March 29 On the ship and March 30 Barcelona

March 29 – On Board the Costa Magica

We woke up a little later than usual, around 8am. Carolyn had been up for a bit earlier but went back to sleep.

We showered and dressed and went to breakfast, again many yummy foods to choose from. After breakfast we went outside to take some pictures of the lovely gardens and pool and views. This is a terrific hotel in every way!

Back in the room we packed everything up and then relaxed while we waited for our transfer to the ship. The driver came for us at noon and the drive to the ship was about 10 minutes.

We were pleased by the attractive building that served as the entry point. When two gentlemen came for our luggage, there was shock and dismay that we did not have our Costa luggage tags, lengthy discussion but they finally made us new ones. The Italians are a chatty people. J

We went inside, showing our boarding pass and passport several times. We were assigned to board with group 13. We saw someone with a group 16 pass, but are not sure how high the numbers went. We filled out a little questionnaire, making sure we do not have Ebola and when our group was called we needed to turn those in. When they checked Carolyn’s passport they could not find the stamp from our arrival and it looked like there would be a problem. However I had our air info in the travel notebook and that satisfied what they needed. All the Europeans got to keep their passports, everyone else turned them in to be returned at the end of the journey.

Finally we were in the ship. It is huge and beautifully decorated in a baroque style we both like. We headed to our room, #7431, and 2 of our 4 bags were at the door. The other two came later. We also met Jefferson, our steward and asked him for more hangers. Inside we found some information and our Costa cards. Our room is big and nice, just like the pictures and our balcony is wonderful. We unpacked, and that in itself made us happy, no more digging through suitcases. We had a note from the excursion office asking me to come by, so I left Carolyn to hang out and went to take care of it. There was a set of elevators and stairs near our room and so I took them on my way to the Excursion desk on the 3rd floor. However, that set goes to only one part of the ship. After seeking help I went to another area, it was being used for luggage and I could not use it. Finally, after about 30 annoying minutes I found my way to the excursion desk and got in the long line. I had both our cards and when it was my turn, I paid for the Barcelona excursion; 49.95E for each of us. Since we are only in Barcelona for 5 hours, this seems like the best plan.

Back at the cabin we decided to visit the shops, which were closed. As we walked back to the cabin we saw lots of people with their life jackets. If they had announced it was time for the drill, neither of us heard it. We were lucky that the drill exit was very close to our room. We put on our life vests and joined the crowd. They had everyone line up in rows of 4, women and children in front. Then we held up our room cards and they quick scanned them. They gave drill instructions in multiple languages and demonstrated the life jackets. It lasted about 20 boring minutes.

Once back in the cabin we realized we were hungry so we headed for the buffet. Thanks to my being lost, we were able to find it on the first try, I had spotted it earlier. I saw people eating spaghetti when we went in, but there was no spaghetti to be found, odd. I had fish, carrots, potatoes and bread. Carolyn had salad and pizza and focaccia bread. She also tried a small pastry dessert. We drank water. When we left the buffet we went back to the room to relax. We enjoyed some balcony time once we realized the ship was moving. Carolyn reminded me to put on my seasick bands but I could not find them so I went to the shop to buy some. 14 E. Mine are here somewhere, but I can’t find them.

Our dinner seating was at 6:30. By now we had realized that most of the passengers are Italian, according to the paperwork, 75% of the Costa passengers are Italian. This made us wonder about our dinner companions. Something I read turned out to be true because they seat people together based on language. We were very lucky and have a table of 8 with very agreeable companions. Larry and Linda are actually residents of Orange County. Their son is the drummer for a band called Off Spring. Emmet and Andrea are civilian military workers living in Germany, Emmet is very funny and does accents really well. Keyne and her sister Courtney are two young women from Australia who are substitute teaching in England to have the opportunity to travel. Keyne is also hoping to break into the theatre. She is a very pretty girl with beautiful, silky hair, but they are both delightful. There were two empty seats and of course Carolyn and I. We chatted throughout the meal, in large and small groups. The menu was large with 6 courses and 3 choices for each. There was also a special menu that never changes in case one does not like the featured items. I foolishly ordered from each course and it was too much food. First I had an octopus salad, yum! Then trofie pasta, which Candy had recommended. This is a delicious pasta and I hope to have it again. Next came a salad which I simply sent back, I was already almost full. Then came my prime rib, which everyone except Courtney had ordered, she got the lamb. The food was very well prepared. Next a cheese plate which I gave to Keyne and finally my chocolate ice cream, which I ate. My waiter was worried about me because I hardly touched the prime rib, but I was so stuffed from the other items and it was important to leave room for ice cream! Carolyn had a vegetable soup, cesear salad and prime rib and cheese and ice cream. In the information packet it said that at the “American tables they would ask if we wanted our salad at the beginning or end of the meal.” I guess everyone else has it at the end of the meal. We drank water with our meal, we had included it in our package or else we would have had to pay for it. Dinner was a laughing, talking, getting to know each other and eat yummy foods event and we look forward to more.

