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Europe ~ Our Amazing Jouney

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S: Europe - Ireland, Italy, Spain, France, Monaco, Vatican, Africa

FC: EUROPE | 2014 | OUR AMAZING JOURNEY

1: ROME | February 28, 2014

2: VATICAN CITY

4: The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. SAINT AUGUSTINE

13: Arriving in Rome was like being dropped in the middle of New York city where no one speaks English. It's a large, bustling, noisy city rich in culture and history.

14: There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

18: We stayed at the Hotel Sileo located at 39 Via Magenta. It was located on the 4th floor and as we entered the building, we saw this very old, very small, elevator. We decided to walk up all four flights of stairs but after gasping for air and making several stops along the way, we decided that we would risk it with the thousand year old elevator rather than make the trek up the stairs again. The elevator was so small that it would only hold two people, not two people and their luggage which worked out fine for us since half of our luggage never arrived. | This was our host Maria & Alessandro

19: This was our room. It had this lovely wardrobe for our clothes and we had a private bath located down the hall.

20: Our hosts at the Hotel Silio were Maria and Alessandro. He spoke some English and she didn't speak any so it was challenging at times trying to communicate but it also made it the perfect place to stay. They were so sweet and Maria handed us an umbrella every time we headed out the door. Maria also showed us around the hotel (which had 10 rooms) and somehow communicated to us that her husband had many trophies from his sailing days and that her daughter had painted all of the beautiful murals around the place.

21: We were hungry as we headed back to the hotel that evening and decided to stop at Tavola Calada Ristorante where I had the best pizza ever! When we finished, we went next door to the Gelateria (Ice cream shop) where I had my first taste of gelato.

22: We took the train from the Termini to the port in Civitavecchia where we boarded our ship. We loved our room and enjoyed our strawberries and champaign.

23: March 1, 2014

24: PISA, ITALY | March 2

26: Our first port was in Livorno, Italy. We decided to see Pisa and the villages of Cinque Terre. . The area around the cathedral and tower, Piazza dei Miracoli, was beautiful and I wished we had a little more time to spend strolling the city and seeing everything it had to offer.

28: All about the journey | Good times

29: "To travel is to live." -Hans Christian Andersen

30: March 2 | CINQUE TERRE, ITALY

31: Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera and means “The Five Lands.” It is comprised of five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore

32: RIOMAGGIORE

34: Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the five Cinque Terre. The town stretches along a vertical axes where steep staircases are the only means to move around the town and the typical houses have one or two-floor towers. This was the first town we visited in Cinque Terre and I was in awe from the moment the driver let us out of the van. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to travel though this beautiful Italian countryside. | I decided I needed a Coke so we popped into this Alimentari. You can see by the photo on the top left that it was full of wonderful food and it wasn't that expensive. The cost of the soda was 1 euro.

38: MANAROLA

42: Visiting Cinque Terre was at the top of my mothers bucket list. She told me that if we packed up and went home only after only 2 days into our 16 day trip, she would be happy because she was able to experience this place.

44: VERNAZZIA

46: THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE is a multi-venue performing arts centre in the Australian city of Sydney. It was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jrn Utzon, finally opening in 1973 after a long gestation starting with his competition-winning design in 1957.

50: MONTEROSSO AL MARE

53: Monterosso al Mare was the last village we visited. It had a different feel than the other villages. The town is divided into two distinct parts: the old town and the new town. The two areas are divided by a single tunnel that caters to pedestrians and there are very few cars in the town. The beach at Monterosso runs along most of the coast line and is the only extensive sand beach in the Cinque Terre. Monterosso is a small town that in the summer months is overrun by tourists but there were very few tourist when we were there last week. We didn’t even have to stand in line to get the lemon gelato that everyone recommended and I am pleased to report it was wonderful.

