S: Western Mediterranean Cruise 2012
FC: Royal Caribbean Cruise on the "Serenade of the Seas" 21 Aug - 2 Sept 2012 | Western Mediterranean 2012
1: We all met in Barcelona to begin our summer / August adventure. Sydney & I and Rosemarie arrived on 18th Aug in the morning. We arrive by Delta and she by American. We take the "AeroBus" from the airport to Placa de Catalunya and walk down the Rambla to our hotel at #45 Rambla. Only after Rosemarie asked if we were heading in the right direction (we were not). Lesson learned: Janene's sense of direction is suspect. It was hot as we pulled -tugged our wheeled luggage on the cobbled pavement. It was about 11 am and the Rambla was bustling with tourists. Finially we arrive at the hotel to check-in, only to find out that "check-in" is at 2pm!! Arrgghh it was 11am! We put the luggage in storage and head out to see the city! Excitement overrode jet-lag. | View from our room | 18 Aug 2012 | SPAIN
2: Shopping for shoes | BARCELONA | Tour buses around the Placa de Catalunya
3: La Rambla -A tree-lines pedestrian mall in central Barcelona, popular with both tourists and locals alike. It stretches for 1.2 kilometers (0.6 mile) between Barri Gotic and El Raval, connecting Placa de Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell. | Barcelona from the roof of the Cathedral | Performers & Artists on Rambla.
4: Inaugurated on the occasion of the 1888 World Fair to commemorate the 4th centenary of the Discovery of America in 1892, the Columbus Monument has become a very well known landmark of Barcelona as it occupies a privileged location at the bottom end of the Rambla. But there must be a connexion between Barcelona and Columbus to account for the presence of such a monument: Barcelona is where Columbus was officially greeted back by King Fernando and Queen Isabella, who where staying in Barcelona when Columbus came back. The cast-iron column is abundantly decorated with reliefs, medallions and statues all related to people, places and events connected to the discovery. The column is 193 feet high | Columbus Monument
5: I predict we will see a dragon and unicorn today | Janene: "Yeah right Sydney!! But look what we see during that day. The dragon was a celebration for the patron saint of Barcelona | Then there was our marathon walk around the water-front and our run-in w/ the street vendors - Prada purse..... Janene's way-finding skills - fail... but on the bright side ...well ...there was no bright side except for that really reflective building.
7: RAMBLA del RAVAL | Went to see the Mercat de St Antonio, only to find out -: CLOSED FOR RESTORATION till 2014!!. The temporary facility wasn't exciting..Bah!
8: Cathedral of Barcelona | The Cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Cross and St. Eulalia Architectural Style: Catalan Gothic
9: Crypt of St. Eulalia -This marble sarcophagus (14th C) is a tribute to St Eulalia, martyr, virgin and joint patron of the Cathedral, In 304AD, at age of 13 was martyred for defending her Christian faith. This crypt is under the main alter.
10: Antonio Gaudi | From the very beginning his designs were different from those of his contemporaries. Gaudí's work was greatly influenced by forms of nature and this is reflected by the use of curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, and organic-like forms which are traits of Gaudí's Barcelona architecture. He also adorned many of his buildings with coloured tiles arranged in mosaic patterns. This added another important dimension to his buildings which is so often overlooked by architects - the use of colour. The combination of original design, interesting shaped stonework, and vibrant colours in Gaudí's work give the viewer a truly breathtaking visual experience. N.B. :- The word "gaudy" does NOT come from the name of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. This word has been around since the 16thC and he died in the late 1920s. A more likely source is the obsolete English word "gaud," meaning "joke, toy, or showy ornament." | Casa Batllo (1904-07) | Casa Mila (1905-10) | We visit the works of Catalan Architect
11: Park Guell (1900-14)
12: We take a taxi from Park Guell to the Sagrada Familia for 6 Euros. The line to get in snakes around the entire basilica..it's hot. We decided wewere happy just seeing the outside! Though construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família's construction relies on private donations, hence it's sloooww progress. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026!! | Sagrada Familia
13: DAY TRIPPERS | We have a challenging time taking the metro. Mostly in purchasing the tickets. We resort to asking some locals for assistance - one whose only word of English was "Obama"! They even shepherded us on to the train.
