Heart stopping roller coaster ride through the streets of Naples

Naples Port

Naples Port

As I mentioned earlier, Randy lived in Naples, Italy as a teenager between the years 1957-59.  One of the goals for this trip was, for Randy, a trip down memory lane to see if some of the places he remembered from his childhood were still here.

After a quick breakfast, we were off to find transportation that would take us around the parts of Naples that existed in Randy’s memory.  Unfortunately, the cabs at the pier only wanted to take visitors for long distance drives to Sorrento, Pompeii, etc.  We would have to look elsewhere.

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DSC04295But first, we stopped at Castle Nuovo which was located very close to the pier.  The castle was very impressive and, so too was the beautiful triumphal arch at the main gate marking Alfonso of Aragon’s triumphal march into the city.  One sight that caught my eye was what was left of a beautiful fresco by painter Giotto above the inside of the front door of the castle.  The fresco was lovely.

Then we were off to find transportation that would take us up around parts of Naples that existed in Randy’s memory.  We walked for a few blocks and found the square filled with taxi cabs. Randy talked to one of the drivers and negotiated a deal for the driver to take us on a one-hour tour to the Posillipo, the name of one hill in Naples where he used to live

Now, the only problem was the driver spoke no English and Randy only remembered a little Italian.  It turned out however, that is all it took and we were off.  Our driver’s name was Vincenzo. (Yes, I know.  First we had two tour guides named Vincenzo and now our cab driver is named Vincenzo.  It was just too funny.)

Vincenzo was eager to make us happy and, so, off we went on a, sometimes terrifying, roller coaster ride through the streets.  Vincenzo drove at breakneck speed; hitting his brakes often barely missing hitting opened car doors or unsuspecting pedestrians as they tried to cross the street.  Periodically, I had to put my hands across my eyes.

Randy told Vincenzo the address that he remembered, Via Tre Tre, but he did not seem to understand or know where that was.  Randy also told him that he wanted to go to the old school and the hospital on Via Manzoni.  On the road up, Randy pointed out the caves where he used to go exploring to see what he could see.  The caves were used to house gun emplacements for the protection of the Bay of Naples.

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DSC04306During our way up the hill, we mentioned that we would like to take pictures.  All of a sudden, Vincenzo pulled off the road and kept saying, “Photograph, photograph”.  We got out of the cab to a view that was just beautiful.  We were overlooking the Bay of Naples.  Vincenzo volunteered to take pictures of us and then we took a few more.  The view was a little hazy but still beautiful.

 

S. Antonio A Posillopo

S. Antonio A Posillopo

As we started to return to the cab Randy realized that right in front of us was the church he and his family attended when they lived in Naples, S. Antonio A Posillopo.   Because it was Sunday we decided not to enter the church and disturb the worshippers but instead asked Vincenzo to take a picture of us in front of the church.  Then we were off again to find his school, home and hospital where he had been taken after his skiing accident.

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DSC04314bWe found the school but it no longer was an American school but an Italian academy.  We found the hospital but it looked as though it had been long abandoned.  We never did find the apartment building he and his family lived in.  Then off again to the end of Via Manzoni to see if we could find the place where his dad kept their sailboat.  This was not to be either as most of the entrances had gates and did look like he remembered.

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As we drove down to the Mergellina where the fishing boats were moored, we saw the tunnel his family used to take to the commissary.

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“It was so polluted back in the 50’s that we had to roll up the windows and hold our breath going through it.  It appears to be much improved,” Randy remarked.  Randy was a little dismayed as we came upon Luna Park.  “When I lived here, we used to go there and ride the amusement rides, but I did not see any there today,” Randy said sadly.

Happy and sad at the same time, Randy said as we headed back to the city center, “What a wonderful time I had exploring what I remember of my life in Naples.  “Although,” he said, “I was disappointed at how little Naples has changed over these many years”.

