Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Sights & Smells of Naples (Italy)

Despite the many bad things we'd heard about Napels, we were determined to visit, both to see Pompeii and to see the city itself. We got off the train just before dark, and couldn't decide if it would be scarier to walk the 250m from the station to our B&B (through the very dodgie neighbourhood), or try dealing with a possibly very dodgie taxi driver. In the end we decided to brave the walk and haul our bags through the drizzle. Once safely inside, we discovered the B&B was exactly at the owner had promised - perfect on the inside.

We know that in most places in Europe people drive on the other side of the road from in Australia, but we couldn't work out what side of the road they drive on in Naples. And as far as the scooters were concerned, there was no difference between the road and the footpath. We did learn how to cross the road Naples-style - when you get to a road, don't look left or right, just walk straight across and hope for the best!

We discovered while in Rome, that Pompeii was closed on the 1st of May - the day we had set aside for our visit. But thankfully the B&B owner set us straight at breakfast on our first morning, and since it was a public holiday, we only had to pay €1 instead of €11. Pompeii was great - it wasn't very crowded, the weather was (mostly) nice but not too hot and we had an excellent day exploring the ancient town. We finished the day with a dinner back in Naples at a cafe-come-bookshop-come-publishing house in the quirky Piazza Bellini.

The rain seemed to have washed away a lot of the grime of Naples, but had unfortunately left many of the more "characteristic" smells. We wandered the backstreets, checked out the catherdral and had lunch in the old fishing village at the harbour. The harbour, especially the area where the big cruise ships were docking, was noticably cleaner and had a much stronger police presence. Although, as we walked through, a man emerged from an alley and asked if we were interested in buying his "beautiful laptop".

We really enjoyed Naples, but we were very pleased to be back on the train with all our possessions, albeit with very grubby jeans and smelly shoes!

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