A Travellerspoint blog

July 2011

Rome and off the ship

So they are making us get off today. How rude!

sunny 30 °C

The off loading of the ship was easy and our driver was waiting for us. Alex and Roger chatted in the front seat and the drive into Rome was quick and painless. Alex pointed out some of the sites and we arrived at the location to pick up our keys before we headed to our apartment. We didn’t get access until three so we dropped off our bags, washed up and wandered out. We ended up at a restaurant and enjoyed our first meal in Rome. The Risotto was excellent. We just have to remember to split meals as they are very large and the look at you funny if you ask to pack up your meal.
There was a group at the next table that seemed to know what they were doing so we chatted with them. They were from Texas and just finished a mission at an orphanage in Croatia. They had mixed feelings about that, but had lots of tips about their time spent in Rome.
We headed to a park where we enjoyed the atmosphere and some water and ice cream. We arrived a bit early to the apartment and it was not quite ready, but we slipped in and Doris, Roger and Joyce were asleep in minutes. Once the cleaner left I passed out to.
Joyce is hungry and wants her wine so Roger, Tracy and I wandered out. We found a Vietnamese and a Chinese market and a small corner store before we backtracked from a woman carrying a big bag of groceries. We found it. I immediately stuck a Euro in a shopping cart before trying to find just a basket on wheels. We had a great time picking out cheese, crackers, butter, wine, dessert, milk, cereal and such guessing at ingredients. I must go back with a camera to take a photo of the horsemeat baby food and the bottle of McDonalds Ketchup. Filling lunch for five was 51 Euros. Groceries for five for several meals were 39 Euros and that includes two large bottles wine.
Rome is hot and somewhat muggy but much cleaner than Naples. We continue to get major warnings about pickpockets. We had a fellow come in the restaurant to ask for Roger's pizza. The waiter headed him off and asked him to leave. The apartment is great; it has a little lift that holds maybe three normal people. You must remember to close both elevator doors otherwise it will not move. Joyce and Doris have a bedroom with twin beds, we have a room with a large bed and Tracy's bed is in the common room. The kitchen has a clothes washer, gas stove and basically what we need. There are fans in each room that are not in the best of shape, but they do work.

Posted by Mari Anne 13:22 Archived in Italy Tagged people city apartment rome explore 5 Comments (0)

Naples, Italy

Pompeii and Herculaneum

An early start had us off the ship and looking for the Stazaione. It took somewhat longer than we had planned. We were following the GPS but then switched over to signs when we saw a directional sign. Only they disappeared. We asked several people and found our way. We bought tickets at 4.50 Euros for a train to Pompeii and back. The train was packed with locals, many heading out to the beach. Lucia called to say her train was late, but we ended up in Pompeii at about the same time.
She bypassed the ticket line and we walked up the old Roman road into the city. Having studied Pompeii in school I was a little more aware of its history, but nothing can prepare you for the actual thing. The ruts in the rock from the chariots, the sanitation system, the complete devastation of an entire city, to see a man and women trapped by the ash and rock in their final moments is a truly amazing and humbling thing. Lucia's knowledge was extensive and she led us through some of the more traveled sites and then off to see some areas that were off the beaten path.
It was hot and dusty, but the time flew. Yes the three hours were gone and there was still so much to see, but one can only absorb so much. We wandered back out to the entrance and said a quick goodbye as the train was coming. This was a newer train and flew back to Ercolana Scavi where Herculaneum is located. We headed down the hill and stopped at a pizzeria that Lucia suggested for a pizza baked in a forno. We ordered a Margarita pizza made with Buffalo Mozzarella and local tomatoes, a Caprese salad to share and it was great! The pizza was four Euros and was a full twelve-inch pizza. Great deal ... we could have shared two.
We walked the rest of the way down and were able to view Herculaneum from above. We decided we would not appreciate the site enough to pay the entrance fee. Too much of a good thing. The ruins are different. They of course were destroyed by a wall of superheated mud from Vesuvius and their excavation has been much more difficult as the mud solidified after it cooled.
It is our day for making connections as the train arrives very shortly after we entered the station. We are back on the older train with many returning beach goers.
The other place that needs viewing is the museum in Naples where the artifacts from Pompeii are housed. That is the artifact that exists. The many bronze statues were taken away to be melted down for weapons. Some things never changed.
Joyce and Doris planned a bus tour and were only half pleased. The first part of the trip was in Naples itself and it is a dirty, dirty town. The streets are littered with garbage and there are huge piles of trash all over. This seems to be an ongoing issue. The second part of the trip was much better and gave them chance to see something other than garbage.
Only one moment made me nervous today. With all warnings of pickpockets we are pretty aware of who is around us. This morning as we walked to the train an older man, was hanging around, as we passed he changed demeanor and fit himself in between Tracy and me. As I moved closer to Tracy he looked at me sideways and scowled. It was not a good feeling. Then he just drifted off to the side. So maybe nothing, but...it didn't feel right.
So we are packed, we have said good-bye to Paolo and Adrian and the activity staff and a few random people we have connected with over the cruise. We will catch a bit of the show and dance some before we meet Charlotte for a game of scrabble at 10:30.

Posted by Mari Anne 21:48 Archived in Italy Tagged ruins train guide tour naples herculaneum pompei garbage erkolano Comments (0)

At Sea

Time to spend some time in the pool and on the dance floor.

