Did a tour of Pompeii today.
Very hot (32 degrees) and crowded. The tour guide was interesting but you're always going to feel hampered by the crowd. And it feels rushed, which is ironic given the amount of time spent waiting around.
There are of course the traditional souvenir vendors flogging their wares (though in a more restrained fashion than you find in Asia). A Roman gladiator with his wooden sword and plastic armour guarded the parking lot. And there were signs for classy establishments such as the Spartacus camping grounds.
Lunch was provided - either spaghetti or pasta. It was ok - I wasn't expecting gourmet and I certainly didn't get it, but the pizza was fine with a good crust and the wine wasn't bad. I chatted with a young couple - a Brisbane guy and his Tennessee wife. They were nice, although his name was Anthony and he worked in the automotive industry.
2 interesting facts:
- The penis was a sign of good fortune in Roman times.
- Tomatoes were brought to Italy from the new world, when America was discovered.
The tour was followed by a walk to the top of Mt Vesuvius. The walk is only about 3km, but of course it's all up hill and the path is loose gravel that slips beneath your feet. And I hit the wall during the first section - I blame jet lag and the heat. Thankfully I'm stubborn so I kept going anyway. Ironically the view of the caldera was no better at the top than halfway down, but of course if I'd given up then in my mind it would have been spectacular.
The volcano is still active, but it looks dead from this viewpoint. I'd seen photos but in my head there was bubbling lava and steam. One day I'd like to see the volcano at Vanuatu - that one is allegedly closer to my mental image. It was a little disappointing to be honest, although I'm sure the people in the town below felt differently all those years ago.
Pompeii didn't have much of an affect on me. I remember visiting Port Arthur a few years after the massacre there. It was surreal to think of tourists, no different to myself, being gunned down by a madman. It was moving in a way that Pompeii somehow wasn't. I don't know whether it was the distance of time or just how hurried the tour felt - maybe I should just blame the jet lag again.
Back to the hotel by 6, showered and crashed again. Tomorrow I really must try some food.