Monday, April 22, 2019

Ruined City of Herculaneum


In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius destroyed this ancient Roman city, covering it in ash and mud at the same time Pompeii was destroyed.

"While roofs in Pompei collapsed under the weight of falling ash, only a few centimetres of ash fell on Herculaneum, causing little damage. Subsequently, there was a succession of six pyroclastic flows (a mixture of ash and gases) which then solidified. These gradually buried the city's buildings from the bottom up, causing relatively little damage. "


At first we planned to go to the famous Pompeii, but we learned that this site is quite crowded to visit. Also, it's very large and so the walking involved is extensive. However, Herculaneum is a smaller city and more well preserved than Pompeii. Also, you are allowed more  freedom to move around inside the ruins and get more close up.

If you want, you can visit both, as they are not far from each other.

Check out our 360 video walk through for a preview of what you'll see.

Take the Circumsuviana train from either Serrento or Naples. The cost is 2.20 euros.
Travel Time:
From Naples 25 min
From Serrento 40 Min.
When you exit the train you'll enter a square. Avoid the expensive taxis and buses because it's a 5 minute walk to the ruins. Exit diagonally to your right, and walk downhill 8 blocks towards the sea (don't take a taxi or bus, expensive).

Entrance to Herculaneum is 13 Euros each for adults (all the websites said 11 so maybe they recently raised their prices).
Children under 18 can get a reduced admission, but over 65 no longer does.

Be aware that both Herculaneum and Pompeii have a policy against allowing backpacks in. It has been said that they have no lockers on the site. The lockers at the train station may cost as much as 8 euros. I didn't see them enforcing this at Herculaneum, but maybe don't take the risk. The rules say no bags larger than: 30 x 30 x 15 cm.


Wikitravel has a great list of places to visit inside, by name with descriptions.

A very extensive site with details about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, maps, photographs of the sites and descriptions found in manuscripts of the time about the eruption. Very interesting.

This article mentions a book called "A Museum of Antiquity," written in 1882, which tells about the city and the names of people in the houses. Might make an interesting read before going.


On Facebook:


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Castles of San Marino

It was a quick walk from our hostel back to the train station where we could catch the bus to San Marino. We asks a couple of girls waiting for the bus where to get tickets and they pointed out the “Tobaccheria” (tobacco shop). Tickets are €5 and your u wait on the side of the street that you buy tickets on.
There are many statues.

An archery field.

Streets of San Marino

The ride is very scenic and it doesn’t matter which side of the bus you sit on, as there are steep switchbacks leading up the mountain to San Marino, which is basically a big fortress on a hill, but it is also its own country. Which sounds like a great deal in the world today.

According to Wikipedia "The country derives its name literally from Saint Marinus, a stonemason originating from the Roman colony on the island of Rab, in modern-day Croatia. In AD 257, Marinus, according to legend, participated in the reconstruction of Rimini's city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates. Marinus then went on to found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano in AD 301; thus, San Marino lays claim to be the oldest extant sovereign state as well as the oldest constitutional republic."

San Marino has about 33,300 people, and they were one of the first former socialist states to join the European Union. They gained their independence in 1991.

Basically the whole country consists of a mountain and some of the land around it. Beautiful green farmland and trees, and nothing is more idyllic than this place as you look down on the countryside from the top of the old castle, where you can see for miles! I also imagined I could see the line where San Marino's pastures end and Italy, with its busier and blander buildings, begins.

I don’t think there is a bad view in the whole country. The streets are clean, and paved with cobblestones and filled with attractive shops and friendly people. From almost every street in the city, you can see a castle tower or stone fortress wall jutting out.

In fact, there are two castles in town, and a tower. The cost is €4.50 for each castle/museum or pay €6.50 for a duo castle ticket. (The third tower is closed).

The First Tower (Rocca)

Neither of the castles are large, but both command a fantastic view of everything for maybe 50 miles. The first one had a high tower, which you get to climb to the top of. You can walk around and take pictures of the view from every side (and each photo will be postcard perfect).

There is also an old prison area, with a few displays. There is what looks like a small chapel, and a few walkways out to another great view, from which you can see the second castle.

The Second Tower (Cesta)

This castle may be smaller, more of a large tower, but it had a fairly impressive collection of items on display: many swords, glaives, halberds, knives, maces, old pistols, rifles, and huge tower rifles. Also armor, bows, crossbows, maybe a ballista, cannons. Some of the large rifles (mounted) where dated 1420 and 1460, or later.

