Italy: Day Six ~ Capri

Day six in Italy! It had already been a magical vacation and we were super excited about what this day would hold… we were going to the island of Capri! One of our friends had visited Capri the year before and her photos were stunning (shout out to Andrea!). There is a cave that is accessible only by boat called the Blue Grotto that was the whole purpose of our visit. I just had to see this place. Just like we had been doing for the entire trip, I took care of transportation and Curtis took care of lodging. We were going to take a high speed ferry from Naples to Capri. Instead of staying in a hotel, Curtis booked us “an entire villa” through AirBnB (more on that later). The host would meet our ferry and take us to the house.

Ferry Time Lapse

We left our hotel in Naples about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, grabbed a taxi to the marina, and dragged all our luggage to the ferry. I had booked our tickets online and was a little nervous but so far, transportation had run smoothly in Italy because I had done my research. The boat was big, the main cabin had seating of two seats on each side with a long row of ten seats in the middle. I had really enjoyed doing a time lapse on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour in Rome and decided to try doing one on the ferry. The journey took about 50 minutes… here it is compressed to 30 seconds. I held the phone against the window (and the window got sprayed continually so it’s a bit dirty).

Ferry Time Lapse

iPhone 6S+

Arriving in Capri

As we approached Capri, I was enchanted. The Mediterranean Sea was the most beautiful teal blue color I had ever seen. The island was mountainous with houses and hotels built into the steep sides of the hills. It was colorful and full of life.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/320 | ISO 100

Once we docked, Curtis got this great shot of the bay. You can see multiple ferries arriving and docked.

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Disembarking

We didn’t know what Genny looked like so when we got off the dock, we stood around for a while not knowing exactly where to go. We waited for a while taking in the sights. It was hot, hazy, and oh so beautiful. The people looked wealthy, and the surroundings so exotic, that we felt a little out of place. Curtis tried calling Genny who said he waiting by the taxi station.

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iPhone 6S+ | 4.2mm | f/2.2 | 1/2300 | ISO 25

Where’s Our Host?

Even after knowing where we were supposed to meet Genny, we couldn’t find him. Up this hill is the taxi station and we were reluctant to walk too far up dragging all of our luggage behind us. I wasn’t frustrated though because Capri was so pretty.

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iPhone 6S+ | 4.2mm | f/2.2 | 1/1500 | ISO 25

While Curtis went to find Genny, I stood and waited. Little did I know that he went all the way up the hill and snuck this shot of me!

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The View From our AirBnB

We finally located Genny and got our luggage crammed into the back of his tiny car. He couldn’t believe we were staying on Capri for just one day and also remarked on how many bags we had several times. The drive took about 10 minutes to get to his house and he talked about living here with his wife and kids. We arrived at the house. Words cannot describe how beautiful our view was. Literally breathtaking. Doesn’t it look like a postcard?

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 100

Advertising versus Reality

So… see that door flanked by two windows? That was our “entire villa.” OMG, it was the smallest room ever. Seriously maybe 120 square feet. The bathroom door was so small that we had to walk sideways to fit. The bed was maybe a queen but I think it was a double. No bueno for big Americans. But it was just for one night. I’m still deciding on whether or not to leave an honest review on AirBnB to warn other naive Americans. Genny and his family lived in the upper section of the dwelling so that was another surprise.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 100

Are We Really Here?

I had to take a video to send to mom right away. I really could not believe just how beautiful Capri was. Genny got us settled and told us that their was a wonderful restaurant just up the hill (walking distance) and the Blue Grotto was just down the hill (also walking distance). Wow. He also said that Capri is home to the best designers and exclusive retail shops in the whole world. We were in Italy for 10 days so we had four suitcases… it wasn’t that bad!

