Monday 18 July 2016

Vista Vacation: Navigating Naples

Hi Readers!

I'm back from a short unintended blogging break... I downloaded Pokemon Go last week, and it took over my life. Also, it took me a little while to think of this alliteration.

I'm a little sad, because we're on our fourth last port of call on the Carnival Vista (meaning the cruise is almost over!) and we are halfway through our European vacation.

Naples, Naples, Naples. If only I had known you had so much to offer.

In terms of choosing an excursion, Naples really did have a lot to offer. There were just so many many things to see and do! We knew we wanted to explore the famous ruins of Pompeii, but we also wanted to see the Amalfi Coast, so Amalfi Drive and Pompeii it was! Our Carnival excursion cost $180. It was about 9.5 hours long, and it included lunch (thank God!). Docking in Naples was also a little bit different. Passengers disembarked on Deck 3 into the terminal. However, since we were on a Carnival excursion, we left the ship as we usually do, via the gangway.

Our brilliant tour guide, Andreas, obviously knew what he was doing. He switched the order of our day's activities. The first thing we did was visit the local cameo factory. I learned that cameo was a method of carving an object, such as a piece of jewellery. We weren't interested in making a purchase, so we waited outside for the rest of our tour. Luckily, there was a wall of flowers outside, perfect for a photo op.

Immediately after, we drove straight to Pompeii. We arrived before the gates opened, so Andreas gave us some time to grab a bite, and look around the souvenir stands. We had just enough time for a cappuccino, and a few postcards. By the way: Tip #1, don't try to be cool and hide your number, Andreas gave me crap for doing that - for good reason. It was ridiculously crowded inside Pompeii and it was easy to get lost or end up following another tour group. Right at 9 am, we entered Pompeii. Pompeii is one of the most famous excavation sites in the world. At the time of its destruction, it was a flourishing modern Roman city. When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the entire city of Pompeii was covered in a thick layer of volcanic ash. The city remained buried and undisturbed for centuries. It wasn't until 1599 when the initial discovery of the ancient city was made.

The weather was cool in the morning, and the cobblestone was difficult to navigate. Tip #2: Wear proper shoes! My pretty sandals were no match for Pompeii's cobblestone roads and dusty dirt grounds. I stepped into a crack, and my foot got caught between the cobblestone. I ended up scraping my shin (it's now a nice little nano sim card sized scar). Pompeii reminded me of Ephesus, but it was nothing like I had imagined. Ephesus felt magical and godly. Pompeii truly felt like a town that had just stopped living one day. It was an eerie and sad feeling. As we exited Pompeii, we went through an exhibition with a video of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, showing us the events of that fateful day. The exhibition also showcased a preserved plaster cast of a body found buried in Pompeii. It was a very surreal experience.

It was a smart choice to visit Pompeii in the morning. While the sun was peeking through the clouds, we could feel the heat in the air. Our tour was only about two hours long. By the time we left mid-morning, the temperature had shot up - it was hot! Parking was limited in Pompeii, so we had to walk a little bit to meet our motor coach driver. Off we were to the Amalfi Coast!

It was a two hour drive to the Amalfi Coast. Unfortunately, we sat on the wrong side of the bus, and we missed a lot of the gorgeous views you see in pictures and postcards. The left side of the bus, which we were on, saw the walls of the cliffs, while the right side had the incredible ocean and coastline view. It was a challenge to drive on the coast as well, as the roads were narrow and windy. Only one bus can pass at a time, so there were a lot of traffic jams along the way. We arrived at Il Calaianara Restaurant (at the Hotel La Conca Azzurra) at 1:30 for lunch, where we were served lasagna, vegetables, parmesan chicken with a sweet rum cake and a cappuccino for dessert. It was quite delicious. The ocean view at the restaurant was beautiful. I could live here for a week or two!

After lunch, we continued on our drive along the coast. We finally arrived to our destination at 3:20, but with only 40 minutes of free time. We entered through the Porta Della Marina gateway, one of the Medieval entrance stop the city from the waterfront. We first decided to take a leisurely stroll to enjoy our time in the marketplace, then when we realized we only had 15 minutes left, it was a flurry of rushed purchases, and we ended up running back to our meeting place. It was a gong show. Our tour guide had told us about a few amazing ice cream shops, but we didn't have time to try it out. I ended up buying some limoncello, lemon soap, lemon candy and postcards; while the boyfriend had stopped by a deli to buy some salami.

It was a long drive to the port. Traffic was bad and there were a few times when we thought we wouldn't make it back. We both fell asleep during the bus ride. All aboard time was 6:30, and we finally arrived at the port terminal at 6:15. The lines to boarding were ridiculously long. In Naples, we had to go through X-ray with the Italian port officers prior to boarding. And yes, the salami made it back on board!

We were exhausted when we finally got on board, but we knew there was a clear, gorgeous view of Mt Vesuvius during sail away, so we rushed up to the deck to take photos. It was pretty magical view, alright. On one side, it was Mt. Vesuvius with blue skies, on the other side, the sun was setting. Don't miss this view!

Dinner is served... On the menu for me was lobster bisque, a salad and fish again. Did I just have fish three nights in a row!? The boyfriend had fish (no chips) and beef wellington. We both had bread pudding for dessert. Hmm.. there has been a lot of fish on the menu during this cruise. 

Tonight was officially the last night for Anthony Scott in the comedy club. We enjoyed his shows so much! In the Liquid Lounge for an evening of comedy and hypnotism was Rich Guzzi. We had previously seen him on a Royal Caribbean ship so we decided to pass this time.

This was the best excursion thus far. We had the best time exploring Pompeii, and an even more amazing time at the Amalfi Coast. We did feel rushed and naturally, we wished we had more time at the Amalfi Coast. I would love to go back to Naples to visit Positano, Sorrento and Capri one day. I definitely recommend this excursion, and Carnival did a great job in selecting this tour company. It helped that our guide was so invested in our group as well. Andreas truly wanted us to have a memorable experience in Naples, and we sure did. Thank you, Andreas!

I hope you enjoyed this entry. Next up is Rome! Don't worry, I promise I won't take an entire week to update this time!


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