Exploring the beautiful Soča Valley

A few months ago I somehow came across a short blog post about a hiking trail along the Soča river in Slovenia. It’s my home country, so I was surprised I never heard about the Soča Trail (Soška pot), which is actually part of a longer trailed called Alpe-Adria trail, that starts in The Alps in Austria and finishes at the Adriatic Sea. So I made a bit of a research and realized the Soča Trail is about 20km long (actually it’s more about 30km long) and goes along the river all the time, from the spring of the river to Bovec.

My mind was set on this trail the moment I heard about it and I decided this summer I’ll walk this path. So, to finish this summer the way I wanted, two of my friends and me decided to do it, to hike this path. Saturday, early morning, we started to drive towards Bovec, where we left our car. We took a bus from Bovec to the starting point. Around 10:20 am we were at the spring of Soča river and started to walk the trail – a bit later than we thought we will, but oh well, at least we started.

Obviously, at that time we were all still all full of energy, optimistic, positive and determined we will finish the trail. It’s a shame, but none of us were familiar with this area, we drove through it or been to parts of it before, but never really took time to explore this beautiful part of our country. The path mostly goes through the forest, sometimes through more open fields, but it’s easy to walk and absolutely lovely. There are few short hikes uphill now and then, but nothing dramatic, everybody can do it. Along the way, all the sweat is rewarded with stunning views of the mountains, Julian Alps, and views on the clear emerald water of the river. I’ve seen a lot of places around the world, but I must say, this was one of the best views ever.

We were making short stops about every hour, none of us is particularly fit, so we needed a break now and then. Around 3:30 pm we decided to stop for a bit longer, especially because Maja’s shoes were not as comfortable as she expected, so her feet hurt like hell. Nina had some troubles with her shoes too. I guess I was the lucky one, with comfortable shoes and still loads of energy left. So we just sat down on some rocks by the river, ate some snacks and enjoyed the view. The two of them decided this was the end of the trail for them and they would catch a bus back to the town. However, I was still full of energy and excited about the whole trail, so I decided to continue the path on my own.

Honestly, I loved this part of the trail the most. I love my friends and it was so much fun to walk, talk and laugh together – I’m a very extroverted person – but as soon as I started walking on my own a whole new experience opened up for me. Peace, quiet, nature, it was all so relaxing, gave me time to clear my mind and just be. It’s probably a bit weird, but instead of getting tired I just got even more energized. From time to time I was even running few hundred meters, and I usually never run! Definitely a whole new experience for me. I kept going for about four more hours, but then the sun was going down a bit too fast for me and I had to give up. My soul was saying to keep going, but common sense said it’s probably a good idea to stop where I am and call my friends to come pick me up. I believe I still had about 7km to walk to reach Bovec. I still walked about 23km, so I’m proud of myself, it was an absolutely amazing experience. But now I’m determined that I’ll walk this path again and next time, I’ll be prepared and start earlier. 🙂

Surprisingly, after a whole day of walking, I was all bubbly and full of energy even in the evening and I didn’t feel like going to sleep yet. In the morning I was up at 7 am and couldn’t wait for more adventures. 😀 I’m definitely one of those people that get all powered up by adventures… 😀

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Wörthersee – Austria

It’s been few months since I decided it’s time for me to leave “the ship life” and stay on land again. So far, I must say, I’m extremely happy with my decision and I’m enjoying summer as much as I can. Since I came back home I fell in love with SUP-ing (stand up paddling), so I’m still trying to stay as close to the water as possible.

My friend and I decided to visit a neighboring country for few days, Austria. Since I love adventures so much, we decided to go camping by the lake. It’s been a long time since the last time I slept in a tent and I really missed it, so I was super excited about it. We found a camp right next to Wörthersee Lake. Honestly, to me it was somehow new to actually be on vacation, to have all this free time, no schedule, no rush, I forgot how that is.

We used our first day there to explore Klagenfurt a little bit and to set up our camp spot. Towards the evening we went to the beach to relax and swim in the lake. And this night we were told there will be a party in the sky – one of the biggest meteor showers. So we grabbed few beers (and some rum), sat on a beach and watched the sky. Well, the sky show didn’t really reach our expectations, but there were still quite a lot of shooting stars, more than I’ve ever seen in one night. Wish upon a star they say… I had a chance to wish a lot of things that night.

