We spent the previous day at sea, relaxing. Today is Palma.
We walked around the grounds a bit and then went to the Spanish Village.
It’s set up to replicate different famous buildings and communities on the mainland. We did a tour and some shopping. Then John and I went with our new favorite pastime, chilling in a piazza.
Our last stop was the Cathedral, which was insane. Huge, Gothic architecture, and the stained glass windows were incredible. They also had probably the biggest pipe organ I’ve ever seen.
After dinner, we went out on the deck to watch the sun go down over the coast of Spain. Which is great enough, but then we heard splashes, and saw dolphins jumping out of the water. Fantastic end to our trip.
Our flight home left Barcelona early, so we got off the ship at 5:30 a.m. I took a few shots of the shore, and Barcelona’s airport.
Today our port was actually right by the city. We were really dragging this morning, so we got out about an hour after we docked. We decided to go to Pompeii first, and hitched a ride with Vincenzo, our cab driver. He didn’t speak a ton of English, but we sort of got a tour on the way.
Pompeii was incredible, and I guess we beat the crowd there. It’s huge, and easy to get lost. John stopped in at a cafe to grab a drink, and I wandered out onto a rooftop I apparently wasn’t supposed to be on. It had a great view, so I got some photos before I got yelled at in Italian.
We did some more exploring, and some of it is really well preserved. You can see the original tile from the floor. Other places had a lot of brick filling in to hold up the original stone.
Vincenzo hung out while we spent about two hours there. We got to see Vesuvius, but couldn’t climb up it. On our way out the courtyard was totally packed, so I’m glad we made it out early. They have quite a few stray dogs that live there, mostly they just sleep.
We took off for Naples (at 120 km/hr – Vincenzo drives like John). We got to see the Basilica of San Francesco, and the Galleria, which is like a mall, but so much prettier. We checked out the shops and got some pastries and chocolate to bring home.
Eventually, we stopped at a cafe to get pizza. John like that the best, but I still think the gelato was better. Naples is so busy, much more hurried than Florence or Rome. We also saw a wedding party walking around Naples – everywhere I go, I seem to run into weddings.
We learned that we were actually docking in Civitavecchia, and that Rome would be another hour and a half train ride into town. We only got about three hours in Florence using that plan, so we decided to book a shore excursion at the last minute. We hopped a bus, and it was off to Rome. First stop, the Vatican.
We walked the halls, which were huge, and checked out the frescoes.
After the Vatican Museum, we went to see the Sistine Chapel. Our guide explained all the different scenes while we were outside in the gardens, since you’re not really supposed to talk in the chapel. You’re also not allowed to take pictures in the chapel. It was packed when we got in there, and tourists are bad at the not talking thing, so it was pretty loud. We’d studied the paintings in Lambert’s class, and talked about how it’s painted in many paces to look like sculpture, like the figures are coming out of the ceiling. I’d seen pictures, but they don’t really do any justice to the effect, they honestly look sculpted. The scale is amazing, the Last Judgement is enormous. The creation of Adam panel, on the other hand, is pretty small.
We drove past St. Peter’s, and saw the Pope. He does an audience in the square every Wednesday. We couldn’t get anywhere near him, of course, because there were a million people. But we did get to see him.
I’d thought the town would be packed, since it was the Anniversary of the Republic, but our guide said that most of the locals take off for the beach then. We decided against waiting in line to get into St. Peter’s, and wandered off on our own. Hung out by the fountains, and took more pictures, then we just sat in the square for awhile people watching.
Later we checked out some of the town, although a lot of the shops were closed for the holiday. We had a nice walk, and then stopped to get cappucino and more gelato. Not as good as the one in Florence, but still pretty good.
We met back up with our group, and headed for the Colosseum.
It’s amazing, although we didn’t have time to really explore it. The whole city has ancient ruins overlapping modern buildings.
Rome was a bit of a blur. We headed back, and it started raining when we hit Civitavecchia – we’d had perfect weather all day.
So for our ten year anniversary, we had an adventure in Florence. We docked in Livorno, and took a shuttle from the pier into town. Once we got there, we had to figure out how to get into Florence. We walked a bit to the bus stop, and got a little lost. I asked an older man in a shop, but he didn’t speak English. Really, no one in town did, but we eventually figured out that the #1 bus went to the train station. We didn’t get tickets for the bus, but no one ever asked.
At the train station, I got us tickets ordered, and then we learned that Italian trains are in no hurry to be anywhere. We found our platform and waited, and eventually a woman came over to tell everyone that they had switched tracks, so we had to move to another platform. The train was crazy hot, and kept stopping at random intervals.
We got into Florence about half an hour later than we were supposed to. Picked up a map at the station, and saw Santa Maria Novella, then headed toward il Duomo. The streets are really narrow, and we saw a lot of scooters and bicycles.
I had to have taken a few dozen photos of il Duomo.
We found some gelato nearby, and I just ate and stared at the thing. John said the gelato was worth the hour and a half train ride. We looped around to the Archealogical Museum, but it was closed, so we spent some time in the Bargello.
