Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 2 in Naples: Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius & a walk around Naples 4/29/2013

I slept late today, I finally got up sometime after 9 am, I could hear people moving around and talking in the kitchen of the bed and breakfast.  I slept well, it was nice to have my own room, in a hostel, I usually share a room with anywhere from 3 to 5 people.  It was nice to have my own space, nobody to wake me up and I did not have to worry about waking others up.

My bed and breakfast has self-service breakfast, I ate a couple of slices of whole wheat bread with the soft cheese they seem to serve all over Europe.  I also had a banana and one of the best peach yogurts I have ever had.  I do not know what the Italians do to their yogurt to make it taste so good, maybe it is an extra tablespoon of sugar, who knows. 

After breakfast, I got my map and headed for the train station to go to Pompeii.  Yesterday the bed and breakfast owner pointed out a station on the map where I could catch the train to Pompeii, I did not find that station, I ended up at the main train station. I later realized why the owner of the bed and breakfast recommended  the train station before the central station, the Pompeii train is packed when it arrives at the central station.  

At the train station I squeezed myself onto the train headed for Pompeii, a 25 minute ride from Naples.  The train began to clear out about 10 minutes into the ride, but I never got a seat. I did find a comfortable corner to lean against, but the train was hot and stuffy. When we arrived at the Pompeii station, there were people advertising 2 hour guided tours for 12 Euros. I decided not to take the tour and walk through the Pompeii excavations on my own, with an audio guide. The audio guide proved to be a waste of my money, I could never figure out which segment matched the excavation I was looking at, ultimately, I just walked around the ruins and enjoyed being in Pompeii. 

On my way to Pompeii Ruins after Arriving at Station
I waited in a long line to pay my 11 Euros for a ticket into the Pompeii excavation site, I saw the audio guide stand, and decided I would rent one, if there were no English explanations posted on the excavations.  I asked the woman if the excavations had English explanations, she said no, I decided  to pay 6.50 Euros for the audio guide. I used the audio guide a couple of times, realized I was never going to figure out where I was, then I just walked around.  I spent about two hours walking around Pompeii looking at the excavations.  Some things were obvious, this was an oven, this was a stage, some things were just walls and rubble, maybe they were rooms of houses.  I imagined, this was once a vibrant city, then one day Mount Vesuvius erupted and the town disappeared.

Lynnae at Pompeii Excavation 
After my tour of Pompeii I went to Mount Vesuvius. I had already done a lot of walking in the sun at Pompeii, I was trying to imagine how much would be required at Mount Vesuvius.  I bought my tickets from what I now think was an official looking side operation, we went in a taxi minivan, the round trip was 11 Euros. They got me there and back in one piece, I have no complaints.  I asked the driver how long the Mount Vesuvius hike would take, he told me 25 to 30 minutes, they drive you up most of the mountain.  I saw some people hiking up the road near the bottom of the mountain, I think it would take all day to scale Mount Vesuvius that way.

Mt Vesuvius is the first volcano I have scaled, it was worth the climb to the top.  It was a warm day in Southern Italy, I bought water halfway up the 25 minute walk to the Mount Vesuvius Crater, I stopped many times to take pictures too.  Today was another one of those, I cannot believe I am here, seeing this in person, outings. The hike was steep in places, not too steep, there were people of all ages hiking the mountain.  A couple of British or Irish men saw me hiking up the mountain and told me not to slow down, you have at least 2 more miles to go, my response, 2 more miles!?! I do not know how many miles it was to the top of Mt. Vesuvius but it did seem like a long hike.  

Lynnae at the furthest point I could hike on Mount Vesuvius 
The company I went with to Mt. Vesuvius dropped us off around 2:30 pm, they said the bus would be there to pick us up around 3:45 pm and 3:50 pm, I got back to the drop off point at 3:52 pm, two people made it back down the mountain before me. I did not want to rush Mt. Vesuvius, it took some work getting to the summit, I wanted to enjoy the view.  I took my time and I did enjoy the view, it was cool on top of Mt. Vesuvius, I looked in the crater, grateful it did not erupt while I was standing there.  Mt. Vesuvius is an active volcano, seismologists monitor it and should be able to anticipate an eruption. Mount Vesuvius' last major eruption was in March 1944.

After Mount Vesuvius, I decided to walk around Naples, this is my last evening in the city.  I went back to my hotel briefly after my trip to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius, mainly to orient myself, I did not want to get lost on my way back, especially after dark.  I went to see the beautiful parts of Naples, I did not find them.  I found Castle Nuovo, I found a small area where boats are parked, I found a lot of things during my walk through Naples, beauty was not how what I found.  There were cruise ships docked at Naples bay, I did not get close to the water, it is possible there are parts of the city I missed, I am sure there are, I was not here long enough to explore the city fully.  

Lynnae in front of Castle Nuovo 
After exploring Naples, I was hungry, I went in search of pizza in Naples Old Town, the best place to get pizza in the city.  I passed by the place I ate yesterday, I was tempted to stop but I wanted to try a new pie tonight.  I went to the second pizzeria I passed, some ways down from the place I ate yesterday, it was worth it, the pizza was delicious.  This pizzeria was established in 1895, the second oldest pizzeria in Naples.  The waiter told me we have Lombardi Pizzeria in the US, but theirs came first, the US pizzerias came after Lombardi in Naples.

I talked to a British couple from London while I was eating, someone recommended Pizzeria Lombardi to them, I just stumbled up on it, lucky me.  The Brits were struggling to finish their pizzas when I arrived.  We talked about our travels, they were surprised I had come so far and was traveling alone for so long.  I told them some of my CIA story, gave them my CIA/FBI cards.  They said it was good to travel, maybe it would give me some perspective on the situation.  They also hope to see my book, and think my story should be a movie.  
Sausage Pizza from Lombardi's Pizzeria 
After I finished my pizza, I headed back to my bed and breakfast.  I have another early morning train to catch tomorrow, my next destination is Greece.  My Eurail pass expires May 11th, my tour of Europe will not end on that date, I will just start buying point to point rail tickets or I will fly on one of Europe's low cost airlines, Ryan Air or Easy Jet. I hope to start my TEFL certification course at the beginning of June, I maybe in Europe for awhile, and have many opportunities to travel.

Day 2 in Naples Photo Album

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