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Old 02-14-2012, 08:04 PM   #151
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I'm losing track, but I believe after lunch we saw the Pantheon:



Next up on the tour was the Vatican. On this part of the tour we actually had a guide. However, she was a last minute replacement guide, since apparently ours had fallen ill. She was abrupt, talked really fast with a heavy Italian accent and was very hard to understand, so we were essentially on our own. She was annoyed that we expect her to give us a Vatican tour in an hour when she thought a proper tour of the Vatican should be 4 hours.l We went through the various rooms of the Vatican Museum.







We saw the Sistene Chapel - you are not allowed to take any pictures in there...but we did manage to lose my son in the crowd there. Some anxious moments until we found him.

Then to St. Peter's and the Square




For those of you into the Dan Brown books..you'll understand the following picture:



We then went to a small gift shop for souvenirs and returned back to the ship.

All in all we saw alot, in a small amount of time - the heat was a big factor in the kids enjoyment of Rome, but I think next time around it will go smoother.

Back to Kim.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:11 AM   #152
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When we were in Rome with kids ages 10 and 12 ( I think, maybe 9 and 11), they LOVED this, the Torre Argentina cat sanctuary!:

http://www.romancats.com/index_eng.php

There is so much to see in Rome, but I have to say, this is what they remember! It's walking distance from Piazza Navona, and there's a McDonald's nearby too with a good bathroom, just sayin'....

Enjoying the Med trip report of sorts! Thanks!
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:09 AM   #153
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HermanTriplets+1 View Post
When we were in Rome with kids ages 10 and 12 ( I think, maybe 9 and 11), they LOVED this, the Torre Argentina cat sanctuary!:

http://www.romancats.com/index_eng.php

There is so much to see in Rome, but I have to say, this is what they remember! It's walking distance from Piazza Navona, and there's a McDonald's nearby too with a good bathroom, just sayin'....

Enjoying the Med trip report of sorts! Thanks!
Was that in the square by the Pantheon? If so, we actually used that bathroom...
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:29 PM   #154
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Was that in the square by the Pantheon? If so, we actually used that bathroom...
I never saw the Mc Donalds. I used the restroom in some cafe...
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:49 PM   #155
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I never saw the Mc Donalds. I used the restroom in some cafe...
Yes - Lori, Haylee and I used the rest room in the basement of the McDonald's while JIm got something to drink...we had to go down a spiral staircase and I stood in front of Lori in case she lost her equilibrium
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:05 PM   #156
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Yes - Lori, Haylee and I used the rest room in the basement of the McDonald's while JIm got something to drink...we had to go down a spiral staircase and I stood in front of Lori in case she lost her equilibrium
Speaking of bathrooms I've heard we should plan to bring our own toilet paper. Did you find that to be the case? Just trying to plan ahead. Ive started reading the Rick Steves books. Enjoying them.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:19 PM   #157
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Ahhhhhhh....Rome....

Mindy's hit the highlights, but I'm going to go over a few more details. We had a fun trip to Vancouver yesterday and thank you Mindy for filling-in (hijacking, whatever...) while I was gone. I really did play the audio Spanish stuff in the car. It went well until they started conjugating...then I started getting sleepy..

According to the navigator, we were scheduled to be able to go ashore at 8 am, with an all aboard time of 8:45pm. I had used Limo in Rome to arrange our tour. There were a total of 16 Dis'ers that joined in, and I believe we pain $550E for each minibus, with an additional $150E for the whole group for the "art historian" to join us at the Vatican. I have already spelled hour how disappointing the art historian was, but I do have to say that I was very impressed with Claudio, the owner of the company. Emails were always very promptly returned, and he tolerated the endless questions from what he probably assumed was a "crazy American". At some point, he figured out that Jel0511 and I were friends and co-touring, as at one point he got details of one of our tours to the other person (recall that Jel0511 arranged the Pisa tour). Kinda funny!

