Saturday, November 04, 2006
The scenery is nice, but in Villefranche Sur Mer (France), it was the people who got my eye. It's great for "people-watching" along the Cote d'Asur ... where visitors experience a magical atmosphere of sun, sand, sea, wine tasting, shopping, sightseeing, dancing, and gambling. To the north is Monte Carolo, to the south is Nice and the Cannes Film Festival. The Villefranche port was created in 1295, and still has a 14th century ambiance of red-topped tile roofs built into the cliffs, tunnels, and cobblestone narrow streets. We stopped into an Internet Cafe, and then had a salmon lunch in the sun at a waterfront brassiere. A few dozen sailboats were tied up in the harbor, surrounding our giant cruise vessel. Oui, it's nice to hear French again. Back to Italy tomorrow -- last stop in Florence.
Posted by Jim at 9:45 AM
Friday, November 03, 2006
They say that, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but that’s all the time we had for a visit. Our group of five made their own way, covering about five miles on foot, including St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Trevi Fountain, Piaza Navonna, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and ruins being un-earthed by architectural students. The Vatican Museum had an 8 block line of people, 7 across waiting patiently -- maybe 10,000++ people. We passed on that 3 hour wait to see the Sistine Chapel. Our most welcome stop was an off-street trattoria called “Colors” -- a buffet starter, wine, the main course and secundo, followed by dessert and an espresso. Perfect for tired dogs, at only 65 Euros for all of us, or about $80. We were amazed at the realism of the Bernini statues throughout the city. The most grueling part of travel must be the heat and humidity, but touring Rome in November or Spring means a cool and comfortable 65 degrees. People love to stroll here ... mostly rubbing elbows ... but watch out for the Vespa scooters and cars that sneak up behind street-walking tourists and then hit the horn! Tomorrow -- we visit Villefranche in France, then back to Florence for our last stop before trip’s end in Barcelona... back to reality.
Posted by Jim at 2:21 PM
Thursday, November 02, 2006
CLICK FOR VOICE) -- Naples is the third largest city in Italy -- stepping off to Pompeii, the Island of Capri, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coastline. But, in fact, very little kept us in Naples itself, whose history dates back to the 4th century. Since it's devastating eruption in 79AD, Mount Vesuvius has dominated the lives of the neighboring Naples community, and is expected to erupt again by 2044. Our visit took us south to Sorrento and then through the narrow mountain chain along to Amalfi. Sunsets are as picturesque as the azure waters are pristine. What amazed most travelers were the home and hotel architecture built into the cliff walls and sea-side gorges. Each photo here represents the diversity of the Amalfi Coast -- I especially enjoyed the little tan dog near the front-wheel of the scooter.
Posted by Jim at 1:29 PM
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Two glorious days in Venice -- a maze of 177 canals and 400 bridges, with millions of poles driven into the sediment to hold up the buildings. Our ship was met by a small demonstration of environmentalists who oppose the new Moses project of water containment, and erosion of the lagoon from cruise ship traffic. Venice was home to Marco Polo, Vivaldi and Casanova. We missed a classical concert, but celebrated Donna's birthday with a gondola ride, then a visit to the Murano glass works, the Doge's Palace in the Piazza San Marco, and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore ... and then a quick visit to the Danieli honeymoon hotel of Megan and Tom. We did some healthy walking (rather than the water taxis), to help counter- balance the wonderful Italian food.
Posted by Jim at 1:25 PM
Sunday, October 29, 2006
CLICK FOR VOICE: Along the Dalmatian coastline of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik, Croatia might conjure up images of war at its worst. But modern Croatia has come a long way from it's neighboring Bosnia, rebuilding the town to near-original ancient marble-paved squares, cobbled streets and boutiques, and is one of UNESCO's "world heritage treasures." Among these treasurers was the invention of the men's necktie, initially the silk cravat worn by soldiers. Entering the harbor we are greeted by a spectacular sunrise and the massive suspension bridge -- then we ventured out to the farm-country to meet the people whose origins begin here in the 13th century. (click on the voice file).
Posted by Jim at 10:38 AM