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S: Our Mediterranean Adventure May 15-30, 2010

BC: Until on our next adventure...

FC: May 15 - 30, 2010 Matt & Francie's Mediterranean Adventure Rome, Naples, Athens, Rhodes, Turkey, Egypt, and Sicily

1: Saturday May 15, 2010 On Saturday, we picked up the house, Matt finished some last minute work, and we finished packing. We left our house around 1 pm. We got to the airport around 2:45 pm for our 4:50 pm flight. Our flight kept getting pushed back. We finally left around 7:30 pm. We had to wait for 10 people to give up their seats before we could board. | We had dinner on board and watched an episode of Fringe. Then we tried to get some shut eye. When we looked outside next, the sun was up and we were ready for a new day. Sunday May 16, 2010 We had breakfast on the plane and before we knew it, it was time to land. We landed in Italy near Rome around noon. A car was waiting to take us to our hotel. The driver drove over 100 mph on the straight aways. Matt was able to get some sleep while I felt sick. We checked into Hotel Raffaello and took showers. We were ready to start our adventure. We left our hotel with the cameras, a map, a backpack, and Rick Steve's "Rome"!

2: We got lost on the way to the Colosseum. We finally found it with some help from our handy dandy map and two nice tourists. | The Colosseum

3: We listened to Rick Steve's tour of The Colosseum on our iPod | Views from the upper level | ROME | 75 degrees and Partly sunny

5: Views from the ground level

6: We walked from The Colosseum to Palatine Hill | Palatine Hill | Farnese Garden - first botanical garden in Europe

7: Palatine Hill is the centermost of the famous seven hills of Rome. Augustus, Cicero, and Marc Antony all had homes on the hill. We visited the Palatine Antiquarium Museum. In the museum's 9 rooms, were ceramics, frescoes, mosaics, inscriptions, sculptures and portrait heads actually found on the hill. | The stadium

8: The Arch of Constantine | Self Portrait | On the way to Palatine Hill, we stopped by the Arch of Constantine

10: The Roman Forum After leaving Palatine Hill, we finally found the entrance to the Forum. We listened to the tour on our iPod with Rick Steve and took lots of pictures.

11: The Roman Forum is located in a valley that is between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill. The Forum was the marketplace of Rome and also the business district and civic center. It was expanded to include temples, a senate house and law courts. When the Roman Empire fell, the Forum became forgotten, buried and was used as a cattle pasture during the Middle Ages. | Temple of Antoninus and Faustina It is the best preserved building in the Forum. The Emperor Antonius Pius lost his wife Faustina. After her death the Emperor built a magnificent temple in her honor in 141 AD.

12: The Arch of Titus Titus was the emperor that had sacked the great Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The arch was built in his honor. Sculptures on this arch show the treasure of the Jews being taken through the streets of Rome. On the inside of the left leg of this arch, there is a well known sculpture of Romans carrying away a Jewish menorah.

13: To the left is the Basilica of Constantine. Also called the Basilica of Maxentius.

14: Above is Caesar's Grave. People still leave flowers and letters daily. To the left is the Temple of Castor & Pollux. Below and to the right is the Temple of Vesta. To the left of that is Statues of Vestal Virgins which dates back to the 4th century BC. The small temple was one of Rome's most important as it was dedicated to the protectress of both the family and State. | The Vestal Virgins guarded the sacred eternal flame, symbol of the eternal life of Rome. The Virgins were chosen by the Pontifex Maximus, the supreme religious authority of the State. The girls, who had to be aristocrates, had to serve for 30 years. During that time they had to stay virgins, otherwise they would be buried alive (this happened to 10 of them). The Vestal Virgins were highly regarded and enjoyed many perks.

15: The Arch of Septimius Severus | Below is the Curia or Senate House. There was a wedding going on the day we visited. So we couldn't go inside. | The Temple of Saturn The temple was used as the state treasury. It also housed the banners of the legions and the senatorial decrees. | The Rostra was a speaker's platform originally built in the 4th century BC | Temple of Vespasian & Titus | Temple of Divus Romulus

16: The bathroom and shower were very small. At least the shower had massaging jets which felt wonderful after a long day. And look ... a Bidet!

