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May 2007 Archives

May 1, 2007

Spaceship Earth's Project Tomorrow Post - Show

AllEars Team Member Jack Spence files this report:

It's refreshing to have the construction walls down and exit Spaceship Earth into a somewhat finished area. Like the previous AT&T exhibit, the lighting is low, enabling guests to see the various screens and monitors scattered around the room. When you first enter this area, you walk directly toward a large globe that is illuminated via rear-projection. Here you'll see various "advertisements" for Siemens. However, these advertisements feel more like entertainment than commercials.

ProjectTomorrow01.jpg

Two exhibits are up and running at the moment, Super Driver and Body Builder. As the attraction was somewhat busy I did not play either game and really can't comment on the rules, but here is my impression.

Super Driver resembles an arcade type game where someone sits in the "driver's seat" and drives a car along the highway. Others can stand behind the driver and watch his progress.

ProjectTomorrow02.jpg


Guests stand while playing the Body Builder game and two people compete against each other. 3D glasses are required and many pairs are available so onlookers can also watch the action.

There is space for more exhibits and several signs indicate that they will be arriving soon.

See more photos in our Wandering Around the World area.

May 17, 2007

A Quick Weekend Trip Report

AllEars Team Member Anita Answer files this report:
Just back from a quick Mothers' Day weekend trip to the World, and wanted to share a couple of things:

flower and garden festival


New Fastpasses: Saw them at the Safari and Everest. They're about 1/3 bigger, on heavier stock. The issue date is BIG now, so no cheating! The new FPs also reference the pass you used to get them, and have a ref number printed at the bottom as well as bar code on the sides. I think this foreshadows some other changes coming to the FP system in the near future, but I'm not really sure yet what they may be.

New Show at the Safari: First ride on the Safari on Sunday morning was the old show (Miss Jobson, Wilson, Big Red, Little Red, Shifty- eyed Crocodiles, etc.) I asked an area coordinator when the new show was starting as I thought it already had. He said there are 3 shows right now as they phase the new one in: The old one, the new one with a recorded spiel, and one where the driver does the whole thing. He asked if we wanted to check out the new show (Uh, let me think...YEAH!) and he back-doored us back onto the ride and made sure we got a truck with the new show. By the way, the trucks now have 2 extra rows on the back and a canvas roof. Anyway, back to the new show. Miss Jobson has been made redundant, Wilson has had a voice transplant and now sounds like Mr. Bean imitating Wilson. I was on the floor of the truck I was laughing so hard. It's unintentionally hilarious. What can I say? I'm easily amused.

In the new show, the driver handles most of the spiel now, and the poacher/dead elephant story has been relegated to the back page, with more emphasis on the animals now. Bottom line, the old show was silly and probabably needed some work. The new show is just...blah. The animals are spectacular as usual. Several times during the ride, we were eye to eye with rhinos, giraffes, and ostriches.

Saw the new Monsters, Inc. show. It was not an E Ticket, but not as bad as I had been led to believe. I thought it was cute. The audience interaction was very funny and entertaining.


Saw the new Three Caballeros ride at Mexico. Also cute and well done, but the boat goes too fast for you to catch on to what's going on in the story. You may have to ride it a few times to figure it out.

New queueing in Rock 'n' Roller. The queue is completely different from the entrance to the load zone now. There are three lines: Stand- by, Fastpass and Single Rider. The pre-show area has been rebuilt. The upper tier is now much smaller and for Fastpass guests. The lower tier is larger, and for Stand-By guests.

I rode Everest 12 times on Sunday. This is not my personal best, however, which is 29 times in one day during the first day of previews.

Saw the Nemo show again, and they've changed Crush's human's costume. I liked the old one better (dreds, board shorts, sandals). Now he wears one of those body suits the other puppeteers wear, and it's kind of a washed-out mottled khaki. Now it looks like there's another turtle riding on Crush's back. I thought it looked odd. Bring back the original costume, please?

Went to have lunch with friends yesterday (May 15) at the Yacht Club Galley and found it closed and under rehab! The hostess told me they had only found out at 2:30 on Friday they were closing. They'll re-open on May 23. Meanwhile, lunch is being served at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. The menu is the same. Lots of changes happening to the World's restaurants these days!

