Europe Journals

Mediterranean Cruise

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A June 2003 trip to Europe by hermion

The Cafe Bar Photo, More Photos
Quote: This was a wonderful cruise on the best ship we have ever been on -- good food, good company, good weather, and fabulous places to see.

H10 Raco del Pi Hotel

Hotel | "H10 Raco del Pi"

H10 Raco del Pi Hotel Photo, Barcelona, Spain
Quote:
The hotel is located in a charming street in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. It is in an old building, fully modernized with A/C, an elevator, minibar, safe, there is a bar and a breakfast room down stairs. The place and the room were spotless, the staff friendly and very helpful. The breakfast ($15 p/p) is excellent and plentyful, enough to get you through the day till dinner. There was a queen-size bed, modern bathroom with courtesy bath robes, a color TV, and a chair and desk in the room.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 18, 2003

H10 Raco del Pi Hotel
C/del Pi, 7
Barcelona, Spain 08002
(34) 93 342 61 90

Where we went and how we got there

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Story/Tip

The Cafe Bar Photo,
Quote:
Having grown old and having seen much of the world through overland excursions, we decided to see parts of Europe we love by taking a cruise. This was particularly appropriate this year since most of my fellow Americans did not want to travel to Europe for many reasons and the shipping lines made offers one simply could not refuse. We actually paid about 25% of the published fare for a penthouse deck cabin with a veranda on the beautiful new liner Millennium. We flew to Venice and spent a couple of days there visiting old haunts we liked from several previous trips. After boarding the ship, which was made extremely easy for us by Celebrity Lines, we sailed to Dubrovnik in Croatia and had a day'...Read More

Ah Venice

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Venice Photo,
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We left Boston on the 4:30pm flight on Lufthansa and had a pleasant, albeit slghtly cramped flight on a Boeing 747, arriving at the Munich Airport at 5am, (11pm Eastern time), thus we were not unduly tired yet. After a three hour layover, we flew to Mestre and arrived there about 9:30am. From there, we boarded the Alilaguna water shuttle to Piazza San Marco, dragging our luggage behind us. If you go there don’t take the water taxi from the airport, it costs about $120, whereas the Alilaguna shuttle is $15. Venice is a wonderful place to visit, but travel lightly. There are of course no taxis and one has to walk to the hotel. The Hotel Gallini, where we had made reservations on the in...Read More

Murano

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Murano Photo,
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As I explained in the previous section, we bought 3-day passes for the vaporetto and made good use of them. In the afternoon, we took vaporetto #5 to Murano to see some of the glassblowers at work and maybe even buy something. Best to get off at the third stop (Colonna). Immediately you will see several glass factories. Just go in and you can see the men working at the kilns. Naturally you will then be escorted to the show room. A few steps will bring you to the next glass works and a different kiln. You will soon get the feel for what is mass produced kitsch and what is good glass blowing. Really good pieces made by the relatively few masters that are left tend to be expensive. Interestingly, we have...Read More

Our day in Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Story/Tip

Dubrovnik Photo,
Quote:
Having left Venice in the evening, we arrived at about 7am at Dubrovnik after passing by a series of high cliffs. From the ship, one could see groves of olive trees, vineyards, and great stands of evergreen trees. After the appropriate docking procedures, we were transported to the edge of town by a courtesy shuttle and then entered the walled city by the Pile Gate. One is instantly transported into the breathtaking medieval world of StariGrad. Facing you is the main street called the Stradun. There are cobblestones to walk on but the squares are flat marble stones. Momentarily you come to the 14th century Franciscan Monastery in which one can find the oldest working pharmacy in Europe. A short...Read More
More Dubrovnik Photo,
Quote:
Dubrovnik is so picturesque, I can't resist but to add a few more pictures to my travelogue. The old city is relatively small and can be walked through at a leisurely pace in less than an hour. The are some hidden nooks where we found a street market selling goods, vegetables, and fruit. Although they have their own currency, euros are readily accepted. I might add, where the ship docks there are quickly set up sales carts and one can purchase local artifacts very cheaply. My wife bought a pretty embroidered handbag for 5 euros ($6), which brought a grateful smile from the vendor.

