Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rome, Vesuvius, Pompei

The next day was our excursion to Rome. We docked in Civitavecchia and boarded our excursion bus bright and early and headed to the Coliseum on a bus.

Behind us was an older couple with really thick New York accents. I couldn't stop giggling at their loud conversation.

"But I thought we were going to see the Spanish Steps!!"
"No, Paula, remember we looked at the excursions and this was the one you wanted."
"Well I just can't believe they aren't taking us to see the Spanish Steps! I could just go there myself and it would be so easy."
"Well, Paula, this excursion doesn't go to the Spanish Steps. If you want we can get off this bus and go see the Spanish Steps but I don't know how we'll get back to the ship."
"I just can't believe that they have a tour where they don't take you to see the Spanish Steps. And I wanted to see the Trivi fountain."
"Well Paula, I just don't know."

When we got there I think Paula forgot to keep complaining.

Our tour guide walked us through the history of the Coliseum, pointing out at many different times that the movie "Gladiator" has it allllll wrong.

Then we hopped over to the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel (which we didn't get photos of because it's strictly forbidden and there's really tight security everywhere)!

Fertility Goddess.  Betcha can't guess why.

Pieta of Michaelangelo

The next day we hiked Mt. Vesuvius (an active volcano) and visited Pompei, the city that was destroyed by preserved by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago.
Near the top
Inside the volcano
The Amalfi Coast

Is he tired of smiling for pictures yet?
Amphitheater with crazy acoustics 
You can still get drinkable water from this spout

Tour of the bath houses
We did have some days at sea where we just pulled up chairs and read books, went to the gym, wandered around outside, went hot tubbing, and tried adventurous things for lunch.  We also fell in love with the Turner Classic Movie station at night and watched some random (and awesome) John Wayne and Judy Garland movies, as well as "Risky Business."

Harry also got second place in an on-board speed rock climbing competition.  It was pretty impressive!

More to come!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cannes and Cinque Terre

Remember how I said "to be continued" about a month ago?  I'm clearly not back in my blogging groove yet.

When Harry and I finally boarded the ship, we crashed and slept for another three hours.

Our brief view of Barcelona
Since the flu was still wearing off, and we were getting used to the time change and a rocking boat, we didn't eat much that first week. We mostly drank a lot of water and had a lot of fruit and toast, which was great because it was almost constantly available.

Our first stop was in Cannes, France. We took a little boat to shore and just explored everything on foot. We climbed a hill to a church called Notre Dame de l'Espérance, and enjoyed the view.

Stopped in this beautiful park to explore a map.
The view from Notre Dame de l'Esperance

Inside the church courtyard
A car as big as me.  Harry thought this was totally hilarious.
Little apartments.
Shop windows.
Caught Harry fiddling with these music box parts outside a shop.
We didn't have any other plans for Cannes. It was a small, quiet, fancy beach town, obviously where the Cannes Film Festival is held every year.  It was so nice to be able to just walk around and take it in.

The next day we docked in Livorno, Italy. Livorno is only a few hours from Florence by car, and we considered signing up for an excursion to see the Tower of Pisa. While doing research though, we discovered that hiking through Cinque Terre was an option, and we immediately opted for it.  I have friends who have visited and said it was really cool.  Plus it sounded like less of a tourist trap.

Cinque Terre is a collection of five very old fishing and winery villages right on the rocky coast. Over hundreds of years, the residents have carved out the mountainsides for their vineyards. A train connects the five villages, or you can walk between them, but there are no cars there.

It was cold and rainy, but Cinque Terre was so beautiful and quiet. We felt so secluded on the coast, in a very small group. We walked through the towns one at a time.

This was pretty much his expression the whole time.
Vineyards in the mountainside

Walking to a neighboring village

Walking to a church/graveyard at the top of this hill

Walking around the church courtyard
View from the top
This picture that Harry took deserves a gold medal.  I think it's so beautiful and captures the scale of the coast, with that tiny fisherman in the lower right corner.
For lunch we ate here. This is a picture of the actual chef. Harry caught a glimpse of him but we didn't have the nerve to ask for a picture with him. For lunch, we shared a huge terra cotta bowl of freshly caught mussels in butter and garlic. I got lobster ravioli in a cream sauce with fresh shrimp. It was probably one of the top three meals I've ever had in my entire life.

Yes this is real.

The most random thing happened. We ran into some friends from Las Vegas! They happened to be in Italy for a Periodontist Conference.  Freakishly small world.
More photo dumps coming your way soon!