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Our European Vacation

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Our European Vacation - Page Text Content

S: Our Mediterranean Adventure - June 2011

FC: Our Mediterranean Adventure June 2011

2: Barcelona, Spain | We arrived in Barcelona on Saturday, June 18. We planned to take the Aerobus to Placa de Catalunya, but accidentally got off a couple of stops early at Placa d' Espanya. No problema, si? So we schlepped our luggage through the streets and alleys of Barcelona for a couple of winding miles - an arduous journey, but a rewarding one - as we were able to see how the working class lives. We did stop to ask two women for directions With much gesturing (they spoke no English and we speak little Spanish) they were able to tell us that we should take the Metro. We were grateful for their input but continued to walk, and eventually found our hotel at 128 Las Rambla. After a rather long siesta, we ventured out again. We ate meat and cheese sandwiches at a small restaurant (yum), walked up to Park Guell, and sam-pled pizza bread and gelato on the way back. We passed by the "occupa-tion" encampments of Ciudadela Park. We stopped at the Carrefour across the street from our hotel for a bottle of wine, baguette, some gouda and Coke, then enjoyed our dinner from the rooftop terrazza. That night, we walked to the pier and back along Las Ramblas. The street was full of tourists, vendors, performers, and a pickpocket dressed as a shaggy dog (yuck!!!). At the center of the Placa de la Porta de Pau, we saw the Monument a Colom, placed at the site where Christoffel Columbus arrived in 1493 after his discovery of America the year before.

3: View of Las Ramblas Boulevard treetops from Hotel Rivoli Ramblas balcony. We spent two nights in Room 219, with a terrace overlooking the boulevard.

4: Here we are having a fancy dinner on our hotel rooftop terrace: bread, cheese, soda and wine, from the supermarket across the street. Below is a view of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, high atop Mount Tibidabo.

5: We enjoyed cappuccinos and pastries in a little restaurant right next to our hotel.

6: Guell hoped that they would be encouraged to commission houses in the area. His dream of a stylish retreat for the rich was not as big a success as he had hoped, and the area was turned into a municipal property and later it became a public park. Antoni Gaudi's design for the park was in his typical unusual style. The entrance to the park is guarded by a large dragon fountain, which is decorated in colorful tiles and mosaics. The park is filled with rock pillars shaped like trees, and Gaudi's colorful theme continues at the top of the park, where a winding mosaic covered seat gives a resting point over vast views of the city below. From this point you can see as far as the Sagrada Familia cathedral - another of Barcelona's iconic landmarks that was designed by Gaudi. There is a small house at Park Guell where Antoni Gaudi himself once lived. The house has been converted into a museum and also holds furniture that was designed by Gaudi. | Park Guell was commissioned by Eusebi Güell and built by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi between 1900 and 1914. Guell wanted the park to be an escape and a retreat for the aristocracy of Barcelona.

8: Sean is sitting above the winding bench located in the Gran Placa Circular, the park’s plaza. The serpentine bench is decorated with multicoloured broken tiles. On the facing page, the colonnaded foot path under the roadway viaduct is lined by tree trunk-like columns, which slope to take the diagonal thrust from the vault supporting the road.

12: Doric columns support the roof of the lower court which forms the central terrace, with serpentine seating round its edge.

14: Norwegian Epic | On June 19 we began the day with cappuccinos and pastries, then took a cab to the port. After boarding the Epic, we spent the day touring the ship, eating and enjoying our welcoming cocktails. Besides the shore excursions that week, we attended the Stephan Sorentino comedy act, the very weird Blue Man Group show and the Cirque Dreams and Dinner show. We bowled, played shuffleboard, worked out in the fitness area, then relaxed in the hot tub every night. And we ate a lot! One of our favorite meals was a plate full of bread and cheese, shared by the three of us on the balcony of our room while we kept watch on the Mediterranean Sea. Fantastico!

16: Our next stop was Florence, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Here is the Duomo, seen from the rooftop terrace of the Uffizi Museum. | Florence, Italy | The Republic of Florence began to plan the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in the late 1200s AD. Arnolfo di Cambio was the first architect to work on the Duomo. Duomo means Cathedral in Italian. After di Cambio died in 1302, a new group of men took over the government of Florence. Work stopped for a long time. In 1334, the artist Giotto agreed to work on the Duomo, but he only had time to build the Campanile (bell-tower) before he died three years later in 1337. Then Pisano took over as the architect, but when a terrible plague killed thousands of people in Florence in 1348, work stopped again. In 1375, workmen tore down the old cathedral and began building the new one, somewhat modernized from the original plan which was now almost a hundred years old. In 1418, with most of the cathedral built, Brunelleschi designed a great dome to go over the high altar at the crossing (where the transept crossed the nave), and worked out how to build it. The cathedral was basically finished in 1436, even though the red, white, and green marble on the outside wasn't finished until four hundred years later.