14: Janene & Sydney Christopher Jacqui, Lorne & Malia Demrose Rosemarie Too-a-Foo | Christopher Stateroom - 3074 (Deck 3) Demrose Stateroom - 3067 (Deck 3) Too-a-Foo Stateroom - 1503 (Deck 10)
15: On the SERANADE of the SEAS
16: Towel Animals greet us in our cabin | I love these plums!
17: Midnight buffet | Various entres serves for dinner | Huge ship with about 75% of the passengers being pensioners. We'd often go to the "show" after dinner... and saw acts like "Los Pampas Gauchos", "Supreme DreamGirls Motown Show", Vocalists "Claude Eric" and "Tracey Shield performing Celine Dion", The Beatle Maniacs and production numbers such as Vibeology & Stage to Screen. Features of the ship include a nine-story central atrium, w/ glass elevators and floor-to ceiling windows ensure incredible views throughout your day. There is a tranquil Solarium pool, a Spa facility and even a rock-climbing wall.
18: Cote d'Azur FRANCE | Ship anchors off the coast and we tender into Cannes. The boat ride is about 10 minutes. Janene's friend Particia Perez Johnson, who lives in Nice, meets us and takes Sydney & I and Rosemarie for a day trip along the coast and the Eze. We have a tradition south of France sandwich - pan bagnat at Beaulieu-sur-Mer. | Feet in the waters of the Mediterranean | okay ...you are fully dressed in the water...and....
19: Antibes | The market in Antibes is wonderful - fresh produce, truffles, herbs (like lavender) and spices!
20: The old medieval village of Eze, along the coast between Nice and Monaco, hangs up in the mountains above the water and crowds. It's wonderful to visit. Great, great views! Totally charming! At 1,407 feet above the Mediterranean, Eze offers commanding views of cliffs, sea, sprawling estates and off-shore islands. Eze offers that winning formula of narrow, sloping streets and archways that open out into hidden squares, fountains and quiet courtyards. There are many tempting arts and craft boutiques. It was magical, you can't take a bad photo! | Eze
21: Why are you trying to break into that house?
22: The Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge"), is a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River. It still has shops built along it which include jewellers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. | Pont Vecchio | We dock at port of Livorno and hired a taxi - Alex - to take us to Florence and Pisa for E60/pp. We are joined by a couple (Russian girl & Indian guy). First stop - Pizzale Michelangelo for the view above Florence. As we get ready to leave a gentleman rushes to the van with a pair of glasses...Rosemarie unknowingly "lost" them! Whew close call! We go to Florence for 2 hrs then to Pisa for 1 hr and return to ship by 4:30. Ship leaves at 6pm.
23: Florence (Italian: Firenze) is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area. Florence is famous for its history. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. | Ufizzi Gallery | Michelangelo- Holy Family | Leonardo da Vinci - The Annunciation | Boticelli - The Birth of Venus
24: The Palazzo Vecchio ("Old Palace") is the town hall of Florence. Overlooking the Piazza della Signoria with its copy of Michelangelo's David statue (below) as well the gallery of statues in the Loggia dei Lanzi (right), it is one of the most significant public places in Italy. | The The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore aka The Duomo. Begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white. The cathedral complex, located in Piazza del Duomo, includes the Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile( bell tower), | The Duomo | Palazzo Vecchio
25: Gelato (Coconut flavor) | The Basilica of San Croce Michaelangelo & Machiavelli are buried here | Shopping
26: The obligatory pose with the tower | The Baptistry | A city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa and 1 hr from Florence. Although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city's cathedral), the city of over 88,332 residents contains more than 20 other historic churches, several palaces and various bridges across the River Arno, but nevertheless, all, if not most of the tourists were with us, at the Piazza del Duomo "posing" with the tower. | The Cathedral
27: There have been fountains all over... it was very hot and the cool water was delicious! The water from these public fountains was safe to drink. | The Bell Tower
28: St Peter's Cathedral | Vatican City Guards | We arrive at port city of Civitavecchia (25 Aug.), take the train to Rome (1 hr) and disembark at Vatican City stop. | Plan is to see the Vatican, take metro to Pantheon, Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain. Then a bus to the colosseum & train back to ship. The Italian metro was on strike... change of plans! We now take the bus to the Colosseum, walk to Trevi Fountain and take the bus to train station. Another hot day. The sun seems to penetrate your skin! The bus trip to the train terminal was an experience in how many people could cram into the vehicle. Rosemarie & Sydney were together towards the back while the Demroses & Janene were at the front. At one stop we heard Syd & Rosemarie yell to the bus drive to stop so a woman could exit. We were 4th to last getting back onto the ship!
