Monday, August 27, 2012

Cruisin' Spain (Part 3)

We wrapped up the cruise in Barcelona, Spain, but we had one final stop in Marseille, France before we arrived.  The highlight in Marseille was taking "Le Petit Train" around the city, with a stop at the highest point, the Notre Dame de la Gard.  I realized that my favourite moments in sightseeing are either on the water (like the Cote d'Azur), or at a high elevation to enjoy the best views.  The photos can't really give the same "top of the world" feeling you get when you're there in person, staring out over the buildings and sea.

The Notre Dame de la Gard was very beautiful inside - more bright and colourful than most cathedrals we had been in.

Barcelona after the jump!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cruisin' France (Part 2)

After Italy, came France.  The southern part of France to be specific - along the famed Cote d'Azur.  If I was forced to choose a favourite part of the trip, I would say this day topped the list.  (Over Italy?!  It surprised me too!)  The truth is, when I saw the list of ports, I was most excited for the Italian stops - I had so many expectations on what we would get to see.  Some of the most famous places in the world!  In my mind, Cannes and Marseille were bonus cities, and I really didn't know what to expect.  But I fell in love with those coastal cities and would love to visit again.

First we stopped in Cannes, and from there we boarded a train along the coast.  We had planned to visit Nice, then return to Cannes.  But when we found out that Monaco/Monte Carlo were only an extra half hour away we thought, "why not!".  So yes, we packed 3 cities into 1 day.  And it was absolutely stunning, as you can see below.

Monaco/Monte Carlo:  Gorgeous buildings built into the cliffs, overlooking the bright blue sea.  Super clean, and full of VERY wealthy people vacationing.

We passed a hotel lined with Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Bentley (Mercedes were for the common folk).

This is probably where the celebrities were hiding - the casino.

Nice & Cannes after the jump!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cruisin' Italia (Part 1)

Buongiorno!  Bryce and I recently returned from a 7 night Norwegian cruise on the Western Mediterranean.  Naples, Rome, Florence (Italy), Cannes & Marseille (France), and Barcelona (Spain).  It was an absolute whirlwind adventure, to say the least.  We were completely exhausted but very satisfied after each day, knowing we had managed to squeeze in all the major sites and still have some time to enjoy the culture food.  Lasagne, gelato, pizza...  We also learned some interesting facts: for example, did you know the difference between a "trattoria" and a "ristorante"?  Ristorante is a restaurant, with hired employees and kitchen staff.  A trattoria is a family owned eating place - family recipes served up by family members.  Good to know, right?  Also, apparently daVinci is not Leonardo's real last name.  He's from the town "Vinci, Italy" - Leonardo "of Vinci", get it?  Crazy!  Anyway, enough of the random facts - on to the photos!

Our Boat: Norwegian Epic

Naples: Mt. Vesuvius

In Naples, we climbed over the retaining wall and sunbathed on the rocks like the locals.  The sea wasn't very clean, but we swam anyway - a welcome relief from the 40C heat!  Overall, Napoli wasn't a very clean city, but pretty nonetheless, especially from a higher elevation (as you can see above).  And still with the beautiful Italian architecture (that's a shopping mall ceiling in the photo below!)

 Rome and Florence after the jump!


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