Paris + the Amalfi Coast 2017

I have to start off by saying that I’ve dreamed of going to the Amalfi Coast for so long.  Months ago Zach and I decided we were going to go somewhere before the baby came.  We decided to swing a babymoon/Zach’s Birthday/anniversary trip before I hit 30 weeks.  We discussed where we would go – and thanks to Zika, my dream of visiting costal Italy came to fruition.  I wouldn’t say it was Zach’s #1 choice, but he came around quickly once the planning started.

We’ve been talking logistics for this trip for quite a while – and as each week went on we grew more and more excited to go.  Zach had a great idea to fly the direct flight from SLC to Paris and I couldn’t complain about spending a few days in our favorite city in the whole world.

We left Saturday afternoon and arrived Sunday morning in Paris.  We didn’t waste any time.  We went straight to lunch at one of our favorite cafes near the Madeline.

Afterwards we went baby shopping [Zach’s idea – can you believe it?!] where we found baby boy’s blessing get-up.

The temperatures were dreamy.  We went back to our hotel to change before dinner and walked around the garden near the Louvre before hitting up Cafe Central for dinner.

I didn’t have to convince Zach to get a crepe with a view of the Eiffel Tower, we had the same game plan.

The next morning I drug Zach out of our bed for an early morning run to the Louvre.  My favorite time to go – when the crowds and tourists haven’t shown up yet and we had it almost all to ourselves.

On our run back Zach requested we stop at a breakfast spot he had found and it was so delicious.  They made me a special poached breakfast brioche sandwich with an artichoke pesto.  It was out of this world!

We showered up and got ready to go out for the day.  We did some more shopping in a few different arrondissements.  We stopped in Bonpoint and got a scarf for Sloan for our family pictures coming up and a cozy outfit for baby boy.  While we were checking out – the saleslady asked if we were having a boy or a girl.  I told her we had a little girl at home and a baby boy on the way.  She said, “Oh!  King’s choice!” That’s where we learned that in France, they call one boy and one girl very lucky (or King’s choice) and we heard it each time we mentioned the fact that we were to have one of each from total strangers.  I thought it was sweet and it made me smile each time.

Afterwards we stopped at Laduree for a little snack and then took an Uber to Supreme for Zach.

We walked to the Ile de la Cité and ate at a restaurant called the St. Regis Cafe [Zach loves their burgers].  Afterwards we passed Notre Dame and shopped some more near Les Halles.

Later we had dinner in Le Marais at a new restaurant we both had never been to, but really enjoyed.

We walked around the corner to a popular creperie [I think Le Marais is currently my favorite neighborhood in all of Paris] and enjoyed our crepes as we walked back to our hotel.

The next morning we made our way over to the Orly airport for our flight to Naples.  We arrived in the afternoon and had a car service waiting to take us to Positano.  We made our way along the coast until we arrived.  It was good to familiarize ourselves a little bit with the area before we ventured out on our own.  As we turned the corner and saw Positano down below – I couldn’t help but get teary eyed.  It hadn’t seemed real to me until I saw all those bright beautiful buildings on the cliffs.  We ditched our bags at our AirBNB and changed our clothes to set out and explore.

We walked around and went in and out of shops until it was time to walk back up to the bus stop for our dinner reservation.  Positano has very few roads – and even less parking.  We thought about renting our own car for the duration of the trip, but we are SO glad we didn’t considering how expensive and inconvenient parking is!  In fact, cars are so uncommon there that most of the restaurants have a free shuttle to take you to and from the restaurants.  Our first meal of this leg of our trip was at Da Constantino.  We were picked up by the driver and made our way up the hillside.

The meal was out of this world.  The restaurant received amazing reviews and we were both so excited to try it.  We somehow got a table right by the window with the most amazing view.

Zach ordered the signature dish – homemade pasta with seafood – and I got a fresh grilled fish of the day.  But we both started off with an appetizer of grilled mozzarella on a lemon leaf.  It’s a popular dish in the area and we were not disappointed.

After dinner we rode the shuttle back down and walked from the stop down to the beach.  On our way back up the hill we got gelato and some sodas to go.

We had an early morning the next day.  Before heading down to the beach we stopped at Vini & Panini to get some sandwiches, fruit, and supplies to go.  We made our way down to the dock to pick up our boat rental for the day.  This is what Zach was looking forward to the most about this entire trip.  Most people charter a private boat with a skipper that will take them along the coast.  Not Zach.  He knew he wanted to rent his own boat and be his own captain right from the beginning.  At first I was hesitant.  Not in Zach’s ability to maneuver the boat – but in our knowledge of the coast.  We had a lot planned that we wanted to see and I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to do it with such little experience.  As usual, Zach made the right decision.