17: Hotel Raffaello | We were so tired after our long day. We hoofed it back to the hotel to drop off our backpack before heading across the street to dinner. The above picture is a view from our room ... a concrete wall.

18: We ate dinner across the street at La Mela de Oro. We had ravioli, antipasti, more pasta, desserts, wine, and coffee. We had a liter of draft wine...that's a lot of wine after a long day. I was a little tipsy. | After dinner, we went back to the hotel. We were tuckered out, but couldn't sleep. We watched Fringe. I fell asleep while Matt watched another episode. Then to bed ... tomorrow is another busy day!

19: A Day at the Vatican | Monday 5/17/10 We got up early, took showers, and ate breakfast at the hotel. We walked to Termini Station and took the "A" line to Vatican City.

20: We got a little lost on the way to the Vatican, but we made it. We walked around the Vatican until our tour of the necropolis below St.Peter's Basilica started. We were delayed due to some ambassador's arrival. Then to the necropolis - very awesome, but we were not allowed to take pictures. There are only 200 people a day allowed in the necropolis. There is only 12 people allowed in each group. We were lucky to get tickets.

22: There were mummies | There were tons of statues and busts | The courtyard at the Vatican Museum

23: The Vatican Museum

25: After the tour of the necropolis below St. Peter's, we went to the Vatican Museum. We already had our passes, so we walked right in instead of standing in the long line in the rain. We passed on the formal tour and went with Rick Steve's tour ... again. You could spend days in there and not see everything.

26: At the end of the tour of the Vatican Museum is the Sistine Chapel. There are no photos allowed ... although there were a few idiot tourists taking pictures. There were guards chanting, "No pictures. Shhhh! Quiet please". I thought they were praying. We found a spot on the steps and listened to the Rick Steve's tour of the Sistine Chapel on our iPod. | Sistine Chapel The best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by the greatest Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Sandro Botticelli. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted 12,000 square feet of the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. Today the ceiling, and especially The Last Judgement (1535–1541), is widely believed to be Michelangelo's crowning achievement in painting. Renovated between 1984 and 1994.

27: St. Peter's Basilica | According to tradition, Peter's remains were buried just outside the Circus, less than 150 meters from his place of death. Peter's grave was initially marked simply by a red rock, symbolic of his name, but meaningless to non-Christians. A shrine was built on this site some years later. Almost three hundred years later, Old Saint Peter's Basilica was constructed over this site.

28: After the Vatican Museum, we took a back door from the Sistine Chapel and followed a tour group to St. Peter's Basilica. We didn't want to wait in the long line to get into the Basilica since it was pouring rain. There was even thunder and lightning right before Matt walked into the church. He lived to tell about it. | Above is the altar. Below the altar St. Peter's remains supposedly lay. To the left is The Pieta sculpted by Michelangelo. To the right is a statue of St. Peter. People lined up to rub or kiss his foot. Some believe this will bring them good luck, while others believe this might preclude St. Peter to open the "pearly gates" to let them into heaven.

30: After our busy day at the Vatican, we were pooped. We took the metro back to Termini Station. We stopped at a gelato shop on the way back to the hotel. I love gelato! | We were soaked when we got back to the hotel because it was raining all afternoon. We cleaned up and went to dinner. We ate at Nuovo Stella. Yummy pizza and ravioli. We had wine, tiramisu, and cafe lattes. After our bellies were full, we started our night walk across Rome.

31: A night walk across Rome | We started out | We started out at Nuovo Stella and walked north to the Triton Fountain, then west to Piazza Colonna where there was the Column of Marcus Aurelius. Then onward to the Trevi fountain. Next was the Spanish Steps. We climbed to the steps and relaxed as we looked across the city of Rome. When we had our fill, we jumped on the Metro at the Spanish Steps and back to the hotel.

