Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Naples to Rome to Arlington

Day 8

Rode the first boat back to Naples in the morning and then took a taxi to go get my moneybelt. The owner of the B&B was very nice & everything was still in there (including $180 USD - whoops)

Instead of heading straight to Rome, we decided to go to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples because we could ditch our backpacks (luggage) at the B&B. We had wanted to go to Pompeii but decided visiting with our packs in would be too big of a pain. So we went to the museum that has all the things they found in Pompeii and is considered "one of the top 3 archaeological museums in Europe".

It was pretty awesome, we really liked all the big marble statues and they were in incredibly good shape for being so old. My other favorite was the mosaics from Pompeii. I wasn't expecting much at all, just your standard hodge podge of tiles. I didn't realize that the ones they did involved "tiles" or rock chips that were the size of I can't think of a good analogy. 1/4 of your pinky nail? A bit smaller than the end of a pencil eraser? Anyways, they were tiny and the mosaics were detailed and exquisite.

We went back to our hotel & got our packs, then were going to take the subway to the train station. Except we had no coins & needed change. And every store was closed because it was Sunday. And it was really really hot and I was wearing a 50lb pack because it was now full of souvenirs.

So we walked. 1.5 miles to the train station with our packs in the heat. We were in a tight neighborhood area near the station and everything was really quiet - almost no one in the streets. Then all of a sudden we heard a cheering roar echoing around us. It was incredible and made the walk worthwhile. The entire neighborhood was inside watching a soccer game.

We caught our train, rode to Rome and stepped off the train into a crowd of people. No one was moving off the platform and we heard yelling & chanting - the happy sort. Then we saw rows & rows of riot police. hmmm.... We figured it must have something to do with the soccer game and sort of pushed up a tiny bit to see what was going on.

Suddenly! Bang! The loudest boom ever, Kyle says it sounded just like a gun. We are trapped between trains but everyone is running and we jump down into the tracks & book out of there.

Here's a little known fact about Kari: She has been in a soccer riot before. It was in Cairo and involved being trapped in a van, surrounded by an angry crowd that was climbing on the van, throwing things at it, which eventually broke some windows and made my friend squirt copious amounts of scary blood all over the place. (even though it ended up being a minor wound. and there was a cat walking around in the hospital.) The bus driver was so mad, he was slamming on the gas and HITTING people, which did not help our case at all. Our teacher bravely climbed out, and finally convinced enough people near the van that we were students, NOT the opposing team that had just beaten them, and a group of Egyptian men surrounded our bus, calmed everyone down & escorted us to safety.

So I was just a little freaked when the boom/gun went off. Kyle says he saw police beating someone with a stick and later we heard an ambulance. If you want to read more about what happened that day, check here. We were incredibly lucky we did not try to take an earlier train from Naples to Rome because the main rioting/violence occurred that morning in the Naples train station. Phew. (see, I knew what I was doing when I forgot my moneybelt. Although i might have to give God a little credit somewhere.)

Next we wasted 30 minutes waiting in line to buy Kyle a train ticket till I called our hotel & found out we could buy one at the travel agent next door. Then we tried to find a bus or taxi to take to our hotel. The buses were just sitting there doing nothing. We were very confused. Someone finally said the buses were closed for the night because it was Sunday. (but the ones sitting there had people in them and one would leave every 10 minutes or so. confusing)

So we looked for a cab. None. The police said they were all around the side of the building because of the riot police vehicles everywhere. We headed around and saw bumper to bumper traffic and lots of people headed that way. I said we should just start walking to the hotel & stop at the first taxi station we saw. So we started walking, already pretty exhausted from walking in Naples. At this point its after 9pm.

We finally find a cab after walking 1/2 mile and he tells us our street is closed for a race. ARGH! So we buck up and walk the rest of the way back to our hotel (1.6 miles, remember?). This is a picture of me cursing the Nike Human Race, Carl Lewis and all the idiots running 10k in Rome at 10pm on a Sunday night.

We finally got home, showered, had a pretty good dinner near piazza Navona (pasta with shrimp & zucchini flowers for me) & went to bed.

Day 9 - last day in Italy

Our last day and nothing much on the agenda except a long walk through Rome. We headed towards Trevi fountain & the Spanish steps which were the only major sites we'd missed previously.

Pretty Trevi Fountain. But not so romantic when surrounded by this....
We wandered towards the Cappucin Crypt where there were supposed to be lots & lots of monk bones. Arranged artistically or something. When we arrived, it had closed an hour prior. So we took the metro to the Testaccio neighborhood where there was a food store I had heard about and wanted to visit. (Volpetti)

On the way there we happened by the non-catholic cemetery and wandered in to take a look at Keats grave. We looked up some of his poetry on kyle's iphone and read it. Seemed like the right thing to do.

Then off to Volpetti's ...which was closed all afternoon and didn't open till 5pm. Drat. So we walked, took a wrong turn and added 20 minutes to our route to the Travestere neighborhood. Drat again.

We finally found a bus going the right way and arrived in Travestere which was super super cute. We loved it. Kyle wanted to go see the Faranese Palazzo, so we walked over there. It had closed 30 minutes before we arrived. DRAT!@! At this point I threw my guidebook into the street and stomped my feet like a child. It felt so good.

After an espresso & gelato pick me up we walked up the hill to a park in Travestere to get some good views of Rome. This guy was getting some good views.

ha ha ha.

We were exhausted, but I convinced Kyle it would be an easy bus ride back to Volpettis. I really wanted to go there. So we hopped on a bus and were inside shopping in 10 minutes flat. I was right! It was overwhelming and really expensive, but a guy came and helped us pick out some balsamic vinegar so I felt the trip was worth it.

We went to our bus stop to go back the way we had come, and this Italian guy started chatting with us. And chatting. We got on the same bus and he just kept asking me questions.
"You like Italy?"
"You like Italian Food?"
"It is different from American food?"
"You like Italian men? They are different than American men?"
"Italian men are more romantic. You like romantic? American men are not romantic?"
On and on and on.

I was trying to figure out where the bus was, and asked him if we were in Travestere yet. He said no, so we stayed on the bus and he was nice, but would not shut up. We finally got off near St Peters because an english speaker understood what I was asking and pointed out we were way, way past our stop. Apparently the bus goes a different way when it goes back and I had been too flustered to pay attention to where we were. (and Kyle generally has absolutely no clue where we are when we travel. which is partly my fault because I hog the maps.)

By now we were exhausted so we just went to our hotel & ate nearby again instead of in the Jewish Ghetto like we had hoped. We had Carbonara and some sort of sliced beef dish with an arugula salad. It was pretty good, but not quite as exciting as I had hoped. I flew out by myself the next morning and then slept at my parents house that night. It was so nice to wake up with the kids, i was really really happy to see them.

But not so happy to see this when I got home:

Seriously, our neighbors had an occupied camper in their front yard for the last week. "hey, just come on over, your whole family can just camp in our front yard!" It filled our entire front window when I looked outside. But its gone now, so I am happy, and really I didn't mind it for a week. I was just worried it was permanent.

1 comment:

Tilly said...

Hey Kari! Sounds like your trip was amazing! Nate and I spent some time in Italy this summer too and we sort of went along the same path you did... Rome, Naples, Capri, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii... It was wonderful. So fun to read your stories and be reminded of our trip. So glad you got to spend some uninterrupted time with Kyle too.

Cheers! (this is Teresa Ritter)