Since there was another sitting to prepare for, we did not linger long but were among the last to leave. Carolyn and I walked around a little bit and watched the couples dancing, we could have stayed much longer but we are both tired. We wanted bottled water for the room and discovered it was sold at the bar. We got two

one liter bottles for 6.49E

We are now back in the room. It is 10pm and Carolyn is already asleep. I realize I forgot to get coffee, but I am not going back out, hopefully I will not get a headache.

All is well, and we hope you are all well also.

Tomorrow afternoon, Barcelona!

March 30 – What A Day!

We were both pretty tired yesterday so we were ready for bed pretty early. We both slept well and Carolyn slept till 9:30. I was up earlier so after a shower and dressing I went to the buffet with my handy travel mug and got coffee for me and decaf for Carolyn.

I was surprised that there were so many couples dancing at that time of day, but this cruise is filled with party hard people. Back in the room, she slept on and I went to our balcony, there was a bit of sun and I sat, drank coffee, looked at the ocean and I was happy. Once Carolyn woke up, she got ready quickly and we went in search of food. Lost for a while we finally found a place with some, not many, breakfast foods and had a bit. I had rice krispies, yum!

We decided to visit the ships gallery of (4) shops. I first took Carolyn to meet Renata, a very nice woman who works in a shop. I had met her earlier, when I was lost, and liked her very much. She wears badges from several countries. Each badge represents the languages she speaks. Carolyn liked her too. We ended up each buying a necklace, Carolyn got a beautiful silver and black knotted chain and I got a little pendent that looks like a compass. We strolled around the other stores and then went back to the room to prepare for our Barcelona excursion.

Armed with coats, sweaters, shoulder purses, cameras and walking shoes we headed for the disembarkation area. OMG, there were a million people crammed together pushing in one direction. AND the elevator opened into this crowd. Of course we eventually got off the ship and onto our number 5 bus. We sat in two front seats. Our guide Michelle did a great job but because of the small numbers of non Italian passengers we had to have a dual language tour. It was fine, she spoke in German and then repeated in English or vice versa. The only bad thing was, this meant she was talking a lot and if the English chatted with each other when she spoke German, we got shushed and vice versa.

We drove first to a high point in the city and got out to take pictures of Barcelona lying below. It was a beautiful sight. We saw the Olympic Stadium from 1992 and other interesting buildings and then we stopped at a “pretend” village. When the Olympics were held in Barcelona, they wanted the world to see all the villages of Spain. To accomplish this they took photos from all over Spain and built a village with examples of architecture from the entire country. We were here for 45 minutes but Carolyn and I soon lost interest in the info and went shopping. I bought several bookmarks and Carolyn bought a surprise for someone. She also bought a beautiful picture. Once on the bus, we were driving away when someone shouted out that the two Chinese girls were missing. We all began to worry and the bus went back (about 4 blocks) and Michelle leaped out to find them. They came back with her and one was crying as she apologized having misunderstood the time. We tried to assure her we were just glad to find them, but she cried and apologized on and off though out the tour.

Our next stop was Gaudi’s magnificent cathedral, begun in 1882 it is still under construction. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We could not go inside but the outside was so amazing. It has a child like quality that I have not seen before. It is no wonder that Barcelona is so proud to claim Gaudi.

The exciting part of our day happened on the way back to the bus. Our tour group was pretty spread out, it was so much more walking than any of the older guest expected, so it was slow going. Carolyn and I were far back with about 8 other people when we all saw an altercation of some sort. I thought a man was molesting a woman, Carolyn thought the woman was drunk or having a fit. What we saw was an older man grabbing a woman around the back and holding her as she struggled. Both were yelling. Turns out the man, from our group, had felt this woman’s hand in his pocket and they were struggling for possession of HIS wallet. He finally grabbed it back and when he released her she sauntered away with a smirk. She was attractive, well dressed and maybe in her early twenties. WOW. It had a happy ending so it was exciting. Our guide was so sorry to miss it, she said she would have hit the woman with her Costa sign. We applauded the man and called him a hero, but I hope his wife takes his wallet away from his saggy pants and open pockets.

Our next and last stop was at a very pretty cathedral. We walked along a wonderful shopping street to get there but did not get to stop and shop at all. At the church we waited in line for a while and then got to go in ahead of others because we had a reservation. It was lovely inside, the stained glass, the statues in real gold, the beautiful pews, some that kings had sat in. We exited through the back and the gardens were great. There was a flock of huge white geese, safely behind a fence, for us to gawk at. After what seemed an endless walk we reached the bus. We passed the statue of Christopher Columbus and then were back at the boat. It had been a good, if somewhat fast paced tour.

