Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, International, Restaurants & Bars, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

The Last Day of Cruising

Palma de Mallorca, Tapas Walking Tour, Beewi Tapas Bar
Spanish tortilla mushrooms in a sauce patatas bravas and a typical Mallorca sweet cake at Beewi in Palma de Mallorca

TRAVEL THERE: TAPAS TASTING IN PALMA DE MALLORCA

Confession, this is where my travel journal ended.  For some reason I happily journaled all through the trip and just quit after our day on the French Rivera. Another confession, while I blogged about most of this trip in the weeks right after the cruise, life got busy and I took a break that lasted longer than I anticipated.  So eleven months after the cruise, here I am finishing up the last few posts of this trip.  Glad you are still with me. 

Large Storm in a Small Teacup

While traveling is fun, it is also tiring and while traveling with your friends has a lot of benefits, after the trial by vacation we’d been on, it was time to go home.  Everyone needed some personal down time, but it was still a few days away.

One of the things that got my visit to Monaco off on the wrong foot was a scheduled meeting with the photographer.  Bill hadn’t wanted to have a photographer at the vow renewal ceremony in the first place, because he thinks the onboard photography thing is a racket – one that charges entirely too much.  However, the photographer was non-negotiable.  Since he didn’t want the photographer there, he really wasn’t interested in a meeting with them to look at the photos and when it conflicted with his desire to go visit Monaco, well, Monaco won.  I’m so ruled by the things that I am supposed to do, that I wasn’t able to blow off the appointment with as much aplomb as he was, especially since there was no way to contact her and let her know what was going on.  We just stood her up.  I felt bad for the photographer.  She was just trying to do her job.  

Eventually, she got in contact with us and I was able to apologize.  The appointment was reset for this day.  If we had gone in Monaco, then we would have gone on our own and quite possibly would have said thanks, but no thanks, except for perhaps a few as gifts to our friends.  As it was, we ended up with the whole crew of us in the very small space of the photo office and not everyone was on the same page.  It was also the very last moment.  If we didn’t make a decision right then, there would be no photos for anyone.

The photos were beautiful.  The price was astronomical.  Some folks thought that I should have every single one.  Bill was paralyzed with sticker shock.  I just wanted it to be over.  We arrived at a compromise that wasn’t quite what anyone wanted, but we moved on.

The Shore Excursion

Everyone went their separate ways after the photo storm.  We knew we’d be seeing each other at 2:15 for the Tapas Walking Tour.  The meeting place instructions changed and even after we started gathering on the pier, there seemed to be some sort of question about where we were supposed to be.  I think our crew was almost as ready for us to go home as we were.

The good news was our guide was somewhat better on this day.  She loaded us on a bus and delivered us to  Bellver Castle.  It was really just a photo op with a great view of the harbor.  From there, they parked the bus and we set out on foot.

Our first tapas stop was El Pesquero, a sea-side patio restaurant.  The food was delicious and the patio was amazing.  I personally could have just stayed there and been perfectly happy.

El Pesquero was in the shadow of the old cathedral, so our walking tour began there.  We passed lovely plazas and canals along the way and then we arrived at Beewi.  Beewi was just a small cafe with nothing much to recommend it, besides the food and what they served was delicious.  Deb and I agreed the view in the cafe was also quite nice, if you like to look at handsome Spanish men.

Next up was Es Rebost where we were able to order whatever we wanted.  I went for something with beef, since we hadn’t had any of that yet.  Then it was time to head back to the boat, where an absolute delight waited for us.  Come back next week and see what I mean.

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

It’s Nice in Nice!

Travel There: Lunch and Shopping in Nice

Life on a cruise:  another bus ride, another meeting point and another meal.  That about sums it up, but come on with me and enjoy Nice.  While I’d still take Cap d’Antibes over Nice, there nothing not to enjoy about the city.

An Dining Opportunity

One thing I can easily say about this trip is that we bought more food onshore than we usually do on cruises.  Some of that may have been because our shore excursions were such marathons and not all of them included a meal.  However, I think it also had a lot to do with Jim and Melanie.  One of their primary interests at every stop was where to eat and drink, while Bill and me on our own tend to find other things to do.  I’m not complaining though.  It was fun.

