously close to the city, and then as we swooped down through cypresses, citrus groves and vineyards around the Bay of Naples we could see the Mediterranean Sea and the Island of Capri.

I think I remember being speechless.  The sea and the sky were so intensely blue that at times it was difficult to be sure where one finished and the other started.

06 Hotel Mediterraneo

This was breathlessly exciting stuff because previously we had never been further than Cornwall or Norfolk and the blue, almost luminous,  water looked a lot more inviting than the grey North Sea that’s for sure.

When the coach arrived in Sorrento it started dropping off the passengers at their various hotels and finally drove to Sant’ Agnello and a position directly on the coast on the top of the cliff and guests stopping at the Hotel Mediterraneo were invited to leave the coach.  This was our stop and we were immediately impressed with where we would be staying and I smugly congratulated myself on a good selection.

The hotel was six stories high and painted a dazzling white, so bright it hurt your eyes to look at it, with smart green shutters on the windows.  At the front it was surrounded by trees with attractive pink blossom and at the back there was a secluded garden full of citrus trees with oranges and lemons hanging invitingly low in the branches.

At the reception we checked in and the clerk handed over a room key attached to a bell-shaped key ring which would make it difficult to misplace and he had a surprise for me and handed over a letter from the pigeon-hole behind him.  It was my birthday (22)  in three days time and this was an envelope, which obviously contained a card, with an English stamp commemorating the bicentennial of American Independence.

This is one of the reasons that I am proud to be British – we can even celebrate our defeats without any bad feeling.  In 1966 we had a Royal Mail stamp collection commemorating the ninth hundred anniversary of the Norman Conquest.

The handwriting on the envelope I  instantly recognised as Linda’s and that made me feel rather sad.

07 Hotel Mediterraneo Garden & Pool

Our room was on the fourth floor and the hotel had one of those old-fashioned lifts that were little more than a metal cage that went up and down the shaft and you could see the walls flashing by through the grill.  This was the sort of lift that you don’t see any more because if you put your fingers through the frame it would rip them off and sensibly they have been consigned to history by European health and safety legislation.

The room was on the back of the hotel overlooking the garden and although it was basic it was clean and comfortable and we agreed that it would do very nicely indeed.  There was a tiled floor and real wooden furniture, beds with crisp white linen sheets and a bathroom with an old-fashioned bath suite.  Being 1976 there was no mini-bar of course and no television and certainly no Internet access.  We allocated the drawer space, emptied our suitcases and made ourselves feel at home.

I was in Italy, my mind was racing, my heart was soaring and my senses were filled with a whole gazetteer of new experiences….

Sorrento Postcard

Italy, Postcards from Sorrento

Sorrento Postcard

In the spring of 1976 I made arrangements for my very first trip to continental Europe and booked a Cosmos holiday to Sorrento in Italy and went there with my dad.

I mentioned before in a previous post that the currency was the Lira and  the notes were so worthless (I seem to remember that the smallest denomination was 1,000) that it was normal practice for shops to give change in the form of a postcard.

Sorrento Postcard

Sorrento Postcard

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Been Back to Sorrento

Sorrento Italy

This was only a half day visit to Herculaneum so after we had seen all there was to see we left the site and returned to the coach for the thirty minute drive back to Sant’ Agnello in time for lunch.  We went to the pool bar and had pasta and a beer and then spent an hour or so enjoying the sunshine.  Some people were in the pool but I think they must have been from Alaska or some other northerly latitude because this was late October and although the weather was extremely pleasant the water in the pool had dropped below my minimum temperature requirements and testicle tolerance levels.

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Sorrento, Cliff Top Walks and Holiday Routine

Oriecchette pasta Bari Puglia Italy

After we returned to the harbour on Capri it was time to get the coach back to the other side of the island and take the return journey to Sorrento.  We left the Marina Grande and looked back on the island that some claim to be the most beautiful in the world.  It was very nice but I certainly wouldn’t rate it above many of the Greek islands that I have visited since.

Sorrento, Boat Trip to Capri

54 Look Capri

Tuesday was my 22nd birthday so after opening birthday cards, including the one from Linda, which included a note in which she seemed to suggest she had been a bit hasty in running off with the journalist, we reported for breakfast in the restaurant.  We were disappointed to find that the weather was a bit of a let down this morning and a mist obscured all of the Bay of Naples.  This was a shame because today we were going on a short sea trip to the nearby island of Capri.

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Sorrento, Hotel Mediterraneo

00 Monarch Airlines

In the spring of 1976 I made arrangements for my very first trip to continental Europe and booked a Cosmos holiday to Sorrento in Italy with my girlfriend Linda.  We were due to go on the 12th June but at some point shortly before travel she fell for the charms of a reporter on the local newspaper and abruptly ended the relationship.

This created a problem because it was within the no refund period and so I was faced with the prospect of losing all my money.   I could have begged I suppose but that would have been undignified so instead we had a family crisis meeting and the solution was found when dad enthusiastically stepped in and agreed to take her place. That’s what dads are for, I would do exactly the same!

Read the full story…