Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pompeii via Naples - Day 4

After 3 days in Rome, we decided that we had seen all the big sites and enough of the smaller sites that we wanted to see something else. We decided to head down to the old city of Pompeii via Naples.

The morning got off to an interesting start when I got out of bed and could not support my own weight because my feet hurt so bad! Putting on shoes helped and an ibuprofen eventually kicked in but I limped all the way to the metro station.

Getting to Naples was about an hour and a half train ride from Rome. After that we got on a commuter train for 30 minutes to Pompeii (called the Circumvesuviana). We sat across from a German guy who was quite the chatterbox. He apparently traveled a lot (to Las Vegas 10 times). I was glad he was sitting across from us though as I got to worry less about pick pockets. This train has a reputation for being one of the worst.

Pompeii was neat. I was there before on my trip to Italy in ~1996 but I didn't really remember much. In retrospect, we should have gotten a guide or at least audio guide. We followed the Rick Steves book for a while and then just wandered around. We walked all the way back to the stadium that I did remember from my trip before except you can't walk up into the seating area anymore. Bummer! We took a group picture up there last time! One sad thing in Pompeii was there were a good number of stray dogs. Poor things.

After touring the runis for about 2 hours, we had lunch right across the street. It was really good but after the bill was €20, not €17 as it should be. I went to go get the menu to check and the waitress came by, pointed to the part about 15% gratuity added and yanked the menu from me. Good to know but could she have done it in a more rude way? I didn't mind the gratuity but I do mind getting ripped off. (It was more than 15% too, the rounded up!)

We got back to Naples and decided we really didn't have any desire to explore the city. We were tired and it really didn't look very exciting. Plus, it is the center of the Itallian mafia and was currently in a "trash pickup"crisis! We got on the next train and after sitting in the terminal for an hour after our departure time, we were off. (I've heard that Italy's train system is not the most punctual, we found out on only our second ride.)

We had dinner at the train station in Rome. One thing of note here. In Italy, olive oil is like ketsup in the US. Say you go into McD's in the US, you have a ketsup pump and can eat all you want right? Well in Italy, at least at this place, you have a bunch liter bottles of olive oil to put on salads or whatever. That stuff is expensive (in the US) too! We also sampled some more gelato on the way home. I had pistachio and Teresa has raspberry. Both were excellent.

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