Travel Thoughts By Kim
Let’s go on an adventure together…to Pompeii
This is the third in a series of articles from a Mediterranean Adventure I took in August. This post will focus on the first port of the Mediterranean cruise portion of the trip – Naples, Italy.
We were told that when in Italy, it is called Napoli, not Naples – they said that “Naples” is in Florida! Hahaha! Napoli is the capital of Campania and is the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan. Napoli comes from the Greek word Neapolis which means “new city” or “new town”. It was originally given this name by its early Greek inhabitants in the 8th century BC.
We arrived in port at 6:15 am and had to be back on ship no later than 4:30 pm, so we didn’t have a lot of time in that port. Possible sights to see while in this port were Napoli, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Isle of Capri, and Pompeii. I chose to do a 4 hour “Pompeii on Your Own” tour that started at 8:15 am. A bus took us from the ship to Pompeii with a guide who talked about what we were seeing along the way – so it was also a Napoli city tour – and what we could expect when we got there. She then walked us from where the bus had to park to the site and showed us where to get audio headsets and where to go, etc.
It was the most amazing feeling and so cool to be standing in a place that was destroyed by a volcano in 79 AD…… 1,943 years ago……and it’s ruins are still there telling their story……mind blowing!!! The entrance to the city with the view of Mt Vesuvius in the distance had me overwhelmed with emotion and sense of awe over the idea of what happened there almost 2000 years ago. We think we have history here – 200+ years, but going anywhere in Europe and other countries show us just how inferior that timeframe is. WOW!!!
So – if you didn’t pay attention in history class… Pompeii was an ancient city located in what is now the commune of Pompeii, near Naples in the Campania region of Italy. Pompeii, along with many villas in the surrounding area, was buried under 4 to 6 meters (13 to 20 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Largely preserved under the ash, the excavated city offered a unique snapshot of Roman life, frozen at the moment it was buried. Approximately 1,150 bodies have been found on site so far, so the theory is that many did have time to escape the devastation. But, can you imagine? Seeing history up close and personal like that is pretty danged amazing!
A lesson learned and a bit of advice for anyone finding themselves in ports with shore excursion options – “On Your Own” excursions can be good or bad, depending on the time you’ll have to spend there. Be aware that “on your own” means just that. You’re paying for transportation to the site only – no guided tours and most likely they don’t include entrance fees. I was aware of all of this, so no surprise, there. However, given the time it took the bus to get us to and from Pompeii and the short time we were actually there, I think I would have gotten a lot more out of a guided tour than I did trying to figure it out on my own – especially since my headset was set to a language I didn’t understand…hhhmm. I also got some very upsetting news from home the night before that put a damper on my day. So, I didn’t get to see as much of Pompeii as I would have liked. But, it was still a huge thrill just being there. I mean, how could it NOT be?
So, when choosing shore excursions, do a bit of research. Read the reviews (unfortunately, in this case, there were no reviews to read). Determine how much time you’ll have to actually spend at the site to be sure you’ll have enough time to really enjoy it. After all, it may be the only time you’ll ever be there and you don’t want to regret not getting the most out of it. Don’t get me wrong, though – some “on your own” tours are awesome and worth the investment. Just be sure to know what to expect.
For more info and photos about Pompeii, check out my Blog Post!