Sorrento Is Pretty, But Getting There Definitely Wasn't
For every adventure, there comes a moment when you break down and think that everything would've been better if you'd just stayed home. I definitely hit that when I left the safety of my former home of central London and went on to the next leg of my journey. To combat the sad story that lies ahead, I'll intersperse this tale with pretty photographs of Sorrento, the city I was attempting to arrive into in a timely manner. Hopefully these images will make the story less intense and give you something pretty to look at as you read on.
I arrived at Gatwick Airport with 2 hours to spare. My father taught me well to make sure I always get to the terminal early so I don't take a chance at being late (after accidentally missing a flight from Rome to London in the fall of 2014 for the first time, I knew I never wanted to deal with that again). I waited for the gate to be revealed, and then headed over to my British Airways direct flight to Naples. With my luck, of course the flight was majorly delayed arriving from its previous location. And then to make matters worse, there was something wrong with the plane, and they had to check if it was even okay to fly.
Of course, it wasn't in the right shape, so after already having waited almost 2 hours, they made us head to an entirely different gate area, which was almost a 30 minute journey just through the airport, we flew out almost 3 hours late. This started to worry me, as when I had researched trains from Naples to Sorrento, the last one left at 10:40pm, and we were arriving at 10:15pm. I started going over a million possibilities in my head of what I could do if I missed the train, and this was majorly stressing me out. Taking a taxi to Sorrento would most likely cost over 100 Euros, finding a hotel room that late in Naples was going to be hard, perhaps I could just stay at the airport that evening and head out in the morning?
As we landed and got off the train, I had accepted my fate of probably having to sleep in the airport, which wasn't a terrible plan, as I figured many people do that all the time. I thought immigration would take forever and I'd just find a chair near an outlet and do my thing until the morning. While I had a look of despair on my face, this British woman looked over at me and asked me something was wrong. I told her I was worried I'd miss the final train to Sorrento, and she told me that her cousins were picking her up from the airport and could give me a ride into the city to the train station. I was still a bit worried about time, but she assured me that she could get me there on time.
I got to passport control and figured I'd better start prepping for a night at the airport, but oddly (and maybe that's just because I'm used to the UK's lengthy questioning process) the border agent didn't ask me anything and just took my passport and stamped it and I got through in less than 3 minutes. The kind woman grabbed her bag from the rotating oval and called her cousins to see if it was alright to give me a ride. Thankfully they were happy to and we literally walked out the front door to find them waiting for us. I was still very nervous as it was 10:20 and I heard it took 20 minutes to get to the station from the airport.
In the car, they drove me quite quickly to the station, and along the way, asked me if I knew how to work the train station machines. I did, but they said they'd come with me and help, just in case. I was thankful for this and we hopped out of the car with 5 minutes to spare. We went to the part of the station that I thought was the right place, only to run into a guard who said in Italian to her cousin that the last train had actually been at 9:40pm and wouldn't run again until the next morning at 6:20am. My only thought was, "Of course. Of course the website I read was wrong."
I like to play things cool, because I hate looking stressed out or upset in front of other people. They asked me if I needed anything, but I told them that I'd just find a hostel or hotel in Naples and stay the night and head out in the morning. They seemed quite concerned about me, but I assured them I'd be fine. She gave me her phone number, just in case, and I went to look for a place to stay. I've heard Naples can be quite seedy at night, so I was quite nervous as I walked around to find something. I walked into the first place I could find and they told me they were all full for the night. I took this as truth because I didn't want to push it. Then I kept walking around, asking different places if they had anything open, and all of them said a firm "No."
This common theme made me think that someone who is quite sweaty, looks like they might be a poor backpacker and is trying to get a room at 11pm on a Sunday night is never going to get a desk clerk telling them the truth about room availability, so I started to get quite upset and wonder what I was going to do. I found a McDonalds with free wifi and sat in there until they closed at midnight, thinking about possibilities and seriously trying not to cry. I figured maybe I could head back to the airport, but some smaller airports do close at night. My only option left was to stay up in the train station all night and just accept my fate.
So that's what I did. I walked into the station (and apparently right in time, because they closed and locked the doors just minutes later). I sat on a bench and tried not to look homeless. A security guy came over to me and I was hoping to God that he wouldn't kick me out, since I definitely saw people sleeping outside and didn't want to be one of them. Thankfully he just asked me where I was going and I said Sorrento and he understood I was waiting for the early train and told me to move to a different area around the corner that was less visible to the homeless folk outside who might get upset that I got to stay inside.
I didn't feel comfortable trying to sleep at all, since I wasn't the only person sitting there, so I just decided to try and pass the time by reading, writing in my journal, listening to Beyonce and seeing how long before I went insane. Around 2:30am, it started to actually get really cold, so I tried to bundle up, but it wasn't as effective as I wanted. It was around this time that I also started to question everything in existence and wonder why I came on this stupid trip and that I should've just stayed home. I even contemplated finding a flight home for the next morning because I felt so defeated, but I knew that was a dumb idea.
Around 4am, the first few commuter trains started to run, so the station was open again, which meant people were starting to filter through. I started walking around, to try and warm myself up, but ended up just sitting back where I had been after 30 minutes. Because the doors were open, this meant that the actual insane people started coming in, and this one lady kept coming over to me to try and get money or something out of me, but I had to ignore her and continue to stay awake.
Finally it was 6am, and I went to the area that the special train to Sorrento was leaving from, and waited for the ticket office to open. The guy was super late and I got my ticket around 6:15am and hoped I didn't miss the train. Turned out that the first train for Sorrento didn't end up coming until 6:45am, so I continued to wait around in the cold to finally get out of that train station that I grew to hate so much. I found a seat, and knew that I had about an hour before I'd arrive, so because of my intense lack of sleep, I started to fall asleep a little bit.
Cut to me waking up to the feeling of something on my leg and looking over at the guy next to me groping my thigh. I was literally too tired to deal with this ish, so I gave him a look of annoyance and he stood straight up, stepped over me, ran to the train doors and got off at the next stop. If I was more awake, I might've been angrier, but since I was functioning on no sleep since the evening before, I couldn't even deal with it. I arrived in Sorrento finally, got off the train, and walked about 15 minutes to my hostel, which was also a hotel too.
I was hoping they'd let me have my bed I reserved for the night before, and thankfully the front desk guy told me it was still mine and guided me there. I hadn't eaten since the night before, so he showed me the breakfast room too, and I ate as much as my nauseous stomach would let me, and then I went to the room and crashed from about 9am to noon. I didn't want to completely waste my day, so I got up and got ready to head out, but I was thankful for a safe place to keep my stuff and a place to lay my head when I got back.
Overall, I didn't spend much time in Sorrento, other than a place to stay. It's really a gateway city, so most people stay there and then go out into the Amalfi Coast for adventures. But I can see that it's a beautiful place, and is definitely a place to explore if you have more time in the area. Maybe someday I'll come back and see more of it. But for now, I see it as a place that gave me rest after a long, disappointing journey, so I appreciate it a lot. Thankfully this was really my only travel fail that happened, so the rest of the posts about my journey will be much nicer.