One of the first things that I did when I settled into my bed at 6 Small Rooms, my hostel, was buy a ticket to Pompeii. I think I ended up buying the ticket through my Viator app on my Iphone and paid €21.00 for it. It was for 8 October 2021 at 1:00 pm. The reason why I bought my ticket so late into the day was because I had gotten very little rest up until this point, so I decided to take it slow the morning of my reservation. Backpacking through Europe is not nearly as expensive as anyone would imagine. The most expensive part is the roundtrip flight from where you are living probably. But, once you are in Europe, the prices are rather average – for American standards, I suppose. However, it is exhausting! The more comfortable you want to be anywhere, the more expensive it all gets. Plus, I predicted that the Italian transportation system was going to be a challenge given my experiences up to that point especially because Pompeii isn’t exactly in Naples. It’s a little removed to the south of the city.
It was a good morning. I got up at my leisure. Having a coffee early in the morning to wake myself up has been part of my daily routine for decades now, so I obviously got a coffee. I was pleasantly surprised with my Italian cafe latte and croissant. The little cafe that I had breakfast at seated me at one of their tables facing the street right on the sidewalk. When I lived in London, I always thought that was weird. Europeans! They/You really don’t mind blocking the sidewalks at all. Anyway, I knew I needed my coffee so that I didn’t murder some random Italian on the way to Pompeii. This is one moment when I really thought about what-the-fuck I was doing with my life. A strong moment of reflection about everything! I was obviously not as comfortable as I had hoped, physically or otherwise. I always wondered as to my sensitivity to certain things; it’s a challenge not to attribute it to ego-centered, princess attitude. The realist wants to have patience with myself and remember that I just happen to have a trauma sensitive body that’s still strong enough to vouch for itself. Giving up has felt – for as long as I can remember – like giving my traumatizers – of which there have been many – the satisfaction of having me bow-out of life. Psyche! I’m still here bitches.
The triggers are real and not always so blatant as anyone would think. Honestly, the subway / train system was horrible. I bought a wrong ticket to the wrong place after being given wrong directions. And, then they have the audacity of making the return and exchange of any ticket nearly impossible – so stupid. I got lost at the subway / train station. Other Italians were also really confused, so they were not much help. If there is any strong feedback that I could give Naples about their tourist economy, it would be fix your local directions at the subway and train stations. Stop making tourists waste money by buying the wrong tickets. Get it together! The frustrating thing about the situation is that the Italians are very stubborn about this according to even their own people. They will refuse to take the feedback and fix the issues even when it may help their local economy in the long-run. Anyway, the train ride to Pompeii took about 20 minutes. I arrived early enough to have lunch at a restaurant close to the entrance; that was amazing and well-worth my time and money. Nevermind that I had totally forgotten about lunch up to this point, so I really had few other options.
The brutal truth is that I deeply regret not getting a guided tour for the afternoon at Pompeii. I should have gotten that and skipped the expensive lunch. I think it would have added a deeper, more knowledgeable dimension to my time at the ruins. I could see the groups moving through the different areas, and I caught an earful or two of the information the guides were giving their groups. Having a pre-printed ticket for admittance would have been actually getting into the ruins a lot easier. The customer service agents at the ticket booths were giving so many tourists such a tough time. Even an app to help scan tickets would have been so, so much better than the shenanigans going on at the entrance. The American forced the Mexican to grit her teeth through it; the Brit pursed her lips and remembered that I still had time to write a scathing blog post about it in the future. Now I know why the British decided to leave the European Union! #BrexitBaby! Through it all, I thanked whatever guardian angel reminded me internally to bring my best hiking boots because they saved my feet. The roads and paths through Pompeii are rough.
They do have maps of Pompeii available. I wish they would be more informational. I found myself thinking that the maps could have been better somehow, the graphics and directions clearer. It may even be a good idea to have a general map for free and make a more detailed map available for a fee. This would be a good place to insert a comment on the real-world importance of having experience with English, multimodal writing and associated visuals. And, there are no bathrooms on location! I had measure how much water I drank inside the ruins. Something else I noted was the lack of a locations-specific gift shop. Or maybe in the chaos of the place I missed it? Anyway, the positives were that the day was absolutely beautiful: perfect amount of sun, nice and breezy, and it was neither too crowded or too empty. At the end of the day, I was still rather happy with having crossed this off from my bucket list. I definitely hope I am not idealizing it because I was very pleased with the experience over all even if a lot of smaller details made me huff and puff to the brink of snapping a few times. I may even return some day, who knows? To be honest, there are so many other wonderful places I’d like to visit (some even within Italy), so I’ll have to muse on that for a bit.
So, I got Pompeii crossed off my list. Hopefully this blog review of the trip will help any other traveler that comes across this online. My biggest suggestion to any traveler: definitely invest time in researching your hostel or hotel. You may have to select something on the pricier list if you are finicky about where you stay and/or want really good rest. That being said, these Italian towns have been around for a long, long time. The buildings are old, not as old as the ruins of course, but the infrastructures have not been updated in a while. So, it’s rustic, rustic. Not as chic as the movies or tv make it seem. Anyway, I booked a ticket out of Naples for Sunday 10 October 2021 to London for $132.40, but life happened. The next post will review a little more about the disaster that followed at the airport.
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