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.
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.
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!!!!
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.