We went straight to dinner, and joined tow others who were also back. Dinner was good, I had pici pasta as Candy had recommended, it was delicious. I also had spaghetti and meatballs, which were probably not good since they tasted just like home – lol. Oh, and coffee ice cream for dessert.

Keyne, our young Aussie dinner companion, was planning to sing at the karaoke audition and I promised to come by. In the room Carolyn and I decided to have breakfast in the room in the morning. I blogged for a while and then, it was 10:30 and time to go hear Keyne.

The karaoke room was full and I stayed for about 8 performances. Keyne had a great voice but not much stage presence. A man who sang in Spanish was very good as was a 16 year old girl. The others ranged from blah to awful. Tomorrow Keyne competes again.

I bought 2 hours of internet for 20E, since I have been unable to buy a sim card. So far, the internet is useless, but I have hope.

Tomorrow is a sea day and we plan to relax and enjoy ourselves. We don’t have to worry about how much we eat, we have to walk miles to get anywhere on this ship, I can’t imagine anything larger and yet there are much bigger ships.

That’s all for now.

 

 

 

 

SPECIAL NOTE

Today is March 29 and we will be boarding the ship today. For that reason, though I will blog every day, I do not know how often the internet will allow me to post. SO, do not worry about us if we do not seem to be posting. We will, be back!

PS Another amazing breakfast, a discovery about cute little pots on the tables and a souveneer. And when you see the pics of this place you will want to stay in this hotel forever!

 

An Unexpected Outing

March 28 An Unexpected Outing

Savona, while charming, is small and we saw most of it yesterday so it was with relief that we made arrangements with Davide, our driver from the airport, to go on an excursion. Carolyn thought going to Milan and Lake Como would be great, so that’s what we did.

We set the alarm for 7 but woke up on our own. We went to the complimentary breakfast, wow! There was a hug assortment of food. Many different breads, muffins, hard boiled eggs, some fruit, sliced meats and cheese and lettuce and tomatoes. There were also many dessert type pastries. We both enjoyed ourselves. I had a hard boiled egg and several pieces of crusty French bread with jam. I also had coffee with hot milk. Carolyn made a little sandwich and also had some hard boiled egg. Our view was of the gardens and the sea, so lovely, even with rain coming down.

We went back to the room to gather everything we needed and met Davide in the lobby at 9am. Then we were off.

We decided to drive to Lake Como first and get to Milan on the way back. We drove for almost 4 hours. Along the way there was an accident. Davide slowed to ask the people if they were ok, they said yes, and then as we drove along he called the police to report it. Chances are they were tourists and I am sure that was helpful. He is a very kind man.

Soon after we and arrived at Lake Como in a drizzling rain.

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Davide showed us where to go and also where he would be. He sat happily in his car watching a movie on his ipad while we strolled around.

First thing was a trip to the bathroom and a coffee. This was accomplished at a small, outdoor café. No toilet paper. Oh well.

Then we took pictures of the Caduti Monument on the edge of the lake. It is a modern looking monument commemorating Como’s fallen of WW1, constructed in 1931 in a futuristic style and at 33 metres high is an imposing monument. We took some pictures and then walked over to the lakes edge.

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It occurred to Carolyn that perhaps we could get a boat tour of the homes on the lake. We walked along the harbor and asked around and then found a water taxi that would take us on a 30 minute tour. The cost was 50E each, and we were fine with that. The tour was very nice and we saw many of the beautiful homes. Unfortunately George and the others live far away on the lake on a private road and were too far for the boat to go. We enjoyed our ride anyway.

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Back on shore we headed back to the car, stopping to look at anything that caught our interest. There was a very well done European Resistance Memorial. This monument to the European Resistance Movement is dedicated to the many Europeans who were condemned to death – it comprises stones from the Nazi extermination camps and the tragedy of Hiroshima. We got several pictures but could find nothing in English.

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We walked and took pictures and ended up at a beautiful little building called the Volta Temple. The entire building is dedicated to the life and works of Alessandro Volta. He died in 1827 and the temple was built in 1928 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of his death. Volta was a great physicist and invented many things most notably the electric battery. It is a lovely building with excellent displays.

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We next returned to Davide and headed for Milan.

When we arrived in Milan, we were a little disappointed. It was not much to look at. Davide took us to the big shopping area known as Corso Venezia. We wandered about, but honestly, we could see the same, perhaps better, at South Coast Plaza. We did get gelatos, I got chocolate and Carolyn got chocolate chip. It was very cold, but so worth it. We stopped at a restroom in a place where the lower floor, known here as -1 level was like some odd hipster version of a Parisian Club without the smoke and booze, instead there were fraps and gelatos. Crazy man, crazy.