19: View of the Duomo and the Clock Tower of the Palazzo Vecchio from the rooftop of the Uffizzi Gallery. Facing page: The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and Giotto's Campanile (bell tower)

20: The Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River | Above the main door to the Cathedral: Christ enthroned with Mary and John the Baptist

22: Rome, Italy | We arrived in Civitavecchia on the morning of June 22. We boarded the tour bus for Rome . . . our first stop was Trevi Fountain, where we threw in coins to ensure our return to Rome.

23: Next stop was the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. On the way, we passed Trajan's Column, which commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars.

24: The Roman Forum is located in a valley that is between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill. It originally was a marsh, but the Romans drained the area and turned it into a center of political and social activity. The arch of Septimius Severus is pictured at the far right on this page.

26: Much of the forum has been destroyed. Columns and stone blocks are all that remain of some temples.

29: Like many other ancient Roman buildings, stone blocks have been removed from the Forum and used to build nearby churches and palaces.

30: The Temple of Castor and Pollux was built in the honor of the mythical twins in 484 BC. However the current ruins (the three surviving Corinthian columns) are from AD 6. The temple housed the city’s office of weights and measurements.

31: The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312. | The Arch of Titus is one of two remaining arches on the Forum Romanum . It was built to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem over the Jewish. It is the oldest surviving example of a Roman arch. At the inside of the arch are two panels with reliefs. One depicts the triumphal procession with the spoils taken from the Second Temple in Jerusalem - the seven-branched Menorah, the silver trumpets and the Table of the Shewbread.

32: According to Roman mythology, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave, known as the Lupercal, where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf that kept them alive. Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills in Rome and probably the most famous. This is where the rich and famous ancient Romans used to live. Emperor Augustus was born on Palatine Hill and lived there all his life. Cicero - the great orator - lived there, as well as Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony). Later emperors Tiberius, Caligula and Domitian built palaces there. Most of the ruins that we see today are from the Domitian’s palace.

33: Sean is sitting on a rock right next to the Via Sacra. Wonder if Paul walked by this rock back in the 1st century?

34: The Colosseum was once known as the Flavian Amphitheater.

35: Originally capable of seating 45,000 to 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. Construction began around 70 AD under the emperor Vespasian. It was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign.

36: The Colosseum remained in use for nearly 500 years, with the last recorded games being held there as late as the sixth century,—well after the traditional date of the fall of Rome in 476.

38: St. Peter's Square

39: Our tour group ate lunch at Papa Rex near the Vatican. It was a short walk to St. Peter's Square, where we stood in line for only 45 minutes to enter the Basilica. We then met our group at Caffe San Pietro, and boarded the bus back to the port.

40: Naples, Italy | We arrived in Naples on June 23. Instead of taking a ride along the Amalfi Coast with one of the many pushy, scary and abusive strangers at the port, we took a ferry to the beautiful island of Capri and shopped for souvenirs before stopping for pizza at a lovely little restaurant. Pat and Sean went swimming at the pebbly beach (too cold for me!). On the way to and from Capri, we passed by Mount Vesuvius -- best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

44: Palma, Mallorca | Our ship arrived at the lovely city of Palma on June 25, We walked along the waterfront into town, admiring the architecture and Moorish Influences present everywhere. We toured the Catedral Mallorca, then started back to the port. On the way, we sampled some cappuccino and gelato in a little alleyway restaurant. We came up with two thoughts: "Those Catholics are crazy for their relics" and "If you walk down an alley, something bad WILL happen." Well, the first one was right on but nothing bad happened to us in THAT alley.

46: Back to Rome | We flew back to Rome on June 26 via RyanAir. Sean came down with strep throat, but once he began his meds, we ventured out into the Eternal City.

47: We stayed at the Residenza di Ripetta, Via di Ripetta 231.

48: The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD. M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIUM.FECIT translates to: "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, having been consul three times, built it."

49: Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The central opening in the ceiling is called the oculus.

50: Bridget and Brian recommended this restaurant near the Spanish Steps. | We had pasta here. Squisito!!! | This relief was above an ordinary, average door! | One of the most famous streets of the historic center of Rome. | This is where pine nuts come from. Who knew? | Lots of miles on these shoes...

51: The Colonna dell'Immacolata, erected in 1857 to commemorate the dogma of the immaculate conception. The column was found in 1777 under a monastery. It is now topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary. | The Spanish Steps begin at the Piazza di Spagna and end at Piazza Trinit del Monti. They link the Bourbon Spanish Embassy and the Trinit dei Monti Church.

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  • Title: Our European Vacation
  • 2011 Mediterranean Cruise
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  • Started: almost 7 years ago
  • Updated: over 6 years ago