In the morning we didn’t bother with an alarm clock. We woke up when we felt like. After late breakfast, we went for a short hike to a nearby hill. Luckily we had some random map of the area with us, but somehow we still managed to miss some path and made it all the way to the other side of the hill. Our plan was to hike for about two hours, it turned out to be four hours. But it didn’t matter, it was a nice walk through beautiful nature. After we had pasta for lunch, again, we finally put my SUP board in the water and paddled around for a while. We had to prepare for our big day…

So… the third day. Well, this is the highlight of the whole trip – we paddled on my SUP all the way to the other side of the lake and back again. Locals said we’re crazy and we won’t be able to do it. Watch us… Just watch us… Haha! Our plan was to rent another board, but the rent center opened too late, so we just shared one board. That turned out to actually be a better option in the end – yes, we were heavier, our board was much lower in the water, we were slower, but we had an option to switch positions, so each person had a chance to rest. We started our trip 8:15 in the morning. During the day we made quite a few stops along the coast, took time for a drink, for a snack, even for a pre-cooked pasta at lunchtime. Luckily we were very well prepared for a whole day trip. The other side of the lake was much harder to paddle. There were more boats, so the waves got bigger and from all sides and I still have no idea how the hell we managed to stand on board after all that. It was crazy and absolutely hilarious. I wish I could see us from some other perspective, I think I’d die laughing (well, my eyes were full of tears of laughter anyway). 🙂 Anyway, we had a bit longer stop at Velden, the town on the other side of the lake. After we got some energy back and got a cold beer at a nearby store, we were able to start our journey back. This was the hardest part of the whole trip – the waves were still high and now even the wind was our enemy, blowing towards us. Most of our way back I was just laughing. Maybe I was going a bit extra crazy because I was already tired, or maybe it was actually funny. My fight with a bee probably made it even funnier, since I was just saying that if I’ll ever fall in the water, it’s going to be because of these stupid bees flying around my head. It wasn’t even 5 minutes later when I flipped the board over and we fell in the water. When I looked around me my friend was still under water, but hey, he saved the beer can! Priorities… 😀

Despite nobody believing we’ll be able to cross the lake and come back to the starting point in one day, we did it. The whole lake is 18km long, so that made 36km of paddling. I think I paddled around 16km and my friend around 20km. We were tired, but we felt proud that we did it. I mean come on, it’s my first season SUP-ing and my friend actually stood on a SUP for the third time in his life… 😀

We were absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. We made it back to our camping spot around 7 pm, tired, hungry… The next day we had to pack up and we were still too tired to do anything special. We made a short stop in a nice canyon in Slovenia, but only to sit down in a shade for a bit and have a beer. We just needed to get home and get some sleep. Well, this was definitely one of the best adventures this summer. I think I’m getting used to this life on land quite well and I hope it will continue like this. 😀

My travels on Harmony of the Seas 2016/2017

Seems like I’m really going from one adventure to another, that’s why last few years I couldn’t keep up with blogging as much as I’d want to. I remember the day when I was on my first ship and we docked in Copenhagen. We saw a massive ship in the distance, it was Oasis of the Seas, the biggest cruise ship in the world at the time. I said I’d love to work on a ship that size one day and my friends looked at me like I’m completely crazy: “Why the hell would you want that!? It must be too many people and too much work to do!”

Well… less than two years later, November 2016, I joined what is at the moment the biggest cruise ship in the world (which is just a tiny bit bigger than Oasis of the Seas), Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas. I can’t describe how excited I was when I heard the news that I’m joining this massive ship. Another dream came true… =D I joined the ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When I was reaching the terminal I could see the massive thing that looked like a building. I was so excited.

Again I joined as a photographer. Well, Staff Photographer to be more specific and in a bit more than a month I finally got my promotion to Senior Photographer. By the end of the contract I signed up for a Private Studio Photographer position, so I started my training, which kind of gave me a position of a studio assistant.

