Pontoon boat rental gulf shores 36542

Atlanta wooden boat association membership
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A few phone calls, and a hurry up shift on the Limo companies part, and we were all in the stretch limo headed for Toronto. We found the second-story, enclosed passageway, that leads from the three airport terminals to the Airport Hilton.We walked its length, passing the rail terminal, where we found an ATM and got some needed Euros.
We arose early, the differences in time zones not yet acclimated into our circadian rhythms. We bought some cappuccino and croissants, in an airport restaurant, and watched the giant aerial behemoths land and take off in this busy airport. We climbed these ancient steps, enjoying the surreal experience of viewing the huge sculptures flanking the stairs headway and wondering at the many who had come this way throughout the ages.
Just up the rise, behind the triumphant arch of Constantine, we could see the now familiar broken circle of the remains of the coliseum. Hunger was gnawing at us, so we stopped at a cute little trattoria labeled a€?planet pizza.a€? We ordered two slices of pizza and continued on, walking the narrow streets as we munched on our pizza.
We sat for a time, watching the tourists, and enjoying the sunshine and 62 degree temperatures. After lunch, we walked about the piazza, enjoying the controlled tumult and browsing the artists with their easels and the colorful souvenir vendors. We were becoming foot weary from the line of march, but headed southeast from the Piazza Navona, in search of the fabled Pantheon. Soon, we turned a corner and stood still for a moment, appreciating the classic lines of the Pantheon, a former pagan temple that had been constructed in 183 A.D. From the Pantheon, we followed our map to the Via Corso and headed back towards that huge monument dominating the skyline, the Vittorio Emmanuel II, in the Piazza Venezia. We walked the small and narrow streets nearby, looking in on the small vegetable and food shops.
The ten oa€™clock bus into Rome looked like the Kowloon ferry at rush hour, so we opted to walk over to the train station to catch the express run into stazione terminal. At Stazione Terminal, we detrained and walked through the large terminal that connects the surface railways with the two principal subway lines which crisscross underneath Roma.
Next, we came upon one of the ancient Italian Monsignors celebrating mass at one of the side chapels.
Even the sophisticated stand here quietly unsure of exactly what they are seeing, but respectful of the idea that the remains of so noteworthy a historical figure lay just a few yards away in plain sight.
We walked up the nearest boulevard to the Tiber, in search of one of the more storied edifices in Rome, the Castle San Angelo. We emerged into a small courtyard, at the top of the castle, where a statue of St., Michael the archangel, stands ready to protect all with his sword and shield.
On our way down, we espied several small exhibit rooms where huge a€?blunder bussesa€? and small cannon of many sorts lay on exhibit.Their fired lead must have cut down many attacking marauders in ages past.
We crossed the Tiber at the Ponte Cavour and walked three blocks over to the Via Corso.We were headed for one of the more spacious and beautiful Piazzas in Rome, the Piazza Del Poppolo.
The Parkland is well cared for and looks like a pleasant spot for Romans to gather on a spring or summera€™s day. We stopped by a station restaurant and bought some wonderful vegetable paninis (sandwiches) for later.
We enjoyed another swim in the hotel pool and then stopped by the hotela€™s atm for another 100 euros. We retrieved our luggage from the bus and stood in line for a brief 20 minutes of check-in procedures.
We walked the decks, exploring our ship and enjoyed the lounges, shop areas and the many other nooks and crannies of entertainment and activity spread around the decks. Deck #11 aft holds a smaller restaurant called the a€?Trattoria,a€? and serves Italian food every night. We met in the Stardust lounge on deck #10 and got tickets for our 10-hour tour of the Tuscan Countryside and the fabled walled city of Siena. As the tour bus careened down the highway, we looked at the pastoral scenes, of groves of olive trees and vineyards, dotting the gently rolling landscape.
Marco walked us from the bus parking area to the Chiesa San Domingo where we met our local guide a€?Rita.a€? She launched into what was to be a colorful and informed narrative of the Sienaa€™s history and development. We walked through the narrow, cobbled streets and admired the well preserved walls and quaint shops that appeared around every turn. We walked slowly along the medieval streets, admiring the ancient framing and well preserved architecture.
Just next to the Duomo, Rita pointed out an entire area that had been laid out to expand the church.
Marco led us to the ancient a€?Spade Fortea€? ristorante, on the periphery of the Piazza, for lunch.
We still had time left after lunch, so we walked back to the Duomo and, for 6 euros each, entered the Musee da€™Opera, next to the Duomo. The bus drove by the walled city of San Gimiano and we caught a glimpse of the open gates of what marco called a a€?medieval disneyland.a€? It looked like a great place to wander when the crowds were less intense. We dressed for dinner this evening in a€?business attire.a€?It was one of the two a€?formal nightsa€? on the ship.
The seas were calm that night and we walked topside, enjoying the night air and each othera€™s company.We never lose sight of how fortunate we are to be with each other in these exotic and interesting locales. We passed through Recco, a Ligurian center for cooking, and then exited into the a sprawling town of Rappalo for the coastal ride into Santa Margarita, where we would take a small ferry to Porto Fino, the heart of the Italian Riveria. The Castello Brown is everything your imagination could place it to be, sited on the high promontory over a picture book Mediterranean village.
In the quaint village below, we browsed the pricey shops, like Gucci & Ferragamo, noting the breath-taking prices listed in euros. The Canne waterfront surrounds the marina, a central square, filled with Sycamore trees, and replete with several cafes and their ubiquitous outside tables and chairs. We entered the A-8 Autostrade and drove through Nice and on towards Monaco, some 90 kilometers miles further along the fabled Cotea€™ da€™azur. From quaint and medieval EZE, we descended to the Middle Corniche Road for the picturesque ride into nearby Nice.
From the Palais, Patrick threaded the huge tour bus through the narrow streets, fighting the Easter-morning, Mass traffic.
I thought that I had a pretty good command of French, but at moments like these, it seems to desert you.
Pat and John were accompanied by friend Joanne, a retired teacher, Al and his mother Cora, also from celebration Florida and the Two Australians, Mike and Carmen Harchand.
Revelry aside, the injury was throbbing insistently, so we returned to our cabin, with my hand elevated in the a€?French salute but with the wrong finger.a€? The seas were running rough this evening, with ten foot swells and 25 knot winds. We passed by the entrance to the Las Ramblas, the broad pedestrian promenade that extends into the city, and continued on. The first wonder that we passed is Antonio Gaudia€™s a€?Batlo House.a€? Built in 1906, it is several stories high and has a delightful facade of painted ceramic tiles. Next, we passed the Casa Mila, another Gaudi masterpiece, with its distinctive wavy and flowing, tiled facade. Then, we came to the sanctum sanctorum of architecture, the Cathedral of the Segrada Familia.
The four seasons and many other symbols are represented in this flowing montage that is more enormous sculpture than architecture.
Restless, we wandered the decks, met and talked with the Martins and then found a nice photo of ourselves, taken in Sienaa€™s main Piazza, in the photo gallery. We stopped for a time, in one of the deck ten lounges, and read our books, enjoying the quiet mode of the ship at sea.
We walked topside, enjoying as always the collage of sun, sea and sky, as we knifed through the rolling swells.
The Devonshire spread ( as in butt the size of) still engulfed us, so we did another five laps around the deck # 7 promenade. Product InformationDas Samsung S3650 besticht durch sein schlankes, stylisches Design genauso wie durch seine Features. There, as we watched the surf crash on the shore, we dined on spinach salads, curried shrimp and Mary, the breast of chicken. We passed by the Pacific Naval Command Center and then on into the small park and visitor center that houses the entrance to the Arizona Memorial.
As I looked to the North, at the mountains not far away, I could imagine the first wave of 187 dive-bombers and then the second wave of torpedo planes appearing like an evil apparition over the nearby crests. These thoughts careened through my head as I looked at the raised nameplates of the mighty battle ships nearby.
From the Arizona memorial, we boarded our buses and rode up into the hills to another peaceful military cemetery called the a€?Punchbowl.a€? Here, amidst the bucolic rows of trees, shrubs and neatly trimmed grass, lie 39,000 military men and women who saw service in the pacific theaters, in various wars of our history.
As we drove through Honolulu, the bus passed by several old churches and then by the Queen Iolani Palace. We were tiring with the long and active day so we retreated to our cabin, We opened the balcony door and sat for a time in the fresh sea air admiring the moonshine of the ocean beneath us. On the journey down the mountain, we could espy Nihau, the a€?forbidden islanda€? about 11 miles from Kauai.
We walked down to deck five and boarded the motorized tender for the short ride to the Lahaina docks. The small basin between them is shallow and became an ideal breeding ground for the sperm whales from time immemorial. It was misting lightly as we stood outside the center and looked across the Caldera, or Volcanoa€™s mouth. It was only 12 years ago that an enormous lava flow had slid down the mountain and destroyed 189 homes and virtually the entire town of Kalapena.
We traversed the volcano on a ring road watching the lunar landscape created by the sulphur and old lava flows.
From the Volcano house, we rode a brief way to the a€?Akatsuka Orchid Gardensa€? to admire the many gorgeous varieties of colorful orchids that the island produces.
From the Mona Loa Nut factory, Derek drove us to the ocean shore, at the afore-mentioned site of the unfortunate town of Kalapena. After our late morning siestas, we stopped by the deck 14 trough to ingest the appropriate caloric overload. The waiters served up the usual five star extravaganzas as we sipped a nice bottle of Mondavi Merlot and got acquainted with this charming couple. We were now some 800 miles South of Hilo and still had another 400 miles before we reached that small speck in the Pacific labeled Christmas Island.
An art auction was taking place in the wheel house lounge, so we sat through that for a time enjoying the banter of the auctioneer and the lively patter about artists a€?not yet dead.a€? Then, we watched the delightful comedy a€?Analyze That,a€? with Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro. Breakfast found us in the deck 14 Horizons court and then we sunned on the aft section of deck 12 for an hour or so before retreating to a€?Octogenarians row,a€? on covered deck 7, to read our books and enjoy the lazy motions of the ship. Even turtles get sunburned , so we packed it in and walked three miles (12 laps around deck 7) enjoying the vigor and the sweat that the walk produced. It was another a€?formal nighta€? for dinner, so we repaired to our cabin to dress in our a€?Cinderella Clothesa€? and venture forth once again down the grand promenade on deck 7. In the dining room, Kevin and Laura shared a good Cabernet, sent by their travel agent, which we helped them enjoy.
The Princess Lounge provided another interesting song and dance routine titled a€?Rhythms of the City.a€? We watched and appreciated the talent and energy these kids put forth. Just off the bow of the ship a jagged and erose peak, with a phallic shape, rose needle-nosed into the surrounding sky.
The driver pulled along the side of the road and bade us look at the ubiquitous holes all along the roadside. Near the end of the tour, the guide stopped by the most famous eatery on the island, a€?Bloody Marya€™s.a€? It is a grass roofed, sand- floored and quietly elegant restaurant made famous by James Michener and others. We were up early to watch the Dawn Princess sail into Opunohu Bay on the North Coast of Moorea, some 130 miles Southeast of Bora Bora.
We assembled in the deck 7 Vista Lounge and then walked school fashion, through the ship, to the gangway on deck 3 for boarding the shipa€™s tenders. The pier area is a simple jetty with a stone rest room and a nearby municipal building for the gendarmes. Along the sides of the road, our guide pointed out thin Mahogany trees, acacia, tulip, a€?lipsticka€? trees, guava, banana, teak, lice and Chinese chestnut trees along the roadside.
