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My Adventures Touring Europe in 1982 (18) Pompeii and Tivoli Gardens
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Saturday, July 17
Today, we left for Rome. The drive took most of the day, because we stopped first in Pompeii, then at Tivoli Gardens.
A friend of mine named Tammy had gotten a job once, at a university library. It involved sorting and categorizing slides. Some of them were of Pompeii, and she told me looking over them gave her the weirdest feeling, as if she had been there. One that really hooked her was a preserved stone form of a boy running; apparently, the flowing lava had caught him in flight. She believes she may have been that boy.
Tammy has told me a number of paranormal stories, including various events that happened to her mother while she was pregnant with her. When Tammy was in high school, she described those incidents to her mother, who was totally amazed that she would even know about events that happened before she was born, and remember them with such clarity.
Some people are super sensitive to paranormal events. I’m so dense, I barely know what’s happening right in front of me. Still, I found Pompeii fascinating.
Pompeii had been a very prosperous city, known for its extreme liberalism. The photograph accompanying the summary is of the home of a wealthy homosexual male couple. One photograph I was dying to get was a painting of Priapus on the doorpost of the house. Priapus is a god who symbolizes fertility and good luck; he has an ENORMOUS penis which he holds up on weighing scales! We so-called liberated Westerners all hooted and hollered over that painting! Unfortunately, the lighting was too dark for my Canon AE1 camera, so I had to get this image from Google's Public Domain.
We saw some preserved stone bodies. They were of people who were in prison, and couldn’t escape. One was even of a black slave, shackles and all. I couldn’t take those pictures either, because of lighting issues. However, I did get some of paintings and buildings.
Pompeii has a Red Light District, but it was closed off, so we couldn’t visit there. I had expected some of the tour to be underground, but apparently they had completely unearthed the city.
Right wing Christians love to point out that Mt. Vesuvius erupting over Pompeii was God’s judgment over such a wicked place, but based on their quality of life, I believe God could have chosen a far more corrupt target – like Rome itself!
Our next stop was Tivoli Gardens. This was nothing like the amusement park in Copenhagen; it was hundreds of fountains, all activated by well-applied gravity. Absolutely no electricity was involved, since it didn’t exist in the days the gardens had been built. The weather was scorching hot, and it was a relief to walk among the fountains and feel their cool spray. Unlike the rest of the landscape, which was semi-desert, the gardens were lush with verdant trees and flowers. It was full of interesting sculptures, as well.
From there, we went on to Rome, where we picked up Gayla at the airport. Her flight had cost her $200! That’s right, I haven’t told you about the price of gas in Europe. In Southern California, it costs about $1.20 a gallon; in all the countries we visited, with the conversion rate, it costs about that much per liter! That means Europeans pay nearly 4 times what Americans pay! Southern Californians, at least. Gas is more expensive in Northern California - $1.36 per gallon – but much cheaper in Colorado, where it’s 85 cents. However, whether you’re in Austria, the most expensive country so far, or Greece, which is the cheapest, it costs about $1.20 per liter. Driving in Europe is VERY expensive – assuming you dare to do so!
We had to buy our own dinner tonight, since there’s one day in Paris when ISE supplies three meals. Gayla and I went to a cafe with outdoor seating and ordered our meal there. She got agua fresca type bottled water; I had no idea what that was until I tasted it. It was carbonated. I felt strange, drinking lukewarm carbonated water with no flavoring; I was used to soda. But since she had ordered it, I might as well drink it.
Gayla told me all about her relaxing extra two days in Hydra, and I told her about the harassment I had endured in Naples. She didn’t seem the least bit shocked at my story.
“I don’t blame you for turning down that local guy,” she said. I’ve had a few one night stands myself; they’re a major drag.”
I was shocked. “Really?!” Whoever would have guessed this ultimate straitlaced person would do something like that!
“Yeah, you’re much better off in a committed relationship, where the guy truly cares about you.”
The waiter handed us our bill; though it was combined, the price looked a little high. Gayla called him on it, but he suddenly pretended not to understand English.
“What seems to be the problem here?” asked a guy coming up; he had an Austrian accent.
“Will you take a look at this bill? I don’t think the price is right,” Gayla said, handing it to him.
He studied it, then turned to the waiter and spoke to him in Italian. Suddenly contrite, the waiter reconfigured the price, separating our two tabs. Our bill wound up costing 1500 Lira less (a total of $1.20 US). We paid, then left the café.
“Thanks a lot!” we told the guy.
“You’re welcome. My name’s Wolfgang, and I’m a tour guide with ISE. Where are you both from?”
“We’re with ISE too,” I told him. “We’re from the US, and are on a 40 day tour of Europe.”
“Really? How long will you be staying here?”
“We’re staying tonight and tomorrow night,” I told him.
“Are you in a hotel near here?” he asked.
“Yes we are.”
“Do you ladies have any plans for this evening?”
“I’ll walk you over to your hotel, if you’d like.”
“Sure!” I answered.
“Oh no you don’t!” Gayla responded slyly.
Puzzled, I asked her, “Why not?”
“What did I just tell you?” she said to me.
“I – I don’t know what you mean…”
“Actually, we’re going shopping. Thanks again for helping us with our bill.” Gayla grabbed my arm and hauled me away.
When we had rounded the corner, she turned to me. “That guy was trying to pick up on us! Didn’t you know that?”
“Uh – no, not at all. I thought he was just being nice. Why would he pick up on two women?”
“Because that’s what he’s into, that’s why!”
“Wow – uh - whatever made you think of that – uh – he sure was subtle about it wasn’t he? I never would have guessed…”
Gayla answered, “I suppose after all those blunt come-ons you got in Naples, it’s easy to miss, isn’t it?”
We both laughed.
We did a little window shopping, then back to our hotel and called it an early night.
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© 2013 Yoleen Lucas