Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pompeii

POMPEII!

So, Tuesday started out with a 7:45am train to Salerno.



On Monday we booked the earliest trip to Pompeii, and the latest trip back. what we ended up with was a 7:45am trip to Salerno, where we would need to transfer to Pompeii, and a 7:36pm train from Naples to Rome, (we would need to get to Naples from Pompeii). Pompeii is between Naples and Salerno, about a half an hour from either direction, not considering the inevitable delays. Rome to Naples is about 2 1/2 hours. The train ride to Salerno was bright and sunny and gave us hopes that we might not get rained on for one day in our trip. I thought, "This is the Mediterranean!" and "my goodness, there are lemon trees and clothes on clotheslines at each town we pass. What do they do with all the lemons?" I guess that explains Italians fondness for lemoncello liquor. After a transfer and several delays, one which included us getting locked into a stationary train with several Italians who were in a hurry and banging on the doors, (I guess they aren't that laid back), we ended up at Pompeii around 1pm. The good news is, it's Cultural Heritage week in Italy so we got in free! The bad news is, the second we entered the gates, no joke, it started raining. We have become one with the rain. But I'll be honest, it limited our "artistic" shots of Pompeii. There was no changing of lenses, and our photos were more documentary than expressive because it is hard to shoot photos through a plastic bag. Even when you've bought that plastic bag on eBay with the express purpose of photographing in the rain. There were still other tourists, but overall, many streets were empty, and there only a few times when we had to wait for school groups to enter a building before we could enter. I imagine it is insane in the summer, or at least that's what we are telling ourselves to make up for the miserable weather. Pompeii itself does feel like a real city, with streets in a grid pattern and buildings still standing next to each other everywhere. Here is a picture of what it looks like to be walking down the street.



Pompeii is huge! Honestly, it felt bigger than Venice. There was no way to see everything, and archaeologists are still digging, (they have about one third left to excavate). Still, we feel like we hit most of the sites we wanted to see. Like the brothel, (ooh, la, la, pornographic frescoes!), and two areas that had plaster casts of the victims of Vesuvius's massive eruption. Here is a very visceral one of a dog that died from the eruption.



Speaking of dead dogs, I'm 97% sure I saw a dead dog in the Naples metro station when we were transferring trains. Seriously. A little kid was pointing at it and her mom dragged her away in horror. Naples is in the middle of a garbage strike,(which is an annual event), and smells exactly how you would expect. The metro station looked like it had been under attack, with rubble everywhere. And the fellow American who was living in Italy who told us, "Watch your wallet", wasn't kidding. Everyone seemed sketchy and angery, and I took some solace in the fact that my wallet had already been stolen in Paris two weeks prior. Isaac watched his money, and I watched his back. I put on my best "don't mess with me" face. To make matters worse, our connecting train to Rome was delayed an hour, and we had to wait outside in the cold. There was a nice Italian old lady sitting next to us who spoke no English who was helping translate the delays with pantomime, pointing to my watch and saying, "Mama Mia!" repeatedly. The train, when it arrived, was completely sold out, (including standing room), so we were glad we had reserved seats! We kicked some squatters out of our seats without too much fuss. The other four Italians in the coach with us were traveling from Sicily and really cool. One guy said sarcastically, "What, you don't want to stay the night in Naples?!" which was funny. The train kept loosing lighting because it had broken down in Sicily, (hence the hour delay), and we were all hoping it would actually get us to Rome. One of the Italians spoke excellent English, and was joking, "This isn't a train it's a disco!" (because of the lights going in and out). We ended up having a really nice conversation with them. They were asking all sorts of questions about America, and convinced us we definitely need to visit Sicily in the future. They were also very firm in explaining to us that the Sopranos does not accurately describe Italian mafia, (they brought the subject up). Apparently Italian mafia isn't that flashy. We tried to tell them that it's entirely possible that mafia in New Jersey are that flashy, but they didn't believe us. At any rate, we arrived in Rome around midnight with our wallets intact, and happy to be going back to our B&B.

2 comments:

meltingsun said...

I feel you on the rain front. The entire time I was on the Inca trail I was hiding my camera away from the rain. I felt like I spent a ton of time getting my camera out and then putting it away again. Everyone who had a point and shoot was much more nibble then I. Despite all the rain though you guys got off some amazing shots. Really impressive trip.

Isaac Epp and Kerry Laws said...

Isn't it rough! We had a rain bag for the camera which helped, but it was still a tough day with all the wet. But it is SO worth it to help better capture the moments for later consumption :)