Sunday, September 22, 2013

Noordam 2013 - Day 15: Naples, Italy (Vesuvius and Pompeï)

Here we are, our last day cruising the Mediterranean. The suitcases are in the hallway to be picked up for debarkation. Always a strange feeling. aside from some minor inconveniences like cold showers we loved the Noordam. But first let us tell you about our day in Naples, Italy. Arguably the best day so far.

Panoramic view of Naples port

Outside the cruise terminal we took a taxi to Pompei. At the internet site of Consorzio Taxi Napoli we had seen that you can get a fixed price with the driver. A visit to Pompei is 90 euro's including a 2 hour wait at the site. We told the driver that we wanted this price, but we would pay half at Pompei and the other half after our safe return. We still had the taxi drivers in Palermo in our minds. The taxi driver reacted a bit wondered: 'no no, you pay afterwards'. That gave us a safe feeling.

The taxi driver, Nicola, turned out to be a great guy. He drove like a true Napolitano (as he was one). Indeed as Rick Steves said: traffic lights are merely suggestions. Nicola asked us if we wanted to go up Mount Vesuvius. We had thought about it, but it seemed a bit much for one day to do both Pompei and Vesuvius. We wanted to decide after getting back from Pompei if we had enough energy to climb Vesuvius. Nicola warned that around that time the temperature would be really high, making the climb very strenuous. So we decided to go up to Vesuvius first. So glad we did that. It was great!

Nicola told us everything about Naples and its surroundings. All the way the road with many, many hairpin-shaped curves led up to the mountain that buried Pompei almost 2.000 years ago. He dropped us off at the parking lot of Vesuvius National Park. The next one-and-a-half hours it was up to us: hike to the crater and back. It is a very steep hike and it took us little over half an hour so we had enough time to walk along the crater as well. Of course the way down took less time, and we were back just in time. All the way up and down we had great views over the Bay of Naples, Sorrento, Capri and everything in that area. We waved at our Noordam, from here a very small ship in the far distance. Really a not to miss sight.

View of Napes from Mount Vesuvius

View from Mount Vesuvius

Crater of Mount Vesuvius

Crater of Mount Vesuvius

Kim at the crater of Mount Vesuvius

Rhode at the crater of Mount Vesuvius

Path along the crater of Mount Vesuvius

Path along the crater of Mount Vesuvius

Once we were down we had used all the water we brought with us. It was very hot. We bought more water so as not to dehydrate. Just a little pit stop at the Dixie’s and Nicola took us down the mountain. We have had nice drivers on our travels, but Nicola is the best. He was very nice to the kids and even made a photo stop… at the highway in the middle of the road. Only in Naples…

Arriving at Pompei

We arrived in Pompei at the Porta Marina Inferiore. Nicola gave us his cell number, just in case we would get lost. Well, we were lost for a moment. We prepared for our visit to Pompei off course and had maps and a Rick Steves podcast-tour. What we didn’t know was that Porta Marina Inferiore is not the same as the Porta Marina Entrance. We entered Pompei at an Amphitheatre. That was on our map, but this was another theatre then the big Amphitheatre. So we were lost in Pompei for a while. Fortunately we found our way after a few minutes and we started halfway in the Rick Steves tour.

Pompei entrance at Porta Marina Inferiore

Main road in Pompei



We visited the House of Faun, old lead pipes used for water supply, Verri’s house, the Baths, the Aqueduct and the house of the Tragic Poet. We also saw the famous cases with the remains of two Pompeiians. When Vesuvius erupted, their bodies were buried in volcanic debris. The bodies then decomposed. The archaeologists found these hollow spaces. They filled them with plaster so they recreated the Pompeiians. The plaster is mixed with their ancient bones. Very impressive.

Statue at the House of Faun



Lead pipes in Pompei


Kim in Pompei


Plaster Pompeiian

We were amazed how large Pompei is. We understand that you can spend an entire day here, even more. The most impressive point was the Forum. Not only because of its size, but because of the view you get at mount Vesuvius from there. Just a couple of hours earlier we were on its summit. Actually just below it because the summit is gone. From down here you see how mighty the mountain is. You get cold shivers just imagining how the Pompeiians must have felt. Looking from the Forum tot his giant mountain spitting lava and ashes…

Pompei Forum

Pompei Forum with mighty Vesivius in the back

After a visit of the Marina we walked on the main shopping street (at least it was until 79 AD) back through the theatres towards the gate where we had entered Pompei.


Pompei theater

Pompei theater

We were a little late. Two hours simply isn’t enough for Pompei. Nicola walked up to us and said being late was no problem at all. As a surprise, Nicola took us just behind the tourist shops to a local Limoncello factory. We got to taste the real Limoncello where it is made. Not only the classic Limoncello, but also one with cream in it and several other kinds with chocolate and melons. They were very generous so we enjoyed one drink after another. Of course we bought some Limoncello to take home and think back to this perfect day.

Kim, Rhode, taxidriver Nicola and Joost

Before we knew it we were back at the ship. We said goodbye to Nicola. He gave us his email address so we can contact him when we return to Naples. We will definitely return!

Just one more dinner separates us from leaving the Noordam. The traditional Baked Alaska dinner. The baked Alaska was great, but the rest of the food was a bit disappointing. That was really strange. Perhaps we just had the wrong picks of the menu: egg rolls and very dry turkey breast. We just thought back at all the great diners we had and enjoyed the Baked Alaska that tasted great.

Kim and Rhodé (informal photo shoot HAL)

Photographer John had our package ready, including the DVD with all our pictures. Then we put our last laundry in our bags and put them outside… But: still three full days in Rome left!

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