Pompeii and Vesuvius are MUST -DO Trips from Naples. They’re not very far – Vesuvius is about 9 km from Naples and Pompeii 8 odd kms from it. The tour we booked was a small group tour on Viator and we found that Viator for the most part, gave us great deals and interesting tours! The tour started post a fabulous, filling breakfast at our beautiful hotel and soon we were on our way. We had barely 8 people on the tour and it was a small, quick bus ride to Pompeii.
I have never been particularly interested in history but had wanted to go to Pompeii and am so glad I did. The few hours that we spent in Pompeii took me to another time. The ruins are so well preserved and the city so incredibly planned , it takes almost no imagination to transport yourself to a forgotten time and to the 7th- 6th Century BC where this city flourished and thrived! Well laid out roads , perfect shop fronts with little houses on top, schools, gladiator training areas and theatres; the planning then was infinitely better than in some of our modern cities even now! Our guide was knowledgeable and interesting and I could imagine the life of a Roman man as he came to work in the city of Pompeii. I stared in awe at the amphitheater and marveled at the Roman spa. I saw holes in the footpath where horses could be tied to ‘park’ them. The vision and foresight was incredible ! I was amazed that a pizza oven even back then looks so similar to a pizza oven now. I also loved how the roads were tilted so that water and dirt could be swept downwards. Should you need to pass there were three rocks at regular intervals for you to walk across. Shopkeepers had a store front facing the road and most lived just above their store. Traders and visitors would come early in the day for trade into Pompeii and after trading through the day , eat lunch in the city. Then it was time for the spa and based on your status in society you’d move to the spa meant for you. Steam rooms and sauna rooms were still preserved and because the day we traveled was a particularly sunny day- I suddenly wished to have a quick plunge myself! They also had mosaic tiles which were still there.Bright and colorful- you could see that Romans really lived life King size!
Then there were also the brothels where in case you didn’t understand the language images were painted on the walls and you could choose what you’d like to do with the prostitute of your choice! An incredibly interesting time and an even more eye-opening experience for me!
What was also really fun were the drinking water taps all carved with Gods and Goddesses with the taps becoming the mouths- they also served as road names and helped in directions for the city. it was also interesting to see the water wells had a small indent for the left hand allowing you to drink with your right.It’salso interesting to note that the water can still be drunk and is drinkable even today!
Molds of people who died during the eruption can also be seeing which gives you an idea of how truly horrible that explosion was!
We saw temples and Piazzas(squares),remnants of a time once forgotten but so ahead of it’s time in planning and in structure, you couldn’t help but imagine what if? What if Vesuvius hadn’t erupted? What if the city hadn’t been lost? A tragic loss.I was privileged to have been able to gain just a little bit of insight into history. This is an absolute MUST DO on any trip to Naples!
And then after a quick pizza it was off to Mount Vesuvius. Here the tour got a little less interactive. You were now advised to trek on your own and meet back in an hour. Vesuvius is an active volcano and is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years. The climb is steep and the black volcanic mud makes climbing tricky. They offer sticks to help climb- take them! Even if you think you can do without them – they help you keep your footing firm. I didn’t take them- I regretted it! The climb is long with very few (almost none) stops to catch a breath. It gets hot. So wear comfortable clothes and very comfortable shoes. The walk down is also tricky because the black sand slips and moves quite a bit. You can also see a black river of ash from Vesuvius which gives you an idea of how the ash and steam moved down from the volcano! Truly terrifying!
An active volcano, a lost city, a dramatic past- history came to life for me that day!
Price Factor-: About $120 for the day trip! Absolutely worth it!
Dress-: Comfortably with very , very comfortable shoes and carry lots of water.
Best times to travel-: August to October.
Now the husband is the more sane among us but has a terrible weakness for traveling and when this was suggested on a particularly lazy Sunday, he thought it was a fabulous idea! I did not expect him to agree but nonetheless YAY!
So off we were to Santorini ! Katakies was our hotel of choice in Santorini In the beautiful village of Oia pronounced as “Ia,” this is in the northern part of Santorini and is known to have the most beautiful sunsets and we were looking forward to the romance the evening would bring! This is part of the Small Luxury Hotels and I was really looking forward to a quick, yet very much needed break!
Santorini is a short beautiful flight from Athens! With azure waters interspersed with lush green isles , it is a truly a vision to behold! Our hotel was the other side of the island and a good 30 minutes by car. The car ride was phenomenal with stunning views and picture-postcard scenes! And almost before we could take a breath we were at the hotel. the hotel like the majority of structures in Santorini was a fabulous cave like whitewashed structure reminiscent of hotels in Cappadocia!
On the side of a cliff , the hotel overlooked the Caldera, the cauldron like volcanic structure surrounded by the ocean!The rooms were tasteful, large and ours had the stunning view of the bluest, blue sea! It was perfect!-a quiet , serene getaway to nothingness!
The hotel had just a few rooms and fabulously personal service. Breakfast was in the room every day and with the cheeses and local fruits and produce, the food was light, delicious and supremely healthy! We could eat outside overlooking the glorious ocean and remain undisturbed in the privacy of our own space!
The hotel had 3 pools, each more glorious than the other but my personal favourite was the Cave Pool….something I had never seen before! But where swimming was concerned- when in Santorini head to the beaches! And that’s what we did! I’m a free spirit but I have never been the kind of girl who drives around a foreign location with absolutely no idea what she’s doing… but that’s EXACTLY what we did here! We rented an ATV with an International Drivers Licence that i had brought and we were off! They do take any license in Roman English though so I could have got by with my Indian driver’s license as well! And off we went….to well….EVERYWHERE! It was a day time of adventure. We stopped. We shopped. We got lost.And then we got found!
We found black sand beaches, white sand beaches, azure waters and great cafes! We stopped and swam everywhere! We took our postcard photographs and really explored the island. We visited the beautiful villages of Fira and Firostefani, walked on the black pebble (huge pebbles) beach of Kamari and I felt rejuvenated and alive! Sometimes you can find purpose in life by just losing your way and that’s what we did…we got lost all day- but found our sanity, our happiness and our peace!
The sunsets at Oia are fabulous and walking on the cobbled paths , avoiding donkeys and stopping to see the fabulous Greek wares peddled on the sides of the paths- you rediscover happiness! Staring at the sun and sets in Santorini, there is a sense of inner peace that I have never felt before.