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Our Amazing European Adventure! Including 2 cruises and 7 days in Italy!

Our Amazing European Adventure! Including 2 cruises and 7 days in Italy!

Old Aug 19th, 2013, 04:23 PM
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This trip report will get printed for my three-ring binder of my favorite trip reports. Thank you so much for taking the time to post!
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Old Aug 20th, 2013, 02:49 AM
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I never thought I would like cruises, in fact was a bit sniffy about them. We've done two and are signed up for a third, transatlantic crossing this time. I do treat the ship as a floating hotel, we're not "everyone on deck for shuffleboard" people but do enjoy talking to other travellers, some of the lectures, reading, dining and most of the ports.

My mis-conceptions were many, I expected to gain weight, lost 6 lbs. on one cruise and 5 on the other. I only saw one instance of people going nuts at a buffet--an elaborate bruch our last day at sea. We decided we'd just skip it next time. I also thought, and this is really dating me, that cruise directors would try to force us into games, etc. So wrong.

I really admire the time you took to research shore excursions and take account for three generations of interests. I could take a few lessons from you!

Thanks for sharing the trip with us--I have a feeling there will be more in your future.
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Old Aug 20th, 2013, 04:10 AM
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What a shame this report is over - I enjoyed every episode.

I have nothing but admiration for the way you organised such a special trip - and how you handled any little crises that developed! Your family will have memories to last a lifetime thanks to your hard work, patience and love.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed holiday journal - I know I'll be checking back on it for some tips before our next trip to Italy.

Happy future travels!
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Old Aug 20th, 2013, 11:28 AM
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Loved it and the photos are amazing! Thank you.
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Old Aug 20th, 2013, 11:47 AM
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Great report! Thanks for letting US live vicariously!
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Old Aug 20th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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Thanks for your great report. You certainly deserve an award for travel planning to accommodate so many ages and interests. Your joyful and relaxed approach to this long and complex trip was awe-inspiring. I'm sure your family will have precious memories for many years to come. Brava!
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Old Aug 20th, 2013, 08:46 PM
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Great report - so enjoyable to read, and you made us all feel like we were traveling right along with you. I hope y'all are able to do another such trip in the future .
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Old Aug 21st, 2013, 07:26 PM
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Thank you all so very much for the wonderful compliments! It really is so heartwarming to read them!

msteacher - I will definitely think about what parts were my favorite moments, and I'll ask the rest of the family what were their highlights as well. I'll come back and post for sure!

We're going out of town for the weekend, but either Sunday night or Monday I'll try to update some highlights!
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Old Aug 21st, 2013, 08:02 PM
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During your report you said ypu knew there places you would want to return to visit in more depth. What are those? I recall that Positano was one of them.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2013, 11:10 AM
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Thank you so much Shell. This was such a fantastic trip report and I too hate it to end. My favorite part was your trip to Fallo. It brought tears to my eyes. Your mother looks so happy in the pictures.
Your trip brought back so many memories. I think we ate at the same restaurant above Positano. Can't wait for your next trip!
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Old Aug 23rd, 2013, 11:08 AM
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I've finally gotten the chance to browse the photos! You're a wonderful, wonderful photographer!! And such a precious looking family . How is the shutter speed on the D7000? We have been using a nice point and shoot, but with two really young kids (6 months and 2.5 yrs), the time between hitting click and when the photo actually takes is too long - we end up missing the split second both were looking at the camera and smiling.
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Old Aug 26th, 2013, 09:39 AM
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I'm so sad that your report has come to an end. You truly are a wonderful storyteller. I know you've inspired many of us.

Thank you.
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Old Aug 28th, 2013, 09:11 AM
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Bellissimo! Brava!
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Old Aug 29th, 2013, 06:08 PM
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TexasAggie - Thank you! I find the D7000 to be really fast. As a matter of fact, my dad was using a point and shoot, a pretty good one, and there were several times where I'd be next to him and have taken not only one, but a few pictures in the time where he just snapped one shot. Partially due to him trying to set up a shot, but also just the slow shutter speed on his camera. You could really notice the lag time in his camera vs mine when standing right next to him.

Thank you to every one else for your kind comments!

