We roused ourselves the next morning in Sorrento, barely making the cut-off for breakfast in the light and airy breakfast room. I’d forgotten those Italians mistake tar for coffee! But the tea was great, and we had a full buffet of pastries, juices and hard boiled eggs to fill us up.
The prior evening, Derek had finally reached Mama Farmer in her hotel room in Paris – she and Candy were sound asleep. We learned that their missed connection had resulted in the airline putting them up in a passable hotel with a small room, and that they’d ventured by train into Paris but didn’t explore much beyond the station. Despite their foggy brains, we managed to make a plan that we thought would work: they would take a cab from the Naples airport to the Circumvesuviana train station (adjacent to the main Naples terminal), where we would meet them at a specified time (which I can’t remember, but it was around noon).
That morning we decided to take the train into Naples a couple hours early, so that we could explore the city a bit before meeting them. Once we disembarked in Naples, we wondered if we’d made a mistake with the meet-up plan – it wasn’t all that simple to get to the Circumvesuviana platform. There was construction, plus multiple entrances. Hmmm. Mama Farmer and Candy might be in trouble.
That aside, we made our way through the crowded streets and bus terminals outside the station, following our very basic map toward the main cathedral (Duomo di Napoli) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naples_Cathedral, which was supposed to be quite impressive. Our route took us on the edge of what appeared to be a bit of a rough neighborhood – broken glass bottles everywhere, with cheap flea market vendors peddling goods. We’d heard petty crime in Naples was a problem, so we just kept our bags close and wits on alert.
We were generally impressed with the cathedral, which is tough to accomplish given the number of cathedrals we’ve seen. It was also interesting to traverse the narrow streets in that neighborhood to get a feel for the city. Overall it seemed crowded, unkempt and a little shady. Maybe it’s just where we wandered. Lots of clothes hanging out to dry.
The streets were confusing, and we didn’t have a lot of time to get back to the station. So our traipse around the city was short-lived. We were barely on track to get back in time to meet the ladies. And we had no idea where they would be lurking.
That question didn’t go unanswered for long. We hoofed it down to the ticket office for our train to see if they were there. No go. So we took the escalators back up to the main level, and seconds later we literally bumped into them. [Big sigh of relief.]
We got our tickets, had a snack from the vending machine and then waited to board the train. Destination: Pompeii (half way to Sorrento).
Everyone was hungry when we got off the train a half-hour later, so we gladly accepted an invitation into a mostly-tented restaurant right outside the Pompeii excavation site. There we had paninis and hot tea, trying to warm up before our adventure back in time.
I’d been to Ostia Antica – another archeological site near Rome – on another trip to Italy, but Pompeii is really much more impressive. The former is spread out and not as restored, which means your feet really take a beating and you have to use your imagination. In Pompeii, you really get a feel for how people lived, and they’ve done an impressive amount of restoration.
The weather was excellent (for January), so we enjoyed tromping around in the afternoon sun to the various points of interest. Then we headed back to the train for Sorrento.
The gals checked into the hotel, and then we headed into town for shopping and dinner. (This was a preview of the amount of walking they would do during their stay with us.)
Since we’d scoped out the stores and a restaurant the night before, we headed straight for the purse boutique, only to be derailed by, oh, at least five limoncello stores, all handing out samples. Mama Farmer was especially enamored with stores that had both limoncello AND painted pottery. It seemed that a platter was on her list of things to buy. My favorite was the creamy sort of limoncello, while Mr. Farmer preferred his straight-up. (Candy later gave us a recipe for the creamy kind, which we have yet to make.)
After a good amount of shopping time, we found a pizza/pasta place on the second floor above some boutiques and ordered ourselves some wine and pizza. We were sitting in the make-shift canvas room near the door, which meant we just about froze. Dinner was nice – but Mr. Farmer and I agreed that we liked the atmosphere of the previous night’s place more.
Sometime during the evening we stopped to take photos of Christmas lights.
Then it was lights out.