32: Trevi Fountain We threw our coins in the fountain so we will some day return to Rome.

33: The Spanish Steps

34: Tuesday May 18, 2010 | Victor Emmanuel Monument | Cow sculpture at Termini Station | Today was 75 degrees and sunny

35: We woke up early, took showers, packed, ate breakfast at the hotel, and we were off to the Pantheon. We of course got lost on the way. We walked by the Monument of Victor Emmanuel before finding the Pantheon. Once we were there, we did our iPod walking tour. It took a lot less time to get back to the hotel. | The Pantheon Commissioned as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, this building is circular with huge granite Corinthian columns under a pediment opening into the rotunda, under a coffered, concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky.

38: We took a taxi from the hotel to the train station. It was not a long walk but too long with all of our bags. While getting our tickets for the train to Civitavecchi, we got scammed by a woman who "helped" us buy our ticket. We learned our lesson. We got on the train and arrived at the port about 1 pm. We had to haul our bags down lots of steps and then back up again. Matt kindly helped the old people with their bags. | We took a taxi from the train station to the ship. It took a while to get through security, but then we got right on the ship. We checked out our room and then to the Windjammer for lunch. After lunch, we unpacked, and it was time for the Muster Drill. After the muster, we were ready for a drink. So off to the Crown and Anchor reception for free wine! Then dinner. Then bed. | Our Room -Balcony with 2 beds :)

39: Wednesday May 19, 2010 Naples - 76 degrees and sunny | We woke up at 5:45 am to get ready for our excursion - Amalfi coast by boat and Pompeii. We took a bus along the Amalfi coast to Sorrento where we boarded a boat to Amalfi. The view was beautiful. We had a cafe latte before getting on the boat.

40: The view along the coast was beautiful. We hung out on the top deck of the boat for our hour long boat cruise. We had an hour to explore Amalfi. We had gelato and cafe lattes at a little cafe. It was delicious, but expensive - $25. Another tourist trap. They literally shut down the town when a funeral procession went by. | Amalfi | We walked up the cathedral steps and took pictures. We strolled around the town and saw 2 fresh fish markets and other small shops. Then we boarded the boat and sailed along the Amalfi coast back to Sorrento.

44: The bus dropped us off in Pompeii at a cameo store for a tour and time to shop. After our tour, we ate lunch at Hotel Vittoria. We had cannelloni, Italian wine, champagne, chicken, potatoes, green beans, coffee, and ice cream. Then it was off to our Pompeii excavation tour. It was amazing. The city was so much bigger than I ever imagined. Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in 79 AD. The eruption buried Pompeii under 4 to 6 meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for over 1,500 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1599.

46: Mount Vesuvius in the background | Points the way to the brothel

48: By the end of our tour, we were exhausted. We had some Italian ice. That hit the spot. Mine was blue rasp-berry. Can you tell? To the right is a view from the excavation site. | We boarded the bus, left Pompeii, and headed back to the ship. We freshened up and went to the Diamond Lounge for wine and conversation. Then to dinner and bed. Below are pictures of Naples from our balcony. To the far right is the doggie towel origami that our stateroom attendant made for us when he turned down our bed for the night.

49: At Sea - 70 degrees & windy Today was a relaxing day. We woke up around 8 am and went to breakfast for the Diamond members. After stuffing ourselves, we changed and went to the pool. We sat in the hot tub for about an hour. It was windy and a little chilly on the pool deck. When it got cloudy, we decided we had enough, went back to the room, and took our showers. We went to the meet and mingle for a little bit. Matt didn't want to go at all. We walked around the ship and went to the art auction before getting ready for dinner. | It was formal night, so we got all dressed up and went to the Diamond lounge. We met some very nice people and loved talking to them all. The wine was good too. Tonight was the Captain's reception, but we were having so much fun in the diamond lounge, we all decided not to go. After dinner, we went out for some drinks and dancing. Matt got friendly with the skeleton. | Thursday May 20, 2010

50: Friday May 21, 2010 Athens - 76 degrees & sunny than rainy

51: We saw WWI and WWII ships. Then to lake of Vouliagmeni. Next we went to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon. | After an hour in Cape Sounion, we left to Athens and the Acropolis. On the way to Athens, we stopped at a little cafe to have gyros and beer.

