We got the high-speed train from Florence to Napoli; breakfast was a disaster Florence station had dreadful facilities. The train was comfy, our maximum speed was 297km an hour. In no time we were in Napoli, bought our tickets and struggled down the stairs to get the Circumvesuvia train to Sorrento. Its cheap 3.90€, slow and not very clean. Plus en-route to Sorrento passes some of the less salubrious parts of Naples. There are sections with huge tunnels and I hated the journey.
We arrived at Hotel Michelangelo and had a big room with large terrace, ideal to hang out my washing! However, we had a leak in the bathroom, which was quickly repaired. We wandered into the centre of town and had drinks in the Foreigners Club, overlooking the marina. My first cocktail of the trip. Dinner was in a small family run restaurant with delicious simple food and kind honest service.
Our room was right next to the train line and it was too hot to shut the windows. During the night the leak reappeared in the bathroom. We decided to have breakfast and then talk to reception about options but we were happy to check out
and find somewhere else. Breakfast was an excellent buffet with lovely friendly staff, although they were friendlier to the young, slim and pretty and to the Americans. Reception was very helpful and after 2 unsuccessful rooms they offered us a family room with a balcony and a terrace and no train noise. Success. Apparently, hotels with big central A/C units don't switch them on till 1st
Next stop the launderette for the rest of the washing. We mapped out our days and used the hotel terrace with Jacuzzi, the pool was too cold. While in town Chris thought he recognised a restaurant from his last visit 30 years before. He was hoping for crispy thin pizza. The food was average as was the service, the waiters were too busy sucking up to the big tipping Americans.
Tuesday, we planned to visit the Amalfi coast so we got the public bus to Amalfi, what a journey. We had been warned by a young Dutch couple about the road. We had planned to stop off in Positano on the way back but after a cold lemonade and snack we decided the ferry back to Sorrento would be best. We
went into the cathedral in Amalfi which was fascinating, the resting place of St Andrew. It was great to see the coast from the sea on the way back. Our evening was okay with yet more average food for more money than it was worth.
Chris's calf was worse again so he opted not to go to Pompeii (he had been before) so I went on my own, we had booked a guide through airbnb. We had breakfast together then I got the train about 8.30, plenty of time for a coffee. The station for Pompeii is pretty grim, grubby toilets and graffiti covered trains. I was in a group with 8 other people for two hours, while the guide showed us the key features of the site. It is huge and you can't do it justice in four hours. After the tour I had 2 hours on my own just taking in the impact an earthquake and volcanic eruption must have had on town. The Jacuzzi was such a welcome treat after four hours walking on uneven ground.
The next day we set off again on my favourite train to visit Erculano, another place buried in the
earthquake. In Pompeii the people died of suffocation due to the gases, here they were incinerated by the pyroclastic flow. Erculano was better preserved as the eruption caused a type of tsunami and the ash and pumice mixed water created a hard material to preserve the town. It made excavation harder too. If I had to choose it would be Erculano, you get much more of a sense of the scale of the houses. It doesn't have the major pubic areas like a forum, that is probably under the town of Herculaneum.
I am probably the only person who did both places and didn't take a photo, I just wanted to enjoy the experience without framing shots, there are thousands on the internet . I definitely had a grumpy old woman moment at both sites with the number of people doing selfies with ancient and important sites behind them. This is me at Pompeii, this is me at Herculaneum, this is me holding up the ferry at Amalfi as I take a selfie, ignoring the staff urging them to get off so we could get on !
On Thursday I booked a meal at a restaurant called QUI
in Sorrento for Chris's birthday. We had seven little appetiser plates all different and all wonderfully presented, a real taste sensation. My main course was a fabulous steak, served blue, and Chris had pig's cheeks. A plate of cheese and two stunning desserts completed the night. We had his meal a day early as on his birthday I had arranged a visit to a farm above Sorrento. We were with a small group and had great fun making a type of soft cheeses and then pizza. The setting was amazing looking out on both the bay of Sorrento and Salerno. The family run it as an eco-farm and also have rooms. Beautiful clean air after busy Sorrento.
So that was Sorrento and Saturday morning it was back on the awful train for the last time and back to Naples. We changed trains onto the local service to Rome – it took 3 hours.
No apologies for the lack of Pompeii photos!
Rome our final stop ....
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