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May 2007 Archives

May 1, 2007

Planning the Southwestern Adventures by Disney Trip

Next Steps..... Book our flights, decide on pre and post stays, if any.

This turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. The Southwest Adventure is a one way trip. It starts in Phoenix and ends in Moab, with a drop off at the Grand Junction Airport in CO. Let's just say Grand Junction is a rather SMALL airport LOL!

This trip is about trying different things -- so experimenting we are.

We used Rapid Rewards (free) tickets on Southwest to fly into Phoenix. Linda and I decided to go in on Sunday. We'll be using Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points to stay at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. I have never used my DVC points outside of the Disney World resorts, so this will be new for me. The Arizona Biltmore is part of the Concierge Collection of the DVC Exchanges.

For the trip home from Grand Junction...well, that required a lot of research on flights!! Turns out most flights jump over to either Denver or Salt Lake City and then "home" from there. We decided to book a United flight. Of course, the flight from Grand Junction to Denver will be its own adventure -- it's a 20 seater plane. Linda did remind me (while I was freakin out about it) that we rode a 6 person float plane in Alaska... I guess instead of looking at the glaciers, we'll have plenty of other scenery to enjoy.

Next up -- start planning what to do in Phoenix on Monday - We decided to rent a car and get one with GPS so we can find our way around easier.

Our only thoughts are that we don't want to do things that we will be doing on the Adventure (Sedona, Grand Canyon, Moab). Plus we don't want too much outdoor activity -- gotta save it up for the ABD.

Here are some websites I found that have been helpful:

http://www.phoenixcvb.com/

In the Yahoo Travel Section I looked at Phoenix, things to do.
Highly rated and some interest to us would be:

Desert Botanical Gardens (rated 4.5 stars by reviewers)
Camelback Mountain (rated 5 stars)
South Mountain Park Scenic Drive (4.5 stars)
The Heard Museum (4.5 stars)
Mystery Castle (4 stars)

So what exactly is in Phoenix to see and do?
Have you spent time in Phoenix?
What would you suggest we do with our free day?
Any ideas for lunch or dinner?

Let me know your ideas through our comment feature!

Deb
Life -- IT too short!

May 12, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 3 - PreTrip ToDos

I'm now less than 2weeks away from my first trip to Europe and the Disney 11 night Mediterranean Cruise. I've had such a busy spring - what with the Special Needs Book 2nd edition, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer - well; I'm just now really able to focus on the trip.

LUGGAGE -- First things first, I went to the British Airways website to check out their luggage restrictions. Got to spend time this weekend making sure my carryon and checked luggage will comply with their regulations. I have heard they are MUCH stricter in Europe than the airlines are in the US.

WHAT TO PACK - This is another one of those really hard things. We have a limit of 2 checked suitcases (with weight restrictions). We are going to be gone from May 23rd until June 6th - 15 days! Plus we'll be on a cruise ship so we also need to pack at least a couple dressy outfits as well as dinner attire. I must remember to pack touring clothes that will cover my shoulders and knees for visits to cathedrals! Oh my!!!! I can tell already those Disney Magic laundry rooms are going to be BUSY!

JET LAG - Another item to focus on is ways to reduce Jet Lag! I have a double whammy of not just the jet lag issue, but the insulin shot issue. As a Type I diabetic (insulin dependent) I take 3-4 insulin shots per day, with meals and then a 24 hour insulin shot at bedtime. Well, bedtime for my body doesn't change just because I flew to another time zone. Luckily my travel alarm clock allows for 2 time zones to be active so that will help quite a bit.

Jet lag - The most I've ever experienced in changing time zones is going from the East Coast US to the West Coast US. A little bothersome, but really, not a big deal. However this time we will be crossing multiple time zones.

I found this great article on the Mayo Clinic website simply called "Jet Lag"! Here are a couple of the tips the article suggests:

1) If you're traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. If possible, start eating meals closer to the time you'll eat at your destination.

2) Drink plenty of water before, during and after the flight to counteract the dry cabin air. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

3) Once you board the plane, set your watch to the destination time zone.

AIRLINE SEAT ASSIGNMENTS - One thing I did not realize until it was too late, is that British Airways only allows seat assignments 24 hours in advance. Their frequent flyers and first class passengers can do their seat assignments earlier, but the rest of us have 24 hours. I'm a little nervous about this, I have to admit. The last thing I want to do is end up between strangers. I don't do well in middle seats. Plus, I'll have to give myself some insulin shots during the trip and I really don't want to do that next to strangers. Hopefully it will all workout ok!

