And I am back to our Europe travels after a bit of a break. On a high of Rome (you would have read about it in my previous posts), we took a super-fast Trenitalia train that got us to Naples (Garibaldi Station) in flat 1 hour.
Perhaps one of the reasons for my procrastination in writing this blog was that I didn’t really like Naples. While planning, I read about Naples and wasn’t very pleased. But A really wanted to see Pompeii and hence thought let’s give Naples a try (#retrospective tip: you can even do Pompeii from Rome as a day trip and do not have to necessarily stay in the city). The city just felt more crowded, less safe and even less tourist friendly (language was a challenge in most restaurants). Our first experience of the city was when we took a cab from the train station – there was no meter in the car! Given the general chaos, we just tumbled inside the car with our huge bags and assumed that the total fare should be approximately 10-15 Euros as suggested by our Airbnb host. But to our horror, he asked for 30 Euros! With cars piling up behind us in the narrow lanes, the cab driver seemingly not conversant with English and our increasing irritation, we just handed over the money – and that was our welcome to Naples.
Having said that, the city redeemed itself with the delicious food that was on offer!
Where to stay (or not): While researching places to stay in Naples, we were thoroughly confused and didn’t get any conclusive recommendation. So we just went ahead and booked an Airbnb that was 5 minutes away from the National Archaeological Museum. The apartment on its own, was really cute and sufficient for both of us – it even had a tiny balcony with flowers. Our host was kind enough to leave a detailed list of instructions and recommendations.
View from our balcony
Would I recommend staying here – No. The neighborhood has an unsafe, creepy feeling to it – with a large number of homeless flocking the streets at night (#retrospective tip: choosing the right area to stay is essential in the overall experience of the city). Instead, would recommend staying around the Promenade or Spanish Quarters – these are more touristy areas and hence with more night-life.
Let’s move to more interesting parts – food! So while Rome had thin crust pizzas, Naples has thick, fat crusts! Naples is also the land of fried food – so forget your calorie count and eat away! Ravenous, after our travels and settling in issues, we quickly looked up top rated cheap eats and found one just stones throw away from our apartment – Pizzeria Starita a Materdei. The staff was extremely friendly and they had menus in several languages! Our entire meal came to 20 Euros and by the end of it, we were so full that to even get up from our chair was a herculean task.
You should have heard our satisfied ‘Ahhh’ after just one sip!
Fried, salted dough with cherry tomatoes and basil – very tasty and filling!
This is what I mean by fat crust!
To walk off the cheese and oil, we set out in search of a supermarket. The sloping roads tested the existence of our hamstrings and the grip of our flip flops. Up-down we went but didn’t find a supermarket – instead there were these tiny stores. Finally we gave up and just picked up a bag of croissants (no matter how plain they look, they are always a bit sweet unfortunately) and some pasta sauce.
Tired and frankly a bit wary of venturing out in the night, we decided to stay in and cook our dinner.
Refreshed and recharged on Day 2, we headed out to the objective of our trip to Naples – Pompeii. From Garibaldi we took a Napoli – Sorrento line and got off at Pompeii Scavi (costed us 3.2 Euros each). Surprisingly, McDonald’s had hiked up the prices at the outlet here – so we just picked up a couple of pizza slices from a street-side shop (a euro each I think!). Armed with water, we started our walk through Pompeii site (#retrospective tip: wear comfortable, closed shoes as the walk is a bit dusty and topsy-turvy on the stones). The site is HUGE – you can just keep walking and exploring. It is also a historical wonder – the houses, wells, artifacts that got covered by the ash, also got preserved in the process.
The amphitheater is amazingly well preserved!
Amphitheater – rows of seats can still be seen
Inside a house (of someone quite wealthy I would imagine!)
Still get fresh, cool drinking water
From here, you can also see Mount Vesuvius – a dormant volcano but we did see some smoke!
Being a fairly hot day, we soon got tired and cranky and decided to head back. After a cooling bath, we strolled to the more happening part of town and stopped at Di Matteo for a bite. Only, it was packed with people – inside and outside on the street! To add to our troubles, the harassed-looking servers didn’t understand a word of English! We started with a fried looking something which had cheese and rice in it – don’t ask me the name because I have no idea! We decided to just take out a pizza – sounds easy right? It wasn’t. With much difficulty A explained (using sign language – beat that!) to the server what topping, size etc we wanted – with a gazillion people screaming their orders at the same time. The pizza costed us 6.50 Euros – though a bit cold by the time we reached our apartment, but worth the effort!
Day 3 we went towards the Promenade. This is definitely recommended – it was a pretty, clear-sky day and the open spaces looked ever so inviting.
For lunch we went to Napoli in Bocca. We started with a lemon granita, which was sweet yet sour. And took a simple margherita pizza, which was utterly delicious!
The main promenade is such a picturesque area – we loved strolling alongside the water (and there are enough stands selling beer as well).
Walking back through Spanish Quarters we chanced upon this gelataria. The smell of freshly baked waffle cones beckoned us in.
For dinner, we decided to try some of the fried delicacies and stopped at this cute little place called Decumano 31. There were 2 tables kept outside. The fried stuff and Sangria hit the right spot (all for just 17 Euros).
Even as we were leaving Naples, my stomach couldn’t get enough of the treats. Apparently an old establishment and very popular (right next to the train station) – Sfogliate Lab, we tried Napoli’s special filled pastries.
With satiated tummies, we headed to a much-awaited destination – which was the highlight of our trip perhaps, and one that makes all other beach holidays pale in comparison! Hit ‘follow’ to be the first to know all about it :)