Anyway, we had 2 minibuses (VW's I think, maybe Mercedes, but very new-ish) and 2 drivers awaiting us as we disembarked. I don't make note of what time we actually got off the ship; Mindy may have that somewhere. We loaded in and were transported from the port to Rome thru some lovely countryside:



The drive took an hour-ish. We were taken to a side entrance of the Forum area and started there instead of at the Coliseum. This is where things got a bit confusing and where we figured out that we weren't going to have a guide with us the whole day. Oops. We had a map of the area, but no one nearby spoke English, and we had a bit of an issue getting on the right path. I took a LOT of pics, but I'll share only a few here:








The bonus of starting here first was that it was pretty warm. The navigator says 80 was supposed to be the high, but no WAY that was correct. The Forum area wasn't horribly shaded, tho there were trees, but with the large area that needed to be covered, it was nice to get to go there first. The only difficult part was that with the placement of the sun, I had to do a LOT of editing of pictures one we returned home.

Will continue with the Arch and Coliseum after a short lunch break...
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:58 PM   #158
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Speaking of bathrooms I've heard we should plan to bring our own toilet paper. Did you find that to be the case? Just trying to plan ahead. Ive started reading the Rick Steves books. Enjoying them.
Good question! Even with all my planning, that was one tip I completely forgot about at packing time. However, I didn't have any issues the whole trip! In Malta, I don't think we had to ever use a restroom...no we did! We used one that was in the military museum we were at. In Tunis, there was an area by the ruins area that was ok and had paper. In Pompeii, there was one in the ruins area and then again near where we got gelato. In Sorrento, we used the one at the farm. I'm pretty sure there was an area by the Coliseum, but I'm not 100% sure....Min? Sean?? We talked about the Pantheon area already, and then at the restaurant for lunch, of course. Also no problem in the Vatican. In Cinque Terre we had to use the one at the restaurant we stopped at (one of the ones Rick Steves recommended, BTW), and then no issues in Villefranche.

What I would remember, is hand sanitizer. 'Nuf said.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:27 PM   #159
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Continuing on Rome...

Now that I can focus without my stomach growling, I pulled out the ticket we got at the Forum. It was a combo ticket for the Palatine, Forum, and Coliseum for 3 people for a total of $36E. So $12E each? I don't think there was a kid's discount. So, when we finally made our way over toward the Coliseum, we already had our tickets and didn't have to stand in the long lines!

Walked past the Arch:



And just slightly thereafter were the Gladiators that you hear about posing for pics. Didn't do it...maybe $10E/pic?

I never tire of looking at these pics! I'm still amazed by the sheer size!



Looking up as you enter into the Coliseum:









Wow! We met our driver right outside the Coliseum, then did a little more driving around town before heading for the Pantheon. Now this is an amazing building! The 1/2 that isn't scaffolded had already been cleaned/renovated:



I'm hoping it's all gone next year so as to get an unobstructed picture. Inside:





The Piazza outside the Pantheon:



Then, over to the Trevi Fountain. It's kind of hidden, or at least that's how it felt to me. Our drivers parked behind/besides some buildings and told us where to walk. It was right around the corner, but you didn't realize you were there until you were right on top of it! It was very, very crowded, so much so that I held DD in front of me and told DH to walk right behind me so that I could concentrate on taking pictures and not on people trying to pickpocket me. The fountain is huge. HUGE. Pictures don't do it justice.



There were DCL photographers there and we were able to get our pics taken and see them later on at Shutters. There were some mean people there too...one of the kids was scratched at by some mean little old Italian lady. Can't remember what the exact circumstances were, but still, scratching a kid?

We headed for lunch at this point. It was early, like 12 or 12:30? Anyway, when we got to this little place, we were the only ones in there. The food was good, there was a bathroom, and we were able to get some water!

It was located right by the Vatican, so after lunch, it took no time at all to get where we needed to be.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:52 PM   #160
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The Vatican...

This place is massive. I could compare the Vatican, I think, to the Smithsonian. So very much to see and nowhere near enough time to see even a fraction of it.

We pulled over on a side street after entering Vatican City, right across from the Museum.