DISNEY CRUISE LINE ONLINE CHECK-IN - To simplify the boarding process, Disney has online check in. There are several forms to fill out and print - Guest Information, Payment Authorization, the Disney Cruise Line Contract, and then Flight and Medical information. This is usually a breeze to do for Disney's regular cruises -- not so for the Med Cruises. For some reason the European airports and other pertinent fields in the database have not been modified for the Mediterranean cruises. We are using Disney Transfers from the airport to our hotel, but our airline information does not show up correctly on the website. ??? So then we tried to bypass that and print out the forms that need to be signed - they also included all the names of most of those tied to our reservations! It has their cabin numbers and lines for us to sign that we allow them to charge back to our stateroom!!!??? Our Travel Agent didn't understand it but said just to bypass that portion and print out the items we needed to sign.

Let's see, I have a whole list of other things to do before we leave home. Fortunately we have a master list of all these... well; I think we have a master list LOL.

Here are just a few things you need to make sure are on your list!
1) Stop mail and paper delivery
2) Have a neighbor keep an eye on your home (some jurisdictions suggest letting your local police department know).
3) Call your credit card companies to alert them you are going to be traveling overseas.
4) Change any work/personal voice mail recordings.
5) Make sure you have plenty of your prescription medication. Most mail-order/local pharmacies will allow you to request most refills early for vacations!

Whew - I'm tired just thinking about it.

Deb
Life - IT too short!

May 14, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 4 - British Airlines and The Magic's Journey Is Underway!

Thanks to everyone who has been sending information to me about my upcoming trip to Europe and the Mediterranean Cruise.

Here are two helpful emails I received about Luggage in London's airports!

LisaC writes: Just came back from Gatwick. The luggage limit for checked bags is 50 lbs but they will honor up to 70 pounds until September as they have many overseas travelers who find this restriction difficult. All US based airlines are now on the 50 pound standard and enforcing it I hear. Second, BA and specifically the British Air Authority (like our TSA) hold EVERYONE to ONE carry on bag, period. So if you are transiting thru Heathrow or Gatwick be prepared to get all your stuff into one bag. You can immediately take out bits once you are thru the security checkpoint but going thru it's ONE bag. We used standard rollaboard bags and they fit the limit just fine.

From Jeanine: Just got back from Greece where we flew part of the way on British Air. I was a little nervous also about not getting seat assignments until 24 hours before, but I was able to check online the day before and they had assigned us a window/aisle on the side so it was fine.

What I wasn't prepared for, is that if you transfer in Heathrow, they limit your carry-on to 1 item--including purses! Even if your airline allows 2, they wouldn't let people in the terminal unless you could stuff everything into 1 bag. Once inside the terminal, there were absolutely no luggage carts whatsoever so after carting around a heavy backpack for the duration of my 5-hour layover, I would never go through there without wheeled luggage.

Thank you Ladies!!!!!

The Disney Magic left Florida Saturday and is on it's way to Barcelona! The Itinerary is as follows:
5/12/07 - Port Canaveral Sail Away
5/13/07 - Castaway Cay
5/14/07 - Sea Day (no port of call)
5/15/07 - Sea Day (no port of call)
5/16/07 - Sea Day (no port of call)
5/17/07 - Sea Day (no port of call)
5/18/07 - Sea Day (no port of call)
5/19/07 - Sea Day (no port of call)
5/20/07 - Tenerife, Canary Islands
5/21/07 - Sea Day (no port of call)
5/22/07 - Cadiz, Spain
5/23/07 - Gibraltar
5/24/07 - Sea Day (no port of call)
5/25/07 - Barcelona
5/26/07 - Debarkation

Here are a couple links of interest:

1) The Davidson Family are blogging their way across the Atlantic on the Disney Magic.

2) Track Cruise Ships on their journey Scroll down the page and enter the Disney Magic under Ship's Name

Here's the photo from 11am today:
magic1.jpg

May 17, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 5 - Reader Tips and the Magic's Sailing On!

Greetings.

Well the countdown is less than a week away! I can't believe the trip is almost here. This evening I spent some time making some cabin door magnets for decoration.

