Sunday, June 28, 2009


Rome was the only "Ship Excursion" that we took. Because Rome does not have a harbor, ships must dock about 60 miles inland in Civitivecchia. We were fearful of taking the train to Rome, getting lost and missing the boat ( quite literally) and we had quite a few "shipboard credits" with which to pay for this particular trip. We didn't do a tour, but just took the bus, with guide, that was provided to Rome. We were supposed to get there by 10:00 and meet for the return at 4:15. Clearly not a lot of time and we didn't get to St Peter's Square until after 11:00 because of horrible trafffic. The next 20 minutes were spent in line, with legs crossed, waiting for my turn at the, you guessed it, Ladies Room. I was in dire need and was most annoyed when the women in front of me twice let 4 women cut in line. Believe me, I was mumbling for sure. Of course there was no line for the men's room so Bob wandered off to start the photo journal. Our plans for today were to see St Peters Basilica and Piazza Navona. Anything else would just be icing on the cake. We spent a couple of hours in and around St Peters where Bob literally took hundreds of pictures and then wandered off to catch the Hop On Hop Off bus. I had purchased the tickets before I left home to make sure that I had them. Silly waste of time! There are several HO HO ( sounds like a bus of prostitutes or evil Santas, huh?...but HOHO is what they are refered to) bus lines in Rome. The problem is the traffic congestion. Once on, we only wanted to go two stops to the Piazza Navona for lunch and it took over 45 minutes. Any hopes of seeing P.N and then riding the bus to get an overview of the city were dashed. But that was OK, remember this was a stress free vacation. We had a pizza lunch ( again) , explored the Piazza and then wandered back to St Peters on some lovely side streets. Oh and we stopped for gelato and cappucino on the way. Day done, back to the bus in plenty of time to wait for 4 people who had to be found and brought back. Bet their day was not stress free although they showed no signs of humiliation when they finally got on the bus. I personally would have been mortified.

All pictures are in and around Piazza Navona and leaving St Peters.

Fountain at St Peter's Square ( Piazza St Pietro)
Leaving the square at the Vatican Gate
Bouganvilla (sp), just like SoCal

See what I mean, congested ( and very noisy city).
Perpendicular as well as parallel parking
Love these trees, I think I read that they are called Umbrella Pines
Beautiful apartment buildings near Castelo St Angelo

Castelo St Angelo
Ponte St Angelo
Love the chapeau.. how do you say "hat" in Italian?

My very favorite Rome picture

I had a wonderful tourist map of Rome. It didn't have every street on it, but it had small drawings and comments. We wandered the street which the map indicated "was a small, narrow street filled with antique shops". Beautiful!

That's it for Rome. Join me in a day or two for Pisa, leading up to the grand finale...Villefranche.


Monday, June 22, 2009


Approaching the dock in Naples
View from the pier, large battlements from long, long ago

It is gritty and dirty and the cars do.not.stop. for pedestrians

Here is the ferry to Capri, 32 Euro per person, round trip. Seemed kind of steep (bad pun), but about 45 minutes and a gorgeous ride. We are up top ( of course) to enjoy the view and the sun.
The terrain should have been a clue!

Signs say "To the Center", I had heard it was a 10 minute walk.
We start walking; we may not be particularly young or terribly fit, but we have very strong legs.
One of many doorways we pass along the way, it's sunny and about 80 by this time.
Lemon trees in abundance. Limoncello( strong lemon liquer) is a favorite here.
Quaint signs along the way to designate addresses. Very charming, but after 7 or 8 minutes of trudging we come to a cross street which leads to more steps...
We finally reach a second cross street and Bob calls it quits. I balk and say it can't be much further. Yeah right! So we continue on a bit further, calves screaming. Then we give in to common sense.

We walk back down the hill/ cliff and buy a ticket for the funicular. We warn people along the way...they don't believe us...they are never seen again ;-(
Here I am at the top, calves are still clenching of their own accord. This is when I remember that my broker, who had been here a couple of weeks before, said it is all designer shops up here. Like a mini, high altitude Rodeo Drive!

A hotel for the Beautiful People, what am I not gorgeous?? I would have loved to sneak a peek at the menu, but I was so far out of my league..

It's not entirely flat, even up here

I need money, so I attempt an ATM here. I ask for English and then for 200Euro, I key in my pin. The ATM pauses, burps and then spits my card out, no money, no receipt, no explanation! We decided that waiting inside the bank was not such a good idea ( after 15 minutes with no movement in the line). Now, to find a bathroom. Let me warn you that public restrooms aka Toilettes in all of the Med, are hit or miss and I mean that quite literally. Sometimes you have to pay, sometimes there is TP and sometimes there are even seats...yeah, you read that right. This was a pay and wait, but had a seat and TP...worth the .50 Euro.

We have about an hour before our ferry leaves, so we settle in for our first Italian Pizza, followed by yummy gelato and this was the view. Pizza, bottled water and gelato $25 Euro (and the pizza was only 7 Euro!), the view PRICELESS!

