I liked Vesuvius. It’s the second volcanic crater we’ve hiked up and around; much easier than Sierra Negra in the Galapagos because the driver careens around the hairpin roads almost to the top then drops you off for the last 20 min walk. We had taken Narelle’s suggestion of indulging in hiring a driver for a day and paid private tours, as our ambitious plans to see Pompeii, Herculaneum and maybe Vesuvius too were not possible by foot/train/large group tour in 8 hours. Our driver had picked us up from our hotel door and drove us right up the mountain, a drive that took 80 minutes given the roads between Sorrento and Naples barely fit the two-way traffic and mopeds darting about in between cars across both lanes.
We started up the mountain and were immediately forced to back track 300 m as we hadn’t bought tickets – the ticket office was back down hill. Dan was very annoyed. We’d paid for a private driver and he’d gone right past the ticket office. Unlike trivial spelling errors in conference presentations and the passive voice in diagnostic imaging reports this didn’t annoy me at all. Dan was feeling affectionate and kept wanting to hold my hand but I felt too uncomfortable with the passing tourists of different nationalities and was too scared one might push us off the mountain. It’s a shame that I don’t feel safe in most places we visit, let alone our home country where now anti-same-sex-marriage trolls are spewing even more offensive and oppressive vitriol. I wasn’t looking forward to going home.
We marvelled at the depth of the crater and wondered how the cylindrical cavity formed: some inner margins are almost vertical. I resisted the temptation to buy tawdry rock collections of suspiciously bright specimens. Dan insisted they were just painted substitute rocks not the genuine minerals and rocks they were labelled as.
Unlike Sierra Negra we weren’t intermittently rained on, there were no wasps buzzing past and we always had an excellent visibility of the crater. Similarly, there were no poorly mobile tourists tripping along behind us, just excitable French woman tripping down hill in front of us on the way up. I tried to take a panoramic of Naples and the crater but it was a bit hazy and you couldn’t see far. I was glad we made the effort to go.