Friday, June 1, 2007
Wednesday – Olbia, Sardinia
Well, I have a big job to do in order to bring you up-to-date. Of all the ports, Olbia was the one that I thought might be a bust. Was I ever wrong! When we woke up on Wednesday and looked off our verandah, you could see two big tents set up with cheeses, wines, breads and various salamis. In addition there were men and women in traditional Sardinian garb (looks very much like Polish/Russian national costumes) ready to dance for us and play music. Unfortunately, Gary and I had one of the earliest tours and only heard the first notes of the music as we headed the other direction to our tour bus.
We toured Costa Smerelda and visited Porto Cervo (pronounced Chairvo), the area bought and developed by the Aga Kahn as a playground and vacation resort and vacation home for his rich and famous friends. The landscape was absolutely stunning, the water as clear and blue as any swimming pool you’ve ever seen “¦and, of course it was fun seeing the seaside hotel where Princess Di and Dodi Fayed spent the 20 days previous to their fateful return to Paris. Oh yes, and the cheapest accommodations at one of the hotels (Can’t remember which one!) is $25,000 a night. I assume it’s more than just a room LOLK
Porto Cervo is the most expensive area of Costa Smerelda and the shopping area is lined with expensive shops, Cartier, Gucci, Versace, Roberto Cavelli and others I’ve never even heard of, but all off-the-wall expensive. It was fun pretending you could actually buy something there other than a gelato.
Since our tour was only Â½ day, we had time in the afternoon to see the new Pirates movie (Don’t shoot us, but neither of us liked it.), part of the lecture on historical Rome and one of the new shows (The Art of he Story) which was pretty good.
One thing I noticed at dinner was that everyone is ordering less food than at the beginning of the trip. I think we are all getting tired of “fine dining” every night. Imagine!
Thursday – Rome
We’re on the “water” side of the ship in this port (Civitavecchia) and is it ever beautiful!! “¦but the drive into Rome leaves something to be desired. It wasn’t that pretty at all, typical urban highway scenery, complete with service plazas and McDonald’s.
We weren’t sure if our excursion was ever going to get on its way because our van got held up in traffic as, after waiting half an hour, they pulled another van (privately hired but no one was there yet), put us on it and finally away we went.
Traffic getting into Rome was awful. There is a taxi drivers strike so many folks drove into the city. In addition, taxi drivers from other cities came in to support the striking drivers causing lots of problems.
Our first ancient site was part of the ancient city walls of Rome and a gate to the city. We saw the ruins of Nero’s palace and then on to the Colosseum “¦From there to Trevi Fountain where our tour guide dropped us for a little over 2 hours of unguided time on our own. I may not have done my homework on most of the ports of call, but I studied the map of Rome and knew just where I wanted to go. In those two hours we saw the Pantheon, the best example of Roman architecture, the Piazza Navona with its beautiful Bernini fountains, baroque Gesu church (where a friend’s choir came to sing last year), the Palazzo Venezia, Forum of Caesar, Trajan’s Market, and then back to Trevi to meet up with our group for the private Vatican tour.
Half an hour later we were entering Vatican City and the Vatican Museums. With our VIP tour guide, we had no wait at all and within minutes we were viewing the beautiful spiral staircase with the crests of all the popes carved around the inner edge of the spiral. Without totally boring you, let’s just say that our Vatican tour was extremely worthwhile and interesting “¦especially some of the areas not open to the general public. Highlights: the Bramante staircase, the crypt beneath St. Peter’s where we saw the burial sites of many popes including John Paul II who was much loved by the faithful and, of course, the interior of St. Peter’s, the Bernini canopy and the serenely beautiful Pieta.
Then it was back on the bus for our drive back to Civitavecchia. (I slept the whole way!)
Friday – At Sea
The highlight of this day was brunch at Palo in the private dining room courtesy of Beci from Mouse Fan Travel. All I can say is that it was scrumptious!! We plan on relaxing the rest of the day because we have three days in a row coming up with day-long excursions.
Brunch was awesome! We are relaxing for the afternoon and will do nothing more exciting that going to see the new show “Twice Charmed” (An original twist on the Cinderella story) and gong to dinner. (Needless to say, after the brunch, we skipped lunch, so we should be hungry again by 8:30 PM.
I can’t seem to get any pictures to load. I’ll try again later. Rotten internet connections on the ship, for sure!