Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 13 Drive to Vesuvius

I had my first experience sitting in the back of the camper today first with Sarah, then Hayden. I was trying to type on the computer while we sped along. It was horrible, and made me feel quite carsick watching all the traffic backwards out the window.

We were headed to Naples. On the way, Richard spotted Monte Casino – the site of a major battle in World War Two where apparently many Maori Battalion soldiers lost their lives. The hill was certainly severe, and would have been a great vantage point for the valley. Thankfully, we didn’t drive up there – I could see the road from a distance and it looked steep and windy.

It started to rain before we reached Naples, and continued to do so as we wound our way through the narrow streets. I was shocked by the decrepid state of some of the buildings, and by all the rubbish everywhere. There were some very tight points on the road that gave Richard a few squeezes. The area we drove through looked very poor. The rubbish on the roadside continued right up the hill... we were driving to the top of Mt Vesuvius – a live volcano. The road was steep, as expected, and narrow, as we have come to expect, but it was also quite slippery with the rain on it, so in a few places, the camper struggled to maintain traction. All the way up the hill, amongst the rubbish, were beautiful statues of all sorts of things, just at bends in the road. Finally we reached the top. It was hard to see much, as the weather had not improved. It was about a ½ hour walk to the summit, but given the weather, Sarah and I decided we would stay in the camper. I write this as the boys have gone off to walk to the summit and see the crater. It is much colder up here than it was when we left Rome this morning in tee shirts. (You would expect that – I am not sure how tall Mt Vesuvius is, but we certainly seemed to climb up the hill for a long time.)

Hayden and Richard enjoyed the summit walk, and by the time they got back the rain had stopped and visibility had increased a bit. They said there were souvenir shops every 50 metres or so on the track to the summit!

We made it to our camp site, about 50 m walk from Pompeii, our destination for the morning. This campsite is much cheaper than the last week or so, where we were way over our predicted budget, but the facilities are also poorer, with squat toilets that Sarah is pretty horrified about! We are right next to a train track, and there seem to be quite a few trains, so I hope we sleep OK.