The tour of Pompeii. I had been so looking forward to this part of my holiday – I remember doing an assignment on the lost city of Pompeii when I was at school and finding it fascinating. An entire city frozen in time, the ash from the volcano creating perfect moulds of the bodies in their final resting positions, cowering, mouths covered, trying to survive the tons and tons of falling ash that would inundate and wipe from existence the home of 18,000 residents for the next 1800 years.
I had booked in a small group tour, with a professional archaeologist who would be taking us through both the key sites and also the work that is currently underway to learn more about the area and the way people lived, worked and socialised before the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 70AD. I got up early, went downstairs for the buffet breakfast which included an incredible smorgasbord of every type of cake you can imagine and then went up to finish getting ready for the day and to prepare for check out. I had just walked back into the room again when the power to the hotel went out…again!
The power outage meant a manual check out, which I had not expected and then I discovered that the entry to the park that was right beside the hotel was not the meeting point for the tour – the meeting point was right at the other end, 1km away! The tour was scheduled to start in 15 minutes and my apple maps showed a 30 minute walk – so there was only one thing to do. I ran. All the way there – full backpack, full sun, 35 degree heat. As the correct entrance came into view, a weird sensation came over my legs – my calves and knees all started to ache and weaken. I could see the tour group up ahead, so I slowed down and drank some water and then made my way forward to the group.
The tour guide, Anna, was brilliant. She had incredible knowledge of the city of Pompeii and did a really good job of keeping us in the shade as much as possible as we walked through the rows of shops and houses that were once home to a wealthy, seafront community. The city was huge and the aqueducts and road systems were so impressive when you consider they were built over 2000 years ago.
The tour went for around 3 hours. I loved seeing the take away food venues, the homes and of course the brothels with their menu style frescos for customers! At the end of the tour there was an exhibition that showed more of the erotic statues and frescoes that were uncovered in ruins – these guys certainly knew how to admire the human form!
I left the ruins and went back to the hotel to get my suitcase (which still had no power), my legs were still aching and now accompanied by a headache. I caught a cab to the train station where I would take a 30-minute train ride to Sorrento at the top of the Amalfi Coast where I would be spending tonight on a beach front farm stay where they produce Limoncello!
After a bit of fussing about waiting for a cab I arrived at a beautiful lemon farm, high on a hill overlooking the beach – it was quiet, shady and smelled amazing. I was taken to a beautiful room in a big old stone guest house and immediately lay down on the bed. The leg aches had turned into body aches in the last hour, the headache was still pounding and now I was starting to feel my temperature rising – after all of the walking in the sun over the last 5 days, I had heat exhaustion.
I remained in bed for the rest of the night – no Limoncello for me.