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Written on: Friday May 21st, 2010

A journal entry from: Europe 2010

May 21st

A beautiful morning and a lovely breakfast at our hotel, it's been a very comfortable place to stay so we're sad to leave but time to move on.  We took the toll roads around Rome, then I asked Tom to take us on the coast until we got close to Naples.  All in all a good drive with some beautiful views, coffee still an issue we now find that we have to ask for Coffee Americano but we have to remember that means black coffee so we have to ask for milk.  We'd booked a hotel in Sorrento because it looked as if it was an easy walk to the railway station so we could take the train to Pompeii tomorrow but once here we realized that it's a very hilly area and although the train station looked within a kilometer it could be a kilometer uphill one way.  Actually it wasn't too bad, the hotel was very basic but with a balcony for the smoker and an ocean view which also gave us a good view of Vesuvius when it's not raining.  Had a walk into town once we got here, it's very touristy and can't quite see why as the beaches are so far below where all the hotels are, we must be missing something.  Our hotel was about 300 metres from where the walking path to town ended so it was a bit scary walking on the road as there's a lot of traffic and the road is narrow and windy.  We've noticed as we've come further south that the Italian drivers have become more aggressive and spend a lot of time honking their horns, sure wouldn't like to drive here.


May 22nd

Had breakfast at the hotel and then walked into town to catch the train to Pompeii, started off with my sweater on but soon took it off and it got hotter as we approached town.  Caught the train OK and it was a 30 minute scary journey through tunnels and over bridges with the train seeming to go at breakneck speed – no Evil Knieval here.  Pompeii was fantastic, it was eerie to think that what was left of the town was as it was in 79AD.  The first place we visited was the administration area with the town hall offices and the central square and the judicial buildings surrounding it.  There had also been shops in that area.  Beyond that were many streets with the houses still showing the central bathing area and all of the room walls still in tact, you were able to differentiate between bedrooms, kitchen and latrines and some of the wall frescos were in super condition, I got some great pictures of them.  The coliseum is in good shape and we able to go through the tunnel and into the centre.  The forum is having extensive work done on it so we weren't able to go in there as with some of the houses.  Many are closed off but you can view them through the gates and there are so many you wouldn't have time to go through them all anyway.  We had purchased an audio guide so each time we came to significant spot we just pressed the audio guide number for that place and it gave us a description of the building/street etc.  It was amazing the standard of living they had, they had a system to collect water off the roofs and filter it into a holding area below the house so that they could bucket it up as they needed, they also had underground wells for water supply, they had a drainage system which ran out into the road, the sidewalks were raised above the road and occasionally there would be a crosswalk of large smooth rocks for the Pompeii people to walk on. We have a super sense of direction as on a couple of occasions we got lost on the edge of the town, we soon realized that we had when the crowds disappeared.  As we walked along one area a bunch of white balloons flew over the Pompeii wall and straight at us, they landed in a low tree so I went to unfetter them and saw from the printing on them that they had come from a wedding which I assume was close by.  I tried to let them go again but they just wanted to be in that tree.  Our last visit in Pompeii was to the brothel, a very interesting place of about four rooms on the ground floor and the same above (they were inaccessible), on the walls were frescos of men and women in compromising positions – got pictures of them too.  The beds were made of rock so hopefully they had lots of cushions to make them more comfortable.


One noticeable building missing from Pompeii was a church, everywhere else in Italy has tons of churches, so I guess they really were pagans.


Pompeii was something I've wanted to see since Frankie Howard (English comedian) had his TV show called Up Pompeii, a comedy about the debauchery there.  It didn't disappoint and Pompeii and Pisa have been my favourites so far.


The train ride back was just as scary and I was glad it was over.  Back to our hotel room and a beer on the balcony before heading downtown to find an internet café and get a meal.  There's a lot of Brits holidaying in Sorrento so they cater more to the them and Roger was delighted to get roast pork, salad and fries for his dinner.  Back to the hotel room for a sit on the balcony and a beautiful evening and lovely view of lights of Naples and the base of Vesuvius.  Our hotel had limited parking and Roger had to leave our car keys with the front desk so they could move the car if anyone else wanted to get out.  We watched from balcony as the hotel manager maneuvered cars into position.  At one time he had three cars with their hazards flashing partly parked on a narrow windy road while he parked them like a tetris game.