Along the coast road, we could see the island of Tahiti rising up from the ocean, some 11 miles away. The Moorea Sheraton again has those delightful grass-hutted rondevals, with glass bottomed floors, sitting on piers looking into the bay. We descended to deck 7, saw and talked with Laura and Kevin Hanley for a bit, before returning to the cabin to read and relax before surrendering to the welcome arrival of the sand man.
We had arrived in Tahiti, a€?The Gathering Place.a€? Just the sound of the name brings up worldwide images of soft breezes, exotic women and an escape from the harsh realities of the Old World. Most of us carry visions of Tahiti in our head from the various versions of a€?Mutiny on The Bounty.a€? The film, made from a James Norman Hall novel detailing a mutiny aboard Her Majestya€™s ship a€?Bounty,a€? captained by the now famous Captain Bligh and his first mate Fletcher Christian. Whalers, merchantmen and adventurers arrived in waves bringing new world gifts like STD and the moral standards of seamen who had been afloat for a year and away from leavening strictures of women and polite society. During the 1840a€™s, France consolidated its control of five of these small island chains into what we now call French Polynesia. Tahiti, one of the larger islands in the group, is actually comprised of two extinct volcano mounts and the slopes surrounding them. After breakfast on deck 14, a wooden a€?Le Truka€? shuttled us into the Centre De Ville, on the waterfront. Next, we came upon the two-story version of the central marketplace in Tahiti, a€?Le Marche,a€? or the market. It was nearing noon, so we decided to stop by one of the many portable a€?Les Roulettesa€? for a snack.
We continued walking the small streets, enjoying the feel of a culture and language not our own. We sunned for an hour, on deck 12, had a refreshing dip in the smaller spa pool and then retreated to our cabin to consider the logistics of packing for the trip home. We packed our clothes, kept some necessary toiletries and clothes for a carry on bag, and then put the bags outside the cabin for pickup. By clicking Confirm bid you commit to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. All passengers casually look up at a large electronic tote board that lists gate assignments.
I could see the white cliffs of Dover as we crossed over the English channel and flew across to France. It seems that they had left an entire baggage cart, from our flight, at Heathrow during one of the a€?beat the clock a€? scenarios.
Sounds of French, Italian, Spanish and several other languages swam around our ears as we sat musing about where we were. At the top of the steps, we crossed a small terrace and looked down into the elegant rubble that is the remains of the Roman Forum.
Its several tiers, all filled with open arches, even now reminds me of the many sports arenas we had visited.
Then, we set out over the very pricey Via Condotti, browsing the windows of Bvlgari, Gucci, Ferragamo and a score of other trendy shops.
We were tempted to enter the a€?Tre Scalinia€? and order a€?Tartuffo,a€? that wonderful roman delight that is a€?fried ice cream,a€? but passed on the opportunity in the interests of fitting into our clothes. We wandered the back alleys, consulting our trusty map and once asking a merchant for directions.The trouble with asking questions in passable Italian is that the hearer assumes you speak the language fluently and rattles off a response in rapid fashion. We showered and prepped for the day.NCL was putting on a buffet breakfast in the hotel for the early cruise ship passengers. Three hundred and fifty cruise passengers had booked a few days in Rome and were expected this morning. We sought out and found the a€?Aa€? line that would take us up to the Vatican and the Chiesa San Pietro (St. We could see the walls of Vatican city up ahead of us and the huge dome of Saint Petera€™s against the skyline. Petera€™s held a long line of pilgrims, school children on holiday and other penitents from the four corners of the globe. We were debating where we would head next, when we noticed that the line had lessened for St. Petera€? stand in their wooded splendor, for all the world like an outsized throne for some race of giants. We sat through the mass understanding much and received communion, saying a prayer for Brothera€™s Paddya€™s repose. I said a brief prayer for all of those whom we had lost and moved on to the marbled hallway. It is a circular and high walled fortress that has served in different eras as a castle for the Caesara€™s, a prison, a church and now a stone monument to antiquity. A small pile of stone cannonballs lay next to what must have been the remains of a medieval catapult, used to bomb the attackers with.
A few tug boats and a single scull, powered by a lone oarsman, were all that broke the surface of this venerable and storied river. We slowly climbed the winding steps, to its heights, noting the occasional bum sleeping in the park bushes. We walked along the parkway, dodging the odd service truck, and admired the imposing bulk of the Villa Borghese, sitting on a hill above us. A group of Spanish school kids were singing happy birthday to one of their group amidst much laughter.
I signed up for an hour with the hotels internet station ( 20 euros) and sent a number of messages to friends and relatives across the ether of cyberspace.
Then, we settled in with paninis, chips,acqua minerale con gassata and a good bottle of Chianti, while we read our books and got ready to join The Norwegian Dream for an itinerary we had long anticipated. On deck #12, aft, we found the a€?Sports Bara€? a small buffet-style restaurant that served all three meals daily. Like all liners, the boat is equipped with motorized, ocean-going tenders that are wholly enclosed and hold up to 128 passengers when full. It was followed with a nice spinach salad, a grilled tuna steak and a delightful cannolli and decaf cappuccino. Its most famous Saint, Catherine of Siena, had been a dominican nun who was a a€?close associatea€? of the reigning pope in Avignon. Then, we walked into the small piazza that holds the most prized treasure in Siena, the Duomo Santa Maria da€™ Assumption. We fell in with and enjoyed the company of two colorful residents of Celebration, Florida, Pat and John McGoldrick, former Beantown (Boston) residents and fellow Irish Americans. Ensconced within are all of the original statuary and murals from the exterior of the church.As the marble became worn, throughout the centuries, artisans had replicated the original statuary and remounted them on the facade. We elected to choose again the Trattoria for dinner, where we were seated with Ray and Sarah from Atlanta.
Geographically, the rocky headland of Porto Fino separates the gulfs of Tivuglio and Paradisio. We enjoyed the colorful front street of nice hotels, shops and restaurants, as we exited the bus in the rain.
The harbor area rings a small marina, with wonderful sailing yachts scattered amidst the smaller craft. Christiana took us through the commercial center of Genoa , stopping at the central a€?Piazza venti septembre, 1870a€? which commemorates the date of the Italian unification. A light rain and a 42 degree chill greeted us, as we stood topside to watch the Dream get underway. The Mediterranean Sea sparkled a dazzling blue against the bright sun and lighter blue of the sheltering sky. Francois Grimaldi, the founder of the line, came to the area in 1297, with a small army of soldiers, all disguised as monks. We followed a nicely trimmed walkway to the a€?Rochea€? (rock) area, so named because it had literally been carved from the cliffside rock.
The crenelated battlement of the original castle had been added to over the generations to produce an odd hybrid. Along the roadside, at several intersections, sit scale, bronzed models of Le Mans race cars, denoting the world famous auto race that roars through the streets of Monaco every May. We skipped breakfast and had coffee topside, admiring the Marseilles harbor and the surrounding mountains, in the bright, Easter-morning sun. It is now the second largest city and largest commercial port in France, with one million people living in the metropolitan area.
We set off from the port area, stopping first at the a€?Old Cathedrala€? in the a€?vieux port a€? area of the harbor. A score or so of fishermen were minding stalls that sold fresh fish, everything from whole squid and lobsters, to eels. The kind and elderly woman, perhaps a nun in mufti, helped clean the wound, put antiseptic ointment on it and dressed it in gauze. The city had erected three separate, exterior walls, for defensive purposes, as the city evolved over the centuries.
Unfortunately , Antonio Gaudi was killed, in a traffic accident, at a young age and construction was interrupted.
Built for a 1929 world exposition, this elegant structure and plaza is now an art museum. The theme for the evening was a€?American Presidents and their favorite foods.a€? We chose a Gerald Ford, Norwegian, salmon appetizer. This item may be a floor model or an item that has been returned to the seller after a period of use. An early spring snowfall had dumped 2 feet of wet snow on Irish Hill making the going tough, but as founder of the cemetery Mary had been there many times before. A Hawaiian woman gave us two flowered leis and then asked for $10 contributions for the local boy and Girl Scout troops.
We walked along the world famous Waikiki beach, gazing down the beach to a€?Diamond Head.a€? The massive granite outcropping had been so named by Captain Cook, an early explorer who saw the crystallized volcanic material glinting in the noonday sun and thought the peak encrusted in diamonds.
We stopped for some decent Kona coffee in the Outrigger and watched the moving tableau around us. We managed that well enough and then had coffee and croissants in the lobby area of the Tapa tower.
We were headed for the holiest of military shrines in the state, the Arizona memorial, commemorating the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941. He told us about the a€?Hawaiian Home Program.a€? Residents of Hawaiian descent are eligible to purchase homes and receive the land for $1. A large group of high school kids were passing the time like all kids, singing, joking and clowning around. A graceful white arch of stone, with a series of open side vents and open roof area, house two smaller enclosed marble rooms at either end. They had launched from the Akagi, Kiryu and two other carriers sailing a short 220-mile to the Northeast. We had a nice Fiume Blanc for openers, then a shrimp appetizer, crA?me of mushroom soup, pastry filled with shrimp calamari and other seafood, in a lobster sauce. Instead of molten rock, I could see the flow of electric lava as it slid down the mountains in the dark. We read for a time and then surrendered the hypnotic sway of the ship as we drifted off into the land of the great beyond.
Our immediate impression of the islands is that it is lush and tropical, with a much smaller population (56,000) than the other isles in the chain. The driver told us humorously that in the early 1960a€™s whole families would bring picnic food and camp out nearby to watch the light change colors. The growers, ironically, found that a€?burning the fieldsa€? lowered the molasses content in the plants and increased the sugar yield from the cane. There is a moral here someplace about pretending who you are not and the consequences of that action.
In many ways, the Hawaiians resemble Native Americans with their preoccupation with superstition, mythology and colorful sagas transmitted orally throughout the generations. We ascended, in a series of gradual switchbacks, 2,800 feet to the top of the islanda€™s extinct Wai ali ali volcano. The Sinclairs, a family of Slave traders from Massachusetts, had purchased the island from King Kamehameha in the 1830a€™s. We boarded the vessel and had a nice lunch of fish, fruit and vegetables in the deck 14 buffet. After dinner, I was still reeling from a bad head cold, so we retreated to the room to read and retire.
These a€?tendersa€? are wholly enclosed lifeboats that are capable of ocean sailing in an emergency.
They spawn here from December through April and then in May, begin their swim up to the Aleutian Island chain. We walked the paved ocean path, along the beach, enjoying the swaying palms, the flowering hibiscus, the neatly manicured lawns of the huge hotels and the general aura of opulence.
We met and talked with Marty and Tom Bleckstein, who live on Maui and were aboard for the cruise to Tahiti. Jon was our waiter again this evening and we exchanged a a€?Magandang Gabia€? (good evening) and a€?Mabuti, salamata€? (I am fine, Thanks) in Tagalog.
It was cloudy and warm, with the promise of rain, something that happens often on this side of the island. Great white swaths of dried calcium and super heated sulphur remained from the flows of heated magma.(magma below ground, lava above) As the mist and rain seeped into the ground, steam rose as the water hit heated rock below. The fiery lava seeped into the ocean and created super heated mists that explodes the rocks and created the black sand beaches that we were to see in a few hours.
We were stopping at the a€?Thurston Lava Tube.a€? The 360 yard, ten foot high tunnel had been carved out by heated lava. In a few hundred years, this newest portion of Hawaii will be a tropical beach and palm grove. We had a glass of the Merlot in the cabin as I wrote up my notes and we settled in to relax for a bit. As we watched the big island settle into the Horizon, we met and talked again with Tom Bleckstein. The sky was studded with gray clouds, the air was warm and a brisk trade wind was quartering us from the northeast. Proper dress was required, so we cleaned up some and venture in to this now familiar place of gustatory titillation.