Important Note: Disney Cruise Line recently began a new policy on Cabin door decorations. They may ONLY be magnetic! No Tape and no glue! Apparently some folks used materials they shouldn't have and the paint on the doors is getting ruined.

Cabin Door Tip: Bring some blank 8x10 magnetic sheets with you and some tape. That way if you have any photos printed that you want to display, just tape them onto the magnet!

Here's a tip from Rose who will be sailing on the July 18th Med Cruise: One tip about currency exchanges that perhaps you can share with readers. I've always found better exchange rates withdrawing money from an ATM machine than if I had used travelers checks or a currency exchange office either here or overseas. Also, every ATM machine I've ever encountered was equipped to display in multiple languages, even in some of the smaller and obscure towns I've visited. That should alleviate the concerns of anxious travelers who are unfamiliar with the language. Also remind people that Visa & M/C are more widely accepted over Amex. For people who rely solely on Amex, this may pose a problem.

And Rose adds: If feasible, make sure you or members in your party get gelato while in Palermo - It is truly the best that Italy has to offer!

The Magic is way out in the Atlantic now... the furthest it has been from land.

Disney Magic's Position May 17, 2007.jpg

I started the packing game tonight....we'll see how it goes. The goal is to be 95% done by Sunday evening!

Deb
Life - IT too short!

May 21, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 6 - The Itinerary

We've got a packed schedule for the 11 night cruise.

In addition to all the ports of call, Disney Cruise Line has stated there will be new shows, new deck parties, the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean 3, special guests, Pirate Night, Princess and Prince night and much more. I think I'm going to need a vacation once I get home!

Captain Deb

Wednesday - May 23 - Leave the US for Barcelona

Thursday - May 24 - Arrive Barcelona

Friday - May 25 - Tour - Montserrat
Fountains Meet with DIS folks

Saturday May 26 Set sail from Barcelona 9:00pm

Sunday May 27 - at Sea

Monday May 28 - Palermo, Sicily. Ashore 7:00am, Onboard 5:30pm

Tuesday May 29 - Naples, Italy. Ashore 7:30am, Onboard 7:30pm

Wednesday, May 30 - Olbia, Sardinia. Ashore 8:00am, onboard 6:00pm

Thursday, May 31 - Civtavecchia (Rome) Italy. Ashore 7:30m, Onboard 9:30pm

Friday, June 1 - at Sea

Saturday, June 2 - La Spezia (Florence, Pisa) Italy. Ashore 7:30am, Onboard 7:30pm

Sunday, June 3 - Marseille, France. Ashore 8:00am, Onboard 9:00pm

Monday, June 4 - Villefranche (Monte Carlo, Cannes, Nice, Eze) France. Ashore 8:00am, Onboard 11:30pm

Tuesday, June 5 - at Sea

Wednesday, June 6 - Barcelona - Gaudi

Thursday, June 7 - Fly Home

An earlier blog had our excursions listed.

Deb
Life - IT too short!

Disney Magic Update

Yesterday, the Magic enjoyed it's first port of call since leaving Castaway Cay in the Bahamas a week ago. Tenerife, the Canary Islands off the coast of north Africa (under Spanish rule)!

Here's a video put together by Verandah Man of the Magic coming into port Santa Cruz, Tererife. The video is from the cameras at the port! Thank you Verandah Man!!!


The Davidson girls are continuing to blog their way to Barcelona!

Here's the upclose of the Magic's location....
Magic's current location


Here's the journey of the Magic across the "pond".
Magic Journey Across the Atlantic

Today, Monday, May 21st, the Magic has a Sea Day!!!

Deb
Life - IT too short!

May 23, 2007

Cruising the Med - 5/23/07 - On Our Way!

May 23rd is here!!!! It's been well over a year since we booked the Disney Cruise in the Mediterranean. I'm very excited. Never been outside North America before. It also feels surreal... will we REALLY be in London and then Barcelona tomorrow?

As you read this I will be either totally calm or frantic with last minute things to do. Hopefully it will be calm Debbie and not frantic Debbie, LOL

We have a 7:00pm flight on British Airways. We are flying World Traveler Plus, which is a step above "economy" and a step below "business". What we didn't realize when we made the flight arrangements is that we could not reserve our seats until 24 hours prior. So, last night was a bit crazy as we logged onto for our check-in and seat assignments. We didn't get the "worse" seats possible, but probably next to worse. Oh well, it's just temporary, right?!