We checked out the small beach before getting our ferry back to Naples. Yes, we took the funicular back down, in case you were wondering. The plan was to maybe get tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus once back in Naples, but by the time we walked around a rather seedy area to find an ATM ( remember I didn't get any $$ in Capri), we decided we really didn't want to spend any more time there. Next time we go (and we will go again) we will plan to see Pompeii.

I will leave you with a view of a window, you knew there would be at least one window pic!



image from Flickr

Do you love Chicken Salad? Are you picky about what is in it? I made my favorite this morning and can't wait to bite into it. I start with Rotisserie Chicken from the market ( or home roasted chicken, if I have some), always add celery for crunch, some fresh tarragon ( in season), mayonnaise and my favorite addition....dried cranberries. I don't bother to plump them, I like the chewy texture they add. Sometimes I add a very small amount of finely diced red onion and / or sliced almonds. Right now I just have Cocoa Roasted almonds and although they are delicious for a snack I don't think they would too compatible with chicken, lol. Maybe for dessert.

Now for the dilemma...a sandwich on a nice Salaio bread (which is some kind of rustic Italian type bread) or over some mixed greens?


Saturday, June 20, 2009


I came across this beautiful French blog today and thought you might enjoy a visit. Heart in Provence is very pretty with lovely, romantic ideas, tres francaise, mais oui?


Friday, June 19, 2009


First a little info about Malta. I have to admit that the only references I had to Malta were the Cross and the Falcon and quite honestly I don't think I have ever seen or even read The Maltese Falcon. I was not sure what to expect and would we need to take ship sponsored excursion or could we explore on our own?? Just a word here about ship sponsored excursions...they will try and sell you an excursion anywhere they think you might want to go, with the possible exception of the bathroom ( and in some places that would be helpful). So I sent an e-mail to the Valletta Malta Mayor's office and he sent me an e-mail back within an cool is that? He told me that we could easily explore on our own and that we could take a bus for one Euro as it is a bit of a climb to town. But I digress or get things out of order. Back to Malta background. Malta is an island republic and is virtually in the middle of the Mediterranean region about 288 KM from Africa and 90KM from Sicily. There are three occupied islands and Valletta is the capital. There is 7000 years of history and the islands have been occupied by most everyone in that time. The nationalities that have occupied the island have left a rich tapestry of styles and traditions.
So here is what you see as you approach the largest natural harbor in Europe

Really, the buildings look like something you would see in a French Foreign Legion movie. All the sandstone is like nothing I have ever imagined. And check out the color of the sky. It is really just the most magnificent blue you have ever seen.

Walk along here to get the bus to town. Everything is very organized and there are people to tell you the bus will be there in 8 minutes, 7 minutes...etc. Stop at the ATM at the National Bank of Valletta to get some Euros for the day. Really, they work just like at home with one exception that I will mumble about later in the trip.
This was not the bus, but they have a fleet of these funky buses with names that take you from the island of Malta to the two other inhabited islands. We opted to just hang in Valletta as we had a short timetable here.
Main Street of Valletta
I think this is the Palace of the Knights of St John. Edited: Silversewer tells me this is the Co-Cathedral. Sorry, and thank you silversewer! They played a huge role in the history of Malta, but honestly I didn't pay attention to that part of my research

Crowded streets. We are on our way to a WWII Museum...Bob's favorite thing in the whole world and he didn't even know about it until I mentioned it. Am I the best wife or what?

A view of the fort
Public gardens. Once again check out the sky
Goofy, I know
Waterfront shops and restaurants including the Hard Rock. Large bookshop with a good selection of mysteries. I was fearful that I had not brought enough reading material and the library on the ship had only one hour a day to check out books!!

Something to note about Europe; they sell what we would call Ice Cream Novelties everywhere despite the fact that there are Gelaterias everywhere with wonderful gelato. You never really see a lot of people eating ice cream, it just seems to be available everywhere. Just before we got to the Public Gardens I was getting hungry so we paid 2 Euros each for a Cornetta, you know the packaged ice cream cones with the chopped nuts on top. Not my favorite ice cream splurge, but usually adequate. These were soggy! How can a frozen ice cream cone be soggy while the ice cream is still frozen?? I'm just saying! So ultimately we were done with our jaunt around Valletta by about 1:30 and opted to go back on the ship to eat lunch. Nothing in the town had really appealed to me ( foodwise) in a big way and I am basically frugal. We had already paid for food on the ship and we were right there, so why not. We ate lunch and then relaxed while we cruised away from this very scenic locale. Tomorrow we will awake in Naples and get ready for the Isle of Capri.

Note to Life in Red Shoes: I haven't bought anything yet ( well, except a novel). Apparently I have a legacy from my late MIL and I am scared to buy anything unless I really, really want it lol. The time will come in Pisa and in France where I will part with a bit ( but not much) money! What a frugal Yankee I am.