Our early morning departure from the ship again paid off as we arrived to find very few people in Pompeii. After seeing so many Pompeiian artifacts and frescos at the Naples Museum, it was now time for us to see the ancient site in person. As mentioned previously, Ellen (the world’s number one fan of the Weekly Reader) had learned about Pompeii as a child. She also saw the traveling exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Library in California a couple years ago. Yet her first reaction was that Pompeii is impactful. Although she knew that it was a city, she had expected to see just a small part of it. The Pompeii that we visited was enormous and impossible to cover all in one day much less take in everything and then remember it. When we first approached it, we were greeted by enormous statutes and, of course, in the background was Mt. Vesuvius.
Our lively and smart local guide planned a route that would help us to further avoid crowds. We started at the Antiquarium, the museum which contains artifacts as well as a chilling history of the eruption. People were not killed by the lava from the eruption but instead died from asphyxiation from gas and ashes. Then off to the streets of Pompeii. Our guide pieced together life in Pompeii before the eruption. All houses had large open courtyard areas with a basin or impluvium in the middle for collecting rain water. The sizes of home courtyards (or atria) depended on the wealth of each family. Getting water was never a problem either. There were many water basins, storage areas and aqueducts.
Pompeii had a fast-food shops. Its residents rarely had a mid-day meal at home but ate instead at one of the city’s fast food restaurants. As we walked along the long abandoned city streets, we saw many such places with ovens, stove burners plus a counter and stools for patrons. Ellen was glad Jorge was there with a hand as she felt very unstable on those ancient streets with big uneven steps both up and down.
That night we were entertained by our ship’s crew. Lots of songs and then afterwards everyone danced late into the night - a real party and lots of fun!