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Old 06-21-2007, 12:29 PM   #1
CTXRover
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Photos from first Disney Med Cruise (5-26 to 6-6-07)

EDIT:
Each day is in a different photo album with a different link that is posted in each of my new posts. For those interested in the full reports, just scroll through the thread. For those interested in just quick links to pictures, I will add them here:


Barcelona and Palermo, Sicily: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...462&p=75641486

Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...760&p=75648667

Olbia, Sardinia with trips to Moon Valley:http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...p=75648913&f=0

Rome: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...992&p=75649173

Florence and Pisa: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...252&p=75650010


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, I finally had some time to start and upload my photos from our terrific Disney Cruise vacation onboard the Disney Magic during its inaugural Mediterranean voyage from May 26 to June 6, 2007 online. I've decided to break up the report into several smaller albums hosted by Epson galleries. This is my first time doing a photo trip report, so hopefully this will work out ok.

For those interested in just the photos, here is the link: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...462&p=75641486 Just scroll through or select :"Disney Med Cruise 1" at top to see the menu of pictures. Captions for each are below and larger images are available by clicking on the image.

Our trip started by boarding a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Barcelona, nonstop, on the evening of May 24. We arrived in Barcelona around 8:00am local time (2:00am Pennsylvania time). The airport was under refurbisment with limited number of terminals and thus we disembarked the plane using stairways to the outside and boarded trams that took us from the plane to customs clearance and baggage claim.

After getting our baggage and noting that our flight came from "Filadelfia" on the monitors, we were greeted by Disney representatives from Spain. It was obviously their first time doing this and everyone was incredibly understanding. All that said, everything ran very smoothly for us. We were taken to a small bus and whisked away to our hotel for the day and evening, the AC Barcelona. A nice, modern hotel. We had two rooms here. One had a bedroom area, a living room area and a bathroom area with a walk-in shower so large that two people at at time could get a shower on each end if they wanted (and yes, there were two shower heads on either end of the shower stall). The other room was a more typical hotel room with two beds and a bathroom area. Nothing too special, but the look was ultra-modern, complete with hardwood floors in place of carpet. Some pictures of the room are in the album.

We ate lunch (at McDonald's of all places ) and then slept pretty much the rest of the day and evening, awaking for dinner. Talk about jet lag!!

The next day we were picked up and taken to the beautiful Disney Magic sitting in the port at Barcelona. The terminal was decorated with banners celebrating the Magic's first Med cruise in conjunction with Disneyland Paris's 15th anniversary.

We didn't do an excursion in Barcelona and opted to relax and enjoy the ship. The sail away party was as fun as ever and we were off on our 11 day journey around the Eastern Mediterranean on the best ship on the seven seas.

Our first day was a much needed relaxing sea day, but before long we arrived at our first port of call, Palermo, Sicily.

This city on Italy's largest island was a bit more rundown and poverty stricken in appearance then I had expected. In Palermo, we took the "Mysterious Palermo tour" that visited the Spasimo Church, Zisa Castle, and Capuchin Catacombs (no pictures there for obvious reasons). I'd highly recommend this tour, but be aware of the catacomb portion. The Spasimo church was heavily bombed during WWII leaving behind a structure void of a roof but with 4 remaining walls still standing. A lot of history happened in this area with the church being built and then converted into a hospital during the plague to being used as a concert venue by the locals today. The Zisa castle was a neat building originally used as a summer residence by Italian Royalty. Today it is a historical site. Next was the Capuchin catacombs. These catacombs were first used to house a Monk in 1599 after his death. The bodies were preserved through an elaborate process of allowing the bodies to "dry" on a steel grate for several weeks to months before being covered with lime or arsenic. Eventually the bodies would be dressed as directed by their final wishes and 'displayed' in the catacombs either in glass coffins or hung on the walls for their family members to come and pay their respects. The best preserved body is that of a 2 year old girl, Rosalia Lambardo, who appears today exactly as she did when she died in 1920, one of the last people to be preserved in the catacombs. For those with young children, be warned that you will walk long hallways of real corpses hanging on the walls dating back to 1599. Many are preserved very well with skin and hair still intact. While it is of great historical significance, it can be disturbing. Some more history and pictures can be found here at a site I found using google: http://members.tripod.com/~Motomom/index-3.html


Again, select pictures I took that cover what I wrote above can be found here:

http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...462&p=75641486

I hope you all enjoy. If you don't like the Epson format, let me know and I will upload the pics in a different format so I can post them directly to my posts. Thanks!
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Old 06-21-2007, 03:24 PM   #2
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I'm enjoying your report and photos! Thanks!

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Old 06-21-2007, 08:29 PM   #3
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Sorrento and Pompeii, Day #3

On May 29, 2007, the Disney Magic docked at the port of Naples. Today we did the Sorrento, Capri and Pompeii tour for families.

