December 7, 2021
It was our last full day in the area of Naples. We met with our glorious guide, Federica Rubino of www.MindTheNap.it. We connected by the obelisk, with both Federica and her driver, and off we traveled to Pompeii, the city of beauty and tragedy. We arrived close to opening time. Few people were in attendance.
My very first visit to Pompeii was in 1971. Believe me when I tell you that so much has been uncovered since then, so much has changed, that every time I visit Pompeii now (every few years) I feel like a Pompeii newbie. Still, experiencing it through the eyes of my sister Patrice, and Diana, was even more exciting.
Federica is very well educated on Pompeii and all of the Campania Region. She grew up in Naples, traveled extensively with her family and has been a certified Guide for years. She made Pompeii come to life.
Every question we asked she answered. Her descriptions of life in Pompeii and the Vesuvius eruption that destroyed this city was thorough and heartfelt.
One of my favorite locations displayed this detailed mosaic floor.
This detail of fresco painting remains nearly perfect.
We walked for three hours learning more about the people of Pompeii, the political situation and the horror of the Eruption.
This ceiling is incredibly preserved and absolutely gorgeous.
A new process was developed to give flesh to the bones found in Pompeii. We can see the poses in death of those who died during the 79 A.D. eruption of Vesuvius.
This child’s body is immortalized in the attached Pompeii Museum. It is Heartbreaking.
We even watched archeologists excavating on site as we walked.
After 3 hours of exploring in the sun, it was time to leave. First, Patrice needed to visit the ladies room while we waited in the sunshine. When she walked out, the first thing Patrice said was “What kind of people steal toilet seats?”
Federica and I burst out laughing. Those of us who live in Italy have already experienced toilets with no seats. We take it for granted that we might run into them. My sister was so serious when she left the bathroom, and we were so surprised that we couldn’t help but laugh.
Federica explained how Italian kids are taught to crouch over it—not all homes have toilet seats.
Patrice and Diana were incredulous. But we all laughed at Patrice’s assumption. I told her that there are some toilets that are just holes in the ground. I hoped she wouldn’t run into one of them.
Next, SHOPPING! Federica and I chatted while Patrice and Diana hit every booth outside the gates of Pompeii. They had so much fun finding trinkets, tee-shirts and more that we needed to search for them and get back in the car. We were off to one of my favorite towns, Sorrento.
When we arrived we were all hungry. We stopped at Bar Fauno for the best meal so far of the entire vacation. Throughout our travels, Patrice has been hunting for great gnocchi, her favorite Italian pasta (mine too). We both enjoyed Gnocchi alla Sorrentino, Potato puffy pasta with a lovely red sauce.
Patrice was in gnocchi heaven.
Diana experienced her first seafood ravioli. We all had a stuffed ravioli pillow of delish flavor. I would highly recommend it.
We all enjoyed a dessert—mine was lemon, of course. We are in the land of the giant lemons.
Unfortunately, we spent too much time eating. It cut into shopping time.
We did have a moment to shop. It ended with Patrice, putting up with me wanting the photo below.
Little sisters can’t say no to their big sister.
I wish we had had more time to explore Sorrento. We had a long list of activities for one day. We were now off to drive much of the Amalfi Coast with one stop in the city of Amalfi, the town with a bit less tourist shops than Positano.
Arrival in Amalfi
Sunbathers on the beach in Amalfi
We wandered into the town, enjoying the scenery.
The gorgeous church of Amalfi
This narrow staircase leads to other levels.
I decided to sit down, people watch and drink a bit of Limoncello.
Patrice and Diana continued the hunt for more family gifts. For me, it was time to simply be, and to rest my legs.
We really did choose a huge amount to do in one day. We only had 1 ½ hours in Amalfi before taking the scenic ride back to Naples. We had an appointment at a farmacia in Napoli centro storico at 8:00 PM.
The following day, we were leaving Italy for a 2 night visit to Athens, Greece. It was at the top of Patrice and Diana’s wish list. We had to go. There was paperwork for this visit as well as a requirement foMir another Covid Test. Federica dropped us off near the pharmacy and we said our farewells. Definitely look up Federica Rubina and MindTheNap.it for more information on everything Naples and more.
At this tiny farmacia each of us filled out paperwork and entered the pharmacy one at a time for our tests. We received to results within minutes. Overall it took about 20 minutes and we were all cleared and given a 48 hour green pass for our travel to another country.
Before heading back to our apartment, we wandered the central district people watching, listening to music and buying gelato. I donated to the musician and also to a poor woman begging.
