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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Seoul, Korea – Week 1

1 Oct 2012

Flying United

You would think by now I would be an expert at packing. But add in some dive gear and I am lost… Trying to fit in my fins turned out too much work.

The most important aspect to my packing was my faithful friend, who traveled all year with me in 2011 and never once demanded a mention. Well here he is my faithful African Wild Dog:

The shuttle picked me up at 3.45am for my 6am flight. I wonder why I do flights at these ungodly hour, literally before the butt crack of dawn.

My fabulous, amazing parents allowed me to use air miles to get a flight to Seoul on United Air. I have flown United many times and usually they are ok, not brilliant but ok. Well this flight lived up to all the expectations… of other people who say United is shite! The flight attendants looked miserable and never smiled, only offering water once during a 6hr section of the trip. They even refused to help anyone with their bags. So much for it being a customer service based industry. The lunch they served was almost inedible, it tasted like they had warmed the salad up with the “chicken” dish. They had also run out of choices by the time they got to me and the back half of the plane, and of course the only choice they had was the one I didn’t want.

The entertainment was still the old way with the TV in the center of the aisle every few rows, and about 25 people didn’t have any sound… it was a 12 hr flight! But it felt like longer.

Luckily the passengers were super nice in my area, some of them helped me get my bag up into the overhead as the attendant just glared at us. As I got to my seat, I realised there was a couple behind me with a 8mth old little one, named Hudson. My first thought was “blooming hell, 12 hrs with a screaming child”. But then the mom handed out little pieces of paper attached to ear plugs introducing little Hudson and apologizing for nay crying. You can’t be angry when the parents are considerate.

My seatmate was flying her first international flight and was super nervous. She tried to upgrade, even to first, but they refused to let her since she had already boarded, once again United steps up to the plate. She had booked a window seat and been assured she would get one but instead she had the 2nd seat in from the aisle in the 4 seat section. I had the aisle, and I would have switched but I couldn’t do a 12 hr flight in an inside seat.

She was on her way to visit her husband for their anniversary, he is a soldier at the Yongsan Army base in Seoul. We chatted a lot and I helped her through immigration and customs.

Old Friends

As we came through the doors I saw Jamie, I had not seen her in almost 8yrs. We met on a Korea Tourism trip and had stayed in contact ever since. When I told her I was planning to go to Thailand she said I should visit her in Seoul as she would be returning there to do 2yrs at an international school. Sounded like a plan to me and it meant that I could try meet up with Korean friends and hopefully my taekwondo masters.

It was fantastic seeing Jamie and chatting about everything, both good and bad that had happened in the last few months. The shuttle bus took almost an hour to get to her place and then we hopped in a taxi to go the last 10min rather than lugging my bags… I was already sleep walking as it was. After a shower I felt much better and then we headed out for my first meal of Sam Geup Sal (Korean BBQ with thick bacon like pork), my favorite.

Visa Run

Wednesday turned out to be a public holiday so we couldn’t go to Itaewon (the Foreigner area) till Thursday. We spent Wednesday meeting a friend of Jamie’s to help her with an application essay. I was really jetlagged and tired, but after some Donkas (fried pork cutlet) I felt much better. We also went for coffee and a delicious brownie. I ordered an iced coffee and had to pay 200won for the ice, how funny is that!

Then we walked around Namdaemun market (South Gate Market). One of my favorite places from when I lived here. I was still able to find my way around even after 8yrs…

Thursday morning we got up early to find the Thai Embassy in Itaewon. If Jamie had not been with me I would have been lost for sure!! To find the Thai Embassy you go out exit 3 and walk straight until you see, what I termed, the lego building on your left, then turn right and go downhill till you find the embassy on your right.

I went to pull my number noting about 20 people in front of me. As I pulled number 4 the dinnger dinged and showed 4, well that was quick. Less than 5min later we were out the door and I could pick up the visa in the morning. Turned out I couldn’t get the 90 day visa, as I hoped, as the letter from Lotus Divers was not an original.. dangit. But I have a 60day visa and can do a visa run to the immigration office near where I will be staying.

Time for breakfast at a place called Gecko’s, Jamie, being a veggie, ate all the non meat, I cleaned up the rest. Then a treat for ourselves, a pedicure. Bit more expensive than I would have liked but it was fun. Of course in the subway on the way home a lody rushing for the door stood on my foot and took off half the paint on my left big toe. Dammit!!!!

Meeting Masters

Jamie headed home but I went to meet my 1st Taekwondo Instructor, Master Kim Eun Cheol. I hadn’t seen him in over 8yrs. He had sent me text saying I must go to Jamwon and exit 4. Finding his school again was going to be a miracle, but then again if I can find a curio shop in the middle of Namdaemun market, there was hope. Low and behold I found it. I just walked straight then a left and then there was something about the door across the road that looked right, 3 floors up and woohoo, there was Sindong Taekwondo.

Now, since I had 2 masters during my 3yr stint in Korea, it became easier to describe them as Number 1 and Number 2 when talking to my mom. So for future reference that is how I will write them here.

Number 1 was out of the office when I got there but his assistants, who spoke no English, looked like an honored guest had arrived and scurried around finding me coffee and getting me a chair, it was kind of cute. They called number 1 and he said he was bringing the van and to bring me downstairs. There was much bowing and smiling when they took me to meet him.

I got in the van and it was like we had just seen each other last week. He took me to lunch at a place famous for its beef soup and kimchi, delicious. He showed me pics of his 2 kids and caught me up on all the other masters I had known. He called number 2 who nearly had a heart attack when he tried to give me the phone, as he was terrified of speaking English to me. It was all rather bemusing.

Back at his gym we chatted more and he told me about his second gym he had opened. We planned to get everyone together and meet at the restaurant of one of the masters, Maximus had opened a korean BBQ place and also had a gym. I looked forward to seeing all of them, but wasn’t holding my breath as we all know how busy Koreans can get.

Back at “home” I made Jamie some Pasta Italiano, thanks again to vet Nicola from Italy who taught me the recipe in the jungle of Ecuador. It has been a favorite of all my vegetarian friends.

Visa in my Hot Little Hands

Friday I got an early start and left a note for Jamie. Got to Itaewon and went straight to the embassy. This time I had to wait a whole 2min before it was my turn. What a pretty visa it is, 60days sorted need to make a visa run to Koh Samui at some point to get a 30 day extension.

Then went back to the nail place to have my pedicure fixed, no problem and no charge. The fascinating thing was, that when she switched on the dryer for my toes, there was air blowing. Yesterday there hadn’t been any and I just assumed it was one of those ultra violet type ones… no wonder the pedicure didn’t dry properly.

The Insanity of Myeongdong

Jamie is a bit different to me on the shopping scale. In other words she got the shopping in stores and malls gene while I didn’t, much preferring the open market crowds vs the mall type crowds. She needed to get a few things for winter and so we planned to meet at Myeongdong. I think I have been to this area once, and now I remember why. It was blaring music and signs and lights and people…

Since she was running a little late I went to find a coffee shop, which turned out to be harder than expected. Eventually desperate to get off the insane street I picked a place and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, a lemon tea for 5500 won ($5.50). It tasted like hot lemon crystal light with a piece of lemon in it and it looked a rather luminous yellow color. But it was out of the noise and street so I guess that’s what you pay for.

Did You Say Cat Cafe???

Jamie, still recovering from being sick, arrived and looked pretty miserable and sick, but we decided to give shopping a try. As we walked towards H&M I saw a sign for a Cat Cafe… I insisted we go look, Jamie thought it was just some stupid name, but I was certain it was like the ones in Japan I had heard of, where you have a coffee and can sit with a bunch of cats.

It was heaven and the cats were fantastic. Only photos can do it justice:

This little bugger is in time out for peeing on a customers bags and escaping.


Our favorite Juno, who gave Jamie some much needed kitty therapy

After some much needed cat therapy Jamie looked much better and was able to shop all afternoon. Can’t say that I faired very well, but then when we figured out the girls outside the beauty shops were enticing us with free face masks and such I was much better. You don’t have to buy you just have to look. Sounds good to me and I get free stuff… I really have no shame in that department, Jamie felt bad though and bought something in almost every shop.

Stir Fry and a Korean Movie about a Tsunami that wipes out Busan (city in the south).

