Sunday, 1 June 2014

Naples and Vesuvius

23-30 May

After a wonderful week in Rome, we were up bright and early for our train to Naples. We quickly realised we were headed for the wrong station and had to make a detour but we made it. We were sat in a cute 6 seat booth complete with wine glass holders. This was train travel in Italy. It felt like something from a movie, I was just missing some style!

Yummy cakes

As the train approached, I got my first glimpse of Vesuvius and began to get excited about our trip to Pompeii. The city looked as large and intimidating as the volcano and I began remembering everything I'd heard about Naples.

It was early when we arrived so we stored our luggage and went for a wonder to the marina and a castle. Instantly I was getting vibes of Southampton and Cherbourg, both marina towns. The signs, the cruise ships and the atmosphere was oddly familiar.

That night a tour guide staying at our hotel was mugged a few streets away from Corso Umberto, the main street in Naples, and this made us anxious. The following day we were a little nervous to go out, especially as Mark had almost been pick pocketed in Rome. I couldn't believe that in all our months of travelling and scam dodging in Asia, Naples had me scared to leave the hotel. The city wasn't exactly doing much to make us feel any better either, even the ticket man at the train station warned us about watching our bag; all we asked for was a timetable! He was nice about it, and obviously trying to help, but he was a rare breed. Many people in Naples seem to be born angry about something. There weren't a lot of smiles.

I was smiling at the pizza though! If there is one thing the Neapolitan's do well it's pizza, and I munched my way through plenty whilst I was here!

Pizza Margherita in Naples! The best!

On Tuesday we climbed Vesuvius! We had found information on getting there and the prices very sparse, so here is a 2014 update! Get the train to Pompeii Scavi, and get a ticket from the vendor at the station. Their bus will take you from the station to the park, and from the park to the top by 4x4. You still have to walk the last very steep bit to the crater. The price is €22 per person. It was no cheaper to get any other offer as the crater price is €10 alone. Whilst we waited I heard another tourist ask if there was a restaurant at the top. Mark and I giggled his naivety, but actually there was a refreshment stand at the top!

It was a bumpy ride up as the bus was more like an armoured tank. The 4x4s were more comfortable, but also bouncy. We arrived near the summit surrounded by the clouds, and the cool wind was refreshing to the point of chilly at times!

About to be covered in cloud on Vesuvius

When we reached the crater it was so much larger than I expected. To imagine an eruption was quite frightening, especially considering there were constant streams of gases being released from the sides. I think our experience would have been better if the clouds had cleared and we could see the view, but the crater was still worth a visit!

Towards the end of our visit we went to the National Archaeological Museum, which houses an impressive collection of sculptures and a large collection of artistic and domestic items recovered from Pompeii. The mosaics were out of this world and I was astounded to see that the people of Pompeii had impressive glass and silverware.

Boney mosaic

Soon enough it was the end of our visit and we were off to Florence, and whilst I can't say Naples has stolen my heart, its been a great week!