Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Italy: Amalfi Coast Day 5: Pompeii
I've been a little slow to get to our last day in Italy, but I'm excited to share our wonderful trip to Pompeii. It was absolutely a historical highlight of our vacation, especially for the kids. We had to return to Rome for our flight the following day, so we had booked our same driver (yes, that driver) already for the drive from Amalfi back to Rome. Because Pompeii is on the way, we'd planned to stop for a few hours.
small group tour approved by Rick Steves (it's not entirely sure to me how that partnership works, but we figured if it was good enough for Rick, we were in). The tour was set to start at 10:30 and Amalfi was about a 1 1/2 - 2 hr ride away, so we had a good breakfast before bidding our lovely Amalfi hotel ciao ciao!
We arrived in Pompeii with enough time to grab a quick drink and then we met up with our guide Carmine, who was from Pompeii and also an archaeologist at the site. He instantly bonded with the kids and we knew we had a good thing. Given how reasonable the cost of the small group tour is and the fact that you get to cut any entrance line -- not to mention what a good tour we actually had -- I highly, highly recommend booking it if you plan on visiting Pompeii. We had three other couples joining our tour and once everyone had assembled, we were off. Carmine did a great job of setting the scene and explaining what we were going to be able to cover in the two-hour tour. Pompeii is enormous and two hours was just going to scratch the surface. But it was more than sufficient, especially since we'd been on several tours over the course of the vacation.
We saw several major sites within Pompeii, including the Gladiator Barracks, the Large Theatre, the Baths, a few important houses, and, finally, the Forum and surrounding temples. It was a scorching day, but Carmine did a great job of finding spots of shade to discuss things and moving quickly through the sun. Most importantly (to me), he not only tolerated Kane's gazillion questions, but seemed completely excited to have a young kiddo interested in archaeology and the site. It was frequently the two of them walking ahead of the group, discussing who knows what, and everyone else dragging behind.
We were all completely blown away by the advanced technology of the city. Insanely creative uses of engineering popped up all over the place. It was just totally incredible.
The two hours flew by and while we wished we had more time to explore the site, were also tired and hot and hungry. We happily re-located our driver and headed back up to Rome. To make things easy, we'd booked a room at the airport Hilton. The kids were overjoyed to be back at a hotel pool (despite the fact that they were required to wear awful 80s swim caps to swim). The three of us had our first "American" meal at the hotel bar -- cheeseburgers, french fries, and ice cream sundaes. And we brought one up to Joel who was marathon conference calling in anticipation of work re-entry the following day.
The kids were total champs on the 9-hour + flight -- that's A LOT of movies and games. They both lost it a bit once we landed, given how screwed up their internal clocks were at this point. But, we all made it alive. And that's my general standard when flying with kids.
Such a fabulous, fabulous vacation. Now where are we heading next ...?!