Florence was a lovely town to spend the day walking around in. We headed off in the morning with our tourist hats on to the "Duomo" which was a huge cathedral. It was nothing like the others we'd seen and we both agreed it was our favourite of the trip so far. It was huge, mainly made of marble in pink, white and green and had a large dome over the top. It was like being back in medieval times. We walked through some of the Piazzas in Florence including Piazza de Signoria where we saw Michaelangelo's "David" or a recreation of this (we're not sure), along with many other interesting statues. We say interesting, as they were all naked!! We crossed the "Ponte Vecchio" bridge over the Arno river, which was amazing to walk through as it was full of jewlerry shops, so much so that you couldn't see the river until you were off the bridge. We then headed to the Michaelangelo park where we climbed really high and got a beautiful view over the city. Unfortunatley the weather turned as we reached the top by raining on us, so it wasn't long before we decided to go back down. All in all, Florence was really relaxing and unlike other places we weren't constantly being hassled by people on the street to buy stuff, which was great.
We left Florence yesterday morning to catch the train to Pompei at 10.30am. We were aware that three days ago there was a fire at the main Rome station but we didn't think this would affect us ... boy were we wrong! The night before we had misread the train timetables so were at the train station two hours two early and when we did get on a train all seemed ok until about two hours into the three hour journey. The trains had to cross the burnt tracks, so they were going really slowly. We were in a queue of trains which added an addittional three and a half hours to our journey. By this time with no leg room and the train being boiling hot, neither of us were in a great mood. They told us that the train was no longer going to the original destination which meant we had to add another connection to our journey. Luckily this train was only one stop and came straight away, but once in Rome our train to Naples was not getting there until 23.45 (as we had missed the earlier one). This now meant there were no trains or buses to Pompei. So at midnight last night, after a short conversation between us, with one fighting to stay in the station for the 5am train to Pompei (cough cough, Lauren!!) and the other stating we couldn't due to the armed guards, we found a hotel for the night. Naples, was not nice at night, it was full of tramps, rubbish and taxi drivers trying to give us a deal for 400 euros to Pompei which was 30 minutes down the road!! The hotel was nice, with fair prices and a cosy room but it didn't smell too great due to all the rubbish on the street.
We got up today, a bit bummed out that we had lost out on some time in Pompei and still had to pay for the hostel for the previous night. Luckily, we got up early and were in Pompei, excited about what we had planned to do by 10am. We had planned to visit the Pompei ruins and climb Mount Vesuvius. We went to the ruins first, which we didn't realise but they covered a huge area. We wandered round and it was really interesting to imagine how the city had looked before the eruptions in 79 AD. We even saw a couple of people who had been preserved in the ash, they still even had their teeth and you could see their scared facial expressions. There were a few good views in the ruins of Mount Vesuvius behind it, looking so beautiful even though it caused so much devestation thousands of years ago. After a long walk around the ruins on what felt like the hottest day of our trip so far, we treated ourselves to some lovely pizza and lasagne (so much nice than McDonald's!!).
We headed to the foot of mount Vesuvius to see how we could get to the summit. We found a company who took you a quarter of the way up by bus and almost the rest of the way by a 4x4 mega bus. Which was cool. Riding up on the 4x4 bus gave us amazing views but it was rather scary as you couldn't see the road as the bus was so high up. When we got off the bus we hiked for about 30 minutes to reach the summit. It wasn't easy at points as it was really steep and gravelly but worth it once we saw the views from the very top. Parts of the volcano were still smoking but there were no eruptions thank godness. We walked around the crater of the volcano and got some sugar filled refreshments at the top to keep us going. The panoramic view over Pompei, Napoli and the surrounding towns were stunning and have to be up there with some of the best of the trip. We both (mainly Lennie) did some posing with a hiking stick we found, which seemed to give eveyone at the summit a laugh. The journey back down in the 4x4 bus was much more exciting than the one up, the driver didn't seem to care how fast he went and therefore it was a lot more bumpy, which gave us both some thrills. Once back at ground level, we walked back to the hostel and found a nice restaurant where we had a lovely meal. We're off to Rome tomorrow - our final destination (which is sad!). The trip has been amazing, hopefully Rome will give us a lovely send off.