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DSC04322Back to the square safe and sound, we talked about going back to the ship or walking around the town and seeking out a nice side-walk café for a bite to eat.  We stood in the middle of the square while Randy decided which direction we would go.

 

 

DSC04343DSC04323Then Randy pointed down a street that Randy said represented a typical street with lights strung across the road, shops, cafés and street performers.  As we walked he would point down the narrow alleys that were filled with small shops, cafés and clothes hung across.

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DSC04333DSC04332We stopped at Bar L.u.i.s.e and had a wonderful cup of café latte a delicious pastry. What really made The restaurant had free Wi-Fi which made Randy very happy.  He was able to sign on and check out his email and Facebook accounts.

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Beautiful flowers next to the excavation site.

Beautiful flowers next to the excavation site.

On our way back to the port we noticed a great deal of excavation and stopped to see what they had unearthed.  To our surprise it was the remains of the early Roman port of Naples.  It was time to return to the ship.  We stopped by the Park Café in Central Park and picked up some lunch and found comfortable chairs in the park and talked about our day.  We could not wait until dinner to share our day’s experiences with our tablemates.

Tomorrow we are at sea for a day and then on to Barcelona.

Enjoy,

Mary

 

 

 

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“A delightful day spent in Civitavecchia”

IMG_0430Today we docked at the port city of Civitavecchia, Italy.  Civitavecchia is the port city for Rome and only a 90-minute bus ride away.

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We had been here just a week ago and took the bus trip to Rome and had a wonderful day but only touched the surface of sights to see.   Randy was not looking forward to a long bus ride again and said he would prefer to explore Civitavecchia because he said, “This would be our first opportunity to enjoy a small Italian town”.

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Piazza Leanera

A quick breakfast then we caught a shuttle to the town to walk around and see what we could see.  We followed a line of other passengers until we finally reached a lovely pedestrian area lined with shops, restaurants, park benches, trees, and took a leisurely walk.

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DSC04231As we were walking, we came upon a section of the pedestrian walk that had a glass cover.  We stopped and looked down and were amazed to see a small excavation site that revealed reminders of an ancient time.  We looked a little closer and saw the remains of dishware, a street sign and stairs.  The structure has been dated between the 1st and 2nd century AD.  Looking down at these little pieces of history gave me goose bumps.  Here we were standing in the middle of a city built upon the ruins of a Roman civilization long gone.    All I could think was: How wonderful that the city fathers thought to create this wonderful spot for people like me; lovers of history.

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Fort Michelangelo

 

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Interior of Fort Michelangelo

We turned and walked down a city street towards the water.  On our way we came upon the Forte Michelangelo.  We entered the gate and walked around the fort for a while.  The fortress extends entirely above a large Roman building of imperial times.  The fort is an open museum with signs describing its history, before and after pictures of its restoration, pictures of archeological findings discovered in the fort’s courtyard.  The coins, bronze jewelry, kitchen utensils, dishware, oil lamps and coins gives the visitor a glimpse into what life was like in ancient Roman.

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Civi 2bWe came out of the gate and decided to find access to the water.  The port is located in the beautiful blue-green waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.  After a short walk we came upon a lovely, large park area just at the water’s edge.  Randy noted that the beach was mostly pebbles.  We walked a bit, stopped to take a few pictures and then went down to put our hands in the water.  The water was very warm.

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DSC04269bSomeone on the ship mentioned that there was a very good restaurant up on the old city’s walls.  “Wow,” Randy remarked as he looked over the wall, “What a view from here”.  The views from the wall were wonderful.  We came across a sign advertising a special lunch at the La Ghiacciaia restaurant.  For only 12 Euros you could get bruschetta, pizza, a bottle of water and a soft drink.  I wanted to try pizza while in Italy so we took a seat at the restaurants sidewalk café.  When our waiter came we ordered two of this delicious sounding lunch.

