Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Italy: Flight and Hotels

I'm finally back home and ready to blog about our trip. Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast have been on our list for awhile - beautiful coastline, Italian cuisine, and discounted designer handbags are my ultimate vacation trifecta!

When we found out we were going to New York for a wedding this fall, I started poking around on Kayak to see what kind of flight deals I could get from New York to Europe. When I saw that Meridiana Airlines had direct flights from JFK to Naples to $685, I knew I had to jump on it. Not only is $685 an amazing deal, but I had done some research and knew that this flight itinerary would be the easiest, fastest way to get to Sorrento. From Naples, you can take a train, bus, ferry, or taxi to Sorrento - we took a taxi and it was about 75 minutes. Direct flights from anywhere in the US to Naples are extremely rare, so most people fly into Rome, take a one-hour train ride to Naples, and then find another mode of transport to Sorrento. On top of that, there aren't any direct flights from SFO to Rome, making the trip that much longer and more painful! So given that we were going to be New York anyway, we knew we had to make this trip happen.

For those who are finicky about their travels, be warned - Meridiana is a very simple budget airline with old planes. Our flight didn't have personal TVs for each seat and the meals were rather sparse. While this isn't an ideal experience for a 9 hour flight, it was totally worth it to me, as I had plenty of books on my tablet to keep me occupied. I also bring my own food on long flights, as I absolutely cannot stand the smell of airplane food. For me, I just need the flight to be safe and relatively on time - we'd flown them before from Milan to Santorini and the experience had fulfilled both criteria.

I had researched a lot of options for getting from Naples to Sorrento (do you see a pattern here with the obsessive research?). The train, ferry, and bus options didn't work for us because we were getting into Naples airport at 6am and they didn't start running until 9am so I reluctantly started looking into taxi and shuttle options. Luckily, I came across Seahorse Car Service and reserved a door-to-door shuttle for 25 euros per person. They said that the first shuttle wouldn't leave until 7:30am but our driver arrived at 7:10am so it wasn't too bad. We were lucky enough to be the only passengers that morning so we were the only stop! This was definitely a steal, since all the taxis quoted me at least 100 euros per ride (but normally more). I would highly recommend them!

As for hotels, I started looking about 5 weeks before our trip and found out that a lot of hotels were already fully booked. I was pretty horrified to learn that of the hotel rooms that were still available, the average price was $250-300/night. Anything nicer and more comfortable was easily double that price, and a fair number of hotel rooms went for $1,000+/night. I was so discouraged at these prices, I almost started to regret booking the tickets. At this point, I went on Airbnb to see what the options were. Even on Airbnb, a lot of hosts apologetically replied to let me know that they were already booked for my dates. Luckily, we found a newly renovated 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment available in a great location for only $190/night! Let me know if you would like the info - I would happily recommend this apartment and would definitely stay there again if Jeff and I were lucky enough to go back to Sorrento one day.

Bay of Naples, September 2014

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