They packed us a cooler with ice for our food and sent us on our way.  We didn’t waste any time.  We made our way around the bend – bound for Capri!  We ate our sandwiches [which literally blew us both away – we went back to Vini & Panini several times afterwards] and cruised along the gorgeous coast.

Soon we saw the Fraglioni up ahead.  The iconic rock formation was stunning!  We drove our little boat right through it [4 times] and then continued around the island to the Blue Grotto.

This is the part I was the most nervous about.  The Blue Grotto is a total tourist trap and I didn’t know how it would all work out.  But we couldn’t go to Capri and miss it!  How most people do the grotto is by taking a ferry or hiring a private boat to take you directly out there.  Once you arrive outside – your driver ties his boat to a buoy and these men come out on tiny wooden boats to come get you.  You get off your boat and into theirs, and your driver stays with his boat behind waiting for you.  Then you go to the entrance of the grotto – pay your admission – and the “grotto guy” in the wooden boat takes you inside.  Well, we had our own boat and no driver to stay back on our rental boat for us.  When we showed up there were hoards of boats and no available buoys.  And all of these boats were triple the size of ours.  Zach maneuvered his way, with a little help from some other drivers, and we found a spot and a buoy to tie our boat off to.  After some time I sweet-talked a little Italian man into rowing over to our little vessel to come and pick us up.  Soon, we were on our own little wooden boat and in line to make our way into the grotto.  We arrived when the tide was high and I didn’t realize how difficult getting into the grotto itself actually was.  Our driver told us both to sit down on the bottom of the boat and “get down”.  We were confused, but did as he said.  He grabbed a chain alongside the rock wall near the entrance of the grotto and launched us inside, laying completely down on top of us as he pushed through.

Once inside, the light of the sun illuminates the water in the grotto and the results are incredible!  It glows bright blue, much brighter than I expected.

Our driver sang us a song and gave us a little history lesson as he rowed us around inside.  It was totally worth it, and someday I want to go back after hours and swim in it myself – without a boat.  Obviously not recommended, but Zach and I aren’t exactly by-the-book, anyway.

Once we exited the grotto and our driver dropped us back to our boat – we were relived to see nobody had ransacked our little boat and that it was still securely attached in it’s parking place.  We backed our way out of the crowds and continued around the island.  There were waterfalls, little coves, and gorgeous houses on the cliffs.  We arrived at the main port and someone came out to dock us and bring us into the island.

We were both starving and had a late lunch at a restaurant with a great view of the water.  It was Zach’s favorite meal of the trip.  He got another order of the signature pasta and I had the most amazing avocado, pineapple, and fresh tomato salad.

We’re definitely going back there when we make it back to Capri one day.

We didn’t stay on the island very long.

We went into some shops and then hopped back on our boat.  We decided we wanted to see more of the coast instead of walk and explore more of Capri itself.

We made our way back – stopping to see a few little towns along the way, looking for the secret beaches, and then making it back into the bay of Positano.  We anchored our boat and ate the rest of our fruit while we laid in the sun.

We then returned our boat and walked back up the hill to our apartment to get ready for dinner.

We had some time so we walked down to the beach during the “golden hour” before heading back up to Da Vincenzo.

We had to take a little detour [of about 2,000 steps up a steep hill] but it was worth it.  This was my favorite meal of the trip, by far.  I got a homemade pasta with lemon zest and shrimp.

Zach got the grilled calamari and another fish dish.  I would recommend this restaurant to everyone and anyone.  But you have to make a reservation ahead of time and ask to sit outside.  The view is unbeatable.

We walked back those same steps down to water to get gelato for dessert, then back to our place.

The next morning was even earlier than the one before.  We had the same car service, La Mommola, pick us up at the bus station near our apartment bright and early in the morning.  This day was a bunch of my requests – which I know Zach wasn’t completely ecstatic about.  Our driver took us to Sorrento – where we rented our own little Fiat 500 to drive to Pompeii.  We were really lucky, because this was the only day that projected rain in the forecast.  As soon as we rented our car and stopped for some sodas it started to rain, hard.  We were safe and warm inside our little rental, though, and zipped down the coast to Pompeii.  Like I said, Zach wasn’t thrilled about taking a whole day to see an archeological site, but I promised him it would be worth it.  Once we got there the crowds had dispersed.  We found a killer parking spot and entered the site.  There was hardly anyone there – we assume the rain had driven almost everyone away.

Most people spend half of a day – and some even entire days exploring the site.  But we made it through in 1.5 hours.  In under those two hours – Zach devoured a whole can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and a bag of Doritos.