Since this is an international flight, our goal is to get to the airport EARLY. I'd much rather cool my heels in the airport instead of getting all hyper sitting in traffic. Living in the Washington DC Metro area - we have our shares of road issues. We will leave home about 2:30 to avoid afternoon rush hour traffic... grab some dinner, get online and wait for our trip to begin.

Approx 7:00am we will land in London's Heathrow airport, change planes and head to Barcelona! Our layover is 2.5 hours which should give us enough time to grab our luggage, change terminals, go thru customs and any other adventure that awaits us in Heathrow. We should arrive in Barcelona noon-ish on Thursday.

We had Disney Cruise Line arrange our transfers from the airport to the hotel, Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona, so hopefully other than clearing customs and getting our bags, we'll be at the hotel before we know it. We are supposed to look for the smiling Disney Rep in the airport.

Depending how we feel, we may decide to sight see on thursday afternoon. We really want to see buildings by architect Antonio Gaudi...this is a must. Either La Sagrada Familia and/or Park Guell. Whatever we don't see on Thursday, we'll hopefully get to the day we disembark the ship.

On Friday, we plan to tour Montserrat with several folks from our "group". GaryF has been the incredible researcher and has everything all mapped out for us!

My next check in will probably be from Barcelona!

Deb - Life -- IT Too Short!

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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May 24, 2007

Hola from Barcelona!

DCL Cast Members at Barcelona AirportWe arrived safe and sound, despite quite the adventure in London's Heathrow airport.

These 2 lovely ladies greeted us at the Barcelona airport and were a welcome treat!

Our Hotel - the Hilton Diagonal Mar. A great location - close to the water, near the Metro and Bus Turisto and a "mall".


Gotta shower and get some food and will write more later.

Hilton Diagonal Mar


It's been a long night/day LOL

Deb
Life - IT too short

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

May 25, 2007

Cruising the Med - May 25, 2007

I just finished a very lengthly blog and forgot to hit save before ending.. lost it all.

I"ll recap later.

Sandy and Sharon and Beci and Chris all arrived last night.

Today we are off to Monserrat.

More later.... out of time now

Cruising the Med - 5/25/07

Got to back up to Wednesday so we can catch up.

The plane left Washington Dulles airport on Wednesday at 7pm. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time. Boy is Dulles VERY different than BWI (Baltimore) where we normally fly out of. The security lines were HUGE and our boarding passes and passports must have been checked at least 5 different times. There was even at least one station where our boarding pass was stamped and then the stamp was looked for later on.

As I previously mentioned we flew World Traveler Plus, a step up from "coach" and down from business. Am I ever glad we did - we had a tad more leg room and different seat amenities than the coach folks. Honestly, I'm not sure how I would have made it in coach. Between my diabetes and knee problems.. I'm just not sure I would have gotten ANY sleep at all. Linda's knees even hurt and she doesn't have knee problems! We were very restless but got some rest at least.

We found the food on British airways to be very good. If you are diabetic and considering a diabetic meal, think again. If you eat 30-45 carbs per meal, then you'll be fine. But I do low carb and couldn't eat much of the food. For instance, breakfast today was a banana, yogurt and orange juice. Linda had a sweet muffin in place of the banana.

For dinner, Linda had a choice of beef tips or chicken, she enjoyed the beef. It was like a beef stew - beef, peas, potatoes, carrots and gravy. A pleasant surprise as airplane food goes. My diabetic selection was a chicken (including dark meat), spinach and a large white bean on white rice. It was tasty, but too much carb for me.

Once we got on the plane from London to Barcelona, we each received a ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast as well as mango/orange juice and coffee/tea.

So, as I alluded to previously, Heathrow was an adventure. We had been forewarned by folks that it was a VERY busy airport and it would take us a LOT of time to get from one terminal to the other. So, in some respects we were prepared. Our schedule arrival time would give us 2.5 hour layover. Since the website says allow for 65 minutes, we felt we were in good shape.

However, upon arriving in London, we sat on the tarmac for almost 45 minutes waiting for a "pocket" (aka gate) to become available. We finally pulled into the "pocket", the doors opened and we had to walk down a flight of stairs onto the tarmac. We were directed to a door that appeared to be an emergency ext. However we had to walk up and then down and then up a flight of stairs to join the main terminal. Once we finally got into Terminal 4, we then had to make our way to Terminal 1. This is where the fun really began.

