Posts Tagged ‘mountain’

Vesuvius & Pompeii

Ancient Pompeii

I first learned of Pompeii in a Natural Disasters class back in high school. It was morbidly fascinating and has always been a place of interest in my mind. So actually going there was one of those ‘woah, I can’t believe that we’re actually here’ experiences.

For those in need of a refresher, here’s a very quick one (please do not rely on this for accuracy as it comes from my totally unreliable memory). Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Two neighbouring cities were affected: Herculaneum and Pompeii. The people of Herculaneum felt precursors and were able to escape to the sea. When the volcano erupted, Herculaneum was suffocated by the smoke of the volcano, instantly petrifying and preserving the city. The people of Pompeii had no escape and they were taken by surprise by a massive, fast-moving ash flow which completely covered the city, and the people. Both cities have been frozen in time and both deserve visiting. However, for the sake of our budget and for our long-term travel plans we made the tough decision to visit just one. And so we chose to see Pompeii.

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Hiking in the Swiss Alps

After Barcelona, we spent three nights in the mountains of Switzerland. We were staying at Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald, perched part way up the side of a valley in the Swiss Alps. To get there we went by train, then by bus, and finally by cable car. The cable car took us from the flat of the valley up and over a sheer cliff face to the tiny village perched above. The spectacular-ness of the location is actually really hard to convey in words. I hope the pictures do it justice. The valley that we were in was really interesting. All around, the mountains shot up steeply, rising quickly to snow- and glacier-capped peaks. But the valley floor, almost in direct contradiction to this, was nearly perfectly flat. It was as if someone had started filling the valley in with sand, and then suddenly stopped part way up, leaving a nice level ground to inhabit with villages and roads.

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Climbing Ben Nevis

At the summit

Being avid outdoor enthusiasts, Meg and I couldn’t resist the draw of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain. Situated on the doorstep of Fort William, Ben Nevis (commonly referred to as Old Ben) rises just over 4400 feet in a steady, relentless climb along a very well groomed and well trodden path. The mountain is climbed by thousands of people every year, so we knew not to expect a peaceful remote wilderness experience — even though we did the hike on a cold and cloudy day, there was a constant parade of people going up and down with us. Still, we felt that standing atop the highest point was a great way to round out our time in the UK.

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