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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Landrum in Europe: …And Then Came the Volcano

May 27th, 2010 (continued)

After we explored the ruined city of Pompeii, it was finally time to climb Mount Vesuvius!  Our tour bus made the nearly-treacherous drive up the mountainside on incredibly narrow roads (and yes, this was a full-size tour bus – it was pretty scary!).

The views of Naples and the bay were gorgeous, from the base of the mountain to the top.

As we got closer to the top of the mountain, our guide pointed out old lava flows from eruptions past.

The gray, sandy-looking mixture is where lava once flowed
Better view
After tackling the winding mountainside road, we finally made it to the parking lot where we departed our bus and began our climb up a volcano!

He's totally ready to climb!
I am too!
The incline was pretty steep and the mountainside could be slippery if you weren't careful with your footing, but it was a relatively nice climb up.  It definitely elevated our heart rates though!  I took a few breaks to take in the scenery because it was absolutely breathtaking.

Naples, the bay, and the islands of Procida and Ischia in the distance

More views of the old lava flows

Closer view of Naples, the bay, Procida, and Ischia -- the island farthest away
Closer view of Naples -- you can see our cruise ship (the biggest one) if you zoom in
After maybe a twenty minute climb, we made it to the top!

We made it!
Our guide began a mini geology lesson on Vesuvius, talking about what kind of volcano it is, how it formed, when it’s erupted, etc.

**And now begins my own little geology lesson, so feel free to skip!**

Mount Vesuvius is considered a stratovolcano, or a composite volcano, meaning that it is a tall, cone-shaped volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava and other materials.  Composite volcanoes are the most common type of volcano.  Another famous composite volcano is Krakatoa, located in Indonesia.

Vesuvius is considered incredibly dangerous because of the some-three million people near the volcano (around 600,000 in the “red zone”), and also because Vesuvius is prone to Plinian eruptions – very powerful continuous blast eruptions (explosive eruptions) that eject large amounts of pumice and gas.  This could potentially be devastating to the surrounding towns and cities close to the volcano.

The volcano “explodes” because lava close to or at the surface hardens into rock.  Liquid lava still remains under this layer of rock, and when an explosion occurs, the hardened layer of rock goes with it, shooting up into the air and onto the volcano’s surroundings.

Longer eruptions begin with producing clouds of volcanic ash, which can sometimes turn into pyroclastic flows (a fast-moving [close to 450 mph] current of superheated gas [in some instances up to 1000 degrees Celsius] and rock; the flows generally hug the ground and travel downhill, demolishing anything in their path.

Its eruption in 79 AD, which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, is its most famous eruption, but it has since erupted close to fifty times, the most recent in 1944.

** Now back to the less nerdy parts of this post!**

While our guide gave the geology lesson, I was busy taking some more gorgeous pictures of the view:

Please forgive the shakiness in the videos in this post -- it was very, very windy at the top!

As well as pictures of Vesuvius’s crater:

As I mentioned in the “geology lesson,” you can’t see the actual liquid lava in the crater, only the hardened lava-turned-rocks.  You can, however, see steam vents around the crater itself.

Not very clear here, but there is steam!
After our guide finished speaking, we were free to keep walking around Vesuvius’s summit or head back down to the parking lot.  Mr. L and I chose to explore for a little while longer, stopping for some photo opportunities along the way.

It's a long way down!
Walking around the crater to the southern side of the volcano

Sorrento out in the distance
View of Sorrento, the bay, and the island of Capri in the top right corner

We also found this picture of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and Vesuvius at the summit, along with a poem.

Very roughly translated, it read (some of this is probably incorrect -- if it is, blame Google Translate!):

“O Mary, Queen Mother of the Church of Naples, you who, at the foot of the cross, you received from Jesus, the apostle John as a child, and see accompanying from Vesuvius young people and families in our land.  Hail, Holy Mother, the prayer of those who make eye contact with the mountain, the thought turns to you and hope.  With you, Mary, we want to meet Jesus, seize his ways, announce to the world his love.  Amen.”

We took a few more minutes at the summit, taking pictures of the view, the rocks, and ourselves.

The Landrums on Vesuvius

Yes, I just so happen to like rocks!  :)
Then we made the much easier trip back to the parking lot.  I snapped a few more pictures of the little store area at the lot and we drove back to port and our cruise ship.

Puppies on the volcano
Vesuvius souvenir shop -- the closest building to Vesuvius's crater
Various photos of Vesuvius
Goodbye, Vesuvius -- see ya in another life, brotha!
One last view from the bus
Back to the Jade!
After boarding, we went up on deck to take a few pictures of the city of Naples and Vesuvius.

Vesuvius as seen from the Jade -- it was pretty cool knowing that we'd just been up there!

Castel Nuovo, a castle in the middle of Naples -- it started construction in 1279 and is Naples's main symbol of architecture
Island of Ischia and the Mediterranean
Afterwards, our period of relaxation began, because the next day was a sea day – meaning no ports or itineraries, and we were definitely looking forward to the break.  We kicked back our heels and enjoyed the rest of our evening in Naples before we had to say goodbye.


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1 comment:

  1. [...] many days of shore excursions (including one that involved climbing a volcano!), we finally had a little more rest and relaxation in the form of a sea day.  Mr. L and I were [...]



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