Change in plan.

by Sistaweotch September. 13, 2008 4157 views

A storm was predicted for the afternoon starting around 12. My coworker and friend, Mark, came with me to Vesuvius in the morning, in the hopes that we'd beat the storm. It was, however, so clouded up and blustery that they wouldn't even let us pay the 2,50 euro to park in the lot. So we parked on the road for free (hahahaha!) and walked up to the ticket booth. Alas, they would not let us climb. :( We were advised to wait 20 min. and see if it cleared up.

As we stood there, it got a bit cold and much windier. The rain kicked in shortly after that. We waited for a bit longer, but it seemed to be getting worse, so we drove back down with thoughts of lunch. The restaurant I like, with the awesome view from the slopes of the volcano, was not open, though.

According to Mark, the asphalt in Naples includes ground up bits of marble, so it's very, very slick. The tires were spinning a bit on the way up around some of the curves with me driving Mark's van. I encouraged him to drive back down because if we were going to slide into anything I didn't want it on my conscience! He wisely got behind a gigantic tour bus and followed them. They have enough weight that they probably wouldn't lose traction, even with the entire summer's coating of oil on the road (first rain for months, you see). This way, if we slipped, we'd just bump into them, not go flying off the road! This technique had the added bonus of making sure all the hairpin turns were clear of other vehicles before we entered them. People generally don't play chicken with a tour bus heading downhill on a narrow road, even in Naples. ;)

We made it back to the autostrade (freeway) and found the world to be sunny and dry, just as we'd left it. The top of the mountain was still covered in dark, foreboding clouds. Sigh. I'd even bought trekking poles! We decided to stop at Ercolano (Herculaneum [en.wikipedia.org]) as Mark had not been there yet and we'd both brought cameras.

We accepted the maps that are included in the ticket price, but instead of reading them, we just walked around looking for interesting photo ops. I missed Aldo's commentary from the previous tour, as I knew there were just a million things I was missing about the history, lives of the people, and architecture. Oh, well! I'll just have to hire him for a private tour when SOME OF MY FRIENDS FROM THE U.S. COME AND VISIT. Ahem. *pointed look*

After Ercolano, we drove to Bacoli and had lunch at a restaurant I knew that had a faboo view. Not a volcano view, mind you, but still quite nice. And the food was pretty good, too.

Happy birthday, Mark!

This is why they won't let us climb. Well, that and the wind. And the rain, which showed up just after this photo.

Mark took this picture of me with my camera, all decked out in Kili gear. My hair started out so cute that morning. Alas for the wind, rain, and my rough-and-tumble lifestyle!

Oh, well isn't that just special? NOW it's clear!

Small apple orchard in Herculaneum. Here, at Oplontis [en.wikipedia.org], and at Pompeii there are a few spots where they have begun to grow many of the plants that were used by the original inhabitants. It's really quite nice to see!

Edge of the orchard, modern city in the background.

Some of the colors are still so brilliant! It must have been amazingly festive when people lived here.

Wow! A caper plant! Just up and started to grow in the wall. Can't grow ‘em in your yard, but they’ll sprout right out of ancient ruins!

Sorry this is a bit canted. There was a rather oblivious woman in a yellow shirt wandering around in here. She was completely unaware of my burning desire to take a picture of the room free from human interference. And THEN, just when she cleared out, Mark popped out from behind the doors (those black things there are charred wood in specially constructed acrylic displays), likewise oblivious… Sigh. At least he was good humored and accommodating, and hid himself behind the door again, ha! Anyway, my haste to get a clear shot resulted in a bit of crookedness!

Take a look at the reconstructed roof. Because of the way it's set up, with little water spouts and such, Mark and I figured they collected the water off the roof into the little pool there. There was a drain pipe that ran out of the pool, I'm guessing to a cistern.

Gosh, wow!

I think that's the drain hole we saw, there in the pool.

Most of the columns of this sort – where the outer decoration is in plaster, while the core is brick, as opposed to carved marble – that I've seen at various sites are reconstructed. I really don't know much about construction or architectural eras, but both Mark and I thought these had been put back together with some additions, for the benefit of visitors like us.

Mosaic floor, still intact and still beautiful.

Look at the colors of the stone! Gorgeous!

Here's where I got to show Mark a trick I learned from Aldo. This is before…

…and this is after, with some water poured on it. Wow. Stone is just so beautiful!

Once more. Before…

…and after. :D

Hahahahaha! Mark falls for the ol' “watered ancient marble” trick!

Deer being attacked by hunting hounds. Pay no attention to the man urinating in the back of the garden.

Some of the more choice, and accessible, decorations have been protected with frames and acrylic.

Narrow pathway going up behind some of the boathouses. Dang, the sun came out with a vengeance! It was SOOO muggy!

Without benefit of a guide or book, I'm not sure why these are here. I'm going to hazard a guess and say that the originals are probably in a museum and these reconstructions are for the benefit of tourists like me.

Look, a leetle leezard! I love lizards! :D

“Will the man who stole my hands kindly return them? I have an itch.”

Back in the day, Herculaneum was beach front property. These arches were boathouses where wealthy folks kept their boats. It is also where many of the residents died as they tried to flee the eruption. Poisonous gas, pyroclastic flows, and eventually mud (lahar [en.wikipedia.org], perhaps?), got to them too quickly. They also couldn't launch their boats as the water was kicking up big waves from the earthquakes and was full of floating volcanic stone.

What with the eruption and other reclamation efforts throughout the centuries, the beachfront is a significant ways away now. Indeed, the high wall seen behind the structure on the right goes all the way around the excavation site. The water has to constantly be pumped out, or it would simply fill up. There are still many, many ruins that have yet to be excavated here!

A meal at a restaurant in Bacoli with a nice view. How do you like them Jenga [en.wikipedia.org]-style fries, eh? Nice!

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