52: Herod Atticus Odeon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Parthenon. Below and to the right is the Temple of Zeus that was seen from the Acropolis. | The Acropolis

53: The acropolis includes the Parthenon, Erechtheion with the Karyatides, Propylaea, Temple of Athena, Brauronion, Temple of Rome and Augustus, Pedestal of Agrippa, Beule Gate, Acropolis fortification wall, Old temple of Athena, Chalkotheke, Herod Atticus Odeon, Theater of Dionysus, Areopagus-Mars Hill,

54: While we were at the Acropolis, it started raining. From the Acropolis, we went to the New Acropolis Museum. Very interesting, but we were not allowed to take pictures. We didn't have any more time left in Athens, so we headed back to the ship. We will have to come back to do the things we missed. Above is our group of 11. There was supposed to be a few more, but they never showed. Back on the ship, we had wine at the C&A Diamond lounge. Then showers to get ready for Chops where we had some delicious Caymus Cabernet.

55: After Chops, we headed back to the room for the night. A towel bunny (?) was waiting for us. Matt decided he wanted coffee before bed. I went & got him some in the Promenade. I was so tired on the way back to the room that I went to the wrong floor and hence the wrong room. Sorry for waking up the people in 6546.

56: Saturday May 22, 2010 We woke up about 7:30 and went to the Diamond breakfast. We got off the ship around 10 am. It started raining as soon as we disembarked. We started in Old Town and went to the little shops. Then to the Archaeological Museum. We walked through the Street of the Knights to the left. We went to the Grand master's Palace but did not enter due to the high admission fee. So we kept walking and exploring. | RHODES GREECE

59: This is our visit to the Archaeological Museum. This place had lots of interesting stuff. They even had a hospital ward here with very tiny rooms. After wondering the streets of Rhodes for a while, we walked past the Windmills and the Lighthouse (Fort of St. Nick) to the entrance of the harbor. This is where The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World stands... or used to stand :)

60: We stopped at a gelato stand for a refreshing treat of a slushy and a gelato cone. We walked to the beach and then back to the ship.

61: Views from our balcony. See the rainbow above? | Back on the ship, we went to the pool for a while. We laid out and got in the hot tub. Then back to the room to relax and clean up for the Captain's Reception for drinks and dancing. After dinner, we went to the piano bar for some fun and drinks. Then to bed. I tired!

63: We met our guide at 7:30 am. We had breakfast early before getting off the ship. Then onto Ephesus. We went to the Ancient City and through all the ruins. Above is the bath house where the slaves warmed the holes for the rich. We took a special tour through the Terrace Houses. They were amazing. The houses were built in late BC and early AD years. They had indoor plumbing and hot water. The mosaics were so well preserved and beautiful. | Sunday May 23, 2010 Kusadasi, Turkey & Ephesus, Turkey 78 degrees and sunny

64: The Library of Celsus

65: In the Roman period, Ephesus was the 2nd largest city of the Roman Empire; ranking behind Rome. Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which made it the 2nd largest city in the world. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which was destroyed in 401 AD. Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city, which was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD. The city's importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River .