It is every bit as funny as a€?Analyze this.a€? The really is a wealth of things to do shipboard if you seek them out.
This was the a€?island tour.a€? We never did find Captain Cooka€™s Hotel or any other commercial establishment for that matter. We enjoyed Lobster appetizers, pea and onion crA?me soup, filet of Halibut in peppercorn sauce and Macadamia nut ice cream, all accompanied by a Mondavi Merlot and good coffee.
These kids might not be on Broadway, but they gave 150% in energy and we enjoyed their performances.
We enjoyed the film and then made our way to deck 12 for Hagendaaz ice cream floats topside. It was a€?Italian Nighta€? in the Florentine room and we were looking forward to the gustatory experience. This introduced crab and melon ball appetizers, a Greek Salad, Norwegian trout for me, all followed by an Austrian Sacher Torte and good coffee.
The Palm trees and the vegetation here are lush and green, a result of the 74 inches of annual rainfall. It is a collection of those lovely, small grass-roofed huts that sit out on piers right over the ocean. The crabs are apparently nocturnal creatures and come forth at night o feed on the fallen fruit of the many trees I had noticed. These were provided by the government, at a cost of $2,000, to any of the islanders whose homes are destroyed by the various hurricanes that sweep over the island. A large wooden gargoyle sits in front of the restaurant, near a wooden sign carved with the names of all of the a€?famousa€? people who had dined here. Shrimp cocktails, lentil soup, Alaskan crab legs and a wonderful black forest cake made for an elegant and relaxing repast. Several tents had been put up by local vendors hawking jewelry and Moorean arts and crafts. The deep blue of the far ocean, azure sky, studded with white puffy clouds, all accented the deep emerald of the lush vegetation on the island. These are limestone temple sites where yearly the islanders had sacrificed humans in a ritual to please the great god Oro. The 4-masted Windjammer and the Paul Gauguin were sitting at anchor in turquoise Opunohu bay, the palm trees were swaying in the breeze, against the brilliant backdrop of multi hued sapphire sea, azure sky and emerald hills. A large car ferry and a smaller and swifter catamaran ferry made regular, daily trips to nearby Tahiti. The heat and humidity were intense, so we decided to hop the tender for the air-conditioned comfort of the Dawn Princess, sitting placidly at anchor in the bay. Even a dip in the small pool couldna€™t revive us, so we headed to the cabin for a 2-hour nap.
English Captain James Cook and French explorer Captain Louis Bouganville had first discovered these a€?Society Islandsa€? in the 1760a€™s.
The backdrop images in the film are mostly taken from the lovely islands of Moorea and Bora Bora. The Protestant missionaries had come in the early 1800a€™s and banished most native cultural practices, including ritual sacrifice of humans. Mount Orohena, at 6,700 feet, dominates the larger chunk of the island (Tahiti Nui) Mount Aurai, at 6,200 feet sits on most of the smaller portion of Tahiti (Tahiti a€“Iti). A small tourist pavilion, adjacent to a newly constructed town square, dominates the waterfront here. The offer of $120 for a cab ride, with a driver who knew little English, didna€™t seem too enticing to us.
The traffic is heavy and runs in twin ribbons of moving steel separating the town and the ocean. The first floor of this open-air barn is filled with food vendors selling everything from fruits to fish and any number of sundries.
We dodged the speedy traffic and visited another elegant Joualerie where we found a beautiful set of black pearl earrings to match the necklace pearl we had just purchased. A small bronze bust of Louis Bouganville commemorates this eminent French explorer after whom had been named the colorful tropical flower a€?Bouganvillea.a€? We sat for a time in the shade and enjoyed the lush tropical foliage, the colorful flowers and the heat of a tropical isle and each othera€™s company. The next chore was to find a€?le box postal.a€? It isna€™t like our cities, where you can find a blue, US mailbox on every corner.
We walked back to the waterfront and caught a shuttle for the 15-minute ride to the commercial end of the port and the welcome air-conditioned bubble of the Dawn Princess.
If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. We had finished packing the evening before, so we had time to stop at a nearby restaurant and had bagels and coffee, while reading the paper. Traffic was light, at the peace bridge and on the Queen Elizabeth Expressway, so we breezed into Torontoa€™s Pearson airport in 90 minutes, well in time for all of us to relax and check in for our afternoon flights. The plane was a€?sro,a€? every seat was filled.A few of the piccolo mostro (little monsters) squawked a bit during the flight but it went quickly enough. The neatly outlined farms, of the French country side, flashed below us in a well ordered array. Once, this small area had been graced with rows of gleaming white marble structures, the business, commerce and affairs of much of the western world had been waged here daily. We dodged their insistent sales pitches and walked out onto the Via Imperiali, walking towards the Vittorio Emmanuel II monument.
The fascination of Rome is that you stumble upon these grand and ancient monuments so casually when you turn a street corner.
We were headed in the distance towards the Fiume Tiber and the Piazza Navona, another famous gathering place and site of three majestic Bernini fountains. We smiled, strained to understand and thanked the man for a€?su aiutoa€? (his help) As a parenthetical, I dona€™t know that we have ever found a people as gracious, patient and willing to help as we have the Italians.
It has classic greek columns in the front and a large dome that has at its center and open a€?occulia€? that lets light enter the dimly lit church.
You got so your ear could hear them approach and you knew you had to run like hell to get out of their way.
We relaxed in the room, wrote up our notes and then went for an invigorating swim in the hotela€™s pool.
Four blocks over, we spilled into one of the most famous squares in the modern world.The Piazza San Pietro was already crowded with pilgrims by mid morning. We walked about the piazza enjoying the semi-circle of the grand columns with their statues of popes and saints standing atop them. A line was gathered near a tombed figure with an open, glass side, so we stood patiently in line to see what drew the attention.
The frescoes on the walls, the gilded and painted windows and the wealth of two thousand years held us in awe.
I figured a mass and a lighted candle at the Vatican might give him some juice in the far beyond.
For 5 euros each, we entered and walked around the inside periphery of this two thousand year old castle. Off the courtyard lies a circular verandah that overlooks all of Rome.We sat for a bit and enjoyed the view, then found a tiny cafe where we had a cappuccino with other pilgrims who visiting the fortress. We retraced our path, down the circular ramp, and exited onto the esplanade along the Tiber, replete with cadres of africans hawking all manner of souvenirs.
It is a functioning museum, with a collection of intersting sculptures and art works, but we were tiring with the day and wanted to push on. A swirl of languages provided an auditory bath for our ears, as we walked amid the crowds, enjoying the life and laughter of so many around us. We had to ask how the Italian key board works, to find the ampersand symbol that is used in e-mail addresses. The lobby was awash with businessmen, attending some conference or other, and hundreds of other cruise-ship passengers wandering about. The surrounding countryside was devoted mainly to agriculture, with many vineyards running along the coast. The papal states took possession of the harbor in the 14th century and it had evolved into the chief commercial port of Rome during unification in 1870. We stood in our orange life vests, with whistle and water activated light, and listened patiently to the crew member assigned to us.
It is our custom, when cruising, to have a drink at the topside bar and watch the ship leave port. We were seated at a small table for two and ordered a bottle of Meridian Merlot from a Ukranian wine steward named a€?Igor.a€? We exchanged several comments in Russian and enjoyed the conversation with him. Siena is south and east of Florence, a beautiful city of art and culture that we had already visited and enjoyed on a previous trip. We stopped in the Piazza Tolomei, the home of the aforementioned banking syndicate, Monte Dei Pasche. Finished in the late 1300a€™s, this Romanesque, white and green striped, marble epiphany, with roseate trim, is impressive. A lively lunch, well seasoned with several flagons of the local Chianti, consisted of pasta and mushrooms in sauce, asparagus risotto, (no carne for four), cheese, green beans and salad,finished off with a ricotta cheese desert that was wonderful and accompanied throughout with aqua frizzante. Looking at these originals gives you an appreciation for the odd seven hundred years that the place had been around. A huge, victory-arch framed three floral gardens that are dedicated to Christobal Colon (Columbus) and his three ships on their voyage of discovery to the Americas in 1492. The lights, of the whole amphitheater of Genoa, were twinkling in the dark as we eased from the harbor and set off Westward along the Ligurian Coast. We drove down the grand boulevard, Avenue Crossette and viewed the huge hotels, the site of the international film festival and even a statuesque column to the emperor, Napoleon.
They attacked the surprised Genoese defenders and overwhelmed them, taking possession of the area and declaring it the Principality of Monaco.
We walked along the Boulevard San Martin, passing two pricey homes that housed the royal daughters, and stopped to visit the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Reluctantly, we left the a€?Rochea€? area, with its palace and fairy tales, and returned to the bus. We parked at another huge garage and took the elevators and escalators up to a small plaza that houses the Monaco Opera house. Parked out front today, were an Aston Martin, two lamberghinia€™s, several Jaguars, the odd couple of lesser Mercedes and a row of other luxury cars, with an attendant to watch over them.


Czar Nicholas of Russia, and Queen Victoria of England, and scores of lesser roalty, had been frequent visitors to the area. It is of green and white striped marble construction, like the church in Siena, but much less ornate. We watched as several fishermen worked around their small fishing dories, cleaning and mending nets. By now, I was recovering a bit and managed to remember enough French to thank her and say that she was a€?very kind for helping me.a€? I kept my hand elevated, in a position of a€?The french salute, but with the wrong finger,a€? as we walked around the grounds of the cathedral. Was this not the land from whence the phrase had originated a€?waiting for Godot?a€? We stopped by the a€?slop chutea€? for a salad and then sat topside for a bit, admiring the harbor on such a bright and sunny day. Mary took over the job of transcribing my travel notes and agreed to take notes on the next few days tours, until I could manage to grip a pen well enough to write.
Portions of all three still existed and had been added to architecturally over the years in something the guide called a€?architectural lasagna.a€? It is a nIce turn of phrase.
The a€?newer sectionsa€? of Barcelona are laid out in a geometrical grid, with broad boulevards and more green spaces.
The streets in the area have ornamental wrought iron lamp posts and the buildings are adorned with ornate metal floral designs.
Originally planned as a 60 residence housing project for the wealthy, only two homes were ever built. It is flanked by a lovely parkland that stretches along the edge of this hillside and looks out over the city and harbor. We squeezed into a table with two charming Southern Belles from Kentucky, Sandy and JoQuetta.
We were bouncing messages off satellites, all over the world, and in instant communication with friends five thousand miles away. WA¤hrend die klare und elegante LinienfA?hrung die hochwertige Optik unterstreicht, lassen die integrierten Funktionen keine WA?nsche offen: Social-Networking-Dienste, 1,3 Megapixel-Kamera und ausgefeilte Musikfunktionen angefangen vom UKW-Radio bis hin zum integrierten MP3-Player mit DNSe-Klangoptimierung.
The Northwest and later, the Pacific Ocean were clouded from view as a massive front roared beneath us. Tiring, we headed back to the room to read, make some notes and surrender to the Hawaiian night.
The a€?Don Hoa€? style preacher had everyone singing God Bless America and other group songs.
