The journey of a thousand miles begins with...the perfect pair of shoes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Naples and Pompeii

This is a recap of day 4 of our Disney Mediterranean Cruise. Click to read about day 1 and 2 (Malta) and day 3 (Tunisia).

After our exciting day in Africa (can you believe I was in Africa???) we spent an awesome evening beginning with an amazing meal followed by a live stage show. Really, Disney knows how to treat people.

The next morning we docked in the port of Naples, Italy and saw Mount Vesuvius for the first time. We had scheduled a tour for the afternoon to Pompeii (Indy was practically bouncing up at down in anticipation), but spent the morning (after a yummy breakfast on board) in Naples. We loved Naples! It was insane! We planned to go to the Archeological museum where the frescos of Pompeii can be seen along with thousands of relics from the past. We were going to walk, but couldn’t figure it out. We eventually decided to take a cab rather than waste time. It wasn’t expensive and I’m glad we did it, because it was a crazy and exciting ride. Here are a few things we discovered in the cab: directions, one ways, speed limits and lane markings are all just suggestions in Naples; Vespas are EVERYWHERE, the noise and honking are almost overwhelming and pedestrians put their lives on the line every time they cross the street. It was crazy fun! We loved it!
At the museum, Indy was in heaven. We walked past hundred of ancient statues and artifacts and he had something to say about them all. Really. Every. Single. One. He had a theory about where it came from, or had seen it on a Discovery program or Indiana Jones movie. He talked almost constantly. Eventually he decided to get out his Indiana Jones style notebook that I got him for his 6th birthday and start drawing some of the things he was seeing. He takes this notebook almost everywhere and has drawn so many things in it. It has mummies, pyramids, flowers, leaves, gladiators, Chinese symbols, Viking shields, spiders, skulls, taped in ticket stubs…anything he can imagine that has to do with archeology in it. I found him one that has the elastic strap around it just like the ones in the IJ movies and he keeps it in his IJ sack with a sharpened pencil at all times. He drew stick figure versions of some of the statues, pots, amphora, jewelry and columns, all the while asking me how much longer before we went to Pompeii.

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After spending a good chunk of the morning in the museum we decided to walk back to the ship (because clearly the insanity that is Naples got to us). Along the way though we decided we were hungry and opted to get a real Neapolitan meal: pizza! Good grief was it good! I’ve had all kinds of pizza, in about 8 different countries, but I’ve never had pizza like this. We could see the chef in the back tossing the dough in the air and putting on the toppings before sliding it into a brick oven that was probably older than the US. James Bond ordered mushroom pizza, Indy ordered pepperoni and I ordered margherita which had fresh tomato slices, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. It tasted like sunshine and rainbows. I’m not kidding. I wanted to weep when I was done. I was full, but sad that it was gone.

I'm going to eat it ALL!!!

My pizza
James Bond drinking the local brew

I told you I could eat it all!!!

When we got back to the ship, it was almost time for the tour, so we freshened up and went to meet the bus. Our tour guides name was Caesar (really) and our driver was Mario. I loved them both. They really did talk-a like-a thees-a! And Caesar called us all his little-a flowers. Awesome! The bus ride was about 45 minutes and Caesar told us all about the surrounding area and Mount Vesuvius. Caesar said “his people” had been there since before Vesuvius erupted in 79AD and his grandparents still farmed the land of his ancient ancestors on the other side of the mountain. Whether this is true or not, I have no idea, but it was his story and he told it well. He regaled us with stories of people who had lived and died at Pompeii and quoted bits of Pliny’s recollections of that fateful day.
Upon arrival we were first taken to a cameo factory at the base of Pompeii and got to watch a master artist carve a teeny tiny cameo from a conch shell, grab a quick snack and go to the restrooms before heading up to Pompeii. There was a short hike up the mountain and then the entrance gates were in front of us. We practically had to hold Indy back. He had his brush in one hand and his notebook in the other and was ready to go. Caesar was telling us stuff, but I couldn’t keep up because Indy kept pointing to things and going “Oh, wow! Oh, wow! Look at that! Look at that! Mom, we’re in Pompeii! This is so cool!” I couldn’t help but smile. The city itself was HUGE! I suppose I always thought of Pompeii as a tiny little village, but I was so wrong! It was a real city! A pretty big one at that. We followed Caesar to the forum, and then down several of the streets and into houses (some with their frescos intact on the walls and tiles laid perfectly on the floor). This was really unbelievable. Everywhere you looked there was something interesting to see. We went past a few bakeries, a brewery and even a “fast food” shop. We visited poor houses, moderate houses and houses of the wealthy (they knew how to live). It was interesting to see the difference in size and luxuries. One sign of wealth was having a columned garden or courtyard. Only the wealthy could afford a completely columned courtyard, but one of the moderate houses had a small courtyard with columns on 2 sides and faux painted columns (that were still visible) on the other two sides where there were walls butting up to other houses. The wealthy houses were massive, even by today’s standards, but even the poor houses weren’t too bad. They all had an open roofed, tiled courtyard just inside the door with a fountain in the floor, a main room beyond this and a garden in the back. The poor and moderate houses had a few rooms off the entry courtyard and/or the gardens, but the wealthy houses were a maze of rooms. One we went into had 17 rooms on the surviving first floor and there were stairs that led to what was once a second floor. The wealthy (and a few of the moderate) homes had their own kitchens, but the poor houses had none, so their food had to be prepared and one of the many nearby bakeries. Interesting. We also visited a public toilet. Wealthy and moderate homes had their own facilities, but poor houses generally had none and they had to use the public toilets. Ick. Pompeii was so amazing we’ve decided we much dedicate time one day to just go there for a few days. Caesar said it would take a minimum of 4 days to explore the whole city.

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When we were headed back to the bus, Caesar cracked me and Indy up. He started looked around and asked if he had all of his-a little-a flowers and then said, “I don’t-a care. I’m-a tired and we go-a now. If my little-a flowers are-a not-a here, they-a live in Pompeii. “ Fortunately we all made it back to the boat and had another fabulous meal followed by another great stage show. We slept like rocks that night, but looked forward to our next port: Civitavecchia, where we would hop a train to the Eternal City. Come back for that another day!

I'm linking this up with Amanda.

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These Are The Days said...

I'll have to come back and read all the details because we are starting school, but all I can say is JEALOUS!! Glad you got to go on such an awesome trip. :D

FrouFrouBritches said...

Oh wow! That sounds amazing! I want to go to Italy more than any place in the world. Glad y'all are having a great time. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Once again, the awesomeness of your trip has pretty much outshone all the vacations I have ever been on. ;)

Mrs Mary Joy Pershing said...

I love your pictures!!! It looks like you all had a great time! Your son's sense of humor shines through the photos!

Stopping by from Amanda's party.

Sarita said...

Wow! I'm totally jealous of your trip - even the pizza, and especially the beer! By the way, I love your tag line - a girl after my own heart! I kind of have an obsession with shoes (in all forms) as you'll see from my blog! Stopping by from Amanda's party!

And actually, I took a week long trip to Tunisia back in 2005 - totally random, but what an awesome experience! I flew there from Poland with a Polish touring group - random, and long story, but what an amazing trip!

Decor To Adore said...

Ah, I have been to that cameo factory! Until then I am not sure how I thought cameo's were made.

Man that pizza looks good.

I found Pompeii to be incredibly moving.

Thank you so much for linking up on Wayfaring Wednesday!

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