Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 18 - The Pompeii disaster pt.2

A view of a street in Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the background.

A person, preserved in volcanic ash, at the moment of their death.

A fresco painting that somehow survived
We wake up early and take full advantage of the free breakfast. We activate. I'm pumped. This day is going to kick yesterday's ass. What I didn't mention about the day before is we used the hotel lobby computer and sat on google for an hour getting very specific directions to the Circumvesuvius train and all the info we needed for Pompeii. We were not going to make the same mistake twice. And the hotel guys directions were totally wrong. It wasn't 500 meters to the left it was 200 meters to the right. Whatever.

So we get on the train, take it 3 stops to Pompeii- scavi and we go in to see the ruins. It was hauntingly creepy and fascinating all at the same time. Seeing all these ruins from Rome to now really puts our place on the human timeline into perspective. Here were normal people living their lives, and in 24 hours their entire existence was wiped off the face of the planet. And Vesuvius looms over this town, so every time you look at a house, or the remains of a temple, it is there in the back drop as an eerie reminder that all our days are numbered. There were thermal baths, the equivalent of a lunch counter where workers would get "fast food" meals, beautiful gardens, people's houses with bedrooms and dining rooms, brothels, temples, a marketplace. And there were also bodies of the victims immortalized in ash. We didn't get to see even half of the town. In order to be back in pozzuoli by 730 we had to get the 150 bus to Vesuvius.

My recommendation would be not to do these two things in 1 day. You could spend 2 days alone in pompeii. So we caught the bus up to Vesuvius and I almost had a heart attack. The curves and turns in the road were so winding, a sheer cliff on the other side of a little tiny guardrail was freaking me out. We were in a huge bus and it was going very fast up the mountain. This was worse than the coney island cyclone and it took a half hour. The bus takes you up about 750 meters and you have to climb the last 300 meters yourself if you want to look into the crater at the top. And that's what we did. We climbed up, with heavy bags, in the blazing sun, on a very vertical and rocky trail, to the very top. It was so worth it. The sheer magnitude of the crater, it's mind blowing. It's hard to describe and I don't think pictures do it justice. The rocks are gigantic and are all different colors. Some are gray, some are red and some are black. Some are a swirl of all three colors. The crater goes down very deep, and is filled in with plants that have grown in over time. On the landscape of the mountain you can see where the lava flow of the eruption in the 1940's decimated the vegetation.
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience. I turned to bill at one point and was like, you know we are a standing at the mouth of a volcano right? Craziest thing I've done yet....And here's the pic to prove it :)
Finally! A picture of us together... and the top of Vesuvius!
Got the bus back down the mountain, to the train, to another train and back to Pozzouli. Went out to a beach club where I had a very delicious mojito. Then gelato at 2am. Then sleep. Awesome day.

- Claire


  1. Glad you and Claire are having such a great time. You even found someone to do your laundry. The hat fit great and I cant wait to reaad the book . Your Mom loved the rosary beeds she was saying a few on the way home form the fruit stand. We went and got 20 pounds of tomatos some are for Tom we are going there on Mom 08/01

  2. FYI... you might want to wash the hat before wearing. It's been "Authenticated" in the Adriatic.

  3. Bill are you talking about shrimp larvae?

  4. I'm talking about my sweaty head and your new hat.