For those who are just interested in pictures, here is the link: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...760&p=75648667

From the dock, we took a smaller boat to reach Sorrento. The seas were very rough this day though and so the boat trip to the island of Capri was canceled. Disney was apparently informed by the tour operators that the boat trip to Sorrento would be ok because the boat was to remain close to the shore line and not travel through open waters. Unfortunately for everyone in my family and many onboard, the water next to even the shoreline was a bit too rough and quite a few people got very seasick on this 20 minute boat trip. I mean VERY seasick. Let's just say it wasn't the most pleasant sight or smell on this short trip. Luckily none of us got THAT sick, but we were pretty close. Within 20 minutes of being on shore afterwards we were all fine. Apparently that was not the case for everyone though and when we got back from our otherwise excellent excursion we found a letter from Disney apologizing for what happened and that they were taking a 20% discount off the excursion, plus the additional cost they estimated was lost in not traveling to Capri.

Anyways, after the boat, we docked below the city of Sorrento which is built on the top of a cliff. A very beautiful city along a magnificent cost. In my pictures I try to convey the unique, pleasant and quaint nature of this town, but I'm not sure it captures it that well. The views from here were also magnificent with a great view of Mt. Vesuvius in the background. We basically strolled the streets, did some shopping, had an arranged dinner and were off to Pompeii.

Pompeii was one of the highlights of our trip. It is absolutely amazing to think we were walking on streets and walking through buildings built in BC. Pompeii was a large city for its time with houses, bakeries, shops, arenas, theaters, prisons, a complex road system, etc. that was all buried in ash in 79AD when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. It was accidently rediscovered in 1748 and excavation continues to this day. I've included some of the more interesting pictures I took. The captions for each try and explain more of the importance of each picture. Pompeii is an amazing and well preserved glimpse into the past. A must see in my opinion.

Here are the pictures from this day once again: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...760&p=75648667

I hope you enjoy Olbia, Sardinia, Moon Valley and the town of Tempio Pausania up next.
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Old 06-21-2007, 10:56 PM   #4
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Day #4: Olbia, Sardinia and tour of Moon Valley

Our next day was a stop at the Italian coastal island of Sardinia. We were initially scheduled take a boat trip to a beach but because of rough waters the tour was canceled. We then decided to take a tour of Moon Valley.

For those interested in just the pics, here is the link: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...p=75648913&f=0

On this excursion, we traveled a little over an hour from our port to drive through a take a brief stop at a natural landscape known as "Moon Valley". It received this name because of the numerous white granite rocks that fill the valley. Many of these rocks are carved naturally by the winds and rain into many recognizable figures such as faces and animals. Unfortunately the few rocks that we saw that resembled animals were seen only from our tour bus windows and thus pictures came out unclear. This natural environment is beautiful to behold and a very serene environment.

From here, we traveled to a small town known as Tempio Pausania. This town is made entirely from the granite that is plentiful in Sardinia. The walls of the buildings, the roads, the sidewalks, etc. are all made from the granite found in this area. We toured the town during the traditional Italian break time around 3:00pm and thus nearly all of my pictures show an either empty town or the backs of some of the other people in my tour group. The town did come alive though around 4pm with an incredible amount of traffic heading into the town and the shops reopening. A neat site to see a town go from practically a ghost town to a bustling neighborhood.

Our trip today was short, and thus my photos this time are only a few that show the beauty of Moon Valley and the uniqueness of Tempio Pausania.

Here are the pics once again: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...p=75648913&f=0
Enjoy!

Up next, the ultimate highlight of our trip: ROME!
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Old 06-22-2007, 03:06 AM   #5
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Fantastic trip report! It's also a very good history lesson too! Loving every word.
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:58 AM   #6
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Luv it... TFS..........
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Old 06-22-2007, 01:33 PM   #7
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Rome!

Thanks for all the kind words. I hope you are enjoying and for those who are heading out to the cruise this summer, hopefully this can give you an idea of what you might see on each of the specific tours I took.

Our next day was Rome. We took the "Jumping Back into Eternal Rome" tour which visited the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Navona Square, and visited the Vatican with a tour of St. Peter's Basilica.

For those interested in just the pics: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...992&p=75649173


Our day started early where we boarded a motor coach at the dock which transported us a short distance to the Roma Express train. The train was one of the quickest ways to get from the port of Civitivecchia to the city of Rome, with a travel time that was about 45 minutes. Once in Rome, we met our tour guide a took a short bus trip through Rome, passing several historical sites, including the ruins of the Roman Forum.

Before we knew it, we were standing the shadow of the Colosseum. One of the most famous ruins in the world, the Colosseum was used as a source of entertainment with its Gladiator fights. Built in 70 AD and completed in 80AD, it entertained spectators for over 500 years. Much of it was damaged by earthquakes and stone robbers, but it still stands as a great glimpse into the past and the amazing building and engineering power of the Roman civilization. We then took a tour inside the Colosseum from both the ground floor and the second floor of the ruins. Really cool stuff and I posted some of my better pictures with captions that explain some of the details in my album.

Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain, likely the most ambitious of the Baroque fountains in all of Rome. Construction begain in the 1730s and the fountain was completed in the 1760s. It is said that if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain that a return trip to Rome is guarenteed.

