Every now and then we take a trip that we walk away from knowing, deep down, that will always and forever be remembered as “that time we went” there. These are times that our experience was such a sh!tshow that we’ll laugh at our trip for the rest of our lives. (See also: That Time We Went to Versailles)
Our recent trip to Naples is one of those.
We drove there as a family for my husband to attend the Air Force ball. My kids have loved the song “Pompeii” by Bastille for years now, and they think volcanoes are pretty cool. I thought it would be fun to take them there. We booked a hotel close to the ball and a half hour from Pompeii and decided we’d figure out the rest.
Well. Our hotel was weird. It seemed we were the only people there. Our suite seemed to have been laid out for maybe a kitchenette, but there wasn’t one. There were no paintings on the walls. The couch was just…there, nowhere, really. The restaurant hotel wasn’t at the restaurant, but at the American Hotel across the street. The restaurant did not serve hamburgers and fries, much to the dismay of my children, though my good eater was delighted to have lentil soup and my pasta was amazing. It also turned out that despite being just a five minute drive from the ball, our hotel was in a separate “zone” from the ball and so the cab fare was “required” to double. So they say. And the parking lot smelled like sulfur in the evening, but that’s the fault of a nearby volcano.
Anyway. Pompeii was my main attraction.
We all ate carbs and chocolate for breakfast at the hotel. We waited in line for tickets for a very long time. Bertie tried to run out the door of the bookshop with a magnet decorated with an erotic painting (there are many around Pompeii, in the public bath houses, the brothel and private homes). Walden whined about ice cream, and toys, and toys and ice cream, while dragging his feet through the dust, except when he grabbed handfuls of dust to throw.
So we ate an early lunch, thank goodness, because I prefer personal space. Then we gave the kids ice cream because we just couldn’t take it anymore.
Those rare minutes when everyone was happy and not too hot were great. We wandered the ancient city, peeking into temples and houses, eavesdropping on English-speaking tour guides, while the kids clambered on the curbs and stepping stones. Occasionally the little one would run through a roped-off area, but the docents just laughed at his cuteness. Pompeii really is a marvel, and what a special opportunity to see what civilization looked like (with a little imagination) 2000 years ago.
Then there was the Epic Meltdown Over There Being No New Toys Today of 2015 (which rivaled the Epic Meltdown Over Having to Leave Le Cite des Enfants of 2014). Then we had a conversation about what kids who lived in Pompeii might have played with, seeing as how they lived there before bicycles and trains and airplanes were invented.
But he still didn’t stop asking when they were going to “demolition” Pompeii because it’s old between complaints about the heat.
So, after we took a break in the large theater, my husband proposed we just bag the rest of the trip and head home immediately. We drank some water and dragged our dust-covered selves back to the car.
We used the last of our fuel coupons about halfway home and rolled up to the house with a very empty tank. (I couldn’t help but think of this clip from Seinfeld.) The kids were happy to sleep in their beds, and we were all happy to discover a festival downtown in Varese the next day. Weekend saved.
It’s easy to talk ourselves out of taking trips in case they turn out like this. But now we can say we’ve been to Pompeii, at least. There’s a whole world to try out, it’s worth the risk of having a bummer trip to get to see it. Right?