Tuesday, 14 September 2004 – Sorrento

Our room-service breakfast was scheduled to be delivered between 7:00 and 7:30. I got up at 7:00, and breakfast came 15 minutes later. While Chris snuggled beneath her comforter, the waiter set up breakfast on our balcony: table cloth, carafe of coffee, salt and pepper shakers, sweetener, and cream. Then came the real breakfast: fried eggs, an herb omelet, bacon, toast, strawberry jam, bananas, and orange juice. After the waiter left, Chris extracted herself from the bed and joined me on the balcony for a leisurely, delicious, luxurious breakfast.

As we were eating, we heard a motor boat coming around the stern. We looked out, and there was a Zodiak from the Diamond. They were setting up the temporary dock for the tenders – two of the ship’s lifeboats that would serve as shuttles between the anchored ship and the town dock.

After we had our fill of breakfast, Chris went off to a stretching class. I downloaded pictures from the cameras, then headed up to the deck to take more shots of Sorrento’s cliffs. As I was walking around the deck, I came across Chris’s "class." She and Blake, the stretching instructor, were on deck 11 stretching and chatting. Chris was the only passenger who had shown up for the class.

After Chris and Blake were finished, she showered and we made plans to walk around Sorrento. There were a few minutes of panic when she could not find her credit card case. After we had checked the safe, all the drawers and our luggage, she finally found it under a book on her nightstand. I put a note on the suitcase asking for it to be stored, and we headed for the tenders. One was leaving almost immediately and we boarded it within minutes. On our way out of the ship’s lobby, our ID cards were scanned, so the crew would know we were ashore.

The tender docked at a pier in Sorrento’s Marina Piccola (Small Marina). The Marina Grande was about a mile up the coast on the other end of town. The only ways to get from one marina to the other are by boat or by traversing up the cliffs into town and then down again.

The tour agent on the Diamond had told us we could take a free shuttle bus to town, or we could climb a series of staircases. We opted for the exercise and were soon in a busy piazza in Sorrento’s old town. We walked down streets at random, just going wherever it looked interesting. Before long, we found ourselves in a shopping plaza. Chris wanted to shop, so we split up, agreeing to meet back there at noon.

While Chris wandered from store to store, I went in search of a geocache hidden somewhere in Sorrento. My GPS directed me into a steep-walled canyon that led from town down to the Marina Piccola. I descended a different set of steps and soon found I had no GPS coverage. I used the cache-hider’s hint and found the tiny cache (in a 35mm film canister) pretty quickly. I had to wait as people went by before taking it from its hiding spot and signing the log.

I was back in the market plaza 40 minutes after I had left. It was 5:40am back in North Carolina, so I figured it was safe to call Theresa and see how her trip had gone. She answered, sounding sleepy, but told me she had just been lying in bed, unable to sleep. Christian had gone to work the night before, 2 hours after they landed in Raleigh. Their trip had gone well.

Shortly after I hung up, Chris returned. She had found a gauzy dress like she had been looking for. In fact, she had found two of them, and she wanted my help in choosing which one to buy. That’s an old salesman’s trick: Give the customer a choice of two items, and they might not realize they have a third choice – nothing. It worked on me. I agreed to help.

But first, lunch. We sat down at an outdoor table across the plaza and soon had salads, then pizza for Chris and a sandwich for me. We shared a small beer and a liter of mineral water.

After lunch, we struck out for the dress shop. It was quite a ways down the street. When we walked in, the clerk brought out the dresses Chris had been looking at: a long blue dress with a level hem and a slightly shorter brown dress with a slanted hem. I thought the brown one looked better on Chris and she agreed. So we bought it.

We left the store and resumed our wandering. We soon found ourselves on a crowded, busy market street with food, clothes, jewelry, and other goods. We window-shopped for a while, but the only thing we bought was a ceramic tile with a cartoon of a cat and the phrase "Attenti il Gatto" ("Beware of Cat") on it. We finally got to the end of the shops and continued down small residential streets. The buildings and gardens were picturesque, so we took a lot of pictures of them.

When we had exhausted the streets in old town, we descended a road and some steps down toward Marina Grande. On the way, we came upon a gray tomcat sitting in the middle of the sidewalk looking up at a window with a hungry look on his face. We looked up at the window, too, to see what had his attention. Hanging just outside the window was a birdcage with about four parakeets in it. They were perfectly safe, since there was no way for the cat to get to them.

Coming back up from Marina Grande, the cat was still there, but this time, he was eyeing some pigeons a dozen feet away on the sidewalk. The pigeons scattered as we walked up, and the cat relaxed out of his crouch to wait for more prey.

After 5 hours of walking around Sorrento, we were ready to head back to the ship. We made our way back to the dock and took the 3:30 tender. We were both footsore, so we treated each other to foot massages. Afterward, Chris napped and I watched the second half of Shrek II on our TV.

At 7:00, we cleaned up for dinner and went up the steps to deck 8, where the main dining room was. We asked for a shared table and were shown to table 66, where a single gentleman name Mike had just joined Dick and Arlene, a couple from New York. We sat down and almost got through the introductions before our 6th tablemate arrived. She was Doris, who was traveling alone. We got through the small talk about where everyone was from: Mike from New Zealand, Doris from Cupertino. Dinner was good, and the conversation held our interest, but we found we had little in common with our tablemates.

After dessert, we all said goodnight, and Chris and I headed off to bed. It was 9:30.

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