Thursday, March 23, 2006

Naples, Pompeii, and Magic

Around noon, the Sinfonia pulled into the port of Naples, which I learned later is the third busiest port in Italy. It looked it, with cargo ships and other craft all around. We docked at the cruise ship terminal here, and we looked the city over while having lunch up on the 11th deck.

After lunch, we gathered in the San Carlo theater to await the excursion to Pompeii. They issued us a number (6) to indicate which bus we should board for the trip. After the first couple of groups left, we followed our tour director out, which was a long process because you have to scan your cruise card when you leave. It's kind of a passenger inventory control system - the ship won't leave port unless the system shows that the passenger was scanned back in.

Anyway, our group of 50 boarded the bus, while the cute blonde tour guide (Marta) herded us in. On the way to Pompeii, she told us about the history of Naples (briefly) while we drove through some the less ritzy parts of town. One thing you see a lot of is laundry hanging out of windows in apartment buildings. That's fairly common in Europe, but more prevalent in Italy.

Back in 79 AD, Vesuvius popped a cap on 20,000 souls, burying them in ash from a pyroclastic flow. Before that eruption Vesuvius was about three times as high as it is now. Later settlements rebuilt some of Pompeii, and we learned that city was first a Greek town, later taken over by the Romans.

The ruins are something to see. We only had a couple of hours to view them, but it was fascinating to see the walls of ancient stores and houses, where people lived and worked two millenia ago. They felt safe in the shadow of the montain that eventually destroyed them.

Vesuvius is showing signs of being active again, and if it decides to blow again, Naples could be at risk. Even now, there are villages on the slopes of the volcano.

After the tour, we walked back and eventually boarded the buses. Getting back on the ship, we had to have our bags x-rayed again, and go through a metal detector, and of course scan our cruise card again.

The evening meal was a good (I had the meatballs as a main course) but I did not order the potato and octupus salad as a starter. I try to avoid tentacles.

After dinner, we chatted with Joe and Gay Haldeman. Joe is a fairly well know science fiction writer (among other books, he wrote the award winning novel The Forever War) . Joe and Gay joined us at the interesting and entertaining magic show (lots of smoke and music and pretty girls) in the San Carlo theater. Lots of fun, though I felt like had consumed a pack of Luckies.

Tomorrow is Friday (I think) and we are supposed to be docked in Sicily, but Linda and I will probably just spend some time on the ship and get to know it better.

The jet lag is fading away, we're starting to get our sea legs!



Edward said...

Come on, you chicken!! Step out of your BOX---eat the tentacles!! What is it going to do to you--KILL YOU?? IT is already dead! Then chase it with some fine wine! Sounds like you both are having fun--I am mopping my front two rooms!! Gee--thinking of you!


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