Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sorrento/Pompeii (Saturday)

Oh what a day! Today began with us getting up oh so early at 6:45. We managed to dress and go up to the Terrace for a light breakfast. After my tendering experience of yesterday, we didn’t want to eat too heavily. We went down to our meeting point and found Margaret, our new found travelling buddy. She took over since she has done an excursion every day since we left Rome. It was nice to have someone who knew the procedures. We had our boarding ticket and we were in Group 6. Later we realized there were 12 other groups that went to Pompeii from our ship. Once our number was called we headed down to board the tender. Mom handled it like a pro! We had to get on land and then take a shuttle to our awaiting bus. I swear I don’t know how people survive driving here. The shuttle ride was harrowing in itself. We then boarded a motor coach for the 35 minute trip to the site. The trip consisted of numerous hairpin turns and one lane streets that weren’t quite as wide as the bus. In fact, we had people passing us where there was no room and on hairpin turns. It was fun to see the open fish markets with the fresh catch all along the streets. The drive was beautiful even when I was cringing as vehicles passed us. We went around the Bay of Sorrento and the Bay of Napoli. Mount Vesuvius soon came into view.

We both agree that it seemed much smaller and less conical than expected, but nevertheless, still impressive. We arrived at the archaeological site and began the tour. The site is much more vast than we had thought, and the terrain much more difficult to navigate. This was by far the most difficult venture that Mom has tried this entire trip. I must say she couldn’t have done this three weeks ago, she has made great strides – literally.

It is hard to explain how this place feels. I walked around with my mouth hanging open half of the time. We were able to walk up and touch walls and columns that have been buried for almost 2000 years. The frescos are truly a sight to behold. The colors are so vibrant and the artistry quite refined.

We toured the “spas”, a traditional home (which was very large with many rooms), the various shops, and a fish market. There was even a bakery complete with oven that is perfectly preserved!

We also had the opportunity to see the ash entombed bodies. One particular one on display was that of a slave, which you could tell due to the belt that was apparent, and you could see the bones of his skull and even his teeth. I have a picture which I will post at a later time so that you can appreciate the level of preservation.

Many of the streets were once tiled in marble, some of which still exist. Others are covered in very large flat stones, but still very uneven. You can see the grooves from where carts and chariots would have passed through the city streets. At the time of the eruption 15,000 peopled lived in Pompeii. I still need to look up how many survived. They are still excavating much of the site, so I look forward to coming back again and spending more time. By the end, Mom was about give out – that’s the only way I can put it.

The heat contributed to her exhaustion as it was in the 80s and we were in the direct sun. Once we were finished with the official tour, we had about 30 minutes of free time. Instead of walking around anymore we chose a cool spot in the shade and had a glass of lemon granite, a nice frozen refreshing drink. We made it back to the bus after about another ½ mile walk. It was time to go back to the town of Sorrento. We were taken to a place where they make various types of wood inlay furniture, boxes, trays, etc. It is really a fascinating and tedious craft. Mom was ready to go back to the ship as was Margaret – after all it was 13:30 and we had not eaten since breakfast. Margaret offered to help Mom back to the ship while I stayed in town. Here is my confession – they had a ton of internet spots, but I opted to shop. I do have a ton of photos to post, but I only had a few hours in Sorrento.
I ran into one of our waiters from the ship who was kind enough to help orient me to the area so that I would not get lost. I really appreciated that. I did buy some souvenirs and other mementos from the town. It was now getting on to 14:20 and I needed to catch the shuttle back to the tender. I think that portion was the most terrifying and I nearly suffered from motion sickness, again. I’m not used to all of this crazy driving. The tendering was painless, and I was back in our stateroom. I found Mom out on the verandah taking in the sites and the setting sun. The sister ship Insignia was also in port anchored nearby. After enjoying the sunset we headed up for dinner. Mom had napped and skipped lunch, and I was too busy shopping, so we were both famished. We went up to the casual restaurant where we met Margaret for dinner. We had some roasted oysters and a Caesar salad for appetizers and Mom had the yummy pasta while I had the stir fried lamb. We enjoyed dessert, some butter pecan gelato for Mom and a piece of chocolate mousse cake for me. We also had some hot tea. It was time for the string quartet up in the Hall, so we adjourned to listen to some music. As always, it was most enjoyable. We are both pretty exhausted, so we are now back in our room, probably heading to bed soon. We did receive notice that we “fall back” this evening. I think it’s earlier than in the States. We should be moving forward an hour in another day or two. It gets really confusing. Tomorrow we are in Taormina, Sicily. No excursions planned, so we’ll see what the day holds for us.


Laura T. said...

Shopping instead of posting??? :-O For shame, Lara, for shame! ;-) Can't wait to see the pics but also can't wait to see the treasures you bring home.

Hunter said...

You know it must have been a big day for L to get up soo early. L/ H. said...

Glad you got to Pompeii. It is one of the most unusual places on earth, and we like the way you described it. Did Pompeii smell as smokey as we remember?