Ok, so, the ship is absolutely amazing, but I think I’ll write another post about the ship… =) Before I joined I was a little worried how will I cope with so many people, such a big team, and so many guests. I mean, the ship holds around 6500 guests and about 2500 crew members. Only in photo team, it was I think 27 of us, so that worried me the most because these were the people I will really see every day and we all kind of had to get along. I was surprised, but this was the best team I ever had. People I met and worked with this contract were the best people (well, there is always one or two exceptions, but ok, nobody forces you to hang out with them…). =D We worked as a team, we went out together and we had fun and enjoyed the parties together.

Honestly, this contract I wasn’t actually that excited about the locations we visited. I mean… I was… But we were doing the same itinerary all the time, so you get used to it. And I kind of didn’t really want to spend much money for too much crazy stuff and too much sightseeing. I still saw a lot, had probably too much fun, tried new stuff, seen new places, but somehow this contract I lost a little bit of that passion for going out and taking a bunch of photos. I still tried to go out every time when we were in port, I skipped only a few days… This time when I went out I usually just tried to relax, enjoy, be in good company and forget about work and worries. Honestly, one of my favorite things was to go out in the Bahamas and just lie on a beach for an hour our two (usually I didn’t have more time).

 

Bahamas

So let me say something about the places I visited during this contract. High up on my wish list were definitely the Bahamas and I was lucky enough to visit Nassau. Sadly we didn’t have much time there, so I only went around the town usually and to the nearest beach. But I liked it there, I just wish I would have more time to actually explore the area. One thing I didn’t do and remains on my bucket list is the Atlantis resort water park with one of the most extreme waterslides in the world. I did visit the resort and the aquarium, just not the water park. But it’s ok, I fell in love with the resort itself. Seriously, I was dreaming about seeing this place for soooo long and when I actually got there I couldn’t stop smiling. Like a happy kid! Some girls want to go to Disneyworld, I just wanted to go to Atlantis. All this ocean theme is more my thing… =) Décor and the details there are absolutely stunning and I loved the aquarium and everything. I don’t really like cheesy and too much girly stuff, but I felt a bit like a little mermaid there. =D

St. Thomas

Another stop was St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Because our ship was so massive we docked at a different port than most cruise ships, but there are plenty of shuttle buses and taxis available, so no problem. Few times I again went to the nearest beach, which was about 20min walk away. Few times I took a shuttle to the other port, where it was some good places to do shopping. Once I actually saw my previous ship, Fred Olsen Balmoral, docked there, but sadly I couldn’t reach any of my friends that were still on it. Oh well, it was cute to see my previous home. =) And once we took a cable car on top of a hill where we got a beautiful view down on the island, bays, ships, and the ocean. It was great! Oh, and once we went to Magens Bay, apparently one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Honestly, I thought it was really nice, but I’ve seen better. Well actually it’s quite busy, so that doesn’t make it as beautiful, but if you keep walking a bit further down the beach, away from all the bars, it gets much emptier and so much more enjoyable.

St. Maarten

Ok then let’s move on to St. Maarten, one of my favorite islands in the Caribbean. This island is just pure awesomeness. I like the town, it’s cute, it’s not too small, not too big, there is a great beach right there in town and it has some cool shops as well. But definitely, the best thing in the whole island is my favorite fun beach ever, Maho Beach, the one with the airport right by the beach. I’ve been there before, you can check my old video to see how it looks like and why it’s so awesome. This contract I’ve been there twice and the second time was right on my birthday. Honestly, I don’t think I could pick a better spot out of the whole itinerary to be there for my birthday. I loved it! First of all, the whole airport experience is so much fun, just to see the planes landing, to be just a few meters under them and on top of all to stand behind the planes when they take off. Those jet blasts are sometimes really crazy and they blow everything away – one of my friend’s phone got blown away for example… He was holding the selfie stick, but apparently, the phone got jealous or something, so it got blown away in a jet blast. Kind of funny, but also sad, since we couldn’t find a phone after that… But on my birthday the planes were not the only cool thing there. We loved the big waves! At first, they didn’t seem that crazy, but then we were in the water and suddenly quite a big wave was coming towards us – my friend and I thought we can beat the nature and stand strong… Ha, we couldn’t be more wrong. When I opened my eyes I was sitting on a beach. =D Throwing ourselves in the waves and being covered with sand was probably the best thing I ever did on my birthday. =D

