Day 1: Naples
Our trip began on Saturday, September 18, 2010. With the long flight and crossing many time zones, we didn't arrive in Europe until Sunday, September 19. We landed in Naples, Italy. At the airport, we caught a bus to Garabaldi central station, then took the metro to our hotel, the Pinto Storey. The hotel was in a great location - literally right across the street from the metro. Overall, the hotel was really nice! Mike found the breakfast a little lacking, but the room was clean and comfortable, and the staff was friendly. Although Naples isn't known for being a great city, as western European cities go, we found that the region we were staying in - which is called Chiaia - was very pleasant, clean, and safe.
|View from our hotel window|
But, we really wanted to see the museum, since that's where all the best finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum were taken, so we forged on. The Museum itself was much nicer than the surrounding area, but still just so-so. It's full of really unique and important artifacts, so that was interesting. It just could have been presented better. But we still enjoyed it.
|Scale model of Pompeii ruins|
After the museum, we went back to the hotel and got some much-needed sleep. I honestly don't even remember what we did for dinner that night. We were so exhausted, we just passed out.
Day 2: Pompeii and Herculaneum
We got up early on Monday, September 20th and once again rode the metro to Garabaldi station. From there, we caught the Circumvesuviana train to the ruins of Herculaneum. If you're not familiar with the history of these ruins, you can read about it here. The short story is that Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town that was completely buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. Herculaneum, along with the more famous Pompeii, were both completed buried under volcanic material that sadly killed most of the population, but preserved the city structures in remarkable condition. Now that it's been excavated, you can walk around these towns and imagine what life in Ancient Rome was like. Unlike the ruins of grand Roman architecture found in other parts of Italy, the ruins in Pompeii and Herculaneum give a unique glimpse into life as an average, middle-class Roman citizen.
While Pompeii is the larger, more famous ruins site, Mike and I really preferred Herculaneum for a number of reasons. First, it's smaller, so you can easily tour the entire site in one morning without feeling burnt out. Second, it's better preserved than Pompeii (this has something to do with the type of volcanic material it was buried under), so there's more interesting things to see here (even part of a wooden staircase!). And best of all, it wasn't overrun with gigantic tour groups!
|View over Herculaneum|
|Inside the bath house|
|This was some sort of a public meeting house. Huge, incredible frescoes!|
|This was like a restaurant, and those pots held fires for cooking and keeping food warm|
|Beautiful mosaic floor|
|The wooden staircase! Charred, but still intact.|
|More of the Forum|
|Fateful Mt. Vesuvius, looming in the distance|
|These large stones in the streets denote which are for one-way vs. two-way traffic, and three stones means pedestrian traffic only.|
|Amphitheater and gladiator practice field|
|This is quite possibly the coolest thing ever. It's a large mosaic, covering the entire floor of this room, that says "cavi canem" - or "beware of dog" in Latin!|