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We’re Going Across the Ocean in a Big, Big Boat

Author: wildbird1275
Date of Trip: May 2011

Dad once asked me why I loved to travel so much. My answer was “there is so much world to see and so little time to see it.” If I could describe the adventure my cousin and I experienced – it would be TOTAL SENSORY OVERLOAD!

MUSIC

The music on the ship was live – not canned – and good, from acoustic guitar, to Latin, opera, broadway, etc. What a joy. We took a tango lesson – and danced the merenge almost every night at Boleros! Ole!

PEOPLE

We met people from all over the world – and they all loved to travel. Our dinner companions were a couple from Virginia (Bill and Lynne), a couple from Canada (David and Bonnie) and a lady our age traveling alone – who lived in Washington DC (Helen). The captain said ours was the liveliest table. Our waiter was wonderful as he talked of family and home. David told jokes and Dianne F even got him to tell some Ole and Lena jokes. Our days and nights were filled with warmth and laughter…

There are others we met and saw on the ship that stand out in my mind – like the elderly couple I saw at dawn, holding hands and walking quietly together…or the young man traveling alone in a wheelchair who did not let his handicap stop him from living… I sat and talked with him many times – he full of warmth and smiles. Or the young girl traveling by herself who had pink hair, pink nails, pink purse and pink shoes and clothes – I nicknamed her Pinkie of course and we would meet and talk almost every day on deck.

OUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Our ship was the Navigator of the Seas and after talking with many people – it seemed to be a favorite – because of the overall warmth of the staff and travelers. This ship offered lectures every day on various subjects – we went to one on the Straits of Gibraltar – and it was wonderful. They had an ice skating rink as well – which I tried – for five minutes! Unfortunately the skates were hockey skates and my ankles started screaming!

The crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Tenerife, just off the west coast of northern Africa – was good. We did have a little rain and wind (35 mph) with approximately 15-20 ft seas – but it wasn’t anything the Navigator could not handle. She was a big, big ship! It took us nine days to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Dianne F thought she might get bored – NOT!!!! There was so much to do and see every day, we couldn’t do/see it all. Most nights we went to the stateroom early, tired but happy, intending to go to bed – but inevitably, we would stay up talking until midnight! My roomie went dancing one night with friends she had met, at a club called “The Dungeon” – and didn’t come “home” till 1:00 in the morning! You go girl!

PORTS OF CALL

In Tenerife, our first port of call – we went to the top of Mount Teide – which is volcanic. The view was breathtaking and humbling. What a magnificent place.

In Majorca we noodled through cobblestoned alleyways, up and down ancient staircases, got prints from a local artist for 4 euros (cheap), talked to Milo and Mom, who are now gone from us,in the quiet beauty of an old Majorcan church….

In Ajaccio – we jumped on a tram that took us all over this small French island, along the beautiful coast and back again. We walked the streets that Napoleon walked as a boy – and while looking for an open bathroom found three wise old French women who pointed and said “NO TOILETTE – LE BUSH”!!!! Viva le France!

There was a farewell party on deck that last night before Rome… sadly we said goodbye to all of the friends we had made and the wonderful staff who took such good care of us. Most, like us, were staying in Rome for awhile – or traveling to other exotic places. We were ready for the next chapter!!

ROME

We landed in Civitavecchia – which is the port to which all cruise ships must come. From there you can get to Rome a few different ways. You can take the boat excursion which would cost $91.00 per person, rent a cab at equal cost or take the train or bus for approx. 4 euros. We took the train!

Picture us trundling our large suitcases over cobblestone streets to the train station. Then picture us slowly banging these suitcases up and down stairs trying to get to the right train before it left! Thankfully, some locals realized that if they were going to make their train on time they would have to pick up the back of our suitcases and push us up and down the stairs – which they did! And voilla! We made it!

We got off where we were supposed to – the San Pietro station near the Vatican and took a cab to our B & B – ROMA VATICANA. (the weather in Rome was supposed to be a cool 65 degrees. NOT!! It was in the mid-80’s and hotter than heck)!

Our B & B was spartan and cheap – but the location was great. We spent first afternoon at St. Peter’s Basilica – with our mouths wide open, looking at all of the beautiful art. We got to see the Beatification of Pope John Paul Exhibit there, which was wonderful. It rained a little but we did not care. We were in Rome.

What did we do in Rome?? Everything. We got a Metro card which let us use the trains, subways, busses and trams – the whole while we were there. We visited every Piazza, Da Vinci Museum, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, we got lost in the Borghese Gardens and best of all – we got to hear the arias sung from some of the major operas – at the Anglican Church near the Opera House. Amazing!

Dianne had young friends there in Rome that Milo and her met and spent time with while having an adventure on the Transiberian Railroad – and we managed to meet them in Trestevere on two occasions. The first time the four of us had dinner together in a wonderful restaurant near the Ponte Sisto and the second time they brought their two children with. Francesco and Julia – tre’ bella!!!

We spent five days and four nights in Rome and once again, the people we met along the way will stick in our memories… the ones who helped us navigate the trains, busses, streets and sites of this glorious city.

My heart was full – but sad at leaving this ancient city. As I packed the last few things in my suitcase I heard the soft, plaintive sounds of a violin being played and went from room to room trying to find where it was coming from. I opened the bathroom window and the music soared up from the old airshaft below – music that mirrored my feelings so totally. I imagined a violinist from Rome’s orchestra living in one of the little pensiones there, practicing for the evening’s performance. Ah – the beauty of it all…

GOING BACK HOME

Each of us planned very well – and I can honestly say that we both really only had one brain fart apiece! Dianne F was so busy looking up at the beautiful buildings that she fell off a curb – but thankfully, only skinned her knee. I lost our return tickets but luckily found them tucked in my journal! The flight to Dusseldorf, Germany was fine – the good night sleep we had at our hotel was even better (some people had to sleep at the airport). Air Berlin was great with good food, good service. Miami was hot and sticky (almost 90 degrees) and it took awhile for Leon to find us – but we made it home. We had our last dinner on Fort Lauderdale beach at one of my favorite restaurants named H20 – where an aging male model regaled us with stories of a modeling shoot he was on in Russia where he endured the sounds of a cross-eyed soprano opera singer in Moscow!!! It seemed the perfect way to end this wonderful adventure.

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