27 August 2021

It has been a whirlwind of a week. I am going to have to go through and really decide what pictures to post, because I have taken over 1000 since Kaylee got here.

Our first two days were pretty easy. We let her get through the jet lag so we stayed close to home. We spent one day just going around Zurich. She has seen all of that before, but she wanted to visit the city again. Monday we went to the top of Mt Titlis. This is one of the places I have wanted to visit since I arrived two years ago. I intentionally waited for Kaylee, because part of the visit is going across what is listed as the “highest” suspension bridge in Europe. I knew Julie would want no part of that, and Kaylee is game for just about anything.

This is the two of right after we crossed over the bridge. Unfortunately it was very cloudy at the top, so the views were simply not there. I guess this means we have to go again! Both of my children love history, and reading, so I took another trip to St Gallen to see the library. I cannot express how impressive that room is, but since they do not allow cameras, you will have to look it up yourself. :).

Before Kaylee arrived, we had asked her what she wanted to do, or where she wanted to go. The only other European country she has visited is Spain; so she told us she wanted to go to Italy, and see Pompeii. We braved the Covid riddled jet, and flew to Naples on Wednesday. It has been pretty busy since we got here. The first night we walked all around the current city. In school we all learn about Pompeii, but most of us do not know there was another town that was destroyed and preserved in the same eruption. This is the town of Herculaneum. In some ways , it is even more impressive than Pompeii. The main reason being that entire buildings were preserved in the volcanic mud. Including wooden boats, stairs, and ceilings. You will see the real differences in the pictures. The two towns were also completely different in business. Pompeii was much more of a traditional industrial town. Whereas Herculaneum was a town mostly made up of very rich roman citizens. Herculaneum is where the rich people had their summer homes. After touring Herculaneum, we went into Naples and toured the Archeology Museum. Another fascinating place.

We learned that getting around in this area is a lot different than getting around in Switzerland. There is not nearly the same amount of signage here, and the trains all run on different lines, and the tickets do not seem to be switchable from one line to another. I am sure will someone will get on here and say I am wrong, and I probably am, but here is why I made my comment. There are not many automated ticket stations here. At Herculaneum, I showed on my phone where we wanted to go in Naples. The ticket agent made the comment that we would have to change lines. I already knew that, so I did not think much more about that comment. Until we got to the gate to change lines, and the tickets I had “paid” extra for, would not let us through the gate; so we had to buy more. Also on the way back, we wanted to come all the way to Pompei, but at the first train station we could only buy a ticket that would take us to one of the main transfer stations, and then we had to buy another round of tickets to get back to Pompei. The Swiss system is so much easier. You simply type in where you want to go and the ticket is printed out to allow you to get there. Since this was our first trip outside of Switzerland in a year; at least it was good we were able to figure it out!

I think I could write multiple posts about the two cities we toured. They are each spectacular in their own right. Herculaneum because of the amount of preservation. This city was covered in poison gas, and then mud. Pompeii due to the size of the city. One thing I had not known, is that 17 years before the eruption, there was a major earthquake; so both cities were significantly smaller than they would have been. Pompeii before the earthquake was a city of almost 35,000 people. After the ‘quake it was down to about 5-6,000. For our Pompeii visit, we hired a guide. We really got lucky here. The hotel arranged for an archeologist that worked on the site to be our guide. Not only did we learn about the history, but he was able to talk to us about the steps they use to uncover the site, and how they restore and preserve the buildings and other things they find. We also learned that teenagers are teenagers through all places and all times. He pointed out graffiti that was made around the year zero, and it was disturbingly similar to things we would find today. In this case it was of a young man urinating. Prostitution was legal in that era. As long as it occurred in a brothel. Our guide also pointed out different places around the town, where an illegal street prostitute scratched out her calling card on the corners of buildings.

Another thing that I found interesting was the outside of the some buildings. These were painted red on the bottom and white on the top. The red never changed color, but the white part was used for a billboard. The top was constantly being painted over, and the advertisements would change.


If you look at the picture above you will notice the writing on the wall. In this case it was an election advertisement. I guess politicians are also the same through all time!

A final fascinating thing we learned. The experts are now thinking they have the time of the eruption incorrect. For hundreds of years, people have said the eruption occurred in August. There are some original documents from survivors that talk about August. However, evidence now points to the eruption happening in late October. One of the reasons they think this, is the clothes that people are wearing. They are more in line with “winter” wear at the time. August is so blasted hot, that people were never fully clothed, but most of the bodies found were found fully clothed. Our guide thinks that what has happened is that survivors talk about August, because that is when the mountain started giving off signs that it was angry. Those are the people that left, and when they left.

I am sitting in the hotel room right now, and the wifi connection is awful; so I am only going to post a small number of pictures today. I will get some more up and some video when I am home. It might be a few days. Kaylee flies out on Tuesday, and my parents are coming in on Wednesday; so we have one more week of visitors!

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