66: The Terrace Houses The excavations started in 1960 and 2 houses were finished when we were there. We were the only people in this area. | "Houses of the Rich" | Indoor plumbing

67: We went to a weaving "school" where the young girls were making rugs. They showed us how it was done. We had some horrible Turkish coffee while they showed us the rugs. The owner went from $3000 to $400 for a rug. We didn't get it :( We realized that the Turkish people are very pushy when it comes to selling stuff. But the rugs were beautiful. | After our tour, we went back to the ship. We were worn out from the sales pitch with the rugs. We ate lunch and laid out by the pool. We cleaned up and went for drinks before dinner. Then to bed! | We ate turkey in Turkey on 1/2 Turkey Day you turkey! Hehe :) | Making the silk threads

68: Sunrise from our balcony

69: We slept in today. We once again enjoyed the C&A breakfast. Then we went to the pool and laid out. We showered and stood in line to get our passports. We conquered the rock climbing wall and then to Johnny Rockets for lunch. After a much needed nap, we got ready for formal night. We enjoyed some wine before dinner. We went to the Headliner show - Elton John. Then it was time for bed. | Monday May 24, 2011 At Sea - Sunny & warm | Sunset over the Mediterranean | Dressed up for formal night | Johnny Rockets Fries, onion rings, burgers, shakes, and apple pie and an Oreo sundae for dessert

70: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 Egypt 100 degrees and sunny | Egypt | We got up early and had breakfast. We were off the ship by 7 am. We boarded the bus with 28 people and we were off to Cairo. It took about 3 hours to get there. The guide was very good, but he talked a lot. Our first stop was the Giza Plateau, home of Egypt’s Great Pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The Great Pyramid of Cheops (AKA Khufu), middle Pyramid of Chephren (AKA Khafre), and the little Pyramid of Mykerinos (AKA Menkaure).

71: We went into the Pyramid of Chephren. There were hundreds of steps to get to the middle of the pyramid. The steps were narrow and the ceiling was very low. We had to stoop down most of the way. It was very hot, humid, and smelly, but well worth it to see the inside of the pyramid. | Some of the people on our tour rode the camels. We stayed back and took more pictures. Others not in our group were charged $5 to get on the camel and $30 to get off. What a scam. Our tour guide bartered for $15 for a 15 minute ride. | The Great Pyramid of Cheops (AKA Khufu) | Pyramid of Chephren (AKA Khafre) | Pyramid of Mykerinos (AKA Menkaure)

72: After the pyramids in Giza, we went to the Sphinx. We took lots of pictures and had fun doing it.

73: The Sphinx, a recumbent human-headed lion, was the Egyptians' representation of the sun god Re-Horakhty - "Horus of the horizon". Egyptians call it Abu el-Hol, the "Father of Terror." 45 meters long and 22 meters wide, it is carved from a giant block of sandstone and is much smaller than the Pyramids surrounding it. It's also missing the nose, purportedly the victim of target practice by bored soldiers. Some say these soldiers were British soldiers in World War I or that they were Napoleon's troops in 1798, but 18th-century drawings show the nose is already missing. | Following the trip to the pyramids, we ate lunch at an Egyptian Buffet called Queen Cleopatra. The food was just okay. We were warned about eating food that was washed in water or not cooked. That didn't leave us much to enjoy. We also had a beer ... they only served non-alcoholic beverages. They could have told us this before we paid money for the awful stuff. | Giving the Sphinx a kick in the butt | After lunch, we went to see the giant Ramses II statue and museum. Then it was unto the Step Pyramid. | A look at the streets of Cairo. It was so dirty. There were dead animals, live animals, cars, tires, and people fishing in the canal

74: The Sphinx of Memphis | Ramses II | Our tour guide, Gouda, with Matt | The market

75: The first pyramid built in Egypt was "Step Pyramid of King Djoser". It was designed by Imhotep, the ancient Egyptian architect. We also visited the tomb of Sakkara. | The roofed colonnade led from the enclosure wall to the south of the complex. A passageway with a limestone ceiling constructed to look as though it was made from whole tree trunks. | Matt was offered 200 camels for me. That's about $2 million. He told him I wasn't for sale. How nice. He loves me!

