Magic in the Med: Aug. 10-17 TONS OF PHOTOS!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by texasgirl29, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Friday, August 9

    After our visit to Sagrada Familia, walked up Parral.lel looking for someplace for lunch. We threaded all over the place, down dark alleys and through crowded streets.

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    but ended up at a restaurant on Placa Reial again.

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    I ordered the spinach ravioli.

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    Stephanie ordered a hamburger. It was beautifully presented. Only two things wrong: no top bun, and while we asked for "medium well" it was raw inside. Not just pink, fresh ground beef raw.

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    Oh, and one more thing I wanted to mention. If you ask for iced tea, be prepared for canned ice tea.
     
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  3. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Friday, August 9
    Runner Bean Walking Tour

    Thanks to someone on DISboards a few months ago, I found out about Runner Bean Tours (www.runnerbeantours.com) -- the concept is simple. You can register online for one of their tours, show up and when it's over, pay what you wish.

    Our guide was Gorka. He's the one under the umbrella.

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    OK, here's a better picture:

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    Gorka lead us through the alleys and plazas in the old quarter for over two hours. Additionally, he had advice about places to see and places to eat. He was knowledgeable and understandable. He has an obvious passion for history and enjoys sharing with people.

    He told us about St. Eulalia, the 13-year-old martyred patron saint of Barcelona. This is the street in her honor.

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    He told us about the Jewish quarter, the Inquisition, the Roman ruins, Columbus's return.

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    After Paul and I left the tour, we wandered (i.e. got lost) and eventually found a wonderful little bar/cafe near the foot of Las Ramblas. I had the best mojito ever, and a little tapa with slices of baquette spread with gargonzola, apple slices, honey and walnuts. It was so good, we had to make a return trip after the cruise. http://www.panteagroup.es/guru-cocktels-tapas-barcelona/?lang=en

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  4. Joanna71985

    Joanna71985 <marquee><font color=green>Characters are my frien

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    Following along!
     
  5. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Saturday, August 10
    Finally, it's the Magic!

    At last, what you've all been waiting for, we board the Magic! It was pretty easy to get a taxi from our hotel, told the driver the Disney cruise and he whisked us away to the dock. As we pulled into the parking lot in front of the ship, Rachel kept saying, "I'm home! I'm home!" A porter came by and grabbed our bags (didn't even stop for a tip) and we entered the large warehouse-type building.

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    Can you tell they are excited?

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    The pool folks are getting ready for a hot day in the sun. I confess none of us swam except Brian, who really enjoys it. The girls are too young for the adult pool and they declined to swim in the family pool.

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    The adult pool is not so crowded.

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    The ship flies the flags of Spain and Catalonia as well as the Disney Cruise Line standard. Each morning that we were in port, I enjoyed coming up to Deck 10 and watching the crew member hoist the country flag.

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    The captain turned the ship around, just like backing out of your driveway, and off we went. Adios, Barcelona!

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    Of course, we had the lifeboat drill. I don't understand why people cannot make it to this important drill on time. After the Contra Costa, you better believe I pay attention!

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    And the ship horn blasts that famous When You Wish Upon a Star, and the party begins!

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  6. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Saturday, August 10
    More Magic

    We toured around the ship, getting ourselves reacquainted with her. We had first sailed in 2005 out of Southern California. We went to the Edge, and Rachel was ready to hang out. She spent most of her time at the Edge -- she loved the freedom to come and go and stay out late. Next we went to Vibe to try to coax Stephanie into going there. She was more interested in going to see the spa, which unfortunately, she cannot use until she is 18. But she enjoyed (although she said it was torture) checking out the Rainforest Room and the massage and facial facilities.

    I hung up my Fish Extender (first time to do FEs) and put out the magnets. Now we're moved in!

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    Later that evening, we received our first FE gift! The girls really loved getting surprises. "Mom, why didn't you ever sign us up for this before?" (Now they want to do an FE on their next cruise with Grandma on New Year's Eve.)

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    Back at our room on the first evening we noticed the carpet outside of our bathroom was wet and asked our room steward to see if it could be dried up. He brought some towels and scrubbed the carpet. Here's our ever-cheery room host, Adhi from Indonesia.

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    Our first night's dinner was at Lumiere's. This was the first time to try the late seating. Our servers were Aaron from India and his assistant server Joy from South Africa. Aaron was very earnest and you could tell it was very important to him to keep everyone pleased. Sometimes when we did not order the dish he recommended he would bring it anyway for us to taste. He also told me he was in charge of the menus and seemed to take great pride in that responsibility.

    Joy was... well, just a joy! Always smiling with a lilting laugh. You could not help but love her instantly!

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    Hmmmmm.... bacon and mushroom tart appetizer!

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    Beef tenderloin....

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    and Gran Marnier souffle for dessert:

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  7. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    I was drinking a sip of something while reading your TR and I almost snorted my beverage up my nose when I saw this picture :rotfl2: SO FUNNY!
     
