Saturday, October 27, 2018

I continue to improve, but have not recovered last week’s strength, such as it was. I’m glad I’m not in London, trying not to be a drag on the party. Greek Helen says she has found me a Personal Trainer. I shudder, but I’ll try anything for a while.

While Archie and I were in Italy, I pecked out a message to nearest-and-dearest on my iPad every evening. I might as well reproduce those messages here while I recover strength and knitting. I have added a couple of explanatory notes.

October 11:

Eccoci a Napoli!

All went smoothly including the anticipated problem with Archie’s name. (“Archie” on all reservations, “Archibald” in his passport; nobody noticed, or if they did, they didn’t care.) {Everybody got tremendously anxious about this at the last moment, for some reason.} Edinburgh Airport has somehow become horrible while my back was turned. EasyJet is not luxurious but got us here. Our hotel is perfectly decent, perhaps even a cut above the dear old Hotel del Centro in Palermo, and has a strong email signal in the bedrooms. Herculaneum tomorrow, and the Villa Oplontis if we’re feeling really peppy.

October 12:

We got to Herculaneum. I was right to be afraid of this venture. I’m really not strong enough. But we did it, and had a good time. The good old Circumvesuviana is a bit difficult to manage if you start from Naples — the station is full of football fans shouting and people who know where they’re going, and there are three lines whereas once you get to Herculaneum or Pompeii or Sorrento on the right one, there is only one way back. 

me & Herculaneum

The Archeological Museum I think tomorrow. Archie feels he has had enough adventure. It looks as if we can get there easily on the subway. I like mingling with The People but Archie prefers taxis.

I have had Salata Caprese twice now and have concluded that tough, tasteless, thick-skinned tomatoes must be a delicacy here. They probably have them flown in specially from England. I shall venture further afield, gastronomically, this evening. We have chosen what sounds like a good restaurant,  very near. Pizza is everywhere. We had a good lunch in Ercolano. There was a proper wood-burning pizza oven but boxes of pizza were piled up beside it so presumably not made at home. {A friend who was included on the mailing list, pointed out that the boxes were probably for take-aways.}

October 13

A successful day, again. Archie strongly preferred not to go by Metro so we took a taxi, and just as well. The Archaeological Museum was pullulating. We went to the mosaic section. Archie wouldn’t let me take a picture of him with the Alexander mosaic. We admired them all for a while. What teeny tiny tesserae! Then went downstairs and had a quick look at the Farnese Hercules and the Farnese bull. Then we fled.

The Alexander Mosaic, with crowd:

Thirty years ago Naples wasn’t crowded like this. People were afraid of it. Sort of like Glasgow. Both have changed tremendously.

We took another taxi to Capodimonte, where we fared better. A decent crowd, but no pullulation and no tour groups. We sat for quite a while in front of Titian’s Danae — look it up — completely uninterrupted. We also saw a number of other very good things and a few other world-type masterpieces and then another taxi home to a decent lunch.

Reggio Calabria tomorrow, both looking forward to the train. Our hotel is virtually in the shadow of Central Station, so that’s not a problem.

Archie thinks I am weaker than I was in Palermo in January.


  1. This is wonderful, Jean. I can almost smell the heat and dust.
    I've only been to Naples once, when I was a student. The plan was - don't gasp - to fly out and hitchhike home across Europe with another student. People did do that in those days. In the event it did not come to that, but we definitely did hitch to Pompeii. I still remember the pizza from one of those ovens, and that's nearly fifty years ago.

    1. Ooh, me too, Shandy, 1972. Hitchhiked down through France and Italy as far as Naples, stayed in the youth hostel, took the train to Ercolano. So many of us hitchhiked then.

    2. I also hitchhiked (called auto stop) for 3 months around Europe in 1968 with two classmates (women of course, in those days) We had wonderful experiences and got to places in Spain not accessible by train. Stayed in Youth Hostels. It was the way to go.

  2. so glad you are back in one piece... no matter how tiring it was what a wonderful thing to do it... keep pushing its what keeps you alive! and we love to hear about your adventures (vicariously for me for i doubt i will ever get there)

  3. Anonymous11:10 AM

    I think if Archie ever had a problem with his name variation, there would be a herd of knitters ready to stare down the offending official. We all love Archie. After a 35 year absence I revisited Italy and was horrified by the change in the food, not just the tomatoes. There are now plenty of places you can get a bad meal in Italy, usually in tourist areas. Still a great adventure and I hope you were glad you went Jean, all things considered. Chloe

  4. The best thing about a personal trainer (if Helen has got you a good one) is that all the activities/exercises are tailored to your abilities.
    The food sounds like a sad disappointment and too bad about the crowds, but from my armchair the adventure sounds like it was a worthwhile endeavor.
    We are in the grip of a violent wind and rainstorm here off the coast of Maine. The power has been out twice already.

  5. It is fun to read your daily notes. I think a skilled personal trainer sounds like a good idea, with work adjusted to your situation. After helping to stack a cord of firewood yesterday, I think I need to work on my upper body strength as well.

  6. I found the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Workout book at the store. At first I thought it was a parody, turns out it’s her personal trainer publishing with her permission.

    I like that for each thing it illustrates the professional gym with machines way to do it, then how to replicate it at home for not much money. And it’s realistic about how much an average person may be able to do at the start. It’s mostly stretch/flexibility/balance and then strength training for those not interested in lifting hundreds of pounds.