We next found a store called the HIGHLINE outlet. It was pretty cool, with designer seconds at very low prices. Carolyn tried very hard to love one of the Valentino purses (80E) but they just did not suit. I found that there is a designer who designs purses, shoes and wallets just for me. Each is inscribed “RB”. I bought a pretty Robin’s egg blue wallet with my initials on it.

We were pretty much done by now, so we stopped at an ATM to get more Euros. It was difficult to get into the locked ATM building, but we somehow figured it out. Once inside we each got 250E on our debit cards. Then we went to find David, waiting and watching his movie. He suggested we might want to eat before we left and we agreed. We went to a charming Panini Restaurant. Carolyn had a Madrus Panini which had turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese and curry sauce and almonds. The roll was warm and crusty. I had smoked salmon on warm crusty bread. I also took one look at someone’s table with French fries and ordered them. The sandwiches were awesome and the fries were delicious and shaped to make a little boat for scooping ketchup. YUM!!!! Lunch was about 35E with tip.

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Davide was parked nearby and we were more than ready to come to the hotel. We got back about 6:20. We took some pictures with Davide, who we had become very fond of. We paid Davide 210E each, and well worth it. All together we spent 260E on a faboulous day! (Food does not count, one must eat). We were sorry to say goodbye to Davide, he was wonderful!

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We are now back in our room, in our PJ’s, tired and happy and looking forward to boarding the ship tomorrow.

Carolyn says; “I finally checked Lake Como and Milan off my bucket list, hooray hooray, it was a fantastic day. Rain, fog and all.”

A Day In Savona

March 27 Adventures

Once we were all dressed and ready we went to find food. Out the back of the hotel (we are on the street side) we were directed to a small building on the beach side where we could order food. We had a tasty gnocchi and more breadsticks than we needed. We also had coffee and water. The service and view were terrific, a pretty, windowed room and a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean Sea. This hotel is pretty spectacular and the price is so reasonable. In the US it would easily be $500 a night, but here we are paying 119E. A quick trip back to the room and then with coats and cameras, we were ready to go out. It was about 1:30.

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Our room with pretty blue lights. Nice and big!

We decided to take a cab to the center of town. It was 15E. Once there, we were able to visit the small Sistine Chaple. It is very pretty, not very small. We each lit a candle and then strolled around admiring the art and the sculptures. Because of the holiday, the entire  chapel area was not all open, but we enjoyed what we did see.

Then we walked to the huge, ancient Priamar Fortress. It was built in 1542 and is an amazing place, crumbling façade and stone walkways. It is also a museum, but today is Easter Sunday and the museum, and almost the entire town was closed. We walked all around the fortress and up on a few of the higher towers. Once we were back outside we also took pictures of the ruins of the monastery that used to be there as well as a few modern sculptures on the lawn. We enjoyed this very much, the oldness of the area is wonderful. We also saw, from the top of the fortress a COSTA cruise ship, so we now know that our ship will be very close when the hotel takes us on Tuesday.

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Carolyn’s hand pointing at a COSTA ship docked nearby.

 

Once we had looked to our hearts content, we crossed the street to have a coffee in Pizzeria Restorante, which must get many tourists but they speak no English. Of course, that’s fine, this is their country after all. I had an espresso, OMG, never again! Carolyn ordered the lemon gelato and we shared it. It was light and creamy and for a bowl they used an actual lemon. We also shared some water.

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We wanted to take a bus back, save a bit of money but were not sure where to catch the bus. I approached a table to ask if anyone spoke English. There were 6 people at the table and the young couple said they spoke a little. Carolyn took photos as they all gathered around the table, looked at our (useless map) and began a very long discussion in Italian with much disagreement. I finally said maybe we should taxi. The young man, who was somewhat bemused by his 5 female companions and their desire to talk about a bus for a long time, said, “good idea!” It was all not much help, but seriously fun.

We paid for our snack, it was 10E and tipped 2E. Then we began to walk in a suggested direction. We were worried about it getting dark and when we passed by an emergency ambulance place, we asked if they could get us a taxi and they were very nice and did so. When the cab came we told him our hotel and off we went. Though we were much closer this one cost 20E. We knew we were being ripped off, but by now did not care.

We stopped at the desk to get our key (we leave it when we go out) and are relaxing in our room with coffee. The balcony door is open to cool off this room and we are content. Later we will eat in the hotel restaurant. Much later because it does not open until 8pm. Our choices are limited because though we are on a nice beach, there is nothing nearby. In California the road by the beach and hotels would be filled with restaurants!

