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Old 08-08-2011, 10:45 PM   #61
lornak
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Just found your TR and I am loving every minute of it! You have such beautiful pictures that really make you feel the experience. I hope one day I can make that trip. Plus, I have to say how beautifully dressed you are in each picture!

Thanks so much for sharing and I can't wait to read more!
Thank you! That is very sweet of you to say! I'm glad you are enjoying the report! I am loving putting it together!!!
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:49 PM   #62
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I am really enjoying your trip report !!! I'm also showing DH the photos....maybe there may be a Met. Cruise for us in the future.

I also love some of the outfits your sister had on, the cream dress, sheer top, and the pink dress. Where did she find those ????
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:15 PM   #63
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June 24---Day At Sea

Kermit woke up early and got some coffee…but came back to bed to keep sleeping! We both rolled out of bed around 9:45 AM. By 10:00 AM we were at the adult pool enjoying another day of glorious weather! We had our books and were happy to be lounging! Becky and Brant joined us a little later and we all enjoyed talking about the trip thus far---so many amazing things we have seen!!

At noon we headed to Topsiders for lunch. It was an Italian buffet. Alas, nothing was as tasty as the ravioli in Rome had been! One new feature I noticed was that they were grilling steaks out on the deck. They also had a station for sauces and condiments outside. It smelled wonderful and was a nice addition.

At 1:00 we headed to Session for the wine tasting. The room was set and full of people. There were 4 wine glasses and a little plate of chocolates along with water bottles for everyone. The presenter was a winemaker from CA. And the wines for today were from his company---produced in a vineyard near La Spezia. We thought that would be interesting but overall we didn’t really enjoy it. All four wines were red (and pretty good!) but we didn’t really learn anything about them. The presenter kinda rambled and talked about how he got into winemaking, etc… I think it might have been better if you were interested in how someone gets into the business…but we were hoping for more info on the wines, pairings, etc… I guess we were hoping it would be more like the standard tastings onboard. It was ok but overall I don’t think it was worth $30 per person.






After the tasting Becky and I went up to the future cruise sales desk and got quotes for the FANTASY. We are already booked for October, 2012 but it would be soooo fun if they could join us! She is going to bring the quotes back to Brant and we will see what he says!!!

We showered and got ready for our dinner at Palo quite early. We didn’t want to miss the première of Cars 2 at 5:30!! It was held in the Walt Disney theater and it was almost full. I thought it was somewhat funny to be all dressed up for dinner and wearing 3D glasses!! I thought the movie was really cute and it was really fun to see sights from Europe that we had just left (on scene in particular in front of the Colesseum!!).



The movie got out just minutes before our Palo reservation so we headed straight up to deck 10. We had requested Mladin again for dinner and he greeted us at the entry area. He escorted us to our table—right by the windows---and we began a most enjoyable 2 hour dinner! I don’t stray very far on the Palo menu as I have things I love! They have made some changes but I still had the calamari appetizer, the filet and the chocolate soufflé! Mladin also put in a special order for the grape/blue cheese pizza from the brunch menu as he knows that I love it! He also brought us an extra lobster ravioli for the table to share. We ordered a bottle of Rosa Regale with our dinner---didn’t think we should bring our own wine tonight!! But it was hard to spend $60 for a bottle of wine when everyone we had been picking up in port was 3-5 Euros!! Oh well, I really love that Rosa Regale!! Everything was delicious and it was a lovely evening!!





We wandered the decks for a little while after dinner and just let everything settle. It was quiet and leisurely and just so much fun to have no where to be!!! We were in bed by around 10:45 PM---dreaming of La Spezia for tomorrow!!!
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:21 PM   #64
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I am really enjoying your trip report !!! I'm also showing DH the photos....maybe there may be a Met. Cruise for us in the future.

I also love some of the outfits your sister had on, the cream dress, sheer top, and the pink dress. Where did she find those ????
Yes, my sister is quite the fashionista! In fact, I kinda looked dumpy next to her! But I love her anyway! She is a great shopper and loves boutiques. I will ask her where she got those items and get back to you!

Kermit is laughing and laughing that people are commenting on our clothes. I spent a LONG time shopping and putting outfits together. Becky and I got together twice (we live 2 hours apart) and each took one day to lay out our clothes and make comments to each other. Then we went shopping for anything that was missing. Kermit thought we were obsessing---I thought it was fabulous! So now I am telling him "see, all the clothing planning paid off! People noticed!" Sorry to say, he now thinks you all are as crazy as I am!!!
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Old 08-09-2011, 09:56 PM   #65
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Yes, my sister is quite the fashionista! In fact, I kinda looked dumpy next to her! But I love her anyway! She is a great shopper and loves boutiques. I will ask her where she got those items and get back to you!

