This is the well-overdue overview of a two-week Mediterranean cruise with my mom and dad. Spain, France, Italy and Croatia— all places I’d never been. Here’s the day-by-day play-by-play.
DAY 1: Barcelona, Spain (Monday, October 15, 2012) A crazy travel day that began at 10am the day before (Sunday) when I was called out of bed in a panic. “OUR FLIGHT’S BEEN CANCELLED, WE HAVE TO LEAVE NOW!!!” Our flight out of Raleigh wasn’t supposed to be until 5pm, but when it was cancelled, our only other option was an immediate one. On this leg of the trip, we had no time to spare. Our adventures in Barcelona were planned for the end of the trip, and this leg we were flying all day and all night Sunday and were going straight to the ship Monday morning from the Barcelona airport. Thank God we had already packed our bags. We were out of the door in 15 minutes and were able to make the only other flight to Spain that day. DAY 2: Cannes, France (Tuesday, October 16, 2012) Our first port of call was Cannes, France (the French Riviera), home of the Cannes Film Festival. We walked the waterfront with cafés to our left and yachts to our right. We went along the winding roads uphill, headed for the market. A beautiful market—not like any of the third-world markets I am used to—where everyone was selling fancy cheese, plump grapes, and other goods. It was a beautiful sight. I was especially taken by a cute elderly couple at their stand. We kept trucking along uphill, and we eventually made it to the crest of the hill and our main destination: a fortified tower and Chapel of St. Anne that houses the Musée de la Castre and has beautiful panoramic views of the city and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, with our huge cruise ship tendered in the Sea. Dad and mom had their espresso drinks and then we went to the ship for lunch and to grab my bathing suit. When we went back into the port town, I headed to the beach to find some peace of mind. I wrote in my journal and then set the timer on the camera to get a shot of my butt on the beach.
DAY 3: Livorno, Italy to Florence, Italy (Wednesday, October 17, 2012) On this cruise, I’m not sure if it was an unsaid pact that mom, dad and I agreed upon, but we unanimously decided to not take any cuise-offered “excursions.” We were going to do adventurous tours on our own, which was by far the best thing for us to do. We packed much more into our schedules doing only what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it, and we did it for much cheaper. We didn’t hang around the Italian port city of Livorno this day (the Tuscan region of Italy). Instead, we followed the precise directions of our Italian waiter from the cruise’s lunch buffet the previous day in the Windjammer Café. According to him, we were to take the cruise-offered shuttle bus to the center of Livorno, then walk a few blocks to a bus stop and take public transport to the train station. From there, we would buy tickets to Florence and an hour later, we would arrive in perhaps my favorite city in Italy. Florence is a photographers playground. I took so many pictures. I saw the world’s second largest church (only after Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Cathedral (The Basilica) in Rome, which we saw later). The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore took 140 years to complete, and it is capable of holding 3,000 people. It’s green and while striped, very unusual and very photogenic. I’ve seen a lot of churches traveling and I’m hardly ever impressed (sad, I know, it even sounds sacrilegious). I just think that churches always seem to look alike. But this church was so original: the stripes made it look like it could belong in the game Candyland (another reason why I probably loved it so much).
We passed the Baptistry, famous for its three bronze gates (doors) known as the “Gates of Paradise.” Then we went to Piazza Della Signoria, Florence’s largest square that represents its historical and commercial center. Here we found Neptune Fountain and a copy of Michelangelo’s statue of David.
Then we walked across the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio, which was beautiful despite the murky-colored water beneath it. This is the oldest bridge remaining in Florence and it’s lined with goldsmiths’ shops. The bridge itself looked like it was straight from a painting with these old shutters over the windows that spanned all the way across the river on the bridge… I had gelato (2 flavors: coconut and hazelnut), it was ok. I had pizza (to-go to avoid the cover charge for sitting at a table), it looked American. I really enjoyed the full day of walking (more than 12,000 steps!). The train was fun to navigate too. The whole day was quite exhilarating! And exhausting!