At about 7:55 we went to the Hotel Bistro to eat. They asked us is we had a reservation, we said no, after a long discussion in Italian they sat us at one of the “fish tables”. We were offered a menu in English and took it. The prices were extremely reasonable. Carolyn got a vegetable soup and I had stuffed anchovies. We also had a large plate of delicious bread. The soup was the best she has had in a long time.  My anchovies were fried and yummy, but tasted like any random fish, not salty at all. We also had sparkling water. It was 16E for the meal.Turns out the regular restaurant, which we did not think was open due to language confusion, had prices well beyond 16E, so we are glad we missed it.

(photos coming)

We are back in our pretty room, in our jammies, comfortable and ready for our exciting day tomorrow. We will leave for Lake Como at 9 in the morning. We plan on having breakfast first.

Carolyn says “beautiful city, so nice being back in Italy again.” Hope everyone enjoyed Easter. I did, I am licking chocolate off my fingers right now.”

More tomorrow……………….

Sovana Italy – March 27

March 26-27

The flight to Genoa was quick and easy, the plane had about 100 passengers. The attendant brought us a sandwich, I did not take one. Carolyn had one, she said the flavor was crap and cheese. Also, we were not seated together, that was odd but ok. Carolyn was next to a nice young man and I sat next to a young college student doing math homework! The horror.

I called Davide, our driver when we got to luggage and he assured me he was waiting outside. Our luggage, which Carolyn was sure would never arrive since it had not stayed with us, but gone straight thru from LA. However, it was all safely on the carrousel. We rented a cart (1 E here, $5 in US) and went to find our ride, but first customs.Going through customs was like being checked as you leave Costco, no real scrutany.

Davide was indeed waiting for us, holding a ipad that said O’Dell on it. He was very nice and drove a shiny, black Mercedes van. We talked about our time here and have arranged to have him take us to Milan and Lake Como on Monday. Carolyn is wildly excited to see Lake Como, I’m just hoping to run into George.

We checked in and were welcomed in a lovely manner by Diego. He helped us to the room with our luggage and after explaining a few things we were on our own.

The room is large and lovely, with two big beds, a big window and balcony with a view of a parking lot. The bathroom is huge and it has a bidet! There is a TV and cupboards and closet space. Our only complaint is the room is too warm and Carolyn feels the light is bad for makeup.

We slept hard and deep. Carolyn was reading when I got up.  Blankets were not needed and we both went to sleep pretty quickly.

Morning now, after showering, finally, and getting a bit more organized we are ready to go. It is Sunday the 27th and it is 12:20 and we are up and dressed and about to hit the road for food, coffee and sights.

Our Trip Begins

March 25: On our way

Terry drove us to the airport. We picked up Carolyn at 6pm. We had a brief visit with Carl and then were on our way. We were able to car pool on the way over and then Terry luckily had no traffic on the way home. Terry wanted to park and help us with our luggage, but that proved impossible. So we just stopped in the Bradley lot and got a luggage cart and said our goodbyes.

We looked into a seat change at the airport but nothing better was available. We had already paid $32 to switch to a row with only 2 seats, so that’s what we kept.

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At Bradley Intl.

In the terminal we quickly went through security, though Carolyn had her luggage searched. Back in our shoes we had coffee and I had a cookie while we chatted and waited. There was a wonderful art installation in sight and it was so fun to watch. It was a series of posts with screens on them and each country that used the airport had a few minutes of decoration on the screens. My favorite was the one from Santiago, it was the neck and a bit of the body of a guitar and the strings vibrated each time a note played.

At about 9:15 we went to our gate, visited the ladies room a few times and watched a huge growing line of passengers standing, but for no apparent reason. Finally I checked at the desk, and we did need to line up, but in a much less crowded section. In less than 5 minutes we boarded.

We sat in seats 44K and when I got there a lady was there. I told her it was my seat, she said she was using it to find stuff for her little girl, and nicely asked if I would wait. I did. When she finally moved. We stowed our luggage and I sat by the window. Carolyn got the aisle seat and had an entire seats worth of room next to her. Having only 2 seats is great.

We both took something to help us sleep and then played around with the various movies and other things available on our seat screens when, to our amazement, they served us dinner at midnight local time. Carolyn had chicken with rice, she got the last one. I got pasta in lobster sauce which I did not eat. There was also a grain salad of some sort that was good. The bread was good and the applesauce was tolerable. I ignored the brownie, bleh.

After they cleared all the dishes, they dimmed the lights and we went to sleep, sort of. Carolyn slept fairly well, I am not sure if I slept or not. I felt like I was awake the entire time, but it’s hard to tell.

We both got up at about 5:30am California time. We went to freshen up a bit and I got suddenly so cold I was shaking. The steward (our section has all men) gave me some coffee and worriedly checked the temp, but I told him I was ok, just reacting to being tired.

Back at our seats we sipped coffee and tried to play solitare on the screen, but it required more button pushing that either of us could stand, so we gave up. Carolyn played a game on her ipad for a while and I am typing.

