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Mediterranean Cruise 2007 Archives

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 5, 2007

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

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.

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 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!


May 30, 2007

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

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

May 28, 2007

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.

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

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 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 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

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About Mediterranean Cruise 2007

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to AllEars® Team Blog in the Mediterranean Cruise 2007 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disney Magic is the previous category.

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