I'll spare you all the boring details.. but we waited in no less than 4 areas, 4 different times for at least 20-30 minutes to get to the next location. We ended up sprinting thru the final terminal to get to our plane 5 minutes prior to official take off time. This is just another reason why it's important to arrive at your destination at least one day prior to sailing or tour commencing!

View from our room on the 16th floor


Once we arrived in Barcelona and got our bags (as reported earlier) we got to the hotel. It was time for a shower and had a glass of wine and some light tapas in the hotel bar. I had zucchini pesto; Linda mushroom cannelloni and we split a manchango cheese tapas. Not cheap, but quite good. We then walked across the street to Diagonal Mar. Found what we called a "Super Walmart" - 3 floors and whatever shopping you need to do. We purchased some wine and bottles of water.

Our room at the Hilton: medcruise4.jpg


TIP: If you want to charge your purchase on Visa or Master Card, you will need to show your original passport, at least in the Diagonl Mar stores we visited.

Back to the room for a siesta 2 hour!!!! We didn't want to sleep too much, but definitely needed to get some rest. Just after waking up, Beci and Chris called and said they arrived at the hotel. We decided to meet back in the bar, have some drinks and some munchies. We weren't seated 10 minutes and Sandy and Sharon walked up. I'm not sure the hotel was fond of me screaming across the lobby- but as excited cruisers to be - there you go.

Today we met up with fellow cruisers, Gary and Karen, along with Chris, Sandy and Sharon and toured Montserrat!

From: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/montserrat-spain.html

"The history of Montserrat is fascinating and started in 880 when a small group of shepherd children saw a bright light descending from the sky in the Montserrat mountains. In the same moment the children heard angels singing and the music filled their hearts with a radiant joy.

Overwhelmed by the experience the children ran home to frantically recall the experience to their parents. The parents were sceptical but knew their children were trustworthy and honest and so they went to where the children had experienced the visions to see if they could see what all the fuss was about.

For the whole month following the first visitation the parents were also witness to the same heavenly experiences and were left with only one conclusion. The visions were a sign from God.

A local vicar was brought to the scene and witnessed the same experiences as the children and parents. The visions occurred in the same location in a cave on Montserrat mountain. When this cave was explored by the religious elders of the community they found an image of the Virgin Mary. And from that moment on the cave became a holy sanctuary for religious pilgrims.

Today the site of the visions has been marked by a Holy Grotto on the mountain. You can walk to the Holy Grotto and see first hand where these events took place. The Holy Grotto has now be ordained a holy place and is visited by pilgrims and curious onlookers from all over the world."


It was an amazing day; I'll post pics soon. We got back to the hotel about 7pm. Fortunately, the DIsney Crusie Line desk was still open so we could check into for tomorrow's departure for the ship.

Tonight there is a huge meet of DIS Board folks at the Fountains. We REALLY wanted to go but were so tired from Montserrat...we decided not to.

Tomorrow we board the ship!

Deb Daily Recap:
Highs: Montserrat Basilica
Lows: Getting back to to the room too tired to go to the DIS Fountain Meet

Linda Daily Recap:
Highs Monk's private dwelling we hiked near.
Lows: Going to the mega department store to buy a camera battery recharger that was left at home.

Follow the Disney Magic:
Track Cruise Ships on their journey Scroll down the page and enter the Disney Magic under Ship's Name (Zoom in and out to get a better look.)

Deb - Life -- IT Too Short!

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

May 26, 2007

Montserrrat Photos

Friday - May25th

Here we are at the train station...waiting to board:
Left to right: Linda Chris, Guide Gary, Karen and Sandy

Barcelona Train Station

Here is the monastary on the mountain -- you can take a cable car on land or the sky car; we opted for the aerial transport.

Montserrat

Montserrat

Gotta go catch the shuttle bus from the hotel to the port. More photos later ;)


Deb - Life -- IT Too Short!

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

May 27, 2007

Cruising the Med - May 26, 2007

(It's Sunday morning, our sea day. I'm trying to catch up on the narrative and hope to finish that today. I am have big troubles getting photos online so they may come in spurts..... Also, the internet connection is iffy... comes in and out, altho MUCH better this morning than last night.

