Trip Report! ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Part 6 - IMAGE INTENSIVE!
Day 7 - Sea Day #2
So after our amazing and VERY full day in Rome, it was really, really nice to have that extra sea day that the 11-night cruise had! I slept in (No alarm! No showing up late!). I managed to just catch the end of brunch at Lumiere's. I really felt like doing a late breakfast/brunch because jedijill (from the DIS & table 32!) had invited me to join her for Tea at Palo's that afternoon. Breakfast, lunch, tea AND dinner would just be too much!
I ordered this fruit dish that totally didn't end up being what I thought it was. If I remember correctly, it was called a fruit "comfit" with some sort of jelled sauce. I think I'd pictured fresh fruit with a little bit of jellied sauce on top of it. This is what showed up:
It was strange looking, but actually pretty good. Not overly sweet. It's all about trying new things, right?
Today was just a lazy day. Finding spots here & there to read from my ebook, wandering the ship, etc. The weather was beautiful.
The coastline from my veranda.
My artsy shot of the sun glinting off the water directly below my cabin. It was quite gorgeous!
Finally, it was time to meet Jill at Palo's. I really liked the tea. Jill is very fun company, and the food was very tasty. It's definitely not High tea; someone said it's "afternoon tea". Small sandwiches on different rolls, scones (which I *love*) and lots of various tiny desserts.
The atmosphere was casual but special (the view from Palo's is beautiful). And since there's relatively no distance between Civitavecchia & La Spezia, the ship was barely moving much of the time. (I believe they actually cut the motors at one point). So I was feeling much less "off" at this point.
Next up was a hand massage/manicure at the Ship's Spa. It was heavenly. Very relaxing, and bright red fingernails! And once I told the gal I didn't have room in my suitcase for any products, the sales pitch stopped, too.
Next on the agenda was the ABD private animation lesson. It turned out that Robyn had trained as an animator for Disney. I believe she said that by the time she'd qualified, they'd pretty much stopped doing hand animation, so she never actually worked as an animator. But she was a very good teacher! I don't think my drawing sucks too much! ;-)
And then Pinocchio showed up to autograph our drawings & pose for pictures. It was a very fun activity!
That night, the show was "Villains Tonight", which I guess is a relatively new show. It was very cute, and managed to showcase a whole range of characters. Everyone loves the villains!
Today's towel animal.
I woke up in the middle of the night, and noticed something gorgeous. I'd gone to sleep with the veranda door open again, and saw *this* when I walked out onto the balcony!
May I just say, I took this picture, super-zoomed, with no tripod! Have I said before how much I love my camera!!??!
Day 8 -- La Spezia & Florence
Today was our day in Florence. It's quite a shlep from La Spezia to Florence, and La Spezia is a Tender port. So we were up & out early to catch one of the first tenders (yay ABD!).
Looking back at the Magic from the tender.
A shot of the lovely countryside from our motorcoach, heading to Firenze! (Florence in Italian).
This little book/art shop was right across from where we were standing in line at the Galleria dell'Accademia. (If you look carefully in the window, you can see the reflection of some of us, including the photographer...)
We have come to the Accademia to view Michelangelo's David. Unfortunately, this is also a place where no photographs are allowed. Although, honestly, no picture I've ever seen conveys the reality that is Michelangelo's David. It's breath-taking. The size of it is made to impress. And the attention to detail... OMG, the veins, the musculature, the insane detail of this masterpiece defies description, and is totally not conveyed by photos. This photo of his hand gives you a tiny inkling of what it's like:
I was completely & totally gobsmacked. Florence itself was "OK", but I wouldn't have missed the chance to see David for anything! I googled images of the David, and found most of them didn't rate posting here. I'm posting the one below because it shows one of the most amazing aspects of this sculpture for me. If you look at most of the photos, they show the statue with the body facing forward, and David looking off to the side. This is the view you see as you walk up the hallway of the Accademia towards the David. David's face looks rather determined, and even almost serene (accentuated by his seemingly casual pose). But if you move around to the side and look directly at the face head on, his face turns into a mass of uncertainty and questioning. I'd never seen a picture from that angle. And if you keep going around, his face actually becomes determined. It really was amazing.
Have I said how much I love this statue? How truly phenomenal it is, and what a total genius Michelangelo was? I could have stayed there for ages, just studying the details. We *were* given a nice, long time to observe & take it in. If we'd've left Florence at that point & returned to the ship, it still would have been worth the trip to Florence!
But we didn't leave! The next thing on our agenda was the famous Duomo of Florence. It's amazingly detailed, wonderfully colorful, covered with sculptures and paintings and mosaics.