57: MONTE CARLO | March 3

58: Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. MIRIAM BEARD

61: The second stop on our Mediterranean cruise was Monte Carlo, Monaco. I had read that we would be able to see the city from the ship but I wasn't prepared for the site that lay before me as arrived on deck for breakfast. Unfortunately it rained while we were there and by the time we got back to Monaco after visiting Eze Village, we were soaked and all we wanted to do was get back to the ship and take a nice warm shower. .

62: Architecture is the reaching out for the truth. LOUIS KAHN | Eze Village, France

68: “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” Anita Desai

72: OUR FINAL DAYS IN EUROPE

73: TOULON, | FRANCE | March 4

74: The third stop on our cruise was in Toulon, France. This was one of those stops where we had a guide book in hand as we left the ship. We walked to the bus stop and looked for the bus number the guide book said to take. There was no such bus number and we couldn’t find anyone that spoke English though we did have a French man try to help. We finally gave up and decided to just explore the town

79: BEAUTIFUL COLUMNS | Leaving France

80: BARCELONA, SPAIN | March 5

88: Gothic Quarters

91: The first place on my list to visit was the Gothic Quarters. As we exited the bus we looked around to see where we needed to begin I noticed a crowd of people in what looked to be a town square almost directly in front of the bus stop, so mom and I headed that direction. I reached the area before she did and suddenly stopped. I turned to mom telling her to hurry. Everyone was gathered around Barcelona Cathedral (Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia) also known as La Seu dates back to 1450, but it’s not its age that is most impressive. The immense cathedral is a testament to architectural achievement, and its roof is famous for being peppered with numerous ornate gargoyles. It is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Europe, and the cathedral is a mecca for historians, architects or people who just love to look at beautiful things. Santa Eulalia’s body is also here, entombed in the crypt.

95: Placa de Catalunya

97: Olympic Stadium Barcelona, Spain

100: VALENCIA, SPAIN | March 6

103: We drove by these massive structures which make up the City of Arts and Sciences. It is a unique complex devoted to scientific and cultural dissemination which is made up of five main elements: the Hemisfric (IMAX cinema and digital projections), the Umbracle (a landscaped vantage point and car park), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum (an innovative centre of interactive science), the Oceanográfico (the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species) and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (which takes care of the operatic programme). The Ágora gives the complex a multifunctional space

106: SAGUNTO, SPAIN

107: Our first stop was in La Vail D’ Uixo where we visited the caves of Saint Joseph. We boarded small boats where guides carried through and underground river.

109: We visited this Roman site (via the Portic and Casa dels Peixos). The discovery of the remains took place in 1991 thanks to the construction work of the two buildings which currently contain the remains in their basements.

110: At Museo de la Vía del Pórtico you’ll see a very large area of the Via Augusta, remains of funerary structures, buildings, a necropolis and much more. Just below the castle is the nearly 2000 year old Roman Theater, now restored and used for concerts.

112: Cagliari, Sardinia | March 8

118: Ones destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. HENRY MILLER

120: After purchasing our pastries and drinks, we walked across the road and set on the steps of this beautiful church, the Church of St. Anne or Chiesa di Sant’Anna. Mom had to try this Lemon Fanta since it’s not something we have in Arkansas. I guess she should have waited to try it when not eating something sweet...hence the sour face! Also notice the cans are skinny and tall unlike ours in the US.

123: Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” –Pat Conroy

125: Sardinia

126: Salt marshes populated by pink flamingos | As we left Cagliari and headed to see the Ruins of Nora, we passed miles and miles of salt marshes filled with these beautiful pink flamingos.