Are We Really Here?

iPhone 6S+

Too Pretty for Words

After we got our bags in the room, we changed into our swimwear and coverups in preparation for our boat tour in a couple of hours. Our plan was to walk up to Da Giorgio Restaurant, then walk down to the Blue Grotto to find our boat tour guide. This is at the top of Genny’s property (which he built himself!). Exquisite.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 100

Best Salad of My Life

We walked up to Da Giorgio Restaurant also known as simply Giorgio’s. The hike was intense! It didn’t look that bad from our room but it was steeper than it looked. The waitstaff was very friendly. The knew Genny and welcomed us to sit on the deck with the best view. There was only one other family dining so we had amazing service. We had bruschetta for an appetizer and it was amazing. I ordered a mixed green salad and was treated to the best salad of my life. Everything is grown fresh on premises. The tomatoes were the sweetest I’d ever tasted. The parmesan was crumbly and dry. The vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper were the perfect complement. Yum!!!!!!!!

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/400 | ISO 400

Best Ravioli of My Life

I then ordered the cheese ravioli for my entree… and OH.EM.GEE. Divine!!! The pasta was cooked perfectly. I think American restaurants way overcook pasta until it becomes mushy or limp. This ravioli was tender but firm, the cheese a mixture of ricotta and parmesan. I had chilled white wine with my meal and I ate every single bite. One of the best meals I’ve ever had.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/400 | ISO 400

Lunchtime View

This was our lunchtime view at Giorgio’s. This paradise nearly brought tears to my eyes. I have never felt so happy, fulfilled, content, and grateful. I raised my wine glass to my wonderful husband and said, “To an amazing 20 years, my Darling. I am so very blessed. Cheers!”

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/500 | ISO 125

Drinks at Il Riccio

After lunch we meandered back down to our room. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the Capri breeze long enough to digest our lunch. Genny said it would take us about 20 minutes to walk down to the Blue Grotto so we gave ourselves about 45 minutes and started down. The walk down was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do since getting my knee replacement 6 years ago (and remember I tore the meniscus in that knee the week before but I didn’t know it yet). It was so steep, some parts there wasn’t a clear trail, and there were no handrails. I made Curtis walk in front of me in case I lost my balance and I literally concentrated on right leg down first, followed by left leg (unless the steps are very shallow, I still cannot go down stairs alternating legs). My quads started yelling at me 10 minutes in… at 30 minutes, my legs were shaking. We finally made it down to the street level then we weren’t sure exactly where to go. The street ends in a cul-de-sac and it did say Blue Grotto but we couldn’t find the entrance. There was a resort there so we went in to the Il Riccio bar to catch our breath. Since we were on vacation (and we were in Italy!), I had another glass of wine and Curtis had another beer. We asked for specific directions and were pointed to yet another treacherous staircase carved out of the island’s stone. When we finally got down to the formal entrance to the Blue Grotto (which still didn’t look official), there was a chain blocking the path down to the water level. The men below had about half a dozen people waiting to get on these tiny canoes and they yelled up to us, “Closed!” We tried hollering back that we were supposed to meet our guide, but they either didn’t hear us or didn’t understand us. We didn’t know what else to do, we didn’t have a phone number for the guide, so we just waited. We were supposed to meet our guide at 4:00 p.m. and it was now 4:20. We waited and waited and waited. Finally they waved at us to come on down, so we carefully stepped over the chain and made our way down. No one down there spoke any English so we kept yelling “Tito” over and over and pointing out to the bigger boats waiting in the bay. One of the speed boat captains stood up and waved. “Tito?” I yelled. Ah, understanding! They put us in a canoe and ferried us over to Tito. Tito helped us on board (none of this was easy for me stepping down into a shallow canoe with my giant camera bag and then up onto a boat in the middle of the sea) and Tito explained that they had just closed the Blue Grotto due to the wind and the sea being too rough. The entrance to the Blue Grotto is tiny and you can only enter the cave in a canoe. The water was now too rough to allow anyone to enter. So the whole reason I wanted to come to Capri was just taken away. I was crushed.

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iPhone 6S+

Island Tour by Boat

As soon as Tito pulled away from the Blue Grotto area, I felt my spirits lift. Curtis and I got our cameras out and climbed up onto the front part of the boat to face toward the water. The sky was bright blue, the water a deeper blue, the temperature around 90 degrees, and there was a nice wind. Our boat tour around the island of Capri began. And it was beautiful!

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 50

Curtis got this shot of me grinning like I was a little kid. You can see the blue and white resort of Il Riccio behind me on the left. My swimsuit coverup allowed a lovely breeze but also left me with round sun-burned holes on my shoulders. LOL.

