We left Vancouver on Sept 26 with a flight through Montreal enroute to Rome. You have to remember that there is limited food to buy on Air Canada domestic flights, however with the ability to use credit cards the purchase of food and drinks is much easier. The screens in the seat rest is great for the movie lover, this definitely makes the flight go by quickly.
Upon arrival in Rome we headed straight for the train station, in Europe the electronic ticket machines are fantastic as there is an option to use English. The one way fare (to and from the Main Rome Terminal) was 11 Euros each. Remember to validate your tickets as there is a 50 Euro fine for not doing so. From Rome we bought 2nd class tickets on a Eurostar Train to Naples.
Once in Naples we headed to the Mercure Garibaldi Hotel just a few blocks from the train station. It was a moderate hotel that sufficed our needs for a one night stay. After checking in we headed back to the train station and caught the train to Pompeii, 20 minutes later we were wandering through the ancient Roman City, even as tired as we were, we were amazed at the details we could pick up on ancient Roman life.
From Pompeii we jumped back on the train and headed to Sorrento where we boarded a roofless hop on hop off bus, we had an excellent tour of Sorrento. We found it very clean, lively and picturesque. We both felt we would definitely go back, we had a lovely dinner where we were served delicious fresh local olives. After dinner we strolled back to the train station and grabbed the train back to Naples. We were both very tired.
The next day we headed back to the train station and we were on the 7am train to Civitavecchia, the Rome port where the cruise ships leave from. This is a busy port so the trains are usually quite congested and full of large suitcases. Arriving in on one side of the tracks meant that you had to carry bags down and underneath the tracks and back up, it was very difficult for a lot of people – especially ladies on their own. Once out of the train station there is a free shuttle to the port, unfortunately there was a very large crowd on the main street and the bus could not take us all the way to the ship, we ended up walking a fair distance. We got on the ship, the Royal Caribbean’s Navigator, at about 11:30am and settled in for the first day.
Our first port of call was Genoa, home of pesto, foccacia and Christopher Columbus. Our goal here was to see Columbus’s house, visit the old port, see the cemetery and eat some pesto lasagna. After walking through the old port and visiting Columbus’s house we caught the number 14 bus up to the cemetery. You can buy bus tickets at any tobacco shop for less than a dollar. The cemetery was amazing. We had never seen anything like it. The sculptures on the tombs were massive, intricate, and some were pretty bizarre. We then headed back to the old city where we stopped and had fresh Pesto lasagna, mission accomplished.
On the ship, we chose to eat at large tables as we enjoy meeting new people. We had two couples from southern England and a couple with their daughter from Virginia. They were great company throughout the entire cruise. We purchased the “diamond” wine package which was 7 bottles at a reduced rate, we found the white options very good however the reds were a little thin for my husbands Merlot tastes.
Up early again to head into Nice and Monaco. We were tendered so we headed in on a good size boat that let us off in Villefranche. We walked over to the train station where we caught the train to Monaco. We wandered around and found Monaco to be very clean and efficient. We had a nice cup of coffee up by the casino and then headed back to the train station. We then took the train to Nice. We walked down the main street of Nice until we came to the old town. We had a very nice lunch with the market in front of us. It was fun to sit and watch all the people go by. We then walked back up to the main street where we caught the bus back to the train station. We then headed back on the train to Villefranche, where we walked back to the port to catch the tender back to the ship. Bruce is training for the Ironman next year so he headed back in so he could have a swim in the bay, he raved at how clear and warm the water was. Bruce was up very early every morning to get his training in, he found the gym to be very well equipped.
Day 3 we arrived in Barcelona and as soon as we were cleared to go we were off the ship and walking around town. We have visited Barcelona before so we just wanted to wander about. La Ramblas one of the most exciting streets in the world as far as were concerned. What seems to be very popular are people dressed up as different characters and you can have your picture taken with them.
Playa de Mallorca was our next stop making it Day 4. We went on a great tour today leaving the ship at 8:30am and heading up into the mountains to see the cute village of Valdemossa. It is very famous due to Chopin having visited it for 2 months in 1838. The village was a true delight. We then headed back down to have an amazing wine tasting at a winery that unfortunately doesn’t export to North America. They gave us a tour of the facilities followed by a great wine tasting with all kinds of great foods to try with the wines. It was a big hit.
Cagliari, Italy is the last port of call on our itinerary. We were off the ship and had to take a bus from the port to a central location out of the controlled port area. We wondered around the streets checking out the narrow alleyways, beautiful vistas and many shops.
The last day on the ship was a very relaxing day after walking at least 4 hours each day for the previous 6 days. Bruce spent most of his time by the pool reading a good suspense novel and I was able to get some work done that had been calling to me. We had a lovely lunch up in the Windjammer together and then we went back to our respective duties. I did take a lovely break and had a massage sampler in the spa. It was lovely and this was followed by our last supper on the ship. We really had a great group that we had dinner with. Lots of laughs.
We got up very early the next day and were off the ship before 6am. We got on the port bus that drove us to within a 5 minute walk of the train station. There was a whole raft of us that were all trundling along quickly but quietly to the train station. There was a mass effort to get tickets and then on to the train up to Rome. The cost of the tickets were 4.5 Euros each. There seems to be a train every ½ hour but some take longer than others. Ours took about an 1.5 hours . We then bought the tickets to get out to the airport which are 11 Euros each. We had a very nice coffee in the station followed by a very crowded ride to the airport. Everyone was helpful getting bags off the train as it is a big effort to do so.
We then said good bye to our South African ladies that we had met on the first adventure getting to the ship. I hope their stay in Venice was fun. Bruce and I worked our way through the airport to get to our departure lounge to Malta. It was a quick hour and 10 minute flight. We ended up taking a cab to our hotel, The Intercontinental. It is a lovely hotel situated in St. James overlooking the ocean. It is not waterfront but close to it. It does have a beach club right on the beach. It also has a lovely pool area and according to Bruce an amazing gym
We wandered around in the evening and there are lots of things happening in this area at night. Going up the alley there is no shortage of night clubs, bars and restaurants. The music is just thumping out of the different establishments. What surprised us was how young the kids looked that were heading into the bars. Some looked like they were very young teenagers. We opted after walking through many streets to try Maltese cuisine. It was tasty but I think we both thought we have tried it and that we didn’t need to venture there again.
Our last day in Malta was a quiet one. Bruce went for a run and I got some work done. We went to a local restaurant down by the beach and had a really delicious lunch. In the afternoon we caught the local bus into Valleta and wondered around the different shops. You could just feel the history of Malta as you wondered the streets and as you rode the bus. I really liked the feel of Malta. We then headed back to the Inter Continental and figured out where we were going to have dinner. We were given a recommendation of a little Italian restaurant not far from the hotel. We had an amazing dinner – I had fresh Sea Bass and Bruce had pesto gnocchi. It just finished off a perfect trip.
Written by Wendy (& Bruce) Fougner