Italy, Western Mediterranean & Africa Trip


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March 12th 2008
Published: March 15th 2008
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Rome...Rome...Rome...

no...this was taken sadly enough in Milan. Didn't make it to the collisum :(

Beginning of Trip; Italy & Switzerland


Rome


Bellano


Milan


Venice


Lugano, Swiss


And then...Western Mediterranean Cruise



So, after the Belize/Jamaica trip I went back to MN for 2 days. Enough time to do laundry, repack & head out again. This time...purely for holiday/vacation! One of my roommates, Becky & I started our journey mid Feb & headed to Italy. We landed in Rome on Feb 15th. I have to admit, I was most excited about seeing Rome! We were only going to spend one day there because we had plans to head up north the Milan where Becky's long lost friend, Lucia lives. Unfortunately, we had a minor setback. If you want details, ask me. But basically we didn't get to see any of Rome. Only the airport & the car impound. Yeah...I'm sure you can figure out what happened. So, we pretty much lost a day & didn't get to see any of Rome. Oh well, I'll just have to go back. So, we ended up taking a really long, delayed train ride up to Milan. Little did we know we would be spending a lot of time at the Milan train station in
BEST FRIENDS FOREVERBEST FRIENDS FOREVERBEST FRIENDS FOREVER

So this was at the Savona train station, after the cruise. Time to say goodbye to our dinner-table group, Michael, Marcia, Kathryn & Terry.
the weeks to come. We were going on about 2 days of no sleep & barely eating. We were exhausted. And we discovered how incredibily weak the US dollar is to the Euro. When we exchanged money we got back about 1/2 in Euros.
The next day we went with Lucia to Bellano where she had a sailing competition. Oh my gosh, Bellano was goregous!! Mountains, Lake Como, beautiful houses, cute cafes, tiny cobble-stone walk ways. It was really cold out so we spent the day going from cafe to cafe, downing capucinos & hot chocolate. We ended up meeting some of the locals & had a really good time. We stayed the night in Bellano with Lucia's group of friends. We had a 5-course meal at the yacht club which was interesting & met up with some of our 'local friends'.
The next day we headed to Milan, went to the plaza, walked around, went to the huge cathedral. Not a huge fan of Milan, but I have to admit, they do have style there!! We were about 1 week early for the Milan Fashion Week.
Then, we went to Venice. Lovely! I had heard that
Ugly-beautiful treesUgly-beautiful treesUgly-beautiful trees

Taken in Bellano, Italy.
Venice wasn't all that great, supposedly it smelled really bad, but I thought it was great. Sure, every once in awhile you'd catch a bad wift...but overall I was impressed.
The next day, went to the train station not knowing exactly where we were going to go. Ended up choosing Lugano, Swizterland. We loved it! So pretty! Snow on the tops of the Swiss Alps, the plaza was amazing with flowers, fruits, little markets, music. I think one of my favorite things are the train rides! The scenery is breath-taking! So, each night we would return to Lucia's house. She & Giovanni (her boyfriend) would make dinner & breakfast for us. How sweet!
Then, it was time for our cruise to begin!! We headed down south to Savona where the gigantic Costa Serena & a couple of thousands of people were waiting!

Cruise Time



The ship was HUGE!!! This was my first cruise & I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but I did! It was a local cruise line & people came from EVERYWHERE! Mostly Europeans. So, the cruise staff had to say all directions & annoucements each time in 5 different languages.
BarcelonaBarcelonaBarcelona

This clown came up beside me & scared me to death...I screamed so loud....cost me a euro of course.
After this cruise...I'm determined to become fluent in another language!! I was so impressed by that. It was really cool to see all of these different cultures coming together. I loved seeing the night life on the ship, everyone would be out, even the kids...the kids stayed out longer than us! The whole family would be on the dance floor. I love that about Europeans...how family oriented they are!
So, we got settled in to our cabin & met our housekeeper, Joko from Indonesia, who took SUCH good care of us! He cleaned our room 3 times a day!! Our first night at dinner we met the people we'd be spending so much time with & become so close with! Michael & Marcia from Ohio & Kathryn & Terry from Texas...all christians!! So we were with them each night at dinner & spent a lot of time during the day & days at port with them. We all just 'clicked'. Victor & Danang were our servers at night & they were fabulous!!

Barcelona, Spain



So, our first stop was Barcelona. I went there during college so it was cool to return & see it
Casablanca with MohamadCasablanca with MohamadCasablanca with Mohamad

Mohamad took us all around Casablanco. Kathryn & Terry, & Neilio & Dorita (Portugese).
again. Went to La Rambla & walked around, to Plaza Real where Stacy & I stayed when we were there in college, and to Ghoudi's house.

Casablanca, Morocco



So, we passed through the narrow Straight of Gilbraltor & actually saw the lights in the night. Our next stop was in Casablanca, Morocco. We went with Terry & Kathryn (thanks to Terry's amazing bartering skills) & a Portugese couple, Neilo & Dorita). I liked it, although most people didn't. I just loved being back in the Arab world again...it's been over 2 years! It just fasicnates me. We went to Hussein II Mosque, the 3rd largest in the world. And our driver Mohamad, drove us around, got to see the King's Palace, went to the crazy market (Ali Baba's Cave!!), saw the famous Rick's Cafe, & other sites. It was rainy & dirty that day so that didn't help.

