Saturday, June 14, 2014

Daytrippin' to Pompeii

We were basing ourselves in Sorrento, south of Napoli, because we wanted to go to the Amalfi coast area, and to see the ruins of Pompeii.
We'd gone to Amalfi, now it was Pompeii's turn!

We had already powered past the Pompeii train station on our way from Napoli to Sorrento, so we had a very good idea where it was.
Even so, we sat on the hot train (no noticeable A/C, but the windows were open) for what felt like forever.. until, just as I was getting worried that we'd somehow managed to bypass it, it came up as the next stop. Pheeew!
Train station at Pompeii - or Pompei, as Italians call it

Of course, we'd had a piddly little breakfast - our "B&B" was more a "Bed and small snack", so we were starving by the time we got to Pompeii. Conveniently, there was a restaurant right at the station - literally attached to it. So we ignored that "it's a tourist trap" feeling, sat down, and had some decent food (big portions). See Food around the world for pics of the food.

Bellies satisfied, we proceeded to the entrance to the archaeological site, less than a two minute stroll from the station. Impossible to miss it.

We got our tickets and, for once, an audioguide, as we felt that we'd miss too much if we didn't have some sort of guidance. The sign on the audioguide booth claims that you only get a map when you rent the guide, but Naomi got a map and a little guidebook from another window.

For anyone travelling to Pompeii, this little (free) guide book does have quite a bit of info, which covers pretty much the same ground as the audioguide, so if you want to save the 6.50 euro of the audioguide fee, just get the book. And map! You'll be lost without the map!

Getting guidance
We walked around in the blistering heat, seeing many interesting parts of this 2000 year old city.
They liked to build temples back then, and put naked people in them - ok, statues of naked people - ok, statues of "gods" that happen to look just like naked people..
Apollo the god of boxers?
Too bad he didn't wear any!
We would often combine a break in the shade with listening to the audioguide. This made it tricky to know what the heck the guide was talking about, as it would assume you were walking where it was talking about.. "On the left you see..." and "As we look behind this, we see..." type of stuff.
But the guide was in a refined British accent, so I felt like I was being educated, even when I had no clue what it was on about..
Shady character
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from Pompeii - but I did expect to see more of these guys around the place:
I pictured them inside the various buildings, but this was not the case, at least not with the buildings we saw.
And we saw inside less buildings that we expected - a good half of the listed buildings were closed off, as were many of the streets.
Would be good if they mentioned this on the map, so we didn't trudge in the sun only to be met with a "no high-fiveing access" sign..
Forever leaving you hangin'..
We did get into the Villa of the Mysteries, though - but a lot of that was also off-limits due to restoration works in progress.
Ooooh, so mysterious..
Walking the ancient roads
The gladiatorial arena in Pompeii was very well-preserved by the volcanic ashes, and made a nice contrast to the Colosseum in Rome.
A bit smaller than the one in Rome..

"We, who are about to die, salute you"
The theatre was really well-preserved, too. I liked how you would enter at the rear, which was at your ground level, but that was at the top, as the ground was sloped/shaped that way.
"All the world's a stage"

We were desperately trying to get to the brothel, and after being foiled by closed roads and massive tour groups clogging the place, we finally got in.
NSFW ancient murals..
Apparently, the pictures were to inspire the clients to try new things..
The poor "workers" were basically non-citizens, with few rights unless they married (which would probably not be too common). I say "workers" because the pimp took all the money. So they were essentially slaves.
Caught in a brothel by my wife!!
The beds in the brothel were made of stone!! And they were tiny!

Flowers in a Pompeii garden
We had a nice day, excepting the heat and, at times, the crowds of tourgroups. We saw a bunch of history and behind it all - surprisingly distant, I thought - Mount Vesuvius, the killer of Pompeii..

Vesuvius, trying to look all picturesque and innocent..