Monday, May 24, 2010

Status Update

The satellite internet provider only allows 60 min of blog time, which we have used 50 min. We will use our last 10 min tonight for Rome. Future posts will have to be from Ireland, Volcano permitting!

Ash Wednesday

The plan for Wednesday was to meet Launnies’ former co-worker, Allison, at the dock in Naples. This plan quickly went awry when no Allison was found. This lead to a constant circling of taxi vultures. Who insisted on being our driver and guide for the day. After another 25-50 “No’s” we had purchased our U5 ticket and were in relative safety on a traffic island in the middle of the street. We boarded the 152 bus to the train station and caught the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. Forty minutes later we arrived at the busy tourist site. We hired a guide for a 2 and a half hour tour of the highlights of Pompeii.

This is a plaster mold of a driver covering his nose and mouth to protect himself from the falling ash and poisonous fumes.

Wall fresco

We then continued on the train to Sorrento. Where we ignored Rick Steve’s guide book and hired an outrageous taxi and went to a restaurant that we had previously picked out. After eating authentic wood oven pizza and the famous gelato we wandered through the narrow streets and shopped. We followed Scott’s advice and went down to catch a ferry but had missed the last one. So we found an empty bus and sat in it until the driver returned from his break. The bus then took us back to town and we walked back to the train station for our one hour ride back to Naples.

Lemons and Oranges is what Sorrento is famous for. They were everywhere!

A miniature truck, squishing two people inside.

Getting back to the boat around 730pm we went up the top deck we had Vege Burgers and fries. Dwight and Caitie then headed off to see back to back movies, Alice in Wonderland 3D and When in Rome. Scott and Launnies went to see Disney’s Oceans (where they about fell asleep!).


-Dwight, Launnies, Scott and Caitie

To Tunis and Beyond!

The plan for the day was simple enough, walk off the ship, through immigration, turn left, turn right, turn right again, get cash, return to the last turn, board train. Simple right? WRONG! Our only frame of reference was our experience with taxi drivers in Izmir and Alexandria. The difference here is we didn’t want to say yes to the drivers. We must have said “NO” 25 times! We said No nicely, we said No empathetically, we said No with our hands, and with our heads. It was to the point where all we wanted was to get away from the taxi drivers! It didn’t matter if we were supposed to go left we would go right if possible! This lead to family councils on the side of the road, leading to 6 taxi drivers pouncing on us. We did finally overcome it all. Found our ATM. Bought our tickets to Sidi Bou Said on the TGM train. Train ride was uneventful and only 15 min long. We then encountered taxi drivers cousins, the shop keepers of the town. Ever sale pitch in the book was used, including “Everything on sale for Big Families!” and “Everything in store for FREE” or “We are not Cannibals come in our store!” We stuck to our plan, staying in the middle of the street, avoided eye contact and continued on our way. We made it to the scenic look out and took many pictures.

The train ride back was a little more eventful, Scott jumped off at the wrong stop for the boat and the local boys were all attracted to Caitie. The train ride into Tunis was simple. However the Metro, was very similar to Paris, in that it was crowded and everyone spoke French. It took over an hour and 15 min to make it to the Bardo Museum. It was a little more complex than just across the street. Everyone was helpful but they kept speaking French, which wasn’t. We poked around the Museum, took a few pictures of old Roman Mosaics.

To make it back in time we choose taxi as our mode of transportation. He had us back to the ship in a little over 15 min. On board the ship we enjoyed the pool, more food, played and won the game Wheel of Fortune and finished with the movie “Princess and the Frog.”

Hi Ho Hi Ho its off to bed we go!

-Dwight, Launnies, Scott, and Caitie

Traded down from 964 ft to 40 ft.

Monday morning found us bright eyed and bushy tailed at the dock of Malta. We met Cameron, Kimberly, Kelsey, and Devin Davies at the dock. Then set off in search for transportation. We never did find our rent-a-car so settled for a quick taxi ride to the Marina. We made it there shortly after 9am and met our skipper Dave. He took one look at us and said “We better cancel!” We debated with him and amongst ourselves whether we wanted to test our stomachs and his boat against the 8-13 ft Mediterranean waves. He assured us that he and the boat were fine, so we said “Let’s go for it!!” Our plan was to head for the sheltered calm of the two harbors and see how we would do in the open sea. The first hurdle was to walk the plank (literally!) on to the deck of the ship. So, no steady steps to get on to the boat, only a 10 in plank that bobbed up and down with the boat. Once all aboard we set off. Dave’s boat, The Geisha, is a 40 ft racing X-Yacht. He is a experienced skipper that makes a living by piloting large yachts and racing all over the world. He had just returned from racing in New Zealand. He quickly worked his 8 rookie sea men into shape, cranking cranks and pulling ropes. No one turned green on the first few minutes until we made the harbor. So after the harbor tour it was agreed that we would set off to open waters. All-in-all we had about 4 hours on the boat where everyone got good and WET! Kim and Scott turned a little green in the final hour when we were supposedly going to putter along the coast line but instead headed out to sea. Out in the open ocean the waves were 10 ft + and with us going against the wind we had a good roller coaster of a ride. Many times we had to switch from side to side to keep the boat from tipping. It was not uncommon for the side of the ship to be 10 inches from the water. The skipper thought we did amazingly well for our lack of experience, he was very surprised. He thought we were made of very good stock.

