Archive for October 2012

Cannes   Leave a comment

After three very long days touring our various stops in Italy, we had no desire to do another tour when we arrived in Cannes, France.  Instead we planned on walking around the town and enjoying the view around the harbor.  Rick Steves assured us that we could buy an ice cream cone and tour the relevant parts of Cannes before we finished our cone.  He wasn’t far off from the truth!

Cannes is a tender port, but this operation went very smoothly and we were soon on land.  Our first plan (actually really our only plan) was to walk up the hill to “old town” and check out the view.  This is super easy to do.  Walk across the street (there’s a Radisson Hotel in front of you) and turn left.  Walk a few feet past the hotel and you’ll see a set of stairs on your right.  Walk up them, then turn left.  Across the street, on your right, you’ll see another, longer, set of stairs.  Walk up that flight of stairs and you’re there.  Walk to your right and you’ll circle around the top of the hill to the museum and the 16th century church sitting there.

The view over Cannes and its harbor is indeed lovely making the small effort to get up the hill very worth while.

After taking plenty of photos, we just walked around, enjoying the beautiful day, the water, and all of the yachts crowding the docks.

There is a small public beach at the end of the tender pier (immediately on your left) and there were plenty of people sunbathing and a few hearty souls snorkeling.

That was it for Cannes.  After walking around, we returned to the ship for lunch and relaxation.

I’m afraid that you won’t get a report from me about Marseilles.  We ended up canceling our planned excursion to Aix-en-Provence and turning that final day into a sea day.  It was so relaxing I know it was the right decision!

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Posted October 22, 2012 by cubechick in Western Med Cruise!

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Tuscana!!!   Leave a comment

Today would prove to be much more relaxing than the previous journey to Rome.

First because our first stop, Pisa, was only 30 minutes from the ship.  Second because 1/2 the day would be spent at a Tuscan Vineyard.

Our guide Laila (who spoke the best English of all of our guides) let us know that the region we were in was Tuscana, whereas yesterday, when in Rome we were in Lazio.

From the area that the bus parked it was about a 1/2 mile walk to Pisa’s central plaza.  Laila very wisely took us in the “back way” which meant that we didn’t enter the square from the same direction as the rest of the groups.  We walked around the medieval wall surrounding the town, turned a corner and Bam! there was the famous tower.

Pisa was lovely, not just for its famous Leaning Tower (actually pretty much everything in Pisa is leaning somewhat) but also for it’s basilica and the town square.

Laila gave us a “guided” tour (really she spent about 30 minutes with us, talking about the history of area and the tower).  Afterward we had about an hour free to walk around on our own before needing to be at the meeting point.  The meeting point was a cafe called The Wall that offered free wifi.  Sweet!

From Pisa it was a 45 minute ride to the vineyard.  The ride was pretty, with Laila pointing out medieval towns as we drove.

The vineyard was called Fattoria and we were treated to a little talk on the making of their wine, followed but lunch and a wine tasting in the wine cellar.

What a great afternoon.  Good wines, food and company!

It made for a very cheerful ride back to the ship!

Posted October 16, 2012 by cubechick in Western Med Cruise!

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Pompeii   Leave a comment

Posted October 16, 2012 by cubechick in Western Med Cruise!

Pompeii   Leave a comment

Pompeii

Posted October 16, 2012 by cubechick in Western Med Cruise!

Roma!   Leave a comment

So, I knew today would be a long day. The port of Civatavecchia is 90 minutes from Rome. You throw in the fact that we had a female Italian Elmer Fudd as our Rome tour guide, well, the day got real long. First there was the challenge of understanding her. “Rome” was “Woma”. “River” was “Wivva”. You get the idea. Plus she had diarrhea of the mouth. She stopped in front of the Colosseum for over 20 minutes.

Constantine Arch and Colosseum

In front of the Forum, the same. The “other” tour guide, Riccardo, who joined us at the port, tried to scoot her along. If she had hit just hit the highlights and moved on it would have been great. Instead she tried to cover 2,500 years of history at each stop. Too much.

