Be careful when booking a hotel in Naples, Italy. Specifically, one near Garibaldi Train Station.
After five days in Rome, I took a Saturday morning train (the slow, 4-hour train) to Naples where I would spend a couple days knockin’ about until I arrived at my WWOOF destination in Ischia, which is an island twenty miles away.
In 2009, I stayed at Hostel Bella Capri near the port, and had an excellent time. However, on this particular day, I couldn’t book a room online. One of the cheapest options available was Hotel Viola, which was a short walk from the train station. The area is a bit sketchy, but I wasn’t worried as I only needed a place to sleep. So I made a reservation, packed up my bags and returned to ol’ Napoli.
I arrived in the early afternoon carrying my backpack, day bag and computer case. Once I found the Hotel Viola, the man at the front desk gave me a blank look after I told him about my reservation.
“No, I DID make a reservation this morning.”
I didn’t print out my reservation.
“I paid a down payment for a reservation this morning.”
“No..no. Niente. Mi Dispiace.”
It was important to realize where I was. I couldn’t start an argument at a run-down hotel in Naples, Italy. I thanked the gentleman and walked away. Bella Capri. I could get a room at Bella Capri, right? There must be a bed that I can sleep on for a day or two. One would think that, anyways, and not expect to hear “All of Naples is booked.” More on that later.
So, I took off through the filthy streets of Naples, and began sweating immediately. It was a slow sweat; it was an all-out aggressive drip-sweat that soaked my clothing enough for people not just stare, but laugh. Aggressive drip-sweat. Perhaps I miscalculated the distance a tiny bit, and ended up taking the long way down the port since I didn’t want to get lost. The best part of traveling is getting lost…just not in Naples with a massive backpack.
By the time I reached the port I was struggling, and only about halfway to Bella Capri. Over the course of the next month, I would become a great Naples mind and navigate the streets with skill, however on this day I was the anti-Magellan.
It’s a strange feeling to be mentally stressed and physically tired, but looking out at the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. I sat down to have a smoke, and searched my bags. Where was my passport? I usually kept it in my small backpack, and it was gone. I left it at Hotel Viola? Panic. I had to go back, and was confident the man at the front desk would not know anything about my missing identification.
For a moment I thought my WWOOF experience might be over before it even began, but I reached in my back pocket and found my wallet. It was one of those small joys in life where you feel like you can do anything. I looked up at Vesuvius, and continued on along the port where my family left for the United States 107 years before.
Little did I know that I could end up sleeping on the streets of Naples that night.
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