I'm a big fan of road trips. Cars provide a sense of freedom that a train, plane or ship can't give you. In a car, you are at the helm and control your own destiny. You could travel at your own leisurely pace making stops along the way, or you can quickly move on to your next destination. There is no set time to start or finish when you are at the wheel.
Although I am based in the road trip country of California, I haven't done as many as I would like. Like many trips, I had no plans to go to Amalfi Coast. Let alone, choose to drive the dramatic and winding Mediterranean coast. I've frequented Europe for work and pleasure, but I surprisingly haven't been to Italy. Fortunately, I made a new friend in Europe, but she already done Cinque Terre. Amalfi Coast would be the winner, and I agreed to meet her in Naples at the rental car office near central station to start our 4 day/3 night road trip.
Originally, we planned to stay the night in Naples and make an early start. On Day 1, we would stop in Pompeii first then make our way along the coast. Although my friend offered to book accommodations the rest of the way, I decided it was best to book as we go. With our luck, my friend missed her overnight ferry from Croatia to Naples, so I planned to pick up the rental car and grab her in Salerno in the afternoon.
Sometimes things happen for a reason. From that point, we decided to not book accommodations until the day of. In regards to the Amalfi Coast, the hype is real. The flexibility allowed us to watch spectacular sunrises from our hotel balcony in Conca dei Marini and fiery sunsets from our dinner table in Praiano. Even though we had a few close calls with local vehicles while driving along the narrow, precipitous mountain roads, I sampled the best pasta I've had in my life from the mountain village of Montepertuso. There were no boat trips available, but we accidentally stumbled upon a path leading up to the top of a coastal crag with a panoramic view of Positano. We missed our bus between Positano and our hotel, but we were able to find a number of hidden beaches during our long walk back. Luckily, we were able to hitchhike a ride from an older Italian gentleman who happened to own one of the oldest restaurants in the coast.
Similarly, my career progression wasn't as straightforward as you would think. My start in the games industry at Google began with a casual coffee conversation about professional development with Bob, the business development manager I was working with at the time. Bob paved the way for me to work with him on his team. What I didn't know was that this team was led by Megan Smith and reserved only for longtime Google veterans. Because I took a moment to explore, I was able to create an opportunity to work with the games industry. Like the nice stranger who picked us up in his car along the Amalfi Coast, Bob gave me an opportunity to build Google's brand among the game industry. (Now, he is the new VP of Business at Duolingo.) This was another reminder to be open, gracious and positive to everyone you meet along the way.
Here are a few photos from the road trip. There were so many things we didn't get a chance to do, but they provide the reason to come back. (Seriously, that pasta alone warrants a return trip, and it will be its own post in the near future.)