Though it seemed as if we’d just left the sidewalk cafe in Cap d’Antibes, the first order of business in Nice was to find another sidewalk cafe.  This time it was Le Gande Balcon and we were getting more than a snack. 

Bill and I both had prawns and oh my goodness, I have rarely seen such big ones.  Mine came with pasta and Bill’s came with risotto.   Glasses of wines and adult beverages were enjoyed by all.

A Shopping Opportunity

Le Grande Balcon was in the middle of a shopping area.  Nearby shops filled the sidewalks with their wares and a little further down was an open air market.  We’d all been so busy being tourists, very little shopping had been happening, in spite of all the shopping opportunities the guides had forced on us.  Those opportunities usually came with a pretty heft price tag.  Though there was one more day of touring left, no one wanted to get home without the requisite souvenirs, so after our wonderful meal, we hit the shops.

The shop closest to the restaurant had laminated place-mats and for some reason Bill was all over them.  He picked out four odd place-mats – two with roosters and two with cartoon cats.  They were the absolute last thing I would have chosen as a souvenir of this trip, but hey, Bill rarely shows any interest in any souvenirs.  So, if he wanted plastic place-mats, by golly, I thought he should get plastic place-mats.

Further down I found a shop of linen goods.  They had a darling dress I knew my sweet next door neighbor would love, so I had to get that.  Continuing down the street we wandered into the open air market.  I found a delightful vendor offering gifts of lavender sachets in the printed cotton which Provence is known for.  That’s where I bought my souvenirs.

Visiting the Beach

There wasn’t much time left, but we wanted to get a few pictures of the gorgeous beach.  We headed back to the meeting point, which had been across from the beach.  We wished for a few more hours to explore the area, but we had minutes, not hours.  Another reason for us to head back to the French Rivera someday.

After having time for just a few photos, it was time to get on the bus and ride back to the ship. We had a quiet afternoon in our cabin.  Bill napped.  I caught up on my journal and did some reading.

That evening the rest of the gang had decided to fork out big bucks to eat at Eden.  They say it was fabulous and for the first time in his life, Bill actually admitted that he wished he’d had any idea it would have been so good.  He actually wished that he had spent the money.

Instead, we had dinner at the Cosmopolitan, which was actually the third time we ate there.  I was surprised Bill didn’t want to go back to the Italian or French restaurant, but I think it may have had more to do with proximity than anything else.  We enjoyed the downtime.

After dinner we took in a show called Gilly and Girl in the Theater.  It fit the easy-going mood of the day – just a couple doing love songs and ballads.  We strolled the shopping area where various events were supposed to be happening, but it was all just a come on to get passengers shopping.

Even the shopkeepers didn’t want to participate, so we just went back to our cabin.  Guess what!  We’d both left our keycards in the room and had to go back to guest services.  We giggled all the way there and all the way back to the room.  We’ve traveled entirely too much to have both made that mistake on the same evening – but that’s just what we’d done!

One day of touring left.  Come back next week for Palma de Mallorca.

 

 

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Welcome to the French Rivera

TRAVEL THERE: CANNES, CAP D’ANTIBES AND NICE

The French Rivera surprised me.  I thought my favorite day would be Florence, but it turned out to be this day.  Travel always brings surprises.  Come enjoy this day with us.

Relaxing and Fun

Don’t faint.  We didn’t have a single museum or historical site to visit today.  I’d done some research and hadn’t been able to find much to get excited about it.  In fact, I had lobbied for a bus tour to some Provence Villages or a tour of the Provence perfume industry.  I was voted down and I am so very glad.

It was another early morning gathering in the Theater and then a ride to shore on a tender.  From there, we boarded a bus.  The tour guide was in a dead heat for last place with the lady in Florence.  In fact, this one didn’t even rate as a tour guide.  She was more like a room mother on a field trip.  Nice, but not much else.

