Thursday, April 14, 2011
Woke at 5:30 A.M. to make sure I got in the shower first again, then I was down for breakfast at 6:30. This was a day I'd been looking forward to for a long time. We were going to Pompeii!
Two taxis took us to the central station, and we all tried to stick together and established a meeting point. The train was leaving at 7:35 A.M, and it was now 7:10. We all wandered off to get drinks, food, and cash. We agreed to meet up at our point before boarding the train. Five minutes later everyone was there except Beth. We waited five more minutes, but Beth was still not there! 7:25 came and went--as did 7:30. By that time we were all pretty worried, and plan b sprung into action!
Joe and Kim ran to get on the train to see if Beth was already onboard while Kami, Zach, and I stood at the end of the platform to make sure she didn't walk past us. Meanwhile, Mark remained at the meeting point in case she came back. Mark gave us all our tickets and told us to get on the train no matter what, and he would catch up with us later on. It got to 7:33--Kami, Kim, Zach, and Joe were all in their seats, and I was hanging out of the train door till the whistle blew, then I had to go to my seat. As the train started to pull out we all realised Mark had now missed the train. Within 20 seconds of the train pulling away from the station who should we see walking down the aisle towards us? Beth!!
After a few explanations we were all just glad that Beth was safe and hadn't been abducted, got lost, or met a romantic Italian man that had swept her off her feet--there were all sorts of other things in our heads!
I immediately called Mark, whose words on the other end of the phone are not printable here! Nah--only joking--he was fine and just glad Beth was safe. He immediately went to the ticket office and purchased a ticket for the next train which was an hour later, and he would meet up with us in Pompeii.
We had just over an hour's train ride to Naples where we would change trains, and then we had another 30 minute ride to Pompeii. At home I'd put the audio from the Pompeii DVD on my Blackberry so I could listen to it when we were in the amphitheatre. Every so often during the train ride, I would play the first “ping” from Echoes, and everyone would look up with smiles on their faces, then I'd say, “No, no--not quite yet.”
We arrived in Pompeii around 10:15, and Mark messaged me to say he would arrive around 11:30. We all really wanted to go see Vesuvius, but it was a two hour round-trip bus ride, and the way the buses and trains worked out, it would only give us an hour at most to look around Pompeii, so we all decided to save that for next time. Believe me--there WILL be a next time!
Kim, Joe, and Zach headed off into the ruins first. I walked with Kami to get a lemonade at one of the several stalls outside the station. Pompeii is pretty much the archaeological site--there's little else to see there, so the tourist traps are right outside the station--guys pestering you to take taxis here and there, women wanting you to look at their “souvenir” stalls, and, of course, the lemonade stalls! Once you've exited the station, that's their only chance to catch you!! That said, the lemonade was spectacular, as were the huge, Kami's-head-sized lemons!
We’re here! (without Mark) The lemonade was amazing Lemons as big as heads!
Beth hung back at the station to meet Mark while Kami and I ventured into the ruins of Pompeii. Kevin told me in Milan how good Pompeii was--that you could spend at least a couple of days wandering around. I had no idea just how impressive the ruins were, though. The whole city was there--it was huge! There were so many significant sites and areas to walk around and take in--it was amazing how much survived the volcanic eruption and preceding earthquake.
Vesuvius the volcano Pompeii ruins Vesuvius and ruins
We realised soon after we entered that there would be a lot to see. Mark texted when he arrived--we agreed to all meet up at the amphitheatre at 1 P.M. Kami navigated the map she had haggled for at the station, and we wandered around looking everywhere at everything. It was hot--the sun was out--it was the perfect day for being outside and doing what we were doing. There were signs everywhere warning about the stray dogs that roam the site, and it wasn't long before we saw a few crashed out in the cool corners of the ruins. It was obviously too hot a day for them! As we were walking down one of the ancient stone streets, we heard one of the tour guides pointing out a sign on the road to the local brothel. It made us laugh when we saw it!
One of the signs One of the dogs The sign pointing to the brothel!
We bumped into everyone else just as we were walking to the smaller amphitheatre about noon.
We all made our way down towards the larger amphitheatre, but separated on the way. Kami and I took our time and still got there first. (Chalk it up to good navigating.) This was the one site I longed to see for years. As we walked in, the hairs on my neck just stood on end. I couldn't believe I was here! I had a couple of pictures of the Floyd as they were here on my phone--I wanted to make sure I saw it exactly as they did, and I also wanted to know which side they were facing. There were a few school groups in when we arrived who were pretty noisy, and my idea of sitting in silence and listening to Pompeii live on my phone didn't seem like it was going to happen. However, Kami and I turned delinquent, hopped a fence, and made our way to the top of the grass banking looking over the amphitheatre. It was a lot quieter up there! We just sat in silence for a few minutes while I put Set The Controls on. Minutes later we saw Mark, Beth, Kim, Joe, and Zach step in through the entrance across from us.
Walking into the Amphitheatre Me fulfilling a dream The others arriving
Kim, Zach, and Joe made their way up the banking to join Kami and I. Mark and Beth were non-delinquent and stayed on the ground. It was then I saw mark pretending to bash the gong and play the drums like Nick in the middle of the floor! I have a video clip of this, but not on my laptop, so I will add it later.
The five of us sat there, and NOW it was time for the “ping” of Echoes! We listened to it for a few minutes before heading back down to the floor to see Mark and Beth, but not before Zach played Gilmours's riffs on air guitar--another video clip I'll add later on.
As we got onto the floor all school groups started leaving, and as they did we all stood in the middle of the amphitheatre, where I got someone to take our picture. There must have been no more than a dozen people in there once all the kids left!
Group shot Kim and Joe I was happy!
By the time we finished in the amphitheatre and a quick (turned long) swing by the garden of plaster cast bodies, it was already 2:30 P.M, and we were catching the 4 P.M. train back to Naples, so we started to make our way back to the exit. None of us had eaten since we arrived (well Kim had--she had what looked like the most amazing chocolate donut I've ever seen outside the station when we arrived!) so Kim, Joe, Zach, and I headed out of the ruins to find some food and drink. Kami, Mark, and Beth stayed to see the brothel, the baths, the gambling house, the baker's, and the house of the large fountain (the origin of the stone face from the Pompeii video) before they left. With Master Navigator Kami in charge, it was no problem. By the way, Beth, my comment that once you've seen one brothel you've seen them all really was a joke!
Map of the ruins Joes birthday present This is where I would stay
Zach and I had a huge tub of Gelato (no surprise there, I know) while Kim and Joe bought a huge Penis! (I kid you not!) Then we made our way back to the station where we met up with Kami, Mark, and Beth in time to catch the 4:20 train back to Naples.
Pompeii train station Kami at the station Kim and Joe tired out like everyone else
We got back to Naples with about 25 minutes before our connecting train back to Rome left. We made sure Beth stayed with us at all times--she was under strict instructions not to wander off! (Only joking again, Beth!) We all fell asleep on the train back to Rome, and the second I woke up I guessed that Kami and Beth took pictures of me allegedly snoring--they did.
We were all totally shattered when we got back to the hotel and decided to go straight out for dinner, Joe, Zach, and Kim went out on their own while Kami, Beth, Mark, and I headed to the restaurant which was closed for the private party the previous night. We took a table outside, had some fabulous food and wine, then headed back to the hotel for an early night. Had to be ready for our last day of sightseeing in Rome in the morning!
All the Pompeii pictures below
Posted by Simon W at Thursday, April 14, 2011