Haiti

Let me mention Labadee in Haiti… Well, Labadee is basically a large area that’s privately owned by Royal Caribbean, so only RCCL and its sister companies ships can visit this port. The whole place is all about beach time, sunbathing, relaxing and having fun. There is a long zip-line you can try, kayaks, slides, jet skis and a bunch of other activities and tours you can do. Well for us photographers that meant not really having much time, since we had to shoot at the gangway, or on a beach… I would probably like Labadee as a guest, but I absolutely hated standing in the sun for hours – and I love the sun, but what’s too much is too much. Oh well… At least few times we managed to have some fun kayaking and visiting Belly Beach for some local lunch. =)

Jamaica

Then we had Jamaica… Yes, I know, I’m horrible, I actually didn’t go out in Jamaica at all. Every time I only went out to the nearest bar for some Wi-Fi, plus they had a swimming pool… Once my friend and I decided we’ll go and explore the world outside the terminal, and since we couldn’t get more people to go out with us, it was just two of us and so all the taxi rides would be too expensive. So basically we walked around few blocks and were offered weed, a ride or braids on every single step. I hated that, so we got a bit grumpy and decided to just go back to the port. I’m sure Jamaica is amazing when you go out to some beach or waterfalls or so, but seriously, I didn’t want to spend a fortune or I didn’t get enough people to split the fare. Actually, I don’t regret it that much, but oh well, what’s done is done.

Cozumel, Mexico

One of the everybody’s favorite ports is Cozumel, Mexico. This place is always fun because it’s cheap and it’s so many things you can do. Once we had a crew party on a beach, then another time I went to get a new tattoo (yes, I love it and it’s awesome and I would do it again!). =) It was also a great place to go shopping because out of all ports this one was the cheapest. Food, clothes, everything! Well, probably the best time I ever had in Cozumel was when some of us rented two Jeeps and we made a bit of a road trip around the island. It was freaking awesome, like in movies or music videos, so much fun! You know, girls in bikinis, boys driving, drinking beer, off-road driving through some bushes, ocean view… Well, one of the guys knew about some private beach, so we kind of snuck through the fence and enjoyed our own private place, had fun in the water, took funny photos… Well, then the owner of the place came and told us we need to leave, but who cares, since we were about to leave anyway! Haha! Seriously, so much fun! Then another time we rented scooters and drove around, again went to a beach, enjoyed few drinks (personally I fell in love with Kraken – Rum and coke, it makes me feel like a pirate), went in the water… I’m sure these will always be one of my favorite memories. =D

Well from Cozumel you can actually take a ferry and go to the mainland to a town named Playa del Carmen. I went there once because I needed some clothes and I was told this was the best place for shopping. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed. I mean, there is a lot of shops, but I didn’t really find anything much different than at home and the prices seemed quite similar, even though everybody was saying it’s cheap. But it’s a really cute city, I liked walking through it and I loved the spirit of the town, the colors and the people. Worth visiting for vacation I’d say. Once I took a tour from there and I went to see the pyramids. Well, I wanted to see Chichen Itza, but I realized I wouldn’t have much time there, so I’ll leave that for some other time. Instead, I went to see Coba Pyramids and it was absolutely awesome because I wanted to climb an ancient pyramid since I was a kid. And I did it, I climbed up a Mayan pyramid! How cool is that?! I loved it! I can’t describe the feeling when I reached the top and realized I’m standing on such a magnificent and so old architecture! On days like that, I honestly can’t believe how blessed I am to be able to see and experience such amazing moments! Besides this awesome spot, my tour included another thing I always wanted to do – swimming in cenote cave. We visited a nearby place, where you take spiral stairs down in the ground. When we reached the bottom there was a wooden platform and stairs that take you in the water. Absolutely amazing and magical! Yes, it’s a cave, no natural light, just some artificial lights so you at least see where you are. But yeah, the whole cave is basically a lake. There is water all around and we were able to swim, jump in and I even took my snorkeling gear and decided to explore the world under the water. Well, it’s very dark, so you can’t see that much, but there is enough light to make everything a bit visible and creepy at the same time. Magnificent!

