Tuesday, November 8, 2011

October 27th

We woke up and got ready before the hotel keepers arrived with our breakfast. It was a little cup of espresso, a latte, and a custard filled pastry. Breakfast was very good and it was a nice little perk to have it included in the cost of the room. We wanted to head out early so that we would be able to see enough of the city before heading out to Pompeii, so during breakfast we made our game plan for the day and then headed out.

We walked around what is known as Old City for a while window shopping which was fun just wandering around and looking at all the fascinating architecture of Naples. Naples and Florence are so different. They are like comparing Chicago and New York. New York is older and dirtier but has really interesting architecture and Chicago is clean and has newer architecture. Both are amazing cities and are so different from each other.

We made our way over to the Archeological Museum and it was just like every other museum. It had a lot of artifacts from Pompeii which was cool to see and it was interesting because they had a lot of different types of statues and paintings and mosaics. We compared Chris' calves to Hercules' and as you can imagine, they were pretty close in size. Chris' favorite room was what is known as the "Secret Room.” It is a room that contains all of the erotic art from Pompeii and also different time periods. Chris walked around taking pictures of everything and repeating the phrase, "this is fantastic”, and it actually was interesting.  Make sure to check out some of the several photos Chris took of this part of the museum.  The room was relatively small but somehow made up more than half of the photos he took at the museum…

We got pizza for lunch at a little side of the road cart and it was actually pretty delicious, or at least mine was. I got one with tomatoes and onions on it and Chris got one that had seafood on it. Unfortunately, his was not very good but mine was delicious. I have also discovered that I LOVE Fanta. I think it is one of the most delicious drinks that was ever brought to this planet. This may or may not be a good thing. We walked around some more looking at the different sites in Florence on our way to the train station. We walked by Naple's Duomo, which was far less impressive than Florence and Milan's, but it was still really pretty from the outside. Chris was in search of his shot glasses but was not successful. I got a hang painted spaghetti measuring tool that I have always wanted. It has four holes in it and the sizes get larger depending on how many people you plan on cooking for. I will have to see if it is accurate when I put it to the test the first night I return home (Chris’ serving size most likely starts at the third largest hole). Get ready for a big Moore family spaghetti dinner everyone! While wandering around we got these little cookie things from a cafe that were really good. We got a chocolate flavored one and a coffee flavored one and they were so cute with little sprinkles rolled onto the sides of them. With time going quicker than anticipated, we realized we should probably make our way over to Pompeii. Our favorite quote of the day was said by an elderly English couple coming out of the train station. The woman said, "is this really it?" To which her husband replied, "I hate this God awful place already."

We made it to the train station just in time to run down the stairs and make it onto the train to Herculaneum. Unfortunately, their subway is no better than Chicago's; it might actually be worse. It was hot, stinky, and crowded. After we were shoved and shuffled around the train (with our hands closely guarding our belongings), we got off at the correct stop and made our way down the eight blocks to the city. It was a beautiful entrance to the park and there were flowers over the trellises. We bought our tickets for the entrance to the ruins and made our way down the walk way to the actual city. It was really, really cool to see how the new city is built right next to the old city, only 60 ft up in the air. The websites that we were looking at said that Herculaneum was more intact than Pompeii, but the only difference that we observed was that in Herculaneum, most of the buildings had roofs on them. We walked around the city on the paths and looked into the different buildings, all the while reading what Rick had to say about them which unfortunately, was not that much. We finished the city in about 45 minutes and rushed back to the train station to catch the next train to Pompeii.

