So, in post 1 of 3 (which you can read here), I told you about the journey to Pompeii. In chapter number 2, I’m going to tell you about visiting Sorrento and Pompeii. But first, I want to tell you a bit about how I ended up meeting somebody who lives in Pompeii when I’m based in Sulmona.
It all starts a few years back, when I was working as an au pair in Gijon, in Spain. The family next-door decided to get themselves an au pair, and we soon bonded over a love of afternoon drinking and our hatred of the farmer and his cows who traipsed endlessly up and down our little country road, turning it into “shit river”, as we fondly called it. Well, this little American introduced me to the website Couchsurfing.org. I’m sure many of you know about it but, for those who are imagining a new marine sport, let me just give you the gist of what it’s about. Basically, you set up a profile on this site and then, when you want to travel cheaply, you ask people if you can stay on their sofa or, if you’re lucky, in the spare room. All for free. You can then offer people to stay on your sofa. If you’re a bit wary of this kind of thing, like I am, you can always just contact people through the site to meet up and ask them to show you around the city. I used it to meet people when I first moved to Sulmona. So far, I have never used it to sleep on a stranger’s couch but my American friend has and she has some stories to tell.
Anyway, back to this summer. Considering Sulmona is a small town in the middle of nowhere, I actually receive requests more often than you might expect but, being the useless person I am, I usually find them when it’s already too late. However, one request I found in time was from a pair of friends who were planning a motorbike tour of Abruzzo. They wanted to stay in Sulmona for a night. This would be the first time I ever had a couchsurfer actually stay at mine. I was hesitant to offer them a place at first but I thought “Go for it!” and said yes. I’m glad I did. They arrived late one afternoon, with all their motorbike gear and, seeing as it was the middle of summer, it was a little hot! We headed back to mine before going out for pizza at one of my favourite little restaurants (I will have to write about where to eat in Sulmona later). After dinner, I showed them around Sulmona a bit but they were pretty tired. They had to leave the next day but not before buying some local saffron to take back as gifts. They also left me a little bottle of Limoncello, which now sits proudly on my sideboard. Usually, when you offer a place for someone to stay, it is on your couch. However, as there were two of them and only one of me (plus the cats), I let them stay in the bed and I took the sofabed in the living room. I think they appreciated having a proper bed after a long day of riding.
Finally, I was able to return the favour and head down to Pompeii to see them. Although, unfortunately, I only got to see one of them as the other was in Milan for the weekend. Ah well, I will just have to go back! So here is part 2 of 3 about my trip to Pompeii.
Saturday started with us getting the train to Sorrento, which is a beautiful town not far from Pompeii. Although the weather was a little overcast, it was not too cold. The train was full of little children dressed up for Carnevale, which was celebrated on Tuesday 9th February (Pancake Day for us Brits!). Unfortunately, when we got to Sorrento, we found that a lot of the shops and cafes were closed as it was off-season. However, we took a little stroll down to the port and Adele pointed out Pompeii and Naples (don’t ask me where they are in the pictures because I don’t remember!). After that, Adele’s friend met us and gave us a little tour of Sorrento and told us some of the history. It’s a really lovely and interesting town; I definitely have to go back to visit in the summer, when there are more people and I can go to the beach.
After Sorrento, we decided to head to Pompeii to check out the ruins as they are free on the first Sunday of every month (cheap travel tip!). We went back to get the train where an old woman pushed me out of the way so she could get through the barrier without paying (not kidding!) and a short ride later, we got off at Pompeii. We were expecting a long queue because of the free entry but there was nobody. It could be different if you go first thing in the morning though. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the ruins; I had seen some photos online of the casts of various bodies that had been found but was unprepared for how it would make me feel.
As you can see from the title, this is 2.1 of 3. It was supposed to be a three-part blog about my weekend but I don’t feel I can do the ruins and my dinner adventure justice without this blog becoming really long. So I will leave you with some photos of my visit and continue the story in the next post.
To be continued…