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DSC04263The bruschetta was delicious.  The toast was firm covered in olive oil and stacked high with chunks of ripe tomatoes and fresh basil.  Then our pizza came.  Oh my word, if we had known how big the pizza was going to be, we would have ordered only one.  Each pizza was at least 14”.  The pizza was thin with a nice, clean, fresh red sauce and very good mozzarella cheese.  We tried our best but we could only eat three-quarters of our pies.   As we sat enjoying the beautiful day and our wonderful lunch, several members of our tour group stopped for lunch and we shared our experiences in and around the town.  It was hard to leave but we decided to head back to the ship.

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On our way back to the ship we passed the Cathedral dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi.  On top of the two gables outside stand the statues of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony from Padova.

We returned to our cabin and rested up for a while before getting ready for the evening.  A stop by the Diamond Lounge for cocktails then off to dinner.  Everyone at the table had done different activities during the day.  When Randy was asked how his day was he replied, “A delightful day spent in Civitavecchia”.

Tomorrow we are at sea.

Enjoy,

Mary

 

 

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Shopping, Jewelry Shows and Water Shows

Early morning at the Solarium Pool on a gloomy day

Early morning at the Solarium Pool on a gloomy day

Our second day on this leg of the trip was a gloomy, overcast day with mildly rocking seas.  Randy and I decided to start our day with a healthy breakfast at the Solarium Bistro.  Did I mention that I love their turkey bacon and fresh pineapple?  Over breakfast we decided that it was going to be an inside day.

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First activity on our agenda was a Crown & Anchor Society event.  Part of the morning entertainment was a demonstration by the Aqua Theater divers and, once again, enjoying the antics of Captain Selväg and Hotel Director Rissley.  We had been to one of these events on the first leg of our journey but enjoy the live entertainment and watching the captain and the hotel director acting silly.

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We made our way to the Aqua Theater and got settled.  The Aqua Theater is truly an amazing area, on this, or any ship.  According to the ship’s website the Aqua Theater pool if the largest and deepest salt water pool at sea.  The pool is 21.9’ by 51.6’ wide, with a depth of 17.9’.  What is really amazing is the pool has custom stage lifts and the pool depth rises and falls to allow for intricate and multilevel performances and various functions throughout the day.

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DSC04187DSC04181We have been at the pool while the divers are practicing; watched wonderful choreographed fountain shows programmed to music and lights.  And on several occasions, we have spent evenings watching a wonderful cast of professional divers; synchronized swimmers and gymnast perform the most amazing fetes in and out of the water.

Water show 2010

Water show 2010

DSC06568I remember the first time we watched the divers fall gracefully from the dive towers and the gymnasts and aerialists jumping, flipping and dismounting into the pool.  It was amazing.  Now picture yourself, sitting under the stars and all of a sudden the pool comes to life with music, lights and a cast of divers, gymnasts, aerialists and synchronized swimmers who dive, jump, swim, dance, and rise above the waters on a trapeze all to enthrall you.  And, the performers do all this while the ship is moving.  Trust me when I say, “It is an evening of entertainment you do not want to miss”.

DSC04203DSC04204We spent the rest of the day walking the Promenade window shopping and stopping for lunch at the Promenade Café.  Randy went up to the cabin to read a bit while I did a little window shopping.  I peeked into the art auction to see if the painting I had been admiring was still there.  It was.  While I was on the Promenade Effy was having a gala jewelry event.    There is always a large crowd that gathers at these events because there is always a raffle.  This time someone won a beautiful pair of gemstone earrings.  They were very pretty.  Once the ribbon was cut, I walked around the store and found myself admiring a beautiful pearl necklace by Mikimoto.  Admire the necklace is all I did.

(from left) Tom and Barbara, Paul and Rachel, Doug and Sue; and Randy and me

(from left) Tom and Barbara, Paul and Rachel, Doug and Sue; and Randy and me

As I mentioned earlier, we were able to secure our cabin for the first four of the legs of our cruise but not our dinner table.  One of our tablemates from the first leg was able to arrange for us and several other members of our tour group to be seated together.  What a great group of people.  There was Randy and me, Paul and Rachel, Tom and Barbara and a new couple Doug and Sue.  The conversation was interesting, lively, and at times, very funny all during dinner.  It was formal night so we had our picture taken.  We are a handsome bunch, don’t you think?

