3 April 2011

A trip to the brothel in Pompei (and Sorrento) [Italy]

I arrived directly to the Pompei ruins before midday, ready for a full on afternoon getting in amongst it. It costs a rather expensive €11 to get in, but it gave me a chance to get rid of one of the rolls of 2c pieces I have been carrying around (don't know what I'm talking about?)... the woman at the ticket desk didn't look too happy!

The ruins are HUGE. I didn't really find out how big until I had been wandering around for a couple of hours and still finding big areas I had not even discovered yet. And it is really interesting to get a snapshot of what life was like so long ago. There were some cool structures, including two amphitheatres and stadium, used in a way similar to the Colosseum. There was a lot of paintings and mosaics that had survived which were quite interesting to see. One of the more disturbing things in the plaster casts of the bodies that were found after Vesuvius erupted. Some huddled in their huts, one mother and child, and even a dog.

So that was the good, here is the not so good. I was provided no map and refused to pay the €5 for an audio-guide. Usually the audio-guides are just for the lazy people who can't be bothered to read. Not so at Pompei. There is literally no information provided throughout the ruins. So I had no idea what I was looking at. It is a cool place, but after a certain amount of time a half standing stone building is just that... a half standing stone building. Unless, of course, you give it some context. i.e. this is where they came to party, this is where they wrestled, or whatever. It turns out that there is a map, but often they do not give it to you when you buy the ticket. Why? So you will pay to take the guided tour. Sneeky skeeky.

While wandering around I met this crazy Bulgarian guy who asked if I knew where some kind of sex room was. I said 'I don't know what kind of party you think this is, buddy, but you have the wrong place...'. He started telling me about how there was a brothel, and they would have orgies there or something. I thought he was just some crazy dude, but he looked in his guide book and lead us there; it turns out he was right! There are these murals on the wall showing... well, you can see what they are showing. Dirty buggers...

After a few hours wandering around I decided to give up. I really hadn't even scratched the surface. You could spend days in that place, but again, the ruins kind of loose their significance when you have no information. So I wandered into the town of Pompei and met up with Marina. She and her family would be hosting me for the next two days.

I don't know where to start, I have so many good things to say about Marina and her family. All seven of them, including two Grandmothers, one of which is 90 years old! Even though only Marina and her older brother can speak English, the whole family was very warm and I instantly felt at home. That night we had an amazing dinner of pasta with potato (so good!) and vegetables. Later Marina and her friend Carmen went out for coffee which was cool. We went to this famous place in Castellammare di Stabia and had a kind of frozen coffee, seriously good! Even though Carmen is a bit of a cow ;)

The following day I planned to visit Sorrento and Amalfi, two beautiful coastal towns. The problems started in the morning when I was waiting on the wrong platform for the train. So when it came I missed it and had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. When I finally did get to Sorrento it turns out the buses were all on strike! So I had no way to get to Amalfi! Perfect. I did consider going to the island of Capri, but I was told that you really need a whole day out there. It was midday already and I did want to spend a couple of hours in Sorrento. Plus it was €20 for the ferry! So I passed.

Sorrento is a cute little town perched on the edge of some massive cliffs. So you can image the amazing views over the coast. All said, there is not a whole lot to do there, but I did have a nice time just wandering among the streets and looking through all the tourist shops... even if I wasn't going to buy anything (my bag is heavy enough already!). One cool thing is that all the café's and restaurants have huge bunches of oranges and lemons hanging all over the place. The area is famous for its citrus fruit, and the liquer that is made from them. Limoncello is amazingly good. If you haven't tried it, I suggest you do.

I went along the coast a little to a nice little fishing village part and there was a nice beach where I just chilled out on for a couple of hours. Unfortunately no book, and my kindle is gone :( which would have been perfect, but it was still nice.

On the way back to Pompei I called in at Vico Equense, which again is a cool little village up against some amazing cliffs. Not much more to say really...

That evening evening we had an amazing dinner; spaghetti with tomato and olive sauce, then a potatoes and eggs. I was loving having so much home cooked food after eating... well, crap, for so long! It was washed down with one of Marinas brothers home brewed beers, which was a lot better than the beer we tried to make back in uni days. For desert we had home grown fruit and this traditional Napolitan biscuit with cream type thing... Yes, I forgot what it is called. Don't judge! Followed up with home made liquer... which was AMAZING. I ate so much I thought I was going to pop. It was a really nice evening, and we all sat at the table chatting for a long time. They are all really great people and I am so glad that I got to meet them. Marina even offered, or more like instructed, me to stay another night. I would have loved to, but unfortunately I need to keep moving.

This morning I woke early hoping for an email from the company I was trying to book ferry tickets through. Nothing showed. I was planning to train back to Naples, get a bus to Bari, then jump straight on the ferry to Greece. But without a confirmed ferry booking, it was all a bit risky. Thankfully someone from Couch Surfing in Bari was willing to put me up for the eveing if it all went tits-up. I also found out that morning that all the train drivers were now on strike! What is going on here?! Thankfully Marina's brother offered to drive me to Naples. And as I was walking out the door I was handed a package with a huge sandwich and fruit. How amazing is this family? I was happy to think I had unofficially become part of it :)

I made it to Naples with a few hours to spare. My cellphone has been randomly turning off so I decided to go and find a new cheap one. I went into a couple of stores, and as soon as I walked out of one I was approached by a whole lot of guys trying to sell me stuff. But not the normal fake watches or sunglasses, I'm talking iPhones, iPads, laptops. Madness! One guy was trying to sell me an iPhone 4 for €100. It was obviously all stolen. I was also offered hash on more than one occasion. I think I must have looked dodgy or something? So anyway, continuing my journey; I got on the three hour bus to Bari, and was thankfully places to a huge, smelly guy that snored the whole way with his head on my shoulder. We really bonded. When in Bari my GPS was not working, and I ended up walking for 30 minutes in exactly the wrong direction! I could not have walked further from where I wanted to be if I was actually trying. So finally after about 90 minutes lugging this huge backpack around I arrived at the ferry terminal, sweating, smelly, and stressing the ticket office would be closed or sold out. I was semi-in luck. They had seats available, but they were €50! The people I was booking through on the net showed €30. Apparently that was a promotion that ended... get this... yesterday! Just my luck. But the nice woman sold me a student ticket for €40, so it was not so bad. I think the company I was booking through online would have added all sorts of stupid fees and charges anyway, so I was probably better off.

So I am currently sitting on the ferry, in a seat I will be spending the next 18 hours in. Tomorrow I disembark in a new country - Greece, the land of beautiful beaches and beautiful people! I get in to Patras, which is about as close to Athens as I could get, but is still a good 300kms away (I think). I get in to Patras at about midday, so I plan to jump on a train or bus straight to Athens. I have no accommodation there yet, but I will sort that out as I go. I'll spend a few days in Athens before venturing out into paradise the Greek Islands. And for the next couple of weeks I will be island hopping my way to Turkey.


  1. Don't tell me you are eating crap on VACATION. That's a sin and you should full well know that! You should be eating your way through countries! :) (Not that I would... the world's pickest eater and all... but I've at least heard that is what you are supposed to do.) xo

  2. Marina Minniti5 April 2011 at 17:12

    thank you very much you're so kind!! we hope to meet you again...i wouldn't have you to go away...you could have stayed another dayyyy (i'm not just instructed :P) all the family, Carmen and her kiwi say you hello!!! see you sooooon good luck!! your experience gives me inspiration to do something similar one day....maybe! *.*


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