Saturday, September 7, 2013

Day 3---Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius

This is the garden where breakfast is served each morning. Very nice---not hot at all.

We were really excited about today and we weren't disappointed. We met our driver in the hotel lobby at 9 a.m. for the drive to Pompeii. Once there, we met our private guide, Julia. 
It's so worth it to have a private guide to avoid situations just like this. You can't even see the end of the line. She was able to go to the front of the line and get our tickets. No wait for us. That includes, while inside the city too---we get to go ahead of all the lines---no waiting. Definitely a perk and I know I am spoiled! Now if we could only find someone like this for Disney World!
Pompeii was incredible. Butch said it reminded him exactly of Epheseus in Greece. Our guide said that it was the same time period so it would look the same except Pompeii is much bigger. I didn't really remember too much from history about Pompeii. On August 24th, 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted. The 18,000 people of Pompeii were immediately poisoned by the gas and then buried in 21ft. of ash. Anyone that came to find out what had happened, or to loot, were also killed by the gases. As a result, it was just abandoned.
Centuries later, when they tried to find the city, they couldn't. Pompeii was a seaport. After a few centuries, the shoreline had receded. It wasn't until 17... something that, while building, they accidentally discovered the ancient city beneath them. That's when the excavation started.
This is Julia. She was so interesting. The whole story is completely amazing. As we all know, the Romans were pretty advanced with roads and sanitation. The people here bathed 3 times a week. I have family members that don't even do that!
The houses were all very large as this was a wealthy community. This is the entry to the house called the atrium. I'm not going in to the whole story or layout, but behind was the garden. Enough of the history lesson.
Our picture with Mt. Vesuvius in the background. It seems so far away---and took us about 45 minutes to get there by car. When the eruption happened, the city was cast in total darkness for 3 days. By the time the sun broke through, all 18,000 were dead. If the wind had blown the other way, Naples would have been buried.
 When we arrived at Mt. Vesuvius, I took one look at the dusty trail and the distance and said, "no way." I saw Butch off and parked myself on a bench with my book.
 We must have had our esp going because at some point, I looked up and there he was waving at me. This is actually closer than he was. See that little dot in the middle of the photo?
This was the closest I could get of him waving at me. He continued on to the top. A couple times he thought of turning back, but thought he couldn't possibly have that much farther to go. Really, what kept him going was that he was hunting for a geo-cache at the top. He found it and left a travel bug traveling from Sweden. He was happy.
I met him on his way down---all covered in dust. I was happy I didn't try it for a couple of reasons---too far and steep---in fact, when Butch had checked his "fitbit" it said he had gone 78 flights of stairs (he said it was more than that)---that would be reason enough, but probably the biggest reason at the time was that I had on new pants that I need to wear another time. I knew they would be permeated with dust.

Butch explained geo-caching to our driver and guide. Julia was all excited when Butch described to her where a cache was hidden in Sorrento---where she has lived all her life. She immediately went to the website so she can sign up! It's a really fun and "free" thing to do. There are geo-caches all over the world. To find out more about it, check it out here.We're pretty sure she went to find the one Butch told her about tonight.

As we were driving back to Sorrento, I saw signs for cameo factories. Since cameos are made in this area, I had decided that I wanted to get one for my souvenir. I had planned to go out tonight to shop for it. I asked Julia if those factories gave tours. She said they did and asked if we wanted to go. I jumped all over it---another thing about your own drivers and guides, you get to do unusual things.
We went to "APA"---a family owned business since 1848. Here's where my ignorance comes in. I had no idea that cameos are carved from sea shells. I don't think I ever really thought about what they were made of. Of course, you can find plenty of "fakes" made out of plastic and acrylic, but the authentic ones are made out of sea shells.
 We got to see one of their craftsman at work. The value of the cameo is determined by the amount of detail in the work. Some can take weeks to carve. No two are ever alike.
My new best "cameo" buddies! I was so happy for my purchase. They even threw in the gold chain. I'm no dummy, I know that ultimately I paid for it!!
On the way back to Sorrento, we stopped for a photo op. Just so beautiful. It's the Mediterranean Sea--I asked our driver first thing this morning. I'm not afraid to look stupid. I thought it was the Med, but didn't want to just assume. After our Mediterranean cruise where we were on other seas besides the Med, I just wasn't sure. I want to know EVERTHING!! Not that I'll remember it! But for just a little while I will.
This is the cameo I settled on for myself. I struggled with getting the traditional one, but I was so drawn to this one. It's called "three maidens." It's about 2" tall and can be worn as a pin or a pendant. Notice the detail of the flowers above and the ruffled skirt. It's actually carved out of black onyx. When you turn it over, it's black. This is what the inside looks like.

Anyway, it was a great lesson and a great day. We got back to the hotel around 4. We freshened up and  headed out for an early dinner since we never stopped for lunch. Julia had recommended a couple of places, but we were too early for them. We ended up going back to the same place as last night. We forced ourselves to get something different and it was just as excellent. Tonight, I didn't let my eyes get the better of me! We shared a Caesar salad---usually, I've been burned out with them, but whenever they come with anchovies, I always go for it. 

We also shared the lasagna. I felt pretty safe having pasta since I was wearing my coral blouse. I'm always careful not to wear white to an Italian restaurant. Well, I was doing just fine until Butch decided to flip some meat on me. He was all apologetic, but still, it left a grease mark. I plan to wear all of my clothes twice. I've learned my lesson and always carry extra tops. Looks like that's going to come in handy this time. But still...

Coming up---Day 4---the Amalfi coast.

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  1. I really enjoyed this post with all the history and your humour! Sounds like you had a wonderful day and purchased a beautiful keepsake too x

  2. Oh so in love with the cameo, that is beautiful. Everytime you look at it you will be whisked back to that lovely day. That will be a precious to tell a story about.

  3. You are bringing back happy memories with this one. I achieved a life long ambition the day I got to Pompeii. You are right: it doesn't disappoint. It's wonderful


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