Cap d’Antibes, the “S” is Silent

We got off our bus in Cap ‘d Antibes.  Our guide trotted down the street a bit with us, pointed us toward a cobblestone path and then told us when to come back.  

The picture above shows us wandering along the water’s edge unchaperoned and not quite sure what we were looking at.  If the view had not been so fantastic we might actually have minded, but we didn’t.  We could have gone to the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, but we didn’tWe could have gone to a Pablo Picasso Museum, but we didn’t.

Instead, we decided to find a sidewalk cafe and just enjoy ourselves.  It turned into a bit of a trudge, but the weather was ideal, the scenery was amazing.  I particularly fell in love with the house with the blue shutters.  I am quite certain I could spend several weeks there, reading great books on the patio and enjoying the view.

Eventually, we found a sidewalk cafe and to our delight, there was a sort of street market going on.  Since we didn’t have a guide, I can’t tell you whether it was the usual thing or just something happening on the Thursday we were there.

We communicated our dining needs to our waitress and were glad they had a restroom we could use.  We had our coffee and/or sodas and then headed back the way we came.  There had been a sort of Farmers Market going on and we decided we wanted to mingle a little with the locals.  Except for a pickpocket thinking Viktoriya’s bag was a potential target, we enjoyed the time we lingered there.

Too soon, it was time to meet our non-guide.  I would have happily continued to wander Cap d’Antibes.  At the meeting point, by a marina, local kids were having a go at something that resembled a boccie ball game.  People wandered back in a leisurely manner, but I had none of the hurry-up attitude I usually possess.  You know, let’s hurry up and see this so we can see the next thing.  I could have sat there for an hour watching the kids and their game.

Eventually, we sauntered back to the bus and headed to Nice.  I couldn’t imagine that Nice would be any better in any way than Cap d’Antibes, but I was also too lazy to begin some sort of campaign to stay, which would involve figuring out how to get back to the boat.

Nice was nice, but, as I had anticipated, it didn’t beat Cap d’Antibes for me.  In fact, of all the places we went on this cruise, Cap d’Antibes is the one I would be the quickest to return to.  Yes, I need to go back to Rome and see all the sites I missed.  I’d like more time in Florence.  I think Capri has the potential to be wonderful.  but Cap d’Antibes?  I just want to go be there.

However, I didn’t get to, at least not yet, so come back next week and let’s take a look at Nice.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, International, Music, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Visiting Monte Carlo’s Prince’s Palace

TRAVEL THERE: THE GRIMALDI’S PRINCE’S PALACE

Black SUV’s whisked us from the Yacht Club to the Palace.  That’s probably the last time I’ll be able to say something like that about my own travels, so perhaps it was worth the splurge.  Since we weren’t actually VIP’s, they parked about a block away, near the Cathedral and we strolled over to the palace.

Visiting the Palace

Virtually anyone can make day visits the palace during the summer and fall, as long as it’s not Grand Prix weekend.  However, the tourists are shuffled off at closing time.  We had after-hours access, which means we went to the same places, just at a different time.

The Grimaldi’s were gracious hosts to us cruisers.  We didn’t see any of them, but they gave us the run of the state apartments and provided some very nice young ladies to act as guides.  The run of the state apartments did not include taking any pictures, so to see what we saw, you’d have to go to the website.  My general impressions were the apartments showed a great amount of good taste, a good bit more than some of the gaudy displays of some state apartments.  However, they were at the same time smaller than most I’ve seen before.

For Americans, this palace is almost a must-see, because evidence of our own American fairy tale, Princess Grace of Monaco, is in plain sight.  Having just watched a Hallmarkish commoner-meets-and-marries-a-prince movie last night, I know we are still very much in love with the story of this lovely lady.

Photo Opportunities

Before and after the tour we were welcome to take photos of the outside the palace.  The red carpets and kneelers are not part of the every day look.  They were setting up for some kind of religious ceremony and around the corner at the cathedral there was a lot of activity, so no telling what that was about.

All that was left was to get back into our SUV’s and travel back to the ship.  Our day in Monte Carlo was over.

