This morning we were awakened not by lowering life boats, but by our scheduled wakeup call. We had another room service breakfast and again made our way to the lounge for our scheduled tour of Pompeii. We didn’t have to wait long this morning, as we were docked at a standard pier, so we were able to just walk off the ship and onto our bus.
After the brief drive to Pompeii, we were led among the ruins by our guide Barbara, who also happened to be an archaeologist. She was very knowledgable about the city, and had a great passion, not so much for excavating further, as for protecting what had already been uncovered. Rather than expound upon the 40% of the city that is still buried, she was making sure that none of our group accidentally touched the frescos or otherwise did something damaging out of ignorance.
I learned many interesting things about Pompeii today: 1) most of the citizens of Pompeii did not die in the explosion; at least 90% of them had time to escape before the pyroclastic flow arrived some 36 hours later, 2) the city is much bigger than I expected, even taking into account that almost half of it is still buried; it would be very easy to get lost, 3) the rich and poor all lived in the same buildings; the poor lived on the ground floor, the wealthy on the 2nd floor, and the middle classes on the third and fourth floors, 4) they had raised crosswalks, street drainage, public fountains, plumbing (via aqueducts), and heated public baths; they were a very advanced civilization for their era, and 5) if you wanted to run for office, you had to do something for the city FIRST with your OWN MONEY before you would even be considered for election. I think that’s something we should adopt back home.
I have tons of pictures to share when I get back, but the things that blew me away the most were the enormous public square, the detailed mosaics and frescos in the houses of the wealthier citizens, and the infrastructure they had for heating their public baths. The ruins of Pompeii have definitely been the highlight of the trip for me thus far, and there were a lot more interesting aspects of the city to see than I initially expected.
After several hours roaming the city, we had about fifteen minutes before we boarded the bus back to our ship. We used this time to get some Italian pizza and some gelato, both of which were exceptional. Once we got back to the ship, we relaxed a bit before heading to high tea at 4pm. They have high tea on board every day, but today is the first day that it fit into our schedule. Courtney had an English breakfast tea, and I had Earl Grey. Courtney also took the opportunity to avail herself of the bounty that was available on the pastry cart.
After tea, we went to the gym to burn off some of the myriad calories that we’ve consumed so far on this trip, got ready for dinner, and went to Martini’s for a pre-dinner libation. Every drink there is a martini of some sort; I had the 007 (vodka martini, shaken not stirred), and Courtney had the French martini which contained some chambourd and pineapple juice with the vodka.
Dinner was at Red Ginger, which is the Asian themed restaurant on board. Our meal here, like everywhere else we’ve been on board, was exceptional. We had edamame, summer rolls, vegetable tempura, and ginger calamari to start (possibly the best calamari I’ve ever had). We each had a nice Asian tea with our dinner (lemongrass ginger for me and white ginger pear for Courtney), along with a very nice sake that was aged for two years, mellowing the flavors to perfection. For our main course we chose the double crunch chicken, which had just the right amount of spice. For dessert, I had a chocolate and lemongrass creme brulee, and Courtney had a bounty cake, which was like an Asian tiramisu.
We’re heading to bed a little earlier tonight. Tomorrow is a ten hour whirlwind tour of Rome and the Vatican, and we need to be well rested. Don’t worry, I’m going to be taking a lot of pictures!