Pompei

We travelled to Pompei by train from Sorrento (Circumvesuviana train). It’s very cheap, although it is slightly more expensive than recent years. It’s still much, much cheaper than UK trains. It must have been no more than 5 Euro return. The train doesn’t take very long, and I think Pompei was the 11th (ish) stop along the line. You need to ensure you get off at Pompei Scavi and not Pompei, although I’m sure this is obvious with the number of tourists.

On getting off the train and exiting the train station, I was extremely disappointed and upset by the scammers that seemed to have appeared in recent years, guiding large numbers of tourists from the train into the opposite direction to Pompei Scavi (left instead of right) and saying ‘Pompei tickets this way!’. The scammers then force them into buying tour tickets with them for a price more expensive than entry on the actual gate. New tourists do not realise that this is wrong and is a scam.
My parents came with us this day (my dad visits Pompei every year to see new things they find, and he is an excellent guide!). My dad actually confronted the scammer and said ‘Pompei is not that way’ and the scammer kept insisting it was. It’s very frustrating and as a new tourist I think it’s important to be aware there may be people willing to take advantage of you.

Anyway *rant over* on exiting the station, we walked RIGHT. There are stalls selling icy bottles of water, and you will be thankful if you buy one of these now. Pompei can get very hot and is a large place. The actual entrance into Pompei Scavi is just a short walk down from the train station, and usually there are big queues to get tickets, although they go down relatively quick. There are guide books here and I think also audio guides. People usually walk around offering tours in your language, but they can be very slow to get around Pompei and can give facts you sometimes aren’t interested in (like the year things were built etc). My dad did an excellent job of being our guide as he told us what different things were used for and gave a good picture of actual life in Pompei before Vesuvius erupted.

Here are a few images of us exploring Pompei.

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In the forum area
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An ancient sign for a brothel
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Crossing one of the small roads
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Amazing mosaics that are preserved so well from one of the houses
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The colours and mosaics that have survived the years so well
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In the amphitheatre in Pompei, the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre.
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This image looks like a painting! Inside one of the Roman baths.

Pompei is an amazing place to visit, but if you are looking for a less popular alternative, Ercolano is a good option. Although I have never been myself, I have heard it is smaller and much better preserved than Pompei. I may take a trip there next time.

When we came out of Pompei, we discovered they now have exhibitions of some of the people of Pompei. I’m not sure if these are original or not as we say similar inside Pompei.

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This person was once a slave, you can see this from the belt around his waist.

It’s really interesting to me how much smaller people were back then, compared to today!

After we had finished with the ruins of Pompei, we started the walk into the modern Pompei of today, which few tourists venture into. It can be quite a walk but it is great to do. There is a massive church in the centre of the square, which we usually visit every year. It is beautiful and the corridors leading off from the church have pictures filling the walls of miracles that have happened to people. We did not get to go in this year as I wasn’t allowed in because I was wearing shorts, but I will insert pictures of inside the church from previous years.

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When I was younger I used to spend a long time looking at all of the miracles that had happened, despite the fact I’m not particularly religious. There is also an orphanage attached to the church, and there is a shop selling things like rosary beads where all of the proceeds go to the orphanage. My grandad back in the day used to go donate money to the orphanage and so each year I visit I make an effort to buy something from the shop.

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We then headed down one of the side streets to a cafe for a snack and a drink. It’s much cheaper than Sorrento and it was nice to not be surrounded by masses of tourists. Afterwards we began the long walk back to the train station.

Pompei is a great day out and if you don’t take a guided tour it’s definitely doable to fit in ‘modern Pompei’ too. Just ensure you wear appropriate clothing to enter the church as it’s definitely worth it. Also ensure you wear good shoes that you don’t mind possibly getting ruined. It’s something you definitely have to be fit for, but I think that’s the case with most sights in Italy. Pompei is a great bit of history in great travelling distance from Sorrento.

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Capri

Our first outing during our time in Sorrento was to Capri. We went with our parents as I thought this was a good all round trip for us all to enjoy together.

We got the boat from Marina Piccola in Sorrento, which we walked to from our hotel. I must say that the boat price has really increased since I last visited Capri (I’m sure it was more like 40-45 Euro each rather than the 30 euro it used to be only a few years ago!)