127: PULA, ITALY

128: Ancient Ruins of Nora

134: Tunisia, Africa | March 9

136: Current events in Tunisia: Some areas of the interior have been declared military zones and require special passes. Trips into the interior of Tunisia should be made with a reputable tour guide. There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Tunisia is nearing the end of a period of political transition following its 2011 revolution. The final round of Presidential elections took place on 21 December 2014. There have been some protests following the announcement of the results, but the atmosphere is generally calm. Protests aren't normally aimed against foreigners, but you should avoid areas where large crowds gather. A new exit tax of 30 dinars per person (about 11) will apply to all departing, non-resident foreigners from 1 October 2014. You must buy the stamp before you leave Tunisia. Payment is in cash in Tunisian dinars. You can buy the stamp at hotels, travel agencies, finance offices, tobacco shops, banks and customs offices (including at the airport and other borders). You can either fix the exit stamp into your passport next to the entry stamp yourself, or ask the border police to do it for you. | This is the information you will currently find on visiting Tunisia, Africa. There was still a lot of political turmoil when we went back in March which is why we chose to go on an excursion through the cruise ship. Two days after we visited, there was an incident and the cruise ship no longer stops at the port.

137: We arrived in the Port of (La Goulette). It had been raining and we could see a beautiful rainbow from our Balcony.

139: Doors of Tunisia

140: BARDO NATIONAL MUSEUM

141: Bardo National Museum

143: The Bardo National Museum (Le Musee National du Bardo) is a marvelous museum in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. Bardo has the world's largest collection of Roman mosaics, most of which were moved from sites in Tunisia and North Africa such as Carthage. The large museum is set in a palace that originally dates back to the 13th century. Today’s Bardo Museum is a mixture of 17th and 18th century Moorish architecture. Although the exterior and interiors of the Bardo Museum are attractive, it is the detailed, complex mosaics that make this museum the most important tourist site in Tunis.

144: When we arrived at the Bardo National Museum, it was filled with students. There are certain days of the week that they get in free so it was packed with young men and women along with other tour groups. The young girl in the yellow head piece was the first to approach. The girl didn’t speak English but she held out her cell phone indicating that she wanted to have her picture made with me. After a friend took their picture, another group of girls came over to have their picture made. Soon there was a line of boys and girls waiting to have their picture made with the “Americans.”

145: Since I'm giving little peeks of what it was like actually touring the museum, I wanted to show you this picture. The museum restroom was extremely nice and clean but there was a long line. Before you actually get into a bathroom stall containing the toilet, you need to get your toilet tissue. It’s located next to the hand dryer by the sinks. This is just one of the differences between Europe and the US. There are also no seats to sit on once you get a stall!

146: Medina of Tunis

147: Our second stop on our excursion was the Medina of Tunis. We made a quick stop here , on our way to Carthage, to see this portion of these Roman Aqueducts.

149: We had lunch at Essaraya, a beautiful place with wonderful food. I honestly am not sure what I ate but most of it was very tasty to my American palate. We started off with these appetizers, then the meal was brought in followed by dessert.

150: CARTHAGE, AFRICA

152: Punic & Roman Ruins in Tunisia.

153: Carthage is a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia, situated at the site of the ancient capital of the Carthaginian empire. It was little more than an agricultural village for nine hundred years until the middle of the 20th century; since then it has grown rapidly as an upscale coastal suburb.

154: It was raining when we arrived with a few bolts of lightening and thunder thrown in for good measure. It didn't last too long and we enjoyed visiting the ruins.

158: CALLING | Sidi Bou Said

164: PALERMO, ITALY | March 10

167: SUNRISE | PALERMO

169: We began our excursion with a drive through Palermo which is Sicily's cultural, economic, and touristic capital.

173: The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele is an opera house and opera company located on the Piazza Verdi in Palermo, Sicily. It was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II. It is the biggest in Italy, and one of the largest of Europe and is renowned for its perfect acoustics. We also learned that the final scenes of the film The Godfather Part III were filmed at the theater.

177: Driving along the Northern Shore of Sicily

178: The traffic in Italy is unreal. As someone in Italy told me, they take stop signs and lights as suggestions but I never saw anyone stop at one. The photo to the right was taken when we came to one of the many roundabouts. People come in at all angels and somehow work their way through. Italian drivers are fast, aggressive and skillful. Lane hopping and late braking are the norm and it's not uncommon to see cars tailgating at 130km/h. They don't slow down for you or let you out. Rather, seize the moment. As soon as you see a gap, go for it. Italians expect the unexpected and react swiftly but they're not used to ditherers.