Stayed at Shades of Green for the first time and it was pretty much a bust. Although the resort is absolutely gorgeous and the rooms are huge, pretty and spotless, the restaurants were awful, and the guest service was worse. I started my stay on Saturday at lunch in Evergreens where I had an entire glass of iced coffee dumped on me by the server. Did she apologize? No. Did she offer to get me a towel to clean up? No. She didn't offer a free drink to replace the one I was now wearing, and in fact I had to ask for a replacement drink four times from two servers before I got it. Some of my clothing was ruined and my capris were soaked through to my skivvies.We didn't have a room yet, so it made for an uncomfortably damp coffee-scented afternoon. It did not set a good tone for our stay.

Although SoG is located right next to the Poly, it's impossible to get anywhere easily without a car. It's also impossible to park at the TTC and try to get back to SoG without going about 20 miles (slight exaggeration...) out of your way unless you know the Super Secret exit that will not put you on World Drive going south. I knew it was there, but could not find it at 1:00 am Sunday morning in the dark. After three loops around the parking lot, I gave up and went all the way down World Drive and turned around and came back. Frustrating, since you can see the
resort, but you can't get to it! By the way, it costs $5 a day to park at SoG, and your park parking is not covered. Parking is also in a garage, and the rows are so narrow you can't back out without doing a five-point turn.

Yesterday, they left our bill on our door. We opened it and noted that they had charged the wrong rate. We also noted that there was a room service charge we did not make. Then we noted we had been given the next room's bill! So...downstairs my friend goes, which was ok since she had to pick up a package we had delivered from Epcot. The front desk was less than helpful and had to be begged for a new printed copy of the bill. The desk clerk seemed unconcerned about privacy and identity security issues (at a military hotel!? ) and told her not to worry about who might have her bill. The the clerk then rolled her eyes at my friend as if it was all her fault!

Now it was time to get the package...which they had lost. Nowhere to be found. They said if they found it they would call and she could come get it! Uh, no! Shouldn't they mail it at their expense since they lost it? They finally found it and called, shortly before we were due to leave for the airport. "It was sent over to Saratoga Springs. You can pick it up there." Why did they send it to SSR? Needless to say, we both agreed that no matter how inexpensive it was to stay there or how lovely the resort was, we would never ever- did I mention NEVER?- ever stay there again. DND (Definitely Not Disney). It remains to be seen if the package ever makes it home.

Flowers


The Flower and Garden Festival has certainly been pared down this year! The grounds are stunning this year, but the "Festival" part is lacking. The Odyssey Festival Center contained a demo area, a display of arrangements and about 3 vendors. We kept asking if we were missing the rest somehow, but were assured this was pretty much all there was. Outside, there were some kiosks along World Showcase Plaza, and that was about it. They extended the show, and then got rid of 1/3 of it? That didn't make sense to me, but I'm not in charge of Epcot Special Events either.

Yak & Yeti - Second floor is taking shape, but still no roof. I don't think they're going to make that July 2007 deadline for opening. Had a "Farewell To Tusker House" breakfast on Sunday. Goodbye, old friend...

The Magic Kingdom Noodle Station is open 5pm to 9 pm daily. El Pirata in the Magic Kingdom has been open for lunch.

Apparently, the exhorbitant shipping costs did not go over well with guests and shipping costs are back to normal again. I didn't experience this personally, and I'm just repeating what my friend told me she learned when she bought something at Downtown Disney and had it shipped home. YMMV.

Saw the Animal Kingdom Lodge models and chatted with the sales people. I loved the layout, and especially the master bathroom in the new bigger 1 br. (there are two full bathrooms and the unit sleeps 5!) I did not like the general decor, however. Animal prints and dark woods are not to my taste. By the way, the dining table only seats 4, but the unit sleeps 5. Guess someone didn't think that one through?

Davy Jones


Saw Davy Jones on Sunday! We were so close to the stage we could almost touch him. Woohoo! For a 61 year old man, he sure looks good! He can also sing and dance just as well as he could when he was 21. Amazing. Can you believe the Monkees TV show is 40 years old? Special guest was his sister Hazel, sitting two rows behind me. He sang a Swing song for her, and a young couple began swing dancing near the back. He called them up on stage, but they didn't hear him as they were concentrating on their dancing. He walked all the way out into the audience and brought them onstage, then brought his sister out of the audience to dance with him. It was a really nice moment, and nice way to end my Epcot visit.

Now it's back to reality until my next trip.

Anita
Read Anita's Weekly Column!

May 21, 2007

Getting Ready for the Mediterranean Cruise

Hello Everyone!