The ride to Pompeii was a bit longer than the one to Herculaneum, but this one was at least less crowded. We got into the city and it was amazing how much larger it was than Herculaneum. On a scale of one to ten, Herculaneum was a 3 and Pompeii was a 10. The city was huge and we were excited to explore every bit of it. The coolest parts of the city were the mummified people and the bath house. When they were excavating the site, they would come across oddly shaped pockets in the solidified ash.  These pockets were in the shape of human beings and contained bones.  The pockets were created by the following process: After the Pompeii citizens died from suffocation (all the ash in the air), they were buried by 60 feet of ash.  The ash eventually hardened and the bodies decomposed.  What was left was empty pockets with only bones remaining.  The excavators filled the holes with plaster and preserved the shape that way.  There were only two plaster casts on display but it was cool because one of them even had their teeth! The bath house was very interesting just with the different technologies they had back then and the ideas. The thing that I thought was the coolest was that in the "Steam Room", they created a design on the ceiling of different grooves so that the condensation would ride those down the sides of the walls as opposed to dripping on the people inside the room. Gosh, so creative and innovative. After the bath house we walked around some more and found their main arch they built for the aqueduct. We drank from the faucet that was there and that was cool to be able to say we have done that, just another random, weird thing we did.

After exploring a lot of the city the sun started to set and it was a beautiful sunset. Chris was taking pictures constantly and it was a good thing that I left him in charge of photography for the day. I think Chris' favorite part of the Pompeii visit was going into the town's brothel (no longer functioning of course) that they had. On the walls above the different rooms, they had frescoes of different "menu items" that men could order during their time at the brothel. He kept using his new favorite term "this is fantastic" for just about everything in there. We realized that it was getting dark very quickly and we still had a few things to see so to Chris' disliking, we left the brothel and headed over to the amphitheater. Unfortunately, when we made it to the amphitheater we weren't able to get close enough to it because it was blocked off from viewing.  So as we were heading back the sun was practically down and me being me, doubted Chris on his insistence that he knew where we needed to go so I latched us on to a group of German tourists who had a map. While we were heading out Chris made up a story about how the dark night sky was like the ash and that this is how the people fleeing Vesuvius must have felt. He sure is a keeper. As it turns out, even though the Germans had a map, they were still lost and Chris was correcting them on the real way to get out of the mazed city of Pompeii. We were about ten minutes from the exit when an Italian who worked in the park came to us and told us to follow him out. We survived Pompeii.

We took the train back to Naples and talked about what we wanted to have for dinner. It was decided that sea food was a must and so we consulted the third wheel of our trip, Rick Steves, and he suggested a restaurant near the station. We walked the five minutes to the restaurant and sat down starved. We looked over the menu and tried to decide what we wanted to get. We decided on mussels, spaghetti with seafood, and spinach with lemon. We placed our order and were given sourdough bread and bruschetta with these little balls of fried dough on the side. Whatever they were, they were delicious. I forgot how much I love sourdough bread and boy it was nice to be reminded. As we were sitting there eating the hors d'oeuvres, Chris noticed in the case near us that they had a big mixture of different seafoods and we thought that we should get that instead of the mussels. So we called the waiter over and asked him to change our order and that we wanted to have what was in the case. He came back from the kitchen and took us over to the case and asked us what veggies we wanted on the plate. What we didn't understand was what the new thing we ordered was a plate full of veggies and not the seafood platter we thought it was going to be. It had mushrooms, eggplant, a mixture of eggplant and tomatoes, and olives on the plate. Once we sat back down we called the waiter over and asked him to reorder the mussels and to cancel the spinach. The waiter obviously loved us.

When we finished the veggies and bread our food came out and was delicious. The pasta was a little on the cold side, but wasn't too bad. It might have just been that they prepared it before the mussels and so they were waiting on the mussels to finish cooking before they brought everything out. I am not sure, but it was some really good food. On the way home, we stopped and got some pastries because Chris had some intense cravings. We got two different ones, one had nutella wrapped in a pastry crust and the other was a baklava flaky sort of a pastry with some custard on the inside which they heated up for us. We walked back to the hotel to eat our pastries and drink our wine that we bought the night before. The wine was local wine made from grapes grown near Pompeii. It was a very sweet, light, white wine that I enjoyed. We spent the remainder of the evening playing cards and drinking wine.

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