A list of the sailors and marines lost that day, in raise metal etchings, adorns one wall, with a plaque and several American and military flags. The sight of an entire fleet of attacking planes, on a warm Sunday morning, must have been surreal as the angry wasps spit fire and lead into the row of battleships at anchor. In the words of a prescient Japanese Admiral, with their surprise attack, they a€?had awoken a sleeping giant and filled it with a terrible resolve.a€? The conflict wasna€™t to end for four long years. The bus took us to a virtual a€?sea of luggagea€? and calmly suggested we a€?identify oursa€? for processing.
Diamond Head, Waikiki beach and the other recognizable features of Oahu blended into the Ocean dark.
The informative bus driver gave us a running narration of the fauna and flora of the island as well as a cultural overlay that we found interesting. I dona€™t know how true the story is, but it gave insight into the islanders endearing trait of not taking themselves too seriously. The stone foundations of a a€?Russian Forta€? gave rise to another tale of Colonial treachery and Hawaiian retribution, swift and sudden.
It was a beautiful day and we decided to walk from the port area to the nearby Sheraton hotel and beach area. We sipped some passable Cabernet as the erose skyline of Nawiliwili harbor and Kauai faded into the setting sun.
They can seat almost 90 people and are a bit removed from the old a€?lifeboatsa€? that ships used to carry. One can only speculate at all of the events, legal and foul, that must have transpired under its shelter.
Whale blubber and whale oil fueled the lamps of Europe and America during the 1800a€™s, until the advent of mass production of electricity.
We had enjoyed this low-key, unhurried look at Maui, without the hustle and commotion of a guided tour. His grasp of plate tectonics, the mechanics of volcanic eruption and a score of other disciplines, involving agriculture, local flora and fauna and marine biology were not just superficially acquired. The actual volcano mouth was surrounded by succeedingly larger depressions that extended out further.
The lava had the consistency of brittle tar that had frozen in wildly flowing waves of super heated rock. When the surface of a lava flow starts to cool, the molten lava often is still flowing beneath the surface. We had a leisurely breakfast on the balcony, watching the white caps of the blue sea swell and flow around the big shipa€™s wake. We had brought our books with us and sat outside, on lounge chairs on the covered promenade deck. Four photographers were busy taking pictures of passengers in their tuxedos and evening wear.
We breakfasted in the deck 14 Horizons Court and then sunned on the aft fantail of deck 12, enjoying the leisurely time to read, try a cooling dip in the small pool and generally laze about the deck.
After the movie, I sent some e-mails into cyber space enjoying the novelty of transmitting from the middle of the ocean via satellite, something that would have been near impossible only a few years before.
The performance was blocked some by clouds, but we watched it eagerly enjoying the light play of sun on water and sky as the day turned into night at sea in its daily magical performance. We smiled at the co-incidence and enjoyed another meal with these charming young people from London. Even better, across the bay at a now abandoned similar anchorage, the area had been named Paris. After the show, Mary and I wandered topside to look at the full array of celestial beacons that adorned the heavens. Even the name conjured up visions of Polynesians in outrigger war canoes with the sound of drums resonating in the humid air. I dona€™t usually like lounge singers, but this engaging performer gave convincing renditions of Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Elvis Presley and a bevy of others, in a toe-tapping medley that left you smiling.
W returned to our cabin to read (a€?Backspina€? Harlan Coben ), write up my notes and retire. The bay in which we were anchored, and most of the visible island, once were ensconced firmly in the center on an ancient caldera of a volcano that had risen some 13,000 feet into the Polynesian sky. The sturdy vehicles were clean and comfortable with seat pads, not anywhere near as Spartan as the guides had warned us.
We drove by and admired Papaya, Banana, coconut and the famous breadfruit trees for which the HMS Bounty had come to the Society Island looking in the 1800a€™s. The tab was a respectable $500-$800 a night for those fortunate enough to be able to stay there. Tongue in cheek, the guide explained that, like most social programs the program has those who used it unfairly. French is spoken on the island exclusively and French Polynesian Francs the currency of choice.. Rotui was already peaking out from the gray wisps of cloudy garlands capping its erose peak. The 53 square mile island, shaped like a butterfly, is a popular destination for upscale tourism.
It had rained heavily a few hours before and the small rain puddles made the walk through the open field interesting. The a€?lipsticka€? tree had small fuzzy buds that when rubbed on lips or fingers had the same effect as rouge. Small bushes, with thin and wiry leaves, are carefully tended by laborers and then harvested for their sweet fruit.
All high school students have to commute daily to Tahiti as well as many workers who commute daily. Then, Lobsters tails and a light parfait, all washed down with a Mondavi Merlot and decent coffee completed this wonderful dinner.
We could watch half a dozen freighters lading cargo, the men and forklifts scurrying here and there, noisy and busy at work. The accounts they brought back electrified Europe enticing artists like Gauguin and adventurers of every type. The missionarya€™s razed the several Marae (sacrificial altars) and brought the European version of a straight-laced version of an unforgiving deity. A few hundred yards over sits the huge Ferry dock for the daily shuttles to Moorea, visible on the horizon, just 11 miles Northeast of Tahiti. The Tahitians are religious about stopping for pedestrians crossing the street, but it is still proved to be an adventure. We then walked down the main gallery of deck 7 and had some coffee in the small lounge outside of the restaurants. Neon signs from the honk tonk clubs a€?Broadway,a€? a€?Manhattana€? and others vied for the club trade. At that instant, the entire passenger compliment, for that flight, drops what they are doing and sprints for the assigned gate, some as far as a 15 minute walk away.
Then, the Italian Alps crowded the skyline.They are hills of the craggy and black granite variety, much like our own Rocky Mountains. The line was long and passengers were annoyed,some engaging in delightful histrionics, replete with loud voices and wild gestures. My minds eye could picture the parade of legions and cornucopia of other traffic that had passed this way before us in the 2700 years of Romea€™s history. Now, it took an active imagination to look into the dustbin of history and see what once was mighty Rome. The Coliseum looked majestic, as we looked over our shoulders, like some ancient mirage that would vanish the moment we stopped looking. We were headed to the most famous meeting spot in all of Rome, The a€?Spanish Steps.a€? They are a series of broad stone stairways that lead from the Piazza Espanga to the five-star Hotel Hassler, once the site of the Villa Medici, with its distinctive twin towers. We sat in a small park on the Piazza Venezia and looked out over the monument with its huge Italian flags wafting in the afternoon breeze. It was busy with flight crews coming and going and scores of other travelers from everywhere.The airport location is ideal for weary passengers arriving from all points of the globe.
We sat down with a couple from Toronto and had a pleasant conversation.He is a retired fire fighter and she works in food service. Long lines waited to get into the Vatican museum and its moist desired visual prize, the Sistina Chapella (Sistine Chapel). The appeared for all the world like a semi circle of stone hawkers calling forth the faithful to come in and see what was cooking inside. We jumped into line and soon were admitted into the venerable wonder that is the church of St. We scurried over to the entrance to the underground crypt, thankful for the empty bellies of the many pilgrims who now donned the noon feedbag. A long marble hallway, opened every few yards into a grotto with a marble sarcoughogus that housed the remains of another Pope. The stone work had been mended throughout the years, but reflected differing styles of stones and means of repair from the many eras of its menders.
The ornate facade of the Palace of Justice, just up ahead, looks like something from 19th century Paris, in its dirty-gray limestone majesty.
Part of the ancient wall of Rome, with its standing city gate, frames the North side of the piazza. At its peak, we looked out over the Piazza del Poppolo and enjoyed the view of much of Rome. We found the subway entrance nearby and walked down into the bowels of Rome, to catch the a€?Aa€? train back to the terminal. At 9 A,M, we walked through the lobby and again dined at the buffet breakfast put on by NCL in the hotel. The cabin was compact, but included a small sitting area, sliding doors onto a balcony and a small bathroom and shower.It was to be our home for the next twelve days.
If you ever needed this sucker, in an emergency, it might well pay to know how to hell to get on board the craft. The powerful tug a€?Eduardo Roacea€? helped nudge the dream in a 180 degree pivot, so she was bow first and able to steam more ably from the congested harbor area. He was to be one of several of the mostly Phillipino and eastern European wait staff with whom we were to interact. After dinner, we strolled the decks and now open shops (they close when in port) and enjoyed the comings and goings of the passengers in the lounges.
The Pisamonte range hemmed the flat coastal plain into a narrow strip of tillable land, where farmers grew large commercial crops of grapes, sunflower seeds, olives and wheat. She had been so venerated by the church, that when the Sienese wanted her body interred in the Chiesa San Domingo, Rome had only sent her head and a finger to be buried there, retaining the rest of her remains for veneration in Rome. We enjoyed the McGoldricka€™s company and were half lit from the Chianti when we emerged into the central piazza some 90 minutes later.
I am not much taken by religious art, but had to admire the pure artistry in stone so casually laid before us. We were high in the hills and caught pictorial visages of the valleys surrounding Siena, San Gimiano and the nearby towns. Topside, we looked out and viewed the amphitheater of Genoa, that surrounds the busy commercial port. A land road now reaches Porto Fino, but in the early part of the century, it had only been accessible by boat, increasing its attraction for those looking to a€?get awaya€? from it all. We saw a sign with an arrow for a€?Castello Browna€? and walked the steep and terraced steps leading above the village. It is impressive enough, but the real treasure, for Americans, is to walk by a simple grave stone, amidst ancient Monagasque royalty, embedded in the floor near the main altar. We were having lunch in a€?La Chaumiere,a€? a picturesque, mountainside restaurant with a killer view of all of Monaco and the mediteranean beyond. Cap Da€™antibe, and the sparkling blue Mediterranean, are things you could look at all day. Along the waterfront, pricey hotels dominate the grand boulevard for a stretch of seven kilometers. We much enjoyed the Martina€™s company and talked long enough for us to be the last ones in the Trattoria.
We had the option of a full day tour in Provence, but had decided that too many full day tours were wearing us a little thin.
Byzantine in style, like sacre Coeur in Paris, it sits on the site of a much older church first established there in 1100 A.D.
Elaborate gates , with decorative iron works guarded the palais.Three marble lions strode atop the impressive gates. It stands high on the summit of a hill, and features a huge gold tinted statue of a€?Notre Dame,a€? Mary, the mother of Christ. It was the McGoldricks 24th wedding anniversary and we had been looking forward to joining them. My right hand was swollen, black and blue but felt well enough to get through the daya€™s tour.
It is apparently the local custom for Godfathers to purchase ornate cakes for their godchildren on this day. The impression we got was of a very clean and well ordered city, with little graffiti, litter or urban blight. The three other facades of the church are radically different in design, all reflecting the dynamics of the Spanish church and government in different periods of the cathedrals construction. The ship gathered speed and we reluctantly waived farewell to a beautiful and unique city in Catalonia.
Calamari, risotto with shrimp, penne pasta, cannoli and decaf cappuccino all accompanied a Mondavi Merlot.
The stitches and wound looked icky, but the tissue was already showing signs it might grow back together. I uncorked a bottle of champagne, that the cruise line had given us, and we toasted our good fortune at being here with each other. She knew it was a fine line between spinning out and reaching the summit.A A Tiffani Jones (name changed) was being buried today. Nieman Marcus, Nordstroma€™s, Macya€™s and many other toney shopping meccas lined the streets of the main boulevard.
We also found out later that the sand had been imported from Australia due to a lack of white sand locally.
You always think it will evaporate like some ephemeral bubble that will just go a€?popa€? and disappear.
A small park area looked out across the channel to Ford Island, where the graceful white arch of the monument sat atop the sunken remains of the Battleship USS Arizona. The rugged green mountains that split the island were just to the North of us, with gray garlands of fluffy clouds drifting across them.