It also has a wonderful bell tower and dome.
In the same plaza, and done in the same style as the Duomo, is the Baptistery of St. John. Besides its lovely hexagonal shape, it has beautiful gilded bronze doors. I believe these are reproductions, as the originals were damaged in a flood.
Very lovely, and spectacularly detailed 3-D panels!
After some free time to wander the Piazza del Duomo, and take a kazillion pictures, we headed off again. Next on the agenda was --- *more* gelato! This is another instance in which the reality really didn't fulfill the description in the ABD itinerary. This was advertised as "a behind-the-scenes tour of the Grom Gelateria" where we would "learn how all that marvelous gelato is made!" What we actually got was 2/3 of us crammed into a tiny room off the gelato shop (the other 1/3 of us had to go into the shop & peer in through a glass wall) where a woman told our local guide Samuele some things about how they made the gelato (in Italian, and Samuele translated) and then she drew some gelato out of a machine that looked like the soft-serve machines you see at any ice-cream place. It was hard to hear from our perch in the other room. It was no tour, and we didn't learn that much. The gelato was, once again, fabulous, but the activity was more than a little disappointing. But they didn't have that much planned for us in Florence, so it wasn't like the time spent there cut into our touring time.
OK, so I got bored & took this cool shot in the building kitty-corner from Grom...
Yes, they have a Disney store in Florence! We of course walked past it!
We then did a walking tour around some of Florence on our way to the restaurant for lunch.
An open air market place. I never did find out the name of it.
You can barely see that there's a statue of a boar in the picture below. If you rub its nose, it's supposed to bring good luck. His nose was exceptionally shiny from all the rubbing!
We then walked over the Ponte Vecchio Bridge that spans the Arno River. The funny thing about this bridge is that it's lined with shops, and you really can't even tell you are on a bridge until you get to the spot in the middle where there's a large gap between the shops, and you can see that you're over the river.
We're actually on the bridge here.
The shops are all jewelers. I've never seen so much gold in the windows in my life!
A view from the bridge:
The Ponte Vecchio Bridge from further down the river.
Our next stop was the Piazza della Signoria, which contains the Palazzo Vecchio. This Piazza is well known for the abundance of beautiful statuary arrayed around the square. This also includes a replica of Michelangelo's David, which was placed where the David used to stand before it was moved to the Galleria dell'Academia to protect it.
As lovely as the replica is, it does not even vaguely compare with the original. I think it would be incredibly sad if someone saw the copy of the David here, and hadn't done enough research (or hadn't had wonderful Guides who told them!) and thought that was the actual David, and never went to the Academia to see the original. That would be a tragedy!!!
Apparently there had been a wedding here recently. I just thought this was lovely...
After time spent wandering the Piazza & taking tons of pictures, we continued on our walk. Pinocchio is apparently very popular in Florence.
We then ended up in the Piazza Di Santa Croce. It was lined with shops, and dominated by the Basilica of the same name.
We then continued on, past the Hotel Bernini where the Bella Italia ABD stays (NICE location!). Walking Florence is like walking through a maze of amazing architecture. I really liked the look of this curved detail...
After some more maze wandering, we came to our lunch spot, Simon Boccanegra. They had some yummy antipasti set out for us, and some sort of steak lunch, I believe. It was a nice, casual atmosphere, and just seemed very Italian.
After lunch, we were set free to explore Florence on our own (with maps). Some folks wanted to check out the Disney Store, and others were going to check out the shops back at the Piazza Di Santa Croce, which was our meeting place after our free time. I wanted to go back to the open-air market place, rub the boar's nose, maybe get an unobstructed picture of it, do a little shopping.
Robyn gave me directions to get there. Well, the directions sounded simple enough, so off I went. Unfortunately, I realized after a while either I misunderstood the directions, or I missed a landmark, because I was nowhere I recognized, and did not find the market. Unfortunately, I didn't know the actual *name* of the market, and no-one I stopped knew what I was asking for (or spoke English).
I *tried* to follow the map, but the roads were ill-marked, and didn't seem to match what was on the map, and it became clear after a while that I really had no clue where exactly I was. I had an *idea* of where I wanted to get back to (Piazza Di Santa Croce) and the relative direction it was in, but no real idea on how to get there. "Major through streets" just didn't happen. I wasn't panicked, because I had *plenty* of time to get back, but it was disconcerting. I kept wondering what would happen if I got so lost I didn't get back in time. I didn't see any taxis to hail; people I stopped actually didn't seem to recognize "Piazza Di Santa Croce" or gave me directions I couldn't understand. I *thought* that Robyn & Tina probably had my cell phone number, but I wasn't sure, and I realized I didn't have either of theirs, like I'd had for my other 2 ABD's... It was a beautiful city, and I didn't feel threatened or anything, but I was concerned about getting back to the motorcoach, and, more importantly, back to the ship on time. As I said, it wasn't bad enough to be panicked or anything, but I was definitely concerned.
