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Old 08-25-2013, 02:25 PM   #31
texasgirl29
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Monday, August 12
Villefranche
St Paul de Vence

With the air conditioning going full blast, Ingrid drove along the Nice waterfront, past beautiful hotels and homes, then into the suburbs and the back country.

Our last stop was another medieval village, St Paul de Vence. This is an artist colony with many shops and small places to buy coffee or drinks. The town sits high on the hillside behind a city wall.



















After the wonderful (but hot!) tour, Ingrid brought us back to the port. We felt like we had spent the day with an old family friend. I highly recommend her as a guide! If you want to book with her, contact her through her website: http://www.kultours.fr/index.html



Good-bye Villefranche!

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Magic in the Mediterranean trip report http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3161128

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Old 08-25-2013, 02:38 PM   #32
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Monday, August 12
Aboard the Magic

Back on board the ship, Stephanie and I watched Wreck It Ralph in 3D. Cute movie!

Our dinner tonight was in Animator's Palette. I began with butternut soup:



Followed by a tomato salad (it looks like salsa on top, but it's not)



I believe this was chicken on top of mashed potatoes:



Head waiter Valentin stopped by:



And, of course, dessert:

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Old 08-26-2013, 09:57 AM   #33
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Tuesday, August 13
La Spezia

If this is Tuesday, it must be Italy! (You must be of a certain age to get that movie reference...)

We arrived at the port of La Spezia early in the morning, and I went up on deck to watch the flag of Italy hoisted.



Like most of the ports we visited, the entrance is guarded by an ancient fortress.







Most of the reviews I've read about La Spezia say, "Oh, it's a dump, just get on the train and go to Pisa or Florence," but I have to say either the city has really put some money into fixing it up or it's actually quite nice.



We loaded up with hats and sunscreen and brought along the cute collapsible water bottles we found in our FE.





We took the tender to the port. The waterfront is lined with palm trees. But.... a word of caution.... we caught whiffs of the the worst odor. I don't know if it's sewage or what but it was bad (and I'm not all that delicate....)



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Old 08-26-2013, 10:43 AM   #34
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Tuesday, August 13
La Spezia and Pisa

Going to Pisa on our own was the only DIY excursion we made. After tendering to shore, we walked to the visitor's center and asked how to get to the train station. The young man behind the counter gave us a tear-off map and marked the way. I would estimate it was about a mile through the center of town.

We enjoyed the walk, although not knowing exactly where we were going did sort of cloud my enjoyment. But honestly, it was a straight shot to the train station.







We arrived at the train station in La Spezia and it was jam-packed with people. Paul went to the shorter vending machine line while I stood in the ticket window line. No one in line seemed to know what we were doing or where to go. The vending machine kept asking for a pin number, so Paul and the girls joined me in the ticket window line. Fortunately, the line did move quickly and the ticket agent spoke English, at least enough to tell us the correct track and time to board.





When we got on board, the train had compartments that seat six. We found a compartment and sat down, but a man came by and told us we were in his seat. He explained we had reserved 2nd class seats two cars ahead. The train started to move so we grabbed our stuff and pushed past the people in the hallway who presumably had less than 2nd class seats. There were seats that folded down from the wall like the flight attendants jump seats on a plane, and in one instance I saw a guy and his girl friend both sitting on one, his face buried in her chest. I muttered, "Get a room," as we passed by.

We found our compartment and sat down for the hour-long train ride. There was a man with a book listening to something with earbuds, and a young woman with a small dog in her purse, reading on her iPad and texting on her phone. Neither spoke to us.

We reached the train station at Pisa and went to McDonald's to use the bathroom. The attendant told us it was .50 euros unless we were customers, or intended to be customers in which case we could show the receipt and get our money back. We said, no, and he asked how old Stephanie was and since she was a minor he let her go for free.



From the Pisa station, we set out about another mile for the Field of Miracles. It was close to 1 p.m. and the sun was over head. Hot!!!!





We stopped at a small sidewalk cafe to eat -- La Cittadella -- and get something to drink. I had a pizza with mushrooms which was disappointing because the mushrooms appeared to be canned. Stephanie got spaghetti, which she declared to be the best spaghetti she had ever had.



The waitress asked us if we wanted "natural" water or bottled water and we said "natural." She brought us a pitcher of ice cold water (with actual ice cubes!) that was so delicious and so welcome!

After Paul paid the bill, he asked to take a photo with the cook. The cook obliged, giving Paul's tummy an appreciative pat!



Refreshed, we filled our water bottles with the ice cold water and continued walking to the Field of Miracles. We did not have tickets to climb (and not sure I could have done it anyway). Those who did have tickets still lined up outside in the hot sun. We took some photos, got a souvenir magnet and walked back.















