Saturday, September 12, 2009

Filth and Beauty, Round 2 of our Cruise

So here is round two of many when it comes to our trip... We have over 1,300 pics so narrowing it down to just these is SO HARD!! You will be seeing pictures of our first day on the boat, as well as our first port, Napoli. In Napoli, we took a private tour with strangers we met online and this really turned out to be the best day in my opinion. I loved other places we visited just as much, but the experience of having a private guide and being able to really pace ourselves to see everything we wanted without having to worry about making back to the boat before it leaves was not reproducible with the cruise tours and our do-it-yourself tours. So, here's what we did.
It was incredible to see something so old that was so well preserved despite being essentially destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Something I must share is how we felt as we toured Pompeii. We were awestruck by how "modern" the city was considering it stood from approximately 6th/7th Century BC until 79 AD: we saw their plumbing systems, how they created "steam rooms" in their public bath houses and how they created their streets. Did you know that the sizes of our railroad ties date back to the days of Pompeii, as they created a standard size for carts to go through the streets of cities way back then??? Something else about Pompeii that was sad was seeing how it was such a filthy, sinful city that reminded us a lot of what we have read about Sodom and Gomorrah as we toured the public bath house outside the city walls of Pompeii. It made me (us) wonder if maybe the destruction of the city was God's wrath on the people and their lifestyle. Another thing I'll tell you about Pompeii (but I refuse to share pictures) is how sad it was to see the cavities of a few human and animal remains. Our guide Salvatore told us that as they were excavating and finding human remains, most people were found squatting and covering their faces or laying face down most likely to mask the fumes of the eruption or to avoid seeing their inevitable demise. I would say that visiting Pompeii was completely worth it and I would love to go back to really see it all. Pompeii is over 266 acres and we barely scratched the surface in our morning tour, and so much of it is still undergoing excavation.
Amalfi Coast (Sorrento, Positano):
Oh my, where do I begin?? It was breathtakingly beautiful!! As Caleb and I took in this beautiful scenery, taking pictures with our camera, we were in heaven, yet so sad to see how our photos just don't begin to capture the beauty we beheld. I hope you can look at these photos and just have a glimpse of the beauty, enough to whet your apetite to want to go there yourself. As we left Pompeii, we drove to a lookout point where we had a great view of Mt. Vesuvius. Something I want you to attempt to imagine that Mt. Vesuvius, which currently stands at about 1200 metres, stood at over 3000 metres prior to the eruption that destroyed much of the coast of Italy as it stood then, as well as the famous city of Pompeii. I digress... From the lookout point, we drove along the coast and to the top of Sorrento, which overlooks the beginning of the Amalfi Coast. We had lunch at a precious little family owned restaurant, and set off once again to the city center for a little street shopping, ahem, alley shopping. The alley street we shopped in was not much wider than the hallway in my house (not wide people!!), but was so fun! We got to taste the local limoncello, liquor created from the rind of lemons and bargain with the locals for souvenirs. From Sorrento, we took off for what I would consider to be one of my favorite stops on the entire trip, Positano. Oh Positano, how I love thee. It was just picturesque, the classic coastline of southern Italy with the colorful stacked houses and fishing boats anchored just moments from shore. We hiked to the beach of Positano in the short time we had there, just to take it all in. Of course, not after enjoying our daily dose of gelato!! Yes we ate it daily, sometimes twice daily. We took pictures galore, none of which capture the essence, then sweated back up the hill, to meet our group for the winding drive back to the reality that we could not stay in Amalfi forever. I hope you enjoy the picture tour...