1 week down another to go. So many things to see and do and friends to meet up with…

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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A Weekend at Crater Lake, Oregon

The weekend I found out my fiance was a lying … insert expletive here… I had friends coming from California on their way to Washington. We had planned to go camping at Crater Lake. Thank heavens for them as I don’t think I would have made it through that weekend without those 2 girlfriends.

On Our Way


Falls Along the Way


Stunning Countryside to Drive Through


Snow in Mid June

For the uninformed, Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful locations in all of Oregon, and a must see for anyone:
Crater Lake is a caldera lake located in the south-central region of the U.S. state of Oregon. It is the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot (655 m) deep caldera[1] that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago[2] by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years.
It is located in Klamath County, approximately 60 miles (97 km) northwest of the county seat of Klamath Falls, and about 80 miles (130 km) northeast of the city of Medford.[9]
Thanks to Wikipedia


The Beauty of the Lake Makes One Contemplative


Easy to See Why it is One of my Favorite Places

Camping At Diamond Lake

One of the best spots to camp while visiting Crater Lake is Diamond Lake, about a 20min drive away and almost as stunning. Just watch out for those giant, man eating mosquitoes, they are brutal.

Diamond Lake


Alex was a Little Obsessive Compulsive with Sorting the Wood Piles


Our Friendly Live In


A Watched Cooking Fire…..


Campfire Popcorn, I Buy it just to Watch it!


Diamond Lake at Sunset

Saving a Life

On our last day we decided to drive round the rim of the crater to where the snow line would cut us off. We very nearly had decided to head back but a last minute decision ended up being an important one.

As we came around a blind corner we saw bicycle lying along the middle line and someone on their side lying across our lane. I stopped the car and for what seemed an eternity just stared… Then the adrenalin started pumping and all those first aid, advanced wilderness first aid, CPR and such classes came rushing back.

While I checked on the injured woman, about 60yrs old, Alex called 911 and her sister slowed traffic. The woman was unconscious and unresponsive, she was bleeding from her nose and mouth and I could hear it gurgling, so I dared not turn her on her back, afraid she may aspirate the blood into her lungs.

As I was doing my preliminary sweep of injuries another woman came running up to help. Just then our patient became semi conscious and tried to move, it took both of us to keep her from moving. Eventually we had no choice as she was in pain and, controlling her head because of possible neck/spine injury, we let her roll onto her back. She was verbally responsive (V on the AVPU scale) but still had no idea who or where or what. A few others came to help, some holding a blanket to block the sun, some giving a pillow in case she needed it for her head, another bringing the car medical kit so I could treat some of the more superficial wounds. Often a person will freak out at the superficial and it makes it difficult to asses the more serious ones. I cleaned and bandaged some abbrasions on her knees and some more serious ones on her fingertips of her right hand.

Just then a van pulled up and we realised it was her husband. He came running over and we were able to ascertain more information. I asked permission to check for bleeding or blood pooling under her short and they said yes. I didn’t see any visible signs but she seemed to be in a lot of pain on her left side.

Right then the first EMT arrived, he looked like he was barely out of EMT school… you almost wanted to pinch his cheek. I gave him the run down and he looked at me hopefully saying “are you an EMT?”. I explained that I had first aid training. Explaining that I didn’t want to move her because I was worried about spinal injury and didn’t have a neck brace, he excitedly pulled one out and gave it to me. I hate these things as there are so many different kinds and none of them ever seem to be the one we train on. But we got it on and I moved to control her head for the rest of the time. The EMT, still looking a little lost, took my que to take her blood pressure and check her vitals.

Just then MR. EMT arrived. You could tell this guy had been in the emergency services all his life, with his strong physique and chiseled jaw, I almost expected him to strike a pose and have a cape flying behind him. Both the baby EMT and I gave him a run down of events. He came over to me and asked if I was an EMT… maybe there is a thought there… I said no but had first aid training. He asked if I was comfortable holding her head for the remainder and I said yes.

From the time we found her to the time she was taken away in the ambulance it was almost an hour. It felt strangely exhilarating to be involved and to be the first responder there to help. I always wondered if my training would ever come in handy.