Puerto Rico

And then the last port we visited, but when I was on board sadly only twice and I was able to get out only once – Puerto Rico! Oh my, I know why everybody loves this place – it’s awesome! The city is absolutely fantastic, full of colors, charm, history and besides it has some really cool fortresses! I went to see San Felipe del Morro, which stands at the edge of a bay, guarding the city. It’s definitely worth a visit! This is another place I’d love to return one day and explore it more on my own because sadly, my time there was very limited.

 

Honestly, this contract I was quite tired, especially last few months. I can’t complain about the schedule or the team or the ship, all of it was amazing, but I think what made me so exhausted was a number of people we were dealing with every single day. I always loved going out and exploring ports, but this time I needed to rest more than previous contracts. Well, I admit, there were some cool parties that I simply didn’t want to miss, so of course, I had to go to the party and then in the morning, we had to work… Oh, the suffering… But hey, it was fun, so it was worth it and we have funny stories to tell now. =D Well, actually if all you do is work and sleep you go crazy, so every now and then you really need to go and enjoy the party, have fun, try not to drink too much… Actually, as crew members we were not allowed to drink too much – we’re supposed to be “able to drive a car”. Well… we all know how that goes and sometimes you have that one drink too much, maybe two… But yeah, you can get fired for being over the limit, so better be careful.

Anyway, yes, this contract was super fun, I loved it, but I just wish I wouldn’t be that tired… But as I said, still worth it, since I met so many amazing people, plus I can say I worked on world’s largest cruise ship. =D Yaaay!

When I was leaving the ship I was happy, but as usually, sad as well. It was my second home, my second family and it was awesome… =D

Now I hope you’ll enjoy the photos… =)

Italy – Traveling back in time around Naples

Hello again! This is another pretty late post, but oh well, better late than never I guess. So I had a short vacation at home and before joining my new ship I decided to go on a small adventure to my neighboring country for few days, Italy. I’ve seen some of the more northern parts already, but the area around Naples was always high up on my bucket list. Since I had a friend there, even better! You can find photos on the bottom of the post.

Caserta Palace

One of the spots I visited was Caserta Palace, a bit north of Naples. It’s a magnificent palace, beautiful, full of amazing artworks, covered with so much marble that you can’t believe it. Seriously, I can’t imagine how much all that marble cost at one point. I’m always somehow shocked and disappointed how aristocrats often didn’t (still don’t) care how much money is spent on ridiculous things. But yes, I admit, the end result is impressive. In the rooms, you get the glimpse of a life of kings and queens, since you can see their bedrooms, study rooms, throne room with an actual throne and even the toilet. And it’s not just the rooms and regular objects that are interesting. In this palace, you need to pay attention to small details. The chandeliers, the paintings, the statues and all the tiny things that we sometimes don’t even notice – they’re all amazing artworks.

The thing is, the palace is so massive that it’s not fully renovated. Part of it is open to public (and it’s still massive), a big part is still under renovation. Hopefully one day everything will be restored to its former glory and we’ll be able to see every secret corner of this gorgeous building. I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the inside (and honestly, I just wanted to enjoy the place without taking photos), so I don’t have much there… Since we arrived a bit late we didn’t have a chance to visit the gardens too, but I’d say if you ever pass the area, this is a spot worth visiting.

Naples

Let me say few things about Naples as well. Honestly, I expected much more of this city. We heard on the news this city has trouble with garbage, but I’m an optimistic person and I always think things can’t be that bad. Trust me in this case – it’s bad. I get there are nasty areas around the world, but I always considered Europe to be quite clean since my country is super clean… Well, that’s not the case in this part of Italy. I’ve seen people actually stopping the car on the SOS stop on a highway to put out on the side of the street a plastic bag full of trash. What the hell is wrong with people and this place?! So yes, for my standards, this place was quite dirty. Also, I thought it would be more interesting for a tourist, more to see, more to do… Well honestly, I was disappointed.