We had breakfast on the plane, some sort of egg sandwich, but there were mushrooms in the same container, I did not eat them. The orange juice was yummy and the coffee was decent.

Once on the ground we got off the plane fairly quickly. The lady in the row in front of us was searching for a lost ring, so she was still there when we left.

Our luggage is going to Genoa without us, but even so, security made me throw my water away, even though I had to have been through security to get to where the next one was. Oh well.

We took a shuttle a long way to terminal 2-G and are not waiting for our 90 min. flight to Genova on HOP Regional. Once there a driver will pick us up (we hope) and take us to the hotel.

We are tired, but happy and excited.

Carolyn says she is very tired but it is well worth it.

My Mediterranean Cruise

My Mediterranean Cruise

Today is March 23 and I leave for my cruise on March 25. It is constantly on my mind.

I am traveling with my book and WW friend, Carolyn. We are pretty sure we will be good traveling companions and we are both excited about the trip.

We are registered with the state dept. and plan to stay out of any areas they may suggest. We will be alert and careful and enjoy ourselves.

I have narrowed my selection of dresses down from 25 to the 8 I am taking. The weather will be cold, (hooray) so I will bring my thicker tights, a small sweater, a big sweater, my trench coat and cami’s for layers. I’m just bringing two pair of walking shoes, no need to have dressy stuff. And, I have bought and am bringing a little, pink cane. Since I am working on my balance and there will be cobblestones, the cane will be some extra security.

The travel book is pretty much complete, though I still need to add to the weather chart. We have booked 3 excursions, Barcelona, Tangier, and Casablanca. More may be booked, but that will wait until we are on the ship.

There will be 3 sea days, for reading and relaxing and all other days will include shore activities.

This is our itinerary:

March 25    F            Leave from LAX

March 26  S              Arrive Genoa airport 10:25pm / taxi 45 min then check into Mare hotel in                                                                                                         Savona, Italy.

March 27 Sun            Wake up in Hotel Mare, Savona Italy

March 28 M        Explore Savona

March 29 T           Board Costa Magica Cruise Ship

March 30 W           Barcelona (5h)

March 31 Th            At sea – relaxing, reading, smiling

April 1 F               Tangiers (10h)

April 2 Sat               Casablanca (15h)

April 3 Sun                 Cadice (6h)

April 4 M               Lisbon (9h)

April 5 Tues           At sea – relaxing, reading, smiling

April 6 W               Alicante (6h)

April 7 Th                At sea – relaxing, reading, smiling

April 8 F              Civitavecchia (10H)

April 9 Sat              Disembarkation in Savona / car to Genoa,  fly to CDG, LAX and home

My plan is to travel blog each evening and then post. I have no idea how much internet access I will have, when I will have it and how strong it will be. I will also post pictures. More from the trip…….

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday off the ms Amsterdam and in Seattle July 5

We woke up about 7 to the sound of being at dock. Our luggage was gone, as expected. We both cleaned up and got dressed. At the Lido buffet we got juice, coffee and dry cereal. We brought it back to our room. We felt relaxed, and finally left the room about 8:30 and sat in the library until they called us. We were Yellow 1. The line to get off the ship was very long and only got longer while we waited. Once off the ship it was surprising simple. The luggage was neatly gathered by color and we found our easily. They had spread out the disembarkation very well and there were not big crowds. Once through customs we discussed our next move. There was a place we could leave the suitcases, but the temperature was headed for 95 and we were only on foot. We decided to use Uber and had a pleasant, chatty ride to the Holiday Inn. Breakfast was still going on when we arrived. We had to wait a couple of hours for our room, but the lobby was big and comfortable and we were able to use wi fi.

I was able to get our boarding passes, both “A”s and finally we got a room. Terry is very happy to have a room with wi fi and normal TV. We walked across the street to a festival near Angle Lake. It was a tiny fair with one food booth. And it was hot and there was trash everywhere. So, back to the hotel, and we have ordered a pizza to be delivered from a local pizza place called Pizza Time. Hopefully it will be good, but even mall pizza is better than what they had on the ship.

Our plane leaves tomorrow at 12:25 and we are looking forward to seeing friends, Otis and home.

Are there any cruises in the future? Yes for me, but no for Terry. I will travel with an enthusiastic friend, and Terry will be happy in the garage with his scooters. And, you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Saturday on ms Amsterdam July 4

 

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Happy 4th of July and Happy Birthday to my nephew Axel!

We were woken up by a knock on the door, it was breakfast, an hour early, but we had forgotten the clocks were changed. The coffee was great, I should have done that every morning. The food was pretty bad. And the “frosted” flakes turned out to be cornflakes. Sigh.

We are going to a “cook-off” show at 11 and there is a 4th of July bar b que on the lido this afternoon.

