Disney Magic in the Mediterranean-6/7-6/14/2014

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by woody64, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. woody64

    woody64 Mouseketeer

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    DJinPA is correct. We did not have a bathroom on any of our buses. However, only on our Amalfi Coast excursion (Naples-coming soon!) did we ever drive more than an hour without a stop. Also, the bus ride to Monaco was under and hour and where the bus parks there were public restrooms.

    And thank you for the compliments on the photos. I just hope my reports aren't too long and everyone enjoys the photos.
     
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  3. Princess Clayre

    Princess Clayre Mouseketeer

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    Another great instalment that is certainly not to long for me. All the information is very useful.

    Thanks to those who replied about Las Rambla. I will maybe see how we feel once we're there. We just seem to hear so many stories about pickpockets and scam artists as well as the things you've already mentioned. I know you get these in a lot of places, certainly in parts of Paris we have witness this but Las Rambla seems to get a higher report than most. I don't think it helps that my Mum had her bag slashed on a visit back 7 or 8 years ago.

    Looking forward to La Spezia!
     
  4. DISGRL13

    DISGRL13 Mouseketeer

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    I am really enjoying your trip report Woody64!! It is packed with useful information and your pictures are fabulous!! Thank you for posting and I too am looking forward to your next post. :):):)
     
  5. CBJHockeyNut

    CBJHockeyNut Mouseketeer

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    I am enjoying your trip report very much and your pictures are beautiful!! We were on the cruise after you (June 14-26th)
     
  6. woody64

    woody64 Mouseketeer

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    Day 4 – La Spezia, Italy
    Today we were up early to get ready for our excursion to Florence and Pisa. After grabbing a quick breakfast we were off to the WDT to meet up with our excursion. Once you check in, where you find out your tour number and get your stickers for your shirt, they have you sit in one row for your excursion. After a short wait we were on our way to the bus.

    We had about a 90 minute bus ride to Florence so there were a few naps along the way. Our nice tour guide Guilia informed us we would be stopping about half way basically at a truck stop to use the rest room and stretch. She said there were not many public restrooms in Florence so this would be a good spot to stop. After the quick 15-minute stop we were back on our way. Oh yeah, it is already getting hot outside.

    Soon enough we were entering Florence and on our way to the old section. I forgot to mention yesterday that they hand out radios with one earpiece to listen to the guide as we walk around. You could hear pretty well and it had decent range so you didn’t have to stay right next to the guide. Also, both the front and back of the bus had our tour number so they were easy to spot as well.

    Once we exited the bus we made our way into Florence behind our Mickey shaped sign. Looking straight down the street you couldn’t miss the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Il Duomo. It is hard to describe how big this church really is when seeing it for the first time. We approached from one of the sides and then continued to the front, the Piazza del Duomo. Guilia gave us lots of great information as we took in this great structure.

    Starting our tour in the streets
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    Some details on Il Duomo
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    GoPro image because it is so big! Scaffolding(L) is on the Baptistry
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    The Dome
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    I snuck away for a quick look and picture of the East doors (facing Il Duomo) to the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Gates of Paradise (according to Michelangelo). If you’re a Dan Brown fan you must read “Inferno” before going to Florence and you will see many of the places that are featured in the book.

    Door detail
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    Here’s yet another note: be prepared to see some of the sites partially covered in scaffolding, netting or sometimes completely covered. This was the case with the doors mentioned above as well as many other sites on the rest of the trip. It is a little disappointing but when you realize how old these structures are you can only imagine the upkeep to keep them standing.

    From there we continued down the streets (and passed a Disney Store) as we made our way to the Piazza della Repubblica. We stopped for an explanation on this piazza and other information about this section of the city. It is also now officially HOT here as well. Our guide said it is like the weather they usually have in late July and August.

    Piazza della Repubblica
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    Street artist
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    We were now on our way to the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the river Arno. This bridge dates back to 1345 and includes the Vasari Corridor above it. It was the only bridge not destroyed over the river Arno during WWII in Florence. It now houses lots of goldsmiths and jewelry stores.

    Shops on the bridge
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    Ponte Vecchio Bridge
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    We left the bridge and walked along the river to the entrance to the Uffizi Gallery. Scaffolding currently covers a lot of the exterior of the Gallery, but the building was still beautiful.