We were all pumped up leaving Crater Lake and stopped at a diner so I could get a soda as I suddenly felt very parched. It proved to me that no matter what I had gone through or would go through with my now ex… I was way stronger than that!

2 weeks later the lady and her husband called, she still had no memory of the event but wanted to thank me. Her injuries included:
A fractured left orbital
2 fractured vertebrae in the neck
1 fractured vertebrae mid back
left fractured collar bone

I was glad we were there to help!

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Roman Reunion

Train Back To Rome

Got the train back to Rome and nearly died of heat. There was no airflow in the car what so ever and it felt like it was over 100F. I had this little old Italian Lady next to me, and when she first sat down I greeted her in Italian, which then launched her into a discussion of life, all in Italian. I nodded and smiled and strangely enough we understood each other in a lot of parts. Just all very bemusing.

Finally making it back to my stop, I took the subway home to Kate’s and napped. Then had dinner with Kate and her friends who had come from the Ukraine (I think). Her crazy roommate, who liked to wear an afro wig to pick up girls, tried to join the party. I was all rather amusing for us to watch.

We went to a little place that was famous for it’s seafood. It looked amazing but I was so exhausted that even the pasta I ordered I just couldn’t finish.

It was a great evening but I fell asleep fairly quickly when we got back to the apartment.

Roman Reunion

I had made contact with Kristin, who I had met in Naples, and turned out she was in Rome, so we planned to meet up. It was a great day and we just walked around and explored a section of Rome I hadn’t seen.

View from up on the hill


Hieroglyphs on Egyptian Obelisk in Roman Square


Kristin and I


Back Streets With Art Markets


Even the Dogs Love the Fountains

We went to go meet Kate and her friends near a huge piazzo with 2 fountains (this got us confused) and flea markets everywhere.


Another Pup taking advantage of the fountain

We finally figured out which fountain we were at and explored the area a bit. The markets were fantastic and I was very tempted to buy a few things, but with no space i opted for just a tshirt.

Guy making insane figures out of carrots!


Music was everywhere


Me taking advantage of the water fountains that are everywhere

Unfortunately Kristin had to head back to the hostel to pack as she was leaving early in the morning as well. I hung out with Kate and her friends a little longer and explored the Panthenon with them. Roman architecture back then was truly spectacular.



Finally it was time to go home and “sleep”. I had to get up at 3am, but with a full house, all staying in the same room, I couldn’t ask them to keep it down. So maybe got a few hours sleep, if I was lucky. But all too soon it was over. I was flying home to the states to see where the future would take me.


I Sure Will Miss The Fountains Of Italy

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Italy, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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MSC Cruise

Just a Side Note: As most of you know the reason I came to Italy was to join my boyfriend on the cruise ship he worked on. He paid and we had a great time and even got engaged. A few months later I was contacted by, what I discovered, was ONE of his girlfriends. I considered leaving this post out completely, but I did have a good time and met some great people, so am going to use mostly photos for this entry… I hope you all understand

Finally The Day Arrived

I was so nervous and excited when I woke up and wanted to make sure I got the good shower of the 3 in the hostel. One guy was ahead of me, but he took one look at the bathroom (apparently the location for the previous evenings’ rather intense amorous encounter between 2 fellow travelers, turned to me and said “Screw that, its all yours”.

Perhaps its the years of staying in hostels, or the time I spent managing one and having to clean up things way worse than this. Either way, I went in, used the mop to shift a rather undesirable item into the corner, hosed the already soaked place down and had a shower. Got dressed and went to say goodbye to my 2 friends… who were both naked in her bed totally oblivious to the roommates getting ready for breakfast. It was all rather amusing actually.

Soon it was time to head over to the ship that was literally berthed across the street from the hostel. The MSC Orchestra was HUGE!!

The ship reminded me of the Love Boat in it’s decor, it was so cheesy and almost tacky in some areas. But very cruise ship like.

I had been given a table for 2, in case he got time off to join me which he never did. Of course this meant for a lot of the dinners I was alone, the food was good for the most part, the service a bit slow but the staff fantastic.

I only went to a few of the entertainment shows in the theater, preferring instead to do the dance classes in one of the bars.

