Tuesday, May 19, 2009


We are both relieved to be back to the site a day schedule, this seeing multiple things in a day like we did in Roma is for the birds. Today we went off to see Pompei and it was quite an experience; we didn't see the whole of Pompei because besides most of it still being buried, it is just too much and we risk information overload.

The Romans were quite an ingenious lot with how they organised the town. Because Pompei was 'frozen' in time 2000 years ago it has been the most revealing about ordinary everyday life during those times.

The sundial is interesting because, unlike now, the duration of an hour varied from day to day as the days grew longer and shorter since there were always twelve hours between sunrise and sunset. So a meeting at the 5th hour after sunrise could happen anywhere between 09:30 and 12:00 in the morning.

We caught Melmann, playing at being a god, surveying Pompei from the position that the gods used to occupy. Pompei froze prior to the christian era so there were temples to Venus, Jupiter and numerous others all over the place.

It was quite hard to capture Pompei as a whole but the houses were quite pleasantly cool and it seemed like quite a prosperous town. I really like the inward looking house based around an internal garden, it makes for a very pleasant and private living space. The roads have flagstones and then stepping stones from corner to corner or across the road so I think that the Romans walked on the pavements and the carts and horses or cows that pulled the carts could make a mess in the street. It must have hummed!

We saw bath houses, bakeries, fast food places (there were 27 of them in Pompei) and even a brothel complete with some suggestions painted above the doors. There were several arenas, one for plays, one for gladiators and one for athletic competitions.

Above is the mill used for grinding corn for the bakery, they were powered by donkeys and the oven looks exactly like a modern pizza oven. There were loads of markets for fish (below), wool, meat, and everythings else but I think the most important thing about pompei is that it wasn't necessary to decipher 2000 years of modifications and buildings to get an idea as to what was what; one just needed to deciper the untainted clues.

Heading back to the campsite we caught the train easily enough but the bus wasn't that regular and we had a two hour wait for the next one so we got back on the train to the next stop and walked the 15 minutes down the hill to the campsite. The campsite itself is quite nice set in an orange orchard but the ablutions are definitely not up to scratch; not even close. Naples seems to suffer from 'south coast rust' and things just don't work here. The buses are late, the trains are late and the pollution is terrible. We're about 15km from Vesuvius and we can barely make out its outline; it would be like just being able to see Table moutain from Blouberg Strand due to the pollution. We are hoping that Croatia will be better from a pollution point of view but I'm not holding out too much hope.

Before we turned in for the night we went and had a drink on the waterfront which was meant to be a single but I think they gave us trebbles because it was really strong. It's quite hot here but in a different way to how it is in Africa. Here as long as one is out of the direct sun it is pleasantly cool.

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