Visiting Pompeii was perhaps one of the most rewarding yet one of the most stressful last-minute decisions I’ve ever made travelling.
I’d really wanted to visit Pompeii for quite a while and the road trip seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so however due to the fact that we’d arrive in The Amalfi coast late at night and had an early flight to catch, I’d pretty much given up on the idea.
Till the next day of course. 🙂 When it comes to meeting up with friends for casual get-togethers, I’m the friend you can count on to be late. I usually say it’s cos “I’m worth it” which then leads to torrents of (friendly) abuse from my friends but works a charm and it distracts them from the fact that I was late. In any case, that lateness never applies when it comes to official meetings or travel plans. I always like to arrive well ahead of time for those.
This was what we did on the way to the airport in Naples when I saw the sign for Pompeii and at the same time, realised we would be ridiculously early for our flight (I’m talking several hours early). The obvious choice was made, we had a couple of hours to spare and we had to visit Pompeii!
Except Pompeii isn’t really a place you visit for a couple of hours…
Pompeii is massive and a lot bigger than we expected. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it would be big but was still surprised by how huge it was.
In any case, before I carry on, let’s cover a few essentials about getting Pompeii…
HOW TO GET POMPEI:
Fly into Naples airport and take a bus or rent a car (approximately 30 minutes) or indeed take a train (38 minutes and cost just a couple of quid – approx €3). Parking is available as well so renting a car is actually a decent option.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET IN?
€11 (approximately around £8 / $12). Free if you’re under 18 or over 65. You can get concessions if you’re a student/under 26.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
1.) There will be a lot of walking on cobble streets. Bring with you some comfy shoes and a zest for long walks.
2.) Pack a bottle of water with you. There aren’t shops here so you don’t wanna get caught out part way through your tour from thirst.
3.) Get a map! There are loads of these at the entry. Grab one (or two if you have a tendency to lose them).
4.) To avoid the crowds, go early. You’ll skip the long queues and get a chance to get to see things quicker without having to wait for others first. You won’t skip queues entirely – there were already queues when we arrive and that was about 30 minutes before it opened but they were a lot shorter than later on. In fact, I think it’s safe to say the place was pretty crowded almost 30 minutes after we arrived.
5.) Wear sunscreen. The well-prepared of course already know this but visiting ruins isn’t something that naturally reminds you about this but in characteristically great Italian weather, things tend to get really hot really quick here.
Now that’s covered, let’s get back to the photos… Where was I? Yes, I was talking about how huge Pompei was. We found out just as we stepped in and looked at the map and it dawned on us that there would have to be some power-walking (or frantic running – neither of which I do very well) to see as much of Pompeii as we could.
We started off slightly slower, taking in the sights and learning about the history.
The sun wasn’t out properly yet so this was a deceptively pleasant time of day to visit. Trust me, once the sun comes out, it get pretty hot pretty quick!
Can you spot Lloyd in the photo above?
Also, pay attention to this scene below (you’ll see why later on).
That’s Mount Vesuvius in the background by the way, the volcano that destroyed Pompeii. The history of Pompeii is long and a lot more intricate that I could do justice to in a blog post (plus I wouldn’t pretend to be a subject matter expert on it) so like I did before afterwards – check out the wikipedia page for all the details.
As you walk through though, you start to get more of a sense of what life must have been back then. I found myself impressed by the architecture, art and even the walkways as we’re talking about a city that was built 1,000s of years ago!
The sun soon came out and this was the point we realised that we had about 30 minutes before we had to leave and it felt like we’d barely scratch the surface here. Cue – frantic running at this point…
… coupled with frantic photo-taking!
Lloyd wanted to see the amphitheatre and some of the other preserved artefacts here and so despite the time constraints, we actually ended up trying to still cram in as much time here as possible. In retrospect, perhaps we should have left a whole morning or half a day to see Pompeii still, we chugged along (with me constantly stopping and panting for breath – to be fair, I also had my backpack with all of my luggage for the week on me).
That’s Lloyd running past the newly forming crowds below…
I’ll stop with my ‘running commentary’ now and leave you with the rest of the photos but one thing was certain by the time we left, Pompeii is such an amazing and impressive place to see and although it’s a sight that’s built on chaos and hence might you with mixed feelings about visiting it, it definitely serves as a reminder of the strength of communities, the achievements of the people who lived here and a chance in some way I guess to pay your respects.
Okay, I was going to stop above but do you remember the photo I said you should pay attention to above? Well now you can probably see what I meant about the crowds starting to build below. This was still early by the way and lots more people were milling in but this same place about 30 minutes before barely had anyone here.
Not that I have anything against crowds. Actually – I’m quite the opposite, I love having throngs of people around. I do also know that not everyone shares my same feelings about crowds so do plan your visit at a time that’s best suited to you.
(Driving to the airport, I had to stop to take a photo of the menacing Mount Vesuvius in the background – crappy photo quality – as you’d expect from mya attempt at taking a photo while Lloyd driving quickly to the airport but hopefully you can get a sense of how close it is to Pompeii.)