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Old 02-16-2012, 01:56 PM   #166
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[QUOTE=MinnieDiva;44046886]It was pirate night that night! In my planning-obsessed cease, I'd planned for this:




[QUOTE]

Just in case anyone was wondering I took that picture
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Old 02-16-2012, 02:38 PM   #167
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So before Kim moves on the Corsica, I must interject and again add my two cents to this thread. I, who did not do my homework prior to this cruise, knew nothing about cinque de terre. Never even heard of it before Kim and Sean said they were seeing it

Unfortunately, being an east coaster, I don't believe we get Rick Steves on PBS and I didn't see his video on this until this past week and I KNOW I missed a good thing. However, physically I don't think I would have been able to keep up with them, since at the time I weighed 60 lbs more.

So, instead, I hooked up with Lori and some other Disboard folks and we did a private tour with LimoinRome that Lori had set up. Here's some shots of us enter the Port of La Speiza from our room.




The tour took us to Pisa and Florence. Two vans met our group of 14 at the pier in La Speiza. Lori and I were in different vans and had very different experiences. Remember what we've said previously about having drivers vs. tour guides. I got lucky. I had a driver that liked to talk and he gave us all the highlights and history. Lori was not so lucky. Her driver didn't speak English as well and she got all her information from us.

It took about an hour to get to Pisa, where Lori had reserved us all tickets to climb the tower. (You must buy these tickets in advance - perhaps Lori can comment on how far in advance that was - and guesstimate what time you will be there, because they do sell out.)


My DH elected not to climb, but I, being in denial of my physical limitations, decided to do it. Well let me tell you, it doesn't look that bad from the outside, but between all the stairs and the fact that were at a slant, it was tough. If it wasn't for my wonderful 9 year old DD, who stayed with my from the time I was ready to quit on level 3 to the top, encouraging me and getting me to go on, I would not have done it. But thanks to her, I did...I made it to the top with 3 minutes left to see it.





Meanwhile, DH was below taking pictures of the square.





Of course afterwards we needed to take the obligatory "holding up the tower" photos. There were Disney photographers all over the place so we had lots of shots to buy at Shutters as well.




We then drove on another hour to Florence. We were taken to the highest point in the city, where the view was spectacular.


There was a copy of the statue of David in the square as well.


Our driver drove us around Florence




and then dropped us off in a little square in the middle of town to do some shopping and have lunch.



It was a two hour ride back to the port, but DH was taking some wonderful pictures as I slept.







Alfred and Seymour picked on my son in the show and actually remembered him the next night when he was part of the ventriloquist show, but more on that when we all discuss Corsica.

Here was our creature waiting in the room that night

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Old 02-16-2012, 03:42 PM   #168
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Thanks Mindy for doing Pisa! I haven't seen her pics before, so it's new for me, too. My daughter requested that we do Pisa this time, and I can't really say no to specific requests. That, and while I love my Dad, at this point in time, there's no way I'd take him to walk around Cinque Terre. He'd never make it. He wouldn't go to the top of Pisa, either, but he's appreciate the sight.

The disappointing thing, tho, was pointed out yesterday on our meets thread. We're in La Spezia on a Monday. The Ufizzi (I thinks I just jacked up that spelling), and the Accademia are closed on Mondays. That means no David. So, in light of that, is it worth it to go to Florence? The Duomo would be awesome to see, but the drive....an hour from Pisa then 2 hours back to port? I'm not a shopper, so that's out. If Mindy repeats Pisa with us, she'd appreciate me keeping her DH away from the shops in Florence! (sorry Jim...)

So, what else to do?? Lucca? Eh. Maybe. What about Tuscan wineries? Now THAT would be right up my alley! I wonder if that's feasible? Hm....more to research!
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:52 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by MinnieDiva View Post
Thanks Mindy for doing Pisa! I haven't seen her pics before, so it's new for me, too. My daughter requested that we do Pisa this time, and I can't really say no to specific requests. That, and while I love my Dad, at this point in time, there's no way I'd take him to walk around Cinque Terre. He'd never make it. He wouldn't go to the top of Pisa, either, but he's appreciate the sight.