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IMG_8763IMG_8705This evening’s entertainment was the “Oasis of Dream Aqua Show” at the Aqua Theater.  I had something to do in the cabin so Randy went ahead to secure seats for us.  When I arrived it was standing room only.  I had to search a bit but finally saw Randy waving to the left of the stage.  Unfortunately, about half-way through the show it was cancelled.  The water in the pool needed for the high divers was spilling over making it dangerous for the performance to continue.  It was disappointing but we would have several more chances on our journey to see the show again.

It was getting late so we retired to our cabin to watch yet another classic movie on Turner Classic Movies, “Magnum Force” with Clint Eastwood in his role as Dirty Harry.  Now how is that for an evening?

Tomorrow we  dock at Rome’s port Civitavecchia, Italy.

IMG_8776Enjoy,

Mary

 

 

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Touring the architecture of Barcelona

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Sardana dance monument–by Josep Canas (1966)

We arrived in Barcelona early in the morning.  This was a final destination for many and the beginning of the next leg of our journey, a second 5-day cruise in the Mediterranean with ports-of-call in Rome and Naples.

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We signed up for a bus tour of the “architecture and vistas that make Barcelona special”.  Our first stop was high above the city on Montjuïc Hill.  The hill offered a wonderful vantage point to see the harbor, the Oasis, the city and the mountains beyond.  Unfortunately, there was a thin fog hanging over the valley below making it difficult to see the view clearly.  I noticed a lovely statue of children dancing in a circle on the hill.  The statue by Josep Cañas is dedicated to celebrate this form of dance performed in the Catalonia community.

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Arenas de Barcelona

As we entered the city center our guide pointed to the city’s transformed bull ring.  She explained that Cataluña had built two bull arenas in anticipation of the Olympic Games in 1936.  But she continued, “but over time the residents decided they did not want the space dedicated to killing animals and turned these beautiful spaces into shopping and entertainment centers”.

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Once in the city, the bus drove down the tree-lined Las Ramblas as the tour guide pointed out many buildings of interest designed by various architects and making a special note of the buildings of architect Antoni Gaudi.  We passed Gaudi’s Casa Mila, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada Familia.  The buildings were certainly unique, expressive and several had an air of whimsy.  We also passed beautiful fountains, statues and the Arch de Tromf.

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Casa Catllo

There was quite a bit of traffic when we started the tour but it picked up significantly at about 11am.  We were told that most residents started work at around 9-9:30am, ate lunch at around 2pm and dinner at 9pm.  It is a very different lifestyle than back home.

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We could not help but notice the amount of motorcycles and motor scooters present in the city.  Our guide reminded us that the streets of European cities were very narrow making it necessary to have small vehicles.  I was amazed at the way these intrepid riders weaved their way in and out of traffic with ease.

DSC04078bDSC04077cWe learned that the construction on the most famous of Gaudi’s works, the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, started in 1882 and was not predicted to be finished until 2030.  According to our guide, Gaudi recognized this and went to great pains to finish his architectural plans for future generations.

DSC04094bThe bus dropped us off at Ferdinand and Isabella’s castle.  We got a brief history of the area, the castle and the government building directly behind the castle.

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We walked around the building to the front door of the castle and the entrance to a beautiful courtyard.  According to local lore, this is the door where Ferdinand and Isabella met Christopher Columbus when he returned from the new world.  After listening to a brief history we made our way through the courtyard to the back of the castle to the political building.

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Two interesting aspects of these buildings that caught my eye were the gargoyles and the bridge that went between the two buildings.  We learned that the bridge was built to protect the politicians when walking between the buildings from being attacked with rolling bombs and other projectiles by disgruntled citizens.