The channel from Ford Island to Oahu is narrow and an entire fleet of ships was berthed here. It was like an Arabian bazaar trying to search for our two black bags amidst a sea of hundreds of others. Ozzie Nelson was paging me and we returned to the stateroom for a long afternoon nap, my favorite activity in the tropics. It was to be the first of twelve such meals that would impress us greatly and expand us measurably. The bus passed through Poi Pu, with its alley of mahogany and Eucalyptus trees that met overhead.
Some small shops and restaurants are clustered nearby, but the real attraction if the golden beach and the bright blue ocean. We had enjoyed our visit to the island, though we thought that a goodly supply of books would be needed for an extended stay here. Radiating outward are collections of small commercial shops, hawking the usual tourist wares, and several streets of small, neat homes. It is a modern, tri-level shopping court of high priced shops like Versace, Ferragamo, Tiffany and Gucci. The Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt and Maui Ocean Shores are beautiful in their landscaped elegance. It gave us a softer look at a place that deserves to be further explored on another occasion. It is these incidental meetings shipboard, either at dinner or casually, that much enhance the entire experience.
When you think of lava exploding all the way up through 31,000 feet of mountain, that makes for a degree of physical force that is hard for me to grasp.
It was fascinating for me to look at this cone and realize that enough volcanic material had erupted from this aperture to create 4,000 sq.
Off to the Southeast, visitors were warned from walking because the sulphur fumes could be toxic. The top layer of the flow had that crystalline diamond effect as the molten surface rock cooled and crystallized. Our fellow park bears were munching at the sample a€?buffet linea€? like people who hadna€™t just consumed 1200 calories at the Volcano House. It was geriatrics row, god bless them for the gumption to be still traveling at an advanced age. Tonight was the first a€?formal dinnera€? in the Florentine room and we wanted to be alert and enjoy the affair. It is a life speed gear that I am not much familiar with, but would like to experience more of it.
It was a€?French Night.a€? I had escargot, French Onion Soup, Orange roughie and an apple tart with ice cream for desert. We returned to our cabin to shower and prep for dinner, much appreciating the splendor of our surroundings in juxtaposition to those available on Christmas Island. The Mondavi Merlot led us into squid and shrimp appetizers, Zuppa minestrone, swordfish griglia and then finally a delicate Tiremisu with good coffee. It had been a long day in which we had witnessed the span of events from first light to twinkling evening. We met Kevin and Laura Hanley in the deck 5 lounge, had coffee and got better acquainted, before entering the Florentine Room for another wonderful experience. The erose, emerald remains of an ancient volcano rose up in front of us, cloud shrouded, mysterious and tolkienesque in the early morning sun.
I had recognized the craggy skyline from a modern painting by an Italian artist named Freshcetti, I think. When Brigitte Bardot, the French actress, had visited the islands, she took up their cause. Almost instantly, a small army of these crabs crawled forth from their burrows and began dragging the fruit and peels back into their holes. The Bora Borans called these homes, the French equivalent of a€?re-election homesa€? for the propensity of mayors to award these homes to certain favored islanders during re-election years. We cooled off from the sun and then decided to walk the roads for a bit to see what local culture we could absorb. For reasons, unknown to me, the sun sets earlier here, by some 45 minutes, than in the Northern climes. We walked topside to once again admire the stars emblazoned across the inky night of these former Society Island in French Polynesia, glad that we were here and together. A dozen or so of the huge, air-conditioned land cruisers were waiting their aging cargos for the daya€™s tours.
Many of the island women wore it in place of costlier lipstick, hence the name of the tree.
These sacrifices are laced through the Hawaiian legends as part of the reason the ancient Hawaiians had fled the harsher culture of Bora Bora and Moorea. This island is the most beautiful in the chain and the one we would most like to return to. That was something we will long remember during the cold and snowy Winters of our home in the frosty northern climes.
Then, we stood nearby eating our sandwiches under the protective shade of a large Monkey pod tree.
Colorful cotton sarongs, flowered garlands and other bright pastels adorned these handsome people.
We had agreed to have dinner with Jazz and Janice, from London, this evening and met them in the lounge. The river of cars left a trail of red taillights flashing in the dark, as they rounded the bend towards the air port. The Caribbean flights all fly out of Toronto in the early hours of the day and the European flights in the early evening hours.
The hills were laden with snow beneath us as we soared over them.They looked cold, jagged and forbidding. We had decided to eat at the Hotela€™s a€?Taverna,a€? rather than risk ramming around the area when we were this tired.
We collapsed into a dreamless sleep of crowds, noisy children and the other bugaboos of travel crowding our heads. We dressed for the day and walked the half mile over to the airport terminal.Throngs of people were scurrying about.
The remaining spaces are crowded by large brick apartment complexes, stretching all along the train line that runs from the airport to Rome. The painted frescoes and saints statues had replaced the many ancient and pagan deities that had once adorned the niches in the walls. We sat in the Antico cafe and enjoyed a cappuccino, looking out over the ancient Theater Marcello, another gracious ruin where the Caesars had enjoyed theater productions.
The train was just about to leave the station, so we sprinted down the track and jumped on board just as the conductor gave the engineer the wave off. Complexes of brick condos and apartments signaled the arrival of the local stations, which we breezed through without stopping. We had already viewed this wonder on a previous visit and were not ungrateful that we didna€™t have to stand in the two-hour long line.
He had loomed large in my child hood and now I was here staring at his elegantly clad remains, like some rural Russian first encountering Lenina€™s tomb in Red Square in Moscow.
A 60 foot high cliff, with grecian columned buildings, marks the eastern edge of the Villa Borghese and frame much of the remainder of the piazza. Then, we came upon the top of the Spanish steps and the storied Hotel Hassler and a few other four star and elegant small hotels. The winds were freshening and the waves were splashing high above the seawall, as we glided from port, waving by to Roma until we could return once again. It is from these small range of mountains that the world-famous Cararra marble is quarried. The olive trees took thirty years to mature enough to yield sufficient fruit for a pressing. Many were small walled villages from the middle ages, replete with castle walls, church and bell tower. Nearby Florence and the beautiful walled village of San Gimiano also sit on this road and prospered from the pilgrims and commercial traffic that flowed along its length. It all sounds a bit grisly to us now, but it was the time-honored custom of the medieval church in Italy. One large center and two smaller flanking triangles, of painted Murano glass, project colorful scenes of the Virgin Mary.
The Piazza is cobbled, and slanted to funnel into a flat area just in front of the Siena City Hall. Oysters Rockerfeller, salad, lobster tails and peach cobbler, with merlot and cappuccino, were wonderful.
The Norwegian Dream would motor 118 miles North, to Genoa this evening, arriving by early morning. The city is shaped like an alluvial amphitheater and carved from the surrounding mountains, like Naples far to the South. The bus traversed several large tunnels, through the surrounding mountains, in our passage south to the Ligurian coast.
The coastal hills rose steeply, behind the narrow strip of road, as we motored past the Porto Fino headland and coasted towards the small harbor area that is Porto Fino. Bougainvillea and other flowers were in bloom here and gave an aura of color and warmth even in the rain. Flagons of Chianti and a soft, white wine accompanied fried mushrooms, pasta in pesto sauce, seafood lasagna, fried fish cakes (for the vegetarians.) Strawberries in lemon ice, with Decaf cappuccinos finished this tasty repast. It is glass walled and occupies three terraces and the entire rear of the ship on deck # 9. It would be a long day for us, so we headed to the cabin to read and retire from another hard day of touristing. The wholea€? countrya€? is carved from the cliffa€™s side, with terraced sections up and down the mountain. It reads a€?Gratia Patriciaa€? and houses the remains of Philadelphia-born film star, Grace Kelly. I smiled momentarily, remembering an episode from the Television series, a€?The Sopranos.a€? The main character had unknowingly parroted a remark he hard from his shrink, referring to a€?Captain Tebesa€? as an elegant place to visit. Across the roadway , from the hotel and along the seaside, run a similar lengthy of beaches. Mary and I reversed course and walked along the marina and haborside, into the main square of Canne.
The waiter was too polite to ask us to leave, but I had been thrown out of enough places already to recognize the imminent nature of the a€?buma€™s rush.a€? We made our goodnights and returned to the cabin, to read and relax. The guide wasna€™t doing any hand flips over the architectural style and there didna€™t appear to be any large crowds around on this, an Easter morning.
Andre Dumas, a native of Marseilles, had written the a€?Man in the Iron maska€? using these prisons as his locale. Strollers, tourists and shoppers were already out and about the small a€?old harbor.a€? The restaurants were open, and the chairs put out, for the coffee drinkers. My hand was throbbing to beat the band, but hey, no one likes a whiner, so we went and were glad we did. A former Roman outpost, from the first century, Barcelona is now the heart of the Catalonia region of Spain. Gaudi offers a unique marriage of art and architecture that is elegant in composition and a delight to the eyes.
The front facade rises in four towering and conical spires of dark brown sandstone, that narrow into tapered and brown-stone, laced pillars.
I could write several chapters on this elegant sandstone epiphany, but suffice it to say that it is a conceptual marriage of architect Antonio Gaudi, and painter Salvatore Dali. A large fountain, floral gardens and a well-ordered square complete and compliment this lovely square. I managed, in my best high school German, to tell the Germans that a set of my mothera€™s grand parents had come from Munich and that Buffalo has a sister-city relationship with Dortmund, a mid sized city near Dusseldorf.
We checked in at Continental Airlines and then went through the security screens to gate #22 to await our flight eastward, to Newark airport in New Jersey.
Over 1,200 men were still entombed in the sunken wreck and the site was treated respectfully as a burial ground. Missouri, a€?Mighty Mo.a€? She and the submarine a€?Blowfina€? are anchored just around a bend in the lagoon and are available for boarding and viewing to the public. The driver noted several times the 1893 takeover of the Hawaiian republic by British and American military.
Nihau still lies in the hands of Mrs.a€™ Sinclaira€™s grandsons, the Gay and Robinson Company, who also own about one third of Kauai. We sat for a time under a shade tree and watched the ocean crash against the shore on a golden day in Kauai. When the waves are choppy, the boat can rise and sink several feel, in an instant, making getting on and off interesting, especially for the older folks on board. We browsed some shops for a bit and then hopped a cab to nearby a€?Whalera€™s Villagea€? on Ka'anapali beach. We stopped at the Marriott for coffee on the ocean and watched the comings and goings of the many vacationers.
It looked like Dantea€™s version of the nether regions and it held us spell bound at the raw power and energy contained in the process. The super heated gases, just above the molten rock, further molded and carved the area until a fairly smooth rock tunnel is created through which the lava can flow like tooth paste through a tube. We enjoyed the sea, sky and harsh lava for a time and then set off back across the fractured flow for our bus. We wished them a good evening and returned to our cabin to read and finish yet another lazy and enjoyable day at sea. I wondered at the ancient mariners who had sailed these lonely seas for thousands of years using these same beacons as their maps.
Dawn Princess had crossed the equator several hours before, so we were watching our first sunrise on the Pacific Ocean and in the Southern Hemisphere.
We were even treated to the fabled a€?green flasha€? as the sun sank beneath the waves and hissed as it hit the cool waters. I can die happily now, I have had everything wonderful that I ever wanted to eat on this cruise.
We had enjoyed the day and each other to the fullest, in the South Pacific, enroute to Bora Bora and Tahiti. We had breakfast on the balcony and enjoyed the sea air, the azure blue sky and the rolling, royal blue waves around us, We were steaming south at 19 knots and fast approaching Polynesia. In the old days I think they used to throw first time crossers over board for the novelty of the rite.
