May 19, 2018

We spent day 2 in Pompeii

Because the weather was still cool and showers were still possible we did Pompeii on Wednesday rather than our planned excursion which required very good weather.  There are many ways to see Pompeii, with a tour or a private guide, or hire a guide on site or to rent an audio guide.  We chose to do it on our our own.  Colin had spent time researching what he thought we should see and what we could not see and printed some things out as well as put everything in an order that would make the flow through the enormous site efficient.  Pompeii is 64 – 67 hectares ( 170 acres ).

Pompeii was founded somewhere between the 6 – 7th century BC.  Approximately 11,000 to 12,000 people lived there and they say that 2000 people perished on August 24, 79AD when Mount Vesuvius which is 5miles away, erupted.  We heard that ash fell for 18 hours and buried the city in 19 -23 feet of pumice stone and ash.  It took until 1748 before the city was discovered by a survey engineer.

We got there about 9:15 AM and started walking and exploring.  We never stopped until we sat down for lunch about 2:30PM.  We were very fortunate as the sun appeared and it warmed up.  Despite the number of people about we never felt crowded nor rushed and often were alone in many areas for long periods of time.  Somehow we manged to cover a great deal of Pompeii.  There were three areas that we could see where excavations are ongoing as well as areas that have yet to be even touched.

Our first view of Pompeii.

The wild poppies were the perfect display of life among the ruins.

The tall statue was added, I don’t know when or what it is about but it was not original to the site. This is an active dig site which is behind a fenced area.  The nearby information said that  the dig has been allowed in this area from May 14/18 to June 22/18.  What was most interesting to me is that it is a joint dig between the Mount Allison University of Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada and the University of Missouri in Columbia Missouri, US

A main road of the city.

It was very difficult to chose just a few of the 300 photos we took between us.

These frescos had been preserved thanks to the ash covering.

The oldest know basilica of the Roman world, dated at the end of the 2nd century BC.

Mount Vesuvius as seen though the columns from this end of the Forum.

The required tourist shot.

The granary market and a plaster cast of the body of someone who died inside.

They call this the fast food store. The servants only had a tiny area to sleep in and no kitchen so they had to buy their food at these food outlets. The round areas cut in the marble likely held basins of food.

There were several bath areas within the city but this is a shot of the decor on the ceiling of the main one.  The baths were cleverly heated by a series of ducts and vents as well as steam areas.

Note the ruts in the stone from the chariot wheels.

One of the bakeries.  Wheat was ground in the vessels to the right and the bread was cooked in an oven much like a pizza oven.

Pompeii even had a brothel.  As the slaves who were the prostitutes and the clients who came from all over the world did not speak the same language there were paintings that the client pointed to as to the type of sex he was paying for.

This was the bed. We were told that there was a mattress of some sort on the cement bed so it wasn’t quite so hard 🙂

We sat here for a few moments taking it all in. Quite the time to have been living in.  The best seats in the grand theater were the white marble ones.

This cast of a victim of the eruption is shown with most his skull and teeth.

These were taken through a window in a special exhibit.  Sad to think that they suffered due to asphyxiation.

After walking over 20,000 steps it was time for lunch. The best pizza to eat in Naples is  the margherita bufala pizza, the mozzarella is made with buffalo milk.

This pizza was our second best of our entire time here in Naples. The restaurant was run by the fellow on the left and has only been open for 2 years .  However his father’s family has had the limoncello stand across the street for 90 years. They make their own limoncello and meloncello and sell it just outside the gates of Pompeii near the current town of Pompeii.  A great family.

For some reason our train back to Naples was delayed and instead of a 15 minute wait it was closer to 50 minutes.  The clouds were coming in again.

A bit of a setting sun reflection on the buildings to the left of our apartment.

It wasn’t long before it got very cool and the rain showers began.  They say that you should pack half of what you think you need so I put back my cold weather clothes 😥   But things have warmed up although I am still wearing my only sweater and my jacket at times.