Roman Forum

Don’t get me wrong. If you’ve never been to Italy (like we haven’t), this is a good tour. We saw a ton in the time we were in Rome. The Colosseum, the Forum, various ruins, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican City

The lunch was the best we’ve had on a ship tour (hey…it is Italy and you should be hard pressed to find bad food!!). But our 8 1/2 hour tour somehow became a 10 hour tour (we were only back at the ship that early because our bus driver was channelling Mario Andretti). If I’d known that would happen, I would have booked the 10 hour tour to begin with as that included an inside tour of the Colosseum. But now that we’ve “been” to Rome, I wouldn’t do another ship tour. If we’re ever back in the area I would either arrange for a few days in Rome, or do another tour, closer to the port.

Posted October 11, 2012 by cubechick in Western Med Cruise!

Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii Day!   Leave a comment

Ah, Napoli! Not that we visited Napoli (or Naples to us Americans). We arranged for a tour through the ship to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. Therefore, Naples was just a drive by for us.

Wow, what a day. We arrived at an undercast Vesuvius (Vesuvio to the locals) after an obligatory stop at a coral factory to see how cameos are made. The hike to the top can be a little strenuous with loose dirt covering the path. They offer walking sticks as you start out if you don’t feel sure footed. Upon arrival at the top we were met by a guide who walked us through Vesuvius history. The clouds broke just long enough for us to get a nice view of Naples and the bay far below.

Then it was on to Pompeii. Simply amazing. Our two hours here was just enough time to scratch the surface. It’s amazing how well the sight is preserved, right down to the original marble flooring in many spots. The history of Pompeii is, of course, overwhelming. Our guide communicated this somewhat effectively. Although her English was far better than my non-existent Italian, we could only understand about half of what she said.

I would definitely recommend this tour if you have an interest in history. It was also a nice tie-in to first visit Vesuvius, which would of course, ultimately level Pompeii.

Oh! Have to mention I did have a slice of pizza before we began the tour of Pompeii. So I can say I had a slice of pizza where it was invented (pretty good to)!

Tomorrow, Rome!

Posted October 9, 2012 by cubechick in Western Med Cruise!

Day One of Our Epic Adventure   2 comments

The first day of travel is always tricky, with a layer of nerves, worrying that some thing will go wrong. I have to say our travels to Barcelona were flawless. Not only did my fear of our luggage not making it with us go unrealized, our luggage was the second off of the belt! How did that happen?

The transfer in Dublin was weird. We followed the signs for connecting flights where I assumed we’d had some sort of immigration check. Nope. Instead we had to go through security again and forfeit the water we’d purchased in Boston. Weird. At least Ireland doesn’t make you remove your shoes!

Because we zipped through immigration in Barcelona so quickly (we were in the third row of the plane), and our luggage was so quick, we had about a 30 minute wait for our tour guide. My European friends made fun of my wanting a private tour and suggested a hop on hop off bus tour (of which I would see plenty). But we didn’t want that. Knowing we’d be exhausted, we wanted to be led around during our brief time here. So I arranged for a half day tour with Barcelona day Tours. DH said it was a hop on hop off Mercedes tour. 🙂

Our guide Christian was very knowledgable and showed us the highlights of Barcelona. He actually made me appreciate the art of the architect, Gaudi, whereas beforehand our tour I thought his buildings we just weird. :-). I still think they’re weird, but i have a better understanding of where Gaudi was going and why.

Barcelona is really a lovely city. The reports of Las Ramblas (the main drag) being rife with pickpockets had me picturing a dark, dank city. Barcelona is anything but that with its tree-lined avenues and lovely buildings. I wish we had more time here than just one day.

After the tour, Christian dropped us at our hotel, The Renaissance Barcelona where we checked into a clean, if somewhat small room (actually it’s a good-sized room for Europe). A short power nap later, and we’re ready to go.

Posted October 7, 2012 by cubechick in Western Med Cruise!

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