Looking back at the 1st Tower

If you like medieval weapons, you won’t want to miss this display. You exit at the top for yet another spectacular view.

Part of the 2nd Tower

Looking back at the First Tower


This tower is closed, but you can still walk to it. We only went part way.

The 3rd Tower (closed)


Monday, March 25, 2019

Greece and the Greek Gods

Before heading to Greece, we read the Stephen Fry's delightful book all about Greek myths, called "Mythos".  Definitely worth a read.


Here are some of my favorite Greek gods:
Athena, She burst forth from the head of Zeus, fully formed and ready for war.

Statue of Athena, atop the Presidential Palace in Athens

Aretemis; Also the daughter of Zeus. She was the Goddess of the hunt, and wild animals. Also an avowed virgin and the protector of young children.

Statue of Artemis at the Ephesus Museum

Model of the Temple of Artemis, at the Ephesus Museum

Actual site of Temple of Artemis, with one reconstructed pillar.

My least favorite:
Hera & Zeus. Basically Zeus spent a lot of his time chasing other women and Hera was very jealous. And not very forgiving.
Zeus and Hera

Apollo, atop the Presidential Palace in Athens

I wondered what happened to the religion based on the Greek mythology, since no one seems to believe it today. And maybe even back then, maybe they knew a lot of it was fictional. Hard to tell. I read an article that said that the belief in Greek myth faded away and was replaced by Christianity. He said that all of the vices of the ancient gods made them hard to believe. Also he said that the Greek mythology was banned and people who believed it were hunted down. So, another good motivation.

The Greek myths started during the Bronze age, but in the 18th century it became part of the oral tradition of Homer's epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

"Around 700 BC, the poet Hesiod’s Theogony offered the first written cosmogony, or origin story, of Greek mythology."

by SNL
Check this out! Hilarious!
This skit will make you laugh as the Greek Gods attempt to come to the aid of Greece during their financial crisis. "We do have a god in charge of finance, right?" asks Zeus.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Update in Athens

March 19, 2019

360 Video of Khevron and Lareena

Monday, March 18, 2019

Castles and Calendars: Where we've been!

Mooses at Peles, Castle

Bran Castle - "Dracula's Castle"


We are in Bucharest, Romania, today. We saw two castles while we were here: Peles Castle and also Bran Castle, also known as "Dracula's Castle" (though I think more than one has this claim).

Tonight we will flying to Athens, Greece.

Khevron has updated the map and calendar of our travels.
Here they are:

We stayed in a hostel in Bucharest, the Antique Hostel, and they sponsored a new tour that went to Peles and also Bran Castle that was 20 Euros cheaper than the standard tour (but had only been going a week). We took it but the guide was new and we took too much time and partly, this was our fault, eating lunch too long. But he said, take your time. So, we arrived at Bran Castle at 5:00 PM and it had closed at 4:00 PM.

So, we were fairly upset. We told him we wanted to stay in Bran and he helped us find an accommodation and dropped us off at a fairly nice hostel, called Casa Miracole. The woman there was very kind, though she didn't speak much English. The next morning we went and saw Bran Castle and made our way back to Bucharest by bus, then another bus, then another bus, then the metro.

Our complaints about the tour fell on unsympathetic ears and we were never sure if the owner of the hostel had organized this tour or not (because he sometimes acted as if he had and other times denied that this was his tour). And at one point, he demanded to know how I had gotten his phone number to text him. I told him I'd found it on the website. Anyway, he alternately apologized and also blamed us for getting to Bran late. And then tried to guilt us into being the reason for the guide to get in trouble and maybe lose his job.

Overall, the entire debacle has left a very bad taste in our mouths. And I, for one, will be glad to fly to Athens!

is a national monument and landmark in Romania. It is called "Dracula's Castle" but the connection is pretty thin, as I understand. It does have a connection to Vlad the Impaler, on whom Dracula was said to be based. But the castle is not in the spot described by Bram Stoker, and also isn't crumbling. Still, it's an amazing castle.



PeleČ™ Castle is a Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains, near Sinaia, in Prahova County, Romania, on an existing medieval route linking Transylvania and Wallachia, built between 1873 and 1914. Its inauguration was held in 1883. It was constructed for King Carol I.


Here he puts up the maps and calendars of where we've been.

Peles, Castle, in the Carpathian Mountains, near Sinaia, Romania.

Outside view of Bran Castle.