When the sidewalk disappeared....walking along the Almafi Coast...a treacherous adventure

Yes, you read that correctly, clearly and accurately, about walking along the Amalfi Coast highway. This is what transpires when two middle aged women concoct a ludicrous plan to take exercise to the next level and promenade from Piano di Sorrento to Positano – normally a half-hour bus ride.  My friend and I are walkers. We walk everywhere. Why take the bus when you can walk there?  No hill is too steep, no place is too far, nothing will stop us from walking to anywhere and everywhere, not even rain, snow or sleet. Walking to Positano would be a breeze, a piece of cake, no problem whatsoever. So what if the sign said 9 km to Positano? We could do it. It will be a nice and relaxing day hike, and once we arrive at our destination we would reward ourselves with pasta, pizza and tiramisu, whilst languishing in a quaint outdoor trattoria, brimming with pride over our medal worthy athletic accomplishments.

Water bottles in hand, skin sun screened so it glistened, Ana and I embarked upon our trek. Marching along the sidewalk, we did not yet seem an unusual sight on the road, sharing the pavement with cyclers, motorcycles and cute Italian gents honking their horns at us. Ahh...Italia....men on their Vespas, nonas coddling their grandkids, pasta boiling on the stove, this was our vision of the “dolce vita”. The trail still had a sidewalk so that was an excellent sign, meaning that if there was a sidewalk then there were pedestrians.  Trees dripping with olives, lemons as huge as grapefruits, vegetation and brushery of all kinds awaited and greeted us.  Yes, we had made the right decision when we nixed taking the bus. Snapping digital imprints left and right, we were in our National Geographic photo gallery glory!  Spying a picture worthy authentic rustic fruit stand on the side of the road hawking lemons, tomatoes and vegetables of all types, we filled our knapsacks with the bright coloured veggies, unintentionally weighing ourselves down with the equivalent of five pound weights.  Yikes!!  Not the best idea in the world – especially while embarking on a 9km hike!

Perhaps we were too enamoured of the blue skies, the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves, savouring the feel of the sun embedding it’s golden rays onto our parched Canadian skin, that we barely noticed that the road had suddenly turned into a highway and that the pedestrian-friendly sidewalk had been replaced by concrete railings, cautioning travellers to beware of the precarious 1,000 foot cliff-drop below.

Whiz...whiz....whiz....cars, vespas, trucks and gigantic tour buses flew by at a frightening pace.  Can that huge bus, crammed to the gills with carefree camera toting tourists, really navigate that upcoming treacherous hair-pin curve?  Yikes...those tour buses are absolutely gigantic up close!!....the startled disbelieving stares of the tour bus drivers upon viewing two women clinging to the concrete railings trying to shield themselves from the oncoming traffic.  What have we gotten ourselves into? Perhaps we should have listened to the wise old man who had stopped to offer us a ride at the very start of our journey. Speaking very little English, he shook his head and mumbled that we were very “atletica” when we had adamantly declined his offer to give us a lift to Positano, saying that we preferred to walk instead. I can just imagine what sort of impression we left upon him...questioning our sanity as to why we were walking, when the bus or a car ride was readily available.

We were in serious trouble.  We had to get off the highway pronto!  It was getting progressively quite perilous and dangerous to be out there, as we had now inadvertently become targets for fast-moving vehicles and over-sized tour buses.  We cringed in terror as every car, bus, truck and vespa tore on by, mercilessly spitting gravel on us. What had innocently commenced as an “up close and personal” view of the spectacular panorama of the jagged vertical treacherous cliffs and of the aquamarine blue water of the sea below, had quickly turned into a nightmare of our own making.

Sensing that it was futile to try and continue our gallivant to Positano, we entertained the thought of hitching a ride with anyone who would stop and offer us one. Wise old man, where are you now?  You were right to shake your head in disbelief upon hearing our ridiculously absurd plan to soldier onward towards town, a feat so incomprehensible that it was one that only dim-witted tourists would venture to undertake.

Screech!!  All of a sudden, a sleek and shiny convertible rolled to a stop and a concerned Italian gentleman commanded us to get in the car and off the highway. We didn’t have to think twice as we clamoured into the vehicle, grateful to make the acquaintance of Tony, who was on his way to Positano to meet up with family friends.  Exceptional circumstances make for difficult and life-altering decisions and there was no way under normal circumstances that Ana and I would ever place a pink-sneakered step into a stranger’s automobile, but, faced with either being side-swiped by a tour bus or hitching a ride with a questionable character, we chose the latter and hoped for the best.  Fortunately for us, our knight in shining armour was a true old-fashioned Italian gentleman, concerned with rescuing two adventure seeking English speaking damsels in distress who were foolhardily out for a stroll along the panoramic seaside highway.

True to his word, SignoreTony deposited us safely in Positano and graciously offered to drive us back to Piano di Sorrento at the end of the day.  We thanked him profusely for his generosity, but declined his invitation, concluding that we could not pass up the opportunity to hitch a ride with the mega tour bus.  After all, we were anxious to witness first-hand the skill and fortitude of the bus driver as he navigated the twists and turns of the narrow winding laneways, all the while keeping an eagle eye out for adventure loving tourists clue-lessly meandering along the highway.

After indulging in a resplendent seafood dinner, having consumed several carafes of well-deserved vino, we gleefully boarded the bus, reclined blissfully in our seats, and prayed that we would awaken at the designated bus stop!

Come stroll along the Amalfi Coast with me....come dodge oncoming tour buses, vespas and automobiles....come traipse along the coastal seaside and discover Italia…

Next week – what adventures await? Stay tuned!!

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