I *did* see some cool buildings, but just didn't enjoy the walk as much as I would have if I'd actually, say, *known* where I was!
Finally I found an older woman who, even though she spoke no English, seemed to understand where I was trying to get, and was able to give me enough directions to get back. It seems I *was*, in general, heading back in the right direction, but I had taken a very big detour, WAY out of the way to get back there. Finally, I found this *very* welcome sign:
As I entered the square, I found the two sisters who were on the ABD there. They had also just returned to the piazza. I felt so much better at that point, and still had some time before we were supposed to meet. I bought some bottled water and snapped a few photos of the statuary.
I then went over to the leather shop (our meeting spot) where Samuele, our local guide, had said there was a bathroom we could use. (It was pretty well hidden in the back of the store). I had a little time to browse the store, but before I had a chance to really check anything out, it was time to head out.
We all headed out to walk to our motorcoach, and then chilled as we took the long drive back to La Spezia, where we caught the tender back to the Magic.
Tonight's towel animal:
Sailing out of the port of La Spezia.
That night was Pirate Night. I wore the bangled scarf I'd gotten in Tunisia around my head, and the Pirates of the Caribbean scarf I'd bought in the shops (in case we didn't get scarves at dinner). It turns out we did get small "half" scarves at dinner. The dressing up was fun, and everyone really got into it, including our server and assistant server, Mariano & Sipho.
Table 32, ARGH!
I went over to check out the ABD tables, to see how they'd all dressed up.
Robyn & Tina came over to Table 32 to say "Hi!" & kid around.
After dinner, all the table 32 folks headed up to Deck 10 to watch the Pirate party.
Captain Mickey sailed in to save the day!
And then they shot off fireworks from the ship! Very, very cool.
After that, it was back to my room, and bedtime...
Continued in Part 7.
Another amazing report!
Another great report... A bit of extra suspense reading about your extra adventure...glad it all turned out ok in the end... Thanks for sharing!!
Once Again Fantastico! You were rockin out that scarf! Love it!
Another great segment Sayhello! We didn't like Florence as much as the other cities we stopped at, but we ended up spending more money in Florence than anywhere else. We both bought leather jackets. Florence is definitely the place for leather. Too bad you didn't have time to shop around a bit in the leather shop (or maybe that was a good thing).
I agree, The David was spectacular to see in person! The replicas definitely don't do it any justice. To me, the most amazing thing about it was that it was created from a piece of marble that was essentially junk. Everyone tried to talk Michelangelo out of using that marble, but he saw his David in the marble and insisted on using that piece.
Love your trip reports. We did the cruise but not abd. Thought you might want to know that Pinochio is so popular in Florence because the man who wrote the original Pinochio was from Florence. Our guide told us.
Another wonderful update....although I must admit my heart skipped a beat reading about you getting "lost" in Florence. Honestly, getting lost and/or left behind is my biggest paranoid issue----it's why whenever we said DCL we ONLY do DCL excursions and was one of the big incentives to do ABD. I am really not good at researching and figuring out how to do things and what to do on my own...I love having Disney/DCL do all that legwork for me...and even when we're in ports with extra time (like on our last TransAtlantic we had a much longer day in Gibraltar than the excursion we booked, I insisted that we not go more than a mile or so from the ship and never off the roads that were clearly marked on the map that we were given in our staterooms! I'm such a worry wart!!:lmao::lmao:
It's interesting that you mentioned yoru cell phone...because we've been wondering about that. Who is your carrier? What kind of phone do you have? Did you get service in Europe or did you make arrangements before you left to get a temporary international plan?
I have Verizon and have the HTC/Droid Incredible smartphone but I think we were assumign I would have to put it on airport mode the entire time we were gone (I use it as a kindle to read e-books and play games and access wireless internet which the boat has obviously) because we didn't think it would work and/or it would cost a fortune to make or receive calls or texts.
It turned out to be well worth it. If your Droid works internationally, I would still get an international plan for the month. It made things a lot simpler.
BUT! This is only for while you are on land. While you're on the ship, their plan takes over, and it is VERY, VERY expensive. So I kept the phone in airplane mode while on the ship, and just used it in the ports.
Fantastic reports, thanks for sharing your experiences. I look forward to doing the Med DCL trip someday and after reading your reports I am even more inspired to do it. I gotta go read your western trip reports now lol. ;)
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