Livorno

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Story/Tip

Livorno Photo,
Quote:
After an overnight run we reached Livorno on the Tuscany coast early in the morning. The sun was bright and the port was busy. The early bus tours left for Pisa and Florence (four hours roundtrip) and we decided to look at Livorno, a 15th century port which benefited greatly from the silting in of Pisa by the Arno river, making Pisa inaccessible to ships. It was the Medicis of Florence who in the 16th century converted this sleepy fishing village into a port which today is the third largest on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The courtesy bus took us right into the center of Livorno and dropped us off just around the corner from the Piazza Grande. It should be remembered that much of the city was destroyed b...Read More
The Millenium Photo,
Quote:
We had left Naples in the evening and arrived at Civitavecchia at 7am the next day. It was well up in the nineties and since we had been in Rome at least five times and the ride in was long and arduous, we decided to stay aboard the ship, explore it from stem to stern and enjoy the pools, the food, the ice cream and anything else we could see. First let me tell you about the ship itself. The Millenium is owned by Celebrity Lines (formerly the Chandris Lines) and this is part of the Royal Caribbean Lines. The ship displaces 91,000 tons, is 965 feet long and 105 feet wide. Its draft is 26 feet, she'll do 24 knots cruising (a knot is 1 nautical mile per hour or 1.15 statute miles per hour) and she...Read More

Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Riviera

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Villefranche-sur-mer Photo,
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We left Livorno at midnight and dropped anchor in the harbor of Villefranche-sur-Mer early in the morning. This is a lovely little town characteristic of the French Riviera. The harbor is relatively small, but accommodates several large ships either at large buoys or at anchor, as well as many large private yachts and smaller boats. There is a pier that accommodates the tenders which ran about every five minutes, so there was little waiting for a ride. From the harbor, the town rises up the side of a mountain with many attractive homes and much greenery. One readily sees the three Corniche Roads, the lower, middle and upper Corniche. The town overlooks the Cap Ferrat peninsula, home to the very...Read More

St.Paul-de-Vence on the Riviera

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Story/Tip

Villefranche-de-Vence Photo,
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We had heard much about St.Paul-de-Vence, a well-known artist colony and a beautifully located mountain-top walled city. Thus one of the couples we had befriended and we chose to go there together. The taxi driver wanted 120 euros (almost US$150) for the round trip, so we chose to use public transportation. For 1 euro, we took the bus up a steep hill to the center of Villefranche to the main bus station and, for another 5 euros, bought tickets to Nice. There we were dropped at the central bus station and after waiting about 15 minutes boarded the bus for St. Paul. After a delightful and comfortable ride through the center of Nice and then along the famous Promenade des Anglais and further through the...Read More

See Naples and Die

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Story/Tip

Naples Photo,
Quote:
I don’t remember where this saying came from, but when I was young it was popular. Anyway, we left Santorini at midnight and steamed at 24 knots throught the Aegean, the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas to Naples. The bay of Naples is indeed a wondrous sight. In a sweeping arc, one can look from Pozzuoli (birthplace of Sophia Loren) to Naples to Mount Vesuvius and further to the Isles of Capri and Ischia. While we had been to Naples twice before, we never stayed there or looked at its sights, but promptly took the ferry to Capri, which I have described in a previous report. After the usual lavish breakfast, we took the courtesy shuttle to the harbor entrance and leisurly walked to the town....Read More

Naples and the Surroundings

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Naples Photo,
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We had signed up for a bus tour through the city and the surroundings. This was one of the better side trips we took. After a generous lunch and a little rest aboard a cool ship we boarded the bus for the 2.5 hour tour. The bus went by many of the places we had walked through in the morning and then took us through areas where Napolitanos lived and played. Finally we climbed up Posillipo Hill, which is a great vantage point for a sweeping view of Naples and the Bay of Naples. After leaving the hill, the bus took us past Mergellina and the famous Castle of the Egg in Santa Lucia. We avoided the other tours. It was too hot to go on a tour of either Pompeii or Herculaneum, especially since we had...Read More

Barcelona Day 1

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Story/Tip

Bracelona Photo,
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We left the French Riviera in the evening and settled in for a long run. The next day was spent at sea and was used not only to rest and eat and eat, but to look up interesting acquaintances made aboard, exchange eMail addresses and tell each other how much we enjoyed their company. Much of the afternoon, of course, was taken up with packing our suitcases. My wife is a perfect whiz at doing this in a most orderly fashion, so I stayed out of the way (at her request). Early the next morning we arrived in Barcelona and its extensive harbor. Disembarking was made in a relatively orderly fashion. Depending on whether you went to the airport for an early plane or took a train somewhere or, as we did, staye...Read More

