Friday, April 08, 2016

A day in Naples (2016/3)

I know that I skipped a day: on Wednesday, we didn't do much apart from walking up and down Sorrento and visiting places and shops where we hadn't been before.

Yesterday, we took the train to Naples; although it was about half full when leaving Sorrento, it filled up pretty quickly and it was standing room only for most of the journey. The trip takes about an hour: at times, the train goes quite fast, but there were also long stops (tunnels have only one set of rails, so there has to be synchronisation with trains coming the other way.

Naples train station is like an airport: it is very large and has many platforms. The Circumvesuvian platforms are at the far end of the station, so we had to walk a bit before finding anything. Tourist information is one floor up from the platform concourse so it took us some time to find it. I could see that in order to get to the National Archeological Museum, we could take the Line 1 metro, which saved having to negotiate above-ground Naples. The metro station is deep underground and is very modern.

Arriving at the 'Museo' station, it was only a short walk to the very imposing museum building. The best exhibit in the museum contained frescoes taken from buildings in Pompeii and surrounding area from the first and second century AD: these were astounding. The statues found from the villas in the same area were also very good, but then, we are used to seeing such good craftmanship (I don't mean to be blase).

Despite enjoying the exhibits, we began suffering from 'museum feet', the condition in which the soles of one's feet begin to hurt from too much standing around. So after spending some time trying to find an exit (I imagined us getting lost and spending weeks in the museum before someone found our bodies; even an attendant agreed that the exits were poorly signed), we managed to find our way down to the ground floor and into the expensive museum shop, where we bought a little book about the frescoes.

After finishing with the museum, we looked for somewhere to eat and found a funky and amusing hole in the wall opposite the museum (there wasn't much of a choice in where to eat). I had some kind of pastry with cheese and grilled vegetables, and to drink I decided to have something different: I think this was supposed to be hot chocolate, but it didn't really taste of anything. At least it wasn't fizzy.

After our cheap lunch, I noticed that there was a bus stop for those 'hop on, hop off' buses nearby. I realised that having a trip on one of these would give us a chance to see Naples, so we waited ... and waited ... and eventually a bus turned up. The price was 22 Euro each, which seems somewhat expensive (especially as the museum was only 13 euro each, and the public transport was exceedingly cheap). Anyway, we rode on this bus for about an hour, giving us the opportunity to realise that (as we had been told) Naples is not a very interesting place. Apparently it's much cleaner than it used to be, but that's about the only positive thing that one can write (the metro is good, though).

Joke: my wife wanted to buy a postcard of Naples, but we couldn't find one. This is because there is nothing pretty enough to put on a postcard.

When the ride finished (in front of a castle which is postcard pretty), we were told that there was another bus waiting which would take us on a second route around Naples. So we got off one bus, onto the other then off we drove. This ride was mainly around the port area and hills on the costal side of Naples; better than the first ride, but still nothing really worth writing home about.

When we got back to the castle, we were told that the final bus had left (we were intending to ride it back to the museum so that we could catch the metro back to Garibaldi Station), but fortunately there was another metro stop only about 200 metres away. We were back at the main station shortly then went down to the Circumvesuvian platforms, making sure that we were on the correct platform (there are four) for Sorrento. The train was packed, but slowly people got off, and after a few stops we were able to sit down. Incidentally, both my wife and I noticed that girls' spectacle frames were very thick - and to my eye, unattractive.

When we got back to Sorrento (about 7pm), it was raining lightly, so I suggested that we eat in the nearby Leone Rosso restaurant (one minute from the train station), which had received good reviews. The restaurant was about half full when we went in, but filled up as we ate; there was a very welcoming atmosphere. We had our regular grilled sea bream, which the waiter deboned for us. I don't know whether it was his handling or the way the fish was cooked, but I didn't enjoy it very much. All the reviews mention that something was given for free; we were served two small glasses of limoncello (wasted upon us) and also had two euros removed from our 45 euro bill. But we left a tip....

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