I believe they said this was the original main entrance, but there had been renovations not long ago for some occasion (the year 2000, maybe?). Our historian was not organized enough to have the whisper-thingy headsets from us, and was trying to get $$ from us to pay some guy on a Vespa. NONE of that had been mentioned by Claudio in my reservation of the tour. We somehow settled the issue, as none of us had the right form of Euros for this, and eventually were guided inside and we got our tickets. Again, I seem to recall her having to do this and us having to give her money for it. Like a bad memory....the details are beginning to fade. This was in the lobby to give us an idea of the terrain we were about to cover:



I could post picture after picture here of what I was able to capture in the Vatican, and while I'll do a few, please go here:

http://s1236.photobucket.com/albums/...ome/?start=all

if you want to see them all. There were many different themed rooms: a map room, a quill room, an "art on the ceiling" room. Our historian rattled off information at lightening speed, but it was so difficult to understand her. You could follow along, and you could tell if you were dawdling when your headset would become static...then you knew you needed to hurry up and catch up. As mindy said, we lost her son for a few minutes...but he was found and lived to go to Alaska !:good vibes











For me, it was surreal to be standing in the courtyard of the Vatican. How many times have I seen this on TV? And I was THERE! In the teeny-tinest country in the whole world!!

At this point, we were led to where our guides would be meeting us. We got back on board, and were taken back to the port. We had agreed prior to going (all 16 of us), that we'd prefer to be safe and be back at the port early. None of us had done a tour on our own at that time and we all were a bit worried about not making it back. We got back to the port about 5:30-6-ish, I think? Early, definitely, and kind of nice because the ship was empty still. We pooled our money and paid the drivers. We did add a tip, as they were friendly and helpful, and in no way was that historian any fault of theirs.

Dinner that night was cruise casual, and we had characters coming to the tables!



We were really tired after this excursion. At this point, had this been an 11-night cruise, we would have gotten a sea day the next day. But no...tomorrow held the Port of La Spezia and for us, Cinque Terre. Off to dreamland:

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Old 02-15-2012, 09:23 PM   #161
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Quote:
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Good question! Even with all my planning, that was one tip I completely forgot about at packing time. However, I didn't have any issues the whole trip! In Malta, I don't think we had to ever use a restroom...no we did! We used one that was in the military museum we were at. In Tunis, there was an area by the ruins area that was ok and had paper. In Pompeii, there was one in the ruins area and then again near where we got gelato. In Sorrento, we used the one at the farm. I'm pretty sure there was an area by the Coliseum, but I'm not 100% sure....Min? Sean?? We talked about the Pantheon area already, and then at the restaurant for lunch, of course. Also no problem in the Vatican. In Cinque Terre we had to use the one at the restaurant we stopped at (one of the ones Rick Steves recommended, BTW), and then no issues in Villefranche.

What I would remember, is hand sanitizer. 'Nuf said.
Went to the bathroom in quite a few restaurants and places in different countries (Even Tunisia) and they all had toilet paper...didn't need to bring any.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:27 PM   #162
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See Kim...I told you that you write better than I do...I couldn't be as detailed...nor did I remember as many details, even with my trip report in front of me...must be the difference in age
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:23 PM   #163
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See Kim...I told you that you write better than I do...I couldn't be as detailed...nor did I remember as many details, even with my trip report in front of me...must be the difference in age
Must be .

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Old 02-16-2012, 12:57 PM   #164
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Port of La Spezia: Cinque Terre here we come!

If my husband were to have an official bucket list, visiting Cinque Terre would likely have been in the top 5 "must-sees". Real excitement about this cruise on his part did not start until I mentioned to him that Cinque Terre was a convenient (and short) train ride from the port of La Spezia. Where we'd be sailing to. On our cruise. Hello?

Ok, he was hooked. Now, how to see it and what to do? What about our daughter? Could she hike it? Did we want to hear her complain about the hike and how hot it was?

So, yesterday's jaunt to Rome was still fresh in our minds and weary in our bodies. This would be our 5th port in as many days, and we were a bit tired. In spite of the fact that the 1st tender to the dock was at 0730, we decided we'd sleep in a bit, have breakfast with DD, then check her into the kid's club so we could fulfill DH's bucket list item sans child. Unfair? Maybe. But not knowing the terrain, we didn't want to find out that we'd have to lug her along the trail.

