Archive for August, 2011

August 11, 2011: Day 20: Travel back to San Diego

August 13, 2011

We got up and took the short walk to the terminal and quickly found the check-in counter.  We were happy to skip the long economy line and were assisted quickly in the business class line.  We made our way to the lounge and then boarded the two-hour flight to Amsterdam.  We were served a delicious lunch on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.  We arrived at the sparkling, ultra-modern Amsterdam airport and made our way to the nicest business class lounge we’ve ever been to.  The KLM lounge is very large and has a full self-service bar with a selection of top-shelf alcohol, beer, wine, juice, cheese, cold cuts, fresh baked bread, brownies, an entertainment room where you can watch movies and printers.  We were told to proceed to our gate one-hour ahead of departure time to allow time to get through security.  We complied, however, the security didn’t take long and we would have rather spent time in the beautiful, peaceful lounge than at the crowded, noisy gate.  Unlike most airports where you pass through security prior to the gate, this one actually sent you through the x-ray and full-body-scan process at the gate, which is why they list the boarding time as one hour before the flight.

The flight from Amsterdam to Seattle was smooth and they fed us a large and delicious meal.  The last leg from Seattle to San Diego on Alaska Airlines was uneventful and we were happy to arrive home.  We had a great trip.

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August 10, 2011: Day 19: Arrival in Civitavecchia (Rome)

August 13, 2011

We got off the ship around 8:30 a.m. to begin what ended up being a four-hour odyssey to the airport.  Our first stop was the port train station, where we purchased our tickets to Rome’s Termini (main) train station as there is no train from the port to the airport directly.  The train was so packed that we had to stand with our luggage for the hour and a quarter train ride.  Three cruise ships docked at the same time, which overwhelmed the system.  When we arrived at Termini, Matt stayed with the luggage while I went in search of tickets to the airport.  I couldn’t find any self-service kiosks that accepted credit cards, and only a few that accepted cash.  I finally found a ticket office and stood on a long line.  I had to pay using two different credit cards, one to purchase the tickets with and the other to pay a two euro travel agent commission.  Forty minutes later I met Matt with our tickets.  We boarded the much nicer and less crowded Leonardo Express train to the airport.  We arrived 30-minutes later.  We found our way to the Hilton, checked-in and had lunch.  I took a nap after lunch.

August 9, 2011: Day 18: Ajaccio, Corsica, France

August 13, 2011

I decided to make our last day a ‘sea day’ and stayed on the boat to sit by the pool.  Matt went into town to take photos.  He said it looked very similar to Nice.  He joined me at the pool and we relaxed for the afternoon.

We were told by other guests that the hamburgers served at the outside grille were great, and we tried them for lunch and they were delicious.

That afternoon’s dance was ‘into the blue’ and everyone wore blue.  We had an early dinner, followed by packing for the return home.

Ajaccio, Corsica

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August 8, 2011: Day 17: Naples, Italy

August 13, 2011

Our new friends Michael and Jeff from Seattle had arranged for a private tour for eight of us separate from the ship’s shore excursions.  Our tour guide met us at the dock and we took the train to Pompeii.  The tour guide was able to show us areas that are not open to the general public, which made the tour even more impactful.

Pompeii was destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. and volcanic ash covered the city.  The port city was frequented by sailors and was primarily a working class port city.  The brothels were particularly interesting as they included frescos of various sexual positions that corresponded to numbers; an ‘order by number’ system.

We were amazed at how modern this ancient city was.  They had sliding doors and fast food stalls that resemble contemporary ones.  We also toured some large, luxury homes which featured beautiful mosaic tile.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch across the street from Pompeii before boarding the train to Herculaneum.  I had a tuna salad with buffalo mozzarella and Matt had a prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella with the brightest, most flavorful red tomatoes we’ve ever seen.

It was a 15-minute train ride to Herculaneum.  Herculaneum was a wealthier seaside resort town, which was covered by volcanic mud in the same eruption as Pompeii. Herculaneum was actually discovered before Pompeii, however, the hardened mud is much tougher to excavate, which is why Pompeii has been archeologists’ focus.  There are far fewer tourists and the excavated area is much smaller than Pompeii, which made for a more enjoyable visit. Herculaneum is also better preserved than Pompeii.

While the tour did continue with a visit to the museum in Naples that houses works found from both sites, we were very hot and exhausted from climbing around the ruins so we exited the tour early and went back to the ship for much needed showers and naps.

Naples harbor

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August 7, 2011: Day 16: Tunis, Tunisia

August 13, 2011

We met for our tour of Carthage and Sidi Bou Said, an artist community.  The ancient ruins of Carthage were fairly well preserved.  The Phoenicians sacrificed their first born male child, and there are grave markers even to this day from this practice, the Romans ended this practice when they conquered the area.

We toured a coliseum, which was used for similar purposes as the one in Rome.  The Roman’s ruled Rome from Carthage.

We then took a brief tour of Sidi Bou Said and purchased some souvenirs.  The merchants engage in aggressive personal selling and bargaining.

We were happy to get back to the ship, shower and take naps as we were quite hot from the tour.  That evening’s entertainment was Patti LuPone, who sang non-stop for a full hour.  She looks and sounds amazing.

The evening dance party was the white party, where everyone dresses in white.

Carthage aqueduct

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August 6, 2011: Day 15: At sea

August 10, 2011

Today was a lazy day, we slept in and spent time at the pool.

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August 5, 2011: Day 14: Ibiza, Spain

August 10, 2011

Ibiza is significantly larger and more cosmopolitan than we’d imagined.  While full-time resident population is 100,000, more than two million tourists flock to the hip island to party.  Mid-rise condo and hotel buildings line the shoreline and the old city, enclosed by a slate wall is charming.  We spent time at the pool and have included photos of the ship.

We went to a bar and club at 1:00 a.m., a little early for Ibiza, found an air conditioned club and had fun dancing until 3:00 a.m.

Ibiza

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August 4, 2011: Day 13, Barcelona, Spain

August 10, 2011

We slept in and since we’d spent a week in beautiful Barcelonain 2005 and decided not to tour the city.  We enjoyed massages in the afternoon.  We enjoyed martinis at the ship’s martini bar, which features chilled counters.

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August 3, 2011: Day 12, Nice, France

August 4, 2011

We took the bus from the port city of Villafrancheto to Nice.  The distance wasn’t long but took a while due to the heavy beach traffic congestion.  We walked around the charming town, purchased some souvenirs and took the bus back to the port.

We napped in the afternoon and enjoyed the ship’s pool and spa.

We had a late dinner and then went to the 80’s dance party.  We had so much fun singing and dancing we stayed out until nearly 2:00 a.m.

Villafrancehe

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August 2, 2011: Day 11, Cinque Terre, Italy

August 4, 2011

We ventured via train to Riomaggiore, the first of five tiny sea-side towns.  We then walked to Manarola via the ‘lovers walk’ which had locks along the way representing the locks to people’s hearts.  The towns were charming.  We had a delicious lunch, the sweetest cantaloupe I’ve ever had in Manarola and trained back to the port city of La Spezia.

We napped by the quiet solarium pool in the afternoon.  The evening theme party was ‘glitter and glow’ and I wore my graphic equalizer t-shirt which ‘bounced’ the colors to the music.  Matt wore his glow bands and we had fun dancing.

Morning, La Spezia

Cinque Terre train

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