Room Antarctica, When in Rome Hostel, Roma, Italia, 8:28
It was too hot to sleep last night. I caught some glimpses of the sunrise in my struggle to sleep. I stayed up late and did research on beaches in Napoli. Turns out all the best beaches are 50 km south of Napoli. I’m not sure I can get there without a car. I’m going to head south to Napoli anyways. After free breakfast, of course.
Seat 26, train to Napoli, Italia, 9:50
Free breakfast was a little traumatic. I got my pastry alright, but then, helpful counter guy kept trying to push different kinds of coffee or tea on me. When I asked for juice, he said “no, that’s something different.” Yes, I know, that’s why I want it. Well, I got that taken care of and talked to the counter people about beaches and they said I should go to Fondi from Napoli. I’ll give it a shot.
Some white rocks by a public beach, Napoli, Italia, 13:39
The Mediterranean tastes delicious. Even in this probably polluted part of the not best beach in the world, the cool breeze off the sea is enough to make 88 degrees feel like 70. I hung out in the beach for an hour, flipping once. For once in my life, I was not the hairiest guy on the beach. Also, the speedo for dudes does not appear to be as popular as legend has it. It’s mostly little kids and old people at the public beach. I did not have time to wait for the 1.5 hour train to Fondi, unfortunately. So I just got on the metro and went a couple stops to a big park on the waterfront. Lo and behold, a beach was a few steps away. Crowded and small, but it served my purpose. It seems I’ll have to come back to Italia sometime in order to get all I wanted to do in. I’ve got about four hours left and there’s a big castle in the waterfront just a little ways away. I think I’ll drag my burnt feet (volcanic sand is dark and HOT) down that way.
By a mega corporate fast food chain franchise, Napoli Centrale train station, 16:46
The castle was awesome and free! I climbed way up to the top and dreamed of the high dive contests that could be held. Some guy tried to talk to me in Italian. Actually, some old guy at the beach blabbed at me in Italian too. I think that guy was trying to tell me to use his umbrella, but he was creepy and I didn’t want an umbrella. I think all the Italian guys I’ve talked to so far have been a little creepy, actually.
I have been downing as much frozen liquid as possible. I got an orange o.g. slurpee from a stand by the beach. Then I got a deliciously sour frozen lemonade from a stand by the awesome castle. I just downed a half liter of the world’s most popular soda as well. I’m going to have to go on sugar vacation when I get back.
I just realized I left the top button of my vintage party shirt unbuttoned since the beach. That’s a lot of manliness to let loose on the Italian public. I think they can handle it, though. Plus, it’s too hot for top buttons. It’s about 90 degrees and I just walked about two miles from the castle to the train station. I figured I’d see more of the city on foot than on the underground. I walked down some sketchy looking streets. Lots of garbage and parts of scooters and dirt and aimless wanderers like myself. I was singing made up songs that sounded a lot like Owen, but shorter, so I probably looked too crazy to mess with. That and the beastliness revealed by my unbuttoned shirt kept me safe. I made it to the train station, but much earlier than I wanted. I need to buy some dinner, but I’m too full of liquids to even consider it. Maybe at the Roma train station.
Napoli has left a strange impression on me. There are good parts and bad parts. The city is quite dirty in some places, but I don’t mind that too much. Just be warned if you show up. Fir example, the underground train was more beat up than the New York subway. However, at the beach, I didn’t feel out of place. As I traversed the lava-hot sand, I even left all my stuff — camera, bag, lunch, shoes and what not — in the middle of the crowd. I didn’t feel too scared about it. Its like I felt safer because the city is less whitewashed. And the castle was awesome and free! I think I like this city. Like I said before, I think I could come back to Italy in the future with a lady or whoever and spend longer here. However, I only have about 30 minutes until my train to Rome and then a short transfer to my sleeper train to Zurich. My last sleeper train of the trip. My last new city of the trip. Only one more train reservation to make after that. Only two more two-day hostel reservations to make, as well. Things are winding down and I’m a little bit glad about that. I wonder if I’ve changed at all.
Seat 36, coach 4, train to Roma, 17:38
I got a sweet sunburn at the beach apparently. The pasty white bits under my furry outer layer are all pink. I’m going to be looking super hot when I get back. Except for the Michael Jackson diseased parts, of course. Also, air conditioning rules, that’s why I’m on the train 15 minutes before it is supposed to leave.
Spot 52, Sleeper train, Roma, 19:52
I think I just had a conversation in Italian. Well, I didn’t say any Italian words, but we kind of understood each other. Kind of. I think we figured out how to fold down the bed in my neighbor’s “room.” Weird thing: the train leaves in 2 minutes and I’m the only one in this 6 bed room. Maybe some folks will join up in Firenze or Bologna. I turned the AC all the way up. I was hoping to meet some more folks, though. It seems like half of Korea is on this train with me, though. Just no one in this room.
Sleeper train of chaos, somewhere north of Bologna, 23:49
I’m now riding with an Ecuadorian/U.S. mother/daughter from Florida and an older gentleman who lives in Firenze and Bern. I’ve been learning Spanish and Italian for about an hour and I can’t say a damn thing. Also, the daughter is the first person that is marginally close to my age. Anna, the daughter, is a drug/alcohol counselor, as well. So that was cool to speak to someone with similar interests. Her mom is a firecracker. She managed to get the attendant to open the window even though we’re not supposed to. The two Swiss students that just got on are unhappy about the noise, but it was about 20 degrees hotter in the top bunk where the Latinas were sleeping. Now it’s pleasant but loud in the whole cabin. Walter, the Swiss/Italian, told me to forget about Zurich and go to Interlaken and then Bern. Too late, Walter. Maybe I’ll get a train back to Interlaken after I drop off my stuff. For now, I’m going to try to get some sleep before the Swiss kids get off at 4:20 this morning. Ha, 4:20.