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I loved the gargoyles jutting out from the facades of the building.  The guide was asked what or who the gargoyles represented.  She thought for a moment and said, “I suppose they represent the many different faces of the inhabitants of Spain at the time”.

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As we came around the corner and back onto the pedestrian walkway, the guide pointed to the Picasso artwork on the museum in front of us.  We were all struck by the images on the building.  Evidently, Picasso was asked to provide artwork for the outside of the building and this was his response.  It was very funny to see a stick figure piece of art associated with Picasso.  It was interesting to see the old and new architecture existing in such harmony.

Christopher Columbus Statue and Maritime Museum

Christopher Columbus Statue and Maritime Museum

We made it back to the ship just in time to take advantage of the special luncheon for the consecutive cruisers in the Opus dining room on deck 3.  We were seated at a table with two women, who coincidently, were members of our tour group.  While enjoying a wonderful three course meal, we all got to know one another.  We learned that Claire and Dory were cabin mates and lived in the Villages.  Claire was very interesting.  Evidently, Claire had been in the travel business and even though she has since sold it, she continues to travel extensively.  She told us that she had just come off a 79-day cruise and after this one she would be going on a cruise that would last over 50 days.  I was exhausted just listening to her itinerary.

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The rest of the day passed by with now familiar activities.  We rested a while, dressed for cocktails and dinner and retired for the evening.  As we cruised slowly out of port we were treated to a sky filled with yellows, oranges and reds.  The day was just lovely.  I was certain that I would dream about all the beautiful images I had seen during the tour.  Next time we visit Barcelona, we will take the time to walk along the boulevard and take in these beautiful buildings up close and personal.

Tomorrow we are at sea once again slowly cruising to Rome.

Enjoy,

Mary

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A rainy, fun day at sea

 

Rainy day in the Mediterranean

Rainy day in the Mediterranean

After two very long days of touring Rome, Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii, Randy and I were looking forward to a relaxing day at sea.

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The skies were overcast and the threat of rain loomed over our day, but no matter there are plenty of activities to keep us busy for the day around the ship.  We decided to start our day with breakfast at Johnny Rockets today.  We had barely taken a seat when the skies open up.  We moved to a table under an umbrella and ordered breakfast.  The breakfast here is always so good.

Right after breakfast we made our way down to Studio B for a meeting for the consecutive cruisers.  Hopefully, the staff had come up with a better plan than the last one to get us off and back on the ship in Barcelona.  After listening to how our morning would go in port, we felt sure that it would indeed be better.

As we were leaving the meeting, we ran into Rachel and Paul.  Rachel was putting a list together of people who would like to share a table on the next leg of our cruise.  “Put us on the list,” I said happily.

You see, although we had secured our cabin for the first four legs of our trip we were assigned to a new table this leg and we were assigned to, once again, a table for ten but only two couples came to the table for dinner.  Carmine and Marie were good dinner companions but spent a couple of evenings at the Windjammer buffet, consequently, we found ourselves alone.

One night we noticed that the table next to us had the same situation.  I looked over at the table and asked, “Would you like company?”  Tom and Barbara said yes and we moved over for the last few nights.  This, our last night, Carmine and Marine joined us and we had a wonderful time getting to know one another and sharing our experiences on ship and shore.

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After the meeting we went up to the Card Room to pick up the daily crossword and word find puzzles.  I like working on them when I take breaks from reading.  We then went up to look at the photographs we had taken this trip.  We purchased two.  My favorite was the one taken on the Royal Promenade in front of the 1930 Auburn Speedster.  At any point in the day passengers are posing and taking photographs next to this car.

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By now it was time for lunch and we headed up to Central Park to the café for my favorite lunch.  I piled my bowl high with a wonderful combination of mixed greens, spinach, tomatoes, corn, carrots, hard-boiled eggs and mozzarella balls and just a touch of balsamic vinegar.  YUM!  We returned to our cabin to enjoy our lunch on the balcony and watch the rain falling gently on the rolling sea.