This Malta lighthouse was taken in thought of Aunt Connie

The Disney Magic with Malta in the background, from the Geisha

After getting off the boat and into a couple HOT showers we followed Dave’s instruction to the local bus stop where we boarded the bus to take us to Valletta. There we shopped for souvenirs. Scott found two swords, one Maltese and another Greek, from the same shop that sold Hollywood the sword used in Gladiator. These are now being held by ship security.

See Grandpa they even make Ben & Jerry’s in Malta!!

We then made it to the boat in plenty of time where we made it dinner. After dinner we headed to the comedian Heath Hyche show. Next we headed to bed to prepare for another excursion the next day.

-Dwight, Launnies, Scott and Caitie

Friday, May 21, 2010

Getting our sea legs.

Argh, g’day maties! It’s been awhile since we communicated this way but it’s been a busy week. Four days of excursions have left us a bit worn out. The week began Sunday morning with our Character breakfast. We donned our napkin hats and were met by Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale. But alas no Donald Duck for Scott.
After breakfast we continued to explore the ship, played a game of hearts (Scott won-BOO HOO), went to formal night dinner and enjoyed the entertainment for the night- Twice Charmed (an original twist on the story of Cinderella).

Here we have photo documentation that we have been eating well.

Appetizer: Cheese SouffléMain course: Portobello filled ravioliDessert: Chocolate Soufflé and Lemon cheesecake
We are also participating in the dis-boards FE program. FE standing for Fish Extenders. Each cabin has a fish on the side of the door on which we hang pouches for exchanging notes or goodies. Our group has about 17 cabins participating. So it has been like a long continuous Christmas stocking morning! We handed out one of our batches of goodies on Sunday as well. It consisted of Hawaiian playing cards and soap, made by Launnies

Dwight and Launnies’ Fish Extender and Scott and Caitie’s decorated door.

So Ahoy Maties! See you shortly 

-Dwight, Launnies, Scott, and Caitie

Sunday, May 16, 2010

All aboard, whose going aboard!

Its Sabbath morning, so off we go to church. We have become quite adept in using the Barcelona metro. We were able to find the Sagrada Familia quite easily. This is church designed by Gaudi that has under gone construction for the past 200 years and is still far from completed! We had an idea for breakfast near the church but was not able to find it. So we chose another, where no one spoke English. That was an experience!

Next we headed to Park Guell. Another park designed by the artist Gaudi. This park was originally designed to be a high end real estate development, until they ran out of money and sold it to the city to be a park. The art work was quite interesting and there was plenty of street performers!

After the park we went back to the hotel, gathered our luggage, and high tailed it to the ship!

Finally aboard the Disney Magic! After settling into our room the kids explored the ship, mom did laundry, and dad worked with the internet.

The cruise vacation has begun!

-Dwight, Launnies, Scott, Caitie

Barcelona and the Frushetta

Dodging the early morning rain we made our way on the metro to the Barcelona Magic Elevator. We walked up La Rambla to Lo Boquerria, the market place. We took a few pictures of the different stalls. Our only purchase being CHOCOLATES. Which never made it to the ship.

As the weather was still not cooperative we made our way to the city of Barcelona history museum. Here we had audio tours of excavation sites of the first century Barcelona. Some of the places were laundry, a fish processing factory, and a wine making shop. Best thing about the museum is that it was DRY and WARM. When we emerged from the excavation site the sun had broke through the rain clouds.

After a quick metro ride we arrived at the park Monjuic. Here we took the ride on the Funicular up to the top where we took another cable car up to the very top of the mountain. Located on the top was a fort. The views of Barcelona were pretty spectacular.

Scott protecting the Fort.

View from the top where the Sangrada Familia can be seen.
Now quite a bit of time had passed since breakfast and it was effecting our brains. As we rode the cable car back down towards the Funicular, but scott wanted to ride on the “Frushetta.” That being the laugh for the day.
After finding a subway for supper headed to the Monjuic magic fountain. This was a light music and water show.
By this time our feet were complaining so we took a taxi back to our hotel.

-Chiao till next time.