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June 2007 Archives

June 1, 2007

Glo visits Sardinia, Rome and Sea Day

Friday, June 1, 2007

Wednesday - Olbia, Sardinia


Well, I have a big job to do in order to bring you up-to-date. Of all the ports, Olbia was the one that I thought might be a bust. Was I ever wrong! When we woke up on Wednesday and looked off our verandah, you could see two big tents set up with cheeses, wines, breads and various salamis. In addition there were men and women in traditional Sardinian garb (looks very much like Polish/Russian national costumes) ready to dance for us and play music. Unfortunately, Gary and I had one of the earliest tours and only heard the first notes of the music as we headed the other direction to our tour bus.


We toured Costa Smerelda and visited Porto Cervo (pronounced Chairvo), the area bought and developed by the Aga Kahn as a playground and vacation resort and vacation home for his rich and famous friends. The landscape was absolutely stunning, the water as clear and blue as any swimming pool you've ever seen "and, of course it was fun seeing the seaside hotel where Princess Di and Dodi Fayed spent the 20 days previous to their fateful return to Paris. Oh yes, and the cheapest accommodations at one of the hotels (Can't remember which one!) is $25,000 a night. I assume it's more than just a room LOLK


Porto Cervo is the most expensive area of Costa Smerelda and the shopping area is lined with expensive shops, Cartier, Gucci, Versace, Roberto Cavelli and others I've never even heard of, but all off-the-wall expensive. It was fun pretending you could actually buy something there other than a gelato.


Since our tour was only ½ day, we had time in the afternoon to see the new Pirates movie (Don't shoot us, but neither of us liked it.), part of the lecture on historical Rome and one of the new shows (The Art of he Story) which was pretty good.


One thing I noticed at dinner was that everyone is ordering less food than at the beginning of the trip. I think we are all getting tired of "fine dining" every night. Imagine!


Thursday - Rome


We're on the "water" side of the ship in this port (Civitavecchia) and is it ever beautiful!! "but the drive into Rome leaves something to be desired. It wasn't that pretty at all, typical urban highway scenery, complete with service plazas and McDonald's.


We weren't sure if our excursion was ever going to get on its way because our van got held up in traffic as, after waiting half an hour, they pulled another van (privately hired but no one was there yet), put us on it and finally away we went.


Traffic getting into Rome was awful. There is a taxi drivers strike so many folks drove into the city. In addition, taxi drivers from other cities came in to support the striking drivers causing lots of problems.


Our first ancient site was part of the ancient city walls of Rome and a gate to the city. We saw the ruins of Nero's palace and then on to the Colosseum "From there to Trevi Fountain where our tour guide dropped us for a little over 2 hours of unguided time on our own. I may not have done my homework on most of the ports of call, but I studied the map of Rome and knew just where I wanted to go. In those two hours we saw the Pantheon, the best example of Roman architecture, the Piazza Navona with its beautiful Bernini fountains, baroque Gesu church (where a friend's choir came to sing last year), the Palazzo Venezia, Forum of Caesar, Trajan's Market, and then back to Trevi to meet up with our group for the private Vatican tour.


Half an hour later we were entering Vatican City and the Vatican Museums. With our VIP tour guide, we had no wait at all and within minutes we were viewing the beautiful spiral staircase with the crests of all the popes carved around the inner edge of the spiral. Without totally boring you, let's just say that our Vatican tour was extremely worthwhile and interesting "especially some of the areas not open to the general public. Highlights: the Bramante staircase, the crypt beneath St. Peter's where we saw the burial sites of many popes including John Paul II who was much loved by the faithful and, of course, the interior of St. Peter's, the Bernini canopy and the serenely beautiful Pieta.


Then it was back on the bus for our drive back to Civitavecchia. (I slept the whole way!)


Friday - At Sea


The highlight of this day was brunch at Palo in the private dining room courtesy of Beci from Mouse Fan Travel. All I can say is that it was scrumptious!! We plan on relaxing the rest of the day because we have three days in a row coming up with day-long excursions.

Brunch was awesome! We are relaxing for the afternoon and will do nothing more exciting that going to see the new show "Twice Charmed" (An original twist on the Cinderella story) and gong to dinner. (Needless to say, after the brunch, we skipped lunch, so we should be hungry again by 8:30 PM.