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The boat to Capri takes about 25 minutes. Unlike previous years, passengers now sit inside the boat and you cannot opt to sit outside. We waited for everyone to board the boat and we stood on the deck at the back to take in the views.

When we arrived in Capri, it was very busy and we took the funicular up to Capri Town, where we had a wander around the designer shops (walking past them that is!). You can see that Capri is great for the rich and famous. We then took a bus (which by future father in law LOVED! not.) to Ana Capri, further up the island. For those who are scared of crazy drivers and heights, I would not recommend this! But a great Italian experience all in all 😉 The busses on Capri are very cheap, and if you are doing lots of bus travel you can get a day pass for about 8 Euro.

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When we got off the bus at Ana Capri, we left our parents to have a wander around and to get the chairlift up Mount Solaro, where we would meet them later. Myself and Scott headed for another bus (Via Grotta Azzurra) to the Blue Grotto! I must admit, I was slightly apprehensive at first as to whether I was taking Scott in the right direction as this was my first time at the Blue Grotto, but it was all very simple!

The journey had no scary cliff edge views, and it was very straight forward. We got off at the last stop, which just looked like a cliff edge (seems to be a running theme in Capri!). We then had to walk down the steps of the cliff to queue up for the Blue Grotto boats. Travelling to the Blue Grotto this way was much simpler than going from Marina Grande and also much cheaper and less time consuming seen as we were in Ana Capri anyway. I’m so glad we did it this way and I would highly recommend.
All in all, I would say we queued for about half an hour, if that! Whereas there were numerous large boats in line letting only a few tourists off into row boats at a time. Perks of arriving by bus!
When it was our turn we shared a boat with another couple, who had one end of the boat and we had the other. We were taken to a little floating pay point in the sea, where we paid our fee (I think it was about 14 Euro each including boat hire). The guy rowing our boat suggested a tip to him is recommended if we felt he had provided a good service, so at the end we tipped him 5 Euro. It’s not the cheapest 10 minutes but it is definitely worth it as a one off experience.

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When it was finally our time to enter the cave through the little hole, we were told to lay right back and our boat guy pulled us through with a chain. When we got into the cave I initially thought ‘this isn’t blue!’ but when you sail further in and look back at the light from the entrance, it is sooo lit up and blue! It really looks like there are lights underwater. The boat men sing Italian songs in the cave and it all echoes, it’s lovely! He also explained to us why the water looks so blue in there. It was really pretty, and one to tick off my ’30 things to do before I’m 30′ list. Sad I know, especially considering the fact I’m only 24!

After we had been in the Grotto, we headed back up the cliff steps to catch a bus back. I would say we waited 10 minutes at the very most for the bus, they seem very frequent. We headed back to Ana Capri and went to meet our parents who had caught the chairlift up Mount Solaro. The chairlift is such a relaxing experience, and costs about 10 Euro return. You can also walk back a different route but we didn’t fancy a trek!

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On finding our parents at the little bar/cafe up there, our mothers appeared a little tipsy on all of they had drank in the time we were gone (my mum especially!) oh dear. They were having a lovely time! We joined them for a drink before taking photos of the stunning views that are up there and heading back down to Ana Capri.

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When back in Ana Capri, we weren’t short on places to eat, so we sat down and had lunch and relaxed whilst soaking in the atmosphere.
Realising the time, it was late afternoon so we grabbed a few souvenirs that we wanted to buy and got ready to head back down to the Marina Grande for our boat back to Sorrento.

My father in law (Papa Mills) however, had other ideas on our methods of transport after his first bus experience on Capri haha! We decided to get a taxi back down to the Marina Grande, which was a first experience for me and my family even! The taxis on Capri are open top and very different. We joked Papa Mills should get one to take home (he is a taxi driver). The drive back down was lovely and relaxing (if a little windswept and squashed in the back) and only cost us 30 Euro in total. We could really take in the views of Capri without being scared for your life!

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We had a lovely day in Capri, and although I have been many times I would still recommend it to those visiting the area. I am sure there is more to see and do on the island than what we did, but Capri can be what you make it. You just have to be aware of the price tag that comes with it or it can be a nasty shock.

Capri is such a beautiful Italian island, I can’t see how it would fail to impress anyone.

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