We would pay for these extravaganzas with a few zillion hours in the health club for the next few months. From the high deck of the Dawn Princess, it looked like we were entering one of those mysterious isles that you see in King Kong or Jurassic Park. This particular erose formation had probably fed the imagination of a thousand painters and artists over the centuries.
Bora Bora has several large and very posh hotels that cater to the carriage trade form all over. The women vendors gave demonstrations of how they dyed the colorful garments in a process similar to a€?Batika€? in the Caribbean.. The homes looked prosperous enough, with their stucco walls and tin roofs, used to catch the rainwater. Then we retired to our cabin to read for a time and fall into the arms of Morpheus at sea off Bora Bora. The temple area had fallen into disrepair, but a small grass-roofed hut and some printed information boards filled in the blanks. We had just last year seen a Gauguin collection at New Yorka€™s Metropolitan Museum and yet another small collection at the Art Gallery of Toronto. The second floor is filled with scores of small vendors peddling what we lovingly called a€?Le Jonk.a€? Sarongs, bead necklaces, carved figures of marine life, Tahitian gods and all manner of jewelry, tee shirts and other sundries, that gladden a shoppera€™s heart, are on display. They share that warm and gracious charm that we had experienced and enjoyed from their Hawaiian cousins. It is a custom we had much enjoyed in Paris and Firenze, walking about a crowded square with a sandwich and bottle of water, enjoying your busy surroundings. We watched for a time, admiring the pomp of the ceremony, whatever it was.a€? a€?Department de Francea€? shined out from a brass plaque on the lanai wall. We watched the huge car ferry and the smaller catamaran from Moorea glide by our ship for their mooring across the bay. It was here that we encountered the curious version of what we were to call a€?beat the clock.a€? Terminal # 1 is the jump site for many of the shorter European flights from London. How the heck the luggage guys can figure this out and bring the right baggage to the quickly assigned gate appeared to be problematic, as we were to find out. We waited resignedly for our turn and then filled out the appropriate forms, with the besieged agent at the desk. We recognized the bleary look in some of their eyes and knew that they had just flown in from far away. Throngs of tourists, from all over the globe, swirled around us in a multi-cultural sea that was dizzying to the ear. The Romans had staged sea battles, gladiator contests and all manner of spectator sports in these halls. It was one of those magical moments when you are very glad to be alive and with a loved one. After our swim, we read our books and soon fell into the arms of Morpheus, where we slept like dead alligators in a swamp, for a blissful eight hours.
We crossed over the Tiber River and smaller streams, noting the unique triangular, truss-supports on some of the more rural bridges. We hung on to over head straps and looked out into the gloomy subway, eyes unseeing like the most veteran romans.
We had purchased rosaries on a previous trip and wondered again at the whole a€?blessed at the vaticana€? scam. I looked on amused and amazed at what i was seeing, as the temporal veil of two thousand years of recent history raced through my mind.
Inside, we followed the circular walkway that rose gradually up the 90 some feet into the air, to the castles battlements high above us.The ramp was designed to carry popes and caesars in coaches ,high above us, where they could be walled in from besieging marauders. Twin churches on antiquity, now banks, guard the entrance to the Via Corso to the South, and the rest of Rome.
Further down the parkway we knew lay the hotel Hassler at the top of the imposing Spanish Steps. We thought about stopping at the Hotel Hassler for coffee or a drink, but were convinced that they would recognize me for a scoundrel and give us the heave ho. We found a spot where we could hang from over head straps and enjoyed the ride back to the Airport.
Nazaire France from 1991-1993 for $240 million dollars and originally named the MS Dreamward. After dinner, the stewards would take whatever portion of the bottle of wine that you consumed and save it for you in a central repository where you could call for it from any of the several restaurants on board.
Michaelangelo had been a frequent visitor in the quarries, to select blocks of marble for his sculptings.
This treasured fruit would yield 19 kilograms of oil from every 100 kilograms of olives pressed. I dona€™t think we, as Americansa€™ have much of an appreciation for this a€?quiltwork of principalitiesa€? that made up a region, each warring with the other over the ages. The Monte Dei Pasche, a commercial banking syndicate of Siena, had also become the bankers for the papal states and collected both interest on their loans and outstanding debts for the popes for centuries. Around its periphery are a series of hotels, trendy shops and restaurants with awnings and chairs for tourists and Sienans to enjoy the Tuscan sun. A series of large ravines, carved by glacial or ancient river action, were speckled with housing complexes and spanned by lengthy bridges, now loaded with morning traffic. We could see Castello Brown high above the village.It looks like a medieval fortress, but later proved to be but fhe fancy digs of a former 19th century British ambassador.


Afterwards, we walked along the narrow harbor path, looking in the various shops and taverns facing the sea. Meridian Merlot accompanied a three-berry compote, a lemon fruit soup, salmon and risotto, with chocolate cake and decaf cappuccino. Several eighty and hundred-foot power yachts lay at anchor in the upscale marina, attesting to the citya€™s glamourous reputation.
The police were cordoning off a route from the Palace to the Church, for the royal family, and clearing traffic from the streets.
Several flagons, of a decent , house, red wine, accompanied salad, pasta, cheesecake and cappuccino. We passed on the privilege and watched for a time the ebb and flow of tourists walking in and out.
Above the beaches runs an elevated promenade upon which throngs of natives and tourists were walking.
It had been a long and enjoyable day, in a fairy-tale setting, that evaporated from our consciousness with the setting sun. Some places were elaborately laid out, with formal tableware, perhaps in anticipation of Easter Brunches later in the morning.
The site had been built to commemorate the arrival of water, in underground pipes, to Marseilles.
The sight lines, from the elevated promontory, were gorgeous, but our attention was a bit distracted. The doctor was away from the ship, so she further cleaned and disinfected the wound and wrapped it in sterile gauge.
He didna€™t think much of the tissue would survive, but put five stitches along the underside of my ring finger, disinfected the wound, wrapped it in sterile gauze. The entire front facade, beneath them, is engraved with images of the life of the Holy Family, the birth of Christ, the adoration of the Magi, the crucifiixtion and death of Christ and the last judgment. After dinner, we walked the decks for a while enjoying the comings and goings of so diverse a population of passengers.
Her English was better than my German, so we talked for a bit about the usual pleasantries.
The surreal experience ended gradually as the tender ferried us back to the reception center. The natives, in relating the destruction of the monarchy have that mildly pissed off attitude that you hear when native Americans talk about how their lands were stolen from them. Then we walked them through a line to run them through a huge x-ray scanner for transport to the ship.
The hunger monster was calling so we ventured forth to the buffet lunch on deck 14, The Horizon court. It freed you from the fear of being stuck with morons and cretins for dinner during the entire cruise, an experience we had already suffered thorough on an earlier cruise.
It was to be a medley of nationalities that had me speaking Polish, Tagalog, Spanish, French, Italian and mumbling bits of Rumanian and Hungarian. Here, the wave erosion had formed several a€?blow holesa€? where the seawater exploded from fissures in the rocks as each wave crashed upon them. Hard drinking, hard living and men who had been at sea for a year had their effect on the local populace both in terms of quality of life and gene pool additions. We browsed the shops for a time and then discovered a small whaling museum on the second level. Inside are displays explaining measurement of earthquakes, pre volcanic expansion and scores of other details relating to volcanoes. Grasses and scrub trees had already started to cover the rock, attesting to its rich mineral content. We walked the damp tunnel and were mindful of the heat and energy that had created this natural wonder.
The lunch was middling to poor, a€?slop the hogsa€? variety, and the place was crowded to the gunnels with tourists from everywhere. We didna€™t want to waste the lethargy so we repaired to our cabin for a delicious one-hour conversation with Mr. A humorous Hungarian waiter gave a knowledgeable and entertaining lesson on appreciating and purchasing Pinot Grigio, Fiume Blanc, Shiraz, a Mondavi coastal Merlot and Korbel champagne.
We put aside our glass slippers and magical robes and surrendered to the sandman, happy to be here and with each other, someplace at sea in the vast pacific.
The Dawn Princess proceeded South at a brisk 19 knot pace and we could espy nothing around us except for sky, wind and wave. The dining experience was delicious and consistent with the other elegant repasts we had enjoyed aboard the Dawn Princess. They must have gazed in wonder, even as we now did, at the full array of twinkling beauty that we now admired. We saw and talked to Kevin and Laura Hanley, a couple from Maywood New Jersey, whom we had met on the ship. I would never have thought of myself on a cruise like this, growing up in a working class section of Buffalo, New York. But, it is worth it three-fold for the pleasure that we experienced in this 5 star dining emporium. The scent, on the ocean breeze, was pregnant with the healthy rot of tropical jungle just tweaking our nostrils. The Southern Hemisphere star show rose on the horizon and we looked up at these strange constellations for a time before heading back to our cabin to shower and prepare for dinner.
English seems to be spoken by workers in the tourist industry, but is neither known nor spoken by most of the populace. We were confirmed admirera€™s of this artista€™s brilliantly colored renditions of Tahiti and her people.
We browsed the shops, bought some bead necklaces for a few of the kids at home and enjoyed the color and commerce of a real market place. On the grounds of L'hotel de ville sits a large open-aired hut with a brown grass roof upon the large structure. The Apennines extend down the spine of Italy, appearing like some great skeleton on an exhibit, in a natural history museum.
We had some decent Chianti, very tasty caesar salads and bread, with cappuccinos afterwards.
We watched amused at the scores of a€?smart carsa€? and compacts scurried in and out of the congestion, jockeying for position in the moving metal stream.
I could picture the Romans arriving late, complaining of the heavy chariot traffic, as the sat in their assigned seats, waving at acquaintances and craning their necks to see what dignitaries now sat on the elevated dais. The Spanish Ambassador to Italy had once lived in a villa, just off these steps, giving them their name.
We admired the smooth marble and artistic workmanship and pondered for a time the march of civilizations that had come here to worship throughout the centuries, each praying to a a€?goda€? that they held dear.
Then, we were standing in from of a glassed-in sepulcher that reputedly holds the remains of the founder of the catholic church, the rock upon which Christ had built his earthly church, Peter, the fisherman. A tunnel even supposedly exited underground.It ran from the vatican, some blocks over, to the fortress where popes could retreat in times of attack. We sat by the fountain, listening to a musical group playing nearby, and enjoying the whole panoply of activities that swirled around us in this huge meeting place in Rome. We walked about, enjoying the many artists who were painting alfresco portraits of the tourists, much like the Place du Tetre, behind Sacre Cour, in Paris.
The first pressing is the most valued and usually labeled a€?extra virgin oil.a€? A killing frost had destroyed much of the local trees in the 1980a€™s. It gives rise to our fascination with castles, moats and the whole medieval mythology that surrounds such areas. The syndicate was so successful that in later years the Siena City council had mandated that 50% of their annual profits were to be turned over to the city for a€?public improvements.a€? The annual rebate now runs to $150 million a year and funds much of the restoration of the medieval town.
Each year, on July 12 and August 16th, a colorful horse race is run around the periphery of this wide Piazza, with ten especially trained horses and jockeys representing parts of the city.
We laughed a lot, enjoyed the food and each othera€™a€™s company and made a nice day from a soggy one. An interesting collection of brick-faced apartments, all shaped in the form of tan pyramids, caught our eye towards the shoreline. Directly in front of the casino, and rising upwards to a level of the city some 50 feet above, are a series of terraced fountains and floral gardens all bedecked in colorful flags and pendants.