I can't seem to get any pictures to load. I'll try again later. Rotten internet connections on the ship, for sure!


June 3, 2007

Glo's La Spezia and Florence

La Spezia and the Tender Boat

Today was Firenze (Florence) and the beautiful David "and he really is magnificent! ...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The weather forecast was a 90% chance of rain, but we ended up with beautiful weather in the city. It rained a bit on the way into the city and we needed the umbrellas when we got off the bus to board the tender back to the ship. Despite all the negatives I'd heard about La Spezia and tendering, it was probably the prettiest port area we visited and the tendering didn't prove to be any problem at all.

Because June 2 is a holiday for Italy, Florence was extremely crowded, even more crowded than Rome. We went directly to the Galleria del Accademia where Michaelangelo's original David stands. Our guide gave us a brief introduction to Michaelangelo as a sculptor before we went to view the 15 feet high statue for our allotted few minutes.

From there we went to see the beautiful church of Santa Maria del Fiore (religious center of Florence) with its beautiful Duomo and on to the Piazza della Signoria (political center) and the area outside the Uffizi Gallery. Just a very short walk away was the old, old Ponte Vecchio with all its shops, but the crowds were so thick that, with 50 in our group, it was virtually impossible to go very far, so we headed in another direction toward the church of Santa Croce.

In the Piazza della Signoria, there is a copy of the statue of David, and the piazza was the original location of the original statue before it was moved to the Galleria del Accademia.

After visiting the Church of Santa Croce (where Michaelangelo and others are buried), we went for lunch at the Borghese Palace. Now, one thing we have learned is that the Italians really make great use of the word "palace." Basically, they apply it to any very large residence where someone of importance lives/lived, in this case the Borghese Family. Three hundred and fifty Disney excursion guests had lunch there that day, so you can imagine the size of the place! "and it was beautiful with its old paintings and old baroque furniture, mirrors and chandeliers..

After a 5 or 6 course lunch, we had just enough time for a small gelato in the Piazza di San Croce, then back on the bus for a quick tour through the "high rent" residential areas of Florence along and on the other side of the Arno River.

I slept the whole way home! The 2+ hour bus ride seemed like only minutes to me ;-)

June 5, 2007

Glo and Gary in Southern France

If I had to choose only one place for a return visit, Villafranche would win the prize. It is a beautiful, warm and welcoming city. As we exited the tenders from the ship, we were greeted by a trio of French musicians and as we left the port that night, we were treated to a beautiful fireworks display as a gift from the port of Villafranche.

Not only that, the beautiful Magic dominated the harbor. Celebrity's Millennium was docked behind us, but you could only see the Magic from the main part of the port.

One thing I want to interject here is that at the two ports where we had to take tenders from the ship to the shore, it was a painless, smooth process, nothing like what I had feared.

In this port we took the Monaco, Monte Carlo and Eze excursion and it began with a beautiful drive into Monaco. Gary was excited to recognize some of the Grand Prix course and pointed out a number of skid marks where cars had obviously run into the barriers on the opposite side of the road from where they should have been. Some of the scaffolding from the stands was still in place. Too bad we couldn't have been there last week!

We saw Princess Stephanie's and Princess Caroline's homes and then proceeded to the church where Prince Ranier and Princess Grace (Kelly) are buried. The line snaked by their graves and we snaked by right along with them. From there we went to the Royal Palace of Monaco and took an audio tour of a few of the public rooms. I would have rather spent the time exploring the little city, but we did a quick (Can you say "fast forward!") tour and after that we had a little time in the town square before we headed on to Monte Carlo and the opulent Grand Casino.

Lunch was a part of our tour and we had a delightful al fresco lunch at the famous (to everyone but me!) Café de Paris. From there some folks shopped and others of us visited the Grand Casino. We debated whether or not to go in, but decided since our admission was already pre-paid with the shore excursion, we'd go ahead and take a peek. It was definitely grand, but somehow, not quite as grand as I had expected. We didn't gamble, but it was lots of fun to watch the roulette tables and the Chemin de Fer tables. Of course, it was the slot machines that attracted the crowds.

After the casino, we walked around the city square and strolled part of the city gardens where the highlight was a Mama duck and her six little ducklings swimming in a small pond.