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Old 08-27-2013, 02:04 PM   #35
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Wednesday, August 14
Rome

We had been warned that today and tomorrow would be busy as it is a holiday in Italy, the Assumption of Mary. We began the day by leaving the ship and walking to the train station where we met Peter, the owner of Can't Be Missed Tours, and our tour guide, Stefan. At the station, Peter gave us our all-day transportation ticket (train, metro and bus) and our ticket to the Colosseum. We were each outfitted with a "radio" so we could clearly hear Stefan. Our tour party was complete and we got on the train for about an hour's ride.

Once off the train, we stepped into the sunshine and there was the Colosseum before us!



We were at a coffee shop where some used the bathroom and / or bought coffee and pastries. Stefan gathered us up and we crossed the street. He asked us to remove our radios and earplugs until we got into the Colosseum for reasons I'm not entirely sure of but having to do with being a guided tour. We complied, shoved our way into the building and regrouped with our radios and earbuds.

This is Stefan!



He did a really good job of describing the sumptuousness of the Colosseum in its glory days. This bit of fresco is a small sample of how the entire ceiling would have been covered.





This little lamp would have been used by people in the underground areas as there was no sunlight.





Happy tourists, despite the heat!







Stefan took us around streets, through alleyways, up and down stairs, on the metro, on the bus! This is an an example of an old Roman wall that has been incorporated into a new structure.



This shop sells church supplies -- an entire display window of chalices!

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Old 08-27-2013, 02:21 PM   #36
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Wednesday, August 14
Rome, continued

We saw many of these Egyptian obelisks in squares like this one.



This pair stopped us in our tracks. I do not know how they do this!



But the girls wanted their photo with this street performer! If you want a photo, be sure to drop a couple of coins in.




Our next stop was the Pantheon. Amazing that this building dates from 125 AD. There is a large hole in the ceiling, and when it rains, water comes in but drains down off the floor.





Of course, we had to stop by the Trevi Fountain, although Stephanie refers to it as the "Lizzie McGuire Fountain" because it's in the Lizzie McGuire movie on the Disney Channel.





We took the metro to the Vatican. The museums and Sisteen Chapel were closed due to the holiday, but St. Peter's Basilica was open. We stood for a long, long time in the hot sun waiting to go through security. David and the girls decided not to stand in the line since the girls did not have their knees covered. Although we did see lots of women with really stupid looking cover ups of scarves, or their shoulders were covered but their bras clearly showed through the armholes. Dumb rule!

There's the Swiss Guard:





St. Peter's Square:







St. Peter's Basilica was a beautiful space but seemed to me to be more of a memorial to the popes than a place to worship God.



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Magic in the Mediterranean trip report http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3161128
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Old 08-27-2013, 02:31 PM   #37
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Wednesday, August 14
Back on the ship after Rome

After the Vatican, we limped back to the metro and then to the train station, exhausted and sore feet! We felt like we got really good value with Can't Be Missed Tours. Stefan said we were going to see Rome like a native and I think we did!

Here's Italian Mickey. Kinda sad we didn't take any photos with the characters.



But we did get some fun towel animals.



Stephanie and I watched Villains before dinner. I really liked it. Every night we had a very talkative crowd in the theater -- usually talking during the cruise director's introduction, and sometimes during the performance.

Back at Lumiere's for dinner -- here's a fruity appetizer:



I can't say I cared for the entree though:



Dessert was a dish of chocolate-infused cream with chocolate on top. Believe it or not, too much of a good thing. Like eating pure Hershey's syrup!

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Old 08-27-2013, 05:22 PM   #38
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Hi! Just found your TR and loving it so far. It looks like you had an amazing cruise.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:59 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pascalstongue View Post
Hi! Just found your TR and loving it so far. It looks like you had an amazing cruise.
Thanks! It's gratifying to know someone is actually reading! We did have a great time -- saw so many things!
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:15 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasgirl29 View Post

Thanks! It's gratifying to know someone is actually reading! We did have a great time -- saw so many things!
I'm here! It's fun to read your report since we were there with you on the cruise and even some tours. I see the back of my head in one of your pictures! LOL! We loved our tour of Rome!!!
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:12 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenAcres View Post
I'm here! It's fun to read your report since we were there with you on the cruise and even some tours. I see the back of my head in one of your pictures! LOL! We loved our tour of Rome!!!
Hi there! It's been fun reminiscing as I write the report. You will forever be "the lady in the orange dress" to my family!

JoAnn
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:09 PM   #42
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Thursday, August 15
Naples, Sorrento, Postiano, Pompeii

Another early morning, and somehow we were all able to convince our feet to get up and move for one more day. The sun rose over Naples:



We docked in a rather industrial area of the city, along with a couple other cruise ships. Breakfast on the deck again and then we were off on another adventure.

Don't you love the fortress right there in the city?





Shuttle buses were waiting to take us to the port entrance, just as my instructions from Can't Be Missed Tours told me they would be. We found the Green family talking to a man with striped shorts and hair like Gene Wilder named Roberto. Soon the other families from yesterday's excursion gathered and another guide arrived named Guido. We had two small buses. Our driver was named Giuseppe. Guido warned us we needed to be flexible as today is a national holiday --the assumption of Mary--and everyone would be going to the beach.