Luckily there was great perk to having a boyfriend who was a bartender, he had made sure all the bartenders knew I was coming and to give me free drinks or charge him.


When I met some fellow American’s they also gave them a free drink


I met some great staff, and made some good friends.

Priscilla from Brazil in Entertainment

Ivan from Ukraine, bartender

The American Students

The housekeeping staff were phenomenal, although it was a little weird to find my nighty laid out every night.

I got to try my hand at the slots for the first time since I was 21.

The buffet room had some very strange, and downright sinister decorations.

Over the Salad Bar

Over the American Hotdog and Hamburger section

Over some kind of food

I went ashore twice, once with the Americans in Valencia, to the beach Playa Del Salar.

And once on an actual ship excursion to Tunisia, with and paid for by the now fiance. It was a remarkable place to spend a few hours, but the markets were the most intense, in your face, I have ever been to.

At Port

Part of the welcoming committee

Most of the houses were white with blue doors and windows, very beautiful

Stunning Mosaics



Ancient City of Carthas

Cute Kittens

Essential Oil Perfumes

There were carpets of tremendous beauty and skill, he even bought a small one for my parents


The insanity of the markets in the Medina

On the last night there was the Magnificent Buffet… and so much food!




Slightly Inappropriate, but funny

So Much Food

I saw some incredible views.

And no matter what the outcome was, he and I had some good times, plus the cruise was free.. got to look at the bright side.

Gala Night

Tunisia Excursion


Hanging out during his work hours

The Last Day

Two months later I would discover his 3 other girls. If he had been the man he pretended to be, the man I fell in love with, I would have been happy. Instead I am off on more adventures in Korea and Thailand.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Italy, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Exploring Downtown Naples

Breakfast Hostel of the Sun Style

Hostel of the Sun had a fairly impressive layout of breakfast. With coffee and juice and tea and toast and cereal and nutella. Now for those of you who are chocolate addicts like me, hold onto your hats. This is the bottle of Nutella they provided us…

One “Small” Bottle of Nutella, One Very Happy Traveler!

Kristin, Jack and I were all meant to get an early start to exploring, but after breakfast Kristin had still not emerged. I went in search of her and found her still fast asleep, she had had a good night at the hostel bar… But she got moving, slowly, fairly soon and I went to hang out with Jack in the common room and wait. We watched part of the mini series ROME. Jack was an archaeological student and so it was great watching it with him as he gave me a run down of the history and annecdotes to the movie.

Finally Kristin emerged, a bit on the frail side, and I introduced them. They both started laughing as Jack had been involved in the drinking last night.

Naples

We all had a few places we wanted to go see and with me in the lead with the map we headed off in search of the famous Veiled Christ. It cost 7 Euro to get in, once again the free aspect of cultural week didn’t work as it was a private group that owned the church.

But once we got in we were astounded. The church was more of a museum with spectacular statues. The Veiled Christ is a marble statue of Christ after the crucifixion and covered with a light veil. It is so well designed that you swear yo ucould actually remove the veil or see it move if he suddenly started breathing.

Veiled Christ from The Alchemical Chapel

San Gregorio Armeno

I collect Christmas Ornaments from every country I go to. That way, one day, hopefully, when I am settled and have my own christmas tree, I can relieve all my adventures one ornament at a time. I had been told that Naples was the place to get my ornament for Rome and the street of the street of the Nativity Scene Makers, San Gregorio Armeno, was the place to go. And was it ever, there were figurines and statues and nativity scenes as far as the eye could see. We found one guy who had a great sense of humor with his figurines:

Oh Captain my Captain of the Costa Concordia

Eventually I found one I liked, a Punch and Judy take on a hot chilli pepper. Each pepper is actually a horn, or corno, designed to ward off the Evil Eye and bring good luck,it is called a portafortuna, “bringer of good luck,” not unlike a rabbit’s foot in the U.S.). Pulcinella (of Punch and Judy) is a masked character who appears in old theater and puppet shows and is known for being an unruly prankster. He is the unofficial mascot of the Naples.

Underground City

After exploring and debating over hundreds of ornaments we went to the Underground City. Jack casually asked for 3 students passes and got me in cheaper. Every euro helps. The Underground City was remarkable. Each level is another time period and it was like walking through the past.