As many of you have read, Deb and I have been planning our trip to the Mediterranean. It has been a real experience getting everything together.

LindaEckwerth


We have divided our tasks to help keep our sanity! Deb usually handles all the booking and planning and travel details. I, on the other hand, take care of the behind the scenes stuff. You might ask what that would be...well...let's see:

1. Packing list, 3 pages long. I'll write more about that next time.

2. I take care of the on line registration with Disney Cruise Line.

3. Making copies of all our important paperwork. I make four copies of everything front and back:
a. Passports
b. Drivers Liscense
c. Medical Insurance cards
d. All Credit Cards we are taking
e. Letter from Deb's doctor stating she needs all the diabetic supplies she is going to carry on the plane. (this was recommended by the agent from British Airways).
I made sure a close friend had a copy of all this and we have three copies to carry with us.

4. Just in case a piece of luggage doesn't make it to our destination at the same time we do, I will make sure there is a sheet of information in each suitcase. What will be on it:
a. Our name and phone numbers, US cell numbers and Global cell numbers
b. Home address
c. Hotel where we are staying and length of stay
d. Disney Cruise Line, Magic and length of cruise
e. Hotel where we are staying when returning from cruise and length of stay

5. Doing research and renting Global phones. Once the phones arrive, reading instructions on how to use the phones and programming the most important phone numbers in the phones. Then of course, a brief lesson for Deb.

6. Making sure all the monthly bills are paid and in the mail. (Don't want any late notices!)

7. Calling the credit card companies to alert them we will be traveling overseas.

8. Double checking with our medical insurance that we will have health care coverage on our trip, God forbid anything happens.

Next time I will give more details about the packing list and how I decided on the phone rental.

Next stop, Barcelona!

Linda

May 23, 2007

Packing for the Trip

One would think that if you travel as often as we do, you'd know what to pack and what your itinerary would be"not! Deb travels to WDW on average six times a year and then there is the occasional weekend getaway, business trip, and then the really big vacation. After all these years it is still a struggle for us to pack and prepare for these trips. It just does not get any easier.

So, what did we do to help us out? We devised a plan. I am the ultimate list person! There is a list for everything! Both of our brains go in 100 different directions, and without a game plan we would rarely accomplish anything. I will share with you what we have done and then you can modify to your needs or just throw it out the window and say those two are crazy!

The first thing we did was take a file drawer and create pocket folders for each of our trips. On the front of the folder we attached a form that gives information regarding the trip and a check off list as items are completed:

a. Name of the trip and date
b. Airline reservations
c. Boarding pass
d. Hotel reservations
e. Transportation to and from the airport at home and at our destination
f. Rental car information
g. Special reservations or tickets, i.e., a show, dinner, etc
h. Itinerary
i. Tip envelopes
j. Traveler's checks
k. Payment receipts (copies of credit card bills, checks, etc)
l. Anything else that might be pertinent to that trip

As we accumulate this information, it is then placed inside the folders. We now have an idea of what needs to be done at any given time for each trip. As we approach our travel date, everything is in one place to check.

The other thing Deb does, is create an itinerary spreadsheet. This will tell us what our scheduled plans are for the entire trip. Each of us has a copy and it lists:

a. The dates of the trip
b. What plans we have for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner for each day
c. Flight information
d. Transportation information
e. Check in times at hotel, cruise ship, etc
f. Excursions or special reservations
g. Room/Cabin numbers of travel companions
h. Cell phone numbers of travel companions

This has worked well for us. We both know what the scheduled plan is and we know where we are supposed to be. Lest you think we plan every moment of every trip, we don't! But we do like to keep the important stuff written in one place, like those elusive LeCellier Reservations!

After many trips and always saying, "oh, I forgot whatever" I decided to create a packing list. I started writing out this really long list and realized no, this won't do. It was too long. I then decided to break it down into categories.

a. Paperwork
b. Electronics
c. Toiletries
d. Clothing
e. Miscellaneous
f. Things to do at Home
g. Medical supplies (Deb is a Type 1 Diabetic, lots of stuff)

Within each of the categories I listed everything we could possibly want or need for a trip. It doesn't mean we bring everything (although our travel companions often THINK we do) , but it is listed for us to consider.

