We had earned a free night from hotels.com so we decided to get a hotel near Pompeii-Scavi for sat night and come back to Naples on Sunday. Part of this reasoning is we don't want to try and do all of this in one day (which is not possible, as you will see) and Virginia is getting her PhD in Vienna so she and Davi don't see a lot of each other and we wanted to give them some alone time. Davi and Virginia dropped us off at the train in pozzuoli sat morning around 11.
We take the train to Naples central then another train to torre del grecco, which is where our hotel is. Davi had given us a scrap of paper with his phone number on it and on the other side I scribbled the name and address of our hotel with a broken pen, so it was barely legible.
We get to torre del grecco, get off the train and look around. I don't know why we keep thinking we are in NYC where there are cabs, and streets that are labeled with signs and people that speak English. None of these things exist here. We are in a town, in the hills on the coast if Italy. There are no cabs at the freaking train station. Nor is there a map. Why do we keep showing up to places without any plan or directions do you ask? I wish I knew the answer to that myself. But I don't have an answer.
We see a supermarket and go in because we need a toothbrush (our sonic are charger decided to stop working) and when we leave I suggest we follow a sign that says the center of town is to the right. This also doesn't mean that the center of town is like a block to the right. It means it's the general direction and the center could be miles away.
We see a little store and go in and ask the woman if she knows where our hotel is. No one speaks a word of english. She looks at the paper and asks her sons. They all seem to agree that we need to take a bus there, but they don't agree on where the bus is. After they come to a consensus that the bus is around the corner they give us very animated directions in Italian. Somehow we got it and walked around the corner and lo and behold a bus is there. The driver takes us to the hotel and doesn't even charge us the fare.
We check in to the hotel, it looks like it used to be a really fancy hotel but has gone to the wayside in recent years. The furniture in the room is very ornate, very Italian. I'm pretty happy about there being a queen size bed. This is seriously the first time in all my nights in Europe I have slept on a queen size bed. Every other time it's 2 twin beds pushed together. We ask the guy at reception how we go about putting a tour of Pompeii together, as well as a tour of Vesuvius.
Here I need to note 3 things: we chose this hotel because they specifically said they will arrange tours to these two attractions. They also said they had Internet access in the room, but conveniently it was broken. And mount Vesuvius is literally outside the window. It's very close.
He says that we can walk into town and take the Circumvesuvius train to Pompeii or they can call us a cab. That's it. Really? That's your tour planning service? So we ask him where the train in town is. His directions are as follows:
Go down the hill
All the way down
Keep going till you pass a bridge
Go around 500 meters and make a left.
First of all, everyone in Europe keeps giving us directions like, go 200 meters or 300 meters. Wtf is a meter anyway? Do these people keep like little pedometers on them at all times so they know how far a meter is?! How is that good directions?! How about you say, at the gas station make a right. Or an actual street name would be good too.
Anyways, we proceed to follow this guys directions and get totally and utterly lost. It's crazy hot out and we are wondering around for over an hour. At 3pm, so NOTHING is open, it's a ghost town. We do ask a few people we see for directions and try to understand what they are saying but we can't find it. I'm getting super pissed. How is it that we can't find a huge train station in this town? How is this possibly happening? After an hour and 15 minutes we give up, go back to the hotel and go to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. While we are cooling down we make a survival guide for Italy. The order of the most helpful to least helpful people in Italy goes like this:
Most helpful: your friends mother. She will do your laundry, take you out, feed you home cooked meals, give you handmade presents and her friend actually offered to have her husband drive us to pompeii on Monday but we declined because we had already booked a hotel.
Helpful: complete strangers on the street who don't speak any English, but they will go out of their way to see that you get to where you are going.
Least helpful: people who actually work in customer service and speak English. They will give you the wrong directions, shrug when you ask if they can perform a service that is specifically listed under the hotel and if you don't like it then you don't have to stay in Italy. Ciao.
So. Eventually we are hungry. We go back into town around 730 and it is teeming with people. Everyone is out, all the shops are open. We go to the market and get some wine,cheese, bread, meat, olives and peppers and eat in our hotel room while watching a batman cartoon in italian. I actually really like watching cartoons in other languages but that's a different post altogether...