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Cruise #7 : 6/21/04 - 7/3/04

12 Days Grand Mediterranean ( Venice to Barcelona ) on Star Princess.
Cruise Monday, June 21, 2004 through Saturday July 3, 2004

Saturday 6/19 Fly to Venice
Sunday 6/20 Jet lag day, some minor touring.
Monday 6/21 Board ship
Day Port
1 Monday June 21 Venice, Italy Stay overnight)
2 Tuesday June 22 Venice, Italy 6:00 PM (Depart)
3 Wednesday June 23 At Sea
4 Thursday June 24 At Sea
5 Friday June 25 Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Turkey 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
6 Saturday June 26 Athens (Piraeus), Greece 6:00 AM 5:45 PM
7 Sunday June 27 At Sea
8 Monday June 28 Naples/Capri, Italy 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
9 Tuesday June 29 Rome, Italy 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
10 Wednesday June 30 Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
11 Thursday July 1 Monte Carlo, Monaco 7:00 AM 6:00 PM
12 Friday July 2 Barcelona, Spain 12:00 PM (Arrive) Stay overnight)
13 Saturday July 3 Barcelona, Spain 6:00 AM
Saturday 7/3 Disembark ship 8:15 AM.  Spend day in Sitges.
7/4 Sunday Fly home.


Ah, the obligatory sunset photos.

Cruise Log:
Date Entry
21 Jun 2004
Well off to a tough start.  The airline lost our luggage!  KLM says they will deliver it today.  Actually about 15 on our flight were in the same boat.  Rainy and cold on Sunday, some thunder, and us in sandals and no coats!  But still we braved the train system and Grand Canal boats to get to San Marco and wander around.  That was great fun.  Went to hotel restaurant looking for fancy dinner (Lou in shorts!) and ended up being served set dinner for old folks on tour!  Still tasty, but hard to explain why we needed a bill at the end of the meal.  Cross your fingers for us that the luggage arrives b4 we checkout at noon!
22 Jun 2004
Things are looking up!

Our luggage arrived on Monday 10 minutes before we left the hotel for the ship.  All 4 suitcases thank God.

Got to the ship okay and then wandered into Venice for the afternoon.  We walked from San Marco to Rialto and back, and Karen bought some stuff.

Went back to the ship for dinner and did not really like our dinner companions.

Today was fantastic.  Awoke to the gentle knock of room service delivering coffee.  Rushed off to a morning walking tour of San Marco, Doges Palace, St Mark's Basilica, and a glass factory where Lou fell in love with some Venetian Red stuff, which will arrive via UPS in 4 weeks.

Terrible rush trying to get back to the ship for our second excursion.  Ended up grabbing granola bars and banana and peanuts (leftover snacks for plane trip) and scarfing them as lunch while waiting in lounge to go on next excursion!

Spent the afternoon on a narrated walking tour of hidden Venice, residential areas, university, etc.  Really fun.

Feets hurt!  Went in Jacuzzi, ate in buffet restaurant to avoid dinner companions, ready for bed...

On that first tour, the tour guide got embroiled in several ongoing arguments with other tour guides over territory and speed and not standing too close to each other while speaking.

They were practically shouting in Italian.  It was fun.

The Doges Palace was filled with gold and paintings and was very impressive.  It burned down in whole or part 3 times.  They just kept rebuilding, and now there are fire extinguishers etc all about.  The thing is, since venice is built on mud islands, they have to make the buildings light -- and that means at least some wood.

We heard all about the process of driving wood pilings into the clay where they petrify and are the base under the rock foundations.

We heard a lot about the system of government -- various councils that elect and control the Doge (Duke).  Plus the violent history of venice.

We did not see the wall of gold in the church.  It was beautiful though.  No picture taking, unfortunately,

23 Jun 2004
Relaxing day today.  Spent most of the day in the shade by the pool.  Ate too much.  Saw a funny comedian tonight.  It's almost 1:00 AM now and we're headed to the night club.

Another day at sea tomorrow, then we are in Turkey.

Say hi to the puppies for us.  We had pizza today, and Lou was saving his crusts for Molly and Sam... :^)
26 Jun 2004
Yesterday, we were in Turkey and saw St. John's Basilica, the Virgin Mary's house, and then we walked thru the ancient town of Ephesus.  Our guide was Nil.  Ephesus was over 2 thousand years old.  We saw the library (which Mark Anthony emptied of books -- he gave them to Cleopatra!), we saw homes, a huge stadium, a brothel, the shopping plaza, etc

The brothel was across the street from the library, so a guy could say to his wife, "Honey, I'm going to the library..."

Today we were in Athens!  Talk about OLD.  We saw the Acropolis, Parthenon, Athena's Temple, Agora, and Plaka (modern shopping plaza).

Near the end, when we were dead beat, the guide gave us 25 minutes to either collapse in the shade or climb a hill to get a better look at Vulcan's Temple.  Guess which option we took?  Thank you, YMCA, we went up the hill.  Vulcan was the blacksmith of the gods.  His temple is the best preserved.  All the columns are still standing, as are the exterior and interior walls.  The roof is partly gone.  It was built 500 BC, which is mind boggling.

After all that work, I sure deserve dessert, so that's where we are headed now.

Hope all is well at home.
28 Jun 2004 Today we were in Napoli. (Naples) We went on a 10 hour tour to Pompeii, Sorrento, and the island of Capri. We were a bit disappointed with the whole morning (Capri and Sorrento) because there was too much travelling and shopping and not enough actual sightseeing.