Kermit is laughing and laughing that people are commenting on our clothes. I spent a LONG time shopping and putting outfits together. Becky and I got together twice (we live 2 hours apart) and each took one day to lay out our clothes and make comments to each other. Then we went shopping for anything that was missing. Kermit thought we were obsessing---I thought it was fabulous! So now I am telling him "see, all the clothing planning paid off! People noticed!" Sorry to say, he now thinks you all are as crazy as I am!!!

lornak--You look GREAT in your photos, and all of you were very coordinated. I think its wonderful that you and your sister had so much fun putting your outfits together. Tell Kermit that is not obsessing it's just good planning. I personally love clothes shopping especially for trips and vacations. But now my husband is a little worried since Nordstrom keeps fixing me up my own "personal stylists".

Thanks for trying to find out about your sister's outfits for me.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:18 PM   #66
eeyora68
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Thanks for all the great photos
When I was there in 2007 I was pickpocketed they got all my $2 bills for room
service thank goodness the didnt get my passport that my mom said I should have with me at all times now I keep a copy.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:32 PM   #67
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lornak--You look GREAT in your photos, and all of you were very coordinated. I think its wonderful that you and your sister had so much fun putting your outfits together. Tell Kermit that is not obsessing it's just good planning. I personally love clothes shopping especially for trips and vacations. But now my husband is a little worried since Nordstrom keeps fixing me up my own "personal stylists".

Thanks for trying to find out about your sister's outfits for me.
Vicki
Vicki--I think we are soul mates! Here's a clothing update from Becky. The cream tiered dress is from Anne Taylor LOFT. The sheer top (assuming it is the one she wore in Malta) is from SAKS 5th Ave and the pink ruffle dress is from J Crew. That dress was actually strapless but she had our mom add those pink straps on to the dress....which she said was a great addition and made the dress more wearable for the trip!!

Happy shopping!!!
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:51 AM   #68
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Vicki--I think we are soul mates! Here's a clothing update from Becky. The cream tiered dress is from Anne Taylor LOFT. The sheer top (assuming it is the one she wore in Malta) is from SAKS 5th Ave and the pink ruffle dress is from J Crew. That dress was actually strapless but she had our mom add those pink straps on to the dress....which she said was a great addition and made the dress more wearable for the trip!!

Happy shopping!!!

lornak....We probably are soul mates since we definately spend our time in the same stores. Thank you and Becky for the clothing info. Now I'll do some searching I mean shopping.

Congrats on your 20th anniversary !!!!!
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:53 AM   #69
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June 25, 2011--La Spezia

A slower paced day-NICE!! We were very worried about getting the first train to Cinque Terre if we had to wait a long time for a tender. So we went to the BV Theater at 8:00 AM to get a tender ticket (open tendering wasn’t until 10:00 AM). We were given a ticket outside of the doors and told to take a seat in the theater. There were only 2 rows of people waiting and we only waited about 5 minutes before they told us a boat was ready. A crew member led us in a group to the boarding area on deck 2 and we immediately boarded a large tender boat (sign on the boat said the capacity was 345). It was a scenic ride to La Spezia and took about 20 minutes. It was another beautiful day—temperatures were supposed to be a little higher (90 degrees) but the sun was shining and the sky perfectly clear!!

I had printed directions to the train station from the internet. They were a little vague and I was worried that we were going the wrong way. But sure enough, we ended up at the train station---and with 50 minutes to spare before the next train to La Spezia. We went to the ticket office and purchased the Cinque Terre Card (E10 each). With time to kill we decided to wait in the McDonalds right at the station. It is nothing like a McDonalds in the US! They had a pastry case/bakery and a full coffee bar. They also had menu items like a shrimp salad, caprese salad, etc. Kermit got a coffee and we all sat down to wait for the train.



We could see the platform getting very crowded so we moved outside to finish waiting for the train. By the time it arrived the platform was packed!! I had read that you had to push your way to the doors and that is exactly what we had to do. Some people who had been waiting didn’t even make it on the train as it was too full! We did have to stand but we were just glad to be on the train! In about 10 minutes we were in Riomaggiore. We wanted to start in Vernazza so we stayed on the train. Then, another 10 minutes later we were surprised to find ourselves in Monterossa—the last town on the line!! It guess this train doesn’t stop at all of the villages!



