Variety is the spice of life so I thought I’d chuck some non-holiday photos into the mix. Weekend before last the Salmons came to visit and Matt did the Atherton 8 hour mountain bike marathon. Riley, Finn and Toby had a go at the kids circuit. It was a fun but tiring weekend for adults and children.
Our last port of call on the cruise before we disembarked was Naples. We opted again for a guided tour and boarded a bus for Pompeii. We spent 2 hours with the guide and I thought it was fancinating. I could’ve spent longer but I think 2 hours was just right for the kids. Pompeii was a very advanced city, especially given it was so bloody old (it disappeared under ash and pumice in AD 79). It was a central city for many cultures and languages, and this was especially evident in the brothel. To get around the language barrier, the “options” were provided as paintings on the walls (frescoes). All a gentleman had to do was point to the picture of the act/position he desired and the appropriate lady would be brought down from upstairs. The frescoes have been restored and the images are very clear. I didn’t include them here because they are fairly rude and I thought it might put some of you off your dinner :). The grooves from the chariots in the stone roads were mindblowing. To think that so many chariots over such a long time had worn these deep grooves, and here we were sticking our mass produced, synthetic footwear in them and taking digital photos! At one of the public fountains (the one with Finn in the photo) there is a deep depression in the stone on the side of the fountain where people, for countless generations, had been putting their hand when they leaned over to drink. The groove was really deep…just worn out of the stone by hands. I could go on but enough of my ramblings. More info in the captions. Enjoy! (Oh, I forgot to mention anything about Naples….well, that pretty much sums it up. It really wasn’t worth mentioning!)
From Tunisia we headed back towards Italy, stopping at Catania in Sicily. We only had a short time in port, so organised to do a tour up Mount Etna. We travelled in jeeps (yep, as expected, one broke down) and drove quickly out of Catania, through the villages and up the mountain. We walked the last bit to ‘the top’. There were spectacular views all the way up, including the town of Riposto, where Terry’s grandmother was born. The trip back was very rushed. It was peak hour and Sicilians like to park in random places eg. the middle of the goddamn road, which means the traffic was horrendous. We made it back to the ship just in time for our ‘curfew’.
Another day, another country, although it was only a very short stop in this north African city. After disembarking, we found ourselves a driver (Neno—he was Italian), dodged the mafia and headed to the markets right in the centre of the city. This area reminded Terry and I of the Africa we visited 12 yeas ago. We had to keep a good eye on the kids and our wallets, and had to barter for everything. God forbid you should actually point to something or pick it up. The salesmen and women were typically pushy. The boys were lured to a stall by, much to their delight, a chameleon and I was surprised when I didn’t have to pay for taking the photos. Poor bloody chameleon though. After finding Neno again we had a quick look at a part of Carthage, St Louis Cathedral and a mosque before heading to the fishing town of Sidi Bou Said…where the local hardware store must do a roaring trade on white and blue paint. It was very picturesque and had a slower pace than the city. Then it was back to the ship.
Our next stop on the cruise was Ibiza—the clubbing town (apparently). The ship docked at 2am and, while most of the passengers were racking up the ‘z’s, busloads of youngsters headed into town for what was left of the night. In the morning the people with more wrinkles (and children) viewed the town (Eivissa) by daylight. We didn’t see any of the clubs but there was a(nother) fort. We found lots of green skinks and later found out they are called Ibiza wall lizards…not that we saw any on walls except for fake ones by the dozen in the shops. We went on to see the lizards in lots of other cities and towns in Italy.