Pompeii – An Incredible Journey

To visit the ancient Roman city of Pompeii is like peaking through a curtain of time.  Pompeii offers the rare opportunity  to view what life would have been like for Roman citizens before that fateful day when Mount Vesuvius covered the town with volcanic ash. 

Pompeii, Italy

The year was 79 A.D, and the town of Pompeii was a thriving community and lovely resort area.  Located only 5 miles from Mount Vesuvius and near the Bay of Naples it offered the ideal spot for wealthy Romans to escape from their busy lives in Rome and enjoy relaxing times in their elegant villas. 

Pompeii, Italy

The town was complete with all that was needed to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, including numerous shops, taverns, cafes and of course, bath houses.

The people of Pompeii would rise with the sun to begin their day.  Only wealthy citizens would have water in their homes, so most people would head to the public fountains to refresh themselves after their nights sleep, and then enjoy a breakfast of bread and cheese.

 

By sunrise, shops would be open and street vendors would be pedaling their merchandise.  The streets would be busy with people going about their business for the day.

After a lunch of bread and fruits, a wealthy Roman might head over to the amphitheater to view the gladiator games.  These were events of enjoyment, perhaps similar to a sporting event.  However, our current point of view would find them quite barbaric and inhumane.    

Other choices might include a visit to the theater for a play, religious celebrations or musical concert.  

Later in the afternoon, the wealthy and the slaves alike, would gravitate to one of the four thermal baths.  The public baths were a social meeting place where important events of the day might be discussed.  Men and women had separate bathing areas.  Some may have included a gymnasium for exercise as well.

Pompeii, Italy

The streets of Pompeii were not considered safe after dark, so Romans ended their day early. Shortly before sunset, Romans would head for home to enjoy a dinner of olives and eggs, perhaps fish for the wealthy. As there was no evening entertainment as there is today,  Romans would retire early.  

Pompeii, Italy

A day late in August 79 A.D. around noon,¬† Mount Vesuvius began to sputter it’s fury.¬† Across the Bay of Naples, Pliny the Younger, was staying at his uncles villa and later wrote of the disaster.¬† His letters report of a cloud “like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then spit off into branches.”¬† You may read Pliny the Youngers letters of the disaster here.¬†

By evening, ash and white pumice begin to fall on the town of Pompeii and roofs begin to cave under the weight of the debris.  Many of the people of Pompeii were able to flee taking with them what they could.

Vesuvius continued to pummel pumice, rock and ash on the town and victims of Pompeii for a 25 hour period.  Pompeii was eventually buried in volcanic ash.  Ironically, this same ash preserved bodies of the residents, art, jewelry, and fragments of their everyday life.  A visit to this amazing archaeological site opens a door to an incredible history of a town from long ago.  

Our visit to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii left me in awe of it’s amazing culture and deeply saddened by the events that occurred there.¬† By touring the ruins, I gained a much deeper understanding of how advanced this ancient society truly was.¬† I also felt a certain reverence at how quickly so many lives were taken along with the town and thriving culture in ancient Pompeii.¬†¬†

 

 

Historic San Juan

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RH and I have finally returned home from our amazing journey on the Transatlantic Cruise with Royal Caribbean from Galveston to Barcelona and then around the Mediterranean to France, Italy and Monte Negro.  This trip was truly something I had dreamed about for countless years and I promise you, it did not disappoint!

  I have learned so much from this journey and have been awed by the history, beauty, architecture and culture of the many places I have had the great privilege to see.  As we journeyed into each port, I became increasingly fascinated with the amazing history our world has to offer.  

I will begin my account of this journey with the historic port of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We arrived in San Juan on the fifth day of our journey  and were quite excited to have a day in port.  We were up early that morning in plenty of time to enjoy our cruise into the San Juan Bay.  As our ship headed to the port, the massive fortress of El Morro is on the left side of the ship and offers quite an impressive view from the sea.  El Morro is the 400 year old walled fortress designed to guard the entrance of San Juan Bay and defend the colonial Spanish port.  The history of this fortress is truly fascinating and takes you back in time to when the Spanish conquistadors were defending the fort.  

The port is located in the heart of what is known as Old San Juan, the oldest European settlement in America.  El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, both a part of San Juan National Historic Site  are a fairly easy walk or a short taxi ride from the port.  Walking or driving, the views of the San Juan Bay along Paseo de la Princesa are simply stunning.   

If you are a lover of narrow, cobblestone streets and charming, colorful colonial architecture, you will delight in strolling the streets of Old San Juan.¬† It’s easy to spend the day wandering the streets and soaking up the beauty and history in the vibrantly colored brick and stone buildings.¬† The buildings are delightfully quaint with elegant doors, balconies and colonial details, an absolute dream for a fan of colonial architecture.¬† I would suggest walking shoes to meander though the cobblestone streets and know that mid afternoons might be a bit warm as the tall buildings block the breeze.¬† There are many museums, shop, and street cafes to visit and enjoy easy going Caribbean vibe.¬† If you tire of walking,¬† there is a free trolley that winds through the area and you are able to hop on and off as you desire.¬† ¬†

This was our second visit to Old San Juan and I was still fascinated with the history and amazing colonial architecture.¬† We noticed that there weren’t the crowds that we saw on our last visit,¬† presumably due to the devastating hurricane last fall.¬† However, Old San Juan is alive and vibrant awaiting your visit.¬† If given the chance, I will definitely return to explore the history and culture of this amazing island.¬†

Blessing to all – Gerri