Sunday, February 28, 2010

We were having such a good time...

And then things got crazy.

Good thing Liz made chocolate cake.

Happy 27th Birthday, Brad and Brian!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Naples . . . and then some.

A fountain near a piazza-type clearing at Pompeii. Take note of the cloudy but bright sky.

It has been a bit since my last blogging, but do not take this as an indication that there has been nothing worth blogging about, on the contrary. As can be seen in these photos (a small, representative bit of the hundreds I have) I made it to Naples and the ruins of Pompeii a couple of weekends ago. It was, to say the least, pleasantly exhausting.

The gladiatorial arena. At the extreme right of this picture I believe you can see a tidbit of the door that acted as the entrance for lions into the arena.

The first challenge was to catch the correct bus. We wandered around the station, looking at the screens with departure/arrival times and gates. Unfortunately, we were looking at the arrivals instead of departure screen and were thus quite confused. About 5 minutes before departure time, however, we straightened ourselves out and boarded the bus to Naples. 4 1/2 hours, miles of beautiful countryside now obscured by the darkness, we arrived to find the city wet, confusing and dirty. Quite literally there are piles/mounds/mountains of trash just sitting in streets, in alleys, random corners . . . everywhere. True night was imminent (it was only early evening when we arrived), however, and so, guided by our recently purchased map and my amazing navigational skills, we managed to happen upon our hotel. We had thoughtfully purchased a bottle of wine, of Naples origins, from a very kind man. Unfortunately for us we were never able to find his shop again. Thus is Naples.

Our first view of the ruins of Pompeii.

The next day we (Ian, Amanda and I) started out fairly early after our peaceful night. Breakfast was necessary, that much we knew. We stopped at the first pasticceria/bar we saw and had a cornetto and the most amazing cappuccino I have ever experienced. Feeling quite refreshed and determined to see some museums, we set off from the shop nearly skipping. The peace of the night and refreshed feeling rapidly disappeared as we entered into the hectic world of Naples' traffic of people and vehicles alike. Shops had put their wares on the sidewalk already crowed with immigrant vendors; fresh fruit spilled out of crevice-like grocery stores; the smell of the city, thankfully subdued by the cool weather, laced the morning air. I even saw a swordfish, head and all, for sale. We were lost pretty much the entire time.

This gallery was filled with ancient busts of famous dead men - apparently Dad's style of beard has lasted throughout the ages (look closely at the white men).

We finally made it to a the Museum of Archeology and approached the desk to pick up our Artecards, which would get us into museums and ancient sites for free or reduced price. Coincidentally the internet was not working at the time. Cardless and rejected, we picked another museum on the map and headed in that general direction. I'd had practice all morning, so I was proficient at map reading by then and led us more or less directly to the museum. On the way we had to climb an innocent-looking set of stairs. I say innocent-looking because once we began our ascent we could see that they were covered in garbage of all sorts (see picture below), including a dead rat (did not take a picture of that). The top was slimy with moss and the odor was like nothing I've every experienced. Never.

The Botticelli we saw at the first museum. Not 100% positive that it is The Botticelli, but I think so.

The internet was, thankfully, up and running at the second museum. We wandered around it for over an hour, but it was mostly paintings of the "Madonna and Child" style, so we didn't stay for too long. It may be difficult to believe, but one can see too many paintings of the Madonna and Child and gruesome martyrdom scenes in one day. After an aborted mission to some catacombs we ate the most delicious pizza of my life and then checked out the first museum we had attempted to go to. Beautiful and ancient artwork and artifacts surrounded us. A lot was taken from Pompeii, so we got a preview for the next day.
A picture from the top of the nasty steps . . . only a small bit of Naples.

The next day we headed to Pompeii. It was a bit damp and chilly to begin with, but we managed to find the correct train and headed out despite the foreboding clouds. I cannot do justice in words, I don't know if anyone can, the feeling one gets upon entering the ancient streets of a dead city. Between the 3 of us I'm sure we took over 400 pictures that day so when I return home I can show them all to you. For now these few will have to do. We wandered around the ruins for somewhere around 5 hours. It rained intermittently, sometimes only a drizzle other times it poured. Exhausted and a bit damp we decided to return only to be rained/hailed on one last time while running, very lost, through the streets. Needless to say, upon returning to hotel we took showers, drank a bit of wine and crashed. The rise home the next day (once we found the bus-stop back, which took us a while) was restful and we got to see some magnificent countryside. Thus ended our adventure to Naples.

Garbage on the steps . . . imagine this EVERYWHERE!
A nice little piazza that we took a break at (mostly to check out the map).
Some random steps in Naples.
A couple of my dear friends: L. Rosanna, R. Amanda

On a completely unrelated note, there are a lot of dogs in Italy. i think everyone has one. They are all tiny but proud. I'll be sure to take some pictures for examples.

Love from italy!!!!!!