The disappointing thing, tho, was pointed out yesterday on our meets thread. We're in La Spezia on a Monday. The Ufizzi (I thinks I just jacked up that spelling), and the Accademia are closed on Mondays. That means no David. So, in light of that, is it worth it to go to Florence? The Duomo would be awesome to see, but the drive....an hour from Pisa then 2 hours back to port? I'm not a shopper, so that's out. If Mindy repeats Pisa with us, she'd appreciate me keeping her DH away from the shops in Florence! (sorry Jim...)

So, what else to do?? Lucca? Eh. Maybe. What about Tuscan wineries? Now THAT would be right up my alley! I wonder if that's feasible? Hm....more to research!
Don't mind doing Pisa again. Would enjoy being able to climb without dying and Jim would like to climb this time. As for the Ufizzi, we could have gone last time, but we opted out because it would have taken most of our time in florence and we decided not to. I don't remember shopping much in Florence last time, so I don't think Jim would be that disappointed, Lets look into Lucca. Wineries are good but we don't want to over do with the kids, especially if we're dragging them to one in Barcelona.

The following are from Sam with love this is what he sees
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:56 PM   #170
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And another thing...

So I went running this morning, and 2 things came to mind that I wanted to chat about.

1. My daughter has traveled since she was 7 weeks old. Several times a year, cross-country, you name it. Never have we had an issue. Until an 11+ hour flight to Zurich. And the 12+ hour flight back to San Francisco. During the landing of both long distance flights (BOTH!!!), guess who's kid vomits over everything in front of her? Yup. Mine. And I had stuff in my purse for it. Go figure...we thought the 1st time was a fluke. Lesson learned. Medicate before and during flight and push the water intake.

2. Ashleigh was TERRIFIED of the thought of the safety drill. Not sure why. Told her about it as a way of letting her know what was going to happen after we embarked. Didn't think anything of it, but she was OBSESSING about it the entire day. She doesn't like the smoke alarm at home, and I'm betting she doesn't like fire drills at school. But to go to that extreme?? She kept asking when it was going to happen. Once it was over and done with, she realized she had noting to be afraid of and relaxed. It was no big deal In Alaska last year either. So, if you have a kid like mine, I suggest this: either don't tell them about it, or, find a you tube video to show it's not so bad.
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:01 PM   #171
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Don't mind doing Pisa again. Would enjoy being able to climb without dying and Jim would like to climb this time. As for the Ufizzi, we could have gone last time, but we opted out because it would have taken most of our time in florence and we decided not to. I don't remember shopping much in Florence last time, so I don't think Jim would be that disappointed, Lets look into Lucca. Wineries are good but we don't want to over do with the kids, especially if we're dragging them to one in Barcelona.

The following are from Sam with love this is what he sees
Are you kidding me? Florence is known for its gold! You'd end up with more jewelry...

And it's not all about the kids.....
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:26 PM   #172
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Are you kidding me? Florence is known for its gold! You'd end up with more jewelry...

And it's not all about the kids.....
Well if you don't tell him, he won't know because he didn't know that last time we were there.

Yea right, it's not about the kids...if that were the case would we ever have done Disney to start out with? I'm into Mickey, but price might have scared me away from the first one....
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Old 02-17-2012, 04:54 PM   #173
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Corsica!

I'm probably going to talk about Corsica in 2 parts, for 2 reasons: time, and we did two different things that day. I don't even think DCL is going to Corsica again, which is a shame, because it's beautiful island! This is what we awoke to:



We were in port 8am-4:45pm. We opted to start the day with a DCL tour: Sweet Corsica! This had 3 parts to it, a visit to a honey farm, a visit to a winery, and then a visit to a nougat factory.

The honey factory was our first stop:





It was a lovely little farm! We were told about the process and how you get different flavored honey, and got to sample 6 (I think) different types. I'm not a big honey fan, but Sean is. I was more interested in the soaps they were making from the honey. We ended up buying a few, and I just recently finished the last bar.

Next up: Winery!!





