Warning! Scenic bus ride may kill you


September 29, 2006 We were making our way to Sicily; however, we wanted to make one more stop on the mainland of Italy to try and split up the length of time required on train. We had heard how beautiful the drive along the Amalfi Coast was, so we decided to take the bus along the coast and make our way to Paestum, which is famous for Greek ruins dating back to 550 BC, and is also a UNESCO Wolrd Heritage Site. We caught the 8:25AM bus from Sorrento to the Amalfi Coast, the bus ticket was ridiculously cheap. This bus ride is not for people who are prone to heart touble and motion sickness. Never in your life will you have a bus trip like this. The ride to Mount Vesuvius was just a warm up. People barmp their horns when going around the blind turns. Often two cars going in the opposite direction cannot get around at the same time. Driving a distance of 22 km takes 1 hour. We then got a bus to Salerno and then a train to Paestum…we actually got off in Capaccio, which is a neighboring town to Paestum and that was where our hotel was. The night before we arrived in Paestum we booked a hotel onine through venere.com. When we got off the train in Capaccio, we looked at the large city map posted outside the station and luckily it showed our hotel. Capaccio felt like a ghost town, you could almost see the tumbleweeds blowing in the wind. We talked to some people in Italian/English and it seemed they were telling us that we could not walk to our hotel. we weren’t sure if they were saying we coudn’t get across a four lane highway or because it was too far. The only thing we knew was they were saying you needed a car to get there - it was impossible to get there on foot. The train station was deserted and it was not the kind of town where you could just hail a taxi. One person suggested getting the train to the Paestum stop where it may be easier to get information, but when we looked at the train schedule, we’d have to wait almost 2 hours for the next train. We took our chances and started walking. There was no four lane highway to cross or any real obstacles for that matter. After about a 4 km walk, we made a slight wrong turn. Our hotel was on via Laura Mare, but we turned onto via Laura. Via Laura was lined with large resorty style hotels, but we could not find ours. We finally stopped at a restaurant and asked a man standing in the parking lot. He was not familiar with the hotel, so he called out had asked a waiter. The waiter said "I’ll get the proprietor for you." The owner of Hotel Paistos, who happened to be eating at the restaurant appears and says "I’ll drive you to the hotel." We felt badly to be interupting his meal, but when we arrived at the hotel we realized we were the only ones staying there. If we had not gotten lost we would not have been able to get in the hotel without calling a number - it was so bizarre that we randomly found him. It was definitely the off-season in Paestum.

Our room at Hotel Paistos was awesome in European hotel standards and we were paying 70 euro a night, which still wasn’t dirt cheap, but it was definitely better than Rome and Sorrento. Our room had a huge balcony and a lovely beach was 150 metres away. After washing clothes and hanging them out on our drying rack on our balcony, we decided to walk the "2.8 km" walk to the Greek ruins. It ended up being a 4 km walk  (we got a taxi back and I watched the odometer). The ruins were cool, but again, it really felt like a ghost town compared to Rome and Sorrento. The quietness was a welcome change.

We ate supper at the restuarant where we had found Corrado (the owner) that afternoon. It was a lovely restaurant, but I did not enjoy everything - we had this salted fish thing that tasted like smoked salmon - I’m not a fan of smoked salmon. Paestum is a farming area and they are known for their buffalo mozzaralla, so we gave this a try in a salad at the restaurant. They carve the cheese in front of you just like it’s a piece of meet. I’ll leave the detailed food descriptions to Jim.

We had the hotel totally to ourselves and they even told us we could use the internet at the front desk at night when they were gone home. I found it amazing in Europe how much things are based on trust. Everything from the public transit system to this hotel experience.