29: The Vatican | The Pieta by Michelangelo
30: The Colosseum
31: Construction of the Colosseum began under the rule of the Emperor Vespasian in around 70–72 AD. The Colosseum could accommodate 87,000 people, although modern estimates put the figure at around 50,000. The arena itself was 83 meters by 48 meters (272 ft by 157 ft). It was comprised of a wooden floor covered by sand, covering an elaborate underground structure called the hypogeum (literally meaning "underground"). Little now remains of the original arena floor, but the hypogeum is still clearly visible. It consisted of a two-level subterranean network of tunnels and cages beneath the arena where gladiators and animals were held before contests began. | Who invented concrete?
32: Vespas along the Via dei Fori Imperiali | Forum of Rome | Trajan's Market | Temple of Venus and Rome | Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, Piazza Venezia
33: Trevi Fountain | Our packed bus | Which bus? We need #175!! | Destination
34: SALERNO | Port of call Salerno - the Campania region of Italy. The port is huge and we take a shuttle bus to the entrance gates and walk along the seafront to the train station where we purchase a round-trip tkt to Pompei. The train ride was an adventure in itself... we jumped off one train and got onto another. We were thinking of going to Herculaneum...but decided against it. We enter Pompeii from the Porta di Nocera rather than the Porta Marina (main entrance). This was due to the mess-up with the trains. We always seems to get on the "local" which seems to take a lot longer than the guide book says. This was at least a 70 min trip ea way. But as the train whizzed along the Amafli coast the views were just gorgeous! It was another blistering hot day and upon exiting the station we decided against "following" the other tourists and took a cab to the site entrance; which as we discovered later was a 10 min walk from the station!
35: Imagine dawn on 25th August, 79 A.D., a violent explosion of toxic gases and burning cinders from an eruption that had started a day earlier caused time to come to a stop at Pompeii. It is estimated that 2,000 people were killed of the town's 20,000 inhabitants.It wasn't till 1 April 1748 that it was re-discovered. Mt Vesevius has not erupted since 1944. | The streets of Pompeii were paved w/ large polygonal blocks of stone. On most streets there are raised stones at regular intervals that pedestrians used to cross the streets when water flooded them. The wagon wheel ruts are also clearly visible
36: The Stabian bath - Steam room (Caladarium) | Mt Vesevius in background. | Forum | Basilica was "under construction" at time of eruption.
37: Thermopolium - where hot & cold beverages were served... like todays' cafe. | The impluvium was a pool that captured rainwater from the opening in the roof. There was usually a cistern beneath this pool to store excess water for use in the garden at the rear of the house. The pool had a natural cooling effect in the hot climate of Italy | Archaeologists at work | The Amphitheatre | The Granai del Foro, used to store hundreds of amphorae and a number of body casts. These casts were made in the late 19th century by pouring plaster into the hollows left by disintegrated bodies.
38: View of St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) from the ship - packed with tourists/visitors. | Arriving in Venice | VENICE | The sun's so bright I gotta wear shades...well no, it's the magic of digital photography | Rialto Bridge
39: the Grand Canal
42: Scenes from St Mark's Cathedral
43: Bridge of Sighs
44: Murano was a commercial port as far back as the 7th Century, and by the 10th Century it had grown into a prosperous trading center with its own coins, police force, and commercial aristocracy. Then, in 1291, the Venetian Republic ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano because the glassworks represented a fire danger in Venice, whose buildings were mostly wooden at the time. | Rosemarie is approached by an Italian gentleman who gives her a FREE ticket (see below) which includes a taxi ride over to Murano to visit a Glass Foundry. Janene & the girls jump in the water taxi - a speedboat. Lorne is sceptical, Nothing is for free!" But we go anyways...and it turns out to be free... and we get to see a forming demonstration. We use our 12 hr vaporetto ticket to then go to Burano and back to Venice
45: Burano is an island in the Northern Venetian Lagoon, 11 Km northeastern from Murano and Venice. It was known for its lace & its small, brightly-painted houses, popular with artists. Legend has it that the colours were so that returning fishermen could find their home at night. Nowadays; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government. Thus the attraction for this island are the coloured houses and the oblique (leaning) bell tower of San Martino Church. Now much of the lace is machine produced; hand-made lace is too time consuming and expensive.
