Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 6th - We took the train from Sorrento to Naples, stopping at Pompeii along the way. At the Pompeii station, we made our way through a short guantlet of tourist traps to the actual ruins.

Seeing the ruins was amazing. The ruins cover approximately 160 acres are are around three quarters excavated. We didn't have all day so we followed the recommended route in Rick Steve's book and saw the highlights, including the House of the Faun, the brothel, the temples of Isis and Apollo, the theater and the Forum. Some of the sections were closed off for renovations and there seemed to be a ton more to see so I would definitely go back. We ate at the Pompeii cafeteria and the food was actually pretty good. Then we got back on the train and continued on to Naples.

The ride to Naples was through some very dumpy/scruffy looking areas. A lot of the homes here appear to be big boxy apartment building.

Once we got to Naples, we caught an over-priced taxi to our hotel, Hotel Neapolis. The driving around the train station was like what we had seen around the airport. Cars, and pedestrians, came from every which way and intermingled according to no rhyme or reason. I think the only reason they don't end up with a ton of hurt people is because everyone pays attention at all times.

Our taxi had to stop and ask directions because our hotel was on a very short street in one of the oldest parts of Naples, all one narrow one way and pedestrian only streets. After we got to the hotel, we got a nasty surprise - there was a problem and they couldn't give us a room. They paid for the taxi ride to another hotel that could accomodate us and paid for the other hotel as well, since we had pre-paid through a travel agent.

The new hotel, Hotel Cavour, turned out to be right next to the train station and the driver who took us there was the one who gave directions to our first taxi driver. It was quite nice - we got a room on the top floor with a balcony, presumably to make up for the screw up earlier.

After a brief rest, we went out to go see one of Naples attractions, the Archaeological Museum. The neighborhood around the hotel/train station was quite seedy and a little un-nerving. We had gotten walking directions to the museum from the hotel but Naples is so confusing that we couldn't even find the right street out of the square the hotel was in! We had to go back and ask for directions again. It turned out that one of the streets we were supposed to take changed names partway down so we couldn't find it under the name we were given.

The museum was started in 1777 and contains a lof of the frescoes and statues that were removed from Pompeii so it was a good companion to our earlier visit. It also includes a number of erotic works that are kept in a "secret room" that used to require a special pass from the government to get into.

After the museum, we walked back to the hotel through a roundabout route through the center of the city to see a few more sites. I don't know how one could live with the chaos here everyday. At the end of the day we had supper in one of the classic pizzeria's (invented in Naples) and gelato from the oldest gelateria in town.

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