Sorrento Travelogue 2 – Pompeii and Herculaneum and Rain

This is getting ridiculous, I know, but these entries have been hanging around in my email for ages. Finally I present the second part of the Sorrento Travelogue…

Saturday was a nice lazy day, breakfast, strolls, lunch by the beach, walking up the cliff because we missed the last lift, resting, naps, dinner and bed.

Sunday was not a lazy day. We had booked a package holiday tourist excursion, and so had to meet a coach at 0815. The day had been laid out in front of us, consisting of a visit to and tour of Herculaneum, buried by 20 metres of volcanic mud in 79 AD, and still being excavated. Sadly, the rain persisted pretty much for the whole day, varying only in intensity. But the tour of Herculaneum was fascinating, because so much had been preserved, more so than in Pompeii. Friezes and paintings on the walls, some parts of furniture, and so on. The radio earpiece tour was informative, and gave an idea of daily life, and how similar it was to modern life in many ways, from snack bars to shoe shops. Then sadly the package tour syndrome set in & we were herded back on the coach.

Lunch was provided, & was a quick pizza, can of pop and a plastic tub of Mr Whippy – a far cry from the 70+ flavours of gelato we’d been trying in Sorrento. I was reminded of the Monty Python sketch with Eric Idle going off on one about package tours, with “bleedin’ Watney’s Red Barrel”. The two racist ladies we shared a table with were funny. Then it was off into the ruins of Pompeii. They’re more extensive that Herculaneum, with more open squares, columns and the like, but less was preserved, because it was higher up, more exposed, and buried in scalding ash, rather than mud. There were a couple of the famous plaster casts of the victims, but most were on tour in Canada. First class seats no doubt.

I was keen to see Pompeii, because of Spike Milligan’s description in his war diaries, during his time stationed in Salerno. He took a couple of his less well educated pals along, and they were taken with the Lupinarium, or brothel, with its tiny booths, with stone beds for the transactions to take place.

But, the day was rather ruined by the increasingly heavy rain. Despite our fetching disposable macs (effectively bin bags, blue for me, yellow for Mairi), we were glad to get back to the coach, and back in the hotel for a much needed rest for our poor weary, soggy feet.

Monday was a nice lazy day in comparison. Late breakfast, late stroll to the town to collect bread, cheese, salami etc for a late picnic lunch then we took the lift down through the cliff to the hotels beach. This was surrounded by piers with deck chairs and loungers, and beach huts for hire. It was pretty quiet, the season coming to an end as it was, so we took our pick of the loungers.

The sun was just peeking round the top of the cliff, and it was very warm, but when Mairi and I took a swim it was a shock how cold it was. But with baby steps, we made it out to chest depth, then took the plunge. Mairi was much more intrepid than I was, it has to be said. We swam out to the pier, soaked up some rays, and watched the little fish dart in and out of the lava blocks that made up the pier foundations, and also our toes.

After a good swim in the salty Med, we needed to rest on the veranda with a drink, nap, dinner, bed.