Sat May 26 was the day we'd been waiting for - embarkation day! We set the alarm for 6am so that we could get packed and have a semi leisurely morning, before meeting in the lobby at noon. We had to have our bags ready inside the room by 8am. However, the folks at the Grand Marina had to leave their bags OUTside of their room. They were most unhappy about it!!!

Off to breakfast with Sandy and Sharon - they would only let me have one cup of coffee (on Montserrrat day I had 4 not realizing Spanish coffee had a zillion times more caffeine than American coffee-LOL.

Sharon, Sandy and I then walked to the beach. We found a few small pieces of sea glass so we were al happy. Oh and we could actually see one of the stacks of the Disney Magic.

Back to the room we hit the ATM machine for additional Euros and made a final blog entry.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Come to Europe with a Debit Card (your best option), ATM card or Credit Card with PIN number. I must be the only American that has none of the above. Fortunately, American Express is open 24/7 and within 20 minutes I was able to obtain a temporary pin for my card and get some cash.

The lobby of the Hilton Diagonal Mar was palpable. Everyone was excited about the adventure that was about to begin. NOTE: If staying at a Disney booked hotel, there will be staff in the lobby a couple days prior to your cruise. They can check you in so that you bypass one line at the Port. You will get your key to the world card just prior to boarding the bus to the Port.

To be continued......


Deb - Life -- IT Too Short!

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

Montserrrat Photos Part 2

medcruise10.jpg


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No idea who these men were, but they were cute and got a kick out of my taking pictures, so they posed for me. They spoke no English.

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Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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Waving to folks back home

We wanted to say hello to some folks back home...

Sandy has a message for Molly - Mission Accomplished!

Deb says hello to the AllEars Team and the Babes. Also, Chet - thanks for the power adapter, it works great. Hello to Tim and Dan - thanks for watching the house. All her friends and family!.

Linda says hello to her wonderful Sister-in-law, Debbie!!!! Her sister Wanda

Linda and Deb - Thanks to Fred and Renee for the wine!!

Internet service is till spotty.. so will post more later.

Deb

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

May 28, 2007

Cruising the Med - Palermo!! 5/28/07

We are in the midst of docking right now in Palermo... WOW! Very exciting.

palermo1.jpg

Cruising the Med - Palermo Part 2 --5/28/07

Today is our first port of call, Palermo Italy. I'm especially looking forward to this port as it is where my mother's family is from. My grandfather was born here.

Arrive: 7:00am
Depart: 5:30pm

Here are a couple facts (from the DCL website):
The regions best-known culinary dishes include bottarg (salted tuna roe), involtini di pesce (swordfish with raisin and pine nut stuffing), caponata (aubergine and eggplant) and pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines, fennel and raisins.)

Palermo also specializes in the craft of creating wooden puppets.

Our Excursion:
The Sites of Palermo
We began with a motor coach ride to Old Palermo. Our guide is full of facts.

We visit the famous "Four Corners" intersection in Palermo. This is the home to four statues representing the four seasons. Four statues depicting Spanish Kings and four female statues for the four patron saints of the town. Architecturally, Four Corners is a melting pot of Arabo-Norman magnificence, Palermitan baroque, and the work of craftsmen of the Middle Ages. Each sculpted angle of the Four Corners celebrates seasons, a patron saint, or a Spanish viceroy.

At City Hall Square we visited the Martorana Church (a 12th century Norman-Arab structure) and then the 12th century Cathedral at Palermo. Built in 1184 by the Norman king William II in the place of a Muslim mosque, the cathedral has undergone several renovations over the centuries, which have resulted in its current Neo-Classical style. The fourteenth-century door and the Gothic-Catalan style portico are worthy of note. The treasures that are kept inside, including some precious objects and embroidery found in the tombs of the Kings and emperors must be seen.

We had a delicious gelato break and then onto the motor coach and then off to Gustavo Whitiker's villa and Palermo's equivalent of the US Botanical Gardens. This family imported trees and plants from around the world. It was quite nice to wander around the grounds.

All too soon, time to get back on the bus and head back to the Disney Magic.

Pictures to follow.

Deb - Life -- IT Too Short!