Nikon D700 | 30mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Tito offered to take a photo of us together, so Curtis handed off his camera to him. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to put it in Auto mode, so we were woefully underexposed but at least we were in focus! Later we would hand Tito my iPhone for photos of us. Poor Curtis ended up shooting the whole vacation on ISO 4000 inadvertently because I was trying to teach him to set the camera in Auto ISO with a max ISO of 4000… but it didn’t quite work.

Nikon D700 | 30mm | f/22 | 1/3200 | ISO 4000

Stone Fortress

All around the island are ruins of ancient stone fortresses.  See it there at the top of the rocks? Wouldn’t you love to know the history that took place there? There is evidence that humans lived on the island as early as the 8th century BC.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 50

Curtis got this gorgeous shot (one of my favorites on the water!) of another boat passing by when we first started out. I love how the sun reflects on the water.

Nikon D700 | 34mm | f/22 | 1/3200 | ISO 4000

Blue Sky Blue Sea

The island look so small in the vastness of the Mediterranean, dwarfed by the big blue sky. In fact, Capri is only 4 square miles in size and is one giant piece of limestone.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 50

Swimming Area and Lighthouse

The swimming area seen on shore (right in the center) is a beach club and restaurant called Lido del Faro which is open to the public. The lighthouse is called the Punta Carena and has been an active lighthouse since it was built in 1867.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 | ISO 50

Curtis got an awesome close-up picture of Lido del Faro and all of the swimmers!

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/3200 | ISO 4000

And he got this beautiful image of the Punta Carena lighthouse too! Makes me slightly wish for a zoom lens.

Nikon D700 | 82mm | f/22 | 1/3200 | ISO 4000

Waves Breaking on Rocks

Tito took us around the curve of rock near the Punta Carena lighthouse. As I looked back, I could see waves breaking on the rocks. I think the water was actually pretty calm!

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 | ISO 50

Immense Scale

Some parts of the island were green and some parts were all rock. This rocky section was so huge, I couldn’t even get it all in the frame.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 | ISO 50

Our boat guide pointed out this heart-shaped opening in the rock. Curtis was able to get a great photo of it.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/3200 | ISO 4000

Sunbathing Toes

Every once in a while, I would put my camera down and just enjoy the experience of being on the boat, feeling the sun and the wind on my face, feeling the gentle rocking of the boat side to side, hearing the waves and the dull growl of the boat’s motor, smelling the sea air, and just taking it all in. I felt such extreme gratitude. So much of our everyday life is so hard and demanding that I don’t often take time to just be in my own skin.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 | ISO 50

We Used All the Cameras

We picked up and put down our cell phones and our big cameras multiple times. Some shots required video, some a quick cell snap, others a longer and more controlled composition with the big cameras. We used everything.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/250 | ISO 50

Inside the Cavern

This was the first of several caverns Tito took us into with his boat. It was pretty cool to see the inside of this cave and hear the echo of Tito’s music get louder as well as hear the waves get louder. I’m so glad I took some video of this. The bright blue-green water at the back of the cavern comes from a hole on the other side allowing sunlight to infiltrate and illuminate the water. It’s the same effect that creates the Blue Grotto.

Inside the Cavern

iPhone 6S+

Up in the Cave

Once we were all the way inside the first cavern, I looked up to see how high the cavity went. It was super high! This is looking straight up the boat’s mast to the cavern ceiling.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4.5 | 1/250 | ISO 1600

Treacherous

Some of the rock formations looked downright dangerous and treacherous! Here you can get a sense of the sheer scale of the island by seeing the boats dwarfed by the huge rock outcrops.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/250 | ISO 50

Where the Parties Happen

We came around a bend and saw this cove full of boats. Look at that sunlight! Oh my photographer heart was so joyful. Curtis got a few more shots than I did here. I was self-conscious about shooting people while they were anchored so I spent time saying hi and waving to folks.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/250 | ISO 50

One of the few times that Curtis got a similar shot as mine… but his is further in the cove than mine was. Well done, baby!

