Paolo Does Europe - Sept. 9

I'm sitting at a nice little restaurant in front of the marina at Capri. My only complaint now is that I'm a little salty after sitting the ocean all day.

I came over from Napoli on a ferry this morning. I first explored the marina (very touristy, duh) and then took a tram further up hill, found a path, and walked to the other side of the island. I found some very nice private beaches associated with hotels. When I was stopped at the entrance of these beaches I told the security dude I was a photographer for a magazine and proceeded without a problem.

Unlike Roma, I've found that very few people have SLR cameras here, so I must look like I work for some publication of record. Anyway, I spent a lovely few hours at a choice beach and felt like a rock star. Wait, I am a rock star! I should say I felt more like a millionaire and felt surrounded by them.

Yesterday I arrived in Napoli and had never felt so accomplished. It's been a long time coming after hearing so many stories from Dad. This place is alive. So many people. It gets a bad rap for thievery. I've felt less safe in New York. Surely with such a dense population, petty theft is regular, but the locales aren't restricted by it, so neither am I!

My first hostel of choice, Hostel of the Sun, was booked, but they referred me to Three Small Rooms, about 10 minutes further from the water. I'm very happy staying there. It's run by Australians, so everyone speaks English. There's free Internet and a cozy common room. What else could I ask for? Free breakfast is included in the $20E, too.

After unwinding there, I explored Napoli. Up and down side streets I walked, dodging locals flying by on Vespas. I admired tributes to the Virgin Mary and Jesus on every corner and constantly looked up to see the rainbow of drying laundry waving on every balcony of every floor on every building.

As the sun was setting I walked to a waterfront park where young couples were sucking face on nearly every park bench. No seating vacancy for miles. Some benches were doubled up with couples. It wasn't just soft, casual kissing. These kids are furious and enthusiastic, like the boys are heading out to war. I seemed to be the only one who noticed, as everyone else just walked by like it happens every evening everyday -- because it does.

I took a seat on a patch of grass to take a break from walking and was approached by a group of beautiful teenage girls. They were very entertained by my attempts at Italian and curious as to where I was going and where I've been on my trip. They invited me to go to a disco with them later in the night, but because I don't have such a grasp of the language to explain American statutory laws, I kept the conversation simple and let them know I was going to sleep early.

As I was winding down at around 9 p.m., the city came to life. Whatever people say about nightlife in New York or L.A. have not seen the streets of Napoli at dusk. Each man, woman and child is out, roaming the streets. Into the horizon, in every direction, people swarmed in masses. The only buzzkill was that there was no place to watch last night's Italy v. France EURO 2008 qualifier. You'd think they'd have that on blast, but no bars or cafes have TVs.

Note to self: Start sports bars in Italy, make millions, return to beach in Capri legitimately.