Atrani: Day Three, Post 1 of 2-Carbs and Carburetors, by Jake

After waking up this morning, groggy from listening to Kim grind her teeth all night, (she does this when she is stressed and she was worried about our scooter) we enlisted help from our hostess, Frances. You see, when you make plans ahead of time in the U.S. you get confirming emails, confirmation numbers, and good vibes from your vendor of goods and services. In Italy, not so much. However, after a few calls we got everything all ironed out and took delivery on the hottest side of town we could find. Stress gone. Ever shower, go outside for a half hour, come back in and shower again? I have. It cost me 38 euro. In my mind, I picture a carabinieri (italian for cop) watching Kim and I speak with the gentleman who delivered the scooter to us. He is hiding behind an illegally parked italian car, rubbing his hands together and plotting against us. He watches as we turn from milky white to bright red and glistening with sweat. By glistening, I mean sopping wet and grumpy. As we trudge back to our rooms (sweat squeezing from our flip flops as if they were made of sponges) he springs into action. Pen and tablet in hand he laughs like a cartoon villain, putting a ticket on our scooter with only one decipherable group of characters. You have probably guessed by now what they were (the numbers 3, 8 and the symbol for Euro). No biggee though, we hop on, throw the ticket into the air and push on (sounds better than we neatly folded the ticket and plan to pay it later).

Now for the man part of the post. Ladies, feel free to skip down to the next paragraph and pick up from there. We ended up with a Kymco Agility from Amalfi Rent A Scooter/New Conca Service. They were by far the best deal we could find. And by we I mean Kim. This scooter has 125cc of screaming fury, get up and immediately sit back down. No one would yell “Where’s the fire?” as you ride by. With a claimed 0-60 time of… oh wait, 0-30 time of… well, you wont be getting any speeding tickets. In fact the only tickets you’re going to get are the parking variety. Maybe I am a little spoiled since I am used to riding my Triumph Rocket III, (2300cc of rocket propulsion) and just took delivery of a brand new Triumph Street Triple R. Ok, obviously I am spoiled, but I also have to keep in mind that it is made in South Korea where the average couple probably weighs as much as me alone. I once read a review of this bike, in Cycle World Magazine I believe, that said something to the effect of: “This motorcycle exhibits strange handling, poor braking and an unenthusiastic ride. That said, it is WAY better than the last one we tried.” More of the same here, however the brakes do seem more than adequate and up to the task. Passing seems to be at your own risk, and for God’s sake don’t try to pass going up a hill. I did see 40mph once but that was down a hill. None of this really bothers me though, you see, the roads here on the Amalfi Coast are as twisted as a DNA strand. It’s agile (hence the name) and sips gas like seventy year old southern belle sips mint julips on a hot august day. Sugar, can you buhlieeeve this heat?

Today I witnessed something that served as a lesson on how NOT to conduct yourself when a guest in another country. On the Amalfi Coast they have mass transit in the form of buses. These buses are piloted by quite possibly the most gifted drivers in the world. Sometimes the road is only six inches wide than the bus itself and these guys drive like they own the bus. Anyway a man I’m going to refer to as Joe New Jersey (I think he is Snooky’s dad) gets out of his car as traffic is not moving an inch. This by itself isn’t abnormal, when the traffic stops for a bit, people get out of their cars, in fact he could pass for an Italian or an extra from the Sopranos. The traffic clog is caused by three buses that can’t pass by each other as they are headed in opposite directions. This is bound to happen and usually does. You can tell how serious it is when a driver gets out and helps another by sighting down the sides of the bus and looking for the quarter inch clearance needed to get by. As we say in the machine shop business “when it comes to clearance, one thousandth of an inch is as good as a mile.” So we sit and we wait (5 minutes or so) and Joe New Jersey gets out and starts screaming obscenities at the drivers, flipping them the bird and everything. He says “If I were *&%ing in charge I would outlaw buses, this is a crock of sh#t!!!” Luckily for the good people of Italy there is no danger of this guy ever being in charge of anything. In fact, if he had a brain in his head (I can only assume it didn’t clear customs) he might realize that the 150 people on those buses weren’t driving their own cars; nor were the people on the 30 or so other buses not in his direct visage. He did provide me with a good laugh though as Kim refused to let me do my version of American on American crime. You see, when a guy like this is fired up and as angry as he was all I want to do is put on my best Italian accent, talk with my hands and as I speed by on my sick little Korean scooter scream “Peeeetsaaa! Spaaaaghettttteee, Lasahhhhgna, Provalonaaay!!! We all know it’s not what you say rather how you say it.

I know Kim wrote about the food we ate but I feel that I have to put the exclamation point on one restaurant we went to today. You see, I love good food. I love good expensive food and I especially love good cheap food. (Mostly because it’s cheap) This was moderate to high priced but worth every penny, or whatever the smallest form of euro is. Dinari, cent, lira, sheckle, ruble, maybe? Whatever. In the town of Praiano there is a place called Il Pino. Go there. We ate a 50 euro lunch that was worth every penny. Service was good, food was great. I think we’re going there for a real dinner tomorrow.

Thanks, I hope you haven’t gotten more stupider for reading this. Except you, Max, I hope you got way more stupider.

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