Walking the Amalfi Coast

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

There were so many highlights, but for me, the most dramatic, climactic one was climbing Mount Vesuvius, a volcano that is still considered active. Climbing inside the rim of the crater, you can see Pompeii from a dizzying height and even feel the steam that wisps from the cracks in the rock. It was like drinking from a heady elixir that produced fear, exhilaration and a sense of accomplishment, all at once. My heart was still in my throat as I descended back down the volcano, but I could not have felt more alive. A once in a lifetime moment.

What did you think of your group leader?

Paul McDermott was our leader and he is phenomenal. Although he is inherently modest, you could tell that his 35 or so years of experience in the army had trained him to be the type of leader who naturally elicits trust and confidence from his team. As I was a "city slicker" who had never been on a hiking tour like this, I was anxious about how I would do, but I felt safe in Paul's hands - he was so clearly a master of the terrain. It was also evident that Paul must have diligently been doing work behind the scenes to make our tour run smoothly and seamlessly, but he did it with such quiet aplomb and grace that he never made it seem like work; and he added thoughtful touches to help make the tour special, like carrying bottles of wine in his backpack while hiking for several hours, without telling us, just so that we could lazily savor a drink in the sunny piazza during our lunch break on the last day of the tour. It was nice hearing about the Amalfi Coast's history and culture from Paul's perspective, as he is a worldly traveler who has a natural affinity for soaking up the local culture. Most importantly though, Paul was always engaged with the group, and was deeply, sometimes it even seemed telepathically, attuned to the needs of the group as a whole as well as the unique personalities of each individual. By the end of tour, I thought of him not only as our guide but our friend.

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Be aware that if you go during off-peak season, like in November, as I did, there will be certain things that will be closed and activities that might not be available. For example, I believe during the summer months, you are able to take a boat ride, which is supposed to be lovely. Also, when we ended up in some of the resort towns, some of the sights / shops were closed. Personally, however, this was not an issue for me at - I appreciated that we were able to see the Amalfi Coast in a way that not everybody gets to see, and it felt more intimate and authentic. You should also come prepared for the weather at the time you go. I packed varying layers of fleeces and rain-proof gear, which came in handy. At certain points of the hike, I wore short-sleeved T-shirts and sweated through my gear. When we went to Pompeii, it was freezing in the morning, and that was the one day that I had left my extra fleece in the hotel. Best to pack everything in your backpack just in case.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Book this trip!! It is worth every minute and every penny.