I suppose I should respect as obvious an omen as boarding a ferry named 'Poseidon', but this adventure is all about risk, right? Nestled between two days of train rides was an overnight boat ride from Greece to Italy that took about 12 hours. I ended up getting my ticket along with six others I had met along the way. All of you who assured me I would meet people on the road weren't kidding around! Unfortunately, they were all starving students, and couldn't pop the $30.00 for a cabin. I opted to stick with the group for security reasons, and spent the evening in various contortions, in my chair and finally on the deck. That is the hardest carpet I have ever experienced! The next day I caught the train to Naples. Tired, I gambled wrong that there would be a dining car, so I reached my final destination of Sorrento seven hours later completely famished and beat. As the travelers reading this know, searching for a room while wearing your pack in the heat is never fun. I tried a couple cheap hotels which were full, so I booked myself into a pricier one. I have been happy enough that tomorrow will be my fourth night there. There is something very enjoyable about taking a morning shower AND an evening bath! My thoughts, of course, are with my now departed student friends and their sleeping bags as I recline in my bed, remote control in hand.

Windmill Bar
The Windmill

View from Ia
Ia at Sunset

There was some Darryl Hannah movie from the early 80's shot in the town of Ia on Santorini island. Something about her and two guys. Classic cinema that it must be, it is also worth checking out to see where I spent a fabulous last evening in Greece. There is a place called the Windmill (guess what it is housed in) right at the point of the island. I met a couple sisters from Chicago and we split appetizers and a bottle of wine. Afterward, having gotten inevitably lost in the maze of alleys, we asked directions from some jewelers. They were fabulous people, called us a cab, and directed us to their favorite taverna just out of town. They promised to join us in an hour or so. We arrived, had more wine and took it in. It was certainly a local place! Yap dogs and cats scampered about. The dogs got up on chairs at different tables. A jolly round man - the owner, it turns out - went from table to table with his guitar and sang songs. He's an old mariner, so had been to Seattle. The jewelers showed up with a couple more friends, and we ended up closing the place down. The waiter accompanied the owner with one of those little Greek stringed instruments that I have no hope of spelling or pronouncing, but sound fabulous. After initially being disenchanted with the rampant tourism of Santorini, I was thoroughly charmed! Of course, that left me with only three hours sleep before starting my above mentioned trip to Italy...

Taverna Owner
Singing in the Taverna

Yesterday I crashed in my room and watched TV. Part of me feels guilty for 'wasting' a perfectly good day in a beautiful Italian town, but my body is very grateful, and I got up bright and early to check out the ruins of Pompeii. Well, not Pompeii, actually, but the nearby ruins north of there that are less crowded and better preserved. There were several groups of middle schoolers there that would overrun a particular area. They knew a few English phrases, which they used on me to great amusement. Running out of those, they tried French and Spanish, with less success. With cunning, I was able to duck them for the most part, and had some peaceful moments with the ghosts.

Herculenium Street

The train ride in from the boat had some beautiful sights. The countryside in parts is a patchwork of different shades of green. There are different grasses that blow in the wind, as they are terraced up hills. The farmers here (Europe, not just Italy) divide their crops by natural land patterns, not by a forced grid, which makes for some great scenery. Riding the train from Naples to Sorrento, I passed by Orange and Lemon trees under huge grape trellises made out of limbs. These contraptions were often taller than the elevated rail! At first I thought they had trees spliced to grow both Oranges and Lemons at once, but on closer examination (tricky, from the train!) it appears the trees are just winding through each other.

As I travel around, I am becoming more tuned into the various influences different cultures have had on each other over time. Architectural elements, sure, but also customs come and go as I move about. Even though I'm sticking to more touristy areas than I had planned, these differences - and similarities - between places are what my trip is all about, and I am soaking it in! Some of the Americans I have traveled with are blind to a lot of this. They want everything in English, and the food served like they are used to in American ethnic restaurants. I hope they are able to spend enough time on the road to begin to see, because that is what it's all about.

As I approach the halfway point on my adventure (not there yet!), I admit to being occasionally addled by fatigue, but and welcome the next chapter!

Some quick images:

  • The churches in Italy use electric candles. I'm glad I did my candle burning in Greece!
  • Sorrento celebrated Easter week with a procession involving white and black hoods. I know the KKK didn't originate the hoods, but I'm unable to completely disassociate them. Creepy!
  • Some guy with a video camera swooping around me at an Andy Warhol exhibit. My 15 minutes of fame?