This morning was an early one! We left the hotel by 7:20 to catch the train to Naples, a two hour ride during most of which I slept. The Naples train station was pretty sketchy, and Bob informed us that Naples is one of the most crime-ridden cities in Italy. So we all felt pretty safe after that. To make things better we had to board an extremely dirty and broken-down looking tram to ride for almost 20 stops. The tram was packed and scary and we all breathed a sigh of relief when we finally reached Pompeii and were able to get off. It was a short walk to get to the ruins, and we met our tour guide right outside. He was a great guide, leading us around for over two hours and giving us tons of information.
Pompeii was simply amazing! The city was was a lot bigger than I thought it was, and way more advanced. They had a lot of things that we would consider very modern, including fast food restaurants, spas, and intricate sewer and water systems. We got to see many different areas of the city, although we didn’t see nearly half of it. We walked through the ruins of what was the main square, many storefronts, one really fancy house, a brothel, a temple, and the main theatre. Our guide explained how life would have been back before the volcano erupted, which was very interesting. He explained that Pompeii was meant to be a great center for business and trade, which is why there was an endless amount of stores that lined both sides of most streets. He told us that prostitution was a very popular business back then, pointing out some of the phallic symbols carved into the road to guide men to the city’s 24 brothels. There was a condom shop right next to every brothel, and a pictorial “menu” on the walls (the BBC special we watched in class over Pompeii left all those details out for some reason). It was crazy to think that what we were seeing was not too long ago completely buried under volcanic rock and ash. We also got to see some of the many artifacts uncovered in the excavation, including the casts of bodies that were found. Because it was a cloudy day we were unable to see Mt. Vesuvius in the distance, which I was very disappointed by.
Something that we all found interesting and somewhat sad were all of the stray dogs walking around. Our guide told us that they live in the ruins and that himself and the other guides and security members feed them and make sure they are well. That made us feel much better. All the dogs were extremely well behaved, most of them ignoring the groups of people walking around their home. A couple of them followed us around on our tour, and were able to lead us along on our guide’s route.
After finishing the tour we ate lunch at a stand belonging to the tour guide’s brother. We got tomato and mozzarella sandwiches, drinks, and some fresh picked oranges that were absolutely amazing! We quickly explored the bookstore before heading back to ride the tram again. The ride back was a little less scary and went by much faster. But then we had to wait in the sketchy Naples train station for over an hour for our train back to Rome. We spent time time exploring shops until settling in a little cafe for a snack. We boarded the train at 4:40, not knowing at the time that it would be the slowest train ever. What was supposed to be a two hour ride turned into an almost five hour ride, and we were all extremely tired and hungry by the time we got back to our hotel.
We grabbed a quick supper at the train station – McDonalds and a huge waffle cone full of gelato (#noshame). Aaron and I ran around the local shops to grabs some last minute souvenirs. Then we returned to the hotel to pack up and get some rest. Today went by extremely fast although it feels like we didn’t do much. Tomorrow is our trip to Florence, and then we board our last overnight train (hallelujah!) to Paris. Talk to you soon!