Note: My boyfriend and I went on a weeklong trip together in September of 2014. We’d booked two nights in Naples first, followed by five more days at the coast.
After a rather nice breakfast, where The Boyfriend and I decided on dinner for that evening (our hotel was half pension), we went for our first group visit. The Boyfriend had been jumping up and down because this was the day we were going to visit Pompeii. He’s cute that way, I suppose. As we’d chosen the English excursions, our group consisted mostly of British tourists, which had its ups and downs. Ups: it was British English, which I’ve always been a big fan of, and we could understand everyone perfectly, even the guide. Downs: the British have a certain reputation when it comes to common knowledge (look, I’m just being honest: my knowledge on the British has unfortunately been confirmed a couple of times when visiting Lincoln and its colleges, London and its inhabitants and Kent) and these were cut from the same cloth.
The excursion itself was well-prepared, with nice anecdotes from the guide, even though The Boyfriend thought three hours in Pompeii was not enough. Pompeii is extremely interesting: there are so many traces of human life there and some of those buildings have been so well-preserved that at times I expected a big cart to pass us by and some Roman senators to pass through, on their way to the public baths. Seeing the casts of the bodies they’d found, made thanks to the hot, boiling lava that had passed through the town so many years before, was a big confrontation. One of the bodies was of a pregnant woman and I had difficulties watching it. I’m not pregnant, but can you imagine realising your life and that of your unborn child was going to end, because Mother Nature had intended it that way?
After Pompeii (and a visit to the prostitutes’ quarter), we went to Herculaneum. This was even more surreal, as due to its even closer proximity to Mount Vesuvius the buildings were even better preserved, and the ancient town of Herculaneum lies immediately underneath the modern town. They’re trying to expel people from their houses, so that they can continue to excavate even more buildings, because they haven’t even come close to excavating everything. Understandably, the people are not so happy with this, but can you imagine what kind of buildings can still be found underneath what is now almost ten metres of rock and sand? It’s hallucinant.
After thanking our guide, we asked to be dropped off in Sorrento (where others of the group were being dropped off, as their hotel was there), so that we could continue our window shopping and gelato-tasting. Big success all around, except for the final part: we were going to walk back from Sorrento to our hotel, which was only around seven kilometres away, if you took the scenic route. We did, met an older man half a kilometre in who’d lived in Belgium twenty years before and whom we were delighted to talk to and after that, I can safely say I’ve experienced some of the worst walking kilometres in my life. It kept going uphill, the road never stopped and The Boyfriend kept asking inane questions such as ‘Do you want to stop?’ (yes!), ‘Don’t worry, it’s not too far now’ (wanna bet?) and ‘Is everything OK?’. I’ve never been so pleased to see a horizontal road in my life, but I can safely say that’s a walk I’m not planning on taking again. Unless I can unload my bag on someone else and even so I would have to think long and hard. (Just being honest -again: I’m not a big sports fanatic, I don’t have a spectacular condition, but neither am I a big sloth. I can walk, I’m just not great with literal uphill battles.)