Grabbing a Show and Dinner and a Show

Back on the boat, Deb, Bill and I went to Hype with Marcus Terrell at the Theater.  We weren’t much impressed.  His greatest asset was volume, but he was surrounded with lots of energetic gyrating dancers.  Nothing as fascinating as Hot Summer’s Night we’d seen a day or so ago.

After the show, it was time for dinner and all of us met for dinner in the Cosmopolitan.  It was the same menu they had offered for their embarkation lunch.  This is the weakness of their dining plan.  Sure you have a variety of dining rooms, but once you’ve eaten in one, there’s no reason to go back.  That’s probably because they are trying to encourage you to drop a few bucks in their specialty dining rooms, but with all we’d spent already, that wasn’t happening.

Our companions were ready for bed when the meal was over, but Bill and I wandered into the Club and saw an acrobatic show called Mirage.  It had some good parts, but their tricks all began to look the same after awhile.

Still not ready to call it a night, I pulled the daily newsletter out of my purse and unfolded it.  They had something called the Color the Night White Party happening on the Resort Deck, so we decided to check it out.

I don’t know about you, but I am just about done with the whole White Party thing.  Isn’t it time to let that one die a natural death?  The Edge was trying to jazz it up some, with a variety of colorful lights, but as you can see, it’s a pretty dead scene.  I must not be the only one tired of White Parties.

I think if there had been anything else to do, we might have continued to wander, but it seemed the ship was rolling in its sidewalks – unless you wanted to sit in some bar and rack up some beverage billing, so off we went to bed.

The next day our stop was Cannes.  Come back next week and I’ll share my favorite shore excursion with you.

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Celebrity Cruises’ CEO is a Nice Lady

TRAVEL THERE: RUBBING ELBOWS WITH A BIG WIG

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises, is not the reason I went on the Wine Tasting/Prince’s Palace Shore Excursion, but she certainly made it a special event for us, because she is a very, very nice lady.  She’s also a great hostess.

Hostess with the Mostest

This picture may not look like much of anything to you, but in it we are getting the star treatment.  We’re up on the mezzanine and the waiters are bringing us refills and snacks.  That’s not happening on the main floor.  You see we’re on the mezzanine with the Lutoff-Perlo family!

As we entered the Wine Palace, a very nice blonde lady, who matched the picture we’d seen on a brochure, was greeting everyone, but we sort of dodged the receiving line.  As I said, we weren’t there to rub elbows with the CEO.  We were there for the yacht club and the palace.

Before long however, the nice blonde lady made her way over to us.  She wanted to meet the couple who had the vow renewal!  How did she know we were the couple who had the vow renewal?  Well, come to find out, she had been in the salon herself, while us girls were in there having such a good time.  The salon was a fairly small space, so she would have had a hard time missing us.

She was, as the CEO, very interested in how our ceremony went, if we’d liked the salon services and such.  I raved about the team in Florida, the folks in the salon and Eddie, the cruise director. I did not mention my meltdown on the first night, because I didn’t know whether the problem had been caused at the Florida end or the Edge end and I didn’t want to be one of those passengers who is best known for their complaints!

The Egypt Connection

But the lovely Ms. Lutoff-Perlo, who asked us to call her Lisa, was interested in more than our opinions of the crew.  She wanted to hear a little more about our marriage journey and that’s when she found out Bill is Egyptian.  Come to find out, her husband, Andre, was also born in Cairo.  Lisa immediately went to find him and brought him over.

Bill and Andre hit it off immediately.  They started comparing notes about where they lived, went to school and the like.  It was sad to discover Andre left Egypt decades ago and never returned, because he is a Jew.  That’s a sad legacy for Egypt.  I have been to what was the Jewish quarter and the beautiful synagogue, that is now a museum, because there is no longer a congregation of Jews to support it. Andre understood, better than most people can, what Bill’s family suffers, as members of the Christian minority.

