November 14th, 2010


Sorrento and Pompeii

Saturday morning around 11am, we arrived at Sorrento. What a sight: sheer cliffs rising out of the sea, with buildings perched on top of them, and stairways set into the cliff faces. I was on duty on Saturday, so I couldn't get off the ship, but that's alright - we're at Sorrento for two days.

We had safety training in the afternoon, and I played my usual 6-9:30 show at the Windows cafe, except I was inside, because we were concerned that it might be too cool out. As it turned out, it was just fine, and a lot of people were out on the deck. No matter, I had a good crowd inside at the restaurant. Afterwards, I went up and watched part of a guest entertainer's show (a classical pianist) and she was really good. I was too tired to watch the whole thing, so I retired to my room for the night.

This morning, I got up and got ready to go, and at 9am I was out on the tender boat heading for shore. We docked at the base of the cliffs and I climbed a lot of stairs to get to the top (there was a steep road, and you could catch a bus to the top, but I enjoyed the climb). I took a look around Sorrento for a few minutes, asked a Police Officer for directions to the train station, and hiked out to the train - and rode the train out to Pompeii.

About 40 minutes later, I was at the Pompeii stop, and it was a very short walk to the gate, Porta Marina, where I paid my 11 euro admission fee and stepped into the ancient past. I'd heard about Pompeii my whole life, and here it was before me - endless rows of ruined buildings, an entire Roman city buried and preserved by the volcano. I didn't pay for a tour - I just walked around reading signs, looking at my map, and eavesdropping on other peoples' tours.

It was fascinating. I walked down rough stone-paved streets, looked about in the remains of peoples' houses (oddly, they put the kitchen and the bathroom in the same room!) and also caught a glimpse of some of the casts that had been made of the spaces left inside the volcanic ash by the bodies of people killed and buried with the town. Vesuvius itself loomed menacingly nearby, as if threatening to do it again.

I happened by a cafeteria, and went in for a bite to eat. I ended up getting Pizza, I figured I might as well have Pizza while I was in Italy. It wasn't especially impressive, but I figured this wasn't proper Italian pizza anyway - it's tourist pizza. I also paid 3 euros for a bottle of coke (why is soda so expensive in europe?) and bought a couple of postcards.

After a couple of hours, and having covered only about half of the city (and not very thoroughly), I headed on the train back to Sorrento. We're coming back here again twice in the spring, so I'll try and see the other half of Pompeii then (and possibly nearby Herculaneum as well). I was happy I managed to not get lost, out on my own in a strange country. Once I was back, I looked around at the shops, and found an Irish Pub and a British Restaurant across the street from each other. I looked at bits and pieces at a flea market in one of the squares, and bought Nina a pink "Sorrento, Italia" T-Shirt at a souvenir shop.

Finally, I headed back to the ship to get ready for my final show of the cruise, which went very well. Tired from performing for 2 hours and a lot of walking earlier in the day, I settled down in my cabin for the night. Tomorrow we drop off this set of passengers and take on a batch of new ones. I also get a new roommate, as Charley the trombonist is going home after this cruise. So is Mary Amanda, our fantastic harpist. She's not only been a good friend, but she's also been a great help to me, giving me a lot of advice about how things work around the ship, and I'm going to miss her.

Tomorrow: Civitavecchia, Italy and the start of a new cruise