    Arch we walked under to get to Uffizi Gallery
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    Uffizi Gallery with scaffolding
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    At the far end of the Uffizi Gallery is the Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio. This Piazza is spectacular with its statues and the Neptune fountain. The statues include the copy of “David” by Michelangelo and “Hercules and Cacus” by Bandinelli. Search Google for more information on all the other sites in this Piazza as there are too many to list. We just looked around and took in all there was to see.

    Copy of "David"
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    "Hercules and Cacus" to the right of "David"
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    Neptune Fountain
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    "David" lower right
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    Guilia then led us down a few blocks to Piazza Santa Croce. Unfortunately the Piazza was under construction with a soccer stadium of sorts was being constructed for the Calcio Florentino-basically a city championship of a game created in Florence in the 16th Century that is played the 3rd week of June every year.

    Because of this we did not get a true appreciation for this Piazza and the Basilica in it. Once we arrived we were set free to wander on our own for 90 to walk around. Have I mentioned yet today that it was HOT?

    We were hungry so we walked a few blocks down to All'Antico Vinaio located at
    Via dei Neri, 74. We had huge, authentic sandwiches on awesome bread for €5! The sandwiches could easily feed 2 people. We also shared a glass of wine (€2-serve yourself) and a couple od Coke Lights. We knew about this place because the daughter of a friend spent a travel abroad semester in Florence. We knew it was good because it was the only place with people packing the place, including locals and tour guides. Look on trip advisor or other places for reviews.

    All'Antico Vinaio-notice the crowd
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    After lunch we walked back towards Il Duomo and some of the shops and outdoor kiosks. My DS and DW purchased some scarves but my wife wishes she would have picked up a small leather purse she saw so here’s her insight: if you see it, buy it now because you may not see it again. What this means is the tour we did in Rome had no shopping so she missed out. We guess we just have to go back.

    Shopping
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    We continued walking around and each of us rubbed the boar’s nose (Il Porcellino) and dropped a coin in the fountain for good luck right outside one outside bazaar that had lots of leather goods. We shopped some more, got lost, and finally made our way back to the group.

    Me and Il Porcellino with leather market behind me
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    Once our whole group was assembled we made our way back to the bus and left Florence. Our bus did go past an overlook of the city but could only slow down so pictures had to be taken thru the bus window.

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    Our bus had an exterior thermometer we could see and it read 34 C or about 93-94 F. After walking around a lot it felt good to get into the A/C and sit, and maybe nap, on the hour long drive to Pisa.

    Once we arrived in Pisa we made our way to the bus parking lot. As soon as the doors opened the heat, and about 30 vendors selling sunglasses and umbrellas, descended on us. The vendors were not too aggressive but it was unexpected so just be prepared. We then had a 15-minute walk in the hot sun to a little shopping area just outside the walls to the Duomo di Pisa and the Tower. This area sells lots of trinkets and you can also buy a Rolex for €10!

    Funny sign that vendors were selling the "Rolex" watches under
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    Souvenirs for sale
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    We then walked onto the grounds and had 30 minutes to explore and take pictures. We did all the usual “holding up the Leaning Tower” pictures and a few others. It was really funny looking at 100 different people doing different variations of the pose. We decided to use the restrooms, at a cost of 50 cents each person so be prepared.

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    Classic tourist pose
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    After walking around a little bit more we headed back to the meeting point and then back to the bus. After another 30-40 minute drive we were back at the ship. On the way back we could easily see the mountains above Carrara and the white marble strip mines. It was pretty neat seeing this area knowing it was from this area the marble for “David” and many other statues and buildings was mined centuries ago and continues to be mined.

    The white is not snow but marble
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    We arrived back at the ship very tired. We had already decided we were going to skip tonight’s show and the main dining room and eat at Cabanas. We showered and went up and ate a nice dinner outside. The highlight was they had the desserts from the main dining rooms there that were really the only thing we wanted to try tonight. (Another tip: each restaurant’s menu is posted on the Navigator app so it was easy to check our options and decide whether or not to skip the dining room). After dinner we walked around deck, talked to some nice people we met from KC and just relaxed.

    Note: We did use the free DCL app on our iPhones during the trip. If you can’t get it to connect make sure you clear your browser history and your cookies out and then try to connect. I only know this because I had to seek assistance and this is all the nice cast member did to get my phone to work. We used it mainly to look at dinner menus but we also found the ability to favorite activities. This allowed a quick look at activities we wanted to attend.

    Note, Part 2: I did purchase the mid sized internet package due to some family health issues with family back in the states. Because of my email it was eaten up pretty quick. I chose not to buy more but it was very easy to sign up for the service and check how much you have used. The nice thing is that it shuts off when you reach your limit, not continue to charge you without you knowing.