We noticed that many of the stately older villas,along the roadway, were in some state of decline. The beaches sported colorful names like a€?Miami,a€? and a€?Opera.a€? In the Summers, this place must really rock and roll! It was too chilly to sit in the outdoor cafes, so we walked the length of the area, drinking in the sights and sounds of a place that we would never perhaps return to. A detachment of the French foreign legion had been stationed at this imposing stone edifice.
He told me to a€? take two aspirins and garglea€? and come back in a few days to see how it progressed. The statue was supposedly pointing towards the West and the new world, but somehow, the statues orientation had been turned so he was pointing South. They do things like that in Europe where centuries are relatively much shorter spans of time than in America. The homes, more Spanish style, Hansel and Gretel-type cottages, also feature elegantly tiled exteriors that are in the Dr. We sat for a time in the star dust lounge, but the entertainment was just as lame as our previous encounter.
Mary was glad Tiffani was local -- from the hardscrabble village at the base of the hill -- because after five years, she was a little tired of Greensprings being seen as a groovy, hippie alternative to traditional burial. You can still see the large circular bases of the massive gun turrets rising just above the surface. The Arizona, the West Virginia, the Oklahoma and the California all were caught in the initial barrage and either exploded or sunk. But the memories have followed me home from that haunting place in the beautiful Hawaiian sun.
Maybe they too will discover the notion of gambling casinos and how they can fleece their lands back from us someday. We had a nice medley of shrimp, salmon and fruit for lunch as we took stock of our surroundings. First though, we headed for the Vista Lounge on deck 7 with our large orange life jackets for the mandatory lifeboat drill. If you were topside, you were at the furthest end of the pendulum and felt the full range of the sway. This particular formation was called the a€?spouting horna€? for the noise and spray that exploded from it.
Harpoons, scrimshaw (carved whale bone) abounded in small exhibits that told you everything you would ever want to know about whale blubber, whaling and the industry that surrounded it. Golf courses, shopping, trendy restaurants and the finest white sand, that California could supply, make Ka€™anapali beach a comfortable and elegant escape from the everyday grind.
Kilauea about 11 miles from and below us, but it was too difficult to get us safely near enough to view the phenomenon.
At the other end of the tunnel, we ascended a few sets of stairs and the hiked through the dense tropical rain forest to our bus, admiring the many varieties of plants and flowers everywhere around us. We finished quickly, browsed the cheap souvenir shops and then did a a€?Chevy Chasea€? outside looking at the scenery, before boarding the land cruiser to continue the tour.
We chatted with Marty Bleckstein, the photographer from Maui, as we watched this spectacle and enjoyed her company.
We read for a bit before drifting off to the roll of the ship-plowing forward, ever forward, to our exotic destination.
It apparently has great medicinal effects but had a malodorous side effect that wrinkles the nose. The traffic was both swift and steady as we walked the roads with their too narrow shoulders. Reportedly, the islander who owns the land you walk across to get there, charges a $2 levy on anyone crossing his land, capitalism in the tropics. Moorea is a gorgeous arboretum and botanical gardens that is a pleasure just to ride through and enjoy. We had also hoped to see the spectacular black sand beach and lighthouse at Point Venus, the Vaima Pearl Center and a few of the waterfalls cascading from Mt. We had had the foresight to pack some essential in our carry-ons and werena€™t too disturbed at the loss of our luggage. The bus let us off on the Piazza Campodoglio, just behind the Vittorio Emmanuel II monument, that enormous a€?wedding cakea€? that seems to dominate all of the Roman skyline.
We wondered again at the many parades of conquering armies that had this way trod, dazed captives, strange animals and other trophies of victory shepherded before them, to the delight of the cheering throngs. The Romans had even engineered a means of stretching a huge canvass across the top of the structure, when the high sun of summer was beating down on the arena. They set out their chairs, under awnings, and wait for the tourists to come and sit in the Roman sun, dining and watching each other. I wonder if any of then considered the similarities of their exercise rather that the dissimilarities? The street was awash with people going to work and throngs more, even at this early hour, headed to the Vatican.
We had been here twice before, but stood silently in awe of Michaelangeloa€™s white-marble epiphany. As in most situations, when you find yourself overwhelmed by what you see, it soon becomes normal. We always do a double blink when we find ourselves in places like this, to remind us that we are really here and not meandering in some day dream in a place far away. It was getting late in the afternoon and we were thinking about making our way back across the city to the stazione terminal and the train back to the airport Hilton. The newer trees were only now approaching the proper maturity to deliver ripe olives for oil pressing.
On one hilltop, we espied the village of Monteregione, with its village wall and twelve turrets rising above the skyline.It is an outline much known in Italy and used on their former currency. A column stood in this piazza, atop which is the form of a she wolf, with two infants suckling her. That was to be the last time we agreed to a€?share a tablea€? with strangers when asked by the various maitre-da€™s. Along the many coastal areas, we noticed the old fishermena€™s homes, that are painted in various bright Mediterranean pastels.
We boarded and I stopped by the deck # 9 internet cafe to send a few message into cyber space. We were now on the a€?middle corniche (cliff) road.a€? Most of the coast, in this area, is a very steep hillside that slopes precipitously towards the Mediterranean. The population of the Monaco is comprised of 10,000 French, 10,000 Italians, 5,000 Monagasque (natives) and a sprinkling of other nationalities.
The sun was shining brightly overhead, the Mediterranean sparkled blue in the distance and a fairy tale changing of the guard was in progress for a fairy tale prince.
We walked about the beautiful parkland, enjoying the flowers, the bright colors and the activity in and around the casino. We wandered its narrow alleys, dodging other tourist who had been game enough for the walk. It was getting late and cooling off, so we walked back to the dock and stood patiently in the long line for the tender ride back to the ship.
Looking out towards the fortress, on the very edge of the harbor, is a large stone arch built to commemorate French soldiers killed in the Orient. Across the small plaza, from the Cathedral, sits a more modern building with a huge painting by Picasso, on its facade. Reliefs of fruits and vegetables, animals and other symbols of nature display a pantheistic overview of God and creation.
It is these chance encounters, with people from everywhere, that really make a cruise enjoyable. From all accounts Tiffani was a hard-drinking, hard-partying woman and many of her mourners were cut from that same cloth. Most of the rest of the ship is an indefinite mass that lies below, a sepulcher to those who went down with her. Lastly, we walked through yet another line to pick up our cruise credentials and be scanned and have our carry ons searched yet again before walking up the gangway to the ship. This ship was to be at sea for twelve days in stretches of the Pacific where even the birds didna€™t fly. We watched for a time as the frothy turquoise sea crashed upon the eroded black lava formation. I sent some e-mails into cyber space from the 12th floor business center and Mary did some laundry in a small area near our room. The surfers, divers and swimmers enjoyed their recreation while the sunbathers reveled in the warm hot Hawaiian sun. The fissure here were more brittle, like shattered pottery in a huge black piles of hardened tar.
We all posed for various pictures and decided to join each other for dinner in the Florentine room. We then sunned on the aft section of deck 11, enjoying the steaming morning sun on our bodies.
The natives say that as a reminder, the soldiers had left behind 100 children of mixed parentage.
The guide pointed out that all islanders who pass on are buried under small, roofed tombs in their front yards. Small clumps of people would stand and talk animatedly under the shade of a tree or that of a buildinga€™s awning. A filet of salmon and baked Alaska for desert was all washed down with some decent cabernet. The bonnet and doors were then cut out and expertly fabricated, with the whole body finished to the highest standard imaginable. The interior is finished in black leather with an art deco detailing to reflect the era the car was built. It is one of the pitfalls of travel.The airlines are usually pretty good about getting your lost bags to you in the next 24 hours. Now, throngs of people from everywhere come by daily and sit on the stairs, admiring the view and enjoying the throngs that come to sit by them. We sat for a time near the a€?Four Riversa€? fountain and admired the artistry of the Master Bernini. Sadly, I informed them that it existed now but in their memories from that classic chariot race scene in a€?Ben Hur.a€? What was left was now a large rectangular park area, overlooked by the ancient palaces on the Capitoline Hill.
We walked the length of the funeral chamber to its end where thoughtful officials had provided restrooms for the throngs.
It is always unnerving to sleep the first night at sea when there are high waves, until you got used to the rhythms of the ship.
We stopped at a road side rest station called a€?AGIPa€? where passengers used the facilities and sipped cappuccino for 3 euros each.
The entire effect of the cathedral is to catch your breath, at the artistic array of creations inside.Each had been created to show glory to god. Custom had dictated this as a means for the fisherman to espy their dwellings as they approached safe harbor and home.
By now, we were puffing with the exertion and wondering how the various workmen got up and down these paths every day. It is traversed, from East to West, by three roughly parallel roads called appropriately, the a€?Lower cornichea€? (closer to the sea) the middle corniche ( which we now traversed) and the a€?upper cornichea€?, higher above us. This was a Hans Christian Anderson day-dream flashing before us in the brilliant noon day sun.
We found and entered an elegant hostelry called a€?Chateau de la Chevre da€™Or,a€? roughly, the a€?house of the golden goat. Across the river, on the rise of a hill, stands an old stone palace used by the French Royalty at differing times. A smaller green-bronzed statue, of a maiden with her arms raised was erected, in front of the arch, to commemorate the French soldiers killed in North Africa. The bus driver and a colleague did a credible imitation of the three monkeys, pointing to the church above and saying a€?medicine.a€? We staunched the blood flow with tissues and a few antiseptic hand wipes. My best guess if that the construction crew screwed up, at the installation, and it had been too costly to correct the error. Gaudi intended his creation to have 18 spires, 12 for the apostles, 4 for the evangelists, one each for Mary and Jesus.
This hombre had one fertile imagination, that he was able to sculpt into brick and mortar in structures. They stood shivering in thin leather jackets pulled tight around their bodies while the wind blew, making it seem colder than 28 degrees. An armor-piercing bomb, from a Japanese dive-bomber, had pierced her forward magazine.The ship virtually exploded and sank in minutes on that fiery Sunday morning 62 years ago.
We all paid attention to the crews explanation in the proper use of the jackets and tenders should an emergency arise.
We were tongue in cheek cautioned about removing lava samples, because Pele would bring us bad luck. Luckily for us, the rains had stopped for a few minutes to allow us this walk through the lava. It is these chance encounters with people from everywhere that make the cruise experience so enjoyable.
I can now empathize with turtles and crocodiles for the languid pleasure of basking in the warm sun. They were an improbable pair that had been married for 26 years and they got along famously.
It was nearing the end of the steamy summer season here (Dec.-April) The Spring season is reportedly much cooler. They waved shyly back at us and returned our greeting with a soft a€?bonjoura€? before scurrying away. Ingeniously, so as not to interrupt the elegant mahogany lines when travelling without rear passengers, it features a removable wooden hatch, in true boat tradition, beneath which is a bench seat.Mechanically, the Talbot features a conventional steel chassis and is powered by a six-cylinder 1,670cc engine.
We had momentarily mistaken the Capitoline steps for the a€?Spanish Steps,a€? until corrected by a friendly tourist. We walked out into the Piazza San Pietro and immediately noted the colorful costumes of the Swiss Guard, with their razor sharp pikes, standing before the entrance to Vatican city. Supposedly Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome who had been suckled by a she wolf, had fled Rome and sought sanctuary in Siena. It sure did keep your attention, as Rita commented quietly on the many artistic and cultural aspects of the works that we were observing.