About that time Lisa said, “Why don’t you guys go upstairs to the mezzanine, to meet the rest of the family?  That’s where they are hanging out.” So, that’s what we did.  We wanted to see what the rest of the Wine Palace was like and Lisa had been so gracious, we certainly wanted to reciprocate her hospitality.

We went up the stairs en masse, went through the introductions and had a nice chat with her wonderful family.  What we didn’t realize was we’d just entered an entirely different level of service than we’d had below.  Downstairs, there was a table set up to serve tastes of wine and on it was a platter of snacks.  Upstairs, we were brought our own bottles of wine and plates of assorted snacks were delivered. Yep, the star treatment!

Next up, we climbed back into our black celebrity-style SUV’s and headed for the Palace.  Come back next week and go with us.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Trudge, Trudge, Trudge; Sweat, Sweat, Sweat; Rinse & Repeat

TRAVEL THERE: FLORENCE, THE HARD WAY

“Mommy, I’m not having any fun anymore!”  That’s what I felt like saying, only my mommy wasn’t there.  In fact, I lost her several years ago.  I thought she’d be so pleased I was getting to visit Florence, but I’d gotten to the point where all really wanted to do was hang out at the pool.

No Pool!

Remember way back at the Boboli Gardens when everyone was hungry and little grumpy.  Yeah, well, we’ve been stomping all over the place since then.  We’re all drenched in sweat and lots more hungry than we were on the other side of Ponte Vecchio.    

Guide lady kept trudging ahead of us, complaining about the heat and waving herself with her “12” sign.  The shore excursion I’d been so excited about had turned into a march through Hades.  We’re trudging around all these teeny tiny backstreets, sweating like pigs and trying to ignore the grumbling in our stomachs.  I’m still mad I didn’t get to see the Boboli Gardens.  If we’d gotten lost in this maze, I think we’d still be there.  Things were not pretty.

Piazza Santa Croce

Then suddenly we were in familiar surroundings.  We were near the spot  where the bus had let us off.  Sitting at my desk, looking at a map of Florence, I can track the places we went that day.  What I can’t figure out is how the guide turned it into such a miserable hike.  It’s only about 300 yards from the Piazza della Signoria to the Piazza di Santa Croce.  Not much more between Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Pitti.  I’m telling you we walked a lot further than three football fields to get from Signoria to Santa Croce.  It’s like when you’re in Vegas and you can see the sign for where you are going, so you decide to walk, only to find out it was miles away.

Guide lady cued us up in front of a trattoria.  We filed inside and obediently sat where we were told.  Finally, we had gotten a break.  The food was good.  Fresh pasta, a pork dish, potatoes and wine in a wine glass that kept getting filled.  For dessert we got panna cotta.  Some were disappointed, because tiramisu had been promised, but not being a fan of coffee, panna cotta suited me just fine.

With an attitude adjusted by copious glasses of wine, I was ready to make the most of the rest of my day in Florence.  I probably should have visited Santa Croce, but we’d passed a Pinocchio store on our way to the restaurant and several wanted to visit.

According to guide lady, there was supposed to be some sort of demonstration at the galleria next to the trattoria before we boarded the bus.  Like good little tourists we lined up for it.  Again, I should have gone to Santa Croce, but when your hot and a little sleepy from wine, you don’t always make the best decisions.  As you might have guessed, it was a thinly veiled shopping opportunity.

We were all ready to get back to the boat when we boarded the bus.  We went back the same way we came and the view hadn’t gotten any better.  If you go to Florence, I heartily recommend the Palazzo Pitti, but figure out another way to see it, besides taking the Renaissance Vacation.

Enjoying the Evening

Back on board, Bill and I cleaned up and went to the best entertainment we experienced on board the Edge, Hot Summer’s Night.  It was a “Cirque de Soleil” style romp, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream.  So very glad we caught it, but sad others missed it.

This was the evening some in our party were having dinner up on the Magic Carpet with the CEO, so it was just Bill, Deb and me, having dinner in the Cyprus Restaurant.  Really a nice meal.  The others enjoyed theirs, too, so it was a delicious meal for all of us.