It used to be a prison, but now it’s a sculpture museum. The building itself was really impressive, and I got to see Donatello’s David (which is bigger than I thought). I subjected my poor husband to a lecture on how it differs from Michelangelo’s David.
We had to start back toward the station so we wouldn’t be late, and went through the market. Insanely crowded, hot and loud. Browsed some of the goods and eventually found our way back to the train. We find out we were supposed to get our tickets validated, but we didn’t. The girl said she’d let it slide, and marked us off anyway.
We tried to hop a bus back, but couldn’t buy tickets on the bus without smaller change. We broke a 20 in a little shop, but when we came back out, some kids that do tours in Rome gave us tickets (and info on their tours, of course). Again, no one asked for our tickets, and we didn’t pay for the bus.
Today was a bit less stressful. We decided the night before to book a shore excursion. I don’t think I’d want to do a bus tour everyday, but it was a nice, relaxing first day thing. We got to see basically all of Monaco, and drove around these corniche roads that are just cut into the side of the rock. Really narrow and windy. It’s arranged sort of strangely, because it’s so small.
We also drove through Eze and Nice, although we couldn’t really stop in Nice because of some Franco-African conference going on. Drove past Elton John’s house, but he wasn’t home.
We stopped at a perfumerie called Fragonard. We took a tour, which was pretty cool. I apparently knew very little about how perfume gets made (it basically looks like a still). After the tour, they let us sample some of the perfumes, which was all a little too strong for me. John said he was surprised I wasn’t getting all girlie over it, you know, French perfume and all. Honestly, the place kind of gave me a headache.
We hung around outside to take some pictures (of course), and then drove a bit more, checking out the scenery. The perfumerie was in Nice, so we went back through Eze and Monte Carlo, and another neighborhood of Monaco that I can’t remember.
We still had about four hours in port when we came back, so we walked back toward town. We eventually found a little cafe, no English there. Saying that my French is rusty would really be an overstatement; I took one semester my second year of college. Generally when we travel, I only learn how to say “Please” and “Thank you”, and how to order coffee in whatever the native language is (although I added how to order gelato in Italian). I got my first espresso, and they’re heaven.
Back in May, John and I took a trip to Europe. I posted a ton of photos on Facebook, but wanted to post them here as well, travel journal style. Since May is just the beginning of wedding season, it took me 7 or 8 months to get around to it.
5.29.10 Pittsburgh, Chicago, Madrid, Barcelona
Our trip started out sort of bumpy. I must have been in a rush getting boarded, and put my passport in my pocket. Of course, the thing fell out during the flight. Except I didn’t notice. And the pilot found it, so they paged us. But we were already out of the terminal. So I didn’t notice it had gone missing until we go to the Iberia gate, and needed to get them out.
Millie, our gate agent (who we got to know rather well over this course of events) sent me back to the gate we came in from, to see if someone had found it. Doing my best Amazing Race impression, I ran back to Terminal One, where I found out that the pilot had found my passport, but that we had no way to hunt down the pilot. A very kind stranger, who was also having a terrible day, loaned me his cell phone to call John and fill him in. Oh right, I also didn’t bring my cell phone on this trip.
I book it back to Terminal Three, because they can’t call each other (what?). If you haven’t been to O’Hare, these are a good run and a shuttle ride apart. I spent most of the morning running between the lost and found at Terminal One, and our gate at Terminal Three. When I show up at the lost and found for the third time, it’s good news! They have my passport. At our gate. In the other terminal. We’re crazy late for our flight at this point, and I thought there was no way they’d let us on, but at least now we could book another. Still, I ran as fast as I could and when I get there, I find out that we can still make the flight. Maybe. We’re running, and Millie escorted us through, so we could skip the line at security. John’s carrying my bags, and we’re sprinting through the airport. Of course, ours is the very last gate. We made it, but just barely, and fell in a heap into our plane seats.
We met a lovely girl named Lucia, who sat next to us for 11.5 hours. This is Lucia at the Madrid airport – I only took this one photo the whole day, since it was so hectic. She was teaching English in Italy for the summer. I couldn’t get any sleep on the plane, so by the time we landed in Madrid (the next day), I’d been up for around 22 hours. It’s a shame I didn’t take more photos, Madrid’s airport is pretty cool looking. Lucia was going to the same gate as we were, so we traveled as a group, and John carried her insanely heavy bag (he’s a nice boy).
Madrid to Barcelona was a short flight, but after the ride in, I didn’t want to get on another plane. I was about 6 hours late on doing my IV, so I had to find somewhere to do my infusion. Well, somewhere ended up being an airport bathroom.
I know, I know. I used a lot of alcohol wipes. I ended up using a bongo tie from my lighting kit to hang it (is there anything bongo ties can’t do?) After hanging out in the bathroom for close to an hour, and narrowly avoiding sepsis, we made our way to the ship. I don’t think our cabbie spoke any English at all, but he got us there no problem. We found our room, and immediately took a two hour nap. We had to suffer through the life vest demonstration, checked out the ship, and ate dinner. 9:00 Barcelona time, which was about 3:00 home time. We’d left 31 hours ago, and I slept for two of them, so I was pretty gone. Tomorrow, Monte Carlo. But first, sleep.