76: At the tombs, a "guard" with an AK47 on his hip approached us. He wanted to know if we wanted a "private" tour of the tombs. We were so excited until we realized it was just Matt and I and 2 other people. He led us down several steps to the burial chambers where there was no one else. At that point we knew we were either going to get the best tour ever or we were going to get shot and join the mummies in the Tombs of Inefrt and Idut. Well, it was a great tour. We did give him a few dollars in the end ... I mean he did still have a machine gun on him. | The security guard also brought us to the Heb-sed courtyard, where again we were the only ones there. It was a great private tour. | The Heirogyphics and frescoes were amazing. These are the original colors.

77: The Heb-sed courtyard (below & to the right). Heb-sed is an ancient festival to celebrate after a ruler had held the throne for thirty years and then every three years after that. They were held to rejuvenate the Pharaoh's strength and stamina while still sitting on the throne, celebrating the continued success of the pharaoh.

78: After lunch and the pyramids, we went to a Papyrus Institute. We learned how they made the papyrus paper. We bought some art work while we were there. After lingering around a jewelry store next door, we finally checked into our hotel. There was a big mix up and Matt and I ended up staying at a different hotel than everyone else. Our hotel, The Mena House, was sooo nice. We had a room with a view of the pyramids.

79: Our room was so nice. We had fresh fruit and bottled water waiting for us. In the first 20 minutes we were there, we had 3 different people come to our room asking if we needed anything. After checking out the room and the view, we showered and got ready for for our dinner on the Nile. | The Mena House

80: Dinner on the Nile | Cruising on the Nile. The NIle looks different than we expected. It kinda reminded us of the Rock River. The Pharaoh's was the name of the dinner cruise boat.

81: We had a buffet dinner while cruising the Nile. The food wasn't great, but the experience was nice. After dinner, we watched a belly dancer. She was not cute. Then we saw Sufi dancing. It was fun to watch until the dancer pulled me up to dance with him. How embarrassing. Luckily Matt didn't get any pictures of me . | The Entertainment Belly dancing and Sufi Dancing

82: After dinner, we were dropped off at our hotel. We ate some fruit out on the balcony and just enjoyed the view and this wonderful night in Egypt. What a day. We cannot believe we are in Egypt admiring the pyramids from our hotel room. We finally had to go inside because the mosquitoes got so bad. | Below are pictures of the hotel grounds. It was a long walk from our hotel room to the front gate and main building. There were armed guards at the entrances to the hotel and in every building. We had to walk through a metal detectors just to get into our building.

83: Wednesday May 26, 2010 Day #2 in Egypt 95 degrees and sunny | Mohammad Ali Alabaster Mosque | We woke up in our wonderful hotel room. We took showers, packed, and went to breakfast at the hotel. They had an enormous buffet of every breakfast food you could imagine. Then it was time to leave. The bus met us at the gate to go to The Alabaster Mosque. Above is the stone quarry where they got the stone to build the pyramids.

84: In the Mosque, the women had to have there legs and shoulders covered. They had long robes for women to wear if they were dressed inappropriately.

85: We went to the Khan Al-Khalili Market. We had 2 guards with AK47's to walk with our tour group. One guard befriended Matt and so we had a new friend while we shopped and looked around. We bought some papyrus bookmarks and a wallet. Then we went to one of the cafes for a refreshment. The girls enjoyed Hookah. We loaded the bus and off to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. The exhibited collections now exceed 120,000 masterpieces ranges from pre-dynastic era, Pharaonic era to the Greco-roman period in Egypt including the treasures of the child King Tutankhamen, Pharaonic Gods, and Goddess. | While at the museum, we paid extra to go into the Royal Mummy Room which houses 11 mummies some of which are 4500 years old. Ramses II’s mummy is on display along side 10 other royal mummies in glass cases with detailed descriptions of their respective causes of death.

86: After our short visit to the Egyptian Museum, we went to Hard Rock Cafe on the Nile for a buffet lunch and real beer. Matt bought a lapel pin and I got a T-shirt. The prices were in Egyptian dollars - needless to say we bought a very expensive T-shirt and Pin. It was time to head back to Alexandria. We stopped by the Alexandria Library and the spot where the light- house used to be. Then back to the ship. When we got back, we went to the C&A wine reception once again. We went back to the room, showered, and headed to dinner. After dinner, we participated in the quest with Jan, Larry, Claire, and Meredith. We dominated! We can't help it that Matt made the best girl there.

