April 22, 2015 – Mt. Vesuvius and the Excavations at Pompei

Sarah is up before dawn, 3:30 AM to be exact. I rise at the same time as yesterday, 5:50 AM. John sleeps until almost 7 AM. It is the dreaded third day. You think you are doing well with the jetlag but it gets you on the third day. We have a lot planned for today – another attempt at the Mt. Vesuvius climb, clothes washing, and a visit to the Pompei ruins. We are trying to be strategic about all this. We will hit Mt. Vesuvius right at the opening time of 9 AM, do the climb, find some lunch, wash clothes during siesta time (and perhaps the hikers will actually take a little nap), visit the ruins starting around 4 or so after the bulk of tourists have left, and have a late dinner at a wine bar that serves snacks that we spied during our walk last night. It is nearby.

Sarah, by the way, seems fully recovered.

We get to the parking area for the walk up Vesuvius shortly after 9. There are a few tour buses and a sprinkling of private vehicles. I take a picture of John and Sarah before the ascent. I have decided not to join them. It is about a half mile of 14% grade. I could probably make it up but I have no knee brakes and coming down would be extremely difficult. I opt for sitting in the car protecting their valuables and playing on my iPad. A small snooze seems possible.

Sarah and John before the ascent. John looks like he is anticipating pain.
Sarah and John before the ascent. John looks like he is anticipating pain.

After about two hours John and Sarah are back. They report that the climb was difficult and the descent even more so. The views from the summit out over the Bay of Naples are beautiful. The caldera looks like the Pit of Carkoon from Star Wars. Or maybe just a big hole with dirt in it and steam escaping here and there. They have had a great time. John’s two bionic hips seem to have worked well. But I bet he will be mighty sore tomorrow.

Sarah along the trail to the summit
Sarah along the trail to the summit

John pausing on the way to the caldera
John pausing on the way to the caldera

The Pit of Carkoon, home to the Sarlacc or the caldera  of Vesuvius
The Pit of Carkoon, home to the Sarlacc or the caldera of Vesuvius

Sarah at the top!
Sarah at the top!

On the way down we encounter the same enormous traffic jam as yesterday. The taxi driver in front of us seems very upset and keeps getting out of his van to yell at various people. I guess this traffic must occur every day but no one seems to do anything about it. We are really glad that we got to the park early. It takes about half and hour or so to finally get down the mountain.

We stop at Todisco’s for lunch. This is a not-so-promising looking place in Pompei. You look at the dishes they have prepared and pick out what you want. You sit at picnic type tables with oil cloth tablecloths. The lady behind the counter is charming and insists that we try the beer that they have made. We are mostly excited about the vegetables. We have been eating few vegetables while here. They do not automatically come with an entree. We eat two platefuls and go back for a third. The tomatoes, though not in season yet, are really delicious.

Todisco's where the elite meet to eat
Todisco’s where the elite meet to eat

Sarah bringing her glam to Todisco's fancy dining room
Sarah bringing her glam to Todisco’s fancy dining room

Yay, for vegetables! Also the bread is delicious.
Yay, for vegetables! Also the bread is delicious.

John  and I have eggplant parmesan and Sarah has a chicken breast stuffed with egg and sausage
John and I have eggplant parmesan and Sarah has a chicken breast stuffed with egg and sausage

After a small siesta and some laundry we stike out for the ruins of Pompei. We get to the excavations around 4:30 and spend 2+ hours looking around. Once again the audio tour doesn’t quite match up with what you are looking at and several buildings are closed but there is still plenty to see. I cannot help but feel sad for all the people who were leading pretty nice lives here. They go to bed one night and all is fine and the next morning they are all dead from the hot gases and ash pouring out of Mt. Vesuvius.
The excavations at Pompei
The excavations at Pompei

The Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter

John at a taverna
John at a taverna

Mosaic at the House of the Chained Dog
Mosaic at the House of the Chained Dog

Entry into the enormous House of the Faun
Entry into the enormous House of the Faun

In the back garden of the House of the Faun you can see Mt. Vesuvius looming
In the back garden of the House of the Faun you can see Mt. Vesuvius looming

In the evening we go to the wine bar, Vincanto, across the street. We ask the proprietor to just pickout stuff for us to eat. He is into using artisinal products. It seems like we have a ton to eat and a bottle of wine and dessert plus after dinner drinks. The bill comes to just 90 euros. Once again we are not sure what he has charged us for and what he just gave us for free. We have really enjoyed the food and hospitality. (And how great is it that the dollar is almost at par with the euro?!)

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