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How I survived Naples (2)

Translated by Jasmin Priya — one year ago

Original text by Luis M.S

0 Tags: Erasmus experiences Naples, Naples, Italy


Guys, Naples is very dangerous

I wouldn't say that Naples is the best place to go to do your Erasmus. Dangerous, shady, you'll be mugged if you get distracted for every one second... LIES. Like every city in the world, Naples has its charm, its good and its bad points.

We were continuing the journey we had already begun through Rome, Jasna, Burcu, Marcel and myself. But this time we are going to NAPLES.

This is what they have been telling us from the start, that Naples was a very dangerous place. Well, I'll start by saying that none of us had any problems there at all, but we now have the benefit of hindsight; before arriving, however, our minds were full of preconceptions.

Arriving at the station

Upon arriving at the bus station, the city did not seem like one that you would want to visit. Houses in ruins, people who looked very suspicious... it was everything that we had heard about this city. We walked constantly looking around us, we were laden with enormous backpacks, talking in English and quite lost (an easy target for anyone who might have wanted to rob us), but no. It wasn't like this, I believe most of what we had heard wasn't really the truth.

We were walking around for a little while without really knowing where we were going, but luckily Jasna (known by her friends as "GPS girl") had a clear idea of where she was. We all walked behind her looking at those ruined houses, which didn't exactly fill us with confidence. However, we were only deceived for about 15 minutes, by this city that didn't seem like one that you'd want to visit, as we had arrived at the hostel.

After the bad experience that we had at the hostel in Rome, we had no idea what to expect in Naples. To our surprise, the hostel was excellent. The staff were very friendly, we had a room for the four of us (two bunk beds) and a bathroom, the basics, nothing else. Then, outside the room, there was a common room with a TV and films, and a kitchen. Of our first impressions, it was good with regards to the hostel, but bad in terms of the city, which we all started to chat about.

Jasna and Burcu were a little worried, they didn't want to immerse themselves in Naples, as it didn't draw their attention and they were a bit scared. On the other hand, Marcel and I wanted to give this city, one which we have always talked about, a chance.

After "discussing" for a while, Jasna and Burcu wanted to see Capri Island (which is close to Naples), therefore Marcel and I decided to go with them to the harbour to look at the prices, and also make a decision as to whether we wanted to accompany them further.

First, we went to a supermarket to buy something to eat; I hadn't stopped repeating that I wanted pizza, pizza, pizza! We were in the motherland of pizza and we were going to a supermarket to buy food. Are we crazy?! The rest bought bread and meat to make sandwiches, but I was seriously craving pizza so I went to the bakery and bought myself one.

During the walk to the harbour we started eating and... the pizza was delicious! . If that pizza came from a supermarket, I couldn't even begin to imagine what they'd be serving in restaurants. I WANT PIZZA EVERYBODY!

The group splits up

Yes, you read it correctly, we split up (temporarily). The girls really didn't want to visit Naples, after hearing everything that people have said about it (that city is full of crime).

The girls wanted to go to Capri Island, but this was much more expensive than we had expected, it was 4:30pm and it would be dark soon. Therefore, Marcel and I decided to give this city a chance; despite the prejudiced description and our preconceptions, we wanted to see Naples. What does this city have? We would discover this later.

What is Naples?

I'm happy that you have asked me this question because the answer I give might not be what you expected.

Marcel and I carried on walking, alone in the middle of nowhere. There weren't many people, and the city left us wanting more, but suddenly we turned a corner and we found LUNGOMARE.

Now this was Naples in its purest form. The seafront was full of people, as were the roads too, there was not even room for cars to move. Children ran around with balloons, whilst an accordion was played and a man sang in Italian in the background. "Bella Italia, bella Napoli", there were no better words to describe the Italian atmosphere than these.

On the left was the beach, which had beautiful views. On the right, there was only one thing, an undeniably Italian scene.

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Marcel and I started to walk through those quiet streets, not knowing where we were going, but just knowing that we were in the right place. As we had already commented in other places, it seemed like everything was synchronised.

There wasn't anything in particular that stood out to us, not even the surrounding buildings were a big deal, but the atmosphere was perfect. Again, we had deja vu. Were those people acting? Are we in a film? Is any of this even real?

Jasna isn't here. What are we going to do?

Jasna had always helped us to determine which were the most important places in any given city. With her GPS and knowledge, we found all the places, but now, Marcel and I had no idea how to direct ourselves through Naples, but we would learn.

We found a giant map, which we opened, looked at and started walking. We didn't completely know where we were going, only that we were going the right way. I was the only one of the two of us who spoke Italian, therefore, I had the job of asking every person we met on the walk if we were going in the right direction towards... well, I don't know where we were going, but something moved us through this city.

We both agreed that the city it itself was not that impressive. It was a normal and modern city (with regards to the architecture that we observed), but, as for the atmosphere, that was something else. We began to wander around the streets, and a bar caught our attention. We decided to stop and have a coffee, and indulge in the atmosphere and all that surrounded us. Enjoying these peculiar sights:

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I don't think a photo can represent the wealth of things like those that they had there. This photo is incomplete without an Italian shouting in the background, a woman leaning out on a balcony hanging up bedsheets, and a coffee in hand (with its accompanying glass of water - typical in the south). This photo is fixed in time, but the atmosphere was fluid, and we flowed with it. We were in Naples, a dangerous city according to popular opinion. The only danger we faced in that moment was that our jaws would drop, or that we might begin to think of ourselves as actors. It was like a film, I won't tire of repeating this.