  8. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Sunday, August 11
    First Day at Sea

    Our day began with brunch at Palo. We've had dinner before a couple of times, but never brunch which is so highly praised on the DISboards we knew we'd have to give it a try. Our personal server was Lazlo from Hungary. He was witty and attentive (the room was only about a quarter filled while we were there from 10 to 11:30). He showed us the buffet spread of sweet and savory items, the made to order entrees and the desserts. We began our meal with complimentary champagne for me and mimosa for Paul. I filled my plate with oh-so many good things!

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    There was no need for an entree for me at least, but who can resist dessert?

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    After a delightful brunch with the view of the ocean (and once, Lazlo looked up and said, "Oh, that's the captain!" as he was walking on the deck), we went back to our room. The carpet was still wet. I went down to guest services and this time the deck manager came up. He told me the bathroom had been refurbished ahead of the dry dock in two weeks and that there might have been a little spill. I couldn't convince him that it wasn't a little spill, it was an active plumbing leak. Fortunately, Paul was able to convince him with a little insurance adjuster talk and he said the next day while we were in port they would take care of it. Later that evening we got a bottle of wine from Veronica the guest services manager to thank us for being so patient.

    I ran into Dave and Stephanie over by the Future Cruise Sales, signing up for a four-night cruise out of Galveston on New Year's Eve for Norene and the girls.

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    A very happy girl. Rachel and Stephanie will be Gold Club Members after their NYE sailing!

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    I still wasn't hungry but sat with the girls while they ate tacos for lunch, then at 2 it was time for Paul and I to go to Martini Tasting with Anne-Marie in Sessions.

    We took a seat and the server brought us a martini Anne-Marie called a Tropical Martini made with Blue Curacao, pineapple juice and I think gin.

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    She quickly followed up with a traditional martini:

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    A fruity martini with passion fruit and mango:

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    And a creamy martini made with Bailey's:

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    I hope I can find the recipes online -- anyone have them?

    It was well worth the $15 each. Anne-Marie was both informative and entertaining.

    Sometime during the day, the Gathering of Princesses happened. The banners were out early in the morning. Sadly, my two princesses did not line up for photos, but I did enjoy watching all of the others.

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    Which of course, brings me to dinner. Starting off with goat cheese and grilled tomato:

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    New York Strip Steak:

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    And tiramisu:

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  9. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Monday, August 12
    Villefranche

    Sunrise on the French Riviera! How did I ever get so lucky?

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    The French flag goes up!

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    This was our view as we ate breakfast outside of Topsiders. I do believe that deck is my very favorite place on the whole ship.

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    Land ho!

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    And we sped off on the tender. This had been a concern of mine, that we would be delayed getting to shore via tender and our tour guide would be waiting on us, but we were off very quickly.

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    We met our guide, Ingrid, at the embarkation area. Ingrid was highly recommended by many people on cruise critic. We have always taken ship tours because of the security they offer to get back on time, but Ingrid's fans spoke so highly of her, and her cost was so much lower than the ship tour.

    She packed the seven of us into her van and drove through the narrow and winding streets, stopping to give us opportunities to see the view and take photos.

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  10. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Monday, August 12
    Villafranche continued

    The hilltop village of Eze

    The first place Ingrid took us to was the hilltop village of Eze. It's a medieval village with narrow passageways, twists and turns, charming lamps and doorways. There is a five-star hotel, and few lucky people who live here.

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    The whole group:


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    Our gracious and accommodating tour guide Ingrid:
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  11. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Monday, August 12
    Villefranche continued
    Nice

    Our next stop on Ingrid's tour was Nice, more specifically, Old Town Nice. She stopped off at this vantage point to take a photo:

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    We stopped by this fortress for a moment -- Ingrid explained the lookout in this fortress on the top of the hill would send up a signal to the fort on the coast that pirates were approaching so the townspeople could get ready.

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    This is "old town" Nice. Ingrid parked the van at the top of the hill and we all walked down to stroll among the shops and churches.

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    We stopped for lunch at a small cafe in Nice.

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    I had this vegetable quiche and it was delicious:

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    Further down to the square where there was a giant gelato shop:

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    We continued our stroll past cafes and shops:

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    right on down to the beach. We looked around at a giant flea market and the beach while Ingrid went back to retrieve the van and pick us up.

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  12. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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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.

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    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

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    Good-bye Villefranche!

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  13. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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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:

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

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    I believe this was chicken on top of mashed potatoes:

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    Head waiter Valentin stopped by:

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    And, of course, dessert:

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  14. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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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.

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

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    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.

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

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    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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  15. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!!!!

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    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.

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    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!

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    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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  16. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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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!

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    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!

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    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.

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

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    Happy tourists, despite the heat!

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    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.

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

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  17. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Wednesday, August 14
    Rome, continued

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

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

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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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:

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    St. Peter's Square:

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    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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  18. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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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.

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    But we did get some fun towel animals.

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    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:

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

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    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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  19. pascalstongue

    pascalstongue DIS Veteran

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    Hi! Just found your TR and loving it so far. It looks like you had an amazing cruise.
     
  20. texasgirl29

    texasgirl29 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks! It's gratifying to know someone is actually reading! We did have a great time -- saw so many things!
     
  21. GreenAcres

    GreenAcres I'm not from the South, but I got here as fast as

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    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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