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“Three Flags” by Neil J. Farkas

 

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“LeBaou des Noirs I” by Anne Holtermann

After lunch I made my way down to Boleros for the Park West Grande Finale Art Auction.  I had my eye on a beautiful Japanese print and was curious to see how much would be offered for it.  I have purchased two paintings over the years from Park West that I just love.  In 2006 while aboard the Carnival Liberty I purchased a serioliograph on canvas entitled “Three Flags” by artist Neil J. Farkas.  On our first cruise on the Oasis, I purchased an abstract painting entitled “Le Baou de Noirs I” by artist Anne Holtermann.

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“Another Jam Session” by Alfred Gockel

A fun part of the auction is the raffles.  I was so excited because I won one of the raffles!  I won a seriolithograph by Alfred Gockel entitled “Another Jam Session”.  Once I learned what the gallery was asking for the piece of art I was interested in, I decided to think about it for a while and left to make arrangements for the piece of art I had won to be sent back to Florida.

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On my way back to the cabin Puss ‘N Boots and several crew members came out for another ‘surprise moment’ on the Promenade.  After they finished several upbeat line dances, I had an opportunity to have a photo taken.  I love these moments, they are so much fun.  They make me feel like a kid.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon in the cabin until it was time to get dressed for cocktails and dinner.  While at the Diamond Lounge all the DreamWorks characters, production cast members and crew put on a wonderful parade on the Promenade.  I have seen this parade many times but it never gets old.  The costumes, colors, music, dance moves and DreamWorks characters are all wonderful.  Young and old line the Promenade to enjoy this fun activity.

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We joined Carmine, Marie, Tom and Barbara and had a wonderful time talking about our day and the fun times that lay ahead for all of us as we continue our journey.

Tomorrow we dock in Barcelona.

Enjoy,

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Capri, Sorrento & Pompeii

Capri

Capri

Where do I even begin to share the wonderful and beautiful sights we saw on this bright, sunny day?  Well, I suppose I should start from the beginning.

We docked this morning in the port of Naples, grabbed a quick breakfast and made our way down to the pier where we would meet our tour group.  Today, we were off to visit the Isle of Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii.

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IMG_8512Our tour started with a 50-minute ride through the blue waters of the Bay of Naples to the Isle of Capri.  The water was calm making our ride very comfortable.  After a short walk from Port of Marina Grande, we boarded a funicular that would take us high up to a terrace near the city center called La Piazetta.  The views of the Gulf of Naples, the marina and island going up on the funicular were amazing.

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From the city center we took a wonderful walking tour of this beautiful, hilly town of narrow, winding streets.  As we made our way through the town we passed many quaint shops, restaurants, bars and villas.   There were beautiful flowers everywhere.  We made our way to the Gardens of Augustus offering magnificent and breathtaking views.

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DSC03872IMG_8550From the vantage point of the gardens we could see the terrifying narrow road that zigzags and hairpins turns down to the marina below, the Faraglioni rocks that jut out of the sparkling azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and, the bell tower of the St. James’ Certosa, a Carthusian Monastery.  I must say, I could have stayed in the gardens for hours, but we needed to move on and do a little shopping before heading back to the marina for our ferry ride to Sorrento.

Piazza Torquato Tasso

Piazza Torquato Tasso

We docked at the Port of Marina Grande on the Almalfi Coast.  The ferry dropped us off at the marina and we took a short walk to board the bus that took us up the mountain to the Piazza Torquato Tasso.  The ride was a bit heart stopping on the narrow road with its hairpin turns but the views were amazing looking down at the Bay of Naples.

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Our first stop in Sorrento was the wonderful shop of A. Gargiulo & Jannuzzi .  The shop was filled with beautiful inlaid wood tables, boxes, trays, lace and pottery.  I spent a great deal of time looking at all the inlaid jewelry and music boxes.  Everything in the store was quite exquisite.