As you view the list, you may ask why a toothbrush, well, I have forgotten it on occasion. Or why is a passport listed when we all know we need one to travel outside of the country. Well Deb forgot hers once -- thank goodness we remembered before pulling away from our home. If I try and trust my brain to remember everything, it just won't. Plus, I can't sleep at night thinking of things I need to pack. Once I write it down, I can move on to something else.

Here's our Packing List in a Microsoft WORD document -- if it helps, GREAT! If not, that's ok -- at least you got a chuckle hearing about two people trying to make traveling a little easier! Have items to add? Let us know!

Next stop, Barcelona!

Linda

May 27, 2007

Glo and Gary's Med Cruise

All Ears Team Member Glo from Miami is also on the Med cruise with us....

Here's our blog entries.....

May 26, 2007

It's approaching midnight and we are waiting for room service to deliver Mickey bars, oatmeal cookies and decaf coffee. We skipped dessert at dinner so we could be up on the open deck for the "sail away" party "so we're sacrificing ;-)

So far this trip has gone like clockwork and we are looking forward to our "at sea" day tomorrow just to relax. We met up with Deb and Linda for a drink earlier in the afternoon and shared a few stories and then went back to our room to get cleaned up for dinner.

We have 14 folks at out table. Deb is the only one who knows all of them, but they are a great group of fun people and I know we are going to enjoy sharing our dinners with them. (Much better than eating with strangers!)

This morning (another gorgeous day!) we left the hotel a little after 8 AM and went to the Antonin Gaudi designed church La Sagrada Familia. It's really something to see, although definitely not something I'd want down the block from my house. It's just a bit over the top! "but the interesting thing is, it was started back in the late 1890's and still isn't finished. Probably has another 100 years to go ;-) I'm also including a picture of Casa Batlo, a private residence (now a museum) designed by Gaudi. Again, very strange. I guess he refused to use a straight line in any of his designs (quite obvious LOL).

Then on the way back to the hotel we stopped at a local "boqueria" (farmers' market) where they had the most beautiful fruit, vegetables and fresh seafoods you've ever seen. The only other places I've seen anything near to these places were Pike Place in Seattle and on the Embarcadero insane Francisco. I'm guessing there might be other places in the US, but I've sure never seen them.

More tomorrow, but since it's an "at sea" day, there probably won't be a whole lot of interest to tell you.

* * * * * * *

May 25, 2007

Friday in Barcelona
We're on our way to Barcelona! The flight from Miami to Paris was interesting to say the least. We hit turbulence just about 2 hours into the flight which lasted a good 45 minutes. I talked to a woman who was sitting next to a stewardess and she said the stewardess was very frightened, that she'd never seen turbulence so bad. Gary did really well! Maybe I'll get him on a rollercoaster yet. It wouldn't be any worse. The guy in the seat next to me (a dermatologist from Naples, FL) was about ready to jump out of his skin. Now I know what the term "white knuckles" really means ;-)

In spite of that, we arrived Paris safe, sound and well-fed. Our plane was scheduled to land at 8:10 AM and the flight to Barcelona departed at 10:05 AM. 2 hours "plenty of time, right? Wrong! We made the flight with about 5 minutes to spare. No one told me that at many of the European airports they don't have jetways. Here's the drill"

"land in Paris
"wait on plan at least ½ an hour to de-plane
"walk down steps to the tarmac on legs that had hardly moved for 8 hours previous
"wait for a shuttle bus
"take the bus to the terminal
"go through Customs (just to show your passport)
"walk forever to find your gate, down one escalator; up another
"check in at the gate
"walk down more stairs and
"you guessed it! board another shuttle
"ride 10 miles (Well, it felt like 10 miles!) to the plane
"get off the shuttle, climb more stairs into the plane.

There obviously no "disabilities act" in the European Union because a person with any sort of mobile limitation couldn't handle all the stairs and the hustling.

Gary, in direct defiance of everyone saying "Do not nap!" to avoid jet lag, is sound asleep in the seat next to me. I'm a bit tired, but I haven't "hit the wall" yet. I set my watch to Barcelona time when we were waiting in the terminal in Miami. So, when the sun came up this morning about 6 AM (midnight Miami time), it really did seem like 6 AM. It's a bit after 11 AM now (5 AM Miami time) and I can tell you I don't do % AM's, so it must be 11 AM for sure.

Snacks are arriving so I'm going to sign off and may way on my tray table for water and Chex mix Ooo la la!