So what is a day at sea but a little extra sleep, read a bit, play trivia, do some line dancing and get ready for our formal night in the dining room.
We connected with Amy, her brother Allen and their mom Natalie at the morning trivia and gave them one of the free dinners for two to a specialty restaurant and then Jane at line dancing and offered her and Charlotte the other one. Charlotte and Jane had a great meal and were very happy to have the time to hang out as well.
The evening started with a great dinner and then to the theatre for the 'Cirque de Soleil' type show. We got good seats and knowing Sanci was suspended circling the mid area of the theatre he walked down the post right over Tracy's head and winked at her. The whole thing was very magical. I am sure the others did not blink during the show, but I nodded for a bit. We finished the night in the Sky Lounge for the New Years Eve party.

Posted by Mari Anne 21:47 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Santorini Part two

back on board the ship

sunny

Tracy and Roger had a dance rehearsal at 6 so we ordered dinner for them and they showed up just in time to eat. Then they were off again. Kevin danced the disco and did okay but had lots of fun. Tracy and Sanci were next with the Rumba and were great, Tracy apparently started shaking, but Sanci lead her just fine. The judges had some really nice things to say. Roger and his partner were next and did a wonderful job really selling it well, they did the cha cha. The last couple did the Merenge. Jose the dancer was amazing and his partner, Lourdes did a decent job. Then the dancers did a couple of numbers, an Argentine Tango and a Jive then they announced the winners.
And the winner is...Tracy and Sanci and they won a bottle of wine, very fine wine. Jose and Lourdes won the popularity contest. They all got a dinner for two in the specialty restaurant. So between the two of them that is like $100 in dinners. We gave away our dinners for several reasons. One is the Silk Harvest is the one with the most Vegetarian meals, but it is really not up Joyce's alley, plus we enjoy Adrian and Paolo so we are happy where we are.
We chatted with Sanci and ended up in the Martini bar where he treated us to drinks. It was fun chatting and learning about him and his family in Hungary.
We took a swing by the Sky lounge for a dance and took a look at the dessert buffet before heading back to find Tracy at the 60s quiz where Charlotte snaffled Roger for the Grove event and dress as a Beatle. Surprise of surprises Jacob of Juke box was one of the Beatles as well. He is now dating a girl on the ship and was missing her already. Jukebox was the quartet that was on the ship last time we sailed. The quartet on this time is mediocre at best.

Posted by Mari Anne 05:51 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Santorini, Greece

Donkey or tram?

sunny

I think the tram for Grandma. Well here is our test the seniors day. At first I was going to sat no way...but then changed my mind. We got a decent start with our Priority Tender Passes and were on shore very quickly. We got the first tram up the hillside. Doris was not impressed. She covered her eyes and was somewhat sweaty; bur once you are on there is no turning back. Okay so the first bit is a little jittery, but really it was quite fun. We had time for Joyce to get a hat, Tracy and I to get lost, and time for a coffee overlooking the caldera. Okay for those who know me, I had an iced Chocolate.
We were watching for Demetrius, but it was his wife Patricia who showed up. Patricia is German, born in Belgium, married a Greek and settled here. Wow! Demetrius took another group and thought Patricia would be great for our family grouping. A short walk away we found a blue air-conditioned van that was just perfect and we were off.
How can one describe the fantastic sights around the island? The humidity is high which means the horizon is a little hazy. Oia is beautiful, so many wonderful surprises around each white washed corner. There are 500 churches on the Island. Many are privately owned. As we passed one that was the church for the Saint Demetrius the lady who owned it was cleaning it. We chatted for a bit through Patricia and then the lady invited us in. It is very beautiful with ornate fixtures, wooden stalls along the sides for the men who sing hymns and various religious paintings on the walls. Patricia put some coins in the box and we lit candles. We lit candles for Jennifer, for Roger's Dad and Uncle Den. I told Patricia to tell her this was the highlight of our trip and for whatever reason I teared up.
We found the car and drove down into the fishing village and up the coast to a black sand beach where the locals go. Basically a few tourists go during the day and the locals arrive about five. There are caves in the coast hillsides where they store their beach stuff during the summer and their boats in the There are other caves in the hillside, but these ones were where their disposed of their dead. They now have traditional cemeteries, but they bury their dead standing up. You see many grapes here, but they grow low to the ground rather than suspended on supports.
We drove up the back of Fira to a house owned by Demetrius and Patricia. She showed us before and after pictures. It was a derelict dump when they got it for 15,000 Euros in 1993. They created a dining area out of the big oven, made skylights out of chimney's, added rooms, plastered walls, made or scavenged furniture and fixtures and made an amazing home. They added a guesthouse next to it. When they needed space to add a clothes washer, they just dug into the hillside. They now rent both places out and have built a new home further on.
We drove up to the winery for another amazing view of the caldera before heading to a family owned taverna. We settled on water, house wine, fried cheese, home fries, tzaziki, flava beans, Santorini Salad, eggplant salad, Imam, which is a stuffed white eggplant, tomato balls and Roger had fried sardines and some bread. Oh my it was all good!
It was now coming up to five hours on the road and time to head back to the ship. The line for the tram was not bad and we were on board in about 20 minutes. Doris had to cover her eyes again, but we made it down safely. You can of course walk up or down, but the donkeys have the right of way, plus they leave slippery deposits along the way. You can ride the donkeys, which looked a little iffy, especially the ones heading back down. They looked well fed and well groomed.

Posted by Mari Anne 08:05 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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