A Travellerspoint blog

Capri

It was a bit of a drama getting to Capri but I think in the end it was worth it, as some of the pictures will attest too. The waters were crystal blue, the scenery dotted with hills and beautiful beaches; the only negative was that the island was filled with hordes of fellow tourists. Heaps of tourists means the prices of everything goes up and Capri as we discovered was an expensive town. Just getting there and back cost us twenty euro and that was catching the cheap ferry that departed Naples at 7.30am and left Capri at 2.30pm, the only run for the day. If we decided to go later we would have to catch a hydrofoil and they were double the cost. So Jez and I got up at the crack of dawn - literally - scrambled to the dock and boarded the ferry with the rest of the locals. Once the ferry approached Capri the locals kept repeating "bella, bella" and they were right! Even though we were still half asleep - Capri was a beautiful island - as we stared ahead our fatigue washed away and we were eager to explore.
One of the main reasons we headed to Capri was to see the famed blue grotto which is a stunning sea cave, however, in order to see it we had to pay 13 euro to catch a boat to take us out to the cave, 5 euro to get a row boat to take us into the cave and another 5 euro to enter the grotto. As I was forking out my money I couldn't help but feel ripped off especially as I wasn't sure who was profiting from the entrance fees. It seemed like a bunch of men had somehow taken "ownership" of the grotto and were making a mint out of it (don't mention the Mafia). However,once in the grotto all my misgivings vanished as I became mesmerised by the colour and beauty of the blue grotto. Check out the pictures.
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Posted by jezems 11:16

Pompeii

Pompeii was a resort town for the wealthy and in 79 AD a nearby volcano (Mt Vesuvius) erupted covering the town in 6m of volcanic ash. As this was heading into the period of Roman decline not much action was taken by the Emperor to restore the town to its former glory and the ash was allowed to settle, thereby (inadvertently) preserving the ruins for future generations.
As Jez and I had by now seen heaps of "ancient ruins" I were prepared to be underwhelmed by the experience but to my surprise I left the site suitably impressed. The ruins (plus the help of an audio guide) really brought to life the ancient city of Pompeii, we saw brothels - the ancient Romans required diagrams to help them work out what they were suppose to do with prostitute's, temples, an amphitheatre (with impressive acoustics), a forum and a shopping district. We also got to visit the local cemetery where we saw some impressive tombstones. It seems like the ancient Romans enjoyed settling old scores and would use their tombstones to let the living know exactly what they actually thought of them!
Intending to spend half a day in Pompeii we were surprised to find that the sun was setting and it was time to high tail it out of there and catch a train back to our hostel. Once back in Naples we stumbled upon a great pizzeria and enjoyed a couple of beers and a Margarita before making our way back to our hostel.
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Posted by jezems 11:11

Naples (aka the Garbage Tip?)

sunny -35 °C
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Heading to Naples, I have to say I wasn't sure what to expect. Some say the South represents the true Italian lifestyle, "la dolce vita - the sweet life" while others label Naples the Garbage Capital of the South, so who is right?

The truth is somewhere in the middle - the south is a lot poorer than the north and it shows. On our arrival Alfredo, the hostel owner, gave us a quick lesson in the art of pick pocketing and told us not to have any more than twenty euros on us while travelling around Naples and to keep an eye on our bags, wallets and other valuables. With this knowledge we headed out into the mean streets, side stepping street hawkers, a guy trying to sell us a laptop (obviously stolen from a tourist) and of course the never ending supply of garbage!

The city does have a garbage collection problem which isn't helped by its citizens disposing their household wastes in the neighbourhood piazza. Seriously, I witnessed a man dump his queen size used mattress in the middle of the neighbourhood piazza! However, the food in Naples was fantastic we had fabulous pizza in local eateries and ate some great cheese with some local vino of course!

As the Italian summer slowly began to heat up we decided to head out of town for a couple of days and visit Pompeii and the Isle of Capri. We were also getting a bit wary of Naples as we had seen some dodgy stuff happening on the streets, including a women being assaulted by her boyfriend in broad daylight and what seemed to be clandestine meetings taking place in a local church.

The Market we had to negotiate on the way to our hostel (you could get a knock off of anything here!)
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The Local Castle
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The great pizza!
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The rocks around the port covered in locals soaking up the mediterranean sun
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Posted by jezems 12:45 Archived in Italy

Rome


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Emily - Rome is as intense as ever and with summer approaching Jez and I set our alarm clocks to beat the crowds early to see they city's sites in three days. In our eagerness to get to Rome we mixed up our arrival dates and got to our hostel one day earlier than originally booked. The hostel was fully booked and had no room for us, as it was 3pm we knew we would need to get cracking if we were going to find a bed for the night. Patrick, the hostel receptionist was little help in advising where we could get a room in high season, on such short notice, so we walked to a nearby hostel in the rain; they too were booked out (and just as unhelpful) so we made the executive decision to catch a metro and head back to the Central Rome Train Station (Roma Termini) where quite a few hostels were located. I looked after the bags and pondered being homeless for the night while Jez knocked on some doors. Lucky for us Jez found a room in a private pensione and we bunked in with an Irish girl who like us had trouble finding a room for the night. The room was clean and in a central location and was a great find in such short notice.

Jeremy- The pensione was owned by a bloke named Antonio, we ran into him later in the streets while looking for dinner and he invited us to his restaurant (with a discount). We politely declined, mainly because we didn't want to give him all of our money and wondered how many more business ventures he had around town. It really did seem to be the kind of place that it was all about who you knew. Even the Laundromat provided a pensione booking service.

Emily - The next day we settled into our hostel (which was a complete hole) and only survived by spending most of our time trapezing around Rome. Good thing for us Rome has plenty of tourist sites! We visited the Sistine Chapel, grabbed some gelati by the Trevi Fountain, took in the Colosseum and the Roman Forum as well as St.Peter's Basilica. The next day we spent a leisurely afternoon at the Appia Antica and the Catacombs where the earliest Christians buried their dead, supposedly Saints Mark and Peter were buried here......................

Jez- There are so many sites in Rome its hard to keep up. The most impressive was St Peter's Basilica; this place was enormous, literally jaw dropping matched only by the oversize gelati i ate before going in. The Sistine chapel was ruined by the crowds, and the guards continually hissing "seelance" and "no foato" louder than any other noise in the church. I think I'll have a look at the paintings in a book when I get home. The Parthenon was also impressive although full of tourists. The only real disappointment was the Colosseum. While the Colosseum was very impressive, the hoards of gypsy children fighting to pick my pocket didn't materialise, an appearance promised in all guide books! They are probably all riding the metro. There seemed to be only one train when five are needed and this means literally no room for any more people inside. From what i could gather the idea is you just push your way on, until the doors close and nearly chop off your arms, we avoided it after the first few trips. After a few days in Rome we were ready to move on, the combination of the heat and the cramped hostel, (particularly the night shift guy who had a habit of stinking out the toilet/showers just before everyone got up) it was time to head to Napoli...

Inside St Peters
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The St Peters Gelati
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An elaborate hallway (or gallery) in the Vatican
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On the lookout for gypsy (or Roma as they like to be called) kids
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Piazza Navona
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Michealangelo's Pieta viewed sideways
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Posted by jezems 12:36

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