We were very tired and just went down the street for dinner.  After eating pizza for a few days it was time to switch it up to pasta.  There is not much else to choose from.  This place only served pasta. However the menu was entirely in Italian and the staff spoke no English but we managed.  It appears that I was too tired to take photos of our meals.  I did take this snapshot to show that the patriarch of the family was sitting at one end of the restaurant observing all that was happening.  In his spare time he was polishing all the wine and water glasses.

Free wifi is not plentiful here in Naples and has been a bit of a hindrance, although we do have great wifi in the apartment. I also discovered that my provided data was not working.  That took about 45 minutes of back and forth calls to Virgin Mobile but we did get it sorted out.  I am paying $100.00CAD for 200 outgoing text messages ( but unlimited incoming texts ) and 100 travel voice minutes  and 1GB of data, all good for 30 days.

This is my second post for today.  Please check the previous post to make sure you have read it.

Tomorrow is a travel day so I need to get to bed before midnight as we are up early.   I have yet to post days 3 and 4 here in Naples as well as what we did today, day 5, our final day.  Stay tuned.  Things might get tricky as I bounce between real time and the last few days.

 

 

 

 

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May 18, 2018

Istanbul to Naples

The airport in Turkey is too small for the amount of flights and the numbers of people using it.  A new and larger airport is set to open phase one later this fall.  Meanwhile there is limited seating including at the gates.  There are people sitting on the floor everywhere.

From our departure gate you can see people as far as one can see.  It was a bit of a struggle to push through and to get to our gate.  They have departure gates on two different levels.

We got to the gate for the assigned boarding time and then sat there for almost twenty minutes before any official person showed up.  She then proceeded to walk among us to check our passport against our face as well as our boarding pass and then to stamp our boarding pass.  There is no way I would have got on that flight with an incorrectly spelled name.  This was a tedious and time consuming task.  By now I had figured out that we were going to be bused out to our flight parked somewhere on the tarmac.  Once the bus showed up everyone started pushing forward to get on the bus.  It was very full and toes were being stepped on.  Once we reached the plane it was a free for all of pushing to get on the aircraft.  Despite being seated in business class we were in the midst of the pack.  I was drained by the time we got into our seats.

We were served breakfast on this flight which was only 2.5 hours.  Yes we each got our piece of fresh honeycomb.  I have never ever had honey that tasted that way.  Not overly sweet but so light and smooth.  What a treat.  I forgot to mention that we had been learning a few words in Turkish, the most used was thank you.  Whoever we spoke to in Turkish would break out in a huge smile of surprise at our effort.

Colin got to sit by the window on this leg of our journey. All that color you see on the horizon are more and even more apartment high rises.

A very large stadium with thousands of parking stalls around it.  We noted that rush hour traffic was often at a standstill.

We were greeted by Mount Vesuvius as we approached Naples.

Getting off the plane we were taken by bus to passport control.  It was a wide building that was already filled with two bus loads and then our two buses pulled in and we were almost out the door.  There were only two agents working to handle hundreds of people.  Everyone was surging and shoving to get to the front of the line.  It was horrible and it was hot and I was getting very claustrophobic being in the middle of this swarm of humanity.  Then another few bus loads came behind us.  We had been there close to 90 minutes and were not even halfway to the front.  Those from the far sides kept pushing into the line and those of us further back were stuck.  A new agent came on duty and I made a split second decision and ducked under a rope and moved to that line as did a few dozen others.  Not ten minutes later we ere processed and reunited with our luggage, thank goodness.

We finally figured out where the Alibus was loading to go into the city and it was not just outside the airport door to the right as we had been told but a 3 or 4 block walk to the stop.  We made it and manged to get off at the correct location and then it was a bit of stretch to figure out where we were going and to actually figure out how to cross several lanes of honking and fast driving vehicles to get to where we needed to be.  Finally got checked in at our airbnb which is very nice.  You can check it out here. Once Davide left the rain began.  We proceeded to unpack and settle in.