The cook off show was very cute, two officers on the ship competed to make a meal with a steak and Idaho potato. The officers were funny, and the judges were fine. The hostess was weak, she couldn’t seem to think of things to say. Still it was fun to watch.

 

After the cook off I went to the Lido deck for the bar b que. I was sitting at a table watching for Terry and he, the brat, was sitting at a table behind me watching me. Finally he said hi, I can’t believe I did not see him. I had a bowl of ice cream and Terry didn’t eat anything. We are both looking forward to our dinner at the Skinny Tater in Victoria and then swigging down some Race Rock on tab.

 

Terry and I sat in the library for a while, I worked on my travel notebook and Terry went through his photos on the ipad. He has taken some amazing photos! When we got back to the room we began packing. We have to put our luggage out before midnight. I guess we will shower tonight.

One thing that apparently most cruises do is advertise a LOT of things for sale. Here is a photo of all the flyers put in our cabin during the cruise. We did not care for this at all.

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Terry hung out in the room and I went to the ships Dancing With The Stars show. This was by far the best show I have seen on this trip. Every day they have offered dancing lessons, and 3 men and 3 women passengers were selected to be in the competition. The stage was set like the show with a judges table and the 3 judges had paddles with scores. The show began with a dance from the ships dance group. Then we saw a brief video with Bruno and Len to introduce the show. We were introduced to all the contestants and then they came out one at a time to dance and be judged. Each passenger on the stage was paired with a professional. They danced one dance each, a Samba, a waltz and a Jive. The first dance was a Samba and the woman passenger was very good, though she almost had a costume problem when her strapless dress threatened to fall down. They were all very good. One lady missed a few steps but they all did a great job with dances they had barely learned. Five of the teams got all 10’s and one team got all nines. Then we all got to cheer for a pair and a winner was declared. I had a favorite but he came in third. This winner will be compared to all the ms Amsterdam winners throughout the season and the best one will compete against the best dancer/passenger from all the HAL ships. This big dance off will be held on a cruise that will include some of the professionals and some of the stars. It was all very cool.

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We will dock in Victoria at about 6pm and we are looking forward to it.

We waited in a long line to get off the ship, and finally we were in a taxi heading toward the Skinny Tater. Once inside, we were recognized by the lady owner. We ordered a deluxe plate for Terry and a vegetarian plate for me. TO start we each had a cup of the wonderful pickle soup. Mmmmm. My plate came with 4 perogis, 2 salads and 3 potato pancakes. Terry had perogis, smoked sausage and stuffed cabbage. The food was not as good as we remembered, it was BETTER! We ate slowly and savored every bite. When we had eaten every bit, we paid and strolled along the street, enjoying our stuffed stomachs.

Every waiter and waitress in Victoria has one of these little devices. You can add in a tip and you sign on the screen and out comes the receipt. Very easy to use.

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Pickel Soup YUM!IMG_2472

We went to the Bard & Banker to enjoy a glass of Race Rock beer on tap. This was not nearly as good as remembered, neither of us finished. Oh well. We would rather have the food good and it was. We decided to walk back to the ship and stopped at Starbucks for cookies, molasses and oatmeal rasin. US Starbucks need to carry these cookies.

On the way to the ship we came across the same man who had carved the hummingbird I bought when we visited Seattle last October. I was glad to see him because the picture we had taken was lost. So now I have a picture of this excellent craftsman.

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Back at the ship we finished packing and are relaxing on our last night as cruisers. We arrive in Seattle at 7am tomorrow and are supposed to be off the ship by 9:30. Our flight home is Sunday. This has been an interesting trip, some great days and some so, so.

IMG_0122Goodbye ms Amsterdam

 

 

Friday on ms Amsterdam July 3

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We woke up early and excited. Zip lineing, hooray and OH MY!!!
I wore my fleece lined leggings and a book t shirt and a book sweatshirt, and carried a jacket, but it was an extremely warm day and the sweatshirt proved enough. We did not have breakfast, we had to get up at 6:30 and be on the dock at 7:20.
Our driver of the Grayline bus that picked us up was a nice girl named Kat. She chatted with us, and the two brothers from our ship, who were also going. She stopped at another cruise line and picked up about 12 people who were going on a rainforest hike. When we reached the base camp for zip lining she let us off and continued on her way. Then, we were driven in a big four wheeler called a Unimog to the place where we got all hooked into our gear. Our guides, Taylor and Jeff were great. Young men, they were funny and casual but obviously very professional. I was nervous and they made me feel safe, I could tell they knew what they were doing. We left all our stuff, jackets, purse, etc in a big box and watched a tiny safety film, which was pretty useless.

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We put on red helmets and gloves that are big and silly and they guys began helping us into our harness. As we left the little building we walked out to a small platform and our first line.