Later the same day"

All of our luggage arrived safely and we had no trouble at all finding the Disney representative who directed us to a bus where we were whisked off to our hotel. On the way to the hotel we got a peak at our ship (The Disney Magic) docked at Port Vell. I can't tell you how exciting it is to see those big red smokestacks with the big white Mickey icons. We checked into the hotel. Checked with the Disney Courtesy desk in the hotel lobby and were able to complete our cruise check in. That was really convenient!

We both took a shower and headed off to Las Ramblas for the afternoon. Las Ramblas is the equivalent of South Beach, Rodeo Drive and Harvard Square all rolled into one. There are lots of little street cafes, all sorts of street musicians, entertainers, jugglers "well, you name it and it was there, including a mime all in white complete with his white porcelain "throne" and the most wonderful marketplace called the Boqueria. Never in my life have I seen such beautiful fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses and breads, but most interesting was the seafoods, many of them still alive and squirming around, many of them I had never seen before.

We ate "off the beaten path" at a place called Plaza Riall/Plaza Real. It was recommended by one of the cast members at the courtesy desk who said it was less "touristy" than the places on Las Ramblas. We also wandered for a while in the Bari Gotic (Gothic Quarter) with its warren of narrow streets (no cars! Just pedestrians) and tiny little shops. It is so unlike anything I've ever seen in the US.

I had hoped to get to Gaudi's Sagrada Familia church and Park Guell, but there just wasn't time. We have a taxi ordered for 8:15 tomorrow morning to take us there before we have to be back at the hotel to board the shuttle to the ship.

Oh, and I must share with you our scare for the day. Before the trip I ordered a "pouch" to hold my passport, credit cards and money from Magellen's. You wear the pouch on a cord around your neck and tuck it in under your shirt to thwart pickpockets.

So, we've been walking Las Ramblas for a couple of hours and sit down to eat. At the end of the meal, I reach for my pouch. For some reason, it's hanging out the bottom of my shirt, but jet-lagged me, I just figure that's because I'm sitting down. Then I stand up and the darn thing falls right to the ground! The cord had become detached on one side!! Obviously, God loves me because if we'd have walked a few feet farther, it would have slipped right off my neck, onto the ground and I would never have known it until it was way too late. I have to tell you, when I realized how close I came to losing everything, I actually has to sit down I was shaking so bad.

But my guardian angel was with me, so all is well. I even had a sewing kit in my bags so I could sew the cord back on (and secure the other side, just in case).

OK, It's to bed for me. It's 8 PM (2 AM Miami time) and I have to be up and dressed early in the morning. More adventures tomorrow.


* * * * * * *

Thursday, May 24, 2007
We're on our Way!
It's about half an hour until we board our plane. Getting through security was a breeze. Our suitcases weighed in just under the 50 pounds limit. No room for many souvenirs on the return trip for sure!

We made the mistake of checking the location of our seats on seatguru.com and unfortunately, we're right across from the galley. For some reason they changed our seats from row 25 to 41 ...but I think the gate agent might have been doing us a favor since there's also a "caution" on the row 25 seats too ...close to the lavatories :-( I think I'd prefer to be close to the galley than close to the lavs, for sure.

We're flying on a wide-body 747; holds 440 or so passengers. We start boarding 55 minutes before take-off time. I guess it takes a LONG time to board 400+ people.

Just about time to power down the laptop and head for our gate. I'll check in with you again as soon as I can.

May 28, 2007

Linda's Embarkation Day Entry - 5/26/07

We finally made it on board! What a day. It started off at 6:00 AM. We were up, showered and re-packed our suitcases. They were getting picked up at 8:00 AM and we wanted them ready to go! We met Sandy and Sharon for breakfast and had a nice leisurely breakfast. Deb, Sandy and Sharon decide to take a walk to the nearby beach and I opted to go back to the room and do some catch up with e-mail and see if I could transfer money to my checking account. Well"that is when the fun began!

I started by checking e-mail. Got through the normal family stuff and then tried to get in my work e-mail and had no luck. So, I went to another e-mail account I use for my clients. I had saw there was one from Debbie in my office. When I read her message, I was laughing hysterically! It seems when I recorded my voice mail message for my cell number, the 1-800 number should have been a 1-877 number. Fortunately I also gave an emergency contact number. My customer called the 1-800 number thinking he was going to get my company's customer service department. Instead to his surprise he received a sex line phone number! He of course called the emergency number and my co-worker alerted Debbie who e-mailed me to change the voice mail message if I could! Like I said, I was laughing uncontrollably! I then picked up the global cell phone I had rented and began to dial my voice mail. The whole time thinking, this just paid for the rental!