179: We were traveling down the highway with a tour group and the guide looks over and says “a tornado, it must be raining somewhere” and that was it. No one seemed concerned that a tornado was so close. I know it looks small and far away in the pictures but it was much larger and closer in person. My mom turned to me with a big grin on on her face, in the middle of her frantic picture taking, and said “I can’t believe I’m in Italy and I’m photographing a tornado.” It was one of the highlights of her vacation!

180: CEFALU, SICILY

184: 4.22.10 | __________________

189: This is a Medieval wash house – “lavatoio” – which is fed by a natural spring.

191: The Cathedral-Basilica of Cefalu, is a Roman Catholic church in Cefalu, Sicily, Italy. The Duomo dates back to the Norman era and contains some of the best preserved mosaics in all of Sicily. | Cathedral-Basilica of Cefalu

195: While we were in the Piazza del Duomo, we went into this little corner café for some more gelato. I got pistachio and mom had lemon. A scoop/cup of gelato throughout Italy was 2 euros. (The price you see on an item is the exact cost. There is no sales tax added to the purchase price. There are also no .99 added to anything. Everything is an even number such as 1, 2, 3, etc)

199: the

202: 4.22.10

203: As you can tell by these photos, the streets are very narrow and you have to watch for vehicle.s.!

204: This is the first place we visited when we arrived in Cefalu. It was a local gourmet shop where we enjoyed a taste of some Sicilian specialties including a variety of wines.

207: NAPLES, ITALY | March 11

210: This gorgeous guy is Roberto and he was our personal guide for the day.

212: AMALFI COAST

216: The roads along the Amalfi Coast were steep, winding and very narrow. In the far picture on the right, we had to pull in the side mirror on the van to keep it from being knocked off. There was a huge charter bus on the left and a brick wall on the right.

220: POSITANO, ITALY

222: Positano is one the most photographed fishing village in the world and I can see why. There is something magical about the intricate winding roads, and we enjoyed exploring each alcove and shop as we traveled down to the sea.

227: ‘Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone’ Steinbeck 1953

231: “Not all those who wander are lost.” | J.R.R. Tolkien

236: One of the most beautiful scenes in Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed here in Positano.

237: It was not uncommon to find restrooms like the one on the right in Italy. If you look on the red stickers, you will notice one stall is for women and one for men and there are no toilet seats to be seen.

238: SORRENTO, ITALY

246: Italy is the world's largest producer of lemons so, naturally, Italians have developed a delicious way to use the plentiful fruit. Wandering the streets of Sorrento, we saw dozens of shops, their window displays filled with a myriad of beautifully shaped bottles of limoncello. | We shopped in Piazza Tasso which is in the heart of Sorrento. Many of the stores were not open since it was too early for tourist season but we did manage to purchase some Limoncello and some Crema di Melone.

250: DUBLIN, IRELAND | March 13

252: SYDNEY TOWER

256: You may look at this soda and think cream soda and rootbeer since that is what we would find in our local stores. Wrong ... FYI - Shandy is a beer soda (no root to it) FYI - the drinking age in Ireland is 18.

257: TEA TIME BAKERY | Mom and I picked up sandwiches and pastries at this little bakery in Dublin.

258: We arrived in Dublin with no luggage. We took a Taxi from the airport to the Dublin Airport Manor. The lady at the desk was so sweet, letting us check in early and giving us directions to a mall in Swords. She recommended a place called Pennys where we could purchase a few clothes.

259: Dublin Airport Manor | SWORDS, Ireland

260: Dublin Airport Manor

261: We stayed at the Celtic Lodge in Dublin on our return flight. Being in Dublin was very different from staying in Swords. There was noise outside all night long. | View from our room

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  • By: shelia l.
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  • Title: Europe ~ Our Amazing Jouney
  • Share our journey through Italy, Monaco, Spain, France, Africa, and Ireland.
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