Becky and Brant went on from here to check out the hiking but Kermit and I really wanted to start in Vernazza. We asked at the train depot and they told us when the next train would be there (the one that would stop at all the towns!). We did have to wait for 30 minutes which was a bummer but what else can you do?? I had to go to the bathroom so I went at the station. It was quite the experience!! This is the restroom for which I packed that travel toilet paper and hand sanitizer!!! The toilets were flat to the ground so you literally just sat down on a slab of cement. There was a little stream of water running all the time so you didn’t flush---I guess you just hoped the stream would wash things away!! There was no toilet paper and no soap! Plus the smell was quite strong. It was an experience I don’t need to repeat but I was really glad I was prepared with some supplies!!!

We were "entertained" while we were waiting for the train as there was a woman there who had apparently lost her friend, Karen. The woman was walking to every spot on the platform and around the station calling Karen’s name. As time went on she was getting more and more desperate. As we heard the train coming down the tunnel this woman seriously started screaming at the top of her lungs “Karen, the train is here!! Karen! Karen!”. I’m talking about a complete freak out…. All of a sudden we see the women coming up the stairs to the platform with a big smile on her face---and a friend with her. When they got to the platform the entire crowd (and there were a lot of us waiting) broke out in cheers and started yelling “yea, Karen!” I realize I can’t write it as funny as it was but to see the International group of people cheering for Karen was just really, really funny!

There was a last minute track change and luckily we heard someone talking in English about it. So off to track 2 we go and board the train for Vernazza . The train arrived at 11:15 and we were FINALLY in Vernazza at 11:30 (three hours after arriving in La Spezia—ugh!) I was frustrated that we were so “late” but I soon realized we were still totally ahead of the crowds.

For about an hour we had the town almost to ourselves! The small beach was empty as were all of the restaurants and shops. We wandered and enjoyed! The town was smaller than I thought it would be but it was very quaint and enjoyable. The little beach was almost all rocks but people were still sunbathing on them later in the day. We had caramel gelato (E2) and later on pistachio (E4 and quickly becoming our favorite flavor!!). We also picked up some gifts including pasta and pesto. This area is supposed to be the birth place of pesto so I wanted to eat some as well as bring some home! We checked out the local church and toured that all by ourselves. Then we sampled some foccacia pizza with pesto--yum!














About 1:00 there were boatloads of tourists being dropped off here—every restaurant was packed and the beach was full. We decided to move on to the next town. We just missed the train and had to wait 30 minutes. I did snap a few pictures of the information area as well as the monitors. They have made it very easy to get around this area!!







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Old 08-10-2011, 09:55 AM   #70
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La Spezia, continued...

We boarded the train to Manarola at 1:30 and were there in minutes. This town was even smaller---no beach at all but people swimming and laying on the giant rocks (many topless here!). We got more gelato (!) this time in brioche (bread). I didn’t really like it but I wonder if different places serve it differently. Becky had in earlier in the trip and she said it was just fabulous!!!








We crossed over to the Via Del Amore and walked that trail. It was lovely and had beautiful views!!






People bring locks to put along this path and then they throw the keys into the ocean to symbolize their love. We were prepared to see the locks but we weren’t prepared for all of the makeshift hearts people had put up instead! We saw napkins, twisty ties, plastic bags, etc, all put on the fences in the shape of hearts. I’m not sure if that says anything about how long their love will last?! Just kidding…



We ran into Becky and Brant on the path which we thought was hilarious! What are the chances! They had hiked the big trail from Monterossa and said it was FABULOUS (except for the giant snake that cameo out of the rocks).







We would have loved to have tried it but we just didn’t’ dare with Kermit still recovering from his injury. But I saw Becky’s pictures and it was really, really stunning!!! I was happy to run into Becky so I could get at least one picture of Kermit and I together on the trial!!



We continued on to Riomaggiore. You have to walk through a long tunnel to get there. The tunnel is covered in beautiful tile mosaics. The town is located at the top of a hill so there is a lot of uphill walking here. I still really wanted to have pesto so we stopped in a local café and ordered a pasta and pesto dish. I also wanted to try the local sweet wine but when I ordered it the waitress told me I couldn’t have sweet wine with pasta! So she made me get something else! We also ordered a bruchetta. The bruchetta was an interesting large round piece of bread with a little tomato sauce on it. It was ok but nothing like in Rome. I am afraid I will be forever comparing Italian food to that wonderful lunch in Rome!! The pest was outstanding though—much stronger than we have it at home. That was delicious and I was glad we had stopped. It was E16 for everything (including more coffee for Kermit!).



