July 23, 2005 — Sa Wat Dema

When the stars start to shine lika you a had too much wine, that’s a Napoli! Naples is one of the most confusing stops on our whole trip. It is a beautiful but dirty old city with like 3 or 4 crumbling old castles, great seafood, with the ocean on one side and Mt Vesuvius on the other. It was our stopping point for a trip to Pompei and Vesuvius. but Naples is incredibly hard to navigate if you haven’t booked in advance.

First of all, we are stupid. We arrived at the train station at like 11 at night with no clue where to go and no knowledge of Itlalian. Unlike most other train stations we have encountered, the Naples station is in a horrible part of the city and very scary at night. The wierd part is that there are luxury hotels for business men all arouind it. We cabbed to the only hostel in Naples on the other side of twon to find out it was full. We ended up having to go back to the station and stayed at a 4 star hotel that ended being almost the same price for the 3 of us as the hostel! It was nice to finally have a real shower.

We only really toured the city when we went out to dinner the next day. We went big! A young cab driver took us to this great restaurant, went in to see if they had a table, sat us next to these dutch girls, and told the restaurant to take care of us. They ended up bringing like 6 different antipastos, an expensive but great wine, and great pasta. We ate like kings. We paid for it, but it was worth it.

What they say about Italian hospoitality is correct. On the train ride to Pompei, which is like 40 minutes outside of Naples, this old italian man was awesome. This Canadian couple was standing next to us carrying the biggest backpacks I have ever seen (the Canucks tend to do that, and they also always have Canadian flag patches on there stuff – the freakin’ hosers). Anyway, there were open seats next to the man and he told the Canucks to sit down. Well, he actually kind of yelled at them in Itlaian to sit down, and they were a little scared so they didn’t. He was mad that they wuldn’t accept his offer. So he told everyone else on the train what he thought. Finally they did sit and he offered them some of the pastry he was eating. Manga ! Manga! They didn’t eat so he yelled again. He was happy when they eventually did, but i think he was ready to start with us.

Pompei was amazing! It is so large, with so much to see. As at most Italian sites, they have audio tours you can take which are a bit confusing but cool. There was a camping place near the site where we should have stayed and where the archaeolocial project I almost joined stays. We toured the site in the morning and then took a bus to the top of Mt Vesuvio, the volcano that buried Pompei in AD 46 ( I think). Well, we took a bus almost to the top. We had to hike up a very steep path for about 40 minutes before we got there. It was hard but worth it. The only problem was that by the time we hiked down, the last bus of the day had left! You should have seen Derek talking to every person with a car there, regardless of nationality, trying to hitch us a ride. He should be a professional mime. He almost got us a ride with these French people but I think they got scarded when he tried to explain that we took the BIG bus here, not the small one. I don’t really know what happened, but they drove off quickly. We eventually got a ride in this tiny volvo along with two other stranded people from a father and son from California. Jason was very comfortable in the trunk. The driver was in the Navy and stationed in Italy, but he apparently knew no italian or where the train station was. We ended up driving around these small towns on the cost: Torre del Greco and Encorino (or someting) and were totally lost for hours before we finally found the station. It was highly uncomfortable, but at least we got to see these little italian towns.
We stayed at the 4-star place one more night (because we couldn’t book a place in Rome on-line because they were all booked for this weekend due to a wine festival - we eventually got one when we got there though) —and then took a train to Roma!…

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