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

Cruising the Med - Palermo Part 3 - Photos

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Deb

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken


Cruising the Med - Live Show Schedule on the Cruise

Live Stage Shows - 11 night cruise

Saturday 5/26
Welcome Aboard - Let the Magic Begin

Sunday 5/27
Golden Mickeys

Monday 5/28/07
Michael Harrison

Tuesday 5/29
On the Nose - game show where only the nose knows for sure. Chance to win prizes

Wednesday 5/30
The Art of Story - new show - watch the stage come to life with singing, dancing and comedy in this spectacular salute to the wondrous voyage that's about to begin

Wed 5/30 and Thur 5/31
Movie Night - Pirates of the Caribbean III

Friday 6/1
Twice Charmed

Saturday 6/2
Disney Magic Crew Talent Show

Sunday 6/3
When Mickey Dreams - Mickey Mouse dreams come to life in this musical spectacle guided by a cast of Cirque-like dream seekers.

Monday 6/4
Disney Dreams

Tuesday 6/5
Remember the Magic - Final Farewell

Saturday 5/26
Adventures Away party

Sunday 6/3
Pirates in the Caribbean Party

Monday 6/4
Party Paradiso - new


Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

Cruising the Med - More Palermo Photos

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May 30, 2007

Med Reader Mailbag #1

Thanks to everyone who has been reading our blogs and emailing us feedback! We really appreciate it.

For those who have asked about our Day at Montserrat our own, Gary the Guide is hoping to have time on our sea day to write up the tour we followed.

Lori asked if the wireless internet was only in the Café - it's now in most if not all the cabins! I will tell you it runs hot and cold... and has been frustrating. However, we still keep trying to post!

Kathleen asked: We are staying in the same hotel Hilton Diagonal Mar. I have a fast question "What do you mean by The lobby was palpable.

Well - I was ahead of myself and didn't proof read! What I meant was the excitement in the lobby was palpable, which means you could feel the excitement in the air.

Masayo from Japan writes: I love those photos, if my memory serves, the guide Gary is the man who helped as receptionist at Mousefest, isn't he?? I think his name was Gary, and his face looks familiar to me.

Yes Masayo, it is the same Gary!!!! He's an awesome guide and did extensive research that has been really great.

And about the excursions many of you have inquired about - I'm getting everyone's feedback each night on their excursions. Soon as I have some time I will get that information on line. It could be after I get home, just not sure since the internet connections are SO slow.

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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Cruising the Med Naples Italy - 5/29/07 -

Today we visit Naples Italy
Arrive: 7:30 am
Depart: 7:30 pm

Here are a couple facts (from the DCL website):
Naples is considered the birthplace of Pizza. The city's other best known dishes include Sartu di riso (molded rice with savory garnishes) and Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans.)

Our Excursion: The Amalfi Coast Drive and the Ruins of Pompeii, a 9 hour tour!

We begin with a 2 hour drive along the coast in our ai c onditioned motor coach. After approximately 1 hour, we stopped at a wood working store that specializes in wood inlays. We had a brief lesson in how that is done and got a chance to use the restrooms!

Back on the bus for another hour..... this time we saw more and more of the beautiful Amalfi coast line. Just Magnificant! No words to describe. The roads were thisnarrow and many hair pin turns. Some folks did experience motion sickness, so do be prepared!!! It does mention this is the excursion description.

We encountered tons of traffic delays that unfortunately shortened our time at the various stops. Our tour guide, Gino, was outstanding!!!! He is an archiologist by trade and was extremely knowledgeable and funny!

Upon reaching either the village of Amalfi we had about 45 one hour to explore on our own. We used the time to visit the Cathedral of Amalfi. Built in the middle ages 839-1135AD. The crypt of St. Andrew is located here. This church, unlike the ones we visited in Palermo, had candles that could be lit. It was here I was able to honor my mother's memory and light a candle for her - Linda joined me in a very special moment.

From here we went to a hotel for lunch. It was kinda strange at first, we weren't sure if the buffet offered was appetizers or the main lunch. Each table had a bottle of water and bottle of wine. Very nice. The buffet consisted of salad, escarole (like Swiss Chard/spinach), pizza (no cheese LOL), small fried dough balls, fresh mozzarella (awesome), tomato salad, rolls and proscuito. Like I said, no one seemed quite sure if that was the appetizer or main entrée. Why no one asked, I have no idea LOL. So, I made a sandwich from the mozzarella and proscuito. It was quite good. Also, I asked for a bottle of red wine that was also quite good!