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/3200 | ISO 4000

Curtis zoomed in on one boat where a man had just climbed back on board and was washing off the sea water. I love that you can see the spray from the hose! That boat had a ton of people on board. Well the boat was named Pleasure Island after all…

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/1600 | ISO 4000

Green Grotto

So apparently there is a green grotto called the Grotto Verde on Capri as well as the Blue Grotto. Here we are still far away and you can just make out three people swimming in the opening. That opening actually has a beach on the other side where swimmers can easily reach it. We were on the shadow side of this huge mountainous rock, so that’s why it’s darker.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/2 | 1/160 | ISO 50

The Water is Green

Tito took us right into the cave to see the Grotto Verde. The swimmers backed up a bit so we didn’t see them from this angle. Tito offered to stop here for a while and let us swim if we wanted, but I didn’t feel safe in the water (I’m not a good swimmer and I’m deathly afraid of open water). I told Curtis he should go for it, but he didn’t want to go alone.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/1.8 | 1/80 | ISO 100

More Than a Boat

The next area that we explored was the place for the yachts to anchor. I don’t know if there is some hierarchal design or system to how the boats congregate, but we were in the real money section. This particular yacht was gorgeous.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/250 | ISO 50

We passed right in front of this super yacht and while my mouth was hanging open, Curtis snagged this snazzy photo. WOW.

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/1600 | ISO 4000

Belvedere of Punta Cannone

This beautiful busy section of Capri is called Belvedere of Punta Cannone. It’s a tourist attraction with resorts, hotels, and restaurants. It’s so colorful!

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.5 | 1/250 | ISO 50

Curtis got an amazing close-up of this crazy colorful area!

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/800 | ISO 4000

Tour by Tito

Here is our boat tour guide, Tito. He was charming and chatty though it was hard to hear him from the back of the boat at times. Laid-back with music playing on his little radio, we felt right at home on his boat.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Faraglioni

This arch, called Faraglioni, is so famous and I’ve seen it in many photos, paintings, movies, and other media over the years. A small cruise ship is just peeking its nose around the left side while a small motor boat goes through the arch.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/400 | ISO 50

Curtis also got a great shot of the Faraglioni arch.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/2000 | ISO 4000

Through the Arch

I couldn’t decide whether to shoot still or video as we went through the Faraglioni arch but decided video might be the most dramatic. It’s not great… I was excited and was moving the camera too quickly, but I caught the magnificence of the space.

Through the Arch

iPhone 6S+

Smooching

After we went through the arch and with the sun beaming down on us, Tito offered to take a few photos of us. He told us to kiss for this one. 😉 Curtis loves this photo so much, he wants to print it and put it in his office. <3

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iPhone 6S+ | 4.2mm | f/2.2 | 1/1900 | ISO 25

Say Cheese

Smile for the camera, Holly and Curtis!

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iPhone 6S+ | 4.2mm | f/2.2 | 1/2000 | ISO 25

Tito pointed out a large white villa on the hillside. He said it belonged to a very wealthy family that owned one of the designer stores… but I can’t remember which one. Curtis got this shot of the house.

Nikon D700 | 62mm | f/22 | 1/1600 | ISO 4000

The Coolest Cave

Tito suggested we take video for the excursion into one of the caves. We had to wait a few minutes for another tour boat to take their leave, then we approached. It wasn’t a deep cave, the height and structure of the ceiling was amazing!

The Coolest Cave

iPhone 6S+

Breathtaking

We rounded another curve in the island and were greeted with this glorious view. We started with the sun behind us so I knew our tour was almost over. This truly was breathtaking.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/6.3 | 1/640 | ISO 50

I could see something protruding from the rock and asked Curtis to zoom in and get a picture. Was that a real person?

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/8000 | ISO 4000

Yes it was a real person! Curtis got this zoomed in shot of him… a fisherman cleaning his catch.

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/8000 | ISO 4000

Coming into the Marina

As we came into the marina, I wanted to capture the lively traffic and beauty all around us. I’m so glad I took more video! Sorry I went crooked there at the end. D’oh!

Coming into the Marina

iPhone 6S+

Curtis has a thing for yachts, I discovered. Schwing!