Once that task was complete, I decided to transfer funds into my checking account so I could use my bank debit card to purchase Euros. Because I was on a new computer and not the one at home, I had to answer three privacy questions to verify my identity. Well, I guess I don't know the answers I originally gave because after three times I was locked out of the account. I then decided to call the 1-800 number and speak with a bank representative. All the while forgetting about the time change 4:30 AM at home and it is a Holiday weekend. Of course, I had no luck!

Deb has now returned to the room. Seeing the frustration on my face she now sits at the computer to see what she can do about getting a pin number for her AMEX card. She finds the 1-800 number, calls and finds she needs to associate her AMEX with her checking account and she will need her checking account number and routing number. Well, you guessed it no routing number. Since we are paying cell phone international rates, she hung up the phone to figure out how to find a bank routing number. After going to her bank on line and another resource, I suggested that she "Google" bank routing numbers. Because we are in Spain, Google comes up in Spanish. We both chuckle and then try Yahoo. Another 15 minutes Viola! Now armed with a bank routing number we call AMEX back.

Deb gives the agent the two numbers and is now transferred to another agent where she has to answer three security questions.

1. What year was your home built?
2. What are your annual property taxes for your home?
3. What make, model and year is the automobile you drive.
She passes the test and gets a temporary pin number that can be used one time for a maximum of $500. With the Euro exchange rate, we will not get a full $500 but we will have money!

As we walk across the street and down the block to the neighboring hotel to use the ATM in the lobby, we both are laughing at our morning. We both have plenty of cash in the bank and having one heck of a time getting to it! Arriving at the ATM we now have success!

So what is the lesson here? Let me make one of my lists:

1. Make sure you have cash in your checking account.
2. Have a pin number for your Debit Card and Credit Card (a pin was required for our credit card at the ATM and the train station to purchase a ticket)
3. Just in case, you might want to have your checking and bank routing number with you.
4. To avoid the above, make sure you have enough Euros.
5. Consider bringing a global cell phone.
6. Also, when leaving a voice mail make sure your phone numbers are to the correct persons!

Next stop Disney Magic!

Linda

Glo's Sea Day Entry - 5/27/07

Incredibly slow internet

It's taken me almost half an hour to get connected to the blog site just to post today's notes. I must tell you, I'm not sure I'm even going to keep trying. We'll see....

Anyway, here are my notes from today.

Well, it wasn't the sunny, warm Mediterranean today (Sunday). It was cloudy and overcast most of the day and even drizzled just a bit. No matter, we are enjoying ourselves thoroughly. We slept in a bit late, went to breakfast, walked around the ship for a while and visited the two small gift shops onboard.

After lunch we watched an art auction for a while "amazing what people will spend on a piece of art! "but they actually weren't selling to many. Hardly seems like it's worth the effort for the gallery, but I guess it must be since almost all cruise ships have auctions.

Tonight is formal night and we have to get all gussied up for dinner. Should be fun.

Nothing exciting to tell you tonight. Dinner was great! ...but for a "formal" night there were still lots of folks in casual clothes. Gary looked really good in his tux and I had fun dressing up in sparkles. Unfortunately we didn't even have time to get our picture taken :-( ...but you know what we look like, rigfht?

Tomorrow is our first port of call (Palermo) and we have to be ready to leave the ship at 8:15, so I'd better get some sleep. More tomorrow.

May 30, 2007

Glo's Palermo Blog - 5/28/07

Palermo, Sicily

Palermo, the most conquered city in the world. First settled by the Greeks, then overtaken by the Phoenicians and overtaken again by at least 8 other civilizations before becoming part of Italy.
..........
It's Monday; it must be Palermo! In Barcelona, I never really felt like I was in Europe for some strange reason. In Palermo, you know you're in a different part of the world! Most everything is old and decaying "and even what's relatively new (like maybe 50 to 100 years old) still looks a bit run down.

I'm also not used to seeing laundry hanging from balconies, but with so many people crowded into buildings on very narrow streets, it actually looked sort of normal. Just to beautify things a bit, almost every balcony has some sort of flowers, plants or trailing vines. Just beautiful! "and I finally saw a Jacaranda tree. Actually, I think I've seen them before but never knew what they were. (Beautiful purple flowers!)