Canary Islands



Next place...the Canary Islands! We went to a class before we arrived & learned how diverse & different each Canary Island was. They are part of Spain. The first island was Arrecife...volcanic. So the soil was dark brown & all
Madeira, FunchalMadeira, FunchalMadeira, Funchal

LOVED this island! Absolutely gorgeous!
of the houses were white & blue (they have to be that color by law). We went with the Portugese couple, Neilio & Dorita & their kids...the youngest & so cute Jugo. They spoke a bit of spanish & english, but not too much, but it's like we all spoke the same language. We took a bus & went to this really fun area with tons of shops & beach & just walked around.
Next island was Tenerife...I loved it! Although someone told me it was the Las Vegas of the canaries...but it didn't seem like that to me, although we were there only during the day. Becky & I hoped on a bus & went to the other side of the island. Was beautiful!!! So much color, vegetation, flowers, gardens in everyone's yards.

Madeira, Portugal



And next...Madeira, a Portugese island. This was my FAVORITE!!! We went to the city of Funchal. This is were Neilio & Dorita are from so it was neat to see where they lived! We went to the Botanical Gardens with an amazing view & then hoped on a city bus & headed up the steep & narrow mountain
Costa SerenaCosta SerenaCosta Serena

Our home for 11 days...ain't she a beauty...
to this cute little mountain village, above the clouds! I thought we were going to fall off the side of the mountain on the drive....no railing on some parts of the drive...so close to the edge! But it was worth it.

Malaga, Spain



And our last stop was Malaga, Spain. We didn't have too much time, so Michael, Marcia, Becky & I headed to this cool fortress type thing where the army used to be. Then we headed to the main plaza/shopping area & did some people watching while drinking coffee & 'Horniman's' tea.
For me, the cruise could've kept going. We really enjoyed it! What I'll remember most are the people we got to know. We even called Terry, "Papi". We went to the shows/performances each night, some were really good, others were just okay.

Italy...and then home 😞



We ported for the last time in Savona, said our goodbye's to Michael, Marcia, Terry & Kathryn & took a train to Milan. The good ol Milan train station. We had plans to return to Lucia's that night, but it was a Sunday & we couldn't find a train
Show on the ShipShow on the ShipShow on the Ship

We went to all of the performances at night, some were really good, some just ok.
that went there. SO....we ended up going to the airport....but fate had it that we got dropped off at the wrong terminal.... & we ended up seeing Terry & Kathryn again...they were having some problems (went to the completely wrong airport), but it was cool to see them again! So, we spent about 17 hours at the Milan airport!! BUT, we saw Patrick Dempsey...so it was worth it! At the time we were about 97%!s(MISSING)ure it was him. But we kept looking & we kept going back & forth. Then I after awhile I think he saw us looking & he got up & left. When I got home I looked it up online & sure enough...he was in Milan for the Milan Fashion Show at the end of Feb...I know, I'm a dork...but it's McDreamy!! Check it out!!!

So, it was a wonderful long holiday. But now I'm ready for the next one. Bruna & I talked about meeting in Panama because she's going to be studying in Chile for awhile. We'll see. I leave next week for Texas, straight to Belize & then to NYC to check out a grad school there. Really excited about that! Will let
MadeiraMadeiraMadeira

Becky, Kathryn & me in Madeira (Portugese Island).
you know how that goes.

3/15/08
It's FINALLY warming up here in MN! I've had some time since I've been back to hang out with friends & get caught up on some work. This spring I hope to do some races (running & cycling) & hopefully go sky-diving! So, get ready for some fun posts coming up this spring!!

Something God has been teaching me:

Be still, and know that I am God...

Psalm 46:10



Make sure you check out the pictures on the next page of this post!!



Additional photos below
Photos: 29, Displayed: 28


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At the top of the mountainAt the top of the mountain
At the top of the mountain

Took a city bus up up & up the moutain...was scary...no rail on the tiny road up the mountain. But once we got up there it was worth it!
Patrick Dempsey at Milan AirportPatrick Dempsey at Milan Airport
Patrick Dempsey at Milan Airport

So we were stuck at the airport in Milan for about 17 hours....long night! But, it was worth it b/c we saw Patick Dempsey... I know it's a horrible picture, but it's him...I promise!
Bellano, ItalyBellano, Italy
Bellano, Italy

Becky & I walked around the town while Lucia had her sailing competition. Becky wants to move there & I can see why!
Giovanni & LuciaGiovanni & Lucia
Giovanni & Lucia

So this is who we stayed with in Italy. Lucia was an exchange student in highschool & lived with Becky's family.
King Hussein II MosqueKing Hussein II Mosque
King Hussein II Mosque

The 3rd largest mosque in the world.
Meidera FamilyMeidera Family
Meidera Family

Neilo, Dorita & their 2 boys. We hung out with them during the week & on this day at Arreife, one of the Canary Islands.
MadeiraMadeira
Madeira

Portugese Island.


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