I returned to our place and gave Patrice the one set of keys. I needed more time to pack and they needed more time wandering and shopping.
Ciao Ciao Napoli.
The next morning we took a taxi to the airport, hopped on an Easyjet plane and headed to Athens, Greece. This was my second time visiting Athens, but I am no way an expert. I found us an apartment outside of The Plaka, the historical center of Athens. We chose to take a taxi again and found the grumpiest cab driver in Athens. He left with our luggage in the middle of a busy street. We dragged our bags through the traffic and across the street. Our apartment owner was there to greet us and every single thing was uphill and joyful after that.
Our lodgings at the Arcade Project Hi-End Apartments were modern and oversized. We were in a residential area with some shops and a good deal of human activity.
An Athens side street
Nighttime was full of people, music and food. We especially enjoyed the grilled corn on the cob—we actually purchased some from a cart and enjoyed it for dinner one night.
Breakfast on the first day really made Patrice happy. We visited a local haunt serving EGGS for breakfast and so much more. Sweets for breakfast are normal for many Italians. My sister wanted more.
After a hearty, almost American, breakfast, we walked to another hotel area to meet ourViator bus tour of Athens. I did not feel well versed enough to guide them through this city. And we really only had one full day here. So it was onward to speed tourism via bus.
Our morning guide was excellent. She shared information on the age of Athens, the history, the wars, the gods. Our first stop was the one we wanted to see the most, the Parthenon.
View from below the Parthenon (above) and as we walked up to it (below).
The Parthenon was constructed in the 5th Century B.C.E. as the place of worship for the Goddess Athena. It replaced an older temple that had been destroyed in war. It is the central building of the Acropolis.
The Views of Anthens below from the Erechtheion and Porch of the Caryatids. I love the columns of women instead of the Doric style columns everywhere else on this hill.
It really was not crowded at all.
After exploring the Acropolis and enjoying the view, we walked down to meet our bus—thank God for air conditioning on the bus—and traveled to the Olympic Stadium in Athens. Originally constructed in 335 B.C.E. It has been updated once and reconstructed for the first Modern Olympic Games in the late 1800s. This place is HUGE and a true replica of the original stadium.
Next stop for us was the Acropolis Museum. It is a very modern structure with exterior and interior flooring where you can see the ruins below. We saw exquisite pottery, household items and so much more. My personal favorite is below.
Replicas of the women of the Erechtheion. It is impossible to see the detail while on the Acropolis. Here we could almost touch it.
After the museum, we took a lunch break on our own. We wandered to a local street restaurant where we could eat just about anything. I enjoyed hummus and tahini sauce, flatbread and a beverage. It was perfect for a hot day’s lunch. We did a bit of shopping until it was time to meet the bus once again.
For our afternoon adventure, we traveled in air conditioning to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon by the sea. It was a very long drive with a not so entertaining guide. She was quite knowledgeable but pretty deadpan. I am not a fan of large tours in general. I did nod off a bit on the ride.
Still, as we arrived at the site, the undeniable beauty of the Cape itself was dazzling.
As I walked through the archeological site, my eyes were consistently drawn to the sea.
The ruins of the Temple of Poseidon were tempting too.
The Temple of Poseidon
The original Temple of Poseidon was built of Tufa stone and was destroyed in the war with the Persians. After the Greeks defeated the Persians, The temple was reconstructed with sturdier doric columns beginning in 444 B.C.E.
It was an impressive location. I am so glad I have a photo with my sister in front of the timple.
My sister and me in front of the Temple of Poseidon
We almost missed the bus because, guess what, we were shopping. It was a long, sleepy ride back to Athens. And our last night in Greece.
Once we returned to our neighborhood, we found a pharmacy where we could take another Covid test. We would be crossing country boundaries and needed once again to prove with were covid free. Once that was complete, we spent some time wandering our lively neighborhood, enjoying the music, the friendly people and the life itself of these people. I returned to our apartment to pack and to elevate my legs again. Patrice and Diana had a mission. Diana needed to find Greek Sandals for her niece. She had searched everywhere. Tonight was her last hope. And she found to perfect pair. Both Patrice and Diana are very good shoppers.
One last note: somewhere in these two days in Athens, Patrice and Diana made it to the Hard Rock Café of Athens. Two more to go.
After our last night in Athens, we headed to the airport. Next Stop, VENICE.
Thanks for following our journey. We love sharing it with you. And I feel blessed to have Patrice and Diana visit my new home as well as you, following our journey.
Ciao for now!
Thank you for following!
Ciao for Now!
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