Residents pay no income taxes, thanks to casino revenues, and are generally well heeled, even by Monagasque standards. I had the presence of mind to think of the huge swelling of tissue to come, and managed to slip the large college ring, from my finger. Unfortunately for us, both the Dali and the Picasso art museums were closed on that Easter Monday. It had a walker, with a red line though it, apparently warning people from walking across lava that had not yet cooled and risk being burned alive. A refreshing dip in the small pool, in the health spa, felt wonderfully cooling after the 88-degree heat. We enjoyed chatting with the London kids this last time and were pleased that we had met them. Now, it lay like an ancient and broken sign post pointing faintly to a grandeur that once was Rome.
Throngs of other tourists from everywhere stood around us, as we too pitched coins backwards over our shoulders in hope of returning to Rome yet again.We had done this twice before and returned each time, so maybe the magic works. These hardy warriors are all trained infantrymen from the Swiss Army, who stand ready to rock and roll, with whatever comes their way, to protect the pope and Vatican City. They no longer asked for tips in the loo, they had sliding doors that only opened to admit one, if you inserted .60 euros in a slot .
From this port, you can access Florence, Pisa and a bit further out, the medieval, walled city of Siena. No one had really ever substantiated the claim, but it made for great symbolism and interest both to the natives and the tourists.
Christopher Columbus had been born and raised in these environs before he sailed to the new worlds for Espagna.
It was an elegantly manicured parkland from which to stare out over the sapphire blue Mediterranean. We repaired to our cabin to write up our notes, shower and prep for dinner with the Martins. Perhaps this was because the allies had bombed the port area back to the middle ages during WW II?
I had visions of sitting in an emergency room, at some French hospital, with the boat sailing away for Barcelona without me. Barcelona had been an interesting melange of Moor, Jew and Spaniard until 1492, that pivotal discovery year. Burning oil, smoke, noise and confusion reigned for several hours that day until the attack ended. I was enduring a bad head cold or I would have tried to mitigate the caloric onslaught as well. This light wine immediately took on a much fruitier and fuller taste to some chemical transfer or other.
We didna€™t think it odd to see the well-tended graves in the front yards of the prosperous looking homes.
The local school had let out for lunch and the kids were walking the roads like kids everywhere.
They had an early flight out tomorrow morning and a lay over in Los Angeles, before the long flight back to Heathrow in London. We watched and enjoyed the tourists, from many countries, snapping pictures of the fountain and each other. In past ages, their duty had not been ceremonial in the many times that both Rome and the Vatican had been under siege, from some particularly surly invader bent on plunder and mayhem. Andrea Doria, a middle ages naval admiral, and figure of note in Italian history, had also lived here. The ship had several of the motorized tenders shuttling passengers back and forth from the shore. As we sipped pricey cappuccino (18 euros),we gazed out over the sapphire blue of the Mediterranean far below.
The doctor offered me pain pills, but i advised that I would probably be drinking several glasses of wine for dinner. Internal religious strife had generated the expulsion of the Moors and the jews from Spain that year.
We had an opportunity to stay and visit the Las Ramblas esplanade, but were tiring from today's and the many previous tours we had taken. We had shared the experience with Lynn and her father Peter from London and two Torontonians, Judy and Paul. We also neither saw nor encountered beggars or pan handlers of any kind during our stay on the island. The buildings all around the piazza are replete with papal insignia and looked impossibly old to us, pilgrims from a land where three hundred years is a long time. We were seated by deferential waiters and ordered, in our best Italian, Minestrone zuppa, pizza, with aqua minerale and cappuccino. The guide mentioned something about him negotiating a treaty with Charles V of Spain, but it was getting a little too deep in Italian history for me to follow. We entered our boat and waited until the craft filled with passengers, then slowly motored into shore, where our bus was waiting. Someone with our surname (Martin) must have either been on the ground floor founding this place or donated half of the land for its creation. Mary espied Phillip, our guide, and insisted that I needed some medical attention immediately. We lunched at the four seasons, on deck #9 ,and then repaired to our cabin, for a well earned conversation with Mr. We ate slowly and enjoyed our surroundings and each other, never forgetting who we are and how far we had come to be sitting here under the Roman sun.The tab was a reasonable 40 euros. He walked me into the offices of the cathedral, turned me over to an elderly woman and skittled away, the weasel. I was sure itA was either someone who worked at the Borders bookstore coming in early orA perhaps an Asian student who lived in an adjacent apartment complex. Inside, several bars and galleries led to the central three story, open well that extends from deck 5 to deck 8. A huge waterfall, far in the distance, gave testimony to the force of the winds this high up. Fortunately, we had a very brief time to spend and had to leave before we put the money back into the machines.
Far below in the village, a small shed houses two donkeys who used to ferry people and luggage to this pricey Inn, in the mountains above Monaco. I guess it becomes more understandable, of their recent posture towards conflict, in the middle east. The shipa€™s two formal restaurants, several boutiques, the casino and other small cafes all opened off of this central court. Sometimes there were none and I wasA surprised at how disappointed I was when that was the case.
It is resplendent in gleaming glass and shining brass with marble staircases and open glass elevators. We did our a€?Chevy Chasea€? and appreciated the beauty of the a€?Grand Canyon of the Pacifica€? as Mark Twain had once called it. It is here, in the village below, that we met and talked to Peter and Julia Martin for the first time.
Often there wereA just one or two standing and I made it a habit to carry my camera so I couldA take pictures of them. We had noticed them on a few tours and decided to ask them to join us for dinner this evening. They agreed, perhaps wondering at the forwardness of yankees in soliciting social engagements. Manners got the better of them though and they agreed to meet us later in the evening for dinner. If they didna€™t, they didna€™t.A And the ephemeral quality of the perched rocks was somehow thrilling. Youa€™dA expect to find something like this on a beach or maybe a river bed but a mallA parking lot?
I also buy a new pen before a journey that I slip through the elasticized band that encircles the journal. This is my traveling kit a€“ one in which I make notes in longhand and draw sketches to illustrate what Ia€™m seeing. A --A A modest low-slung metal building, set in the woods off a dirt road, is home to the world-famous Thistle Hill Weavers, workplace and studio of textile historian and weaver Rabbit Goody. Approaching the building a muffled thwack-thwack-thwack mechanical sound created by power looms can be heard. When the door is opened, the noise spills out along with the smell of fibers mixed with machine oil.
Lawrence River leaves the confines of its banks and flows into the ocean, one of the biggest draws for me was the night train from Montreal to Gaspe.
Trains have always held a fascination for me, drawing on some part deep inside that really wants to live in the 19th century (although Ia€™m not so much of a sentimentalist that I dona€™t know that 19th century train travel also involved lots of soot and hard seats).A (Click here to read more . The young man beside me with a modified mohawk and earlobe plugs thanked me for pushing some hot air his way. At that moment, the SufferJets were skating two players down because jammer Sarabellum and blocker S---- a€?N Gigglz sat in the penalty box (an area adjacent to the track with metal folding chairs surrounded by shower curtains). A My boat, hired for a week, was steel, sleek, and low-slung, and painted maroon with yellow and green trim and a knotty-pine interior.
Mid-Lakes Navigation built these self-skippered canal boats to be both rugged and comfortable. He was an agricultural economist and a speechwriter for President Roosevelt during the Depression but by the time I knew him, he spent his days painting pictures and researching local history.
He was a quiet man with strongly held opinions and although he died when I was very young, my aunts say I'm an awful lot like him. A When I was young, my sisters and I roamed the Spiritualist campgrounds on our Spyder bikesa€“a€“sticking to the narrow gravel drive. During the summer, when the camp was full, there would be a message service in the auditorium on Thursday nights and we'd often sneak into the back of the hall to listen.
But I didn't really think much about the psychics and mediums and healers and the messages they were giving to the believers on those humid summer evenings. On one side of the fjord, abandoned low-slung gray apartment buildings almost blended in with the low hills. On the other side, someone had painted many of the occupied buildings in blazing colors: pink, yellow, and minty greena€”a jarring sight in the washed-out landscape.
A This is the part of Russia that Sarah Palin could see if she had super-binocular powers; it lies just across the Bering Strait from Alaska. He was a quiet man with strongly held opinions and although he died when I was very young, my aunts say I'm an awful lot like him. During the summer, when the camp was full, there would be a message service in the auditorium on Thursday nights and we'd often sneak into the back of the hall to listen. But I didn't really think much about the psychics and mediums and healers and the messages they were giving to the believers on those humid summer evenings. I would be riding in either a hovercraft or have a jet pack strapped to my back as I made my way to the grocery storea€”wait, there would be no grocery stores because all of our food would be in the form of little pellets that expanded to glorious dinners when put in some kind of rehydrating device.
I think that everything I imagined about the future I got from watching a€?The Jetsons.a€? (click here to read more .
He doesna€™t live on an island in the Caribbean or even within spitting distance of an ocean. Rather, his farming takes place in 100-gallon saltwater tanks in the basement of his neat and tidy house the color of a warm Sargasso Sea in upstate New York. In college, he learned to scuba dive and began collecting corals from the temperate zones around the world. Less than half an acre and only, at its highest point, about 30 feet above the crashing waves, the islet is a godforsaken bit of rock stuck in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern edge of Bermuda and one of four secret nesting sites for one of the rarest seabirds on earth, the Bermuda petrela€”known locally as the cahow because of its eerie cry.
Madeiros, Bermudaa€™s terrestrial conservation officer, is a small, soft-spoken 47-year-old with a mustache, tortoiseshell glasses, and a penchant for Australian army hats. Carefully working his way across the isleta€™s stony surface, he makes the rounds to specially designed artificial nest burrows built to protect petrel chicks from the danger of tides and rough seas.
The burrows are marked by wooden baffles that guard the entrances and have a very precisely measured oval cut into thema€”big enough that an adult petrel can get in to feed its chick but a hair too small for a white-tailed tropicbird to squeeze through and take over.A (click here to read more .
I know if I ever smell yak butter again Ia€™ll be back in Lhasa, Tibet, in the days before the first train was scheduled to arrive from China.Last summer, my daughter, Railey, and I went on a journey, and although I wasna€™t sure what we were looking for, somehow I thought we might find that indefinable thing in Tibet.
My prior knowledge of Tibeta€”a beautiful, mysterious, and remote countrya€”came from the movies and from my local grocery store.
Ronald Colman from Lost Horizon and Brad Pitt from Seven Years in Tibet were my spiritual guides, and the monksa€”small, brown men in long maroon and yellow robes who I periodically ran into in the produce sectiona€”shaped my notion of Tibetan culture. I would steal glances at them as they smelled the cantaloupes and picked out oranges, and if they caught me looking, theya€™d flash wide smiles and their eyes would almost disappear, and I would get all embarrassed. Ithaca, New York, is home to the Namgyal Monastery, the Dalai Lamaa€™s personal monastery in North America, so you get used to seeing the Tibetan monks around town. In winter, their maroon and yellow robes hang below puffy down jackets as they trudge through the snow and slush of upstate New York in hiking boots.
It might have been the weather--it was hot and rainy and foggy all at once creating a misty landscape that looked an awful lot like those painted scrolls of the humpbacked mountains you see hanging in Chinese restaurants. Or it might have been that I felt like I was looking at shadows, for much of what I saw was doomed and would soon disappear beneath the muddy river water. In early summer, the Yangtze--the longest river in China and the third longest in the world--is a swift flowing muddy brown mess of a river. We were on a boat about 200 kilometers upstream of the Three Gorges Dam and the landscape we passed through was going to be flooded with sixty more feet of water in a couple of months.
The Chinese are maniacs about their building projects and, true to form, were rushing to finish the dam and start generating electricity well ahead of schedule.
As a result, the water level in the gorges was going to rise sooner rather than later.A (click here to read more .



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