We didn’t want to pay for a private guide (100 euros and up!) so we downloaded a free professional tour (along with a map on our phones) via Podcast and made our way to each highlight.  Long story short:  Zach enjoyed it even more than I did.  I had been warned how hot Pompeii can get.  There are zero trees which means no shade and temps were supposed to be high 80’s that day.  Luckily, the recent rain meant overcast skies and it was beautiful.  We saw a bunch in such a short amount of time and then made our way back to our rental car.

Seeing the victims was the most humbling part.  It was amazing to see how these people lived their lives and a little eerie to see how their lives ended.

Afterwards, we drove around Mt. Vesuvius to Naples to get some lunch.  Eating pizza in Naples has been on my bucket list forever – and we got to check it off (twice if you count the fact that we actually came away with two giant pizzas).  We went to one of the oldest and most famous pizzerias in the city – L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele.  The line was crazy long at 3:00 pm.  We waited outside until Zach had the brilliant idea to do a take-away order.  We ordered two mozzarella pizzas (they only make mozzarella or marinara, that’s it!) and decided to eat it on the street.  We purchased some sodas at a nearby cafe and the shop owner let us sit at one of her tables to enjoy our spoils.  It was by far the best pizza we’ve ever had.  Totally worth the hype, and Zach agreed even worth the drive.

After we finished our pizza we made our way back to Sorrento.  Driving through Naples was a total circus.  I’m convinced our prayer for we set off in our little Fiat saved us a few times on those streets.  I thought Rome was madness on Vespas – Naples in a car was absolutely terrifying!

Once we arrived in Sorrento, we dropped off our rental car and then walked to our dinner reservation at Il Buco.  It was our very first experience at a Michelin starred restaurant.  It got amazing reviews [as you’d expect – they don’t give out stars for nothing] and it did not disappoint.  The bread selection alone was enough to impress us both.

They asked us what we were celebrating for dinner and I told them the truth – our anniversary, our second baby, and Zach’s birthday.  So they set us up in this little private cove all to ourselves and after our gorgeous entrees – sent us out a plate of bite-sized desserts.

We finished up late and took a taxi back to our apartment in Positano.

The next morning we woke up and walked straight down to the dock to catch a ferry to Amalfi.  We debated on which cities to see, and decided Amalfi would be best for that particular day.

We walked the streets, got lemon sorbet, and saw the main square and explored until we went back to Positano.  On a whim, I convinced Zach to wait at the dock with me to try and get onto the Da Adolfo boat.  It’s a long story, but this infamous restaurant called Da Adolfo is impossible to get reservations at.  Everyone goes crazy for it, and the recommendations are never ending.  So, before our trip I called them.  I called maybe 14 times to get a reservation.  Nobody picked up the phone, not even once.  I heard that if you are lucky, you can hop on the boat with the red fish and catch a ride out to the private beach where the restaurant is.  Sometimes they have availability for lunch and if you’re lucky you can get a table.  We saw the boat arrive and hopped on with 5 or 6 other couples.  We met a nice couple from New York that had been waiting with us on the dock to get a ride on the boat.

As soon as we approached the dock I hopped off the boat and ran up to the little shack.  Yes, literally a shack.  The restaurant is built on stilts on the rocky beach and the kitchen is in a tiny white house up on the hill.  I was first in line and asked if there was any availability.  Zach and I got a table, along with another couple behind us, but that was all the available room they had.  Turns out we even had to share a large table for six with two other couples – and the couple that was already seated at our table had already been there for over an hour waiting for their spot.  The couple from New York we rode out with didn’t even get a spot.  The whole thing was so bizarre.  Nobody came over and took our order for quite a while.  I mean, at least an hour.  But we were happy – munching on the complimentary bread and sipping on sodas.  We got a table right by the water and group after group started showing up for their reservations on the same little boat with the red fish that we came to the beach on.

How they got these reservations is beyond me, honestly.  But they kept showing up.  Soon the place was absolutely packed – not a single seat was empty.  Then our waiter took our order and later brought out our food.  We both got the special – pasta with shrimp and started off with their mozzarella on a lemon leaf.

The pasta was unreal and although the shrimp completely intimidated me, it is one of my favorite pasta dishes I’ve ever tasted.  Then the situation got even weirder.  I heard that the boats stopped coming to the little private beach around 1:00 and take a break for lunch.  Little did we know they don’t come in OR out for three hours.  Zach and I contemplated waiting two more hours at the restaurant and decided we wanted to get back to Positano to spend our afternoon on the beach.  So we called a private water taxi to come and get us to take us back to Positano.  Best 10 euro we’ve ever spent.  One of the couples who shared our tables asked to split our taxi with us – which was even better!

