… and then I climbed a volcano.

(I started writing this yesterday, but it got so long that I had to finish it today… so pretend you’re reading it yesterday, please!)

Hello again, and happy Tuesday.  I hope the day is a fine one for you. I know one person in particular who is having kind of an exciting day–my granddad! Orrin Stephen is 99 years old today, October 6. What a milestone! I so wish I could be there to help him celebrate this momentous occasion with some KFC and a dip or two of DQ soft-serve, but we can be certain that in about 2 months and 2 weeks we can celebrate together! I miss you, Granddad!

So where did we leave off last time? Ostia-Antica. That was Wednesday.  Thursday and Friday was a school-planned field trip, and Saturday and Sunday we were free to do our own traveling.  Overall, the weekend was pretty great! For school we got on a train bright and early, boarded at Termini station in Rome at 7:15 and got to Naples around 11am or so. Once we got to Naples we grabbed some lunch, then spent a few hours exploring and sketching some of the treasures in the National Archeological Museum.  After the museum, our instructors took us on a walk through the streets of Naples. They didn’t really watch the time, though, and by the time we caught the bus to the train station (most foul bus ride of my life–we won’t get into that) we ended up missing our train to Sorrento, where we would be spending the evening.  No worries, though, trains come about once every 15-30 minutes.  Let’s just say one visit to Naples is enough for me, and I won’t soon (ever) be returning.

National Archeological Museum housing the Farnese collection and ruins from Pompeii and Herculaneum, among other treasures.

National Archeological Museum housing the Farnese collection and ruins from Pompeii and Herculaneum, among other treasures.

Atlas and the Globe

Atlas and the Globe

Our lovely walk. Ew.

Our lovely walk. Ew.

So after Naples it was off to Sorrento! Thanks heavens, Sorrento was polar opposite of Naples.  It’s a coastal town, very touristy, and beautiful.  We spent the night in a new, quaint little hotel, and it was probably the nicest accommodations I’ve had since the Marriott in Athens, if not home.  Once we got to Sorrento we had about an hour to unwind and settle in, then it was time for the finest 5 course meal I’ve had since I’ve been here, if not ever.  We went as a group (all the Interior students, all the Graphic students, and all the instructors) to this beautiful restaurant downtown Sorrento.  It was basically a lemon grove in the middle of town–very cool.  We had a lot of fun, got served a TON of food, and ate it all like it might get taken from us.  After dinner got over (around 10pm) our teacher, Pia, thought it would be a great idea for everyone to go to the local Disco!  No one passed it up and it was a pretty good time.  I learned that not only is my instructor skilled in the field of interior design, she can also do a mean Mashed Potato. That lady can really cut a rug! She was going crazy–it was hilarious! Wish I would have recorded it.

One of the first things I saw in Sorrento--some ruins that looked pretty magical

One of the first things I saw in Sorrento--some ruins that looked pretty magical

Ristorante Parrucchiano Favorita--very good! (should be for 28 euro a plate)

Ristorante Parrucchiano Favorita--very good! (should be for 28 euro a plate)

Friday morning we got to bum around a little bit again.  It was raining, so the instructors wanted to wait it out a while before we headed off on our next adventure.  We had a nice little breakfast at the hotel (much better than those continental things back home), got ready, and caught a train for Herculaneum.  Herculaneum was a wealthy city destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.  It is better preserved than Pompeii because it was covered in lava rather than ash from the volcano, so buildings still have roofs intact, murals and mosaics are still as beautiful as the day they were created (most from the 4th century BC) and there’s even some furniture there.  Very cool stuff.  Once we got there we spent a few hours exploring the ruins, sketching and taking pictures.

Overlooking the ancient city of Ercolano (Herculaneum), with the new city in the background, and Mt. Vesuvius in the way back!

Overlooking the ancient city of Ercolano (Herculaneum), with the new city in the background, and Mt. Vesuvius in the way back!

The doorways were Me-sized! Must have been some little people.

The doorways were Me-sized! Must have been some little people.

A reeeaaallly old mosaic. Still beautiful.

A reeeaaallly old mosaic. Still beautiful.

After Herculaneum we were free to do as we pleased, the field trip was over. So we headed back to Sorrento.  After leaving the train station we stumbled across a stand in a square that was surrounded by a flurry of people. Of course we had to go poke around, and we’re glad we did! It was a family mashing grapes and making wine and grape juice and handing out huge grapes and this wonderful mousse cake–all for free! The little boys doing the mashing were the cutest little hams I’ve seen, it was so great.  So we finished our drinks and cake, grabbed our bags and continued on our trek to find where we would be staying for the next two nights there in Sorrento. Or so we thought… Turns out our hostel was about an hour walk outside of Sorrento in a town called St. Agnello! We finally found it after a train ride and a mile of uphill walking on a deserted alley with all of our baggage.  Woof. I was a sweaty mess by the time we found the hostel, which was painted lime green and orange, called a youth hostel, had bunk beds, and ants everywhere. SICK. Oh–and get this–it was called the SORRENTO Youth Hostel. SORRENTO. It wasn’t even in Sorrento!! Ridiculous.  After we finally found the hostel, we cleaned up and had the owner drive us back to Sorrento so we could have some dinner and do a little more shopping. It ended up being a fine evening.

