Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

Rome at its Best and Inside the Colosseum

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This tour made up for the previous day. Our guide, Elizabethetta, was very friendly along with her partner Paulo. The highlight, for me, was the Colosseum. We got to go inside and imagine what it was like. The seat where the emperor sat along with the senators was above us, which of course was a hole above since that platform was made of wood. Anything wood was gone. The floor, for example, where the gladiators fought. You see the underground tunnels instead. We had a nice sunny day. As a gladiator buff, I pointed out the areas for my sister. I could imagine the roar of the crowd, the sandy soil covering the wooden planks that made up the pit where they fought. How the sand had to have vibrated through the cracks and onto the people below. I took countless pictures so the two I have here are but a sampling.

The labyrinth beneath.

The labyrinth beneath.

There was the Circus Maximus where chariot races were held but that was more of a drive-by than walk. Rome is definitely a city to spend weeks in.

After that, we went to St. Peter’s Basilica. Since the Pope had spoken there today, we had a long wait to get in. My sister and I joked that it was like Space Mountain. An hour wait for a three minute ride. The worst part was the rude people pushing and shoving or just plain jumping the line to enter the Sistine Chapel. When groups got caught doing that, they were escorted out to the cheers of others waiting in line. Our guide told us Wednesday was the worst day to visit. Once inside, it was a sight to behold. I have to say it’s kind of gross to see the body of one of the popes preserved with wax. Just an eeww moment for me. Otherwise, it’s so beautiful. The souvenirs weren’t what I was hoping for but I did find some nice things later on while visiting the Trevi Fountain. Out guide said the first coin is to visit Rome again. The second is a personal wish. The third is to marry an Italian. LOL. You turn your back to the fountain and toss the coin in over your left shoulder. Loved this.

 

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

Pickpockets are a real problem and seeing the crowds, it’s not surprising. Throngs of people just milling about.

One of the best parts is the food. While Palermo was a huge disappointment, Rome made up for it. Nothing beats a traditional meal. The great thing is all the wine in the world is free. You want a soda or beer? You pay for it. I had wine, of course. Very tasty.

Seriously I have so many photos!

Seriously I have so many photos!

 

Palermo (Sicily), Italy

The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

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The place of my mother’s lineage. The motherland. Home.

Worst. Excursion. Ever.

In hindsight we should have cancelled the tour and picked something else when we saw that the tour was being cut short and the meal exchanged for a box lunch that was a joke. One the experiences, beyond the history, was the food for me. What you get on the ship doesn’t compare to the local flavor. Greece showed me that. Still, I let the history guide my hand and went head first. Have I mentioned this was the first tour that didn’t include a nice alcoholic beverage? (BOOOO!)

We walked around the Temple of Juno first. Straight up a few steps that didn’t quite rival the Acropolis. However, touring in another group was the Ant Whisperer so there goes the whining again. Luckily, neither her or her husband could traverse the steps. Lucky me for one area at least.
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Next came the Temple of Hercules where I took a picture of a statue in all its uncircumcised glory. My mother kindly posed next to the third leg while I took a gander at the backside. The Temple of Zeus was nearby so I, of course, cracked the joke about how Zeus liked to slip his willie in any vagina that wiggled in his direction. He was truly the man whore of his time.

The sites were great but the whole tour was rushed because of the traffic jams and construction we had to go through. We actually spent more time on the bus than at the actual place. That to me is unacceptable. I didn’t enjoy the trip and instead of appreciating the history, I was more focused on taking pictures. Carnival did refund some of the money because of this. One thing you have to watch out for at the end of the Valley is the slew of guys selling cheap beads on a string. Seriously, do not make contact. They will try to rip you off and will not stop hassling you–even if you cross the street.

 

Crete (Herakloin), Greece

Knossos, Wine Tasting & Archanes Village

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At the time of this post’s creation I am sooo drunk. Thanks, Crete! Today was the day of touring King Minos’ territory. We’re talking the mythos of the Minotaur and the labyrinth, This was an excavation site in progress so not everything was open to the public. However, the landscape was beautiful to walk. Seriously, Carnival knows how to treat their people. Our guides always have tons of information and just adore their countries. I took a ton of pictures thanks to my uncle having a battery that was compatible with my camera. My sister and I snuck away to from the group to make sure we got into this one place … that had the throne of Kings Minos. A long line for a two minute peek. Still, historical so I loved it.

Cripes, I love everything about this culture!

A stray cat that shared some of my meal sans the booze.

A stray cat that shared some of my meal sans the booze.

We went to a wine tasting that first showed us a twenty minute video on Crete’s agriculture of wine and olives before tasting. I wanted to buy a bottle of wine but my suitcase clocked in at 50 pounds and I don’t want to pay extra*. I did, however, buy some olive oil and a cute urn as a memento. I prefer shot glasses but this was too cute to pass up.

I booked this excursion because a meal was involved and I wanted to try local dishes. I was so not disappointed! I lost count of the courses because DRUNK! Between the two bottles of wines and lovely local liqueur, I was quite toasty. The locals were cheering me on. An Australian called my sister a one pot screamer! Seriously, she can’t handle her drink at all. Me, on the other hand, did two more shots before we left. Had we stayed longer, I would have downed more. Between the food and booze, I was feeling pretty good.

Best excursion this trip.

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*I found out going back to the states my suitcase weight never mattered. All that wine I left on the shelves. :cries: