Over the 2 years I’ve spent tour guiding, I have been to the Amalfi Coast about 40 times. This number might seem like a lot, but somehow it is always, ALWAYS in Amalfi that I have my most stressful trips ever. Maybe it’s the hot weather that scrambles the brains of everyone visiting, but people tend to say and do the stupidest shit EVER when they’re in Amalfi. This is why, despite the lack of sleep and stress of moving hundreds of people throughout 3 different cities in 4 days, I love love LOVE going to the Amalfi Coast.
Case in point. My weekend started out tranquil enough–although we had 105 passengers on our trip, I was getting to travel with my good friend Alex, who is both smart and sweet and also crazy enough to deal with 105 twentysomethings like me. We set off for the trip on 2 separate buses, along with 2 eager interns, and that’s when the trouble started.
After I gave my usual spiel about all the fun things we were about to do for the weekend, I sent K down the aisle to pass out activities sheets and began collecting money. Now, I got the standard questions that come with the territory–how long was the boat tour in Capri, when are we getting there, am i allergic to seafood, etc.–when a tall, scrawny young man with dark hair and a basketball jersey asked me the following:
“Uh, yeah, hey there. I just wanna make sure that there’s gonna be a TV in my room cause I really need to watch the basketball game tonight.”
Right. Okay, you want to watch basketball. Well, I can’t necessarily guarantee that they will be showing any basketball on TV at 3 AM when we arrive.
“No no no, they’ll definitely be showing it. It’s Game 7 of the series, it’s televised nationally.”
Right. Nationally. As in, televised in YOUR nation, America, but right now we’re heading to the south of Italy.
“What the fuck. This is bullshit. The only reason I came on this tour is because I thought there would be a TV in the room so I could watch the game.”
Well, I’m sorry that your priority is TELEVISION and not traveling to one of the most beautiful places on earth. That must suck.
“Yeah, whatever. This is all just a fucking scam. You’re basically taking us there and forcing us to pay for shit like these activities.”
Actually, no one is forcing you to do anything. You can come along on this trip, participate (and pay for) whatever you’d like to, or you can take the train back to Florence when we arrive. Douche.
Sidenote: I didn’t ACTUALLY call this kid a douche. Although let’s be honest, he kind of deserved it.
After Mouthy McGee quieted down, we settled in for one more movie and a quick snooze before arriving at our destination around 3 AM. Once I got everyone checked in to their rooms, I dragged my sorry butt upstairs and flopped down onto my bed, too tired to move. Only to be woken up not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES by students who wanted to know how to get the wi-fi in the hotel.
Because it’s too hard to just go down to the front desk and ask yourself, right? RIGHT?!
Anyway, after a brief nap, a new day had dawned and we headed over to the island of Capri for the day with the whole group. Everything was going great, the boat tour was fantastic and everybody loved jumping into the Blue Grotto. Once we got ourselves set up at Marina Piccola, I settled in for another quick snoozefest when I hear my intern, K, frantically call my name.
I look up to see one of the students (we’ll call him Blue, since that was the color of his inappropriately short swim trunks) holding his arm and moaning in a horrific, dying cat kind of way. I jump up and sprint over to them, only to see that Blue has basically been raped by a jellyfish, and his shoulder is scored with vicious red lines that are starting to swell almost instantaneously.
Luckily, the owner of the restaurant that we always eat at was on hand to help with the situation, which included soaking the sting in white vinegar, scraping it with a credit card, and keeping Blue from passing out or cursing loudly at everyone and everything in his path. I swear, I wish I had gotten a picture of this kid’s shoulder because this thing was epic.
So after the attack of the murderous jellyfish, we decided to wrap it up on the beach and head back to the ferry port. Thankfully everybody turned up on time, and we got all 105 students on the ferry and back to their hotels without a hitch. After eating dinner, we all hopped back on the bus for a 20 minute shuttle ride to downtown Sorrento, and headed off to the English Inn, our usual hotspot for the night.
Now organizing shuttle services when you’re not staying directly in Sorrento can be a bit challenging at the best of times. You’re basically trying to get 30 drunk babies on and off the bus safely, while making sure that nobody pukes/passes out/misses the bus shuttle. So I was extra glad to have the assistance of K during the night to help make sure that we got everyone there safely and back again. Only as per usual, something went wrong and at our 2am meeting time, we discovered we were missing 3 girls who had originally come with us.
I may be the worst tour guide in the universe, but I’ll tell you one thing: I have never, NEVER left a customer behind. So after an hour of scouring the streets, talking to their friends, and calling relentlessly, I had to concede my 2 year winning streak and set off towards our hotel without them. I had a pit of worry in my stomach the entire ride home, imagining all of the horrible possibilities that could have befallen them, and worrying about whether or not I should call my boss if they hadn’t turned up in the morning.
As I was lying in the dark on my hotel bed, going over the various possibilities in my head, my phone rang. I immediately jumped up and fumbled for it in the dark, answering it as quickly as humanely possible.
A girl on the other end said hesitantly,” Um, is this the guide for our group?”
“Yes, are you part of the group that didn’t get back on the shuttle with us?”
“Well, no. I’m calling because (insert idiot scrawny kid with a big fat mouth’s name here) is locked inside the bus. Apparently he passed out in the way back, and nobody woke him up.”
Jesus. H. Christ. This asshole, who had been mouthing off all weekend, had now gotten himself so unliked that even the other students, rather than waking him up, had LEFT HIM ON THE BUS BY HIMSELF.
At this point, I just started laughing. And continued for about ten minutes after i hung up the phone to go get him. Even though it was nearing 4 am, it was totally worth the lack of sleep just to see the look on this kid’s face as he came back to the hotel with our bus driver, who I had to pay just to let this kid in the taxi with him.
And that, folks, is why it always pays to be nice instead of an asshole.
I came across your blog through Girl in Florence, I love your stories! It sounds like there are very interesting times to be had as a tour guide..
ho-ly shit. I just came across your blog and I’m so happy I did! Hilarious stories. I’d like your life. I studied in Florence in 2010 and am dying to get back.
Hi ! I enjoyed reading your post, but what ever happened to the girls that never showed up?
Oh, they sauntered back into the hotel just around the same time as I was on the phone with the kid who woke up locked in the bus. Thank the universe for small blessings!