Really gettin' into the grape mashing!

Really gettin' into the grape mashing!

Please see 4th item: "After using the toilet, please use your toothbrush to clean it and then close the lid of the water." Uh.. Excuse me!? What kind of a cheap hostel is this??

Please see 4th item: "After using the toilet, please use your toothbrush to clean it and then close the lid of the water." Uh.. Excuse me!? What kind of a cheap hostel is this??

Saturday was by far the best day ever.  The sun was shining, the roosters were crowing (literally) and we were up bright and early.  We ate some “breakfast” and had Giovanni (the hostel owner) drive us to the port where we caught a ferry to the Isle of Capri! The ferry ride was gorgeous, with great views of the Sorrento shore/cliff line, but nothing compared to what we saw once we started closing in on Capri.  Everything about it was gorgeous. I’ve never seen, or even imagined, bluer water in my life.  The cliffs were gorgeous, the buildings were gorgeous, even the boats were great.  I loved everything about the day, which included a boat tour around the entire island, a 12 minute ride in a chair lift to one of the highest points, shopping, and dipping our tired feet in the Mediterranean.  Couldn’t have been better.

A view of Sorrento as we were pulling away

A view of Sorrento as we were pulling away

Welcome to Capri!

Welcome to Capri!

Capri is known for its lemons

Capri is known for its lemons

Look at that water!

Look at that water!

On the chair lift--check out that incline

On the chair lift--check out that incline

Beautiful birds eye view

Beautiful birds eye view

After spending the day in Capri we caught the ferry back to Sorrento where we had some dinner, did some more shopping, and went back to the hostel.  We were pretty tuckered out from exploring and the sun, but it was a great day! Sunday morning we got up, ate breakfast, checked out of the hostel, told Giovanni goodbye, and set out for our next adventure.  And what an adventure it was! We decided to jump on a train and get ourselves to Mt. Vesuvius, where we would go on to climb the darn thing! We took the train to Pompeii, from which we hopped on a bus that took us partway up the volcano, and from there we hiked up to the top! All the way to the crater. The climb wasn’t too strenuous, and the views were exquisite.  We even saw some steam rising from the crater! But we were assured that the lava was down 8km from the top (about 5 miles), so we were pretty safe.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to fit Pompeii into the day before we headed back to Rome, but all in all it was another awesome day and I’m so excited to be able to tell people that I’ve climbed Mt. Vesuvius!

Partway up the bus stopped so we could hear this man tell his story. He survived the 1944 eruption when he was 16.

Partway up the bus stopped so we could hear this man tell his story. He survived the 1944 eruption when he was 16.

Made it to the top! And get a load of that view

Made it to the top! And get a load of that view

Looking down into the crater

Looking down into the crater

After Vesuvius we took the bus back to Pompeii, where we caught a train to Naples, and then a train back to Rome.  The weekend was a huge success and I look forward to the next trip!! Coming up next weekend: Cinque Terre, so stay tuned 🙂

Thanks for reading this small novel–I told you I had tons to catch you up on!! Have a good one.

-J

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7 responses to “… and then I climbed a volcano.

  1. What fun you must have had! You wouldn’t get me on that chairlift for anything!!!

  2. i miss italy!! and i miss you more!!!

  3. What an experience! I can’t wait to see all the pictures you have taken. Have a great weekend in Cinque Terre, (or as I have been telling people Terre Cotta, however I believe that is a clay pot). Love you!

  4. Now, on that toilet-toothbrush thing — Did they really mean TOOTHBRUSH??

    Maybe it was “bowlbrush” or “hairbrush” or something!

    Do you want us to send you a few extra toothbrushes as “throw-aways”?

  5. Well first I must wish your sweet Grandpa a very very happy birthday!! How wonderful.

    Now,I am thinking you are having way too much fun without ME!!! How about we go do this a little Italy together sometime??? 🙂 Your side trips have been a wonderful addition to your time in Rome. Take the good with the bad and just enjoy every minute. I’m so glad you are getting to see so much of Italy. I ‘d love to sit with you and look at each and every photo you’ve taken. You know, I”ve taken so many NOBODY wants to look at all of mine anymore. Oh well. I still love revisiting my Paris photos everyday when I choose them for my blog.
    Ciao,
    V
    PS I”ll bet you didn’t know I knew Italian!HA

  6. We want an update! Love ya sis 🙂

  7. Where have you been… What are you doing… You’ve left us hanging in suspense! I guess we’ll just have to keep checking for an update. Miss and love ya!

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