In the hopes of not being a complete disappointment to my childhood self, I'm trying to go to some of the places that captured my interest and imagination, so much so that they destroyed my chances of having a normal social life.
I'm running behind.
After attending a wedding in Italy, my friend Kelly and I caught a bus to Pompeii. I know your own fourth grade self is totally gagging out right now, but the city today is a bit rough, and it's not the volcano's fault. We schlepped our bags past cheap vendor stalls, several restaurants that won a fake ‘best Italian food in Italy’ award, and casinos with casinoey looking prostitutes before settling into Guesthouse VesuView, which did indeed have a view of the volcano just like every other structure in town.
After a delightful breakfast, Kel put on her giant sun hat with elastic chin strap, and I wrapped my head in the bloodstained scarf I once used to tourniquet my friend's arm after he walked through my glass sliding door. We looked ready for that shit, as we entered the ruins for free because it's free the first Sunday of every month.
But we were not ready for that shit.
More than 15,000 were said to have perished in the 79 AD eruption of what they thought was just a pretty mountain, and we were walking through their ash preserved city with audio guides and sensible shoes. After hours, of teetering over wobbly streets laughing at women in heels and traipsing in and out of their temples, market places, bath houses, theaters, stadiums and homes. We decided we were too thirsty, hot and hungry to explore every inch of the ancient city though we wanted to and ate some pizza in a nearby restaurant that claimed its food was not ‘just for tourists’ and were treated very badly by the waitress. It felt so good to be back in Europe.
A couple of days later, we tackled the almighty Vesuvius. Today, the volcano is one-third of its original size because it has destroyed most of itself (nice one) erupting nearly 40 times. It's still active, which made me feel like even more of a bad ass. Our bus guide explained that because of the surrounding population of 4,000,000, Vesuvius is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and although they have an evacuation plan, they've never tried it. Good luck, guys.
At the foot, we loaded into gigantic Mercedes jeeps with shocks that made us feel like we were ridin' dirty.
The thing about adults is that we suck most of the time. The adults on that jeep were no exception because we tried to pretend that flying out of our seats while white knuckle gripping the headrest in front of us wasn't the greatest thing that has ever happened to us. The fiveish-year-old next to us in the very back row, however, was having none of that bullshit.
I have never heard laughter flowing out of a child with such abandon. She made it okay for us to shriek every time our vaginas were thrown into our necks until tears flowed down our faces. The best part was that we knew we had to come down the same way!
We fared well walking to the top from the drop off point fantasizing about installing an escalator or taking turns pushing each other up in the maintenance crew's wheelbarrow and rewarded our volcano conquering selves with a shot of limoncello before walking the half circle perimeter at the edge of its mouth. What a view! Our hostel had nothing on this.
Our next stop was Napoli. If you asked me to draw a picture of Robbery City, I would draw Napoli.
However, one of the redeeming bits was the National Archaeological Museum. An archaeology museum. In Italy. Yes, always. It's there that all the real treasures of Pompeii are kept. Frescoes, columns, housewares and mosaics that depict everyday life, myths and legends impeccably crafted and fantastically preserved. It was a real honor to be among those works.
My favorite room was the sex art room with all the penises, though. I’ve matured a lot since childhood.
That's a penis with wings, lion's tail and feet with dingle bells hanging from it if you couldn't tell, and there's plenty more where that came from.
Emma Green lives in Barcelona and is the author of the excellent blog 'From Emma in Barcelona'