13 May 2011 (First Day)
I couldn't believe it but I worked late on the night of my flight. Worked till 8+pm and decided to take a cab home instead of taking the train as I still hadn't finished packing. Didn't even have the time and chance to spend some quality time with Zd before I flew. Sad.
Arrived in Rome with Eli on 13 May (CET). Spent one of the most horrendous long trip flights ever on Emirates. Emirates service is fantastic but somehow, I had difficulty falling asleep on the plane. Caught only 4h of sleep max. Was dead beat by the time I reached the hostel.
The hostel was called Coconuts and it really wasn't easy to find. When we finally located it, it looked like a building out of Frankestein. Cool passageways with a mouldy smell with a door that was painted an ugly green with spikes. The lift was locked so we were forced to take the stairs. Worst, we didn't even know which floor the hostel was on. No info given. So we lugged our luggage floor by floor (with me in the lead) and I was trying really hard to still my overactive imagination while I was already freaking out internally. Eli didn't help matters by saying how scary all these looked. I almost gave in to my fear and wanted to walk back down after the 5th floor though I had a feeling that the hostel was on the 7th. Stifled a scream when a lady suddenly appeared from above and asked me if I'm looking for Coconuts. Super relieved when she said it's on the 7th floor and we continued lugging our luggage up the drafty staircases. The hostel was really clean though and we had 2 double-decked beds in the room. It's an all-girls hostel and we even had an attached bathroom. Really happy with it despite its scary exterior.
We tried to adjust our bodies to CET time zone by going out for a meal and basically, walking around. Had a quick dinner at a restaurant near our hostel and we shared a plate of bruschettas and penne with bacon and cheese, in tomato sauce. Both were very good, much better than what I ever had in Singapore.
Decided to walk off the meal as it was still pretty early then. The neighbourhood near the station (where our hostel was situated) was really dirty and full of dodgy pple at nite. But as we walked further away, the dingy streets fell away and were replaced by streets which looked clean and warm. It was really pleasant strolling down these streets while the sun sets. The wind was a little cold but we were safely cocooned in our coats.
Lost our way a little but stumbled upon this really nice gelateria called Ciuri-Ciuri, where they had the best pistachio ice cream ever. It even had the pistachio nuts in the ice cream. Never thought that I'd like pistachio gelato but this was really yummy..
Crashed at 10pm in the hostel after that..14 May 2011
We went to the Jewish Ghetto (aka Synagoga in Italian) the next morning. Asked for directions at the bus terminal and squeezed onto bus H. We didn't know how to buy a bus ticket and the bus driver replied me in Italian when I enquired about it. Was a bit scared when Eli said that Italians imposed a stiff fine for not buying bus tickets and we had already boarded the bus then. Crap. Had to ask the passengers on board as we were all packed like sardines. An old lady shook her head, indicating that she couldn't understand English. Luckily a younger lady beside her directed me to the ticket machine a few steps away. Had to squeeze my way through a few bodies to reach the ticket machine. Tickets are cheap - only € 1 per pax but I didn't have enough coins to pay for 2 and it didn't accept notes. Crap. Had to squeeze back to Eli and get some coins from her to pay for her fare. Then came the issue of validating the tickets. The nice young lady again offered her assistance in halting English sentences and actions, and even told us to alight when we reached our destination. Profoundly grateful to her. What an experience from a 10min bus ride!
Went for an English guided tour in the Jewish Ghetto and walked around the museum. It was quite enlightening and I learnt quite a fair bit. For eg. Jewish males have to cover the top of their heads as a sign of respect to God, and their rights were actually taken away from the Pope and made to live away from the Christians. They also had to attend Mass service every Sabbath. Life was already difficult then and they were treated like second/third class citizens and this was made worse when Mussolini came into power started persecuting Jewish to fulfil his dream of a superior Aryan Italian race.
Had lunch near the Ghetto after that and we decided to walk back to the hostel, so that I could call Zd and talk to him on the phone. Along the way, we passed by Santa Maria Maggiore and went in to take a look. Its exterior looked old and stately but it was really beautiful inside. Bright and colorful stained glasses and gold gilded decorations. Eli was suitably impressed. Also went into the Momumento and took some pictures but it was pretty boring inside.
Finally, we went back to the hostel after that and I could call Mr Mah. Took a nap cos I was really tired and woke up abt 30mins later to go to the train station to fetch Yujia.
It was really good to see her as it had been a really really long time since we last met. Probably abt 4-5 years. She's still as thin as ever but she has shoulder length hair now while Eli and I are sporting short hair. haha.. Had dinner together and called it a night.15 May 2011 (Naples-Pompeii)
Took a train from Rome to Naples, then Pompeii to tour the archaeological ruins. The queue was really looong.. Heard a guy asking those in the queue if they would be interested in a guided tour in English so we decided to enquire and took up his offer as it cost only € 10 per pax. And best thing was we could skip the queue! haha.. The tour was really interesting. I saw the most beautiful mosiacs even visited a brothel. It was kinda amusing the way that the place was filled with references to the penis. We saw penis carvings outside the brothel windows and on the streets, and even saw a big penis in what was supposedly a kitchen! According to the guide, penis is a symbol of fertility and good luck. Being a superstitious Napolitean, he carried a keychain in the form of a penis and proudly showed it to us. He said he'd rub the keychain when he sees someone he doesn't like or consider evil/bad, and that he believes that action can ward away bad luck. o_O
After Pompeii, we went back to Naples and toured its museum. We visited the 'secret room' which contained erotica material. We were pretty excited and thought that this visit would be sure to 'broaden out horizons', so to speak. In the end, I saw lots of penises - in all sorts of exaggerated forms. Even the paintings also showed some ridiculously engorged ones. By the time I left the room, penises were all I saw. This was further confirmed when I thought that the arm of a statue was an engorged penis. YJ thought the same thing too - goes to show the power of brainwashing with the same subject matter for more than 10mins.