Travel Journal

Naples -- don't forget to take out the trash

(Saturday 6 November 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 77-79 -- 10/21-23/10 Naples
We had decided to go directly to see Nellie who was staying at an apartment of a friend she met in Salerno. We took toll roads and made good time arriving around 1 PM but she wasn’t there. We waited a bit and met her friend and sat down a bit till Nellie came back.
We drove to Paestum, a Greek city just south of Salerno and walked around the ruins where there was a mad photo shoot between the three of us to take pictures together. The ruins were extensive and it was a little strange seeing Greek architecture in Italy.

Dropping Nellie off, we continued on to Naples which is about an hour away to check in to our hotel. Julie had mentioned that the hotel wasn’t in the best of neighborhoods and she was right. Street parking was rough but I managed to wedge the car in a space and we checked in hoping the car would still be there the next morning.
Actually seeing the city the next morning was shocking. I know it’s a big city but this was a dump. Garbage was piled high on the street, I found out later there was a strike, litter everywhere else, old, dirty buildings, and lots of street people. Driving through the city proved it just wasn’t the area we were staying in but everywhere we drove. We headed back to Salerno to get Nellie and then enjoyed a drive up the Amalfi Coast.
I guess you could compare it to the Pacific Coast Highway in California but it is more rocky and steep and there are towns and buildings clinging to the side of the mountains with tiny roads that you have to squeeze by tour buses. I didn’t get to enjoy the scenery as much as the ladies keeping my eye on the road. We ended in Sorento and parked in a lot above the harbor and climbed down. We got tickets on the ferry to Capri and headed out with the plan to see the Blue Grotto also on the infamous bucket list.
Arriving in town, I learned from the tourist office that the Grotto was closed because of choppy water and it was doubtful to open the next day but they gave me a number I could call. We got the funicular up to the mountain overlooking the town and set off for Villa Jovis which was a couple kilometers away.
After a couple of false starts down the labyrinth of alleys and after walking the grade up, Nellie called it quits. Since I was planning to come back another time we decided to just relax and look at the shops before returning to the port and catching the ferry back to the mainland.
I thought we’d have time to squeeze in Herculaneum on the drive back to Naples to ease the archeological tour we had planned for Monday but the only route there was by side streets which took so much time that by the time we got there the place was closing so we decided to do it with the other sites on Monday.
We went back to the hotel and snuck Nellie in to our room so she could sleep there and we’d have a quick start to see the sites of Naples. Nellie went through the guidebook to get a list of promising sites. The next morning we headed out and, figuring it was Sunday, we’d have free parking at each place. The first stop proved that wrong as we were told by the locals that we would have to feed the meter. This rather irked the women and suggested we skipped the city and do the tour of the ruins which was fine by me so we headed back to Herculaneum which I should mention is really in a dive suburb of Naples and the ruins are right next to the city.
It was well worth the hassle of getting there though. It’s a much smaller town than Pompeii so you get a chance to see the whole town and the fresco that survived are in much better shape and the buildings much more intact. The guidebook had a pretty good section on the ruins and covered most of the major buildings.

Next was a trip up to the culprit of the disaster, Mt. Vesuvius. It was quite a ride up the mountain but with great views of the area. The road ends at the entrance with a pay parking lot (of course) but I just went down and parked by the tour buses on the side of the road. Unfortunately I didn’t read up on the place and was surprised by a 6 Euro entrance fee. Nellie didn’t want to climb up to the crater and Julie and I didn’t want to spend the money so after taking in the view, we headed back down. Also, realizing that we wouldn’t see Nellie the next day, we had to return to the hotel to pick up her things that we had left there that morning.
Now on to Pompeii! This is in a more isolated spot and the infrastructure is set for more visitors than Herculaneum which meant 10 Euro parking fee and scores of stalls selling the same tourist junk. The site is huge and there is no way to see it all in one or even two days but then a lot of it is ordinary citizen’s houses that were completely destroyed or not excavated yet. We searched out the major points of Pompeii the temples and forum. The attraction drawing the most visitors was the brothel with its rather bawdy frescos.
Nellie made it to the amphitheatre before deciding to rest so we agreed to meet her at the exit in a couple of hours as we had much more to see. As I mentioned, the frescos at Herculaneum were in much better condition but there were some nice ones here as well. Also there was a large coliseum. The best was the villa outside the city wall, a bit of a walk but well worth the effort. This is the most complete structure that survived and you get a real sense of how life was there. There also are some body casts made of the victims in the rooms they were found which was a little creepy.
It was getting late so we dropped Julie’s mom off in Sarleno and drove back to Naples. The plan was to call the tourist office in Capri the next morning to check if the Blue Grotto would be opened and head there if so, or head north toward Rome – either way get the flock out of Naples. The next morning it was raining so we gave up on the Grotto. It looks like another item did not get crossed off my list! Finally I post one last picture which I think sums up my feelings towards Naples.

  • trash can naples by nellie

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