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SEEDS OF EXCITEMENT PLANTED
12 August 2015
As of today, it is 77 days until we leave on our Mediterranean cruise. We signed up for this cruise almost exactly a year ago. It's our first ocean voyage, though a little ocean, compared with the Pacific -- the Mediterranean. The friends we made on our Ukraine trip, Linda and Bob, wrote to us that they wanted to take the cruise, and did we want to go with them? We all signed up, Walt and I, Char and Mike. We got adjoining staterooms, the last available, actually. We had great plans to remove the barricade between our balconies so we could all party together.
Of course, since then, we have lost Mike, but Viking was very nice to Char and is letting her keep the double room for a single price, so we still have adjoining balconies.
This will be our first time on a large ship (1000 passengers vs. 300 passengers), our first cruise on the ocean (staterooms come equipped with binoculars, which I thought was a fun addition!) I wonder if it will be as casual as the river cruises will be ... can I show up to dinner in one of the three dining rooms in my t-shirt?
As of today, we are able to sign up for the optional shore excursions. Each port (Barcelona, Toulon, Monte Carlo, Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Split, and Venice) has a free overview excursion or you can opt for the more expensive choices (anywhere from $60 to over $300). We are taking several of the free excursion, but also splurged on some of the other excursions as well.
In Barcelona, we are taking the Gaudi tour. Ever since I heard about Antoni Gaudi, I've wanted to see some of his architecture, especially the Sagrada Famlia , the church that was his life's work (he worked on it for 43 years, until 1926), which will not be completed until long after I am dead.
After that, I'd be happy to go home, but it's only day 2. On day 3 we will dock in Toulon (France) and will tour the fishing village of Cassis, passing France's highest sea cliff on the way, we take a short cruise, and end up in one of the wineries, tasting wine.
On day 4 we are in Monte Carlo. Char is going on a tour of Nice, but we are going with Linda and Bob to the perfumeries (which I enjoyed last time we were here) and to the hill town of St. Paul de Vince, which was my favorite hill town last time. I would enjoy browsing those small shops again, stopping for a coffee or something.
Day 5 finds us in Tuscany Walt and I will be alone "touring Florence on your own" for 9 hours. My memories of Florence are so bad that I want the chance to just do it at my own pace and leave with good memories this time, because it is a beautiful city. I especially want to return to Vivoli, which, our tour guide told us before, is the birthplace of gelato.
Day 6 is Rome. Char was going to take the "little-seen Rome" tour because she has been there before, but then opted to join the rest of us for the highlights tour (which is included in our cruise price). Walt points out that it will be a Sunday, and All Soul's day so I think I'm glad we will be in Viking's hands and not have to brave the streets on our own.
Day 7 we are again taking the included tour, highlights of Naples, which includes free time in the piazza to have coffee and/or gelato.
Day 8 is our day at sea, so no excursions (maybe a chance to enjoy the swimming pools) but on Day 9 we are doing Corfu's natural and historic riches, most of which I can't pronounce: You’ll have a bird’s-eye view of scenic Paleokastritsa from the village of Lakones, situated in the nearby hills. Ascending Mt. Pantokrator, more of the island stretches out below you. Along our route, there will be time to explore several Corfiot villages, from traditional Nissaki and Acharavi—where you’ll enjoy a delicious Greek lunch—to the coastal resorts of Barbati, Ipsos, Dassia, Gouvia and Kontokali. In Old Corfu Town, you can take in the island’s rich history as you pass the Town Hall, the Old Fortress, the Church of St. Spyridon and Esplanade Square.
Day 10 is Dubrovnik, which George Bernard Show called "paradise on earth." We've opted for the free tour here in the morning and a vineyard and wine tasting in the afternoon.
Day 11 is Split, where we drive through scenic views, then take a 45 minute cruise "through picturesque canyons," after which we taste Croatian delicacies.
Day 12 we arrive in Venice and are only taking the included tour because we have extended our trip a few days in Venice, and Char has been there and loves it so we figure we'll just use her as our tour guide. I just want to sit on the piazza sipping espresso and wondering if Rosanno Brazzi will show up, though since he died in 1994, it's unlikely.
So the seeds have been sewn and we are all starting to get
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Interior, Sagrada Familia
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This is entry #5615