Lunch and the Museum of Naples

We all need some grub and so Jack and I shared a yummy pizza and Kristin had a salad.

The museum was incredible and with Jack as our fearless, knowledgable leader, very informative.

Apparently, this is an Italian Remake of a Greek Statue that Honors the Perfect Male Athletic Shape


Gives a Whole New Meaning to Coffin


Nice A……


Hercules


Atlas


Artwork Removed from Pompeii

Just as Kristin started feeling better, I started feeling crappy and so went to go sit by the front door. I decided to try call the number I had been given for MSC cruises and got the secretary, again, or artfully deflected my call and told me to call back. Sooooo frustrating!!!

Random

As we walked out and up the street an Italian Cop, not looking too friendly, stopped us and started talking and gesticulating in Italian. He kept pointing towards a small car that looked as if it had hit a wall, from the angle we were standing at. We thought he was asking us if we saw it and we kept repeating “No, See”. Which we soon realised sounded like “No, Yes” in Italian. Finally looking very exasperated he took as over and past the car, that was perfectly fine and just parked at a weird angle, through a gate and into a back alley. Thank heavens there were 3 of us cause this just seemed shady. We all expected some Italian Mob gang to jump out and rob us of the 5 or 10 euros we had. Then he pointed up some stairs and at an old wall.

It turned out it was part of the old city wall from eons ago. The markings were unclear but we were leaning towards Greek or even older. We sat up there for a bit and looked at it, until the cop came up to find us, smiling broadly and very proud of himself. We followed this, now jovial cop, back out the gate and he showed us a city map up on a sign board that was half hidden showing secret sites in Naples. Who would have thunk it. Definitely a surprise for the afternoon.

The Mysterious Wall

Just before we got to the hostel we went and had some of hte best Gelato ever and sat in the park watching the locals. Then it was nap time for me as Jack and Kristin went in search of a laundry. They were meant to be back in 2 hrs but got lost and only got back close to 9pm. Luckily in Europe 9pm is just when people start thinking about dinner, so we headed out collecting a few strays along the way, a girl from Germany and an older lady from the US.

Where Pizza Originated… Apparently

We headed to a famous restaurant named Sorbillo, opened in 1935 and reputed to be where Pizza originated… however a number of places claim that in Naples. Of course since it was so well known it was also very popular and it was chock a block full with a crowd waiting outside. It took almost an hour and was almost 10.30pm before we got a table. The pizza was good , but a little greasy. My favorite was still in Rome.

Very Very Happy to get Food as I was Starving!!!


The Crowd


The Birthplace of Pizza???


Good Mates, Kristin, Jack and Me

A Rude Awakening

I had a pounding headache and decided to head back to the hostel with the 2 strays, Kristin and Jack wanted to go grab a few drinks and planned to head back in an hour or 2. After getting lost for a bit the 3 of us managed to find our way home and I went straight to bed.

Around 4.30am I woke up to some rather amorous noises coming from the hostel bathroom down the hall…. ahhhh Kristin and Jack were home 😉 !

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Germany, Italy, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Pompeii

I was so exhausted from all of the BS from the day before and the lack of sleep from the night before that I slept right up until Kristin came to get me for our trip to Pompeii. After a quick shower, we hopped on the tram and went to the train station.

Which Platform Exactly???

There were no labels anywhere on the platforms, we had no idea when or where our train would be coming. Luckily a local girl let us know that she was on our train as well and where to stand.

We had about a 30 min wait, normally this would be dull and boring, but not in Italy. Italy comes with platform entertainment in the form of 2 guys arguing and going from ready to kill each other to hugging to yelling, all with appropriate and inappropriate hand gestures. It was brilliant, but you dare not stare too long in case some how you get involved too. Got to love rational calm communication in Italy.

Just at the climax the train pulled up. Of course it pulled up on the opposite side to where we were expecting and so we were at the back of the mad crush to get in and get a seat.

Pompeii!!

It took almost an hour to get there, and since we were under the impression it would take closer to half an hour, we were a little paranoid we were going to end up in Florence or somewhere. Upon arrival we had to decide between taking a bus up Vesuvias or visiting the city of Pompeii. We opted for Pompeii first, as both of us were exhausted (me from lack of sleep, Kristin from outwitting the drunk American who kept buying her drinks) and Vesuvias involved a hike up a rather steep incline.

