Archive | September, 2012

Civitavecchia to Roma

9 Sep

Against the rules of cruising we kept our luggage in our possession and did not label and put them out the night before disembarking. Especially since we saw that the color of our tags meant that we weren’t supposed to leave the ship until after 10am. This was unacceptable as we were anxious to get into Rome and do some siteseeing and serious eating. Also our dinner friends were scheduled to leave earlier and we attempted to meet up in order to catch the train together. Even though I stress about it every time, we kept our luggage and, when we couldn’t find our friends, we disembarked. I know, Im such a a rebel. Others passengers were sitting in a holding area waiting endlessly for their luggage to come off the ship. After some initial confusion, we walked right to the shuttle bus and made our way to the train station. Italian train stations certainly will not be winning any awards for efficiency. We bought our 5€ tickets on the local train to Rome and waited for the 10:41 train that never came and instead hopped on the 11:10 which, of course, left late. One of the beauties of buying train tickets in Italy is that you need to validate them in a mini kiosk that is different at every station. (Note: none of our train tickets were checked on the train. So as usual I got myself hyped up to buy tickets and rush to validate it, only for no one to even look or ask for it).

Once in Rome we had a terrible map from the ship and therefore had no clue where we were in relation to our hotel. We also desperately had to use the WC and had no desire to pay 1€ for the opportunity. Did I mention it was also raining? So like typical tourists, we overpaid for a cab to La Griffe hotel on via Natzionale. After check in we hit the streets with a vengeance. We had limited time and every major site in Rome to see.

First stop was Vatican City, aka San Pietro. We went through the metal detectors, got approved by the fashion police, and past the Swiss guard. We even climbed the 551 steps up to the coupola. What we didn’t realize is that the Vatican museum aka the Sistine chapel, closed at 4pm. So we jumped on a bus and went straight to the colosseum. Thank goodness for the Roma pass because we promptly cut the line and saved ourselves at least 45 min. After listening to James quote Gladiator a couple times, and ask me if I was not entertained, we hightailed it over to the Trevi fountain, where we stopped for pizza and wine. We ate on a quiet side street and were pretty much the only people there on a monday.

We saw the Trevi fountain and the pantheon in haste, since we were exhausted and anxious to get gelato and relax at the rooftop garden of our hotel. The last day of vacation is always the hardest. We met great people, saw amazing places that we want to go back to, and ate delicious food. Now we had to psych ourselves up for a long travel day followed by going back to work.

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Savona

3 Sep

Last night we bid our friends farewell and discovered almost all of the excursions had been cancelled. We were scheduled to do a short tour and tasting of Genoa, but instead we slept late and walked around the city of Savona. The weather was a bit windy and a lot of shops were closed since it was Sunday. However we hunted down a restaurant that made personal pizzas.

As James pointed out to me, when a restaurant in the states says it opens at 11am, it means they are ready to serve you at 11am. In Europe it means that the worker will just be strolling in and maybe finishing cleaning from the night before. The pizzas were everything we dreamed they’d be especially after a night of adult beverages. We proceeded to walk around the town including climbing an archeological site/castle. There were farmers markets along the streets including bottles and jugs of wine. Too bad the US has such strict laws about that or else I would go to the NY farmers markets more often.

Before dinner we attended Mago (magic) Martin’s show which was not as cheesy as I expected. Once at dinner we met up with the Canadian family and the couple from New York, both of which had done excursions. I almost regretted not going to Monaco and Monte Carlo, and seeing Princess Caroline, like the couple from New York. But it was still a Sunday and the shops were closed everywhere and not just in Savona.
Our last night on the ship was bittersweet. I think we were ready to be back on land but we’re definitely not ready for vacation to be over.

Palma de Mallorca

1 Sep

This morning we woke up early to take full advantage of the city of Palma in Mallorca. The ship is very clever by charging per person to take shuttle buses from the port to the center of the city. As soon as we get to the center we are determined to rent bikes and ride around the city with our new friends. Fortunately they also have an iPhone app of the city that shows us where we are in relation to popular city sites. The most treacherous being the castle Bellver on the hill, which of course we decide to bike. While the view was beautiful, it was slightly disappointing inside. Thankfully the bike path was downhill from there. Once back in the center we headed to the Arab baths which were extremely disappointing. No in-ground pools, no side rooms meant to be a sauna. We paid 2€ to sit in a garden named a bath. Lunch consisted of paella and tapas, and an angry waiter who accidentally brought us 4 pitchers of sangria instead of one pitcher and four glasses. Drinking and biking on tiny bike paths seemed a bit risky.

Our next stops were the church of San Francisco and la playa bike path. However once on board we found that we would not be docking in Marseille due to windy conditions but instead in the port of Toulon and San sur mer. Many people were upset and crowding the excursion desk. According to Paul, the English speaking host, many French people that boarded in Marseille had driven and parked at the port to catch the ship. Therefore, they have to arrange for transport for all those passengers from Toulon to Marseille. After last years accident, they don’t want to take any risks trying to park the ship at a windy port. Overnight the ship was extremely rocky. I have not experienced such turbulence on a cruise before.

Apparently Marseille is going through some sort of cultural restoration where they’re knocking down the city and rebuilding. I thought France was in dire financial troubles but what do I know. Hopefully Toulon will make up for the change in schedule.

Ibiza day 1

1 Sep

Ibiza

This morning was a rough one. Fortunately we didn’t dock in Ibiza until 2pm and our excursion met at 230pm. One if the best parts of being on an Italian ship is the food. Brunch consisted of paella, prawns, grilled calamari and seafood salad. I might have gone a bit overboard with the seafood, but it’s certainly healthier than eating the pizza, pasta and hamburgers that are available 24/7.

The snorkeling excursion started with a bus ride to Tarida Playa, which seemed like a vacation resort. The security guard stopped a couple in our group and was asking them for their wrist bands until the snorkel guide stepped in. We were outfitted for our mask and fins and made our way to the beach. I somehow forgot that there are lots of topless women in Europe, (probably because I haven’t been here in the summer for quite some years).

The boat that brought us to the snorkeling spots was a little rubber power boat. For some reason I kept thinking that it would be brining us to a larger boat, but nope. We out to a couple random inlets and slid off the side off the boat. Although there weren’t many fish, the views and the coral were absolutely breathtaking. As was the looks James’ sunburn chest received from the other passengers. Luckily no new damage was done. 🙂