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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 Jul 27th, 2013, 08:26 AM
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Hi Shell,

I have really been enjoying your report. It's so interesting to me because your family travel experience is completely different from my own family travels. As a kid, our family had a trailer and would camp all over the western US visiting all the Natl Parks and other sites.

Anyway, thanks for the detailed descriptions of your cruise. I've never thought I was "a cruise person" and reading the details you provide have confirmed that many times over!

It sounds like you and your family had a wonderful trip and lots of great experiences. It's always interesting to see how much we all like different things. I think someone above mentioned how boring the world would be if we all liked the same things! Isn't that the truth!

Do continue and thanks for taking the time for the report!
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Old Jul 27th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Still with you and enjoying as much as ever. What a wonderful trip!


You seem to have handled the meltdown compassionately. I have seen parents with no sympathy who have just made things worse. It must have been a hard hour or two.

Loved the pictures. It looked like a wonderful day!

Thanks for persevering.
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Old Jul 27th, 2013, 02:27 PM
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The colors in Mallorca are amazing and the ship is huge! Did you say where you Mom's town is?
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Old Jul 27th, 2013, 05:31 PM
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mmmooommm - I will look back and try to find the names of some of the restaurants we went to and post them. I know I have the dinner places in both Rome and Venice. I may have some gelato places, but we pretty much just stopped when we wanted gelato and never had ones we didn't like! Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was just being in Italy! But all gelato was GOOD!

Dayle - funny you mention family camping...that's how I vacationed growing up too. But tent camping! All up and down the East coast of the US and parts of Canada. Two weeks at a time sometimes in a tent! I have some great memories of those vacations and we take our family camping every year or so as well. Usually only for a weekend though at a time. My husband hates to cruise...and would prefer pretty much any other type of vacation over a cruise! For me, I love to travel! Be it by ship that brings me to new destinations each day, or traveling independently land based- which is how we travel 75% of the time....just show me the world! This trip in particular made sense for us as a cruise. Next trip to Europe, maybe not. But variety IS for sure the spice of life!

Irishface- thank you! It took a lot of patience to BE patient with the meltdown! But I try to remember that if feed it, it only makes it worse!!

TDudette - my mother's grandfather and several other family members that are more distant, are from Fallo, in the Abruzzo region. That comes on our last full day of the adventure!

More to come hopefully tomorrow! Today I took Megan's girl scout troop to see Matilda in NYC! It was fantastic! We're on the train home now.
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 06:52 AM
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Sunday, June 23rd

Today we are spending the day in Barcelona! I can’t even believe the places we’ve been. Many of the passengers on the Epic are disembarking here for the end of their cruise. They began in Barcelona a week ago. But lucky us, we still have a few days left since we began in Rome.

Today we were sharing our tour with a mom and her daughter who we met on cruise critic. We used Barcelona Day Tours for their Barcelona and Montserrat full day private tour. The ship docked at 5 am since it was a disembarking port for passengers leaving the ship as their port of call, but our tour wasn’t until 9 am.

We met our group and left the ship, finding our guide Marta very easily among the incredibly busy and super crowded port! Marta whisked us away and onto a large van, actually more like a small bus and off we went. Our first stop would be Montserrat. We drove for about an hour. Marta talked the whole time – mostly to my dad who must have asked her a million questions! He's become quite the conversationalist with the guides!

As we got closer to Montserrat the views became just amazing. We started to climb the mountain and the higher we went the more beautiful. It seems that each day we go to somewhere even more breathtaking!

We traveled up the winding road – up and up and up! There were people hiking it, riding bicycles up, and even some cable cars…we were happy to be on our little bus! We finally made our way to the monastery at Montesrrat. Marta took us all around. She showed us all of the different buildings and told us the historical significance of each. We stopped in the Basilica and it was just beautiful. Mass was just starting – we peeked in and it was packed – wall to wall!

We decided to not stay to listen to the famous Children’s Choir sing, it would have been about a 45 minute wait until they started and we didn’t know how far back we’d be since it was so crowded. We all would rather spend this gorgeous day outside anyway. But we did decide to split up.

Alex was itching to climb. He saw trails and paths and mountains to climb! He and Keith went off to find something with some adventure!

The other family with us and I wanted to take the funicular up higher on the mountain. Marta told us there were some easy trails up there, but maybe a bit more than my dad should be doing - he does have a bad knee.

My parents and Megan – they weren’t sure what to do. They went off with Marta, but whatever they planned, it didn’t work out and they ended up on the funicular with us! They were going to check out the view from up high! Megan was a bit scared of the funicular though.

We went up even higher and the view was even better! My new traveling companions and I took a path around the huge rock face and looked out below. When we were actually down there looking up we had commented about how amazing it must be to be up there – and now here we were! As we were standing there, a couple of guys came by in their rock climbing gear – they were going to scale the big rock. Ok – there’s adventure. We’re just walking on the path!

We think Marta intended us to go further – she mentioned some other big boulder, but we knew if we were going to make the next funicular down we had to turn back.

We met up with my parents, Megan and Marta who were at a overlook viewing spot and enjoying their views up there.

We went back down and found Keith and Alex who had gone on a hike up past a chapel way up on the mountain side. Marta was pretty surprised that they had made it there and back in the amount of time that they did! She said it was a pretty intense hike! She doesn’t know Alex and Keith! They had a blast and Alex didn't stop talking about it the rest of our time there!