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Before we started and often after that, they guys tugged on our gear and checked all the attachments. Tylor explained and demonstrated a little, how to zip line and then it was our turn. The brothers went first and then me. Tylor was at the next platform and Jeff hooked my sling to the cable and told me I could go. I thought about it for a brief moment and then stepped off.

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Wow, it was great. The gear completely holds you so you do not need to use any strength to zip line. As directed, I held my little handels, leaned way back and crossed my ankles. As I neared Tylor he called out to break. I lay one hand on the cable above me and that slowed me down. We had been warned not to grip it. Just as me feet were at the platform Tylor reached out and tugged me in. It was like flying, like going up on a swing when you’re a kid and feeling sure that you can touch the clouds.
Tylor and Jeff always seemed to know whose clip was whose and gave us turns to be first. After we had zipped a few times, we went on the longest one, almost 800 feet. I would have been happy if it had been twice that long!
On one of the platforms, Jeff, the comedian, shouted “oh no, wait” to one of the brothers just as he took off. Not being the victims of this prank we laughed at his horrified face. But he laughed also. I sternly warned Jeff that jokes were not to be played on me.
Next we walked across a suspension bridge. It was more like a narrow wooden curb than a bridge. We were hooked on but about halfway across we all stopped and enjoyed the scenery. We had such beautiful sunny weather, we saw several eagles but no bear. We chatted and joked on the bridge and then finished the walk. The last part was very up hill, I got to a place where there were no knots in the rope and I was almost stuck, I had nothing to keep from sliding back. Finally I got a good grip on the rope rail and pulled hard and got across. There was a second smaller bridge and though I was hooked on and holding the rail ropes, I still slid on the slightly down hill part, I shouted that I was ice skating!
Then we came to the last platform. I was sad, we had been having such a very good time. It was too soon, I wanted to zip all day!

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There was photographers along the way and the last one took some group shots. Once we got out of all our gear we went into the little store for some salmon on crackers, cookies and coffee. Terry bought a water for us. I bought 4 photos, one of each of us, and one group shot and one from the suspension bridge. They were very pricey but had to have them.
We looked at the small blacksmiths shop and visited Sitka, a beautiful bald eagle who lives there. She was hit by a car when she was a year old and lost a back talon and injured her wing. She is not able to go back and has lived there a long time. She is huge, 13 pounds, and very majestic.

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Our van arrived to take us back to town. We chatted about our adventure and the driver pointed out interesting sights. Back in town our plan was to wander around and see the sights. We only had about 2 hours until our ship was leaving. Suddenly we realized Terry did not have his messanger bag. We did a quick cabin check and then panicked a bit. A nice crossing guard (live signals) gave us the number for a cab and we were soon on our way back. The driver was a nice guy and chatted with us about fishing and his life in Alaska. When we got to the store, he waited while we jumped out, Terry ran to his last spot and I went in the store where they were just looking at the bag and trying to decide what to do. Whew! It was a $70 mistake, but that’s life. Back in town, our time was very short, so we walked a tiny bit and then used the rest of the time to take advantage of having some internet.

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I had some lunch while Terry finished loading pictures to our laptop and ipads. I had chicken and mashed potatoes again, safe and easy, tastes best to me. They were having a beerfest on the pool deck and though I skipped the beer, I did take some of the bratwurst to Terry. Along with 2 very large pretzel breads. For dessert, Angie scooped strawberry and chocolate with nuts and chocolate syrup for me.
I was able to make 6:30 dinner reservations for tonight at the Pinacle Grill. Hopefully the food will be better, since it is $29 apiece but anything will beat ship food.
We went to the Pinacle Grill with high hopes. We were seated in a nice booth, and the hostess laid a jacket across on of our chairs to imply Terry had a jacket, pretty funny. We were served an appetizer that was escargot in a cream sauce, it was wonderful and we had a good feeling. I ordered a baked potato and a medium rare, bone in rib eye. Terry got the same and we also ordered grilled asparagus. For starters Terry had crabcakes and I had lobster bisque. The potato was good of course, and I though my steak was delicious. I did not care for the asparagus or the soup, but Terry found them to be ok. He though his steak was too fatty. I only wished I had smuggled in a baggy, because I must have left over half my steak and they wouldn’t wrap it to go. I had coffee and sherbet for dessert and Terry had fresh berries. The best part of dinner was how peaceful it was in the restaurant instead of the chaos of the Lido deck.

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After dinner I went to the lounge to watch another singing/dancing show and Terry headed for the room. He had to take his key to the front desk because it stopped opening the door, but they fixed it. When the show was over I went back to the cabin and we spent the rest of the evening watching movies. It was very relaxing.
I filled out the breakfast order form and hopefully the food will be decent.
I have been doing most of my writing in the ships library, it is fairly peaceful here and the table / chair height ratio is perfect for me.
Tomorrow we will get to Victoria about 6pm. A long ride ahead of us.

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