We arrived in Civitavecchia the next morning. It was a one and a half hour drive into Rome on a large bus. We were taken directly to the Vatican museum. With our tour, we were taken directly inside the museum – there was a line for those without reservations that came out of the building and around the corner and as far as you could see down the road. That alone was worth the price of our tour, I think!
La Pieta by Michaelangelo. No flash allowed and the statute is kept in semi-darkness for preservation reasons. It’s really hard to get a decent picture, but I figure taking this one proves I was really there in person! 🙂
We were told the Pope was in residence, thus the Swiss Guard on duty.
I found Vatican City overwhelming. It is huge. There is art EVERYWHERE! Tapestries, statutes, frescoes, mosaics, EVERYWHERE! The floors, walls, and ceilings are covered. Walking through it brought on sensory overload. I took many pictures, but tere are many areas where photos are not allowed and many where photos are allowed only without flash and the areas were dark. I took many photos that simply had to be deleted. And the areas where photos were allowed were so vast, there was no way to capture the images.
After the Vatican, we ate lunch in a small restaurant and then headed to the Coliseum:
This statute was just outside the Coliseum and I love it!
This is the open daily market in Civitacvecchia. All sorts of stuff – fresh meat and veggies, clothes, toys, electronics….
If you think I am looking tired in these pictures, I AM tired!!!! We kept crazy hours and we didn’t participate in most of the cruise ship offerings. Most of our tours began by 7:15 in the morning and lasted between 9 and 12 hours. We often got back to the ship just in time to throw on a different pair of pants and change shoes so we’d be allowed in the dining room for dinner. Dinner was over around 8:15 and then the ship offered a show each night from 9 – 10. We went to all but one. They were great – we say a very funny comedian, an accomplished musician (played violin, piano, sax, and oboe – and ranged from classical to country), a juggler, and productions that included Broadway musical selections with singing and dancing. We usually headed to our room as soon as the show was over and lights out by 10:30. We missed the midnight buffets, costume contests, gambling….. I cannot imagine how tired we would have been if we’d stayed up till 1 or 2 and tried to get to our tours! Someone told us they were shocked that we weren’t playing bingo, etc and we told them the ship was simply a mode of transportation that provided us with a room and meals. 🙂 And don’t forget, we were in jet lag with a 6 hour difference from home. Oh, and between Greece and Turkey there was another 1 hour change and then changed back between Turkey and Italy.
The next day found us in Florence. I had really been looking forward to seeing Florence again. I was there when I was 16. I was most disappointed in this city of all the ones we visited. In the 34 years since my last visit, Florence has become a large, bustling city that just happens to have some art in the middle. When I was there before, there was a reverence you could feel concerning the Duomo and other sites; that is gone. I thought it was interesting that we saw many many people begging, but we were told they don’t get in trouble for begging – the people caught giving them anything are fined $1,000!!!! Geez! Glad we were told!
The Duomo from an overlook above the city.
After Florence, we arrived in VilleFranche. We were 3 miles from Nice, 25 from Monaco, 20 or so from Cannes. We were tired at this point and neither of us is interested in the opulence of the richest city in the world, so we avoided Monaco. We took the train to Nice. I wanted to see the museums. We found a couple from the ship at the train station who also wanted to go see the museums, so we shared a taxi to the musuem furtherest away. Once we had seen the Matisse museum, it was walking downhill to Chagall and then downhill again to the train station back to VilleFranche. We stopped along the way when we found a small deli and got a sandwich and scone for our lunch.
Our ship anchored in the port of VilleFranche:
A random photo:
I took pictures of statutes, fence railings, balconies, sidewalks, all sorts of stuff. I got some strange looks from people around me, but I have tons of inspiration to get me through the next few years while we’re saving for our next trip! If you want to see those, let me know – I’ll be glad to share!
We visited the Marc Chagall museum (this photo) and the Matisse museum in Nice. Both were wonderful. No photos allowed in the Matisse museum – bummer.
I only have one more city to go, but that will have to wait until later.
One question I have been asked is what was my favorite place. That’s really hard to answer. I enjoyed different places for different reasons.
I LOVED Venice and really want to go back. We met a couple who had rented an apartment in Venice for a week for $400! They found the market and cooked for themselves and spent a week exploring. That’s what I would like to do there. I think Steve would like to go back and try to do an orienteering course.
We both want to return to Turkey. We found the country beautiful, laid back, and quaint; the food was simple, the people gracious, and the prices reasonable (they haven’t yet joined the European Union). We’re told Istanbul is even prettier that where we were.
Barcelona (I’ll blog soon, I promise!) was incredible. The city was huge but it was laid out well. It was easy to negotiate and find our way around. I think we’d both like to return there and spend a little more time.
Every where we went was expensive. Not fancy mall expensive, it was EXPENSIVE! Baby booties started at $25 a pair and that was for the simple ones! Florentine trays started at $50 for one that was 5×7 inch! Canned soft drinks were $3. Fabric in Venice was $28 a yard. A folk art angel doll pattern in Barcelona was $75. The subway in Barcelona was over $4 per person each way. Ladies sweaters started around $150, a man’s suit coat was over $1,000! I could go on, but it’s depressing. What we don’t know is whether the wages in these countries are such that these are reasonable for them…. The prices also reflect how badly our US dollar is doing against the Euro right now. Needless to say, we did not buy stuff. We took lots of pictures and enjoyed what we were seeing and enjoyed being together.
I promise to get back and blog Barcelona soon.