The following stop was to visit the Pantheon. Originally built as a temple to the seven deities of the seven planets it is one of the best preserved structures in all of Rome from ancient times. Unique features of this building is its opening in the center of the dome, which is known as "The Great Eye" providing a source of light and is symbolic of the sun. The cool thing is that inside the Pantheon is a large sundial and that where the sun's beam hits tells you exactly what time it is. Also, the famous painter Raphael is entombed here.

After the Trevi Fountain, we walked through Navona Square, famous for its Fountain of the Four Rivers, which was unfortunately under refurbishment when we visited.

Our last stop for the day was Vatican City. At around 110 acres, it is the smallest independent nation in the world. It sits inside a walled in enclave inside the city of Rome. The Vatican is the center of the Catholic faith and home to the Pope, who happened to be in the Vatican which was known from the fact that a specific window in one of the building was open during our visit, although he was nowhere to be seen. We walked through the St. Peter's courtyard and toured inside St. Peter's Basicila, the largest Catholic church in the world, and one of the most elegantly decorated churches you will ever seen. Another famous area inside the Vatican is the Sistine Chapel, however, our tour did not have access to this area of the Vatican for time reasons. Pictures were allowed inside St. Peter's, but only a few of my pictures inside came out well.

After that, we took the Roma Express train back to our ship in the port of Civitivecchia, and eagerly awaited our next day which was to be a relaxing day at sea.

Again, here is the link to the pics: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...992&p=75649173


I hope you enjoy.
Up next, the port of La Spezia with trips to Florence and Pisa!
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Old 06-22-2007, 11:34 PM   #8
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Great pictures!
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Old 06-22-2007, 11:39 PM   #9
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Florence and Pisa

After a relaxing day at sea, the Disney Magic anchored in quintessential Mediterranean port of La Spezia, which would be our gateway to such popular spots as Florence and Pisa.

For those interested in just the pics, here is the link: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...252&p=75650010

The port of La Spezia is a beautiful port, however, it does not have a dock large enough for a ship of the Disney Magic's size to dock at. Thus the ship dropped its anchor and guests were shuttled from the ship to the dock by tenders, or small boats that tie up to the gangways on deck 1 and board guests from there.

After tendering to mainland, we were on our bus trip to Florence. Florence is another beautiful city in Italy full of history and wonderful architecture in its buildings and churches. Our first stop was to Santa Maria del Fiore, a magnificent church in Florence famous for its large dome. Known as "El Duomo" in Florence, we were unable to go inside unfortunately because it was a holiday in Florence when we visted. The outside though, and its accompanying baptist church, are works of art in and of themselves with beautiful paintings/mosaics and carvings from top to bottom.

We continued our walk through Florence and walked over the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge that spans the Arno river in Florence. It is the only bridge from the Romans that survived the bombings during WWII and is famous today for its shops (mainly jewellers). We continued our walk through Florence ending up in a courtyard full of famous statues. I cannot remember the name of this courtyard, however it once was the home to Michaelango's famous statue, David. Today a copy stands in the original's place which can be found inside a museum in Florence with the approrpiate level of security. Other statues abound in this courtyard, which we were told were originals. A few of those famous statues can be seen in my photos.

Our last stop in Florence was in S. Croce Square with the S. Croce church being the focal point of the Square. A unique church in Florence.

Our bus picked us up and after a very nice lunch in Florence, we visited the town of Pisa, which is famous for its cathedral and accompanying leaning bell tower. The Tower of Pisa's construction started in 1173. Shortly after construction started, the tower began to lean because of poor foundation work. Over its construction, different architects tried to correct it, in fact at one point the attempt was made to fix it by building the top half vertically by building one side taller than the other. This design attempt can be seen halfway up the tower causing the tower to have a curved shape. The tower's stability was in question in the late 1990's and it was strengthed structurally in 2001 which allowed it be reopened to visitors, although only 30 people can enter every 30 minutes. Although it felt a bit more like a tourist trap in the area surronding the Tower and its cathedral than I had originally envisioned, it was still neat to stand in the shadow of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.

After our wonderful day, we were treated to a unique show onboard the Disney Magic for the evening's main entertainment where different members of the crew onboard performed a talent show for the guests. Not only was it fun to watch, it also made you feel a bit more like part of the Disney Magic family. A special treat during the show was a performance by Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson, the 2007 runner-up team from ABC's hit show Dancing with the Stars. A video of that performance filmed and edited by my brother can be found on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjvIbpl2xVg . Neat thing about this video is that it was featured on our local radio station FM97 WLAN on June 13th, 2007 during an edition of "Liz's Celebrity Dirt" where the one DJ talks about things in the world of celebrities. My brother forwarded the video the day prior just for the fun of it and we were surprised to hear her reference it on the radio the next day.

Again, here are the pictures from our day in Florence and Pisa: http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/View...252&p=75650010

Next up will be the French Riveria with stops in Marseille, Villefranche and a visit to the famous Monte Carlo casino.
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