12th May 2015
And the point of this travel?
Well there’s no point at all,
We’re voyeurs, put simply,
Who answered the call.
The call to go wandering
Footloose and free
And the discomforts experienced
Are part of the fee
We pay with alacrity and yes, with our time
Just to see others’ lives as we gladly pass by
My one strong coffee-a-day rule has well and truly been broken, but our will to avoid sweet stuffs remains staunch in spite of every café and bar (not to mention patisseries) having delectable displays and the Italian habit of starting (and finishing) their day with sweet pastries is a strong pull. There are limits . . .
“I want an extension!”
We have extended our stay here at the Hotel Ginevra for a third time (the latest until Monday the 18th), doing little side trips from its base. Yesterday we hopped on the Circumvesuvio rail and headed out to Sorrento to catch a bus to Amalfi. The Circumvesuvio is a much used (and abused) rail system and our train was packed. I mean Jam Packed. I mean, Rachel and I are pressed together like vertical sardines in a can. Between the Central Rail start and Sorrento there are some 36 stops, but even this did little to lighten the load.
It was a perfect pick-pocket situation – – –
I felt the hand that pressed against my wallet pocket start to move about: who? which of the close-pressed bodies could it be? She to my left? surely not. Ah, that sweaty, swarthy bloke pressed into my hind quarter. I swiftly jab two ridged fingers into his eyes; he screams and raises both hands to his face – s’funny, there’s still a hand on my wallet. Rachel looks at me in stark panic and removes her hand from my wallet pocket, “I was just checking,” she says – – –
Nah, not really, just my imagination running riot. But you can bet I was conscious of the wallet and iPhone pressed tight (by Rachel’s body) against my thighs.
The Amalfi coast, Positano and Amalfi itself, and further on to Salerno, is an area famed for the glamorous people it attracts: its squillionaire’s picturesque villas pasted onto the cliffs and the mega yachts that come into its small ports. But, as evinced by the bus trip from Sorrento to Amalfi, its narrow, winding and s-bend roads are clearly becoming overwhelmed by the hordes of not-so-squillionaire, wannabees and rubberneckers (like ourselves). That section was a very slow trip – and this is not even summer! The owner where we ate in Amalfi suggested we head up the neighbouring alley for the cemetery for some interesting views. We did. And got totally lost but met up with an English couple on the same futile (and premature) pilgrimage.
As one does, we got chatting – it being so refreshing to be able to express oneself fully and meaningfully about a broad range of common topics in a mutually understood language (seriously, you do miss that sometimes when travelling – Rachel enjoys talking with a woman, too, and I can rant a bit with another male). We found some common ground and decided to seek the cemetery together: found it and continued to communicate now surfeit with wonderful views, and eventually wended our way down to the flat where we partook of local refreshments till late in the day (superb local wine and Italian beer – with bar snacks. We just managed to catch the last bus out to Sorrento only to find the last train (to Napoli) had left but there was a late bus which we caught and had a remarkable ride – the driver was clearly an off-duty racing-car driver – around those plentiful and tortuous S-bending narrow roads with still on-coming traffic, and into the flat-lands of outer Naples to affect a perfect landing at our Central Station not 200m from our hotel. A long day – but a goodie, eh 🙂
Today we ventured along the same Circumvesuvio Metro (absolutely crammed to the gills again) to Ercolano (yep, the famous Herculaneum). We were going to get a bus up to the heights of Mt Vesuvius and walk up to the crater rim. However, we equivocated because of the cost involved and the information we had been given that we could use a local bus to go up, much cheaper. Rachel eventually found the local bus number and bought tickets but it was now late in the day so we ambled about the town (not entirely aimlessly I’ll have you know), postponing the crater trip till tomorrow. Meanwhile we checked out the buried-but-now-uncovered city of Herculaneum.
While Pompeii gets all the glory and attention deserving of a city buried by a volcano’s violent eruption, Herculaneum suffered the same fate at the same time but is distinguished in the eyes of archaeologists because of the peculiar gases that accompanied its inundation. These gases perfectly preserved a lot of the fauna and timber used in construction and even the mural paints. Of course this was not uncovered for a thousand or so years and did little to save the life of its 4000 or so inhabitants. But, hey, Fame is Fame, and some things are worth waiting for doncha reckon, even if it is only in the heart and minds of academia. But, I will have you know, though not of academic bent, archaeology interests me greatly.
A note on Migrants:
On the Circumvesuvio train route just out of Napoli I spied several blocks of disused land taken over by shanties – that’s the knock-up, knock-down, scrap material type of construction and I am probably correct in assuming they house the recent black immigrants from Africa. These folk – and I can only pity them –are present in large numbers throughout the day near the Central Railway Station and most are trying to sell something – all manner of things – and you won’t see them dining in the restaurants or bars. But they would only be working for someone who would be up on the next rung of the ladder supplying the goods. Mein got: they come from a land of zero opportunity, and if they survive the journey and have any money left-over after having paid the fees, they have to start on the underside of the bottom rung of the ladder . . . Kerrrist, you would have to have some strong kind of optimism to face each day wouldn’t you? Today, in a mood of goodwill and charity I thought of asking one of them (any one of them) “How can I help you?” Then I revised it in my head to “How could I help you?” Then to “In what possible way could I significantly improve the long-term achievement of your goal?” – I realised I could play with the semantics of this forever and still not reach a satisfactory way of vocalising an offer to be of any use to them within my limits. Think about it – even throwing a big chunk of money (by big I mean, let’s say 1000 Euros if I could afford to give it away) isn’t going to turn their life around – is it? (You may like to answer that one; I would welcome your suggested solutions as to what could help improve their lives 🙂 On the TV news tonight there are even more boats – jam packed with migrants from Africa – being picked up at sea by the Italian navy and brought ashore to Italy. Seriously, how the hell Tony Abbot sleeps at night I don’t know – him and his ‘tow the fuckers back and push them ashore’ policy. What an arrogant, ignorant tool he is.
Tacking on a couple of Napoli foodie photos: