When we were at school, a subject called 'Geography' increased our thirst for all things related to the globe and the earth. We learned about valleys, earthquakes, continents and volcanic eruptions.
We also memorised the names of some volcanoes such as the Mount Fujiyama in Japan and the Mount Vesuvius in Italy.
When I read the Bangla version of a book titled 'Last days of Pompeii' by Lord Lytton, Mount Vesuvius caught my attention and it became my forever desire to visit it someday. The volcanic eruption sounded intriguing and dangerous at the same time.
According to history, about 2,000 years ago, Pompeii and five other cities were destroyed by the eruptions of Vesuvius.
Vesuvius also erupted several times later but those were not as destructive as that time.
How to go
Increase your fitness level by jogging for a few days before going to see Mount Vesuvius.
We started our journey from Naples in the morning train towards ancient city of Ercolano. The place also has transport facilities for going to the footsteps of Vesuvius.
From Ercolano, we, along with some people we met at the railway station, started for the Vesuvius National Park on a microbus.
As soon as we left the town, the white clouds of Vesuvius became visible. The volcano is shrouded with clouds especially during this time of the year during daytime.
The 135-square kilometre sized Vesuvius National Park was built centred around the volcano. We could see a shield of bright reddish stones near the top of the volcano as well as a thick green jungle below from far.
At a place, when the microbus stopped, the guide told us that the last eruption of Vesuvius occurred in 1944.
Vesuvius is still kept under strict observation by scientists. What might happen if the deadly volcano erupts again? Nobody knows.
There is a ticket counter by the parking area and 1 ticket costs 7 or 8 euros.
After crossing the main gate, a dirt road goes upward towards the slops. There is an arrangement for hiring and buying walking sticks but we decided to go on foot.
The city of Naples afar was playing hide-and-seek with white clouds whereas the black clouds seemed to come closer to us with every new step. We were lucky that it did not rain!
When we reached the notorious crater of Vesuvius, we were surprised to see some greenery there. At the centre, even some trees announced their proud presence.
It was only while taking pictures did we notice that there were smokes coming out from the volcano. Smoke coming out of a dead volcano! The source of the smoke created a mixed feeling of joy and excitement in our mind that cannot be described in words. However, we were scared about an eruption happening immediately.
Mount Vesuvius erupted 79 times in last 2000 years but none of them was as deadly as that in the year of 79 AC that caused massive destruction.
Smoke from the lava sometimes crossed 1200 kilometres beyond Europe and occupied the skies of Istanbul where Europe and Asia meets.
Geological research has found that the birth of the Alps mountains and the rise of Vesuvius had the same reason --- clash between the tectonic plates of the African continent with the Euro-Asian one.
It was surprising that in the seemingly hot and smoky area where a barbeque would be more fitting, small flocks of birds had actually built their nests! Before we could look at them properly, they flew away.
The strong smell of sulphur, just like rotting eggs as our Chemistry classes taught us, had filled the air around us.
The dark crater looked like a demon and it seemed like we had truly reached a scene from a Jules Verne story.
On one side of the crater, there were curio shops, where view-cards of the sun-lit volcano is available alongside stones of different colours.
On a small table nearby, we saw an exhibition of how one element turns into another under high temperature and pressure.
We had to take the same route to go down although there is a short cut that is blocked by the security.