"and the best was last, the little Medieval village of Eze. This little town (2400 inhabitants) sits on top of a mountain and the village was built right into the side of the hillside. The streets are very narrow and they wind around in all directions like an ant maze. Now the city is pretty much a tourist area with tiny little shops built right into the stone walls of the village, but if you wander off the beaten path, you'll find the private residences and even the military cemetery. There was also an old church with the most beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary I think I've ever seen.

At the end of the excursion, we headed back to the ship along the Bas Corniche (low road), a very scenic drive with panoramic views of the port with the Magic right in the middle.

Glo and Gary Photos from France

French Greeting Party at the Port

French Greeting Party at the Port


The Grand Casino in Monte Carlo

<strong>The Grand Casino in Monte Carlo </strong>

Eze - One of the Narrow Streets

Eze - One of the Narrow Streets


Eze - Door to Private Residence


Eze - Door to Private Residence

June 6, 2007

Glo and Gary Cruising the Med - Almost the End of the Journey

Almost the End of the Journey

Today (Tuesday) we slept in and then went for a light lunch at Lumiere's. In just a bit we are going to pack our bags so we can put them in the hallway for pick-up before we go to dinner this evening. Packing will be challenging since we were within a pound of the maximum weight limit on both of our large bags. Fortunately, we really didn't purchase any souvenirs at all "so, if you were expecting a gift, forget it ;-) Seriously, I bought three Donald pins for my collection and a Med Cruise Christmas ornament and that's it. Gary bought a small bag of candy to take to work, but I didn't even do that. I'm confident we'll be ok on the bag weight limits.

So, we have just a couple more hours to relax and then it's the hustle of packing, last night dinner with our friends, what will probably be a bit restless of a night's sleep, then off the ship and back to Miami via Atlanta.

Our cruise is virtually over. I'm so glad we did it and it has really met or exceeded our expectations, but I'm ready to be back in the US and home.


June 22, 2007

Around the World.... Dateline June 22, 2007

AllEars Team Member Jack Spence files this report:

Toy Story Mania Construction
Here's a photo of the latest construction on Toy Story Mania at the Disney-MGM Studios. The attraction was officially announced at the January Press Event in Walt Disney World. This ride will also be opening in Disneyland's California Adventure next year as well.

Over in Animal Kingdom..... A CD of "Finding Nemo, The Musical" is now for sale at the Animal Kingdom for $12.98. This is a very nice recording of the entire show.

Construction on Yak and Yeti restaurant continues. To fit in with Anandapur, the fictional village that is home to Expedition Everest, the restaurant will be themed as a rural village in the Himalayan foothills. The pan-Asian establishment will house both a table service restaurant that seats 300 and a quick-service eatery that can hold 200 customers. The restaurant was announced in February 2006, and is set to open October 8, 2007. Yak and Yeti Construction

The "Leave A Legacy" purchasing area at Epcot is now all boarded up as is the "Leave A Legacy" display under Spaceship Earth. Speaking of Spaceship Earth the new rehab dates are July 9th through November 13th.

Below are a couple photos of the new Arcade on the 4th floor of the Contemporary. The operating hours are 8:00am to 11:30pm. Lots of other changes coming at the Comtemporary too. Big changes are coming to the dining options at the Contemporary Resort. The Food and Fun Center will close in July to be converted to a new table service restaurant. Beginning July 30, 2007, a temporary quick service restaurant called Tempo Grab and Go will operate near the Outer Rim lounge on the 4th Floor. It will be open through August 14, 2008. The new table service location will be called The Wave, and is tentatively set to open in late March or April 2008. Once The Wave opens, the Concourse Steakhouse will close and a new, permanent quick service restaurant will be constructed in that space, set to debut in mid-August 2008.


contarcade1.jpg
contarcade2.jpg


June 24, 2007

Photo Updates from Walt Disney World

All Ears® Team member Jack Spence was roaming the parks recently, and sent in these photos.

First, an updated view of the space that once was occupied by the North Garden Wing of the Contemporary.

Contemporary Resort
Larger Version Here.

Next the Haunted Mansion entrance, closed for rehab!

Haunted Mansion entrance
Larger Version Here.

Finally, a new figurine for sale at the Watch Shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.


Pirate Figurine
Larger Version Here.

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

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