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Mt. Vesuvius Destruction - Herculaneum and Pompeii

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 @ 08:18 pm from Italy Italy
Day 111

Last night I went out for a glass of wine with two of my bunkmates when they wanted dinner. Everyone says Naples is some crazy scary city but we were out walking around for a good half hour after 10:30pm and didn't feel unsafe at all. I think as long as you're smart about it and avoid shady looking areas you'll be fine. That being said, it was nice being in a small group too.

This morning I got up at 8 to eat and figure out where I was visiting today. I rechecked the weather and saw that today was supposed to be dry but tomorrow is going to be rainy so I got a ticket to Herculaneum after breakfast. The guy selling tickets got confused and only gave me a one-way ticket which I didn't think would be an issue since everywhere else I've been in Italy I could buy tickets at the station.

It took about 20 minutes to get to Herculaneum, which is another town that was destroyed by Mt Vesuvius in 79AD. Herculaneum was a much smaller city than Pompeii and due to the type of lava flows that hit it, it had some much better preserved structures, murals and original wood used in the houses.

Since I knew I wanted to visit both Pompeii and Herculaneum I bought a multi-site card that ended up saving me a couple euros. I walked around Herculaneum and was trying to avoid one giant tour group after another. I thought I had gotten there early enough to beat them but unfortunately that wasn't the case.

This brings me to a side point I've been noticing a lot in Italy... I'm so glad I'm doing this trip now instead of 40 years from now when I can't walk up stairs or be outside in the sun for more than 15 minutes. Watching and hearing some of the people in these tour groups makes them sound like they're hating every minute and they'd rather be back on the cruise ship or air conditioned bus.

I was able to see just about everything in Herculaneum due to its small size and I still had half the day ahead of me. I was talking with one of the guys in my dorm room this morning and he said he hit both Herculaneum and Pompeii in one day yesterday. I figured I could do the same.

I hiked back uphill to the train station but the ticket counter was closed (even though there was a guy in there seemingly chilling) and there weren't any automatic booths. Pompeii was on the same train line just 20 minutes farther away so I said screw it and got on the train without any kind of valid ticket.

In the 13 days I've been in Italy so far (and the overwhelming train travel I've been doing), I've only had my ticket checked once and that was on the long haul between Florence and Naples. Of course no one came by and I got off in Pompeii and beat the lines with my multi-site card I bought at Herculaneum.

I didn't realize just how massive the Pompeii site actually was. I got in and was overwhelmed by the labyrinth of streets and buildings everywhere. I spent several hours walking around and checking out the various buildings. Quite a bit of the area was actually closed off due to excavations and renovations.

By the time I was ready to head back to the train station I was completely lost. There are multiple entrances and exits to the site and it took me about a half hour just to find my way back to the entrance I came in (directly across from the train station).

Back at the station I was debating not getting another ticket but I decided since it was under 3 euros to get back to Naples I should go ahead and do it. The trip took about 45 minutes and dumped me off about a 15 minute walk from the hostel. On the way back I went to a market and got some bread and a bottle of Chianti for dinner.

I was pretty hungry by the time I got to the hostel so I went up to the kitchen (which is on the 7th floor and my room is on the 2nd) an cut up the rest of my head of broccoli and green beans I bought yesterday. I mixed them with the Cinque Terre spices and olive oil again and with the bread and wine it turned into a very filling meal.

I didn't realize that every Tuesday they do a free dinner which would have been nice to try, even though it was going to be nothing but carbs and starches (potatos, pasta, tomatoes, onions and parsley) which I guess is a regional dish here. I was much happier with my greens.

It's supposed to rain tomorrow so I'll just stick around Naples. Apparently there's a pretty good tour of the catacombs and Naples underground that runs every 2 hours so I might try that tomorrow if it does end up raining. I'm also planning to start my pizza eating extravaganza tomorrow. There are several places that have been recommended both by random travelers, the hostel staff and the Saveur magazine.

One thing I've noticed a lot in Italy, especially in the south, is the extreme change in personality between complete and utter laziness/uncaring/not-giving-a-shit mentality when it comes to pretty much everything (including serving food, keeping a shop open, smoking, etc) but as soon as you put a southern italian behind the wheel, their entire mindset suddenly goes bipolar and they turn into the most insane, wreckless, aggressive and hurried drivers I've seen so far this trip.

There's no such thing as stopping for red lights, lanes don't matter (I see mopeds driving against traffic on the other side of dividers), taxis will drive up onto sidewalks to get around a small line of cars and the use of a horn happens every few seconds when driving.

Trying to cross streets is like throwing all survival instincts behind and just hoping that you won't get hit. Since all red lights are pretty much ignored, you can't even rely on designated crosswalks to get across busy intersections. It's really weird coming from the States where people, for the most part, are pretty good at following road rules.
Teaser photo
Mosaic in Herculaneum
Teaser photo
Shop in Herculaneum
Teaser photo
Pompeii
Teaser photo
Canyon? Are you a time traveling dog from Pompeii?
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. #berlin #europetrip2013
Free paella at the hostel in Barcelona? Yes please! #paella #barcelona #europetrip2013
Versailles in the fall. #versailles #paris #europetrip2013
Duomo di San Martino. #lucca #europetrip2013
I'll Duomo. #florence #europetrip2013
Novy Svet. Old part of Prague dating to the 14th century. #prague #europetrip2013
So many freaking people on the streets. These are from my hostel room's window but the entire city center is like this. I am not a big city person. Forget any thought of going out tonight. #europetrip2013 #madrid #crowds #people
Brecon Beacons. #europetrip2013
Clifton Suspension Bridge. #europetrip2013 #bristol
Thanks for ruining a great photo op, Gran Tourismo. The Puente Nuevo in Ronda Spain. #europetrip2013

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Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.

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