Monday, February 16, 2015

Yoo 657 - Naples

Before we got to Naples, we made the unfortunate decision to actually get there early and be tourists prior to our 7pm train back to Rome.

I was quite in love with Sorrento and ready to spend the bulk of our day there. Most specifically, finding the "Baths of Queen Giovanna". It's a beautiful beach with the ruins of an ancient Roman town and legend has it that Queen Joan of Anjou used to take her secret young lovers there.

Sign me up.

Greg wasn't quite as convinced and played the role of caution.

"I just think it'd be better to head to Naples earlier and not chance it with a later regional train. Plus the museum has been on our hit list almost from day one."

Right. The museum.

So we hopped on the next train to Naples and watched our favorite little coastal town disappear. In the process, probably making the worst decision of the trip and not yet realizing what a bummer Naples would turn out to be.

But before all that, we were out and about watching the sky wake up.

And exploring the lower half of town.

Greg built a tiny sea wall and I successfully dodged seagull poop. 

We were almost the only people alive at this time of day. There was a man sweeping a piazza, a few fishing boats, and, a bit later in our walk, a couple men perched high up on scaffolding muttering what were probably Italian curse words as they dropped pieces of wood. It was good exploring.

And now we're to Naples.

Greg loves moving walkways and I think they are so dumb.

I'd read that the Naples subway was confusing and irregular and that different lines were owned by different companies and not always accessible. It took us a bit to figure out where the subway was from the train station but we began by following signs and then just defaulted to following the crowd of people.

Rarely fails.

Our experience on the subway wasn't terrible but we only ever had to go a few stops and the wait for trains wasn't more than 10 minutes. I guess we got lucky. But let's not confuse this with a pleasant subway experience!

I remember that getting from one line to the next at a certain stop required descending down probably 10 flights of stairs and in the process we passed a man and his dog peeing. Actually, the dog was just staring at us, the man was peeing. And it reeked.

Overall, the stations just gave off an eerie vibe.

But we made it to the museum!

And then it was south of disappointing.

So, the Naples Archaeological Museum is in a big pink building and is supposed to have an awesome collection including all of the goodies from Pompeii and Herculaneum. And they do have quite the collection. The problem is that only maybe a fourth of the museum's collections are open at a time. We got there just after noon and while buying tickets they informed us that they were about to close a few exhibits at 12:30.

Well, we grabbed a map and had them circle the exhibits that were closing and raced off to see those first. But the map was confusing and while we thought we were in the right place, we weren't and missed the cut-off.

My mood was sour times twelve at that point because a lot of the exhibits I'd been excited about weren't even open that day at all. Like the Egyptian collection!

I don't understand why they can't keep all their exhibits open but I went there for the "cool" stuff and was only able to browse a painting and sculpture gallery. Some of the sculptures were worth the time but overall I wanted my money back.

Here are the dogs. Aren't they scary?

Not so much these ones.

But those ones.

Here I am, totally not thrilled.

There was this.

And a bunch of statues that could have been holding lightsabers. I was really regretting our decision to leave Sorrento early so we could visit this museum. Greg was trying to be the positive one and improve the experience. That is until we were on our way out and he stepped into a pothole on the stairs and rolled his ankle.

He took a few seconds to control the pain, then we both started laughing. Well, I started laughing once I knew he was going to be able to walk. What a predicament that would have been! It was the turning point of the day and we released Naples from our high expectations and started having fun with the city.

After another ride on the subway, we landed at a station with a resident dog! He was greeting all the emerging passengers with a wagging tail but I only got a picture of his house:

Speaking of dogs, we kept seeing yellow lab puppies. They were all adorable. Here's the cutest:

And I still want to steal him.

We wandered down a very happening shop-filled street, trying to get our blue GPS dot to land near the Sansevero Chapel Museum. Trip Advisor promised us that we wouldn't be disappointed with the Veiled Christ and it was so right. Amazing! They were really strict about NO PICTURES so I have nothing to share except a ticket stub.

We stared at that sculpture from every angle for minutes on end and just couldn't get enough. The details are incredible. Plus the chapel is extremely ornate and houses a dozen or so "Statues of the Virtues" which are also neat. And then, icing on the cake, at the end are two "anatomical machines". Skeletal cadavers from the 1760s with astoundingly well-preserved veins and arteries.

They were creepy cool.

More wandering. Naples is supposed to be a lot cleaner now than it was several years ago, but I still wouldn't describe the town as sparkly and kempt. And I definitely wouldn't describe it as boring. We had a lot to observe in those few hours before our train, took it all in, and then were very happy to head back to Rome.

My house is lacking a life-size Batman. I would perch him on the roof overlooking the entrance and then I guess Spiderman could find a ceiling inside to be crawling across. More thoughts for my Dream House.

We didn't actually eat these, whatever they are (besides the very obvious "fried-dough stuffed with fried potatoes and hot dogs"), but we did eat pizza.

We also tried to eat these but it was a complete fail. Let me tell you the story.

Upon further walking and observing, we decided Naples held some kind of claim to these desserts (judging by the number of magnets we saw replicating them in souvenir shops). So we stopped in a little bakery to give them a try. Basically, we are so dumb.

The one with the raspberry-like things on top is called a "rum baba". But we didn't know that at the time and are clearly naive when it comes to desserts that aren't rice crispy treats and brownies and cookies. So we watched the baker douse this "baba" in some kind of liquid (it was rum) and then immediately noticed the strong alcoholic smell when he served it to us.

Greg got a panicked look on his face and asked if we could get one without the rum (since we'd already paid). The baker didn't speak much English and just kept promising "No alcohol, no alcohol." We weren't convinced and left it alone.

The other one is called sfogliatella (definitely can't pronounce that) and we just didn't love it. Maybe we tried the wrong kind? It only took us two bites before we were done with it. AND WE LOVE FOOD.

The main shopping street was like unto a cattle-drive past nativity shops and clothes racks and fried food vendors.

I swear I didn't whiten my teeth in that photo. Don't they look super white though? I wish they looked that white in person! Anyway, we stopped in to have a peek at the Gesu Nuovo Church on our way back to the train station. We were pretty "churched out" by this point of the trip but it was big and ornate and we had to sit and feel overwhelmed for a while.

We left when we both started giggling about something...I think it was our bad luck with the day...and decided we weren't being reverent and respectful anymore.

Then we went to the wrong subway station and then we realized we were at the wrong subway station and then we went to the right subway station and then we found the train station. Yay!

Clearly Greg was super excited to be heading back to Rome.

The night was still young when we got back to the hotel so we set out to explore a bit more. There are always new ruins to see and walking around Rome at night is pretty fantastic.

The Bocca della Verita, or Mouth of Truth. Legend has it that if you put your hand in it and tell a lie the mouth will bite your hand off! I didn't give it a try because it was closed and when we swung by the next day there was a long line for pictures. Guess I get to keep my hand for now.

And that's that. Not enough of Sorrento, too much of Naples, and happy to be back in Rome. Not our favorite day but it was part of the experience!

Have a great day :-)

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