Day 6: Tues 4th - Met 4 other aussies staying in the same room as us, and decided to make a big group and go to see Herculaneum and Pompeii together (note: I always thought Pompeii was spelt with two 'i's but in Italy they only use one. Sneaking suspicion they are trying to make the English look stupid.) We bought day passes for the Circumvesuviana (that stupid above-ground train is the only way to get around Sorrento) for 6 Euros and 30 cents--highway robbery--and were on our way. After declining the whole roast pig for 4.50 we saw along the way, we bought tickets at Herculaneum to 5 sites as it was cheaper if we were also going to Pompeii. 20 Euros later (Southern Italy is not cheap!), we were inside the ruins. We tried to buy audioguides but they were sold out (have you ever heard of that? What a scam!) so we invented our own explanations for things--see that? That's a bathtub..in the middle of the square...That looks like a stove, this was definitely a bakery then...etc.
Similiar to Pompeii, Herculaneum was also destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius' eruption in 79 AD. But unlike Pompeii, this town was covered with layers of ash and gas very quickly, so the preservation here is actually better. We saw some buildings that still had multiple stories. It was quite incredible--these buildings survived a volcanic eruption, burial, excavation, and two thousand years of deterioration, and still look like they do. (Maybe Hollywood needs to take some aging tips from ancient cities...)
After we were satisfied with our time at Herculaneum, we headed back to Pompeii. We were more successful with our audioguide search (and even got a deal) and headed inside. The guide was a waste of money, though; it played this cheesy minstrel music before every bit of info--I seriously doubt Pompeiians were running around with lutes in 79 AD. I think they had more important things to worry about. Like getting buried by a volcano.
The ruins at Pompeii were impressive, simply because it's so big. The books are right; it's not as well-preserved as Herculaneum, but the scope is incredible. You got to walk an ancient city and imagine what their society would have been like to live in.
We did the two hour walk-through and got really lost. Stops included a rich person's house, a bakery (for sure this time), a couple temples, and a courthouse. Our favourite part was the Lupenare, or the whore house (betcha didn't see that one coming, did ya? I thought it was a wolf sanctuary...).
It was getting dark so we scooted over to the amphitheatre before it got too late. We had a ton of fun because it was deserted--the five of us were the only ones there, give or take a few curious tourists poking their heads in. I got to dance on one of the oldest stages in the world!
We wanted to take some group photos of us on stage, but because there was no one around, it was posing a bit of a challenge. In the end, we decided that the four of us would get ready at the bottom of the theatre. Dave would set the self-timer and then book it down the stairs to jump in the picture at the last second. It took a couple tries (and a lot of cardio--those stairs are steep!) but we got the photo.
Band photo inside the ruins of Pompeii...debut album coming soon
Then we decided to take one of us all jumping in the air, from the other side, so the steps would be in the background. This proved to be quite a challenge. After an hour of failed attempts and scraped knees, wipeouts, and lack of coordination, we almost gave up, but then somehow it worked and we got the picture. The struggle was hilarious and now we have the photos to remember it!
This was so worth the blood sweat and tears!
We headed back to the hostel for some more amazing food and a movie--they project onto one of the walls of the hostel in the courtyard, so we watched RED while we were eating. I headed upstairs to pack after that, and managed to condense three bags into two (I have a Ryanair flight tomorrow, so I need to be thrifty). It took a bit of a yard sale--I left four books, a towel, and various other toiletries behind--but I made it. (The other girls in my room were quite happy to take what I was giving away)
It was a fantastic last day in Italy--I got to know some great people, saw some fascinating things, and am almost ready to close the book on this trip!
Group photo inside Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius in the background. Great day guys!