What is there to see in Naples?

Everyone we asked sent us to the historic centre. On the way there, we passed a very long street, where we would find the famous QUARTIERI SPAGNOLI. How many stories had I heard about that street? How many times I had seen it in photos? What will be there? I don't know, but from the outside it becomes clear.

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Historic centre

Eventually we arrived at the famous historic centre, and it followed what we had seen before. The Italian atmosphere, the epitome of that which is Italy in one city, if this is what you're looking for then this is the place you want to be. Meanwhile, the architecture left a lot to be desired. Although, we had been to Rome, and its architecture is incomparable.

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We walked and became part of it all, Naples, the Italian-made city.

Having finished our walk and seeing that we were leaving the touristy area, we decided to go to the supermarket and buy dinner for us and the adventurous girls (who would proceed from Capri Island). I cooked pasta without any problems and I said to Marcel "What do you want with the pasta? Bacon and eggs, bacon and tomato...?

Marcel looked at me with a 'nice boy' face but he didn't say anything, I would later realise that he's vegan. He has told me this a million times, but it fell on deaf ears. We laughed for a while and then we decided to cook macaroni with vegetables.

Return to the hostel

I am from a village in Murcia, and I found myself in Naples cooking pasta with a German. Is there anything more surreal than this? How many statistical possibilities exist, and this was the one that became a reality?

Marcel and I defied the odds. We were there laughing one minute, arguing another over the stove, before we ended up reaching an agreement. Marcel chopped some vegetables and I others, the stove did not want to help us boil the water and the girls arrived.

How was Capri Island? According to what they told us, it was better to go in the morning, as it wasn't long before it got dark. Thus, if you're thinking of visiting Capri one day, it's best to go early.

They thanked us so much for making dinner, they were famished. What they didn't know is that, although the idea was perfect in theory and the vegetable sauce was special, the macaroni did not turn out great. The stove did not boil the water, and in the end it was more like chewing gum than pasta.

Anyway, it was much better than the yogurt pasta that we ate in Rome, invented by Burcu (we were joking). I don't think I told you all the story behind that pasta dish, but it's inevitable that some things will be left out and you have to live them for yourself during your own Erasmus experiences.

Afterwards the girls tidied up everything because we had cooked. Teamwork guys!

Marcel and I tried to watch of the films that were in the DVD section without much success. All of the films were in Italian, and Marcel only knew how to say "Si si, capito capito" (yes, yes, understood, understood) haha. We gave up in the end and we all went to sleep, as tomorrow was a new day in Naples, this time all of us would be together.

Guys shall we go see the city again?

So, like the early morning adventurers we are, we got up at 7:30am.

  • Luis: yes, just five more minutes.
  • Marcel: uhhhhhhh
  • Jasna: come on Marcel, let's go.
  • Marcel: uhhhhhhhhhhhhh
  • (Laughter)

Marcel was not a morning person, when he woke up in the mornings he lost all ability to speak, he just mumbled. Therefore, every morning I jumped out of the bed above Marcus to give him a little motivation to get up. In the end it worked.

Surprise everyone, breakfast is included!

We were pleasantly surprised when we entered the common room to find a free buffet where we filled ourselves up with food to give us energy for the morning (and the afternoon hahaha).

For the first time, Marcel and I were the city tour guides. Jasna relinquished the map which now we were well acquainted with... how wrong we were. We gave the tourist map back to Jasna and she directed us to many places we had yet to step foot in. This girl had earned her nickname without a doubt.

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We went for a stroll around what we recognised as New Naples, this time guided by Jasna. We returned to the hostel to drop off our backpacks and we went to the road to Pompeii to visit another wonder of southern Italy (I will tell you about Pompeii another time).

It was nighttime when we returned, with little idea of where we had come from and where we had to go, but I was relaxed. Despite attempting to help with my impressive and fantastic sense of direction, Jasna took out her two phones, to find our bearings and take us places that you couldn't imagine.

At the end of the day, after taking the metro and walking for a few minutes, we were in the hostel. We got our things, said goodbye to everyone there and then... GUYS PIZZA, PIZZA, PIZZA, NOW! .

They got tired of listening to me and so we decided to go to the pizzeria that everyone had recommended to us, MICHELE. It was known as the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD, celebrities from all over the world had gone to eat there and had written about their pizza. It was where I was looking forward to going the most; Naples was excellent, Pompeii too, but I wanted pizza!

As soon as we arrived we found that all 6 tables were occupied. There was not one single spot for us (or so we thought). We asked for a table for four, and they seated us with no problems because the restaurant was actually enormous. There were various rooms full of people, all with pizza on their tables, and at that moment I began to dribble like Pavlov's dog.

Seafood or Margherita pizza?

These were the only two options, yet still the restaurant was full. What was this pizza like? I would waste time describing it, one cannot. It was full of contradictions, being both soft and crunchy. We all started with a margherita pizza with double mozzarella, and afterwards we also tried the seafood pizza (as a courtesy, of course). The pizzas arrived in less than 5 minutes, and it costed €5. 50 for the pizza and a drink.

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I can't look at the picture for too long or I will want to go back to Naples tomorrow. There we were, sat together, a German, a Slovenian, a Turk and a Spaniard, enjoying our last few minutes in that very dangerous city.

Enjoying a pizza that was almost as good as an Erasmus experience.


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