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IMG_8611The bus picked us up again and took us to lunch at the Villa Rubinacci Ristorante & Pizzeria.  The restaurant was nestled down a small driveway and covered in flowering vines.   We were lucky to sit at a table with the Comedy Club’s master of ceremonies, Simeon and cast member from Hair Spray, Vince.  While enjoying a great lunch of cannelloni, chicken parmesan, roasted potatoes a vegetable and cake for dessert, we had a great time talking about the ship, the upcoming end of Hair Spray on the ship and upcoming comedy acts.  We had a little time before meeting the bus so Randy and I walked around the town a bit looking in the store windows and just enjoying being out on such a beautiful, sunny day.

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IMG_8646IMG_8623Our next stop was the ancient ruins of Pompeii.  What a thrill to finally get to Pompeii.  From the moment I disembarked from the bus, I was eager to get started.  But first, we stopped to see a craftsman making a piece of cameo jewelry.  We all stood around him but he was so focused it did not seem to be a bother.  We could not stay long and made our way to the entrance to Pompeii.

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IMG_8646As we walked our tour guide, Vincenzo, (yes, our last guide was named Vincenzo too), shared a great deal of history of Pompeii before Vesuvius covered it over with ash and pumice when it erupted in 79 AD.  He talked about the buildings, roads, mosaics, fountains, columns, pottery and the remains of Pompeiians who had been unearthed during excavation.

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DSC03944It was very hot the afternoon we toured the site and walking could be a little difficult over the stones in the streets but it was a wonderful tour that I will remember for a long time to come.  Along the way we stopped for a while to look at many of the artifacts and residents that had been excavated.  It was incredibly eerie to see the bodies of Pompeiians frozen in time in various positions buried by under nearly 82 feet of different layers of ash.

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Forum

Forum

Tired but incredibly invigorated, we boarded the bus one more time for the ride back to the port.  On our way back Randy and I got into a discussion of his time in Naples when he was a teenager.

“So, what are your thoughts about this area now,” I asked.

“I was amazed at how much the area looked the same as we woke to see the Posillipo and Vomero hills in the distance.  I remember going to Capri on a slow boat and enjoying the island and visiting the Blue Grotto and Gracie Fields on the other side of the island.  I also remember sailing our sailboat to Capri on several occasions.  Our boat was basically a converted row boat.  It was very fast with plenty of sail area and a bow sprit,” Randy recounted.

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Sorrento was a new experience for Randy.  “I enjoyed walking around the town today, however, it was quite crowded,” Randy remarked.

“On this trip to Pompeii we were in a standard tour bus that struggled to make the corners.  I remember the car we had, a 1955 Ford, which was very large for the roads, and the trouble my dad had negotiating the turns,” Randy remembered.

Randy reflected that Pompeii was much more commercial than he remembered.  He went there twice, once with his mom and dad and, once on a school trip.

“I noticed that a lot of the artifacts had been removed for safekeeping to the museums in Naples,” Randy said.

“As a kid, I also visited another Roman city called Herculaneum, a port city that was swallowed by volcanic mud and now,” Randy reflected,  “a modern city is built on top of it”.

Once again, we arrived back at the ship just before dinner.  We grabbed a bite to eat and spent a little time on the Promenade before retiring to our cabin.

IMG_8553Enjoy,

Mary

 

 

 

 

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Visiting Imperial Rome

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

The day we docked in Barcelona ended our transatlantic cruise but it also began the next leg of our tour, a five-day cruise in the Mediterranean to Rome and Naples.  We left port as dusk started to fall and spent the next two days slowly cruising the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean to our next port of call, Rome.

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I read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Plutarch’s Lives when I was a young woman and was so excited to that I would be walking in St. Peter’s Square visiting Vatican City and the ruins of ancient Rome that existed over 12 centuries ago.

