Friday, July 13, 2012


I did it. I can finally say that I've walked across the crater of an active volcano. This morning I slept in until 9 (again) and slowly got up/showered. As I was eating breakfast I started chatting with a girl I met last night in the hostel. Her name is Helena and she's from Finland. Anyway, so we were chatting and she was saying that she wanted to go to Pompeii today and possibly Herculaneum. Since you have to take the same train to get to both places we decided to walk to the train station together to catch the Circumvesuviana. Surprisingly we didn't really get lost. We missed out street so we turned back and we definitely got distracted for a bit by this random chicken wandering the streets. Of course acting like tourists we both whipped out our cameras and started to take pictures. While waiting in line for our tickets we started chatting with three girls from Toronto who were in Naples on a cruise and they had wanted to see Pompeii. (I believe their names were Nadine, Irene, and Celine or something similar to that...) anyway so we chatted away and we all caught the same train.

While waiting at the train stop Helena ran into a girl she had met the day before on the Naples underground tour, Vivianne (at least Helena and I both think her name is Viviane). Viviane was going to Herculaneum and wanted to go up Vesuvius so we both decided to go together. When we got off at Ercolano Scavi we waved goodbye to the others and easily found our way to the booth to purchase bus tickets to get up to Vesuvius. For €18 we got a private bus that took us up 1,000 meters and gave us entrance to the crater, plus a return journey. Viviane had a coupon for a €1 off so she got my ticket as well and I paid her back (that was so nice of her, I was shocked when she said she wanted 2 tickets) especially seeing as I had met her not even 20 minutes earlier. So while looking for where we wait for the bus we ran into a couple who were travelling to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, Steve and Catherine. This couple was so pleasant to be around! I kept running into them off and on during the trip and found out that they also wanted to see Herculaneum but had no idea how to get there. I'll come back to that later.

The bus ride up to Mount Vesuvius was pleasant. My ears popped a little from the pressure. Along a part of the volcano I could see a bunch of hardened magma along the side where no vegetation was growing and where there were trees it was growing over pieces of magma. It was really, really nice to see. The driver was going way too fast to actually get a shot and the window was a little dirty so I didn't even try during the bus ride. The rest of the walk up to the crater was 281 meters. I walked it in about 45 minutes. The view of the bay of naples is absolutely breath taking! And the crater is amazing as well. I had heard that you can sometimes see smoke but this time I couldn't see any so that was mildly disapointing. It was an incredible feeling to be at the top of an active volcano. For those of you who don't know what Vesuvius is, this is the volcano that erupted in 79AD and burried the better known cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. This eruption also extended the shoreline and raised the coastline. This volcano is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population that lives directly underneath it. It last erupted in the 1940's (though it wasn't anything major, just a tiny baby eruption, but it is due for another massive eruption within the next 60-70 years) It's also erupted a few times since then but it isn't currently erupting and if it was I don't think there'd be tours to it. Vesuvius itself stands at 1,281 meters (or 4,203 feet). When Vesuvius did erupt in 79 AD plumes of ash, smoke, and rocks flew up to 20.5 miles into the air and molten rock and pumice came down on the nearby towns at a rate of 1.5 million tons per second. The volcano did show signs of this massive eruption 17 years earlier and weeks before it happened so when it does happen again we should know about it. There's a constant surveillance on this volcano.

Anyways, at the top I got myself a lovely bracelet made out of hardened lava as the saleswoman called it. I believe she probably meant magma. Either way, it's really neat. So, I kinda went off topic with information on Vesuvius but it was a really cool eruption. Anyway, when we got back to the train station Vivianne said that she wanted to go to Pompeii instead of Herculaneum so we said our goodbyes and I found myself walking to Herculaneum with Steven and Catherine. These people are amazing. They're from Burlingham, England and are sooo friendly! On the walk down we were headed past a lovely pizzeria and they asked if I was hungry. I said a little but that I was fine and then they insisted on buying me lunch! We ordered a pizza (thinking that we would each get a slice but instead we each got a massive pizza) surprisingly we were able to eat our own pizza. I'm still full from lunch and that was a loooong time ago but I did force myself to eat my left over pasta again tonight. I also ended up giving my can of sauce to the staff and told them that it was all theirs. I decided against risking it to the trip to Barcelona tomorrow. So I talked a lot with this couple and we got along great. We eventually made it to the ruins and walked around together for a bit until we got split up and bid our farewells. They were really pleasant and so kind. As I was getting ready to leave Herculaneum, I ran into Helena who had just walked in and was headed towards the audio tour desk so we chatted a bit and shared our day so far. I didn't really have the energy to go back into the ruins so I said that I'd meet her at the hostel. As I headed out towards the train station I found a bench in front of the ruins and basically sat for almost an hour before jumping up and heading towards the trains. Of course minutes before the train arrives I see Helena appear on the platform so naturally we grabbed a train together. When we got to the main station I went with her as she bought tickets to head home for Sunday and then we went to take the metro back (because the idea of walking for another hour seemed a little discouraging). Instead of calling it the subway or metro I called it an elevator so know we've got this inside joke with that.

Herculaneum itself was awesome! It's so much smaller than Pompeii and there are sooo little people who go there! There were tons of buildings being restored but there was also some of the original wood (that was basically ash due to the whole eruption thing). There are also sooo many frescos! It's incredible! I also got to see the boathouses were they found so many bones huddled together. It was an experience. I was able to go through the town within an hour or two. Basically even though my day was really exhausting it was amazing. I am sooo going to feel that climb tomorrow but it doesn't matter since I'll be pretty much spending the next two days on trains and a boat. I have a train from Napoli to Roma from 10-1 and then I have to get my tickets from Roma to Civitavecchia for 1-2 to arrive by 4-5 and I have a ferry to catch for 8pm. My ferry doesn't arrive in Barcelona until Sunday evening at 6pm so I'll definitely be off the radar until then.

That random chicken

A view of the Bay of Naples from the top of Vesuvius

Flowers on Vesuvius.

Inside the crater of the volcano!

Me, in front of the crater.

Some fresco's in the ruins

Old pottery that's pretty smashed.

Lovely embossed work

Original wood! You can see it's been turned to ash.

The boathouses where all the people were found huddled together. Plus they found boats here.

Vesuvius from Herculaneum.

No comments:

Post a Comment