The cruise ship I am working on docked in Naples a few days ago. This Italian city is very close to the ancient city of Pompeii. As my friend Leah and I exited the cruise ship terminal, we were bombarded with Italians trying to entice us to take private taxi tours. We carried on talking to each other and walked through the crowds of punters. I felt a little rude, but it was quite intimidating having all these people swarm over you. As we got further out, there were still people trying for business, but they were more relaxed.
Leah asked how much it would be to go to Pompeii for the day. It was going to be 100 euros there and 100 euros back, so we didn’t waste any more of his time. We then consulted the “hop on hop off bus” which was going to be 15 euros which was actually not too bad, but a few days before we had both researched that we could get there on the train for 2.50 euros. We walked through the streets of Naples to the train station which took 20 minutes and then we spent about another 20 minutes figuring out what train we needed to get, because the station was huge and everything was in Italian which neither of us speaks. We asked a few people about going to Pompeii, and even the people who worked at the station shrugged their shoulders and just said they didn’t know. Finally, an elderly man could see we were getting nowhere, so he came up to us and then took us to the escalator that leads to the station which was amazing of him.
The train ride took 45 minutes to get to the city of Pompeii. When coming out of the station everyone we asked instructed us to get a taxi to the ancient city as it was far away and we would get lost, so being ‘not in the know’ we did. The cab was literally 4 minutes and came to 6 euros. So we didn’t need a taxi, we could have walked there in probably 10 minutes.
Walking up to the entrance of Pompeii was so exciting. For under 25-year-olds it costs 9 euros to get in and 25 and over, it’s 15 euros. The queue took about 10 minutes, but most of that was spent watching the ticket office man having a fight with a customer in Italian. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the fiery debate with all the hand gestures.
We wandered along a tree-lined avenue which took us into the first set of ruins. For those of you who don’t know, the city of Pompeii was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius’ erupted in AD79 at 1pm. The eruption was more powerful than an atomic bomb. As the mountain exploded, the entire top of the mountain came off with it, which released ash, gas, stone and debris into the air, which completely blocked out the sun.
Walking through (what was) the Colosseum, it was great to take a seat and get a feel for what it would have been like to sit amongst people and watch an exciting game. As we came out of the Colosseum into the streets, it wasn’t obvious which way to go, so we took a left. The floor is very uneven, so you really have to watch where you are treading.
Walking past a little house and walking around what was left of it, it was exciting to see how simple life was back then. We walked into what I can only imagine was a temple as it had a beautiful garden in the centre in the building and on the main wall was the most stunning painting. It is unbelievable to think something from that long ago is still around today and managed to survive through all this city had to endure.
When exiting the streets, we came to a large area of greenery where we stumbled upon the palace which we then had a look around. There were four hallways that guarded the private garden in the centre, that would have only been available to society’s elite. What’s really interesting is how intact some areas of the city are, and how other areas are ruins. Looking back I wish we had spent the extra money and done a tour. We were walking around aimlessly and although it was incredible to see, it would have been even more so if we had of known what we were looking at.
When exiting the old city, there was a large glass hall that you can not enter, but as you look through the glass, you can see cast figures that have been made to replicate the people’s positions when the volcano hit. It was disturbing to see some of the casts and you can only imagine how terrified they were, and it really shows through their position.
When we finished exploring the ancient city we decided to take a stroll around the new Pompeii which is filled with beautiful buildings, palm trees and fountains. We wandered in and out of the charming boutiques that sold beautiful clothes, souvenirs, and nick-nacks. We picked up a sandwich from a vendor and sat on the grass in the sunshine to eat. It was nice to relax and watch the world go by.
After a little more wandering, we made the 10-minute walk ( as predicted) back to Pompeii Station and caught the train back to Naples. 1 hour later we were back, but just before going back to the ship, we decided to have a look in the shop ‘Tiger Tiger’, as there’s always something in there you never knew you needed. While paying, a family of four came barging past us and nudged us out of the way. It did think it was rude of them, but as the shop was so busy, we didn’t think much into it. It was only when we got into a taxi Leah realised her purse was missing. After searching the cab to make sure it hadn’t fallen out in there, she ran back in to see if she had left it on the side when paying, but it wasn’t there. We came to the conclusion that the family of four had pickpocketed her after she had paid for her goods, when the man barged into her.
This was not a brilliant end to the day, but Pompeii was truly amazing and is well worth a visit if you get the chance but, just be careful with your belongings.
Leah cancelled her cards straight away so everything was ok, but its just hassle that no-one needs.