Thursday, May 5, 2011

Italy Part II - Naples_

So I think I left my last Italy post with a little too much suspense... nothing too crazy happened in Naples - at least not the first night. It was a pretty crazy place to arrive in, especially riding on the roads. Eeeeeasily the craziest and most dangerous place I have ridden so far - even crazier than the roads in Morocco (though I didn't actually ride there). I've never seen so many cars, people, bikes, scooters, buses and trucks all vying for the same piece asphalt!! Even the footpaths weren't sacred.. and I am pretty sure the red lights are purely decoration! It's all beeping and revving and swerving and dodging and braking (though not much of the latter) and surprisingly, it just seems to.. well.. work! I didn't see a single accident!

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I felt almost at home too cos there were lots of bikes exactly like mine - it wasn't enough to be able to strike up a conversation with a local though, they seem not particularly interested in tourists... or the USA...

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I didn't go there for hugs and kisses though... it's more a gritty, dirty, underworld style of city - plenty of real character! And garbage... lots and lots of garbage! Apparently the "Mafia" run the garbage companies, and as part of a dispute with the Government, they stop collecting the garbage! I am not sure exactly who wins here, but it's pretty damn gross! Just about every street corner looks like this... there's no shortage of needles and rats and other nasties around too. As I said, I am not sure exactly who the winners are, but locals seem to be not particularly bothered by it - in fact, it seemed to be somewhat normal! I am told this is a common thing...

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Naples is not a city you visit for the scenery - best off going to Florence for that (post coming soon...) - but if you can get past the way it looks, it's definitely one worth visiting. I had an awesome time there helped of course by some awesome people I met in my hostel - 6 Small Rooms.

The hostel was run by Aussies and was located in a great spot close to everything I needed, and within walking distance to everything else... including their famous pizza!! I definitely enjoyed too much of that! The hostel owner let me park my bike in the foyer downstairs which was great too, as I am told that with the British plates, it would have likely not lasted a night out alone! I met a bunch of people at the hostel including Eddie, an awesome Aussie guy travelling for a little while, as well as a girl called Josie who has been travelling for 9 years - straight out of high school. Pretty interesting chick, but totally full on too! She has not stayed in one place for more than 6 months, and when she does stop she'll often work as a shepherd, herding goats on a mountain! When she's not doing that, and is travelling in cities, she and her friends will regularly - to save money - sleep on the street and "dumpster-dive" just like regular homeless folk! I thought the hairy legs and armpits were intense enough as it was, but this as a little too much for me! Fun to chat with, but I don't think we'll be travelling buddies any time soon!!

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Spent a bunch of time hanging out with Eddie and just cruising about. Eddie's mad into soccer (sorry, football) and was pretty pleased to hear that the Liverpool vs Napoli game was on the night of his birthday. I can't remember why, but I decided not to go... possibly a good move as there is an old rivalry between the two teams, and well, Napoli versus anyone else! During the day of the game there were 4 Liverpool supporters stabbed, and on the night of the game all Liverpool supporters (and anyone that looks like they might be) had to catch a different train, and get police escorted to and from the stadium as well as on the train! Intense stuff... it wasn't until I met with Eddie and some guys after the game and went for a few beers in University Square that I realised just how crazy it was. Here we are sitting in the square, drinking a few beers and just hanging out.. the only 4 non-Napoli supporters in the whole place - 4 of about 2 or 3,000 people that is! Needless to say we got very good at explaining that we were Australian, and not English, and just out for holidays and a few beers - not trouble! It took some convincing, but smooth-talking Eddie sorted us out and we ended up hanging with a bunch of Italians til about 4am... but not before one of the guys we were with (crazy Russian) decided it'd be OK to pull  down his pants... thankfully we caught him before hand and gave he and a mate a red card and sent them home!! I think it would have been a death wish... that kid woulda been sleepin' with the fishes for sure!

The rest of my time in Naples was spent wandering the streets, and getting relatively safely lost amongst the grit and grime... plus taking photos and drinking plenty of coffee of course!! And a sneaky visit to a contemporary art museum, the MADRE... well worth a visit, and free too!

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From gritty, grungy, character-filled Naples, I was on the road and expecting to arrive in Rome just a few hours later... I was super excited as I was meeting Marine who I'd met in Crete and was flying to Rome to meet me and hang out for the week...

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