The first day of walking took us from Amalfi to Praiano, in what transpired to be an interesting route to say the least….. The start of the day was marvellous for some of us, I had what could only be described as a large breakfast with cheese, meat, croissants, cereals, cake, coffee and orange juice, Steve had a delightful snack in a pub which was included in his accommodation, Bev had breakfast in bed and Gordon had a piece of cake and nearly fell over on some glass steps.
But the real problem wasn’t that Gordon was at risk of suffering from lack of food, it was the weather. It was raining hard and, to be honest, the day’s walking didn’t look too appealing. There was some talk of the weather clearing up later in the morning and so on that hope we started the walk. Fortunately the weather cleared up soon after and my photos of the day (in a separate post, I’ve put three on here but I have hundreds more….) show a remarkable change in the weather during the course of the walk.
Packing is difficult when expecting heavy rain, as it’s important to protect the bag as much as possible. I’ve got electronic items in my bag that I didn’t want to get wet, so it took some time to protect everything, but fortunately I was able to. I hadn’t expected it to stop raining so quickly so most of my preparations weren’t needed. Gordon was the luckiest here as he had such a small bag that he just put a carrier bag around his to protect it. We were impressed at just how clever he had been.
The first section of the walk was really just navigating as best we could onto a path, which worked out well. We soon left the busy coast road and went onto a quieter path and we surprisingly (and worringly….) saw very few people throughout the entire day. The path was easy to follow, just with some quick checking a map every now and then to ensure that we were heading in the right direction, and there was nothing too technical.
A problem though emerged around two hours into the walk. That problem was the hill we had to climb. Unfortunately I may have slightly understated just how hilly the hill was. But there were very few complaints. Actually, there weren’t really any. Bev nearly stopped breathing at one point, but Gordon was reassuring, kind and calm. There was a lively discussion about dill and something else, with Gordon foraging for some food amongst the undergrowth in a bid to make up for his breakfast. He also was well fed with the quantity of food that Bev had acquired from her breakfast. Gordon had purloined a banana from breakfast and Bev tried to squash it, which I thought was very childish. Although I joined in that game too.
The hill that we climbed wasn’t entirely pleasant, but it was steps and so it was more of a long trek than anything else. I reassured everyone that it flattened out and then we would start to go downhill. This didn’t entirely happen, it flattened out for three feet and then went up again. There was a little more complaining at this point, but I ignored it.
A cat then decided that it wanted to kill me. We were minding our own business when this cat jumped out of nowhere and in a cat-like manner was able to jump up a wall and move across it. Around 5 seconds later a large stone came flying onto the path. Some might say the cat did it by mistake and just knocked it as it was moving, but I know that cat had a sinister side. It clearly pushed that stone in a deliberate attempt to cause harm…..
The paths we were walking must have been there for centuries, they are well built and would have been used by the locals to get from village to village and would have been used by farmers and fishermen as well. So, we plodded on, sometimes even verging into gossip about people we know. I won’t mention names of course, discretion is important.
The next stage of the walk was along the coast road, just for a short while. This offered some really impressive views of a valley, but the traffic meant that we really just wanted to get off it. It wasn’t particularly dangerous as the cars weren’t going quickly and they seemed used to pedestrians in that spot, but nonetheless it was good to get back onto quieter roads.
We dropped down towards the coast to partly look for a lunch stop and partly to look for the route down to Praiano. We knew that such a route must exist, but it didn’t appear on the maps that I had, so it was an adventure we knew at the beginning of the day that we’d have. As it happened, all worked out and we connected to that path.
And, that path, which I called the valley of death, certainly was interesting. The path seemed impossible to me when looking at where it would go. Now, everyone agrees that I’m the bravest person on most trips, but I wasn’t entirely content with how difficult the path looked.
There were two German people coming the other way, actually the only people we saw on this entire section of the route, so I asked them if there was any danger of us plummeting to our deaths. They assured me that there wasn’t and the path was easy. This was only partly true, as the path wasn’t easy, but they were right that it would have been hard to fall off the hill.
So, I continued, not entirely confident in the destination of our journey, but willing to proceed. Then I saw what turned out to be a black whip snake which must have been at least 45 feet long. I was very brave and rushed off, not willing to get a photo of it. I assumed it was very dangerous indeed, but I checked later and it’s non venomous and common in this area. To be honest, I still wish the authorities would place them in an area that humans don’t encounter…..
I then decided to get a bit ahead of the group so that they didn’t see that I wasn’t entirely at ease with the path. Then I managed to miss a huge red sign saying “no” and went the wrong way. I was, once again, brave and recovered the route again. I was fortunate that I could hear Bev yelling, or talking as she calls it, so I was able to find my way back to the main path.
We then dropped down into Praiano, which pleased me greatly. We then went to a small gym cafe and got involved with the cafe element and left the gym bit to others. Bev kept buying expensive homemade yoghurt and spent about €40 on it, but we didn’t query this. Gordon decided to have a large meal of pita bread with mozzarella. He wasn’t impressed. I had an ice cream on a liquorice stick and complained loudly that I seemed to have become allergic to something on the path.
We then went to the hotel and I was delighted with my room which was the cheapest and had no windows, but it was nice to be in a prison cell environment as it was peaceful. Gordon and Bev had the most expensive rooms, Gordon because he’s like that and Bev because that’s all that was left, with Steve also having a sea view in a random nearby building. They did have some wonderful views over the sea, but Gordon wouldn’t let us in his room. There was something very shifty going on in that room if you ask me…..
The meal in the evening was pizza, and for me it was fried pizza, a local delicacy. It’s also a local delicacy in Scotland and since I like fried food, I gave it a go. The base was excellent, light and with the taste of a doughnut, but I was marginally less impressed with the toppings. But this can be detailed on another post. Bev was a bloody nightmare during the meal, chatting up the male staff and screeching loudly upsetting the other diners in the restaurant (particularly Gordon, Steve and myself). However, we didn’t say anything about her behaviour…… Gordon managed to order half the menu, but he bought me a beer, so I was only full of praise about him after that.
One of the bravest things that I’ve seen this year also took place during the meal, when Gordon deliberately messed up Bev’s dessert before she had taken a photo. She was livid. I’m not for gossip, but she said Gordon needs to watch out this week….. I didn’t get involved.
After a walk around the town it was then time to return to the hotel after what had been a long day. The distances we walked, around 12 miles, weren’t that long and the terrain wasn’t overly challenging other than for a period of uphill. Tomorrow will be harder, I suspect much harder. But, the views we saw today were stunning and there were surprises around every corner. A most delightful day.