87: Yeah - we won the Quest!

88: Since we had no where to go today, we slept in. We ate the delicious Diamond Breakfast. I really wanted to go to the pool, so Matt humored me. It was too windy, so we headed to the Solarium. It was a little chilly to lay out, so we decided to get in the hot tub. We dried off and went to lunch. After lunch, we showered and took naps. We woke up in time to get ready for formal night and go to the Diamond lounge. What a lazy day! We must be on vacation. | Thursday, May 27, 2010 At Sea 80 degrees and WINDY!

89: Friday May 28, 2010 Messina, Sicily 88 degrees and Sunny | We slept in a little this morning and then to ... the Diamond Breakfast. We love the Diamond breakfast!! We went to the Solarium Pool for about 1 1/2 hours. It was very hot! It was time to shower and get ready for Messina, Sicily. We docked in Messina about 2 pm. We had a tour of Taormina planned. We got on our bus, and we were off. We arrived in Taormina about 1 hour later. We had approximately 3 hours to explore the city. | Sicily

90: Toramina, Sicily | Mount Etna is in the background | Corso Umberto

91: When we arrived in Taormina, it was so hot. We walked down Corso Umberto passing lots of little shops and outdoor cafes. We walked uphill to the Greek Theater which dates back to the 3rd century BC. After our tour of the theater, we stopped for a refreshing gelato at a local shop. Matt was very hot and crabby, so we rested before walking to the public gardens.

92: The Public Gardens There were beautiful flowers and exotic plant. There was a WWI monument and many small buildings. The view of Sicily and Mt Etna was great from here.

93: We saw a few churches along Corso Umberto and decided to peek inside for some pictures. At one church, there was a wedding in progress. I decided not to go in that one to take photos :) We found a little pastry shop with outdoor seating. Matt found a spot for us to rest while I bought 2 cannoli's and 2 glasses of Marsala wine. That hit the spot. We got our second wind to explore more of Taormina.

94: We went back to Piazza del Duomo and hung out until it was time to board the bus back to Messina. We got back to the ship around 7:20 pm. Just in time to get some drinks at the C & A reception. We closed down the Diamond lounge, went back to our room, and ordered room service. Another long day. We're going to need a vacation from our vacation. | Piazza del Duomo A Baroque fountain, the symbol of Taormina, is at the center of Piazza del Duomo. The Church of San Nicola, also called the fortress cathedral, was built in 1400 over an older church. It has pink marble columns and interesting carvings. Its main portal was rebuilt in 1636 and has a Reniassance-style rosette. A clocktower gate serves as the starting point for Taormina's picturesque medieval section with its narrow streets and old shops.

95: The sunset from our balcony | The Solarium | The Solarium hot tub | It is so sad. We are at the end of our vacation. We got up this morning and had the usual Diamond Breakfast. We got ready and went to the pool. We went to Johnny Rockets for lunch and then back to the room to clean up and take showers. We watched "The Proposal" and took a nice long nap. We went to the C&A lounge for one last drink with our fellow Diamond Members. We went to dinner and then headed back to the room to pack. We didn't have to leave our luggage out because we were getting up early and walking off the ship at 6 am. | Saturday May 29, 2010 At Sea Warm and Partly Sunny

96: Sunday May 30, 2010 We got up and left the ship early. We hitched a ride to the FCO Airport with Madeline and her family. It took about an hour before we reached the airport. We checked in and waited for our flight. We found somewhere to eat breakfast and relax. We looked around the shops and waited for our flight at 11:30 am. We boarded and headed home to Illinois. We arrived at O'Hare around 3 pm. We were exhausted. We had a driver waiting to bring us home. What a vacation! | Navigator of the Seas

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