What wise, punctual, careful travelers were we.
We were punctual – oh, so punctual. We abandoned our (gorgeous) hike mid-afternoon, resisting the urge to soak in every last moment of time wandering and taking photos. This would certainly give us plenty of time to check into our room before dusk and get to know the lay of the land at our next “home away from home” on the Amalfi Coast.
And we were wise – so very, very wise. We followed the detailed directions from our bed and breakfast about where to find the bus station and what route to request. A quick chat with the bus attendant, and we had procured our tickets, plus a schedule showing the bus number and city names that would appear on the bus marquis. How idiot proof was this!
Also have I mentioned the care? Crazy amounts of cautious care! We found a small store just across the street that sold red wine by the glass, and had an open outdoor patio table where we sip our drinks, bide our time, and watch the busses come in. There was no way we were going to miss it.
Everything was going so well.
About ten minutes before our estimated departure time, a bus rolled in bearing the number that we had been given, but without the names of the city that we were told it would list. We finished our vino and wandered over to the station attendant again, assuming this was our ride but knowing from experience that it’s best to be measure-twice-cut-once journeyers.
We smiled brightly, and the attendant welcomed us back, recognizing us from our earlier ticket purchase.
“Are you sure this our bus?” my friend asked, sweetly yet skeptically. “It has different cities on it that what’s on the schedule.”
A shadow crossed the attendant’s otherwise jovial expression. We could tell he wanted to reassure us that he hasn’t led us astray, but also that he was half-convinced that he did, in fact, do just that.
He gave us the universal “wait here” signal, and beelined a few yards away to where another attendant was kicking back in his chair, scrolling through his phone. They had a conversation that we couldn’t quite hear — and let’s face it, they were speaking Italian so lack of quality audio didn’t really play that much of a factor.
While they did that, I wandered onto the bus and tried to ask the bus driver whether they would stop in Marciano. He gave me a vacant look, and I suspected I was brutalizing the city name to such a horrible American degree that he had absolutely no clue what I was trying to ask. He shook his head, but not necessarily saying “no” to my question. It was more of a “I can’t understand anything you say with that ridiculous accent” head shake.
The bus driver closed the door and pulled out of the cul-de-sac.
The attendant, a little slow on the uptake, looked up at the departing bus, an odd, twisted look on his face. His stature seemed a bit turtle-like as he walked back to where we were waiting for him.
Turtle-like, as in, if he had a shell, he’d be hiding his head inside of it.
So, yeah. That bus? The one that we had been standing next to, the one that stopped at the attendant’s booth? That one? You guessed it — that was our bus.
The sheepish (turtlish?) attendant handed us our tickets and the schedule. The next bus would depart in another two-and-a-half hours.
Determined to find the silver lining, we explored a bit of downtown, and threw a stick to hit a place with pasta and wine before heading back to the station several hours later, all the wiser (and tipsier). When in Sorrento, and all that.
More to come …