Barcelona Day 2

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Barcelona Photo,
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We rose late on Sunday and after a large breakfast took a taxi to the Sagrada Familia, perhaps the most outstanding building in Barcelona. We were pleased and surprised at the cleanliness of the streets and the width of the many transsecting avenues. After a 15 minute ride, we were dropped off in front of the church, the masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi. The church, about 100 years in building, still has many years to go to be finished. It has three main facades. The one on the east represents the Nativity, the one on the west the Passion and Death and Glory is planned for the south. Each facade has four towers to represent the twelve Apostles, while the dome over the apse is meant to be symbolic o...Read More

The island of Santorini

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Story/Tip

Santorini Photo,
Quote:
We left Dubrovnik on the evening of the second day aboard ship and cruised down the Adriatic sea toward Greece. The ocean was good to us and the ship was rock steady and one didn't know we were under way unless one looked out the window (no port holes when there is a veranda). The next day was spent at sea giving us a chance to explore the ship and gorge ourselves on the many opportunities to eat (I am on a diet trying to gain weight). On the early morning of the 19th, we dropped anchor off Skala Fira. The island has an interesting history. Homer described a continent he called Atlantis which was never found by modern archeologists. More recently it was proposed that what Homer described was th...Read More

Fira

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Fira Photo,
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Having chosen to take the cable car to Fira -- for obvious reasons -- we began to walk toward the center of town. You simply take two right turns from the cable car exit and, while gawking at all the wonderful shops, make your way to the town center. There is quite a nice store across from the cable car landing with many cloth goods. My wife had bought some hand embroidered pillow covers in Greece several years ago and wanted two more. After some digging around, she bought two matching ones she liked very much. Nearby is the Archaeological Museum which contains a number of Cycladic figurines and several artifacts dug up in the general area of Akrotiri. It makes a worthwhile,albeit, b...Read More

Santorini Villages: Fira and Oia

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Attraction | "Oia (pronounced ee-ah)"

Santorini Villages: Fira and Oia Photo, Santorini, Greece
Quote:
On the northern tip of the island of Santorini lies the fishing village of Oia. Our British friends and we hired a taxi and after a 20-minute hair-aising ride in an old Marcedes-Benz,we arrived in Oia.

There is also a local bus every 30 minutes, but who has time to wait. Oia is a lovely little town with a number of streets one can enjoy walking through, although much of it is up and downhill. The village was almost completely rebuilt after the awful earthquake of 1956 and today is very picturesque with many barrel-roofed cave houses as well as flat roofed, white painted houses. The main square is of course approachable by car, but all the rest is strictly walking.

Santorini Villages: Fira and Oia

Santorini, Greek Islands

Akrotiri Village and Archaeological Site

Attraction | "A brief visit to Akrotiri"

Akrotiri Village and Archaeological Site Photo, Santorini, Greece
Quote:
Akrotiri is about 7 miles southwest of Fira and represents on of the more exciting archaeological digs in the Cyclades. 19th century excavations have produced Minoan pots and pot shards and much more recently the ancient city of Akrotiri (thought to be the city of Atlantis) has been unearthed. One can enter the dig and visit some of the locations and see many of the artifacts that have been uncovered over the years. It was only in 1967 that a tunnel was dug through the volcanic pumice and the bronze-age city of an estimated 30,000 inhabitants was uncovered. The 20 minute ride here is well worth it.

Akrotiri Village and Archaeological Site

Island of Santorini

Athens and the Acropolis

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Story/Tip

Athens Photo,
Quote:
We left Santorini at midnight and arrived at Piraeus, the harbor of Athens, early next morning. Having been to Athens a couple of times previously we elected not to take the day-long tour but buzzed into town on our own. Athens is congested and polluted and not very attractive, except for the Acropolis. That is where we headed. The ascent is not too steep even for oldtimers like us. It is perhaps unfortunate that there is so much construction going on in preparation for the Olympic Games. Worse, there is so much reconstruction at the Acropolis it is hard to appreciate it's historical significance as well as it's architectural beauty. In the early part of the 20th century, German archaeologists...Read More