After dinner, Bill and I headed down to the theater to see the Love and Marriage Game.  Perhaps you remember that Bill and I were contestants in a similar game on the Vision of the Seas back in 2018.  I was very glad to be on the other side of the stage this time.  I still can’t believe we shared some of our secrets with an entire cruise ship.  The Edge version was much the same.  They must all go to the same school for this stuff.

Next it was time for bed, because Monaco was the next day.

Accommodations, Cruising, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Bridal Dinner in the Normandie

TRAVEL THERE: THE FUN JUST DOESN’T STOP

It was over.  The Vow Renewal Ceremony I’d been planning for so long was now in the review mirror.  With that behind me I set out to enjoy the rest of our cruise, beginning with dinner in The Normandie.

The Normandie

Dining on the Celebrity Edge was fun.  With four complimentary dining rooms to choose from, rather than the usual one, you had variety, but what you gained in variety, you missed out on personalized service.

The Normandie was touted as the cream of the crop with a French twist.  I can’t think of a single thing that was wrong, besides the anonymity of it all.  We showed up and they had the usual flurry of figuring out our beverage plans.  The menu was divided into the three sections the other menus had.  I don’t remember being wowed by any of the offerings, nor do I have a clue what I actually ate.

Except for dessert.  I do remember dessert! The Aisle to Isle package offered a small cake for the bride and groom, but I had them upsize it to include plenty for everyone.  Like many wedding cakes it was more beautiful than it was delicious.  Fondant makes for pretty cakes, but is there anyone who actually likes to eat it?

The Company

While I might not have a lot to say about the restaurant, the company could not have been better.  I sat there at that table feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.  I feel that way often, but rarely with so many reasons.

We were on an amazing ship, headed to incredible destinations, with the best of friends.  We were celebrating a wonderful 25 year marriage and had pledged to continue to keep the promises we had made so long ago.  I am married to the handsomest man in the world and he loves me, in spite of all my flaws.  And did I mention what great friends I have.

Just as I can’t remember exactly what I ate this evening, I can’t recall exactly what we talked about around the table, but I know it was seasoned with a lot of laughter.  The picture of us all gathered around that table will forever stay in my mind.  The actual photos we took don’t do the evening much justice, but I’m adding them so you can enjoy them.

Turning in for the Night

There’s one more picture to show you before we move on to the next day.  Cruise ship towel animals might not seem like a big deal to you, but among the many cards spread about the room, explaining what things were, what was complimentary and what we’d have to pay for, one card explained why Celebrity no longer entertains their passengers with towel animals.

I’ve written cards and letters like that before.  When we were forcing technology down people’s throats, we used to start all the letters with, “To serve you better…”  Only we didn’t care whether it served anybody better or not.  It was just what we said.  The letters should have said, “Hey, we’ve found yet another way to cut corners, but there’s no way we’re going to pass any savings on to you, so get ready for this new thing we’ve dreamed up.”

Celebrity’s note about the towel animals began with “In order to preserve the planet…”  That’s the new phrase they came up with that everyone seems to buy into.  The towel animals were cute, but it did just sort of become yet one more schitick, and it had lost its luster.  If we had kids, towel animals might be more interesting, but I really didn’t need a new version on my bed every time I returned to the room.

However, with the absence of nightly towel animals and being made aware of Celebrity’s desire to save the planet, we were quite appreciative that they broke their own rules and gave us a couple of swans that evening.

And that’s where I’ll leave you.  We’ll be up early the next morning for Florence, so be sure to come back next week.

 

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Sojourn in Sorrento

TRAVEL THERE: PIZZA IN THE PIAZZA

Though I deemed it worth the visit, Capri had been very hot and very crowded.  Now, we had ferry ride back to the mainland.  That’s OK, we all needed a nap.

Better Than Before

It wasn’t a jet foil we took to Sorrento.  It was much larger and all the seating was downstairs. It was pretty much superior in every way you can imagine.  The hordes of Asian tourists we’d had with us on the way to Capri were nowhere in sight and no one, including Bill, was sea sick.  He didn’t take any chances, though.  He closed his eyes as soon as he boarded, so he was the first of us to fall asleep.

