Rome, Sicily,Malta,Mykonos, Santorini & Athens
Getting there is never fun. We had a direct from Chicago O hare to Rome. Arrived at 0900 watched several movies and watched Jim sleep the whole way. How do guys do that? Arrived and driver Roberto was there and took us to our first Air BnB in the Monti area. He left us at door and I thought oh no now what. We pressed the buzzer and Marisa's husband opened the door. Our room wasn't ready so we left our stuff and started exploring! We had seen the Coliseum before so just wanted to explore the area more. We found a Villa Aldobrandi and had a great overview to see the area.
View from street corner of Air BNB
We were close to Piazza Navona. We walked to trevi fountain and Spanish steps.
We stopped for lunch at the place our Air BNB recommended down our street
Back out after we got checked in at air bnb. Went looking for the church San Pietro in Vinvoli and found the beautiful Moses statue that was completed in 1515
on the ceiling, you find a beautiful fresco by Giovanni
The church has the layout of a much larger basilica as it is divided by 20 ancient marble columns in the interior
The chains of St Peter, according to tradition when the two chains used to fetter the Saint in Jerusalem
Views of Forum
Had reservations at Cuoco E Camica in a cosey alleyway right by a flight of stairs. We sat in a quiet spot only a few steps from the heart of the historic borough of Monti
We had the seafood tasting menu, Rome is always a city by the sea. salmon tartar, cucumber cups, Lobster packets, Octopus, Squid and more. Mango ice cream and two pastries. delicious and waitress explained everything in detail! Two years we had eaten Amore hotel and this meal surpassed it by far and was one third the price.
Went to leave and it started pouring. We laughed as we sloshed through the puddles and ran back to our room.
Saturday, October 6th
In the morning, I used a hotpot for tea for the first time Jim brought back a pastry we were up and ready and had our head stuck out the window looking for our driver to pick us up. We heard him holler Mr. James
We used all off ship tours from cruise critic forum with a group that was traveling on our ship the Jewel. I started working on excursions in Nov 2017 and was all done planning in Feb2017. I joined some tours with others and was in charge of two tours. The people on cruise critic were very seasoned travelers and easy to work with. We ended up seeing many throughout the ship.
We had booked a Pre Cruise Rome Countryside Tour through Stefano's ROMECABS
Barb and Dan from Pennsylvania
Daveen and Don from Washington
Castello Orsini-Odescalchi is a castle in Bracciano in the province of Rome located on the southern shore of Lake Bracciano. Opened in 1485. It is the most impressive castle in Italy. It was built by powerful Orsini family as both a private residence and defense fortress. The castle host important cultural events and high profile weddings, The price for the castle was 8.50 Euros per person. We did not get a guide and enjoyed seeing it on our own and reading placks in each room.
We stopped at and walked the boardwalk
Now the chaos begins we had received an email stating not to arrive before 1 because the previous cruise had norovirus 250 people had been sick. We arrived around 2. We checked in quite easy because we are diamond level. There were hoards of people at the terminal. We got in line and was on board at 3.
Everyone was heading to the dining room. Windjammer. There was no place to sit. We had our carry on suitcases so waited on a table to open. I Sat down while Jim went to get his lunch. When there has been a virus they have to serve you your food from the buffet and get your drinks. None of the staff seemed to know what was going on. I got a salad and we ended up sharing the table with some great people from Alabama that had never cruised. that helped to pass the time. They came on the speaker and said the rooms still are not ready. We left and tried to find a place to wait. All the chairs were taken and the hallways and stairs were covered with people.
The doors finally opened before fire drill at 515. Rooms were not ready but we dropped our suitcases off and went to drill. The rain had stopped and it was hot waiting for the drill to be completed in the sun.
They would end up being our favorite team we have ever had. Danced and to bed at 1000.
Sunday, Oct 7th.
Sicily was a tour I had arranged we did not arrive until 1100 am. We went down to the main dining room and had to wait in line. Talked to a young girl in a wheelchair who was a senior and travel to Greece with her Mom and Dad to explore for her school studies. She was an amazing young lady we would run into throughout the cruise.
I had a sign when we got off the ship and everyone was prompt and it was good to see people I had talked to online and put faces with names.
Dawn & Tom Chicago
Jane & Mike
Ute & Oliver from Germany
Our Driver was Carmela. We were picked up in the port of Messina. and we were off it was the Taormina and Winery tour we chose through Sicily life. Anna was easy to work with the booking of the trip. We drove through seaport of Giardina Naxos which was the first Greek settlement in Sicily.
Our first stop Gambino Winery along the slopes of Mount Etna overlooking the sea. We were taking in the view and our wine guide came out and gave us a glass of wine while he explained the grapes.
They are special due to volcanic minerals in the soil. We went inside to be seated for the tasting combined with Sicilian food tasting of dried tomatoes, etna mushrooms an olives, local salami, types of cheeses and homemade sausages.
Jim has always liked wine and would share a glass but he enjoyed all of them and joined the wine club here. I think he really fell in love with wine today.