Once there was a break in the rain we headed out to the store about 4 long blocks away to pick up water, fruit and wine. Of course the rain returned and we got rather damp.  We dunked inside a restaurant to share a pizza for lunch.  While inside. the rain fell even harder.  It was much to cold to even consider sitting outside to eat.

Once we got back to our apartment we found out that our walking tour of the historic area of Naples had been cancelled due to the weather.  So we bundled up anyway and head out to tour it ourselves with a Rick Steves tape.  We did get most of the tour done but I was very cold and haven’t warmed up yet.  I only have a thin long sleeved blouse with me and a thin sweater and my light waterproof  jacket which is also windproof thank goodness.  My feet were totally wet ( mainly because I can’t wear closed toe shoes ).  But we made the best of it.

We first headed out to check out the small train station just a few blocks from our place regarding our excursion the next day. We passed these old gates called Porta Nolando which are a remnant of one of the medieval city gates in Napoli.  The gate was first erected by the Spanish in the 15th century.

Some lovely old buildings along the way.

Look at the size of the stone that this church was built with.

There is a main street full of neat shops, that is closed to traffic except for the scooters. They are crazy drivers that have no regard for the safety of pedestrians.

Many other tourists and locals out between the rain downpours. We were so enjoying all of the sites that we ended up keeping going and going until I realized that it was 8PM.  This is a long street that eventually leads to steps that head up to the castle on top of the hill.

We only stopped here as it is the oldest gelato store in Napoli, 1894, and is said to make fresh gelato every day.  I got a small cup for the two of us to share, pistachio for those who need to know.

Now that is a slab of cheese.

The building on the right is a church and does not look like much on the exterior but looks can be deceiving.

The inside is very ornate with lots of gold.

We were going to stop here for dinner but it was much too cold to wait in line for an hour to get in. More on this place later.

So we walked back to within two blocks of our place to a restaurant that our host had recommended.  It was full of Italians so that was a good sign.  We ended up having a tasty bowl of penne in tomato sauce with eggplant.  Just what we needed on a cold night.  So ended our first day in Napoli with over 20,000 steps and a shivering me.  Took a long time for me to warm up that night.  It is kind of ironic that we just left a city that is flooding and arriving here to March weather with lots of rain and very cold temperatures in May.

 

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May 16, 2018

Our view of the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul

The lounge was built for its business clients.  However over the last few years anyone who has a gold card for this or an elite card for that can get in.  Which means that all types of people can get  access and that the lounge has become very busy almost 24/7. Click here for the official link to the lounge and  click here for a very recent review of the lounge and lots of photos.

We had a choice of a 75 minute connection or a 17.5 hour connection in Istanbul.  Turkish Airlines has a reputation of being late with its international flights and upon reading about the lounge we decided to go with the longer connection.  Which as it turned out was the correct decision as we would have missed our flight.  The plan was to have a vacation day in the lounge and also help us with jet leg by staying for a night.  Here are just some random snaps we took and in no particular order.

Our sunset that evening. From where we hung out we could watch planes taking off one after the other.  So many areas and types of sitting to choose from.  A very busy airport.  There is a plane taking off mid right of this photo.

There are food stations set up everywhere. Desserts in one area. Salads in another as well as soups. There are stations of Indian food, special Turkish dishes including a separate olive bar, coffee and tea bars and the list goes on and on.  More food than you could possibly want to try  There are also wine bars set up here and there but with just a choice of three whites but a dozen different reds to try.  Around the dinner hour the lounge was chaotic.  Once the overnight flights started to take off  it quietened and was peaceful.

The lounge is beyond huge at over 30,000 square feet.  There are two grand pianos, a games room for adults and a few folks walking around giving you a massage where you sit.  Sadly I never saw one.

The library was a quiet place to be unless someone was playing a game of billiards.  There is also a movie theater with comfy seating.