Capri is really lovely, with the cliffs you see in The Guns Of Navarone.

Pompeii was phenomenal. 2000 year old city, preserved by the 20 feet of volcanic ash from a surprise eruption of Mt Vesuvius. We saw the remains (walls) of homes, a brothel again, a main square, and some great roads. Lou was really surprised to see the "bodies" -- well, plaster casts of actual bodies.
29 Jun 2004
Today we were in Rome.  Loved every minute of it and want to come back.

We started at the Coliseum, which has only 30% of the building remaining because the rest was plundered as raw materials for like the St Peter's Square in Vatican City!  Luckily, somewhere along the line, a Pope decided that because a bunch of Christians were eaten at the Coliseum, that it was a sacred place and ought not to be dismantled further!

Then we went to Vatican City and toured St Peter's Basilica while a Cardinal said Mass, because today was the Feast of St Peter and St Paul.  We saw a statue of St Peter dressed in red and gold robes like a Pope, and they said the statue only comes out once a year, for this feast.  I got really choked up in the Basilica and felt very Catholic.

Lou bought me a medal blessed by the Pope.  Of course, then he had to make a bunch of snide anti-religion comments.  It was fun.

Our guide today was brilliant, and we both enjoyed everything he talked about.  We were on a much smaller personal tour.

We saw a whole list of amazing sites, like an arch for Titus, a mausoleum for Hadrian, the first Jewish Synagogue in Rome, et cetera.  We'll have to consult the tour description to remember what else we saw.  That is so pathetic.

We ended the day at the Capitolone Museum, which houses a huge collection of ancient statues, mosaics, and chunks of buildings.  Our guide dragged us thru there for an hour and a half, and the time just flew.

We also visited the Trevi Fountain, where you throw a coin in to insure that you come back to Rome someday.  We were not going to do it, till the guide explained that the money goes to the Red Cross.

There was a lot of talk about pickpockets everywhere, especially at the Vatican!  "Not everyone is here to pray," said Hugo, our guide.

30 Jun 2004
Florence.  Leaning tower of Pisa really is leaning.  Long bus ride into Florence (Firenze) where we saw two copies of Michaerlangelo's David.  Lots of expensive designer stores -- Florence is for the rich.  Got Patsy a present!

26 US universities send students here to study art, including Harvard.

We walked all over town looking at churches, towers, statues, domes...  and watching out for maniacs on scooters who will run you down.

Had a tasty lunch in a very posh hotel.  Never saw so much marble in a ladies room.

Spent the afternoon in the Uffizi Museum, which houses the art collection of the Medici family.  The paintings were sort of muted and dark but our guide explained a lot about techniques and the development of the various styles.

We climbed four long flights of stairs, while the other 3/4 of the tour waited for the elevator!  No treadmill needed tonight.

Tomorrow Monte Carlo, where the cruise director assures us we will feel poor.

Hope all is well with you and the puppies.
01 Jul 2004
Just had a wonderful dinner with 3 other couples, one a set of honeymooners.  It was a hoot.

We forgot to mention Camp Darby, outside Florence.  It's a US military base housing 4000 US Servicemen, and it is supposed to become a NATO base.  Or it already is a NATO base.  The tour guide was not that easy to understand.

Monaco is 1/3 the size of Central Park in New York!  We went on a walking tour thru the old section (13th century buildings).  We had an audio tour of the Palace, which was very cool.  The furniture and artwork was very impressive.  Lots about Princess Grace -- plus we saw her tomb in the Catholic Church there.

We wanted to see the changing of the guard, but even though we were there 30 minutes early, we didn't get such a good spot.  We were first against the chain, but sort of further down the line so it made the actual changing of the guard hard to see.  I ended up giving my spot to these 4 tiny ladies, like 4 foot tall, who were ooooh and ahhhing behind me.  They were Italian and very excited.

Monaco is stinking rich and bizarre.  In the 12th century, this rich family, the Grimaldis, BOUGHT a prince title and got the "principality" of Monaco created for them.  It was sort of pathetic.  They weren't even like really royal or anything, just made a good investment.  So why should we care?  Compare that to Rome -- which changed the world!  So Monaco was sort of a lame port.  We did enjoy ourselves and I guess we are just being very American.

Foreigners are welcome to live here, but you must have an annual income of 4 million euro to become citizens.  The up side is that there is no taxes.  That would be pretty attractive if you were stinking rich.

We are getting sad because the end of the cruise is close at hand.
02 Jul 2004 We had a 4 hour walking tour of Barcelona today.  We saw the Gothic quarter of the town, including a big church.  The church has an old crucifix where the Jesus is sort of hanging off the the side.  The first explanation was that the wood warped, but the second explanation was that Jesus was dodging a bullet during a war!

Karen was totally pooped and uninspired.  Just heard too much historical stuff to care at all.

The bus took us up a big hill overlooking the city.  It was pretty.

The 1992 Olympics were in Barcelona, so we saw some venues for that.

We will be going out  tomorrow night for Lou's favorite -- paella -- at a restaurant our guide today recommended.

We are sad because we have to leave, but also really looking forward to coming home.

from:  Lou and Karen, signing off from The Star Princess!

Venice Ephesus Athens Naples Rome Florence Monte Carlo Barcelona



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