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Thread: Eastern mediterranean cruise tr

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    Default Eastern mediterranean cruise tr

    Who: DH and I, both old enough to know better but too young to retire
    What: 12 Night cruise on the Norwegian Jade
    Where: Eastern Mediterranean Cruise including stops in Europe, Asia and Africa

    DH and I grabbed our bags and headed to a hotel in Boston Jan 22nd, right after work. The hotel provided a reasonable "park and fly" package, including complimentary airport shuttle service. It was nice to start vacation a night early. The next afternoon, we took the shuttle to the airport and checked-in at the Lufthansa counter. We begged for seats further up in the plane (we were in the back of a 747), and were rewarded with bulkhead seats with lots of legroom. Yay, our vacation was off on the right foot! Our first leg took us to Frankfurt, Germany.

    While waiting to board, we ran into a German couple who had been visiting friends in the Boston area for the past 12 days. They were quite excited about having had the opportunity to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama. They said the people in Europe were very happy he was elected. It's funny, but we heard that same thing in most of the countries we visited.

    We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany 7 hours later with 2 hours and 15 minutes to connect to our next flight to Barcelona. What I didn't realize is how HUGE this airport is. I was told that it was quite walkable by the flight attendant, but not to dally. DH and I took off and, honestly, I think we walked close to 2 miles before we hit our first barrier - another bag scan. The line moved quickly, so we took off to find our gate. After about another 1/2 mile, we came to another line: this time German customs. We only had to wait there about 10 or 15 minutes. Not too bad. Yeah, our gate was still another 1/2 to 1 mile further on. We made it with 30 minutes to spare. Good thing we walked fast! They started boarding shortly after we arrived.

    Our next plane would be getting us into Barcelona at 9:30AM local time, but 3:30AM EST. Since we weren't able to sleep on either plane, we were bushed. We woke up plenty well as our plane approached Barcelona. What we didn't know was that Barcelona was in the midst of the worst wind storm they had in over 30 years, with wind gusts over 100 mph. It was the scariest landing I had ever been in! The pilot got us down safely, obviously, or I wouldn't be writing this, lol.

    We were staying in Barcelona overnight and were met by a taxi driver holding up a card with our name on it. When we went outside, we were almost blown over! I asked if Barcelona was always this windy. He said, "Oh, yeah."
    As he drove by a fountain, a wind gust blew so much water out of it, it was like going through a car wash. That's when the taxi driver started to lose his cool. Then we saw a whole bunch of palm tree branches littering the road. We also passed by a bunch of passengers who had just debarked from a tram and were getting sand blasted. Then we saw a roof blow off a house! We finally arrived at our hotel, The Silken Diagonal, and as DH stepped out of the taxi, the door almost blew off and DH was blown backwards down the street. He also noticed a nearby crane swinging wildly in the wind, not too far from one side of the hotel. For this reason, we requested a room on the opposite side.

    We turned on the TV in the hotel room only to hear of the deaths of children by a roof collapsing in a gymnasium. At this point, we truly appreciated the severity of the situation and decided we would be fools to go out to look at the sites. We did the next best thing - NAPPED!

    [IMG][/IMG]
    Here's a pick of our hotel. It was quite modern, with a glass wall between the tub and the bed. Very different!

    Next.............will the wind ever end, and will the cruise ship be able to get into dock the next day with the wild weather?
    Last edited by spring; 02-08-2009 at 03:51 PM.
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    Terrific Pat. I can't wait to read more. I read about that wind storm in the Vero Beach paper. It said 12 people died and many more were injured. Glad you made it to the hotel in one piece!
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    Here's a view of Barcelona from the roof of our hotel the next day, when the winds were gone. The large church being constructed is La Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction "for many years" and has at least another 20 years before it is done.
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Here's a tram going by our hotel:
    [IMG][/IMG]
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    While on the roof of our hotel taking pictures the morning of our cruise, we met a couple who ended up being "our family" for the rest of the cruise. It was nice to have someone we could meet up with after a long day of touring. Norwegian's cruise bus came to pick the 4 of us up that morning almost 1/2 hour early. Luckily, we were all so excited to see it as it meant the ship was able to dock on schedule.
    Here's our first sight of the ship:
    [IMG][/IMG]
    It was a nice sunny day, the calm after the storm, around 51 degrees. By my New England standards, that was warm!
    Check-in was well organized, and we were sitting at the top deck buffet within 30 minutes while waiting for our stateroom to be ready.
    Here's another image of Barcelona:
    [IMG][/IMG]
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    We sailed out on time, thankfully, but we heard from some passengers from the last cruise that they had a very rough ride the day of the wind storm. I can just imagine. I was hoping the sunshine we had on our embarkation was a good sign, but by the time we left port, then sky had darkened and it started to rain.

    The skies were gloomy the next day and the winds picked up again. Apparently, we had caught up to the front. Luckily, the winds were not nearly as strong, but just strong enough to make the seas somewhat rough. DH and I have iron stomachs when it comes to sailing, so we fared much better than some other passengers. Later that afternoon, we looked out and DH snapped this picture:
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Having seen this rainbow gave us hope that the weather would clear, as we were sailing into the port of Civitavecchia in the morning and taking a tour of Rome.

    Next..........will the weather ever clear up?
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    We woke up bright and early the next morning just as the ship arrived in port. It was still gray outside, but, lo and behold, no rain! Hooray! I took my umbrella "just in case" and DH and I were in the bus on the way to Rome by 8AM. Because of rush hour traffic, it took almost two hours to arrive. Our tour was of the Vatican and included the Sistine Chapel. We picked up an extra tour guide (an art and history expert) as we came into Rome, then drove to the Vatican Museum.
    [IMG][/IMG]
    This is DH standing at the entrance of the Vatican Museum holding a small paper bear. The bear appeared at a lot of places with us as my Granddaughter's school project is to obtain photos of her bear at famous places around the world.
    Here's a pic of the ceiling of the Vatican Museum:
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    Here's some other pics of the Vatican Museum. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures, with or without flash, in the Sistine Chapel. That place was unbelievable!
    [IMG][/IMG]
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Although this one is blurry, I put it in because of the beautiful mosaic that was on the floor.[IMG]
    Last edited by spring; 02-08-2009 at 04:33 PM.
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    PSL1013 is offline We plan to eat and drink around the world
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    Great TR and those pictures bring back lots of memories...I have the same exact picture of that mosaic floor in the Vatican. Looking forward to seeing more.
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    Love hearing about this trip, Pat. Can't wait to read more!!!

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    After the visit to the Sistine Chapel, we went outside into St. Peter's Square. It had begun to drizzle, big surprise. We were then taken into the Basilica, the largest place of worship in the world, no matter what faith. We were allowed to take pictures, but no flash, so my pictures are only so-so.
    [IMG][/IMG]
    The famous Pieta by Michelangelo
    [IMG][/IMG]
    The main aisle of the church.
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