Though Bill fell asleep first and stayed that way longer than any of us, he was not alone.  We were all snoozing.  Bill just happened to be the only one I caught with my camera.

Sorrento

Welcome to Sorrento

Like Capri, Sorrento was a bit of a logistical challenge.  There was a small part of the village down by the shore, but the part we wanted, the Old Town was up a pretty steep road.  So, we trotted from the dock to a small square, where we waited while Paolo went for our transportation.  We climbed the hill in a small van and minutes later we were on another small square.

We were whisked from the van to a shopping opportunity, disguised as a craft demonstration, only everyone saw through the ruse.  It was a woodworking shop where they did elaborate wood mosaics.  We stood politely through the demonstration and appreciated the lovely merchandise, but no one in our group had come prepared to purchase a convert-able gaming table or a huge grandfather clock.  The establishment did offer restroom facilities, but our group took care of that on the ferry.

It seemed Paolo was impatient with these “shopping opportunities” he forced on us, but it’s all part of the tourist game and we appreciated access to nice toilets.  Once we were released from the shop, we were given free time for eating and shopping.

The Value of Proximity

Right next to the shop was a restaurant with a nice patio.  We were thrilled to take a seat under it’s awning and relax on dry land.  We ordered up cold Bierra Morettis and hot Napoli pizza.  They served french fries with the pizza, which we thought was weird.  However, we were hungry after our long hot morning and nap, so it didn’t matter.  We compared notes about the cruise so far and had some of the best moments we’d had yet.  I’ve included a video to prove it.

Soon it was time to load up on our bus again.  Our next destination was Pompeii.  I longed for one of those private early morning tours of the site, which avoid the heat of the day and the crush of tourists, but we only had one day in Naples and I was glad I had not missed Capri or my piazza-side pizza in Sorrento.

Enjoy the short video and get a feel for the enjoyable time we were having.  Then come back next week and we’ll look at the ancient ruins of Pompeii.

 

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Our First Celebrity Shore Excursion

Shore Excursion Ahead

TRAVEL THERE: THE HURRY UP AND WAIT OF IT ALL

Six AM comes early, but when you have a ten and a half hour shore excursion planned, that’s when you have to get up.  We had breakfast at the buffet and I thought we were right on schedule, up until the time Bill decided to hit the buffet one more time.  While he ate his French Toast, I fretted a bit – unnecessarily I might add, because Bill and I were the first of our group to show up at the meeting point for shore excursions.  Deborah and Viktoriya were right behind us, but no Bagleys?

Where Were the Bagleys?

The way things were set up on Celebrity Edge, there were multiple groups going on the same shore excursions.  So, a representative of your small group had to go to a table at the front of the room with all of your tickets to be put in a shore excursion group together.  We couldn’t just go and say, “There will be six of us.”  You had to have the tickets in hand.

If I were fretful at the breakfast table as Bill enjoyed his French Toast, then it would be fair to say, I was having a panic attack now.  You’re always worried about people who aren’t where they are supposed to be, but then there’s also a level of irritation, too.

When we all signed up for this shore excursion online, the Bagleys ended up being scheduled for the same tour, but a different time.  We’d kept badgering away at our various travel agents to get on the same tour time and something had eventually worked, because the week before we left, we were all assigned the same time.  Now all that work had been jeopardized.  The staff was announcing, repeatedly, that spots were disappearing and we might not all get in the same excursion group.

Jim and Melanie huffed and puffed into the room ten minutes late.  Bill grabbed their tickets and hurried down to the shore excursion table.  The problem was a fairly normal one for cruises.  Something was lost.  The cabins do have a lot of storage, but it’s drawers over there and a closet here and a cabinet over there.  You unpack between activities and it is easy to forget where something is.  The something lost in this situation was Melanie’s meds, so it wasn’t like she could just wear another outfit or go around without a particular color of lipstick.  She had to have the meds.