The best surprise this morning/afternoon was that Italian Cultural Week finally gave us free entry into something, and it happened to be a place I have wanted to visit for years.

The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was partially destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

Pompeii was lost for nearly 1700 years before its rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately 2,500,000 visitors every year. From: Wikipedia

Considering how old it was, that it had been destroyed by a volcano, covered in a pyroclastic flow and brimstone hail down from above… it was in remarkably good shape. It was also remarkably easy to get lost in. Neither of us realised there were maps available and after 2 hours we were utterly turned around. Luckily we came across a map discarded by someone and suddenly it all made sense. We were blown away by just how well the other half of the city had survived.


A Classic Bath


Floor Mosaic of a Dog

We also found the famous castes of people, created by the archaeologists that discovered the city. The realised that certain mounds of calcified lava contained skeletons and one of them suggested poring in plaster of paris and the breaking the outer shell. Inside the plaster of paris created near perfect forms of the beings that had died during the pyroclastic flow. Some of them you can see expressions and folds of clothes.

we decided to do a final trek to the very top of the city, where the cemetary was and on to a very well preserved house that still has some of the most amazing artwork on the walls and a few more castes. Truly incredible.

Here are some more pics as words cannot truly describe:

We Shall Call Him Pompy


The City’s Coliseum Survived Almost Intact


Once Famous For Wine, the Grapes have been Planted Again


View of the City from the Theater


Stunning Artwork that Survived

As we exited the city we realised we had walked around for 4 hrs and were utterly exhausted and famished. We grabbed a bite to eat and discovered the largest lemons we had ever seen.

Ticket Taker

Since it was too late to go up Vesuvias and the weather had turned bad we went to grab the train back to Naples. We just managed to catch it with a few seconds to spare.

Back in Naples we Kristin went to go grab some wine and I went to pick up some ear plugs, just in case the snorer returned to my room, I must say they were the most expensive ear plugs ever, almost 7 euros for a set of 3. Of course buying them means, Murphy’s Law, I won’t need them.

Now comes the fun part. The ticket we had bought should last a couple of hours and cover the train and the tram. Getting on the tram the machine refused to take mine and stamp it. Just as I was trying to stamp it in the other machine a guy, who seemed like he was trying to help, indicated for me to show him my ticket. Instead he looked at it and started saying something in Italian along the lines of this ticket is expired. He grabbed Kristin’s and started saying the same thing, even though hers had been accepted by the machine. He got very pushy and in our face and I just barely managed to get my ticket back. He also demanded a fine and showed us some kind of a dinky badge stating he was a ticket officer.

After harassing us for a few stops we just decided to get off the tram and walk away. We were actually quite nervous this guy was going to follow us. As we walked Kristin fumed, apparently this was the same guy who had harassed her when she first arrived in Naples. The hostel told us later that these guys can demand fines from unsuspecting tourists who do not know how the transportation system works. Apparently we were lucky to get away, as these guys have a quota to meet. So beware, be sure to get the bus/tram/train ticket machine to stamp your ticket when in Naples!!!!

A Movie

I decided to go grab a shower and Kristin went to stake out the TV and put a movie on for us to just chill out for the evening. When I got there I discovered she had chosen “Monster”, with Charlize Theron as a serial killer prostitute. It was rather amusing to watch all of us sit stunned and watch it. It was really good but really dark and none of us seemed able to turn it off, but none of us could have a conversation at the same time.

To counterbalance it we watched a second one called “Hatchiko” about a dog that sits for years waiting for his master to return on the train after he died of a heart attack. So talk about emotional up and down from the intensity of “Monster” to the tearjerker of “Hatchiko”.

Sleep Glorious Sleep

Kristin and I had plans to explore the city the next day, so I headed off to bed. In my dorm room I met Jack, an American archaeology student, and invited him to join us for some exploring in the morning.

And then…. sleep…. glorious sleep…. without a snorer! So now I sit with a box of ear plugs and no snorers in sight! I’ll take that.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Italy, RTW, Travel

 

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