    We got to bed fairly early again with another big day tomorrow in Rome. According to my DW’s fitbit we walked approximately 8.2 miles today! We loved Florence and definitely want to visit it again.
     
  7. DISGRL13

    DISGRL13 Mouseketeer

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    Another wonderful installment to your trip report!! I am really enjoying your pictures and all your info. Thanks again!! :):)
    Were you able to go in to the main church in Florence? or the Baptistery?
     
  8. woody64

    woody64 Mouseketeer

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    We didn't have a lot of free time so we didn't even think about it so I don't know how to answer your question. Yes, people were going inside both but I'm not sure how long it took to get in or how long you would have had inside. This is one reason we would love to go back to Florence and spend a few days. There is sooo much to see.

    Thanks for the kind words.
     
  9. debsters41

    debsters41 DIS Veteran

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    I love your report and your insight! Thanks!:cool1::goodvibes:cloud9::flower3:
     
  10. pascalstongue

    pascalstongue DIS Veteran

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    Another great installment with fab photos. Florence looks so beautiful, it on my list of places to go, but I want to leave it until we can go without the children so I don't have it ruined with their moaning!
     
  11. Stinkerbell1973

    Stinkerbell1973 DIS Veteran

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    WOW, your pictures are AMAZING.

    So I was on this trip the week before you. Did the same excursion in Florence/Pisa. Villefranche was a different one for us (Scenic French Riviera tour). It is incredible to read you describe the heat in Florence. One week prior, the day we toured, it was 73 degrees. Our tour guide said it can get up to ~110 degrees in Florence in the summer. YIKES!
    We had a private tour in Rome, which was unbelievable, and we did the Amalfi Coast/Pompeii tour in Naples. Absolutely fantastic tours all the way!

    Really enjoying reliving this incredible trip through your TR. Thanks!
     
  12. woody64

    woody64 Mouseketeer

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    Amalfi Coast/Pompeii is coming up after my next installment-Rome!

    Thank you everyone again for the kind words and glad everyone is enjoying the pictures as much as I enjoy taking and posting.
     
  13. gcoolie

    gcoolie I do believe in fairies!

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    Your pictures are gorgeous! We are sailing on the Magic in the Med on 7/26. All the info is so helpful. Thanks for taking the time to write this report.

    My husband loves that beer mug too!
     
  14. madam butterfly ahoy

    madam butterfly ahoy Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for the details and lovely pics, looks amazing , we are sailing on 23 August on the Magic for 7 nights, is there a forum for these dates , if so can u direct me I've searched all over this site , hoping to join the FE with my fellow cruisers. Thank u so much in advance xx
     
  15. Disneymadhouse

    Disneymadhouse Always planning a Disney holiday!

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    Have a look here. I don't know if there is a FE group, but if you have a read through the thread it may be of help :wave2:
     
  16. debsters41

    debsters41 DIS Veteran

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    I sure am looking forward to the next installment!popcorn::
     
  17. woody64

    woody64 Mouseketeer

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    Sorry for the delay, life has been busy. I am splitting Rome up into to posts so here is Rome with the next post being the Vatican City. Buckle up, here we go!

    Today was another early morning wakeup, breakfast and meet up in the Walt Disney Theatre to catch our excursion to Rome. For today we chose the Best of Rome once again thru DCL.

    After a short wait in the theatre we were off to our bus. After meeting our guide we boarded the bus and were on our way. During our drive we were informed we would pick up our walking guide, Enyo, at the train station. He would then narrate the rest of the day for us.

    Like yesterday, we stopped at the Italian version of a truck stop for a break to stretch our legs and hit the restroom. All total the drive from the port to Rome was about an hour and a half. The drive was not very spectacular but then again, we may have napped through most of it.

    After picking up Enyo at the train station it was off to the Colosseum. One of the first things Enyo told us was that he would find as much shade as possible today because it would be another hot day. Are you seeing a pattern here? Good thing we had our water packed!

    Once we neared where we would park we drove alongside Palatine Hill, center most of the 7 Roman Hills and also one of the most ancient parts of the city. Our guides pointed out Circus Maximus, the Roman chariot racing stadium that could seat 150,000 people, and the ruins of one of the Roman aqueducts as we neared our parking area.

    Site of Circus Maximus
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    Once we parked along the street and exited we were almost directly across the street from the arched entrance to Palatine Hill. We then had a short 5 minute walk to the Arch of Constantine and the exterior of the Colosseum. Unfortunately the Arch was half covered with scaffolding, but when you realize it was built in 315 AD you realize it might require some maintenance.