We were taken on a tour of the facility, and were told about the process that goes into making wine. We got to sample a few different wines, at least a red, a rose, and maybe a white. They had some juice for the kids as well as some chunks of bread that were meant to eat between each wine that ended up being hoovered by the kids. A little annoying. We did enjoy the wines that we tasted and bought 2 to go, but Sean started talking technical details with the staff, and they didn't seem very friendly or interested in talking about their product. Which is odd, to us. We've lived in Monterey and now in Washington, and Sean lived in Napa, so we've done our fair share of going to wineries, and we're used to encountering people who love talking about wines. Technically, we're in FRANCE!!! Hello? Y'all are supposed to be vinophiles! Oh, well. The wines were good. Maybe it's cultural to be suspicious of people who want more info?? Who knows.

We left there and headed to our last stop on our tour: a nougat factory. In the meantime, we got to see some evidence of the Romans:



Now, I had no idea what to expect from nougat. My experience with it is in a Snicker's bar. It's perfectly yummy there, so I was looking forward to this. Ashleigh was a bit bored and grumpy after the winery (she's usually tolerant of 2, maybe 3 if we're pushing it...), so I tried reviving her spirits by describing nougat as the stuff in candy bars. Since she rarely gets those, it got her interest. We were taken in and given a tour by a very animated fellow. He had a very thick french accent, but he was GREAT with the kids in that way that some people just ARE.







And, of course, there were samples!! Now, I'm partial to less-sweet items, so I was pretty happy, but poor Ashleigh was a bit disappointed. I think there was one item that was covered in chocolate that she really liked. We bought a few items, then on the bus to head back to the port.

A lot of people seemed not to like Corsica very much and were of the opinion that there was not a lot to do. I'll talk about what we did in the town in the next post, but I want to say that I think part of the problem was that we couldn't really get too far out from Ajaccio. The terrain was hilly...it actually reminded me a lot of California and the hilly areas around the Bay Area. It was beautiful, and I bet that most people weren't able to get far from the coastline to see what else the island had to offer. My 2 cents.

We had decided that we'd just pop back on the ship to have a quick lunch....and I'll pick up the rest of the story later...
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:34 AM   #174
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Ok - I want you to know that this is my second attempt at writing this. I had the whole thing written with pictures uploaded, was in preview mode and the disboards cut out on me and I lost everything...so here we go again. Persistent, I am.

I again, am interceding as my day in Corsica was very different from Kim's and Kim's computer is a little under the weather, so I thought I'd help out.

We found Corsica to be very pretty and quaint. There's not a heck of a lot to do there, but it's a nice place to see. We had originally been scheduled for a Disney excursion here, but the tour operator had cancelled it so we opted to do Corsica on our own. It is very doable on your own, since the port is basically in the town. Trust me, in those days we were not of the "walkers" and it wasn't too much for us. We actually slept in that day since we had just survived full days in Naples, Rome and Le Spieza. We awoke to this view:





We slowely meandered off the ship



There was a great market within 2 minutes of the pier. It had all sort of souvenirs, food, etc. We actually stopped and bought some nougat. I agree with Kim, not as sweet as one would expect, but I liked it.

Since it was lunch time, we decided to forego eating on the ship and try out a seaside cafe for crepes (how can you go to France and not have crepes???)



Cliffside (Susan) and her family passed by on their way back from the beach. Yes, there is a beach within walking distance from the ship. They said it wasn't like a typical american beach, they said it was pretty rocky.

We then walked around the town, taking in the sights.





I don't know if people realize that Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon. We were outside his birth home, which is now a museum. We didn't go in because they were closed for lunch.



I'm sure that Kim or LostBoySean will elaborate more on Napoleon because as we came to find out, Sean is quite the Napoleon buff.

We went back to the ship early, relaxed, did some laundry and were ready for the Concierge reception as the ship pulled out of port.



That evening before dinner, we went to see Paul Zerdin (a ventroloquist) in Rockin' Bar D. My son actually heckled his way into the shop and I have to say he was just as funny



Dinner that night was The Captain's Gala (semiformal) in Lumiere's followed by the adult version of the Alfred and Seymour show.

