no matter where you go, there you are

Thursday, April 1, 2010

certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living – miriam beard

The night train from Paris arrives in Milan right on time. I'd slept for most of the trip so I am as rested as can be after sleeping on a fake bed. I hang out in the Milan train station for about 20 minutes before my train headed for Rome begins to board. I hop on and since Europe isn't late because it's awesome, we depart and arrive in Rome right on schedule. Anne, my sister, and Lauren, her roommate are waiting at the end of the platform since their train back to Vienna is about to begin boarding. We talk and catch up in the 10 minutes we have together but then they must leave and I need to drop my bag off at the hostel.

The hostel is only a 5 minute walk from the train terminal but its a little hard to find as there is no sign outside the entryway. After a short backtracking moment though I figure it all out and go through the process of dropping my bag off. Then it's back to the train terminals and onto a train down to Naples. And from there I hop on another train to Pompei. Based on my research I did beforehand, I knew there were 2 train stops you can get off of...1 nearer to the center of the town and the other at the ruins. But I was running out of time if I wanted to spend a few hours at the site, so I get on the first train headed to Pompei...going only to the center of town. I'll have to find my way from there I guess...

The farther you get from big cities, the less they speak English. Therefore I get no help with directions to the Pompei Ruins from the station attendant in Pompei. I have the general direction in mind so I head that way and somehow end up at the entrance. And as I think it's the front entrance it takes me a little while to understand the map the site gave me for the ruins. None of the roads exist where I think they do...and that's cuz I had come through the back way. Once I get my bearings though I head off through the ruins.

There's no words to describe the fascinating and enormous ruins of Pompei. Mt. Vesuvius, which I could just see through the clouds, erupted a ton of years ago encasing and preserving an entire civilization in dirt, ash, lava etc. So when you hear that one (or maybe just me) might think "ok, it'll all be old stone things that are falling apart and are hard to appreciate because I can't imagine what it was supposed to be like." Nope, I was WRONG. Yes, there are a lot of old stone things, some of which may be considered falling apart.

But there are also a lot of stone and brick buildings that almost look new and flawless. The artwork has been preserved fantastically and though outside all the time and exposed to the forces of nature, the colors are still bright and distinct.

The tiling in the ceilings, walls and floors looks almost new. Or maybe not new, but really close to it. My jaw drops seeing all these things that are thousands of years old yet appearing less than a hundred.
It's almost like the people of the city of Pompei wanted to create their own Plimoth Plantation without actors and using all real things, not replications or duplicates. So outstanding. And HUGE -- it's 164 acres which is like 150-160 football fields.

I don't remember any of the names of the Temples or the houses and the histories behind any of them so I will leave you with the rest of my favorite pictures I took and let you try and take in and appreciate the amazingness. But like I said, it's really hard to capture how truly outstanding Pompei is without being there yourself.

The sun set fast by the end of my 3 or so hours there. Even though it had been that long the time had flown by as there was so much to see and take in. As I'm walking back to the train station a homeless dog starts to follow me and I don't want it to. Just when I think it's been distracted enough by trash it catches up to me. I get nervous for a second that it will follow me onto the train as I'm getting close to the station but it gets sidetracked once more and so I cross the street and speed my step in order to throw it off. Thankfully, it works. I arrive back in Rome around 7 or 8 and am extremely tired. My room is really nice and big and I have 5 roommates but it's so spread out it's not a bad situation at all. I take a shower which feels so wonderful since it's been almost 2 days without one and I get ready for touring the next day. Rome, here I come.

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