Carmela got them to bring us a taste of his favorite a reserve wine
Next, we had a panoramic drive to reach Taormina. We had time to explore the village and stroll the mean streets and narrow ways with hidden corners and nice shops.
We walked to Belvedere square with its unique breathtaking view over Messina coastline.
We walked down the hill to a beautiful view
We met our driver and drove back to the port.
Valletta is the capital city of Malta Malta is a southern European island consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean sea. Valletta, The Fortress City, "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen" is Malta's capital city: a living, working city.
We were up on deck to watch the Jewel sail into the walled city. We met off the boat and met tour guide, Brigitte.
We walked to overlook L-Isla, Malta Xlokk, Malta, Malta
A walk down Merchants street
View of Blue Grotto and the massive arch. We took a boat trip around caves for a spectacle of colors a result of the reflections. The phosphorescent of colors of the flora on the seabed as well as the minerals in the rock.
We stopped in Marsaxlokk a picturesque fishing village on the south-east side of Malta, with it's traditional brightly painted boats having the origin in Phoenician times.
It was a really hot day so only three people went to the Tarxien Prehistoric Temples are a 3 temple site ranging between 2,500 and 2,900 B.C.
Mdina is one of Europe's finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture. These late medieval villages were built when the in habitants of Mdina stopped feeling the need to be living behind walls. Perched on a hilltop, Mdina has an irregular plan of narrow winding streets to confuse the enemy.
Tuesday, October 9th sea day,
Went to breakfast in the dining room. I went to napkin folding class. Ate in the dining room for lunch. Jim said he had the best salmon he has ever had. They gave us free bloody Mary's and mimosa. We went to deck four to listen and dance. We went to see oncore of Gary Williams sings the hits of Frank Sinatra. Such a good performer.
Wed October 9th.
We had no tours planned here, We planned on taking it easy and just walking in Mykonos.
Mykonos may be one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades. According to Greek mythology, it was here that Hercules slew the Giants; the large rocks that are scattered about are said to be their petrified corpses. The rocks are stunning sight against the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Loved strolling the town through winding streets and a maze of shops.
To get there you need to take the sea bus
We started to walk to windmills. It was very windy but sunny out. We walked through Little Venus
the iconic windmills are an easy walk
Loved the winding streets
Thursday 71 and windy
Santorini is a vision of whitewashed villages and bright blue sea. The whitewashed cliff-top villages against the azure waters. To get to top need to take the cable car, ride donkeys or walk. When you get to the top of Fira for the first glimpse of the stunning caldera. This natural wonder is what probably was the biggest volcanic eruption in history. Believed by some to have caused the disappearance of Atlantis
Caught first tender at 0730 met our group at top of the cable car.
Dan & Barb
Bob & Deb
Phyllis & Don
Liz & Mike
Mike & Jane
We met our guide at 0830 Kevin Mike had been the group leader for this excursion. He also made the wonderful online roll roster and excursions list for our trip. We took the first tender off the boat at 0730 and then went to cable car entrance.
Fira is where you get off cable car at top of the main stunning cliff-perched town. It is one of four villages on the crescent of the caldera. We took obligatory pictures of the view.
There is a push to stop the Donkey rides to top that has been providing transportation for years prior to the cable car. Animal warfare groups are trying to stop. They feel that the animals toil in poor working conditions and are abused and mistreated by handlers.
Kevin our guide
Santorininalso known as Thera in Greece
The Three Blue Domes this is the shot you see on postcards and our famous
Three Bells of Fira which is part of the iconic church. The Catholic church is famed for its three bells, blue dome, and picturesque views
Pyrgos built in the heart of pre volcanic hinterland and at the foot of Mt Profitis Ilias.
Athens full day tour with PK travel
Phyllis & Dan group leader
Daveen & Don
Mike & Liz
Dawn & Tom
Mike & Jane
We met Christine at 0720 12 people. She was a great guide and gave just the right information and made me enjoy the historic places and museum.
It was built by Romans in 161 AD and still used today for classical concerts — at Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens. It
includes the Parthenon, the Erechtheum
Parthenon temple that dominates the hill of the Acropolis.is built entirely of marble.It is a temple dedicated to goddess Athena
Entasis provided an illusion of straightness that counteracted the human eye's tendency to see straight objects with a concave curve.
The `Erecthion sits on the most sacred site of the Acropolis where Poseidon and Athena had their contest over who would be the Patron of the City. — at Parthenon, Erechtheion, Temple of Goddess Athena, Athens Greece.
Maidens The porch of the maidens or Caryatids which now copy the originals 4 of which are in Museum of Acropolis and the 5th taken by Lord Elgin who put it in the British Museum more than a century ago — at Acropolis - Ακρόπολη.
When leaving there was a group of dancers to honor a political dignitary
Temple of Olympia Zeus originally had 104 columns today only 15 remain
Only stadium in the world built of marble. It hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first Modern Olympics in 1896, It was also used in 2004 as the Olympic venue.
Old palace changing of the neoclassical trilogy
To be continued on part two