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Volcanoes & Beaches

ITALY | Thursday, 21 April 2011 | Views [418]

Summiting Mount Vesuvius

Summiting Mount Vesuvius

After a late night skyping home it was difficult to drag myself out of bed at 7am in order to catch the train to Ercolano, but I managed to do it as I was excited to visit my next site – Vesuvius! In the end I found I hadn’t needed to rush after all as the minivan that takes people up the mountain only left at 9:30am (officially – actually didn’t leave until 10am). I had read a few complaints about the company but I thought they were fine – didn’t overload the van, driving was fine (what you’d expect on winding roads), we had 2 hours on the site which was more than enough, and the driver even came to find me to give me my ticket since I’d jumped out of the van desperate for the toilet after my two coffees.

It’s supposed to take 20-30minutes to scale the final 300m to the summit, but I motored up in 10, walking straight to the other end of the crater to avoid all the crowds that were still wheezing their way up. It was AMAZING and unfortunately the photos just can’t do the sheer scale of it justice. I was surprised at the number of people forking out money for overpriced water and drinks at the top of the mountain, and was glad I’d come prepared with my prepacked coke and lunch.

Back in Ercolano I spent an hour in the park near the Herculanum site having lunch before heading back to Naples to buy a  bus ticket to Bari for Saturday, about half the price  of a train ticket. That evening I had a beer with  Guido, an Argentinean guy who’d also fallen asleep on the ferry from Capri the previous day, and then ended up going out for drinks with him and two French girls. I’d never thought I’d be wandering the streets of Naples at night, but in a group it was fine and we found a busy little bar for a great night out.

I decided to spend Good Friday on the beach in Sorrento and caught a train out along with quite a few people clutching beach bags and towels who obviously had the same plan. I wandered through the town, which was pretty but once again full of tourists (mostly of the older variety) and was actually glad I was staying in Naples and not some cushioned tourist “bubble”. After a walk along the coastal road I headed down to the port where one of the gated “beaches” was located. By “beach” I mean 100m of pebbles and rocks, some changing rooms and lots of sun loungers on little piers over the water flowing directly from the port where all the ferries dock (mmmmm!). There was a kiosk at the entry so I thought you might need to pay to enter (which I object to as a Kiwi) so ended up reading and accidentally napping on a low wall overlooking the bay.

Back in Naples I went back to the bar where I bought my bus ticket to see if I could get directions to the bus stop (the previous guy had NO English) and the woman kept repeating “Bar Mexico, Bar Mexico” which I had no idea what that meant in Italian. It made more sense when I headed over to where I thought the bus stop was and found the “Bar Mexico” pub next to it! I also ended up giving my Capri map to a couple of girls who were heading there the next day, and giving tips to another girl heading to Pompeii. I feel uber-organised compared to some people, such as the foolish American girl who wanted to visit Pompeii and Capri on one day (two long daytrips really). Wonder if she managed it?

Tags: beach, sorrento, vesuvius, volcano

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