When our train arrived in the Naples airport, we were met by a driver who drove us down to the Amalfi Coast, stopping in Pompeii for a two hour trip along the way. From talking to friends, the train that takes the same route can be a bit of a nightmare, so this seemed like a better way to go. Plus, we were escorted around in a silver Mercedes -- not too shabby!
After arriving to Pompeii, we purchased tickets and then had a little bit of a panic moment when we climbed the large, steep hill to the entrance and realized we had no map. It was hot and we were pretty tired, so we decided to forego it. Besides, we had our headphones ready to listen to the Rick Steves tour podcasts we'd downloaded on our iPhones.
Next problem - whoops! Ian didn't have the podcast downloaded that I did. For a while we tried having me listen to it and guide us around but that was a little bit of a disaster.
So, last resort -- we just tried to take our time walking around, using context clues to figure out what we were looking at, and eavesdropping on tour guides. :)
A lot of times you can tell exactly what you're seeing, even though not having a tour guide, book, or podcast would have given us a lot more explanation and some interesting facts.
It was so interesting seeing how this sizeable city really had a considerable amount of technology in place. One of my most favorite parts was how they would put pieces of marbles in the cobblestone street stones so that the moonlight would reflect in the stones, showing the path in the dark.
Obviously some important and well-known parts of Pompeii are the plaster casts that were made from some of the victims of the volcanic eruption. You can see how the victims were posed when they lost their lives. I personally decided not to photograph those casts, but it was a somber sight to behold.
Even without a guide or map, we were still able to get a very good idea of this city that was bustling in its heyday. It was absolutely worth the trip. For us, we found that two hours was just about perfect for this visit. After we finished seeing the preserved city, we met our driver and began our trek to Sorrento!