A large bank of TV’s to check on whatever you wanted to. There was also a hard wired bank of Apple desktop computers to use.  WiFi was free but you had to scan your boarding card to get a password.  However when the lounge was full it was almost impossible to download emails or to get online.

The bathroom stalls were almost totally mirrored making for some strange reflections.

We had a great salad for dinner and the best homemade soup. Colin enjoyed his pastries while I merely sipped wine and had a wee bite of each of  his desserts.

There is a separate area for showers and there are also sleep rooms available as shown here.

Part of the reason we went with the long layover was because of being able to use the sleep rooms which would give us a good rest in a bed and help get over any jet lag that we had.  I found out just a few days before we left that one could only use a sleep room if your layover was between 4 and 7 hours.  Not a minute more or less.  It did not matter if it was midnight and you were wanting to get a sleep room for a few hours to rest you could not unless your layover fit the exact parameters even if all the rooms were empty.  They are very strict with rules.

I called and there was no way we could stay in a sleep room in the lounge but they were most happy to put us into a hotel in downtown Istanbul for the night at no charge to us and to provide a voucher for dinner and for breakfast.  Not only for us in business class but they offer this to anyone traveling on Turkish airlines and having a layover of so much time.  They also offer a free tour and lunch or dinner of the city as on option.  However to leave the transit area of the airport you had to get a visa to enter Turkey which you can do at the airport but depending on what country you were from it cost money.  For us it would have cost us each $60.00 US cash.  We will visit Turkey another time but it was not to be on this trip.

We had no intention of leaving the airport.  I had read stories that by the time you cleared passport control and customs and then got assigned a hotel and finally get to the hotel that close to three hours had gone by.  Then of course in the morning you would have to check in, go through passport control and security, etc.  Yet another nightmare.  No we wanted to stay and enjoy the lounge which we did.  But we did need to have some quality sleep before we got to Naples.

I found out that there are 52 rooms in the TAV Hotel airside that are within the transit area.  But they charge by the hour in three hour increments.  To rent this room from midnight to six in the morning cost us a lot, 160 euros.  However we both slept and showered and it was worth every penny in that we arrived here in Naples mostly rested.

Near the custom omelette station they had a real honeycomb dripping honey.  You could just scoop some up to put on your cereal or bread or whatever.  That was quite something to see.

There are so many flights out of the airport that you can’t find your gate number until about an hour before your departure.  I found this board which is totally out of focus as it was a very quick shot.  What is of interest it the board under the constantly changing electronic boarding board.  It gives you a range of gate numbers and the actual walking time to the gate.  Good thing as we had a good 22 minute fast hike to our gate for check in.  There are not many if any places to sit at the gate so a lot of standing or sitting on the floor is involved.

I will leave you here for tonight.  It is only noon PST  back home but here it is 9 PM and we need to head out for dinner.  Today was a full day, we were supposed to get back by 2 or 3 PM but it was 6PM instead.  So much to do and so little time.  Colin has been napping while I worked on this.  Tomorrow will be yet another full day and the sun should be shining.

Ciao 😎

Dang, it’s raining again 😕

 

 

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May 15, 2018

We have arrived safe and sound

As it is after midnight and we are exhausted this is just quick update.  I will do a post on the Istanbul airport and lounge soon.  Today we traveled to our first destination on this trip.  We arrived in Naples, Italy to a beyond crazy passport control ( waited in line 2 hours ) and then just as we got to our airbnb the sky opened up.  The great news is that both of our suitcases were waiting for us.  It rained for hours and our free walking tour was cancelled due to weather so we did it on our own anyway thanks to Rick Steves.

I am freezing cold and having trouble warming up. 12C is not normal Napoli temps for mid May, this is March weather.  To think that my main concern was having A/C in the bedroom here.  The weather should get better tomorrow.

