Mt. Vesuvius

Posted on 3/30/2012

After spending a day and a half looking at ruins, I was ready to do something else. Not that I don't love ruins, but... I was looking forward to something new, and I decided to go up to Mt. Vesuvius. I paid something like $20 and got in a pretty unsafe looking bus where we headed up the mountain. 
Our bus (6 person bus, 10 people crammed inside) only broke down twice... it was fine our driver fixed it with a pair of nail clippers both times.
After us bus dropped us off at the bottom we had to hike 30 more minutes up the the actual top... it was miserable! It was SO STEEP and SO HOT. There were tons of people turning back... but I finally got to the top-
 Kind of unimpressive really.
 But the view is worth it!!

And the paths were not dangerous at all. Okay maybe a little (sorry Mom)-

After spending an hour at the top, I headed back down-

Crammed back into the bus, wondered if the brakes would fail, but managed to survive!

Herculaneum: Sannite House, Villa of Neptune, Agustali Seat

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Herculaneum has some cool villas, and this was one of the best, it's called the Sannite House. It was origionally a private home, but when it was covered in mud was a hotel/ rich people apartment complex apparently. I have no idea how archeologists are able to figure this out, kudos to them for being amazing history detectives!
one of the carvings on the wall-

I was also able to go into the Agustali Seat, which was a sort of temple in the city for merchants-

And naturally there were some bath houses in the city, too-

This house is called the Neptune House, thanks to this fireplace and fresco combo-

Overall I loved Herculaneum, the feel was very different from Pompeii and it was well worth the visit!!

Herculaneum: main street, temple

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Herculaneum is another archeological site from the 79AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, however there are a few things that make it a little different then the much more famous Pompeii. First, Pompeii was more of a city, Herculaneum was more of a resort area for rich people (for example, Pompeii has ruts in the street from where carts used the road-Herculaneum has no ruts because apparently no carts were allowed in the city... kind of reminds me of how some resorts only have golf carts not real cars!) Another difference is how it was destroyed- Pompeii was covered in ash and pumice, which is hot and burned most organic material (like wood). Herculaneum was covered in mud, which did not destroy organic material- because of this the preservation is really different, the way the city looks is much different- Pompeii has one two story house for example, Herculaneum has lots of them.
So I headed over early in the morning. It was so beautiful- and here is another difference. Herculaneum is right up next to a town (called Ercoloano). So you can see the old ruins and the new town right next to each other.
I walked down this tunnel  (which shows how much the city has grown up since 79AD, the rest of the city sits much higher up)-
 And reached the first little square. This is a funeral statue of a Roman general-
I was the ONLY person in the site at this point, which was awesome!!! The first place I headed to was a temple/ workout site-
 Then I realized I have like no pictures of my self so I tried to take some with my cute little bendable stand thing that my parents gave me, but I don't use nearly enough-

Taking pictures of yourself is so hard! I have so few pictures of myself from this trip though, I had to try :) Also, do you notice how I am getting a legit white streak in my hair?! Only in one spot right in the front! Josh thinks I should let it go white so I can look like Rogue (the superhero), but I think I am too young! I definitely get this "white hair" thing from my Dad. Grr!!
Here are some of the main streets. See how the buildings all have 2 storied, unlike Pompeii? And those wooden beams are original. For real.
Cool, right? I think it looks a lot different then Pompeii. I was in love with the fact that no one was there... it was kinda creepy and awesome and surreal. Since Herculaneum was effectively evacuated, no one really died here either so that was nice I didn't feel like I was walking thru this awful place where all these people died, I kind of felt that was in Pompeii (although bodies have been found along the coast near Herculaneum, none in the city itself). Oh, and the bodies found near Herculaneum are actual skeletons, not the casts like in Pompeii, they are the only Roman skeletons ever found since Romans cremated their dead. I'm sure some scientists were pretty excited about that!

Pompeii: The Temple of Isis, bakery, casts, villas, funeral monuments & theaters

Posted on 3/29/2012

I wandered around and stopped to poke around this villa-I can't remember the name of it though-

This is from the Forum Baths, which is pretty famous. Unfortunately that means it was crammed with people and this was the only decent picture I got. There are lots of baths in Pompeii there, quite the popular way to spend time there apparently! These are cubbies where you would put your clothes. Way nicer then the locker at my gym-

There were also quite a few bakeries around. This one happened to be a bakery/fast food combo store. Sort of like a 2,000 year old convenience store! The pots in the counter are how food was kept warm. 

There are wild dogs all over Pompeii-they aren't mean or dirty or anything it's so weird, but they are SO CUTE. This little one followed me around and I wanted to take it home with me.

Then I headed out another one of the city's gates where there was another group of funeral monuments. Fancy!

Next, I explored the old Wool Market. It's also home to some of  the famous casts. But before that, it was where wool merchants would come to do business. Isn't it crazy that archeologists were able to know that? 
Here are  two of the casts. The way they were made is slightly creepy but interesting- when digging, archeologists would periodically hit "empty" cavities. Eventually the head archeologists realized that because bodies decay... they would leave a hallow space in the otherwise solid layer of ash that covered the city. So he started to pour plaster into them, wait for it to harden and dig them out. It worked and there are over 70 plaster casts.
 I think they are slightly creepy and extremely sad. Only about 2,000 people died when Pompeii exploded, the rest were able to flee the city. I felt slightly awkward taking these photos, not gonna lie! :( The people who died in Pompeii did not die instantly- their lungs were filled with a mixture of ash and pumice, and basically suffocated them. 
 ... on a happier note, here is another shot of the pretty wool market-

The Temple of Isis is cool looking, but the story about it is interesting, too. After the big earthquake, it was rebuilt by a rich freed slave in honor of his son. Because a freed slave could not enter elite society, this freed slave ensured that his son could by building this important temple back up in his name, even though he was 6 years old at the time. What parents do for their kids  :)

Lastly-I went to two of the theaters that are in Pompeii. There is one larger one, then a smaller one right next door. Here is the large one-
 And the small one-

Pompeii was definitely one of the coolest things I have gotten to experience on this trip. It is so crazy how similar the lives of people were 2,000 years ago to our lives now. In Pompeii there was indoor plumbing, running water, spas, fast food, theaters... I can't wrap my head around it.