46: 29 Aug. Port of call - Ravenna. We have to take a shuttle bus to the town which is about a 20 min ride passing along some fishing shacks and industrial areas. Having played a critical but sometimes forgotten role in history, Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire when it fell in 476AD. Then beginning a few decades later, it became the Italian capital of the Byzantine Empire for two centuries. During these periods, the city’s many famous and gorgeous mosaics were created, including a staggering eight locations that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The oldest, from about 430, is the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. It is a city of bicycles....residents: 20,000 - bicycles: 40,000
47: Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo | The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo was erected by the Arian King Theodoric as his palace chapel, during the first quarter of the 6th century. Originally dedicated to Jesus Christ, it was reconsecrated in 561 with the suppression of the Arian cult to Saint Martin of Tours, the implacable foe of heretics. It was dedicated to Apollinare the first bishop of Ravenna in the 9thC. The apse and atrium underwent modernization at various times, beginning in the 6th century with the destruction of mosaics (see picture to right). The walls of the nave and clerestory are covered in glittering mosaics from the early 6th century AD. Some of them date from the Arian period under Theodoric (496-526), including the 26 panels depicting scenes from the life of Christ, the large portrait of Christ enthroned, and the depictions of the King's palace in Ravenna and the port at Classe Read more: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Italy/Emilia_Romagna/Ravenna-145052/General_Tips-Ravenna-San_Apollinare_church-BR-1.html#ixzz26UQRnSO1 Read more: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Italy/Emilia_Romagna/Ravenna-145052/General_Tips-Ravenna-San_Apollinare_church-BR-1.html#ixzz26UPtHaNT | Initially your gaze will be upon the long rows of apostles on one side and the birth of Jesus with accompanying Magi on the other and you realize these are little mosaic stones! Incredible!!
48: Basilica San Vitale | The mosaics located in this basilica are stunning. On the left are "the stories of Abraham” and on the right in the act of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. The focal point is located in the apse, where two angels in flight hold the symbol of the cross. The most famous mosaics are placed on either side of the altar and are of the Emperor Justinian and Theodora, surrounded by their courts in all the pomp that demanded of their political and religious status.
49: Located in the backyard of San Vitale, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna is known for its ancient and breathtaking mosaics. The small brick structure dates from around 430 AD, making it one of the oldest monuments in Ravenna. Galla Placidia, a powerful Roman empress, was never buried here but likely commissioned the building | The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia | National Museum of Ravenna
50: Our last port of call. The excitement of the "port adventure" been dulled by the oppressive heat of the Mediterranean. The beauty of this place though is undeniable,,,the old city perched above the sparkling blue Adriatic sea with it's medieval wall fortification, Dubrovnik is a remarkably well-preserved example of a late-medieval walled city, with a regular street layout. Among the outstanding medieval, Renaissance and Baroque monuments are the Town Hall (now the Rector's Palace), dating from the 11th century; the Franciscan Monastery (completed in the 14th century, but now largely Baroque in appearance) with its imposing church; the extensive Dominican Monastery; the cathedral (rebuilt after the 1667 earthquake); the customs house (Sponza), the eclectic appearance of which reveals the fact that it is the work of several hands over many years; and a number of other Baroque churches, such as that of St Blaise (patron saint of the city). We probably saw all these building but didn't know it at the time.
52: Walking the Wall We walked entire wall in 30 mins. !
53: Leaving Croatia | the | One of the first spectacular sights that greets you when you enter Stradun from the Pile Gate is the Great Onofrio Fountain, with its huge central dome and sixteen water taps all around. A ledge and steps around the water trough provide a perfect resting spot for tired sightseers.
56: Euro - Potties (WC) | What fun figuring out how to flush the WC! Sometimes the flush button was on the wall, above the tank; other times below the bowl (operated by your foot), and other times on the tank. Then there were the squatting kind. The stainless steel one was in Croatia.
57: Euro - Grafitti