Avoiding the Apocalypse in Pompeii

Trip Start Mar 31, 2011
Trip End Jul 05, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Campania,
Saturday, May 21, 2011

The train to Naples mirrored the train to Venice in discomfort. First of all, it was totally packed. Second, it was bewilderingly hot. There were times we literally thought we might pass out from the heat/smell.  And of course all of the locals are wearing long sleeves-- guess they must be used to it. About halfway through the ride, we got into the mountains in Tuscany and it started to rain, so the air cooled off substantially. A few minutes later, the conductor came and told us the train car was broken so we needed to move to first class, yay! It was definitely an improvement, but not too different from second class-- definitely not worth the extra money for the ticket. We blogged like total champions on the train; wrote for Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Venice, the beginning of Naples, and uploaded pictures for all of them. We have a goal to be back in real-time blogging by the time we reach Florence. Good luck to us!
The train was delayed almost an hour, so we arrived in Naples a little too late at night for our liking. While Naples is not supposed to be particularly dangerous, it is the home of pretty extreme mafia activity, which made us rather nervous. On top of that, the train station was deserted, so there was no one to help us figure out how to ride the metro. We wandered around trying to find a ticket machine for a sold half hour before giving up and just jumping on the train and hoping for the best. We took the train that said it was going to the stop we needed, but it actually went the other way, sat there for a while, then turned back around and went the right direction. Luckily, the conductor was really helpful and thankfully failed to ask to see our non-existent tickets. We got to the station we needed, connected to a different metro line, and made it to the hostel (which was basically on top of the metro station). Lesson learned-- no more Naples after dark. 
By this point it was pretty late, so we showered and got ready for bed. There was a girl from Kansas City (Amy) also staying in the hostel, so we talked to her for a while and made plans to check out Pompeii together the next morning. New friends everywhere, yay! We all woke up early (5/21) and got back on the metros to the central station. We stood in three different lines before figuring out how to buy tickets for the regional train to Pompeii, which turned out to be very fast and easy-- it only took 30 minutes to get there! 
Pompeii used to be a town of about 20,000 but was buried in ash in AD 79 when the top blew off Mt. Vesuvius, killing 2000 people. The ruins have gradually been being excavated since the 19th century, and they are really impressive. We found it particularly appropriate to visit Pompeii on this proposed day of the apocalypse-- I bet the people of Pompeii thought the world was ending too when it started raining ash. Our new friend Amy had a really good guidebook specifically for Italy, so it had a bunch of detailed information about Pompeii. We learned so much! Supposedly the ocean used to go right up to the outer walls, so there were tons of places to hook boats and fish, and they used to open a dam every day to flood the streets in order to keep them clean! Brilliant. The houses were really small and didn't have kitchens, so there were big restaurants with marble pots (holes?) for holding food. There was also a really impressive communal bath system, including a sauna that was heated by fire under a double floor! Sounds like daily life in Pompeii was focused on sharing. One particularly interesting part of the town was the ever-popular brothel, equipped with stone beds/pillows and a "menu" drawn on the wall of services rendered. Charming!
After about 3 hours at Pompeii, we were really hot and hungry, so we hopped back on the metro to Naples. I'll post another entry immediately after this one about Naples to keep things simple/compartmentalize the pictures. Arrivederci for now! 
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Aaron on

That looks soooo coool! fascinating... did it give you a funny feeling to walk around and be there?

So jealous! Miss you!

Mom on

I remember being in Rome and never knowing where we were because of the lack of signs; guess things haven't changed in 25 years. Excellent photos of the ruins, thank you. It looks like Pompeii is a huge area and they have been very careful with the excavations. Knowing the history and walking through those ruins must be very cool.

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