I woke up, refreshed and thankful I missed the reggae party and probable hangover that would have ensued. I said goodbye to Marianna and Stephanie, walked to the train station, checked my large backpack, and took the train to Pompeii.
An hour later, I was there. Pompeii was a Roman city completely eradicated of people by Mount Vesuvius, yet also very well preserved by the lava flows that entombed the town. Most of Pompeii has been unearthed and you can stroll down ancient Roman streets complete with ruts in the street from where ancient chariots rode by. The cities only inhabitants now are stray dogs, which gullible tourists can “adopt,” or pay for their medical care and food.
The city seemed really advanced for being over a thousand years old. There were shops, intersections, one and two-way roads, street signs, places to tie your horses along the streets, and an amphitheater for gladiator battles and plays. Check Wikipedia to find out more.
Around 1pm I took the train back to Naples and met a girl from Norway, named Ida. She was a 22-year-old gymnastics instructor and former gymnast, studying Psychology. Ida had been in Pompeii the same time as me but was traveling with her family. Her family stayed behind in Pompeii while she traveled to Sienna to meet up with friends. Ida had an hour before her bus left so we grabbed a coffee and talked about travel and Italy. Ida’s English was as good as mine, if not better. She offered to give me a place to stay if I ever went to Norway. I told her I might be there in July, and if I was, I would definitely take her up on that offer. I tried to pay for my coffee, but she said she’d already paid for it, and my company was payment enough for her. I was flattered and looked forward to visiting her near Oslo, Norway.
I walked her back to the train station and got some food while I waited for my train to Florence, or Firenze as my ticket said. I hope they’re the same place.
On my way to the train, I picked up a free sample deodorant. If I went to enough train stations, perhaps I wouldn’t have to buy anything on my trip. I got on the train and made myself at home, listening to my iPod and staring out the window I watched everything slowly disappear behind me. Twenty minutes later I watched everything quickly disappear behind me. I checked the monitor at the end of the aisle. We were going 300km/h or 186mph. We would be in Firenze, hopefully, Florence, in no time. I just checked my MacBook dictionary. Firenze is indeed Florence.
The train ride went well. Arrived in the city, wandered around for a bit looking for a hostel. I’d met two sisters in Rome, Katie, and Laura, and planned to stay in their hostel that night. No such luck. It was a holiday in Florence and a Friday night. In my wanderings, I met another American, Reid, who was also looking for a place to stay. His two friends had rented out a kitchen in Florence for 50 euro, but it was only big enough for two people. Reid and I, in our desperation, went to an internet cafe and started hunting down rooms. Everything was booked.
As we were about to give up our room search and sleep in the park, an Indian guy asked if we had a place to stay and recommended: “The Queens”. Reid called them from his phone, at what I imagine was an astronomical rate, but desperate times call for desperate measures. They had two beds available and we headed over. A guy in his mid-twenties with dreadlocks answered the door and led us upstairs. It was 20 euro a night and we could pay tomorrow. Our dreaded innkeeper didn’t have change so I opted to pay tomorrow. He led us up to our room but didn’t have the key. I was beginning to understand why this place was only 20 euro. Reid and I dropped our bags in the “lobby” and walked down to Florence’s city center.
The holiday was San Giovanni day which consists of a parade, a brutal and bloody no-rules soccer match, and a fireworks show. Reid and I had missed everything but the fireworks show, but from what I gathered, the fireworks show was the best. It lasted an entire hour and it was the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen. The show started out slow with a couple smaller fireworks at a time, but it kept building. By the end of the show, it was all out epic, someone must have been literally unloading dump trucks of fireworks into a bonfire. There was a constant stream of fireworks launching into the air, 4 or 5 at a time.
After the show, I went back to the hostel and called it a night.