Everything’s OK

Bill came back with the colorful stickers which designated all of us to the same shore excursion group.  Hooray, Bill!  Again, all my worry had been for naught.  When am I ever going to learn that!

The hurry up and wait syndrome had been repeated.  We’d hurried to make their deadlines and now we were stuck sitting in a theater, waiting for a signal to start our fun.

The Cruise Director showed up and began to engage the restless crowd.  He started with that annoying game which looks for the loudest group saying good morning.  Why do people do that?  We go through it at church some Sundays and I want to punch someone.  On this particular morning I was full of spit and vinegar, so I roused our group to make as much noise as we could.  Had there been a prize we would have won.  The Cruise Director was somewhat taken aback.  He said he’d never quite heard anyone as loud as us.

Soon we were on our way to the gangplank, but the hurry up and wait continued.  Come back next week and let’s go to the Isle of Capri.

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

The Celebrity Edge Cyprus Restaurant

On Board the Edge

TRAVEL THERE: BEST RESTAURANT ON BOARD

The presence of multiple dining opportunities you don’t have to pay extra for was nice and seems to be the going trend on cruises, but I still like traditional cruise dining, where you are assigned to a table and a time for the duration.  We’ve tried the specialty dining you have to pay for and found it to be much ado (and expense) about nothing.  The Celebrity selection of complimentary (as if anything were actually complimentary on a cruise) restaurants was nice and the staff was wonderful, but it just wasn’t the same as having your own table and your own waiter for the duration.

The Menus

In each restaurant the menu is divided up into three sections.  The first selection of meals are specific to that particular restaurant.  As far as I was concerned, they could have done away with the other two sections and expanded this one.  During our first visit to a restaurant, we’d select our favorites from this specialty menu, but when you returned to that restaurant, the menu had not changed.  You’d already had your favorite choice and the others might be items you have no interest in.  So for me, this was a fail.

The second section is Celebrity Classics – meals Celebrity serves across their fleet.  The third section featured dishes specific to the Edge, but available to all the restaurants.  I still would have preferred to have an extended choice in the specialty section.  If they wanted to offer options, then the Celebrity Classics would have fit the bill.  The other choices were unnecessary, in my opinion.

Cyprus – Greek Seafood

We loved the Cyprus Restaurant.  Greek food is a favorite with us, as is seafood, so how could we lose.  Well, a bow renewal bride-to-be can be having a well-served case of pre-wedding jitters, but we’ve already covered that.

Our whole crew had dinner together this evening.  We figured out how our wine programs were going to work and made our way through the menus.  I chose the moussaka as an appetizer.  It’s usually an entree choice, but the Cyprus version is a very small serving, so it would not do as entree.  This is perhaps the best dish I had on board.

For an entree I had sea bass and it was delicious.  The dessert was another disappointment.  We discovered the buffet had amazing desserts, but the restaurant desserts were disappointing, every single time.  By the end of the cruise, we were having all our desserts in the buffet.  This particular meal had some kind of fuzzy chocolate thing with blueberries.  Downright weird.

We were very impressed with the way the Wine by the Bottle program worked, even if we were a little disappointed in the wine selection.  You could have as many bottles going as you wanted and they were available to you wherever you were on the ship.  We never tried to access them in a bar, but it worked well at whatever restaurant we landed in.  The Bagleys paid extra to get the premium wine choices and I couldn’t tell that their choices were any better than our standard program had.

After dinner we all went our separate ways.  Bill wanted to see what the entertainment was like.  The highlight show that evening was a tribute to Whitney Houston.  We’d just watched a documentary on Whitney Houston and while she was certainly a musical virtuoso, I walked away from it disappointed in the life she lived.  Unfortunately, the artist covering Whitney’s songs didn’t deserve much praise for her singing either.  She was a pretty good singer, but not good enough to attempt Whitney’s signature songs.

From there we checked out a performance in Eden.  It was a couple doing gentle covers of Beatle love ballads.  They weren’t too bad, but it was late and the music put us to sleep.  Time to call this one a day!  We arrive in Naples next week, so don’t miss it!