Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Hey Hey it's Pompeii!

Day 6

Woke up and met up with Geoff. Sadly there was no free breakfast – no cornflakes for me... don’t know if I’ve mentioned but the corn flakes in Europe are literally that – flakes of corn. They don’t taste like the cereal but rather as if someone has whittled a corn cob into flakes and served it... strange.
We walked to the train station – not the one we knew but one that the guy at the hostel suggested. Glad he did because the stop he sent us to was the one before the stop where all the people get on meaning we each got a seat. Thank goodness because the train was packed... it was a weekend which meant that the people of Naples all haul ass to the beach. The train was like a disco! All the people had brought boom boxes and were playing techno music and clapping... it had everything a disco does – especially body odour. Miranda and I like to find signs that are warnings with people doing various things and making them into dance moves. This train had a sign with a person getting stuck in the door which meant the dance move would consist of gyrating with the door. Most entertaining. Geoff thought we were quite mad but laughed along as thought the train was making Transformer noises and soon we would transform and run to Pompeii.

We made it! Our newly formed trio... Audio guides were a rip off so instead some other tourists gave us the extra little guidebook they had and we audio-guided one another. Miranda was mistress of the map and Geoff would read the descriptions of what we were seeing. Navigator and narrator were very helpful as the place was HUGE! I didn’t realise how big this place was until we had spent several hours in there and not seen everything. Oh in case you don’t know – Pompeii is this town that was hit with an awful earthquake in 75AD. The Pompeii-ens being the optimistic people they are figured that this was the worst thing to happen and they could only look up from here. No. In 79AD Mount Vesuvius erupted and the entire city was covered in volcanic ash in minutes. Sad for them – but for the history junkies this meant that a really old city was perfectly preserved. And it is SO preserved... all these beautiful tiled houses and frescos – painted and still perfect on the walls! The whole place is mind boggling and completely worth risking your life in Naples for... One of the tiled houses has a tiled picture of a dog and then the words in Latin “Beware of the dog”. Sound familiar? Well this is where it was invented! Pretty cool...
The only downside of Pompeii is that there is little shade and it was a very hot day... so hot we kept making jokes like “it’s so hot I feel like I’m being smothered in volcanic ash” and so on. On the main street there were loads of different little areas with tables that had big holes in them and the guide/Geoff said that these were like snack bars and this was the high street! How cool is that? I played the role of the gelato vendor “What flavour do you want? I’ve got pebbles and dirt”. Made us laugh. Also was this shop which had this symbol outside. Either it was a restaurant or a shop that sold tridents. I’m going with the latter.

We saw the vineyard which had some very unripe grapes that Miranda and Geoff tasted. We saw the coliseum... the theatre... the temples... the houses of important people – they wrote their names out the front of the houses so people walking by would know who lived there! We also stumbled upon the brothel... it had all these paintings on the wall which served as a ... menu of sorts... and the beds were still there too – mattresses would be put on top of them obviously... I’m trying to look like Kate Winslett in Titanic by the way...When I got up I had all this dirt on me which I thought was “volcanic ass” given the building. We went into the massage house which is NOT the brothel again – seriously people get your minds out of the gutter... Every place we went was covered in random dogs! They were everywhere just lying in the shade – seemed like a good idea to me... Also whilst we saw these various buildings we kept wondering what it was like on that day that the volcano erupted... on one side of town some guy was like “what flavour would you like with tha-AHHHH!” on the other side was someone being like “has anyone seen my dog-AHHHH!” and so on. It was a fun day. The sad part came when we found the preserved people. Eurgh. The guy who uncovered the place realised that the ash had formed pockets around the bodies so he filled them with plaster and so you can see the people’s expressions and fear filled positions... You can see their bones and teeth. That was sad but the sadder part was seeing this poor dog that was preserved... I didn’t take a photo because it made me too sad... There were also children – it was haunting.

After many, many hours we went out to have some lunch and I had the best orange juice and sandwich of my life. It was SO GOOD. It was funny too because the guy that ran the little cafe thing had a hose and was just hosing everything... the road... the tourists and so on. It was weird. We went into the ‘town’ area and looked at the souvenirs which mostly consisted of – drum roll – doodles! What is with this country and doodles? I mean really. Does anyone really want to bring home a plaster doodle for their grandparents as a souvenir? No. At least I hope not. There was also a shop there giving out samples of limoncello which is this lemon liqueur that is delicious... glad that I got to taste some real stuff in the country... Back on the train. We decided to go to the Castle Nuovo which is the main palace of the city. It’s mostly a military castle which was really weird. Each floor had random art – abstract, 18th century and so on – it was the most eclectic mix of stuff. It did have a good view though... and a random staircase that seemed to go nowhere. It was SO HOT... we managed to find the best thing about this castle - the air-conditioning! In that same room was a freaky glass floor with skeletons that had been excavated in the foundations... Again - very random place.

Afterwards we went and had delicious gelato – okay this was really good... it rivalled Madrid because I had this flavour – Ricotta and Pear and it was AMAZING. Delicious. Back to the hostel where we said our goodbyes to Geoff – thank goodness he was there... we didn’t get hardly any cat calls with him there... no more comments on Miranda’s “beautiful eyes”. We had a rest and then went to get some dinner. We went just down the end of the street and I got a slice of pizza which I thought was ham and pineapple. On my first bite I then deduced that it was not pineapple... but chips. Chips on pizza? What the HECK? It was gross... We had a different girl in our room that night. She seemed to unpack and repack her bag a million times and her belongings seemed to consist only of plastic bags... she was nice enough though. Off to sleep because tomorrow holds Greece! Yippee!

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