We walked around the town and found a path (above the tunnel) back to the train station. There were beautiful views and the foliage was lovely here as well.










We got to the train station at 3:53 and the La Spezia train was there! Finally, some good timing!! We hopped right on and were back in La Spezia by 4:10. We leisurely walked back to the ship and checked out a few stores on the way. We stopped at an ATM to get a little more cash and then we immediately spent it on more gelato. Lemon and coconut this time for E2. Then I saw a crepe stand and knew I could not go on without a Nutella crepe! It was E2.50 and it may be the best thing I ate the entire trip—no kidding!! I dream of that crepe!!







We got to the tender station and waited 5-10 minutes for a boat. We were back in our room by 5:00----and all the pool by 5:05!!! Becky and Brant showed up at the pool at 6:00 and we all hung out in the hot tub until 7:15 (don’t worry, it was more of a warm tub!!). We showered and dressed for dinner. We had pre-dinner drinks of limoncella I had picked up in Sorrento. It was a little strong so we mixed it with some Sprite and it was fantastic!! It was still a little too early for dinner so went to the Cove for another round of drinks. Finally time for dinner in Parrot Cay. I had talked to our head waiter about getting a special order of Nasi Ghoring for Kermit. He lived in Indonesia for a year and absolutely loves this dish! Tonight was the pirate menu which we have had many times so I set up the surprise dish for tonight! Kermit was delighted when FOUR plates of Nasi were delivered! I had one and Kermit finished the other three. It really was delicious!!

Right after dinner we went to the pirate party at 10:00. We enjoyed the fireworks at 10:30 from deck 10! We were all tired and decided to head to bed. But it was another wonderful day!!!
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:03 AM   #71
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As I'm writing this I am starting to wonder if I should rename the thread "Lorna eats her way around the Med"??? No one can accuse me of not enjoying the food and wine of the area!!!!
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:15 PM   #72
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As I'm writing this I am starting to wonder if I should rename the thread "Lorna eats her way around the Med"??? No one can accuse me of not enjoying the food and wine of the area!!!!


I would expect nothing less! My husband is applying for a postdoctoral fellowship in France, and I've often thought that instead of being like Julia and mastering the art of French cooking, I'll be mastering the art of French eating!
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:42 PM   #73
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First of all, thank you for such a fabulous TR! I have yet to actually go on a cruise, 03/12 will be the first, but I already have my mind set on a MC when they put it back on the itinerary!

It was your duty to try everything! How else could you tell the rest of us what to try When I was in Italy I think we went to every single gelato place we saw, never mind that we just had some half an hour before!

Let me ask you some cruise wisdom if I may. Since you guys are Platinum and surely know all the ins and outs of cruising, did you choose to do most things on your own because of the savings in comparison to DCL excursions, or have you found that you can do/see more on your own?

Thanks, Pam
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:47 PM   #74
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I'm really enjoying your report.....thanks for taking the time to share!
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Old 08-10-2011, 03:39 PM   #75
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Let me ask you some cruise wisdom if I may. Since you guys are Platinum and surely know all the ins and outs of cruising, did you choose to do most things on your own because of the savings in comparison to DCL excursions, or have you found that you can do/see more on your own?

Thanks, Pam
Well, with a family of 6 we almost always do things on our own. I think the DCL excursions are nice but it does add up!! We have been able to research the areas we will be visting and set up our own adventures. In the end it seems to give us more flexibiity with a smaller price tag. However, the Disney excursions do come with some peace of mind! The ship will not leave without you and you always have a guide with you. I think for first time cruisers this has a lot of merit. Or if you are in a location where you just aren't comfortable--or you don't have a lot of time to plan and research. Those are all times I think a DCL excursion makes more sense.

For the Med cruise specifically----the excursions were expensive and after researching the locations I didn't feel like any of them covered exactly what we wanted to see. We decided to splurge on Rome and Naples with the private driver/guide (which in the end wasn't that much more than the DCL full day excursions!) and that sort of ate up a bunch of our budget!! We did do one DCL excursion in Corsica--that post is coming next! I really enjoyed it but you are certainly locked into someone else's time table and selection of activities. You are also with a large group and there is somewhat of a "cattle call" feel to the whole thing. With that said, we would never have seen what we did in Corsica nor learned as much about the country without the excursion.

That probably didn't help, did it! I guess we tend to do mostly our own thing with a DCL excursion thrown in here and there!!!

I hope you have a GREAT time on your first cruise! I bet it won't be your last!!!!
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