Once we made it back to Positano I wanted to get some custom leather sandals made.

I quickly got sized before walking back up the hill to our apartment.  We changed our clothes, freshened up a bit, and then made our way back down to the shop where my sandals were ready and waiting for me – and they fit like a freaking glove!

Then we went down to the beach and rented some lounge chairs and umbrellas, which was another strange politics thing we didn’t know about.  The main beach of Positano has rows of beach chairs.  You can’t just sit on any chair – you pay for a chair and an umbrella and you pay depending on which row.  Front row is most expensive, then second row, then so on.  We decided we weren’t fancy and that third row would suit us just fine.  You pay at a kiosk at the entrance of the beach and then a lifeguard leads you to the chairs HE wants you to sit at.  I was nice to the lifeguard and asked him about his day – and even though we only paid for third row, he gave us a front row available spot.  He didn’t seem to mind when I hugged him in appreciation.  We stayed there – swimming in the ocean, laying in the sun, looking for sea glass, and taking in the scenery until it was time to back to our apartment to shower for our dinner reservation.

After getting ready to go out for the night we made our way up a windy road to our dinner spot.  Just our luck – the entire restaurant had been rented out for a private party and they couldn’t honor our reservation.  So we decided to head down to the water and eat somewhere with a beach front view.  It was our least favorite meal, but still delicious.  We were laughing about how it was the Olive Garden of Positano.  The only menu we read the entire trip that was entirely in English (this is usually a bad sign, FYI).  People often tease me about my research on food and my reservation quirk.  I hate going somewhere without reservations.  I don’t know why – it’s just a thing I have I guess.  And this experience reaffirmed that I am not a total nut job!  It really does pay to do a little research and find a table that comes highly recommended.  Or else all you get to experience is the Olive Garden of Positano.  But the gelato that night made up for our mediocre meal.  Half hazelnut – half chocolate for the win!

It was our last full day in Positano and we spent the remainder of it buying souvenirs for all the people at home taking care of our Sloan (mostly lemon chocolate and lemon candy) and exploring the city a little more.  We headed back afterwards and did some laundry – one of the biggest perks of our AirBNB was not only location, but that we could do laundry in the privacy of our own kitchen.  Then we packed our bags to go back to Paris.

The car service picked us up bright and early at 6:30 am and drove us back to Naples to catch our flight to Paris.  It was sad leaving our little apartment.  The drive back was dreamy though – through Sorrento and a few other little coastal towns.

We arrived in Paris in time for a late lunch at Les Antiquaires near the D’Orsay.

Then we walked across the river to the Louvre and took our photo – the same photo we have taken ever time we have visited Paris together.

Afterwards we took the metro to a few stores on Champs-Elysse.  We had a dinner reservation but were both still completely full from our intense lunch.  So we wandered around and decided to ditch dinner for one last crepe.  Worth every calorie and I swear this particular crepe guy smeared half the bottle of Nutella on mine.  I wasn’t mad, though.

We got some sodas and walked back to our hotel.  We had an early night and packed our bags for our departure in the morning.

I woke up early for one last run around the city.  I ran over and down the street where Zach and I first stayed on our study abroad together – off of Grenelle.  The hotel has been completely remodeled and renamed, but it was still fun to see it.  I also saw the restaurant we’ve been going to up the street [We actually didn’t dine at it this time, and ironically it’s called Pizza Amalfi.  We knew it wouldn’t live up to real Italian pizza, so we skipped out this trip.] since our first trip to Paris together back in 2007 – 10 years ago!  It was a short run but just what I needed before the long flight home.  It felt nostalgic to me. I have a feeling we won’t be back to Paris for a while.  With the new baby coming I know it’s only going to be more and more difficult to travel with Zach.  So it was bittersweet to see these little landmarks – it will hold me over for a while.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle with only enough time for me to grab some macarons for my family at Laduree to go in my carry-on.  We were one of the last people to board our flight.  Poor Zach’s television monitor in his seat didn’t work the entire flight – so we shared mine and watched an entire season of Suits on our way back home.  We were completely shocked when Delta credited us 5,000 sky miles for the trouble!

This trip was an absolute dream.  I can’t even talk to people about it without tearing up.  It’s so hard leaving Sloan – but worth it for the time I get to spend with Zach.  Even just talking to him, uninterrupted, for 8 days was enough for me.  It was magic and I’ll never be able to repay Zach for the time and effort he put into helping me plan this trip.  Even though this wasn’t number one vacation destination, I think it totally won him over.  And I’m smitten.  Forever.

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