It was a nice day and much needed low impact day. I can understand why people flocked to the 11 day cruise with a sea day in the middle.
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:11 PM   #175
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Thanks for doing a review as it is very helpful in planning for our cruise. I'm interested in doing the private guide tour with a driver in Rome. Last time in 2007 we did Disney's excursion and I picked the one excursion that got us a private viewing of the Sistene Chapel. Totally worth it as we were in the room with just the people on our bus. The tour guide said that she loves when this happens because it is so nice to enjoy everything without bumping into people. Plus we got to take pictures. We couldn't us a flash but just taking pictures was amazing. I didn't take too many as I was in awe struck by the experience. Our tour included the guide but I can't tell from your reviews it sounds like yours did and didn't. Do you know how to ensure you get an English speaking guide the entire time and not just a driver?

Here's my Sistene Chapel picture:



We did the Baltics in 2010 and I did use a private guide in St Peterburg and it was awesome but we agreed upon a daily itinerary before hand and we had a guide and driver.
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:38 PM   #176
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Thanks for doing a review as it is very helpful in planning for our cruise. I'm interested in doing the private guide tour with a driver in Rome. Last time in 2007 we did Disney's excursion and I picked the one excursion that got us a private viewing of the Sistene Chapel. Totally worth it as we were in the room with just the people on our bus. The tour guide said that she loves when this happens because it is so nice to enjoy everything without bumping into people. Plus we got to take pictures. We couldn't us a flash but just taking pictures was amazing. I didn't take too many as I was in awe struck by the experience. Our tour included the guide but I can't tell from your reviews it sounds like yours did and didn't. Do you know how to ensure you get an English speaking guide the entire time and not just a driver?

Here's my Sistene Chapel picture:



We did the Baltics in 2010 and I did use a private guide in St Peterburg and it was awesome but we agreed upon a daily itinerary before hand and we had a guide and driver.
How very cool that you got to take pics! We couldn't speak without the guards hushing us, let alone raise a camera!

I've already been doing research into tours for Rome (imagine that...me planning already!), and have found a company that can get a guide in addition to a driver. I'm under the impression that they have access to hiring a guide, you just have to ask and clearly state your needs. So, I got all the info for one company, but I can't book for our cruise until December.

I'm probably going to contact a few other companies to get quotes and see if they are comparable. I looked at Viator, and one quote there was about $2000E for our group of 8!! Holy cow! It works out to about $250E each, which if I remember was about in line with DCL, but still.... My quote was more like $1300E for a 15 passenger van. We would have to go with a bigger van so the guide would have somewhere to sit. So, I'll probably be trolling for another family to join in when the time comes!
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:44 PM   #177
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I again, am interceding as my day in Corsica was very different from Kim's and Kim's computer is a little under the weather, so I thought I'd help out.


I'm sure that Kim or LostBoySean will elaborate more on Napoleon because as we came to find out, Sean is quite the Napoleon buff.
My computer is still ill, and has an appointment with the genius bar tomorrow. Sigh. I'm furiously doing some back up to dual-layer dvd's, as I don't want to lose anything else. Apparently, I hadn't backed up since late december, so the worst thing that I lost was a bunch of photos.

In the meantime, I get to go wine tasting, so no pics or report today!! Our next installment does involve Napoleon! Sean has a history degree and while his focus is 20th century, he does have an unnatural obsession with Napoleon....
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:23 PM   #178
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OK, I'm subscribed! Just booked the same cruise and am mega excited.
We just did our first Disney Cruise on the Wonder last month to the Mexican Riviera. Cruised before on different line, but won't go back! DCL is amazing!
MR cruise was with 4 generations, my mom to my grandkids, 7 of us in all. This one is for us, our 34th anniversary, and my daughter and her dear.
Love all the posts!
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:57 PM   #179
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We'd be interested in joining up on tours, when the time comes. Right now just 2 of us, but we might bring my 8 year old nephew, well I guess he'd be 9 by then.
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:40 PM   #180
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Not weird at all! I think I've figured out how to do something new everywhere but Rome. Rome, I think, is worth doing all over again!
We did one of the Disney "Best of Rome" tours that was jam packed with stops and we loved everything on our first cruise. With that being said, this time around we will probably take the train in on our own and round out all the things we did not get to see. We will visit Palatine Hill, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Villa Borghese Gardens, and of course another visit to the Trevi fountain. Eventhough we went to the Coloseum on our first visit we really only got to spend time inside so we are planning a nice walk around the outside and maybe some pics with a gladiator! Evidently a nine hour shore excursion was just not enough!!!

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