Nikon D700 | 92mm | f/22 | 1/8000 | ISO 4000

After we docked, we wandered back into the lower part of town where we first arrived earlier in the day. Curtis stopped for a long time taking pictures but I wasn’t paying attention to what he was shooting. Look at this photo! Doesn’t it look like a painting???

Nikon D700 | 105mm | f/22 | 1/400 | ISO 4000

He then pulled back and got a shot with more of the surroundings. I love the people sitting on the wall there. The colors and reflections are stunning.

Nikon D700 | 66mm | f/16 | 1/800 | ISO 4000

Farmacia

After walking up and down the mountain earlier, I was so tired. I knew we would need to catch a taxi back to our “villa” but we didn’t have enough cash so Curtis found an ATM (do you see my honey?). While he was getting money out, this woman left the pharmacy and waved to her friend.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4.5 | 1/500 | ISO 400

Super Crowded

I think a lot of people were getting ready to leave Capri (Genny told us that though the island, the size of New York’s Central Park, had about 12,000 annual residents, nearly 20,000 tourists visited Capri every day) so the tourist area was super crowded. I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/400 | ISO 400

Curtis got this great shot of a little local market.

Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/22 | 1/400 | ISO 4000

Ferry Pickup

Just as I suspected, a ferry was getting ready to depart. Many tourists were leaving on this boat. We sat down at Caffè Augusto for a light snack and a drink and we people watched.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/9 | 1/640 | ISO 400

While sitting and enjoying a nice chilled glass of white wine, Curtis spotted this woman in the hat in the crowd. He tried to be surreptitious about taking her photo, but she totally caught him!

Nikon D700 | 70mm | f/22 | 1/400 | ISO 4000

Look at this incredible picture my sweetie got! Love love love the light and composition here, darling!

Nikon D700 | 120mm | f/22 | 1/1250 | ISO 4000

Harrowing Taxi Ride

We were done… tired, sweaty, sun-soaked, and hungry. We got a taxi and told the driver to take us to Giorgio’s since we could easily walk to our room from there. The streets of Capri are tiny and I mean tiny tiny tiny. Barely one car fits and sometimes, you have to back up to allow a bus to pass. Here is some video of part of taxi ride back up to the restaurant.

Harrowing Taxi Ride

iPhone 6S+

Tiny Little Road

This was as close as our taxi driver could get us. Believe it or not, this road was so small, his car wouldn’t fit on it, so we had to walk the rest of the way. This is maybe five feet wide.

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Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.2 | 1/250 | ISO 400

Peeking into a Private Garden

As we walked on this tiny road to get to Giorgio’s, I saw this house through a gate. The light was so pretty and the garden so inviting, that I snuck a picture. Every home had blooming flowers and bushes, lush greenery, and gorgeous views.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.2 | 1/250 | ISO 400

Spectacular Sunset

We made it to Giorgio’s, then walked down to our room. This view was awaiting us. Wow. Genny had recommended a restaurant that would deliver so Curtis called them and they said it would be like three hours! So we said forget it, walked back up to Giorgio’s, and asked if we could take our dinner order back to our “villa” at Genny’s. They were caught off guard. No one had ever ordered take-out before! They graciously prepared our dinner on china, wrapped it with foil, and sent us with real silverware, a full salt and pepper shaker, and vinegar and oil! Now that’s service! Curtis told them he would bring all of the dishes back up in the morning (which he did). I got the same salad and ordered spaghetti… it was just as good as the ravioli. We ate our dinner watching the sunset over the Mediterranean. It doesn’t get better than this.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 100

Curtis Captures the Sunset

I got this shot of Curtis shooting the sunset too. Since I had already processed this in color, I thought black and white might be a nice contrast.

Italy travel street photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 100

And here is Curtis’s shot from his phone of our beautiful sunset. We ate, drank a bottle or two of wine, stayed up late and got in the hot tub, then discovered there were other guests on the level just below us. Huh. So much for privacy! We collapsed in bed and conked out hard. What a great day.

Samsung Galaxy 6

Thanks for looking! Next week I’ll be sharing what we decided to do spur of the moment. We had no plans for Monday through Thursday and didn’t have any hotels booked. What ever would we do next???

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