I wish I had started this long, long ago. I wish I could type faster. I wish I understood photo uploading more, and I wish I had more free time to put into this, so I would have a better journal of my travels. Oh well, this is what it is and what can be done, so here it is and I hope you enjoy it.

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » Monistrol de Montserrat July 13th 2014

On the last day I took the ship’s transfer to the airport that included a tour to Montserrat. We left very early, and cleared customs, loaded our luggage on the bus. The trip up to the mountain was lovely, taking about an hour. The village and monastery is very remote. Since it was Sunday, we had to get in and out of the Cathedral before Mass began. There was about an hour to wander freely, have a coffee, take the funicular, but I opted against that after taking a look at it. I’m glad we left early, because when we got back to the bus parking lot it was jam packed with busses, and there were thousands of people parked all along the roadway. You could opt to be dropped back in town at Plaza Catalunya ... read more
Funicular to the mountaintop.
Visitors may queue to touch the Black Madonna
Ornate inside of the Cathedral

The next day was Cannes, a gorgeous seaside city, which has a lot to offer vicitors besides the yearly Film Festival. The beaches are pristine sand, unlike most of the Cote d'Azur. We tendered in and out of this port, and of my entire cruise, it was the only time there was a wait to board the ship. It was only abour 30 minutes wait, and at the end of the line we were offered cold lemonade or water, there were nice, clean portable restrooms about halfway through, and they had boarding the tender very well organized. This is where I opted for the Grasse & St.Paul de Vence tour, another hill town, but very different that in Italy, with much narrower streets, and mosaic patterns all the way up the hill. In Grasse we went ... read more
Fraccionar factory in Grasse
Beautiful St. Paul de Vence
Beauty around every corner

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Livorno July 11th 2014

The following port, Livorno, I took the Florence on your own & Wine Tasting shore excursion. It was VERY crowded in Florence and there was only about 2 hours to visit. There was not enough time to enter most of the major sites, as lines were very long. Luckily I had been to most of the sites so went into the Gucci Museum, which is fun if you enjoy fashion history, 6 euros for a self guided visit. The second half of the tour took us to an interesting winery in Tuscany, Villa del Trebbio. After the tour of the winery we were seated in a large room with tables. We were introduced to the art of wine tasting, educated on Extra Virgin Olive oils, and pairing wines with Tuscan appetizers, followed by a Vin Santo ... read more
Beautiful art everywhere
Don't miss the Duomo
Santa Croce

Europe » Italy » Umbria » Orvieto July 10th 2014

At Civitavecchia, most people from the ship headed off to Rome for the day. I opted instead for the Hill Towns of Tuscania & Civita de Bagnareggio. There is nothing more beautiful than Italian countryside and it’s historic hill towns. It was a beautiful day and being a photography buff, there were gorgeous shots around every corner. In Bagnareggio we were given two hours to wander and eat lunch on our own. My friend Sally had gone to a University of Washington summer program here, population 7 (really!), and I ran into a woman who was currently teaching the same program, 40 years later. We chatted for a while and she recommended a restaurant to us, a lovely place with an animated owner, it had Etruscan tombs in the basement, where you could dine, but it ... read more
Beautiful Tuscania
Cathedral at Tuscania
Madonna on home

Europe » Italy » Campania » Naples July 8th 2014

Naples redeemed itself for me on this trip. (We had had a bad experience at the train station many years ago, were taken by a swindler who boarded all our bags (9 of us) onto a cart, then wouldn't release them until we paid him 50 euros, which then was almost $90. ) So I took the walking tour of Naples shore excursion from NCL, great to get out into the sunshine and see the beautiful architecture and find out the history of this great city core. Then the fun began. We went down, down, down into caverns dug out as cisterns for the city. As we walked along I was surprised to hear so much history of these caverns and tunnels under the city, from Kings needing to get between castles, through World War II ... read more
The square designed to look like St. Peter's in Rome
Art in the tunnels made from car parts.
Napoli Seaside

Europe » Italy » Sardinia July 7th 2014

Cruising the Mediterranean today, I slept in and ordered a room service continental breakfast to enjoy on the deck. I was overwhelemed by the sheer number of things to do at any given time, and maybe jet lag or maybe just on overload, I opted instead for some quiet time at Spice H2O pool. There were lots of families with children back there, Nickelodean movies playing on the big screen almost all day. Perhaps a little too much time elapsed between arriving and putting on my sunscreen, as I ended the session with a slight sunburn around the edges. My afternoon plan was the spa for a Musclease wrap, but because of the burn, the therapist recommended a milk bath wrap instead. It was done on the float table, which cocoons you in water, leaving you ... read more
Bandstand near Main Pool and waterslides
Gorgeous sunsets
Intense sunset

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona July 6th 2014

My last morning in Barcelona, I headed out to the Cathedral for Mass at 9:00am, the line was already out the door. Darn! I picked up a roll and coffee and wandered La Rambla for about an hour. I would be able to board the ship at 11:00am, so headed out by taxi at 11:30am. What should have been a 15 minute ride ended up taking an hour, and the meter ran, due to a Harley-Davidson convention. They had La Rambla blocked off for them to ride out of town, thousands of them, all roaring and spitting fire, and my cab was stuck a few blocks back. No way to get out and no where to go. So the driver and I conversed in our broken Spanish and English about his journey from Jordan to Spain ... read more
Just below the bridge
Just above the lifeboats
Pools and Stage main pool

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona July 5th 2014

It's Saturday and the city is abuzz with weekend travelers and Barcas alike, shopping, wandering, dining al fresco. What a beautiful city to walk in and get lost! My goal was the Picasso Museum and the Cathedral in the Barri Gotic, a few blocks from my hotel. First I went to the Cathedral, not Sagrada Familia, where I'd been before, but to the main Cathedral of St. Eulalia, HUGE, gothic, beautiful courtyard, many many altars, and a gorgeous specimen of the dedication of wealthy patrons of the Church in the 12th through 16th centuries. From there I headed to the Picasso Museum, but got sidetracked by a sidewalk cafe on a plaza, where I had a delightful lunch of mixed seafoods and salad. Never did find the museum, but found my way to the waterfront and ... read more
View from rooftop to Cathedral
Display at La Boqueria
Entrance to La Boqueria

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » La Rambla July 3rd 2014

After having to delay my trip because of my nephew's sudden death, I was very happy I had purchased trip cancellation insurance. I learned a few things about the plan I purchased. First, it covers the death of relatives as far out as cousins and some in-laws. Secondly, it did not cover any additional costs to delay your trip (unless it has begun) if the new price is more. Mine happened to be because the studio cabin on the NCL Epic was sold out for the new date, but I was only to rearrange some of my dates, so I bit the bullet and bought a double cabin for a single price. Third, with the obituary, Delta Airlines would change the ticket for me at no additional charge. Nice! The original hotels in Barcelona were sold ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City November 5th 2013

We were on our own the next day, and after an early morning walk around the area, through the parks and some shops, I was happy to lounge by the pool at the hotel. The city air is quite polluted and when out in it for too long, my asthma kicked up. I got a wonderful manicure and pedicure in the hotel spa, which lasted 4 weeks at home, with delicious teas first cold, then hot. I I went out again after dark to see the city as the families and young people came out. The mopeds and bikes were everywhere, three, four to a bike. People carrying everything on them, from fruits to flowers. The young seemed happy and care free. The men picking up the women working in the shops that closed at 10:00pm, ... read more
Out the window
Creature comforts
All the creature comforts

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