Pompeii- The end is here

Trip Start Jan 01, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Hotel Diana Pompei
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
Ancient Pompeii
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Italy  , Campania,
Thursday, April 5, 2012

It sounds so exotic to say, "As I was trekking through Pompeii I stumbled upon some fascinating art and stones one has never seen before." Yes, it does “sound” cool. However, (I apologize for this however if your Indiana Jones) this archaeological site is a catastrophic maze filled with confused tourists, fake guides and stray dogs.
We first arrived by train from the Sorrento station. ( The “subway” or train was covered in graffiti and put NYC subways in the 80's to shame.) Here is where we had a chance to listen for the first time to all the Italian music we adored growing up. A sloppy three man band played with passion to, “Amore” “O sole mio” and “Americano”. We clapped with delight when they were finished and realized that sometimes, just sometimes it’s fun to be an obnoxious tourist and to lather in the guilty pleasure that you truly enjoyed that moment of your trip.
Exiting the platform was a hysterical moment of aggressive tour guides, taxi drivers, and trinket sellers. Annoyed we walked in hopes to find a good hotel close by. (I’ll let you in on a little secret- not close by but in the actual town of Pompeii-get out the stop before the Pompeii one to be in the town center) HAHAHAHA Four bags, an angry Mom, Cheapo Phillipo and two kids were going to attempt walking to the actual town. Bags going in crazy directions, children whining, Mommy pissed off- Phillipo had to have a game plan and quick! It seemed we kept passing graffiti streets, garbage filled roads, unpainted homes when we finally arrived in the town center. Don’t worry we were safe now-we got rid of the stray cats and now it’s just us in this gritty city with beggars, thieves and trinket sellers.
We opted to stay in the cleanest and nicest hotel around. Hotel Diana. It received wonderful reviews on Trip Advisor and lived up to its expectations. After check in we darted out to Pompeii’s archaeological site. I didn’t want to miss a thing. I was so excited to see this site because of the creepiness and historical story it entailed. I won’t go into detail but 17 years before Mt. Vesuvius blew a strong, major earthquake occurred and many of the people of Pompeii evacuated never to return. The remainder that stayed after the earthquake then experienced the major eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. This eruption at first suffocated the people of Pompeii and then buried them under a sea of volcanic ash. This site is what’s left after that eruption.
At the entrance of the site, you are greeted by tour guides- some real and some fake but you’re not sure who or what is real so you just skip it all together and hope that the map and audio guide will be sufficient enough. (It’s not) The first thing on your map is the coliseum (depends which entrance) and your hopes are high because it’s pretty neat and amazing. (Julia said she watched an episode of Spongebob once, where Patrick the Starfish wore meat around him and tried to defeat the lionfish at the coliseum- she said she knew all about what happens at these places. I can’t believe that that was the first and last educational thing we learned all day.)*
As we continued our walk, we reached the “ghost town” of Pompeii…We continued on that path only to see the same thing over and over again. With no direction or assistance just tumbleweeds, confused German tourists with bandanas, bands of pimply teenagers, educational wizards and us with glazed looks in our eyes with a squint of evil, we continued to explore.
I kept thinking- there has to be more? Then out of nowhere a man with a badge- “true” archaeologist came out of the woodwork and to our rescue. He asked if he could give us a “private” tour for the cost of cigarette. At this point, we were in. I wanted to be crazy because I was a little loopy after seeing just cell after empty cell so we joined him. He lifted up the ropes on a path that we were not allowed to go pass and showed us dead people. Cool, just what I wanted… Snap.. Snap. went the cameras and then he took us to a skeleton of a horse. He said it was the only horse in town. (I’m buying anything at this point) Then a few steps further he showed us a pit and called it the first Pizza oven in Pompeii. Ok. Cool. (Don’t care if it’s not true just enjoying the ride). He could see our smirks growing into smiles so he also included the fact that Pink Floyd and Frank Sinatra held concerts here. ( you know, maybe.) That concluded our “naughty tour” but it was worth it. I laughed for hours afterward and you can’t put a price tag on that. We walked around an hour more and saw more “frozen” in time body casts, artwork, and another coliseum. Then we ended with our last night out in Italy with a great meal.
Should one visit Pompeii-this one horse town (you knew I was going to say that!)? Yes, just do heavy research before, plan ahead and hire a legit tour guide or go see what Harrison Ford is up to.
All guide books and internet sites warned that children should probably not visit the Amalfi coast because of stairs, walking and more walking but that was not the case for us. My children loved Italy and they hope to come back to the Amalfi coast one day. We ran into a British couple who had the same age kids and they were having just as much fun as we did. They even had their two little ones climb Mt. Vesuvius and ride the chair lifts in Capri. I’m here to tell you it’s doable and a fun experience for all. Only drawback was the water was too cool to swim in and the beaches are not so great to play in.
*episode from Spongebob “Spongica”-I had to google it. She was correct!

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