Here's Guido, and our driver.





The bus headed out of town toward mt Vesuvius and guido began a long explanation of the eruption. Everyone was tired from the day before and began to nod off.



The bus headed to Sorrento, first stopping at a workshop where they make inlaid items, and had a bathroom we could use. We also could cross the street to see the view.





Next to a stop in Positano for lemon ice and another view, then back to Sorrento.






There was a lot of traffic, with Vespas weaving in and out but our driver did a great job.




Guido recommended a lunch special for 14 euros a person -- pizza or pasta, a glass of wine and a slice of lemon cake. Also nice bathrooms and free wifi. We decided to take him up on it.



The decor was nice, the service was fast and we all checked our email! The pizza was very good, and the wine was the family's own label.







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Magic in the Mediterranean trip report http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3161128

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Old 08-28-2013, 12:32 PM   #43
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Thursday, August 15
Naples, Sorrento, Postiano and Pompeii continued


We had about 45 minutes after we finished our lunch to walk about the town.











Then it was on to Pompeii.

Our first stop at Pompeii was to get a set of "radios" and earbuds so we could hear Guido's commentary. We followed him with his umbrella around the site for a couple of hours. It was really too hot to do much more, although it would be nice to return in a more temporate time of year.







Whew it was a long climb up to here!







It's amazing that this level of detail still exists and it's unharmed by tourists.









We were happy with our Can't Be Missed Tours -- Guido did a good job of guiding us and explaining things and our bus driver did a good job of navigating traffic and getting us back to the ship on time.
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:40 PM   #44
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Thursday, August 15
Pirate Night Aboard the Magic

After a quick shower, Stephanie and I watched the magician Scott Pepper then it was time for dinner and pirates night.

From our assistant server Joy we learned there is cabin inspection every Thursday. She says her cabin mate keeps it clean but she just likes to go behind her and do a little more. She said doesn't want to change ships because they have a feeling of family on the Magic. And she smiled and giggled while she told us.



I'm sorry to say but we (the Stringers from Texas) just don't get that into the whole pirate dress up thing. But..... Dave and Brian really enjoy it as you can tell.



Even Norene gets a little bit into the spirit with a little help from Aaron.



And Valentin always had something fun to say:



But onto the important things... food!

Pineapple and toasted coconut coated bananas.



Tropical cold soup:



Short rib (it was really good!)



Floating islands:

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Old 08-28-2013, 12:58 PM   #45
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Friday, August 16
Second Day at Sea

Our last day at sea and I have caught Stephanie's cold. Had coffee on the deck with David then went to Parrot Cay to join Paul and Stephanie for breakfast. The food was served buffet style and was the same as in Topsiders. But without the view.

Stephanie was going to spend time with Brian while Dave and Norene had brunch at Palo's. I wandered around trying to shake the cold, and watched the Princess Gathering in the atrium. These two people were playing very soothing music as befit a gathering of royalty and I enjoyed it very much.



I made one last stop off at the gift shop for my traditional magnet and Christmas ornament. I also eyed the zip up the front hoodie with "15 years of Magic" embroidered on the back. I needed a large and they were out of larges, so I debated with myself and ended up getting the extra large. It was my one big purchase and I know I will enjoy it when the weather turns cooler.

Paul and I had chocolate tasting with host "David" (that's Dah-veed) in Sessions bar. We paid $30 each for four pairing of chocolate with whiskey and wine. David knew and obviously loved wine but knew nothing about chocolate -- he read off pages from the Internet. It was disappointing, and so not worth $30 each, especially compared with the other tastings.



Afterwards, I went with Stephanie to the pool deck and we had burgers from Goofy's Galley. They were excellent!



At 2:00 we had Mixology with Anne Marie and she was funny and informative. We had five drinks including the mojito we prepared ourselves. Unfortunately I didn't feel like drinking much and only took a few sips of each. It's a great bargain and lots of fun -- I highly recommend it! (But try not to be sick--not so much fun.)



Before dinner Paul, Stephanie and I went to see the ventriloquist in the Rockin D bar, Kevin Johnson. He was very funny and brought up a kid to act as his puppet.

When we left to go to our room, Paul and I were waiting for an elevator and one came with no one in it but it was going down. The captain was passing by and stepped in to the elevator with his passkey and changed the elevator to up for us.

Stephanie and I went to see the final show, Dreams, and it was very good but again the Spanish speakers in the audience continued to talk through the cruise director's introduction. This time he spoke in both English and Spanish.

Dinner at Parrot Cay again and the noise level made it unbearable. We could not converse with each other. Joy kept asking what was wrong. I hope the changes made in dry dock will address this.

Shrimp appetizer and soup:





Lobster:



Some sort of chocolate and ice cream dessert:

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Magic in the Mediterranean trip report http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3161128

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