On a morning bus tour of the old city this morning, saw a couple of churches, had a light snack of local foods at a small restaurant and then went to Ballero Market, the oldest open air market in Sicily. The produce, meats and fish looked lovely, but minimal (in some cases none!) refrigeration for the seafood ands meats and lots of flies "and none of the vendors looked all that clean either Many locals were buying, of course, but I wouldn't have eaten any of it for a $1000. Very interesting, but give me a Publix and a nice shopping mall.

The traffic in the city is awful. There are very few traffic signals, a zillion little cars and two zillion little scooters that zip in and out. It makes pedestrian travel very hazardous. And it appears that people park just about anyplace they can find a spot ...on the sidewalks, double parked in the streets, behind buildings blocking in other cars. It was just unbelievably crowded.

We returned to the ship about 1 PM and headed to the buffet for a bit of lunch and now it's time to be like a real Italian and take a nap.

It's almost 7 PM now and we have departed Palermo.

Dinner is at 8:45 in the Palo private dining room courtesy of Beci from Mouse Fan Travel. Somehow she was able to pull some strings at get us dinner tonight and brunch on Friday. Sometimes it's good to have friends in high places. Thank you, Beci!

Tomorrow we dock in Napoli. We're sharing a car with one other couple and plan to visit a number of little villages along the Amalfi Coast. It should be a spectacular day. I'll see you again when it's all over.


Glo

Glo's Amalfi/Naples Entry

Amalfi Coast (Naples)

Monday evening was a pretty rough day at sea. There were light gale force winds blowing directly across the ship causing it to gently (and sometimes not to gently) rock back and forth like a cradle. When we went to dinner in the private dining room at Palo a few folks didn't show up due to "mal de mar" or however you say that in Italian. Then when the first course was served, one gal cancelled her entrée order because she couldn't even eat a bite of the appetizer. Then before the entrees were served, two more people left the table. So our group of 14 eventually dwindled to 7.

Believe it or not, Mr. K was not one of the sick ones. Before we left Miami I had read on one the "boards" that Hyland's Motion Sickness Remedy was really good. I don't put a whole lot of store in homeopathic medicines, but whether it was psychological or actual, the stuff worked like a charm and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinners (albeit they were just a tad lighter than we might have had otherwise; taking no chances).

Today we were one of the first ones off the boat to meet our private driver for an all-day tour of the Amalfi Coast. A few months ago one of our group asked if someone wanted to share a private car and I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately his wife was one of the folks who was sea sick and decided not to accompany us. Fortunately, we still had an absolutely wonderful day.

Our tour guide (Carmine Ussano of Benvenuto Tours) was an outstanding and charming guide "and an expert driver which is extremely important given the narrowness of some of the roads. (Let me stress how narrow the roads are! Sometimes there was no more than two or three inches between us and a tour bus or us and a scooter or us and the car parked on the side of the road in the opposite direction.)

On the way out of the city we got a great view of Mt. Vesuvius with clouds surrounding the top. It really is exciting to see these locations you have heard about as a child.

I cannot begin to tell you how beautiful the drive was, some of the most magnificent scenery I've ever seen "and the lemons growing on trees in terraced gardens up and down an impossible mountainside were amazing. Unlike Palermo yesterday (bustling city), the villages along the Amalfi Coast are small, some having as few as 1000 inhabitants. We did not go into the largest city (Sorrento, not considered to actually be on the Amalfi Coast) which has about 16,000 people, but we visited the next city, Positano) with its beautiful town square and marketplace. Next stop was the city of Amalfi where we had no more than exited the car than we ran into Deb and Linda (dinner mates) who were on one of the Disney bus tours. We chatted for a minute or two and then went our own ways. The last city was Ravello whose claim to fame is its Lemoncello production.

We dodged a couple of showers during the day, but all-in-all it was a wonderful day with pastries and coffee in Positano and lunch of fresh fish in Amalfi.

Driver Carmine took an alternate route back into Naples and showed us many more little villages that were not so much "tourist" locations. Whether tourist or not, the whole area was amazingly beautiful with lemon trees, bougainvillea, oleanders and many other flowers all over the place. We also got a quick peek at two columns and an archway from the Pompeii archeological site "but when I say a quick peek, I mean about 2 seconds, if that, before it was hidden back behind the trees that have now grown all over the area.

Glo from Miami

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About May 2007

This page contains all entries posted to AllEars® Team Blog in May 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2007 is the next archive.

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