Soon the servers were clearing our plates and then we realized more food was to come. Each person received a plate with small penne pasta with red sauce and a most delicious spinach cannelloni.. I don't think I have had one taste this good in many many years! For dessert - cake - hazelnuts or something..whatever it was tasty! Was also my splurge meal for the day!!!!

Back onboard the bus, we travel an hour to the ancient city of Pompeii which was buried by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. I was getting very concerned at this point because the rain, once again started this time it was very grey and starting to come down. Our guide told us that if the rain got much harder our trip to Pompei would be cancelled. I was heartbroken, as this was one of my "must sees" for the whole trip. Fortunately, when we arrived it was only drizzle and off we went. Again, because of traffic problems, our one hour became 45 minutes and then the rain really started to come down. So we had Pompeei in the rain for 40 minutes, which was much better than no Pompeii at all! I would like to revist Pompeii sometime. Spend a solid day or half day with the audio tour. Gino was awesome with his explanations... we also had small headsets so that he talked to us thru them, which helped a great deal too!


Pompeii was lost for 1,600 years until it was accidentally discovered in 1748. At the time of the eruption, the town could have had some 20,000 inhabitants, and was located in an area in which Romans had their holiday villas.

Our Pompeii Slide Show

Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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Cruising the Med - Naples Photos Part 1

Arriving in Naples

Arriving in Naples

Beci, Chris and our new friends Chuck and Tony waiting in the Walt Disney Theatre for our excursion to begin.

Waiting for the excursion


Mt. Vesuvius
Mt. Vesuvius


Driving to Amalfi
Driving to Amalfi


More to come

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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Cruising the Med - Naples Photos Part 2

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Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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Cruising the Med - Olbia 5/30/07

Today we visit Olbia Sardinia
Arrive: 8:00am
Depart: 6:00pm

Here are a couple facts (from the DCL website):

Olbia is a relaxing seaside village with white sand beaches and blue water. " The territory of Olbia has been inhabited since the VIII Century B.C. although the city itself was founded by the Carthaginians no earlier than about VI Century B.C. Right from the beginning, the harbour was of significant importance to the city's economy, especially due to its corn export industry which has constituted its main source of revenue."

"The word "Olbia" means a "happy town" (città felice), even though the city's past has been rather difficult. Olbia was destroyed and reconstructed many times throughout its history. This may be the reason for the loss of its original name, during various dominations of the area, which was finally regained in 1939. In the 60's, Olbia underwent a real demographical boom and extensive tourism development of the area."
The above exerpts are from the Sardegna Website.

In the morning, Linda did laundry and I caught up on blogging. I'm sure you're tired of hearing this, but the connection just comes and goes frequently.

We felt this would make a perfect day to spend wandering around on our own. We were to join our friends Rob and Keith for a walking tour of the area and lunch. Unfortunately Keith hurt his knee badly when climbing Mt. Vesuvious the prior day. So instead of wandering around town, we dined at Lumieres and followed that with dessert and coffee at Cove Café. It was actually quite nice and low key as most folks were off the ship touring the island.

When we left Keith and Rob, Linda went to see the new Pirates movie and I took the opportunity to sleep for a couple hours. Linda said the movie was not at all was she was expecting, very hard to follow (in her opinion). As with previous movies, do stay thru the credits until the very end.

We saw the new show "The Art of Story". This is a VERY loud show. We will say again, a VERY loud show. I'm not sure why it needed to be, but it is. The first song will make Hunchback fans very happy - it reminded me of the MGM Studios show. From there we went to a song from Mulan, then Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King. Each song was to represent a different element in story telling. Unfortunately, I didn't quite get the connection. The show ended VERY strong with a song from the theatrical production of Lion King. The woman lead was awesome! Because it ended so wonderfully, I thought the show was great but my friends gave it a yawn. Ok, but nothing special. We all agreed, however, we want to see it again!!!

Drinks at Sessions.

Dinner with our friends at Lumiere's where everyone shared their wonderful day on the island. All too soon it was time to depart and get ready for ROME!


Deb Daily Recap:
Highs: Final song in Art of the Story, Lunch with Keith and Rob
Lows: not really any, but wish I had gotten off the ship for a bit.

Linda Daily Recap:
Highs: Lunch with Rob and Keith
Lows: Doing laundry (packed and hot in the laundry room)


Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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Cruising the Med - Olbia, Photos

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Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information -
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About May 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Deb's Digest in May 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2007 is the previous archive.

June 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.