This was the second time we visited Naples. The first time we came here two years ago during the summer. We visited this area on our own. At that time, we flew into the very small and crowded Naples airport. We took the public bus directly to the port and then caught the one hour boat ferry to the beautiful island of Capri. We moved around that area over the next two weeks and enjoyed it. One day we were in Sorrento and took the local metro train toward Naples to visit Pompaii. Many of the locals that we talked to kept warning us about being extra careful in Naples.
On this cruise trip, as we prepared to get off to visit Naples on our own instead of a ship excursion, my wife and I review our personal traveling safety procedures. Naples has some neighborhoods we need to make sure we do not travel through. Unemployment is currently quite high in this region and we need to be extra careful. Thus we did not wear any jewelry. I carried my wallet on my front pant pocket and we dress very conservatively. Our passports stay in our ship room safe.
We took a taxi from the cruise ship port to the main metro station. Then we got off the metro at the station where we could walk down to the Herculean archeological site. The train ride was 15-minutes and we walked about 10-minutes to the site. Herculean was a small city near Pompeii and was also covered by the same ashes of the explosion of the Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD.
We spent a couple of hours there and started to walk back to the metro station to return to Naples. As we were leaving the site area we were approached by a local person who offered us to take us to the top open rim of Mt. Vesuvius which is a national park area. It was a spur of the moment idea to take him up on his offer. We got as far up as we could on car and then had to walk up the rim area.
Being that it was November it was cold and windy. We were wearing jackets but the wind up at the rim made it seem like we were not wearing them. The walking path was wide and zigzags up the rim which has an elevation of 4,000 feet. As we were almost at the top we started seeing patches of snow on the ground. Trini was struggling with the cold wind but she said she still wanted to reach the top. There were some persons coming down the mountain and they informed us that we were almost at the top and that there was a small place to get out of the wind and have a cup of hot coffee. I was hoping for a strong Irish coffee.
We reached the top and the view from there toward the bay was spectacular. It was very clear all around. The afternoon sun and distant clouds made it a beautiful view. The sunlight was reflecting softly over the Gulf of Naples and you could see the islands at a distance. This was truly a photographers dream. The pictures we took merit to be turned into postcards.
We did take a few minutes to look directly into the rim of the volcano. You can see several vapor vents seeping out of the sides of the rim. The last Mt. Vesuvius eruption was in 1944. We could see many scientific instruments positioned around the rim so it must be constantly being monitored. As I was looking into the throat of the cinder cone volcano, I realized that this was the closest I had been to an active one. I have visited the ones in Hawaii and Mt. St. Helen in the state of Washington. I also began to remember that when we visited Yellowstone National Park we learned that it is actually the base of a super volcano so thus this is the second time I have been near an active volcano site.
In fact the western side of Italy hosts multiple volcanos. The eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea is also a major earth fault area and large earthquakes and volcanic seismic activity is quite common.
As we watched the horizon we soon realized it was time to get off the mountain. It was soon going to be dark and of course it would be colder.
When we finally arrived to the ship we realized that our faces had been burned by the wind chill. Our lips were chapped for a couple of days but overall we did not get sick!
In retrospect, it was not a good idea to go up Mt. Vesuvius at this time of year but the view was extraordinary and made the climb and the climb and adventure worthwhile.
We returned to the ship without incident but we learned that an older couple did get pushed on the ground and he had his watch yanked off. The man shared that they were walking through Naples on their own and that they were taking a shortcut and got off the main street area and he now realized that it was not a good idea to have walked around with his Rolex watch. Well, they were safe and had learned a lesson.
We cast off right before dinner time and we were off to visit Rome the next day.