Walking around Naples is a bit tricky. Some parts of the city are really boring, gray, ugly and you get the feeling somebody will come around the corner to rob you. I felt a bit uncomfortable even if I wasn’t walking around alone. If you stick to the touristy streets and roads it feels better, but it’s easy to get off the beaten path. The main streets are actually really interesting, full of cute shops, souvenirs, and small restaurants. There is one main touristy route through the city that takes to all main locations, like the main square Plazza del Plebiscito with the Royal Palace and a church, then through the old town and all the way to the old city gate. Even though these are the main tourist areas I was quite surprised they were still very dirty. Trash was lying around the streets and there was a sad view of a lot of beggars and immigrants trying to illegally sell some souvenirs. I don’t mind the beggars and immigrants, don’t get me wrong, I just think it’s sad to see that and it makes you think what we all can do to help the world. I won’t get into politics here, let’s leave that maybe for some other post…

Castello del Ovo

I went to see the Ovo Castle, which is at the edge of the city, guarding the bay. It’s a nice castle, it’s quite well preserved and renovated and I love how it looks like a really strong medieval fortress that you wouldn’t want to mess around with. I always like to imagine going back in time, how it looked like in all its glory… I liked it. But I must say, I was a bit disappointed once I reached the inside of the castle. The exterior is nice, the walls, the walk up, the canons… But that’s about it. There is not much more to see there. Maybe I’ve seen too many castles and fortresses and I’m not that easy to impress anymore, but I really expected to see a bit more than just some cannons and blank walls.

National Archeological Museum

The place that impressed me was National Archeological Museum in Naples. Since I’m a huge history and art buff this was definitely one of the most exciting things for me. The building is home to so many statues and objects from different parts of the world, even some Egyptian art, mummies and scripts. Really cool. But the main thing that I came to see was ancient Roman art and objects from the city of Pompeii. There are so many massive statues from the Roman times that you can’t count them. Some of them used to decorate private homes, others were part of public buildings, but all of them are absolutely beautiful. The size of some of them is gigantic – I didn’t expect that!

Then there is one area of the museum that is dedicated only to the objects from Pompeii, and that’s more or less what I really came to see. They have an original bed, mosaics, tables, pottery and so many tiny objects that got “frozen” in time because of the eruption of Vesuvius. What I thought was absolutely hilarious was “the dicks of Pompeii”. I’ve heard of them before, my awesome professor of Art History even mentioned them to us once, but I never found much information about this. So that was also the reason I wanted to see it “with my own eyes”. So let me explain just a bit of history here. Ancient Roman times were very open minded and a lot of things that are a taboo these days were quite acceptable back then. They had a lot of brothels and obviously, sex was a big business (well, in a way that is still the case in modern times). So around the cities, there were a lot of “dick” signs to use as direction sign to the nearby brothel. Some signs were just as drawings on the wall, others were big (and hard) statues built in the wall. Walls of brothels were decorated with frescoes that usually had sexual scenes. There were all kinds of sexual positions, orgies and even some weird things they did with animals. Yes, those ancient times were quite crazy! So this kind of stuff is all represented in this museum and when you look at it, you’re not sure if you should laugh or not since it wasn’t really meant to be funny, but it somehow is… I don’t know, it seemed like I was the only one really enjoying this part of the exhibition, I couldn’t stop smiling, while others looked a little disapproving. =D

Well, let’s leave this sex topic now because I don’t want to get you all too excited. =)

Pompeii

Now let’s finally come to the highlight and the thing I was waiting to see almost all my life – Pompeii. Since I was a kid I used to read about this city that literally died in few hours. When I saw the walls I was probably the happiest person that day, it was like a dream come true for me. If I could travel in time, that’s the era I’d go to. The city is so well preserved, so many walls still high up, you can tell where were the doors, where the windows, you can see some frescoes, statues, and mosaics… There are some amazing remains of insulas (Roman houses) where you can see the floorplan and how on the lower level there was some sort of a shop or a craft and upper levels were used as an apartment. It’s so interesting to see massive built-in amphoras (huge vases or bowls) that were used to serve street food. I loved that most of the buildings had some sort of signs explaining their function. Then the villas on the outskirts of Pompeii, near the city walls. You can visit their amazing gardens with flowers and fountains and with a little bit of imagination you can see yourself there in some toga sitting on a bench enjoying Roman wine… Absolutely amazing.

