So I stood on the rim of a volcano today (yesterday) what did you do? 🙂 We got off to a late start because Mallory accidentally turned her alarm off instead of snooze and I didn’t know if I was supposed to wake her! We had breakfast at the hotel, which wasn’t half bad. Eggs, cereals, croissants, other pastries, yogurt, toast, meat, cheese, and drinks. After breakfast we went to the train station, thinking we could get the train that was 30 minutes after the one we intended to get, but that was apparently the summer schedule, so we had to wait an hour. We arrived in Pompeii a little after 11am and went to the ruins first. It was very cool, but mostly kind of creepy. To think that one day in 79 AD Mt. Vesuvius erupted and wiped out the entire city. Just annihilated them. Some people were literally frozen in place in the streets where the lava got them. The volcano erupted to a height of 33km spewing molten rock and pumice 1.5 million tons per second. Which apparently is a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the atom bomb we dropped on Hiroshima. Unfortunately, due to our late arrival, we did not have enough time to explore the entire ruins. So I don’t know if there is a lot we missed. We did see a brothel. Which was one of the first built for that purpose in Europe. The beds certainly did not look comfortable, as they were all stone. But most interestingly, from an anthropological standpoint, were the ‘pornographic” murals on the walls. First of all, to think that murals have survived 2000 years is surprising in and of itself, but to see what adorned the walls of a brothel in the 1st century was interesting. What was very sad was to read that the prostitutes were Greek or Asian (ok, it said Oriental) slaves. So apparently sex trafficking is the world’s oldest profession. We saw some private homes and the ruins left there. You could definitely tell a difference between these ruins and other “homes”. Those people must have been quite wealthy for the time. A lot of artwork on the walls remained in those homes, as well. Finally, in one of the baths that we saw were the remains of two inhabitants. It was incredibly surreal to see what appeared to be a plaster cast of a person but know that it was actually a person. The people were frozen in place by the lava and essentially preserved like that. There were some toes missing, but for the most part, it was a whole person. Very eerie and incredibly sad. We then grabbed some sandwiches and pringles for lunch, as we intended to catch the 1:10 public bus up to Mt. Vesuvius. We had gotten a bit of a run-around when we first arrived in the train station about what bus and what time would take us up. We had heard about a tour, but I didn’t want to do a tour, so we didn’t give it much thought. As we were waiting for the bus (which was late, which was good) we were realizing that by the time we would arrive up to climb to the top and back down, we may not make the final public bus down the mountain. So I investigated the tour in more detail, knowing that the next one was at 2pm. We ended up going with the tour and we were very glad we did. It worked out quite well. We took a shuttle bus partway up and then these massive off-road coach-bus-style Mercedes Jeeps up another 1050 meters. Then we hiked the rest of the way. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. It was very steep, the gravel/dirt was very loose, and I think the altitude affected me more than I thought it would. It was a difficult climb, but I made it! We took a couple pit stops to take photos of the view, which was good because we were entirely surrounded by clouds on our way down! Once we reached the crater we kept taking multiple photos, hiking around it more, taking photos, lather, rinse, repeat! Pretty sure we have 100 photos of the crater that pretty much all look the same! But it was just SO cool to be standing on the rim of an active volcano, in fact, the largest active volcano in Europe! It was even smoking a bit! I wasn’t too worried, even if it is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world! Once we got to where we were done hiking around, we wanted a photo of the two of us. So I saw a pretty hot guy with another guy and decided to ask them! The hot guy, we shall call him Bob, said yes and goes, I think we could sense other Americans! He and his friend, Terry, were navy guys. Bob is stationed in Italy and is dog handling for the military. And Terry is stationed in northern Japan, but just got back from a 6 month deployment to the Middle East and is on his 2-week leave visiting Bob. We had a great convo as we hiked back down the mountain. Terry is originally from Florida and Bob from California. Terry told me about the first time he saw snow: 21 years old and the day after he arrived at his first station assignment in New Jersey! I said, but how can you have Christmas without snow?? He said, well I’m Jewish, so that helps! HA! We had a great time chatting with these guys…Terry even has a shot glass collection. So we were talking shot glasses. He wanted one from the Vatican, but I told him I didn’t see any there! The funniest part of this story is that as the four of us approached the Mercedes Jeep things to get on, the driver pointed out that we should be in separate vehicles (due to the numbers on our stickers). We were all like, Oh, we part here? The driver then wanted to make sure he wasn’t getting in the way of any romance and kept asking, did you meet? And kept putting his forefingers together, I think asking if we were “together.” Because he was going to let us in that vehicle if that was the case! So hilarious! We took the very bumpy ride back down the mountain and the train back to Sorrento. Mallory found a great restaurant online called Inn Buffalito. So we headed there for dinner. I got seafood spaghetti, again being on the ocean. I asked what seafood was in it and he said clams, mussels, squid, and prawns. Perfect. I also wanted more bruschetta. When it came Mallory decided that she wanted some, too. It came with four small pieces of buffalo mozzarella and was way better than the bruschetta we had in Rome! This time we also received a proper bread basket with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I could’ve done without the bruschetta, had I known that! My spaghetti came and soon after I started de-shelling my clams and mussels, what do I see but a slightly purple tentacle. Um, no one said anything about octopus. I draw the line at octopus. I think it was just an errant tentacle, though, because I didn’t find any more. And Mallory ate that! After dinner we hit up the Scottish bar for a drink and that was an adventure! The proprietor was a typical Italian…very loud and flirty! I asked if they had cider and he said yes, and that they had two kinds. A strawberry lime and “regular.” I asked what brands, but he was insistent that I have the strawberry lime. Very insistent. So that’s what I had. He poured it in my glass and stuck a straw in it, thrusting it in my face saying. “you try first, then you pay!” It tasted like strawberry Crush with a slight tinge of alcohol. And it was bright red. Whatever. I drank it! It was a really fun night!
Pompeii/Mt. Vesuvius November 17, 2014