I hope to get back tomorrow to add some more thoughts on favorite moments and places I'd like to return. If not tomorrow, after the weekend! It's been a busy week here with the kids starting back to school this week and I had a lot of work to catch up on due to taking a couple of days off last week!
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Old Aug 30th, 2013, 05:31 AM
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What a trip report! I am wondering if you have had time to fix breakfast or clean the house. Ah yes, Positano, Sorrento, ancient Rome and much more to cap it off. The bit about discovering family connections in Fallo is fascinating...to me as a family genealogist.

I do think travel has three parts: planning, doing, remembering.
Bill in Boston
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Old Aug 31st, 2013, 06:16 AM
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Great trip report. Brought back sooooo many memories.

We did a 6 week 'trip of a lifetime' last year, mainly in Italy (though a bit of France) and also did the same Navigator of the Seas cruise that you did.

We too did private tours, and they were so much better than the cruise ones.

We are planning to go back next year so it definitely wasnt the only trip we will do to Italy.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 09:35 AM
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Hey there! msteacher had asked for some of my favorite moments or places from the trip, and HappyTrvlr had asked which are some places I'd want to return to. I haven't come back to reply to these because it's really hard to pinpoint these answers for me. Now that I've finished my trip report, and relived the memories, I realized it wasn't really one big dream - it really happened!

But I'll do my best with what I've come up with so far.

As far as favorite moments - I have a few stand out ones:

First, when we arrived in Rome, and entered the city, as our driver Andre rounded the corner and was telling us the stories about ancient Rome, and right there - the Colosseum stood. I mentioned in my trip report that I wasn't expecting it to be there. That we were sort of above it. We weren't at ground level. And it by far was the most amazing moment for me! Jet lagged and everything, I couldn't wait for the rest of the trip to begin! This was everything Italy, Europe and amazing for me!

Another thing that I loved about this trip was the fact that we did it as a combination of cruising and land. If I was to come here and post this itinerary, with the amount of cities and countries we were to visit I believe I'd be told we were crazy! Way too many in too short of time! However, by using the ship as our moving hotel we had the ability to get a taste, and in some cases I felt even more than a taste, for so many cultures and see so much in such a short time! We didn't have to worry about spending time catching trains and checking in and out of hotels for the cruise part. Plus...

another huge thing about the cruise that I absolutely LOVED was seeing my kids, especially Alex, be able to experience the ability to go off and be with his peers in the teen club at night. He could spend day after day with his family and for the most part really enjoy that time with us. But at night he had a safe and fun place to go to hang out with friends. They went bowling, did scavenger hunts, did the rock walls, and played all kinds of games. It gave him that time to be a teen and do his own thing so he was ready for the next day of intense touring. Megan had her time too - but to a less extent. And in the same way - Keith and I got to split from my parents too at times. We often ate dinner together, but not always. After dinner they would see a show or do their own thing. It suited us very well to give us space that we needed in order to spend so much time together!

Another favorite moment was standing up at the Acropolis. The weather was perfect. We were listening to our guide Georgia tell us the stories about Athena and the other Greek Gods and Godesses - the restoration of the Parthenon was going on. It was both peaceful and chaotic at the same time. The crowds really hadn't started to grow when we arrived. It's so ancient, overlooking modern Athens. Just fascinating! Then later going to the New Acropolis Museum and Georgia showed us so many of the artifacts and told us the details of them. Loved how the day all tied together from the beginning to the end.

Snorkeling in the Mediterranean in Crete has to be one of my favorite moments. It was just us and our guides. The water was that purple blue color. It wasn't that there was so much to see, but it was such a nice change of pace form the hectic touring the past few days. Being out on the water - in a small boat. And then relaxing while swimming out there with the kids, Keith and my dad. Even my mom who didn't get in the water had a great time with our captain showing her all of the sea life that Elise brought up for her to see.

Turkey was very unexpected for me. I'd seen pictures of Ephesus before, of the ruins. But I had no idea what to expect of the overall area. It was very pretty. I'm not sure if it was a favorite moment or place - but it was definitely much different from my expectations and it was very well liked. I think most Americans, at least most people that I know have no idea what that area of Turkey is like and probably perceive it as very different from what it looks like. I think I expected it to be much more desert like. It was more tropical and lush. Very clean. Very modern. - well except the ruins!

I absolutely loved our day in Provence, France. Before we left, I kept reading how many people stayed on the ship at this port because there wasn't much to do. This was for sure one of my favorite places. I think Les Baux was a favorite moment - getting out of the van and just seeing the town cut into that mountain! I absolutely want to get back there!

