Please don’t erupt

September 28, 2006 If you are ever in Italy, I highly recommend that you visit Pompeii. Again, I am not really into history and museums, but I was totally into Pompeii, although I did get warn out after a few hours and things didn’t have as much meaning anymore. According to Wikipedia, Pompeii is a ruined Roman city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania. It was destroyed during a catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The volcano buried the city under many feet of ash and it was lost for 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, it is one of Italy’s leading tourist attractions and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This discovery was made in the 1700s and I am glad that people then had the foresight to preserve and later restore this area. Several buildings, houses, churches, artwork and even bodies were found. This is a massive sight and you need a full day to see everything. We spent a half day walking around before making our way to Herculaneum, which is close to Pompeii and was also covered in ash by the volcano Mount Versuvisus.

A common tourist activity in Herculaneum is to actually hike Mount Versuvius. I find it amazing that hoards of people feel obligated and are interested in hiking to the top of an active volcano that has erupted several times since 79 AD and is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world and it is predicted that it will erupt again by the year 2100…go figure. The actual hike is a relatively steep incline; however, it is not long. You can get a bus or taxi most of the way up and then it takes approximately 30 minutes to get to the very top and peer into the steaming volcano. It was cool to see, but I did feel a little weird about it all and I almost had a heart attack during the taxi ride. Actually, the taxi ride will put more strain on your heart than the hike. They speed around a windy road, passing numerous tour buses on blind turns.

We returned to our hotel in Sorrento and ate in an outdoor cafe for supper. Apparently this restaurant was in a licensing dispute with the city council and to get around it, you actually had to pick up your own food. You order from the waiter and he brings you your drinks, but when your food is ready, the waiter comes to your table and tells you that your food is ready to be picked up and then you walk across the road, pick up the dishes and bring them back to your table. It was very bizarre, it did create a nice setting in the restaurant in that customers were confused, so everyone starting chatting with eachother to try and figure out what was going on. There was an older English couple to my left and a young Irish couple on my right. While we were eating, a busker, who wasn’t that great, started playing guitar. I was sure he was English speaking and not a local. One of the first songs he sang was Dirty old Town, the older English couple was sure he must be from England because of this song; however, I told them that everyone knew that song. Dirty Old Town was written in 1949 by Ewan MacColl who was from Salford, Lancashire, England and the song itself is actually about this town; however, several main-stream musicians have made this song popular over the years. They were not aware of this song’s current popularity.

To end his set, he sang the Log Driver’s Song (you should remember it from the animated film by the National Film Board), I leaned over to the English couple and said "He’s Canadian…do you know that song?" They had never heard the song and I assured them that Canadians are probobly the only people in the world who would know that song. They were very happy that he was not from England and said, "you can have him." After he finished singing, Jim called him over and sure enough he was Canadian, but luckily he was not a Newfoundlander, he’s from Vancouver.