Friday May 6th, 2011
Off the Coast of Elba Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea
Yesterday we rubbed shoulders with the European elite in Monaco on the French Riviera. Today was the unbelievably picturesque Italian city of Portofino. All I can say about both of these last two stops is wow. Monaco and the neighboring town of Monte Carlo were getting ready for two big events. The Formula One Grand Prix is on the 29th of May and the wedding of the sovereign of Monaco, Prince Albert is in July. We toured the Royal Palace and the place was abuzz with workmen painting, sprucing up and making arrangements for the Royal Wedding. Downtown next to the waterfront they were erecting grandstands and barricades for the big race. The place was completely packed with tourists as it was, I can’t imagine what it will be like for these two events. It was less hectic in Portofino even though they were hosting a major sailboat regatta during our visit. The harbor is much smaller than in Monte Carlo, but they have done a much better job preserving the architecture and the quaint historic look of an ancient Mediterranean seaport.
Monaco and Monte Carlo are filled with high-rise condos and villas. Many wealthy people own homes there so they can claim residency and qualify for the tax-free status offered by the principality. There is nothing cheap about visiting either place; probably the best way would be to come in your own yacht, anchor out and just pull up for free at the dingy dock. The Italian Riviera actually looks more scenic and accessible. The French favor a much more modern look; while the Italians seem to like the old world charm and dislike change. Both places were wonderful to visit however, and I look forward to seeing more of Italy. We get off the boat tomorrow and will take the train into Rome to stay for a couple of days. After that we will tour around Italy until the 27th of May. I have made arrangements for two more cruise segments to get us home. On the 27th we will board another boat at the same port we get off tomorrow and that will take us to England by way of the Riviera, Portugal and Normandy. We will then disembark in Dover and tour around England, Scotland and Ireland until
we board another boat in Dover on the 20th of July. That boat will take us to New York City by way of Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and some French Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We should be back in North Carolina by sometime in August. I will try to keep up with the blog as best I can as we travel. Hopefully we will do better on the weight loss once we are off the ship, although we have two more legs to go. Between the two of us we have lost 27 pounds. It is an improvement, but still far from our goal. The backpacks are heavy and we will be walking a lot so we will hope for a major calorie burn.
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