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Monday 10 June 2013

[Sunday 9 June 2013]

Visit to Mount Vesuvius & Sorrento—Villa Serena, Castellammare di Stabia, Naples

Day 161 Mon 10 June Prov 22-24

Started a PowerPoint presentation — pasted twelve of yesterday’s photos — till it was time (07:18) to go down to breakfast. We made sure we were out of our room and out of the hotel early today. Agnelo, our driver for the week— “Buongiorno, tutti!” Jane would say to us all, and we were expected to reply in kind, then “Buongiorno, Agnelo!” she would say. “Buongiorno, Agnelo!” we would repeat, and his response would be a kind of grunt. —Agnelo was driving a big coach today — yesterday’s was quite a small one — which indeed was our means of transport for the rest of the week, with sufficient seats for everyone to sit alone if they wanted. Janet occupied the back seat in case she needed to lie down en route. I varied my seating position, trying to take photos. The only problem with this coach was that the headrest covers were red, which tended to intrude in photos taken out of the windows. At 8.15am we headed off for Mount Vesuvius. As we proceeded up, across a valley to the left was a high mountain ridge (→08:59:24, 09:01:22, below), the ancient crater of the volcano.

Monday 10 June 2013 — 08:51:02
Views from the coach, winding up Vesuvius

Monday 10 June 2013 — 08:59:24
Views from the coach, winding up Vesuvius

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:01:22
Views from the coach, winding up Vesuvius

Janet had had severe reservations about this particular trip, because it had been very doubtful whether my inflamed feet would be fit for a hike to the top. Surprisingly, though, given that in the latter part of the walk through Pompeii yesterday every movement had been so very painful, my feet today started off almost pain-free. And where the road up Vesuvius ended, at a car park lined with souvenir vendors’ shacks and booths, there was nothing to be seen, except a grassy hillside slope that could have been anywhere — so I felt it was pointless even being there if I didn’t attempt to go the rest of the way. We paid the fee at the office for the services of a guide, and just within the enclosure Janet accepted the offer of a long stick to aid walking. I already had my metal folding walking stick. The trek to the top, up to a hairpin bend, turning 180°, then up to the next one, on the reddish cinder-covered path, was quite arduous, given the gradient and the heat; but I just mindlessly put one foot in front of the other, in front of the other, etc., etc., and eventually got there. Janet felt it more than I did, because she was carrying her heavy satchel, which she should have left or partly emptied in the coach. When the party had gathered, at the north-west “corner” of the crater, the guide explained features, history, etc., of the volcano. Despite the fast approaching time by which we’d been told to get back, he led us round a further 500 yards or so, up and over rocky upgrowths to the south of the crater. (Some of our people turned back; others started to follow but didn’t go the whole way.) He pointed out a glossy, reddish coloured millipede on the path, but my camera wouldn’t focus on it, and I had to give up or be left behind. Jane had said that there was not much to see up there, I suppose, to allay disappointment if one chose not to do the complete trip. I could see her point — it is just a mountaintop with a big hole in it — but I think, as housemate George in Auckland Avenue, Hull, said of Monica’s, when I was at Hull University — it is “well worth one visit”.

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:11:46
Completing the trip to the summit on foot

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:15:36
Lava flow from last eruption and old crater wall

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:18:46
Completing the trip to the summit on foot

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:23:18
“Eddie Lizzard”

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:23:18
“Eddie Lizzard” — detail

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:43:28
At the crater’s edge

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:43:42
At the crater’s edge

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:49:08
Vapour issuing from the side

Monday 10 June 2013 — 09:49:08
Vapour issuing from the side — detail

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:03:42

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:16:46
Looking in the direction of Pompeii

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:17:06
Looking in the direction of Pompeii — nothing clearly visible

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:17:28

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:17:42

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:17:50

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:19:00
Starting back. A wisp of cloud blows over the rim.

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:22:52

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:24:32

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:27:02
Remains of the old funicular station

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:33:12
Bay of Naples

Monday 10 June 2013 — 10:33:12
Bay of Naples — detail

It was about 10.30am, we were supposed to be back at 10.45am, and we were at the point where we’d met the guide, which it had taken perhaps ½-hr. to get to. Going down was difficult for me; and now my feet were hurting, so just at this point I was decidedly unhappy and grumpy. I can go up — e.g., stairs — easily enough, but inflamed tendons make it hard to go down. Janet was having difficulty because every few steps she was having to stop and empty cinders out of her shoes. Anyway, the path didn’t seem as long on the way down. I think we’d assumed that the long sticks were handed out by the Vesuvio National Park ticket-issuing staff, but when Janet returned the stick, the guy held out his hand for a tip. And being taken by surprise, she gave him a €1 or a €2 coin; she should have just given him a few cents. All he’d done was hand her a stick! We reached Jane who was outside near the coach, ca.10.50am, so we weren’t very late — and we weren’t the last. I was greeted and got a few “well dones” on the coach. We then went off to Sorrento. Either today or yesterday, when we passed a citrus plantation, Jane commented that they used poles from chestnut trees to support the lemon trees. Even within the urban area there were citrus groves, particularly of orange trees, interspersed between houses and other buildings.