    Arch of Constantine
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    While Enyo talked to us about the Colosseum, our other guide, who we’ll call Jane because for the life of us we can’t remember her name even though she was great, went to buy our tickets to enter. Unfortunately it was a very busy day and despite Jane’s and Enyo’s best efforts, we had to wait about 30-45 minutes to enter the Colosseum. There was a huge crowd there and at times was a struggle to keep up with Enyo and his red ribbon on his stick.

    Our guide Enyo(in sunglasses holding the flag) and the crowds at the entrance
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    During the wait, Enyo explained that all the entrances were numbered but one and they figured this unmarked entrance was for the Roman leaders. He pointed out other interesting facts and it made the wait go by pretty fast.

    One of the numbered entrances
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    There were even a few guys dressed up as Roman soldiers you could have your picture taken with although we were warned to negotiate a price before taking a picture.
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    One word of warning for those going to Rome, be prepared for crowds and be patient. As you can see already, we had to wait and deal with crowds at every stop. Other tourist groups will push you and cut you off but all we did was look up and realize where we were. It was well worth all these hassles to see and experience everything we did in Rome.

    Once we entered the Colosseum we were taken to the Emporer’s entrance and got our first view of the interior. WOW! It was so cool to finally be inside something you’ve seen hundreds of times in books and magazines and studied about in school. Enyo was full of great information. After snapping some pictures we were taken upstairs to the top level so we could really see the details down below. It was explained that all the rooms you see were actually under the main floor where the battles took place. These rooms held anything from animals to gladiators as they waited their turn for battle.

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    From upstairs we then traveled back downstairs to the opposite side that we came in from. This had a great little area you could walk up close to the lower level.

    [​IMG]

    After some more pictures and standing in the shade (yep, it was getting hot!) we headed for the exit. We made the short trek back to the bus and the comfort of air conditioning.

    Our next stop was going to be the famous Trevi Fountain. I forgot to mention that during our first day at sea we received a letter in our stateroom informing us that there was maintenance being done on the fountain and possible things going on at St. Peter’s Basilica so we may not be able to see either of them. While we were concerned with what this meant we were just taking it in stride.

    On our drive we went past so many ruins you could hurt your neck constantly looking at all the sites on either side of the bus. We even saw a little tiny gas station right in the middle of a city block with the pump out along the street. We were also informed on our ride that we would be dropped off near the fountain and would be picked up at the hotel where we were scheduled to have lunch. We could leave any items on the bus and they would be safe with the driver.

    We were dropped off several blocks from the fountain and continued on foot. Once we arrived at the fountain we saw that it was surrounded by a 6’ tall fence which fortunately you could see through and had no water in it. I was able to get a couple of good pictures with no one in them though and it was beautiful but we were disappointed that the water was turned off only a week before we were there.

    Trevi Fountain
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    After throwing our coins into the fountain we made our way on a 10 minute walk to the Hotel Bernini Bristol where we were having lunch. On the way we passed a Antica Farmacia Pesci beside the fountain. This Farmacia says it was founded in 1552!

    Once we arrived at the hotel we were taken upstairs to a private dining room. There was another Disney tour eating there as well but the dining room was very nice. On the table waiting for us were several bottles of wine and bottles of water. We were then served nice lunch of pasta and chicken and a custard/tiramisu type dessert. The food was good and it felt good to sit down in the air conditioning.

    After lunch everybody made a last stop to the restrooms, which were very nice, and we went downstairs to catch the bus. It was arranged for the bus to do a quick stop in front of the hotel, which was nice. We boarded the bus and were making our way to Vatican City, which is where I will pick up the story in the next post.
     
  18. woody64

    woody64 Mouseketeer

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    For those doing the excursion we went on I have one quick update. I looked up the Hotel Bernini Bristol to make sure I had the right information and found out it has a fantastic view from the rooftop restaurant. If I had known this I would have tried to go up there during lunch for a couple of quick pictures.
     
  19. sandonov

    sandonov Earning My Ears

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    Hi,

    We are from Western Suburbs as well (Oak Park) and I am trying to plan this trip for next August 2015. You have an amazing trip report, so if you are open to it and when you have time I would love to pick your brain about it. We are a family of 3 - DH, and DD (4) who are DCL vets but not to Europe. All your info about getting to and from and timing etc...would be super appreciated! Thanks.
     

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