Visiting the old theater was one of the best things because in a way I was hoping actors would come on stage and play some amazing act. It’s beautiful. And if you’re on the top of the main theater you have a really good view of the city as well. Underneath you can also see a smaller theater and a large sports court that was beside competitions also used for training purposes. Apparently smaller rooms next to the training court were used as rooms for gladiators.

And that leads us to the amphitheater on the outside of the city walls. It’s pretty large and it’s quite well preserved. When you walk inside you can imagine the crowd screaming, shouting… You walk around wondering how much blood was spilled on the spot you’re standing. Brutal, I know, but it is part of the history… Then next to the arena there is another massive sports court where there is part of the exhibition of interesting findings from the city. There is a lot of food that is still preserved from the day of the eruption. It is somehow trapped in time and just got black because of the heat, but that’s why it’s still preserved. So you can actually see some ancient bread, fruits and other things that would otherwise be long gone. As sad as the story of this city is, in a way we can be thankful that the disaster allowed us to be part of it all two millenniums later.

I know a lot of visitors come to see Pompeii because of the dead bodies. I know, totally creepy, but it’s true, there were people in the city that turned “to stone” because of the ash and heat. Those bodies are preserved to this day and they were found in few different areas of the city. There are still some visible on their original spots, but they are actually replicas. Originals are now stored in a museum (which I sadly didn’t get a chance to visit), so they won’t get damaged. But even if you know it’s a replica it’s still quite an emotional encounter, to see them lying there, probably praying for their lives, hoping God’s will have mercy…

Herculaneum

Now, this leads me to another city with a similar story as Pompeii. A bit less known, but also very impressive, Herculaneum. This place was closer to the sea at that time and a bit more west from Mount Vesuvius, so it got more ashes and less lava and massive stones falling down. That’s the reason why it’s more preserved than Pompeii. There are so many buildings with more than just the ground floor, you can see second floor, rooms, decorations on the walls and floors. It’s absolutely amazing. Some buildings even have wooden parts preserved, like wooden ceilings, floors and even doors and window shutters. The bottom level of the city is really impressive since that was actually the water level of the sea in those days. Down there you can see what used to be boat houses and a pier, which was one of the routes people of Herculaneum decided to use as their option to escape the tragedy. So there they lie, their skeletons, still holding on to each other and trying to protect the kids. It’s so sad to see that. And there they are now, a tourist attraction…

Mount Vesuvius

So to make the whole visit of this part of Italy complete, I had to visit the king of the disaster, the Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that killed thousands, destroyed cities and at the same time preserved all this for us to see so many years later. You can go quite high up the mountain with a car, then it’s up to you if you want to take a shuttle bus even higher up to the crater or you want to walk. We decided to walk, even though the path isn’t really meant for pedestrians at that part. But I wanted to enjoy the view, I wanted to take in as much as possible. So we walked… Once you get closer to the top you can see the different soil, smell the different air and eventually see the crater. In some areas, there is still smoke coming out, just enough of it to make you think that one day this thing will erupt again. It’s just sitting there, waiting, looking down at large and very populated area of Naples… I really hope it doesn’t create the same “Pompeii tragedy” again. But yes, when you think about it and that you’re standing on all this majestic power, you feel helpless. We came so far as human race, but on the other hand, when nature decides it’s time, we can’t really do much about it, except evacuate. The power of nature…

 

Visiting the Naples area truly was an interesting adventure for me, touristy and emotionally. This was probably emotionally the most fascinating place I ever visited, just because of the Pompeii, Herculaneum and the sad history written by the volcano. When I was leaving Naples with an airplane it was towards evening and for the goodbye, I got a magnificent view out of the plane window, down on a majestic volcano with sunset. That was the best ending of this trip, I couldn’t ask for a better view.

So if you ever go on a similar road trip, travel or adventure, try to take it all in. Try to think about history here, about the events that happened and try to imagine it all, put yourself in those times… It’s so much better. =)