So finally off the boat, we see the port:



Looking back at the Magic:



We knew (from Rick Steves guide book, of course) That we'd have to walk thru La Spezia to the train station. What we didn't realize was how far that was. A mile. At least. And there was construction, so we had a bit of a time finding the entry to the station. In the meantime, we missed the 11:30 train and had to kill some time. Oh...knowing that we were short on Euros, we took the time to use an ATM along the way. No issues at all. So what do you do when you're tired and have time to kill? Get coffee!! Mmmmm...oh, and water to bring with us on the trail. Oh, and figure out how to buy our tickets. Maybe it was a good thing we missed the train?

So we got our Cinque Terre Treno tickets, filled in our names on the back, and stamped them in the box on the platform as directed. There's no price listed on the tickets that I saved, but it wasn't very expensive. We looked at the monitor:



And figured out which platform we needed to be on:



And boarded the train hoping that we hadn't screwed it up. We ended up talking to an expat on the train that confirmed that we were going the right direction. It was nice to have reassurance that we weren't going to have to turn around at the next stop.

Ok, so at this point, it's noon, and feeling a little guilty leaving DD on the ship, we decided that we weren't going to push it as far as hiking all 5 towns. Had we gotten our rears in gear that morning and gotten out earlier, that would have been another issue, but we figured there needed to be pool time for DD as payback. So looking at the train schedule, we figured that we could go to the 3rd town, Corniglia, and hike back thru Manrola to Riomaggiore to take the 4-ish train back to La Spezia.




So, Corniglia is the highest and most set-back town of the 5. Once you hit the train station, you have the option of either taking the shuttle to the top or hiking up the stairs. We decided that we would only take the shuttle if it happened to be RIGHT THERE when we got off the train. It was! So here's some perspective:
The staircase:



And what's at the top of the staircase:



We found a LOT of humor in that, considering what we do for a living!!!

After wandering the town a bit, we found our way down the staircase and off to Manrola:



The views? Un-Freakin-Believeable!! The stuff movies are made out of! Another holy-mazoley I've seen this on TV and now I'm here moments!





See the staircase above? Thats what we walked down. So for those of you that aren't obsessed with Cinque Terre, it has been made into a National Park. As you hike, there are occasional booths that you have to show your tickets at.
Once upon a time, the only way to get from one town to another was by boat.
Which is another way to see the 5 towns, but not a method of transportation tried by us. By only going to the 3rd town, we missed the 2 far more rugged trails, reputed to take about 90 minutes each to traverse. Kind of a bummer, but oh well, some is better than none, right? I did take us about 60-90 minutes to hike from Corniglia to Manrola, but the terrain was not difficult in the least for us. Hot, yes. But not hard. There was cute little old British guy on the trail that we said hi to, and found out that he's been hiking all 5!





We stopped in Manrola to get some lunch. We ate at Trattoria Il Porticciolo, as recommended in the guidebook, and had an amazing pasta lunch. And LOTS of water. We tried the free glass of sciacchetra that came with the meal if you showed the guide book. It's a dessert wine, and neither of us cared for it....too sweet for us. Our pasta was a potato/pasta mix. It has a name that I can't remember, but it's not a gnocchi. It different. And we had pesto over it. YUM!

We continued on to Riomaggiore. The easy walk between these 2 towns has been nicknamed the Via D'Amore, as young adults would walk this road to rendezvous with other young adults from the neighboring town. As a result, a tradition occurred that people would bring locks to this road and "seal" their love by locking it here:




Where we've come from:



Riomaggiore:




Made it to the train station on time:



We got back to the ship and headed for the pool. The ship was empty. We'd beaten the crowds coming back from Florence and Pisa. I grabbed the small camera on the way to the pool..DH made fun of me asking what I'd need that for....and we found:

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Old 02-16-2012, 12:58 PM   #165
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cont'd...

It was pirate night that night! In my planning-obsessed cease, I'd planned for this:



I also caught the sunset:



And, for you die hard fans, it was Alfred and Seymour night! The party on deck was fun, the desserts were only ok, but I was really too full to eat anything. It was a night treat to have fireworks; the Alaska cruise last year was certainly not a "pirate-night" without them (not to mention the freezing cold temperatures).

And waiting for us in the stateroom:



The next day was Ajaccio, Corsica. We had an early 8:15 DCL tour awaiting us!
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