It hadn’t rained a single day – not in London, Paris, Florence, or Rome – but of course, on our last morning before flying home, on the day we would be spending in the sea, the Italian sky was filled with thick clouds emitting a soft drizzle. We descended the steep steps from the city to the coast, approaching the ferry, nearly running to keep up with our sure-footed tour guide. A small, precise Frenchman, his travel advice and attention to detail were a boon to our tour group. I hurried after him and pulled my frizzy hair into a bun to keep the wet strands off my shoulders.
Our group peered out over the rhythmic sea. In the soft light of rain and early morning, the greens and reds of the foliage surrounding the dock looked brighter than ever, not having to compete with overpowering rays of sunlight. We boarded the ferry and I followed my friend, Grace, up the steps to the top floor. This was a new experience for me. I was nervous, as I wasn’t in the mood to nurse a seasick stomach, but luckily, even in the angry waters that morning, my strong gut held out.
We stepped off the boat onto a crowded dock slick with sea salt. The cliffs of Capri stretched upwards in front of us, dotted with white buildings and pale seagulls. Immediately, our tour guide took off at an intense speed, weaving in and out of throngs of people along the dock. Our group trailed behind him as quickly as our soggy feet could carry us, and he led us into a much smaller boat. The walkway bridging the gap from the dock to the boat lurched back and forth in sync with the waves. We filed onto benches underneath an awning as the small dinghy ventured into the water.
The cold and wet had sunken into my bones, so I borrowed a jacket from Grace. Our guide, her accent thick with Italian heritage, spoke to us about the history of the civilizations that used to inhabit the islands. Her voice was barely perceptible, only a small hum, even as she yelled over the wind. I anticipated an uneventful and uncomfortable voyage of the cliffs. Curiously, I ventured farther out across the deck under the white sky and raindrops.
The multicolored island of Capri and deep blue sea were sights foreign to me; I was used to the seaside resorts and pale brown-green of Atlantic beaches along the American coast. The sea put to shame every other place we had visited on our trip – London, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Pompeii. Gazing out over the Mediterranean, my low expectations melted away and I felt thrilled and peaceful at the same time, experiencing the feral personality of the ocean. I adore spending time in nature, as any green scenery has a calming effect on my mood, but never had I had the same experience with water until that moment. I’d seen images of vacation spots such as this one, but I never believed that water could be so blue, and assumed that the images had been doctored beyond reality. I was wrong – the perfect jewel-like teal of the water was even more vibrant than pictures in travel catalogs. I was entranced by the vast space of the sea’s horizon in contrast with the city of Capri. The claustrophobic alleyways, pristine white buildings, and luxurious gardens held their own charm, but the incessantly rolling waves present over every cliffside preached freedom and escape. The mysterious water was where the real action was.
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