Monday 10 June 2013 — 11:03:02

Monday 10 June 2013 — 11:13:30
Example of the roadside sculptures on Via Vesuvio

Monday 10 June 2013 — 11:48:04
Viaduct for the Circumvesuviana

Monday 10 June 2013 — 11:54:46

Approaching Sorrento
Monday 10 June 2013 — 11:55:16

The proprietor of a restaurant had handed Jane some cards promising a free drink as she was passing the other day, so she handed these out to those who wanted them. She also handed out street-plans. She left us at the place where we were to meet back together at 3.45pm: the church on the corner of Corso Italia and Corso Correale. After some enquiries, we found our way to the little street-corner restaurant in Piazza Sant’Antonino. We dithered for a bit, then went in. The “free drink” was not one of our choosing, but a small glass of sparkling white wine; so I had mine and Janet’s. Janet couldn’t eat a whole pizza, so we shared one, along with a salad. The pizza was cooked in a wood-fired oven, so the crust was slightly smoky to the taste. After that, we went back to the piazza just by where Jane had left us — Piazza Torquato Tasso — and went in the centrally-located bar there, which also sold ice-cream. Janet had four flavours. I pointed to a “tank” with liquid in it, and when the waiter brought a glass of it, it was lemon-flavoured crushed ice. I was expecting a drink but didn’t mind: it was refreshing. I wanted to go back on the Circumvesuviana rather than the coach, and when a couple from our party came to the bar, Janet agreed to it. We asked them to tell Jane that that was what we were doing. We asked the waiter where we might find an ATM. We perhaps misunderstood him to tell us to turn left before the church, i.e. into Via Correale, but there was none down there.

Monday 10 June 2013 — 13:51:12
Gelato in a bar

Monday 10 June 2013 — 14:09:52
View from the same bar

Monday 10 June 2013 — 14:30:16

Monday 10 June 2013 — 14:34:16

We found an ATM on the right of Corso Italia, just past the turnoff for the Circumvesuviana station and opposite Piazza Angelina Lauro (pictured below)—

Monday 10 June 2013 — 14:46:20

—then made our way to the aforesaid station. We went in a ground-floor shop which promised Circumvesuviana tickets, but the shopkeeper didn’t have any to Castellammare di Stabia and referred us to the ticket office upstairs, at the level of the trains. There, we found a train about to depart, and two clerks behind a glass panel discussing something between themselves instead of doing their job of issuing tickets to us! Anyway, we did get our tickets in time for the train. Although the rail gauge was 950mm (as I now know — I suspected it was about a metre), the train was about as wide as a standard gauge one, so it made me wonder how it kept upright and didn’t topple! Especially when we went over the high bridge I photographed earlier! There were a couple of musicians in our multiple-unit set, one with an accordion, but we ignored the lad who came round asking for money. It was interesting to travel on this train, but for the most part the route wasn’t picturesque, there being a lot of tunnels. We saw a sign “Castellammare”-something, and got up, but the train didn’t stop. We got off at the next station, which had only “-are di Stabia” visible; and because there was a taxi, a minibus, in the forecourt we hired that. The town was quite run down, and the main shopping street had many shuttered, out-of-business premises. The train had been only €3.20 for both of us, but the taxi was €12!

Monday 10 June 2013 — 14:47:32
The Circumvesuviana station

Monday 10 June 2013 — 14:59:30

Monday 10 June 2013 — 15:18:22
Barely visible station sign for Castellammare di Stabia

We got two Lemon Sodas from the bar and went up to the room. Copied today’s photos from the camera (15:53–15:54). Edited the first one (15:58), then lay on the bed and fell asleep. Edited 15 more, a few of which were cropped duplicates (18:58–19:17), before we went down for dinner. We went back to the room, got our money, and went back down to reception to settle our bill. Edited 22 more photos (20:52–21:42), including the last one, below (edited, 21:02). I took this (20:56) after Janet looked out from the balcony, thought the view would make a good photo, and then looked in vain for her camera. (It must be in my bag, which I left on the coach.)

Monday 10 June 2013 — 20:56:02

There were fireworks again (21:36) — but they didn’t persist. Janet packed as much as she could, updated her journal, and went to bed, ca.10.15pm. Made a PowerPoint presentation of today’s photos (21:43–23:02), mostly while Janet was in bed.

[Tuesday 11 June 2013]

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