My solo trip around Italy starts off in the beautiful coastal town, Sorrento. I checked in for 5 nights (then a night in Naples) so I could base myself and use the local buses or circumvesuvania train to make day trips to Amalfi, Capri, Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius. I didn’t plan out exactly where/what the plan was each day because that’s the thing with solo travel, you don’t know who you’re going to meet.
Although.. I was a bit of a travel virgin, so I did book my hostels in advance (using hostel bookers / hostel world) as well as the trains from city to city (Trentitalia). This meant I had a vague idea of where I was going, which definitely helped me in making the most of my time in one place. Without some kind of outline or deadline, some travellers I met were getting lazy- sleeping till late and drinking all night. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun drinking… but the most rewarding experiences were in those exhausting long days, throwing on my rucksack leaving the hostel at 7 or 8am and getting back in the early morning sweaty and aching all over, camera memory card full up.
To get to Sorrento, I got myself to Naples first. (I decided not to stay in Naples at this point but to return after the 5 nights because from Naples I would take the overnight train to Palermo, Sicily). So, I took the circumvesuvania from Naples to Sorrento which was easy enough to do, once I found the actual train itself after wandering around the station for ages. I really liked the train because you would buy your ticket in your coffee shop or tabacchi, then keep it in your purse until the time you want to travel. Just remember to stamp it before you get on!
Now, I didn’t look at my hostel address properly. Big mistake. But with a name like “Youth Hostel Sorrento”, one would assume it was in Sorrento, no? No. It was actually the next stop after Sorrento, in the quiet and charming suburb, Sant’Agnello. This wasn’t a problem though, only a 20 minute walk / 3 minute train from Sorrento, and at €18 a night (£15/$25) I wasn’t complaining. This hostel was my first ever hostel experience! It was clean, beds were comfortable- even had a wardrobe and dressing table in the room. There was a small kitchen with a fridge, hob, and microwave, which was great when travelling on a budget. Only thing was from the station it was a bit of an up-hill trek through the village on a narrow cobbled road. While it was horrendous to hike up with a massive heavy rucksack and a dirty stray dog following me, it was a nice bit of insight into local living. I’d choose it again and again over staying in an expensive hotel.
So it’s my first night here, I’m just packing a bottle of water in my rucksack to go head out for the evening when I hear a lot of laughing and music from the kitchen. Amazed, there’s about 15 guys and girls around 20-30 years old all squashed into this tiny kitchen, bottles of booze everywhere, and I feel a little shy. I put my bag down and go and introduce myself, some were travelling alone but most were in pairs or small groups of friends. What an incredible feeling to meet so many people from so many nationalities! I was the only one from England and I loved it. We got ourselves sat in a circle on the floor and chatted as a group and then came the drinking games. We planned to take the last train to Sorrento and taxi it back but the drinking got a bit out of hand and most of us just passed out in our beds. I didn’t spend a penny that night and had a fabulous time! Sadly that night was the finale for most people, and by morning their bags were gone. Then with each new day came new travellers, more and more inspiring conversations and wonderful memories.
The next morning I left the hostel alone. Near the station in Sant’Agnello I found a cute café with a seating area under a yellow gazebo. Got chatting with the barista and listened to his fascinating life story while explaining my own. He set off my morning with a delicious macchiato on the house, and I hopped on the train to Sorrento to take the blue SITA bus to Amalfi. What a ride that was!