My favorite, absolute favorite place we went was the Amalfi coast. We only touched on it - but it was the most beautiful place I think I've been. From a photography perspective - what more could a person ask for?? The colors of the sea, the houses and buildings on the hills? And then once we stopped in Positano and Sorrento, It was just a place I want to go back. It doesn't matter to me that they were crammed with touristy shops and is probably overpriced and crowded! Those towns, and I'm sure the rest of the coast are just gems!

Oh, and I can't forget Sicily! Walking on Mt Etna! That was a WOW moment! Walking into a dormant volcanic crater! It was such a unique experience and then contrasted by visiting the charming town of Taormina! Where we had such a great lunch with our new friends, who we met through our roll call on Cruise Critic. We had lunch at an out of the way place in town and it was wonderful....

Venice - when we stepped out of the train station and I saw the gondolas and the canals for the very first time! That was another total "wow" moment for me! Venice really stole my heart. I think I loved everything about that city.

Which brings me to the food! A favorite thing about the trip would have to be the entire concept of dining in Italy! Everything is fresh! Everything tastes better! And everything is savored! I love that you're not rushed out of the restaurant and meals are meant to be an event! I love that you have to ask for the check and no one cares if you sit and sip wine for an hour after your last bite! Or that it takes 2 hours to eat! I love that the waitstaff comes and talks to you and appreciates that you try to speak a little Italian! I loved ordering little pitchers of wine or prosecco, even if it was just so-so house wine, with every meal! I'm totally spoiled when it comes to food and dining out now! Now that I'm home, when a server brings me a check when they bring me my meal and says "no rush, it's just easier if I leave this now" it really rubs me the wrong way! I know they want me out to get their tip to get the next table in! Humph!

But on the lines of food, a favorite would have to be our Food Tour with Bruno the first night!

Anyway...seeing our apartment in Rome, the terrace and sitting out there, feeling for a minute like we lived there, eating some cheese, fruit and proscuitto, while sipping some wine or whatever! That was a total favorite for us! Even getting some takout pizza from the shop across the street, bringing it back and eating it on the terrace. Loved it! Rome felt like home to me. I don't think it was just because we had an apartment there because on our first night in Italy when we stayed in a hotel I felt the same way. I connected to Rome. It was a favorite.

And of course, our day in Fallo - that is probably the most memorable moment of the entire trip. It brought it all home. My grandmother turns 90 this March and I was telling my mom that it would be amazing if we could bring her there for her 90th birthday! We don't think she'd be able to make the trip - but man, if she could! It would be incredible! For now, she'll have to settle for the pictures and our stories.

So, I hope that's not too many favorite things and places! But as I mentioned, there wasn't much that I didn't love about the trip! I guess there were days that I didn't love as much as the others, but if I did it again, I don't think I would change much of anything - except maybe add to it!

I'll do a separate post of where I'd like to go back to, and why. This one is longer than I thought!

Oh, and for anyone who doesn't want to read through the entire thread if you're interested, I have a blog with my trip report, that has a sampling of the pictures included with the posts. The blog is still in progress. It's up to the Amalfi Coast day. Here is the link starting with the first day of the trip:

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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 12:08 PM
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Wonderful! Thank you so much for taking the time to add to your already terrific report. I had a similar experience with that that first glimpse of Venice out of the train station-- it took my breath away! And I totally agree that lingering over delicious meals (with a few glasses of wine thrown in) is one of the true highlights of Italy.

Your perspective on cruising has also been really insightful. I can totally undstand how a cruise can be the perfect fit for families traveling with tween/teens or multiple generations. You definitely need "spaces in your togetherness" when traveling in a group like that. So glad that it worked so well for your family.

Thanks again for sharing all your wonderful experiences and terrific pictures! I'll bet it won't be long before you are starting to plan your next trip!
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 12:18 PM
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Maybe a repeat but JR and I wanted to buy a place in Italy but couldn't settle on the area we loved the most! So, I do appreciate how many favorites you had.

Thanks again for a wonderful TR!
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 06:30 PM
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Just stumbled on this thread. Thank you for a wonderful trip report. It was like a book I couldn't put down! What a great travel agent you would be Shelli!
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