Entrance to Vatican City

Entrance to Vatican City

We had a 90-minute ride from the pier at Civitavecchia to Rome.  Our bus guide was very knowledgeable and gave a very informative talk about the historical and architectural sights we were going to see during our tour.

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter’s Square

Once we arrived in Rome we were introduced to our step-up guide, Vincenzo.  Vincenzo was a wonder.  His English was perfect, his personality was lively and the knowledge that he imparted about the history of Rome during the day was both deep and interesting.

We spent a few minutes while waiting for our time to enter Vatican City in a souvenir shop filled with all matter of things that pertained to the Vatican.  Before we knew it, it was time to enter and the first thing that hit us was the crowd.  There were people everywhere.  I have never been in a crowd that large and frankly, I found it a bit intimidating.

The architecture of the buildings was beautiful and amazing.  I loved the people on top of all the structures.  My eyes opened wide and my breath became still for a moment as we entered St. Peter’s Basilica.  No matter where your eye fell there was beauty.

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IMG_8328IMG_8327As we walked, Vincenzo pointed out the beautiful chapels along the sides of the church, the beautifully sculpted Bernini Pulpit, La Pieta statue, the mosaics, and so much more.  The Bernini Pulpit that stands 395 feet above the basilica floor. The tomb of St. Peter is below the altar.

Michelangelo's "La Pieta"

Michelangelo’s “La Pieta”

We spent some time lingering over the beautiful visage of Michelangelo’s “La Pieta” The Pieta is a famous piece of art that depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion.

This was actually a return visit for Randy.  Randy lived in Italy when he was a teenager.   When he was 13 his parents took him to see Rome and the Vatican.  They stayed in a nearby convent that rented rooms to travelers.

“I remember seeing a lot of things during our visit including the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Catacombs, the Basilica at Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel and the Apian Way with all of its beautiful Italian Cyprus trees,” Randy recalled.

“But most of all,” Randy said, “I remember an audience with Pope Pius the 12th”.

“He spoke to us individually in English and I had the opportunity to kiss his rings,” Randy continued.

Randy went on to say that he really had not given it much thought until he learned that Pope Pius had died and was being considered for canonization.  On our visit to the basilica Randy saw a statue of the pope.

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IMG_8365IMG_8364After leaving the Basilica we walked a great deal and stopped periodically to admire several structures on our way to the Trevi Fountain.  Unfortunately, the fountain was under repair and covered in scaffolding.

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IMG_8368The streets were crowded with tourists.  We walked down narrow streets with many small sidewalk cafes along the walls of the buildings.  While we were there we noticed a man dressed in a Roman soldier’s costume chatting with tourist and posing for pictures.  This was obviously a hit with the tourist as many stopped and took pictures with the costumed soldier.

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DSC03796DSC03798Our next stop was lunch at the Massimo D’Azeglio hotel where we enjoyed a three-course meal of pasta, roasted pork, roasted potatoes, peas and carrots and the most delicious ice cream dessert.  Each table also had two bottles of water and a bottle of white wine.  The entire meal was delicious.

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IMG_8466IMG_8480We then got back on the bus for a ride to the Coliseum and the Roman Forum.  The Coliseum was larger in life than I had imagined.  Every gladiator movie I had ever seen suddenly passed through my mind like a video.  As we walked through the ruins, I thought about Marcus Aurelius, Julius Caesar and other Roman notables of the time.  As we walked and listened as Vincenzo filled our heads with tiny bits of information life in ancient Roman times, structures like the Temple of Vesta, archaic burial grounds, Temple of Romulus, Palatine Hill, Constantine’s Arch and so much more.  It was a walk and talk that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Arch of Constantine

 

It had been a very long but very satisfying day.  We arrived back at the ship just in time to freshen up a bit and get to dinner.  We did not have a show this evening so just stopped at the Globe and Atlas for a after dinner drink and retire for the evening.

Tomorrow we will have a relaxing day at sea.

Enjoy,

Mary

 

 

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