We have had to change our tour plans totally due to the weather but we are enjoying being here.  I also spent about 90 minutes on the phone at no charge with Virgin Mobile sorting out my data.  We got into a bit of a jam earlier today and needed to check something online but no data.  Finally sorted it out and in the end I was the one who made a suggestion as to the fix.  All is well except I lost time during my evening, so just a quickie tonight.  We have a very exciting day planned for tomorrow but that means getting up early yet again!

Lots of walking is happening, managed to walk 20K steps without too much effort today.  Good thing considering how delicious the pizza is.

Ciao for now.

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May 14, 2018

Toronto to Istanbul

In Toronto’s lounge Sunday PM doing the last post.  That is only luggage we are carrying with us.

No idea where Colin wandered off to to catch this sunset.

Our seats on Turkish Airlines.  No danger of not having enough leg room.  One of the reasons I chose to fly with TK was because of the low cost of the additional taxes that one has to pay on a free ticket.  For instance Lufthansa charges up to $3000.00 each in taxes for the same flights.  I paid a total of $202.50 for both of us.

It didn’t take long for us to spread out 🙂

First thing is to sort out how to make the seat work. Next one is expected to fill out the menu for what we would like for breakfast.

We were given a bag with a pair of slippers in it.  We we put them on and put our shoes in the bag.  Then we got a bag with all kinds of amenities in it from lip balm to a comb/hairbrush.  At the foot of our seats are benches that you can lift  the lid and put things into.

This is the wine we chose to drink.  Lovely.

I had to add this photo as this was the best port I have ever had.  So smooth and that chocolate finish…perfect end to the meal.

Relaxing before said meal.  Notice, not even a glass of vino but it came shortly thereafter.

Ahh here it comes. The warmed nut dish was mostly filled with pistachio nuts and a lot of macadamia nuts.

I only had the seafood appetizer but Colin also had the best ever in the world tomato soup. I had one bite and got a bowl for myself.  Yes that really is a gold color on the inside of the soup bowl.

The main consisted of baked salmon which was a tad dry but still tasty.

There were two chefs onboard and this fellow was serving the desserts.

We both settled for the chocolate mousse ( even better that my last best ever which was in Paris years ago ) and some of that wonderful porto. That wee bag held an electronic candle so that we could eat by candle light.  A nice touch.

Then it was lights out to sleep on our totally flat bed. First they put a nice mattress pad on and we got a blanket and a quilt to cover ourselves with. This fellow slept until 15 minutes before landing this morning.  Colin slept off and on most of the night but I only manged to sleep for 3.5 hours even though we had a good five hours of quiet time before breakfast.  I have never slept well on planes.  Oh well I got to use the bathroom before everyone else and got cleaned up and changed my clothes.

Somewhere around Prague.   Love the colors and layout of the fields.

Who was hungry for breakfast?  Every bite of fruit was perfectly ripe and sweet.

I ate half the fruit and merely nibbled at the omelet.  Along with the fruit course they served warmed breads including mini fresh croissants that melted in your mouth.

This is the new gigantic Istanbul airport still under construction.  Scheduled to open in October of 2018, at least phase one.

I had no idea that Istanbul was so large. As far as the eye can see are hundreds upon hundreds of mostly modern high rise buildings.

The much smaller current airport.

Getting off the plane and before proceeding to the  in transit international flight area of the airport we were subjected to a carry on bag search and a pat down, then we were good to go.  Thank goodness for my research or we would have had no idea where to turn to get to the business class lounge.  The gate numbers go from the 200 hundreds to the 500 hundreds.  This is the business class lounge spied from a window along the walk.  Yes all two stories of it.  The lounge covers 3oo square meters and is one of the top ten lounges in the world.  The new lounge is supposed to be much bigger 🙂

Which is why we have a 17.5 hour layover here, by choice. Good place to catch up on our jet lag. It is 1:20PM at home and 11:20PM locally, time for some shut eye.  Please forgive any spelling/grammar errors, just doing a quick proof tonight as my eyes are closing.  Colin’s are already closed.

 

 

 

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