Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grand Princess notes

Life aboard the Grand Princess is simple. We get up, eat, walk, eat, go to lectures and programs, eat, go to shore, eat, go to shows, eat, and go to bed. The food is good; come to think of it, so are the programs.

We have stopped at various places along the way. Each has been more interesting than the last place. I really liked Livorno, which looked a lot like the Napa Valley in northern California. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was incredible. We had to sail past Cannes, due to bad weather, but we were able to stop in Barcelona which is an impressive city. The Gaudi “sculptures” that make up the Sagrada Familia Church were created by someone with a great sense of humor or a warped mind. You have to see them to figure out which.

Our next stop was Gibraltar. The famous Rock of Gibraltar! We saw the World War II tunnels that were used to defend the little isthmus of land from the enemy. Whoever controls Gibraltar controls access to the Med. Britain has controlled that scrap of land since 1704. We also saw the Barbery Apes that inhabit the Rock. Churchill said that England will control the Rock as long as the apes are there. Today there are about 300 of the critters on the island and they know how to work the tourists for goodies.

Casablanca was our next stop. I’m not sure what I expected to see there. It’s a huge city of 6 million. There is a Rick’s CafĂ© but it’s not the Rick’s of movie fame. We saw the third largest mosque, Hassan II Mosque, which is built along the shore. Casablanca is a thriving modern city with traffic that is very different from Rome or Alexandria. Here the traffic flows with the signals and cars stay in their lanes. What a novel idea.

We have been at sea for the last 2 days as we wend our way to Senegal. I wonder what the adventure will be there?


There really is a leaning tower of Pisa...but don't expect a giant's a skyscraper of the 14th century. No matter, it is an amazing sight to see and it's incredibly beautiful.

In addition to the Tower, there are two more buildings...the church and the Baptistry. These two buildings are little wedding cake structures that are beautiful. I was not prepared for this trio of buildings.

By the way, all the buildings lean! It has to do with the underlying soil/sand that just cannot support weight. The buildings have been leaning since they were 3!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rome Pictures




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Just a quick note. These are a few of the places we've seen. Our hotel is across the street from the first picture of Santa Maria Maggiori. The next two pix are of the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica, then the Tiber River. Watch this spot for more pictures and if I have time, some thoughts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Rome

We are in Rome! Our hotel is across the street from the third largest church in Rome, and I've never heard of it -- Santa Maria Maggiore.

Earlier today I took some interesting pictures from the window of the plane. We had seats that faced the engines. A different view of the plane. By the way, that picture was taken near Frankfurt.

Tomorrow we'll do some signt seeing. I'm excited to be here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Red Carpet Lounge

Flying nowadays is a drag. With security restrictions and long wait times and crowded planes it's not fun anymore. There is hope however. The special lounges that airlines have set up for Frequent Flyers or folks flying business or first class. On this trip we have used the mighty frequent flyer mile to upgrade to seats in the front of the bus. We have been upgraded to the quieter, plusher, and decidedly less crowded Red Carpet Lounge too. Even though the red carpet is a 3 x5 throw rug it's nice to know there is a quiet place in a busy airport.

If you are flying and don't have access to these "first class lounges" there is one other place of refuge at an airport--the chapel. It is not outfitted with leather chairs, snacks and free wifi but it is quiet.

So the hurry up and wait process begins. We got up at 2:45 AM to catch the 5:35 flight to SFO so we can spend 6 hours waiting for the 14 hour flight to Frankfurt and Rome. We will arrive in Rome at 2:00PM tomorrow. A new adventure begins.

Monday, November 3, 2008


The next cruise starts in a couple of weeks. We are flying to Rome and boarding the Grand Princess for a 22 day, 4 continent adventure. Today I did another piece of homework for that trip--I ordered a limo to pick us up at the airport and bring us to our hotel.

When that cruise ends, another one starts almost immediately as we're going on a Nile cruise over Christmas. There's lots to do when you are going to be gone for almost 2 months.