We had a quick lunch at Montesrrat before leaving and then we headed towards Barcelona. So far it’s been a pretty amazing day!

On our way to Barcelona Marta told us all about Gaudi. We’d be seeing some of his major works. Or first stop was Park Guel. This was fascinating! I might even say it was a bit crazy! We enjoyed walking around here for about thirty minutes or so. It was quite crowded and the time we spent here was enough time to get an appreciation for the vision that Gaudi had when he designed it, and also to see the Park that it has become today.

Next we went to La Sagrada Familia. Now we had all prepurchased tickets for our designated entry time and we were there right on time. I’m going to fill you in on a super great money saver that I found online for anyone who has plans to visit in the future!…if you are a family – you can go to the Sagrada Familia website and become a Friend of the Sagrada Familia member for approximately 36 Euro for a family of 4. This gives you entry to the Sagrada at ANY time and gives you TWO guest passes! Currently you also have free access to climb the towers as well. You will get preprinted membership cards with your names on them and your membership is good for an entire year! So the six of us were able to enter for only 36 Euro! This is a pretty big money saver! As well as a time saver! We didn’t need a specific time reservation and had we had more time or had there been a time slot available when we were there, we could have climbed the tower. There is also a discount in the gift shop!

Marta couldn’t get over the fact that I had the Friend’s membership. She was amazed that I pulled out my 4 red cards and had the guest passes for my parents! She told me I needed to be a travel agent – and couldn’t believe anyone from the US could be so prepared for a trip! I told her – online research - sites like this and cruise critic – that’s how we do it!

The whole time we were at Sagrada she kept laughing at me and calling me a Friend of the Familia!

Anyway – back to the Sagrada – some people may find it a bit odd, or tacky – or maybe gaudy But I found it just “WOW” – it was just amazing! Even Alex who had yet to be impressed by a church found this one pretty impressive! He loved the way this one was designed.

Marta gave us some time to take it all in, as if that’s even possible! And then she took us around the inside first and explained all that we were seeing. Showed us how things that looked three dimensional were actually not! She also took us outside and explained the facades to us. It was great to have here there explaining everything to us.

After the Sagrada we drove past two more Gaudi buildings and then drove up to the Olympic Park. Just a drive by here.

On the way back to the ship we stopped briefly at Montjuic. There was a nice overlook here where we could see the port and our ship and also a great overview of Barcelona itself.

We didn’t actually have any time on our own in Barcelona – that will be another trip! Since we chose to go to Montserrat that shortened the time we would have had in Barcelona. However, we could see that it being a Sunday, many things appeared to be closed. So maybe it wouldn’t have mattered.
We got back to the ship right at 5:00. Another great day!

Tonight we had dinner reservations at Cagney’s – the steakhouse. They weren’t until later, so we did have time to relax. Keith didn’t eat anything at lunch so he went up to the buffet and got a bit to eat and I took Megan up to the spa to schedule the kid’s manicure for tomorrow – our one and only Sea Day!

We hung out on the balcony for a bit and then went to dinner. Cagney’s…well – of all the specialty restaurants we ate at on the Epic, this was the most underwhelming and the most expensive. Not a bad meal - but just ok. During dinner we noticed a bit of movement on the ship…odd…it’s been such a smooth trip!

So, after dinner it seemed to go as our normal routine. Alex to the teen club, Megan and Keith to the room. Well tonight I was tired of sitting around. I was going out! I went to Howl at the Moon. I’m not much of a solo type of person, but darn if I was going to sit in that tiny cabin watching the same 3 shows on tv again one more night waiting for my teen to get home at 1:00 am! I was going out and having some fun!

So, Howl at the Moon – I thought it was fantastic! It's a bit difficult to describe, but it's called dueling pianos, but it's really much more than that! There are two pianos and a drum set and anywhere from 2 to 3 singers rotating between the pianos and the drums. There’s two men and a woman. They take requests from the audience and have a great sense of humor as they do an amazing job singing pretty much anything that is thrown at them! There is great audience participation. It’s not the type of show where you have to get there at the beginning and stay until the end – you can come and go at any time. I think it started around 9:00 or 10:00 and they’re on until maybe 1:00. I stayed until about 12:30. The ship was rocking the entire time – rocking a lot!

When I got back to the cabin, Alex was just getting back too – I had to put the things around our sink in the cabinets due to the rocking they were rolling back and forth. I went to bed, but was up most of the night. At one point Megan woke up and said “mom, is the ship sinking – we’re moving way too much!” – surprisingly I just told her no – go back to bed. No meltdown!

This was the first movement we had felt so far on either ship and boy - it was moving!

Oh, today's tour in Barcelona was 99 Euro/person

The link to the Barcelona pictures is:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tripsnp...7634839941996/
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Old Jul 29th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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another wonderful day of exploring! You did a great and thorough jo of photographing the interior of "La Familia". I felt as if I were walking around with you. Thanks!
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Old Jul 30th, 2013, 04:30 AM
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Very nice shots once again. Hope to read that no one got sea sick! Having a balcony makes a big difference as one can get some air.

Next?
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Old Jul 30th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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Monday, June 24th – Sea Day

Next up we have our only sea day on the Epic!

The ship rocked and rolled all night long! Now I’m not what I’d call a seasoned cruiser, but I have never felt motion like that before! It was huge movement! None of us ever felt sea sick – but it was hard to even walk! I got up pretty early which was easy since I really didn’t sleep well anyway.

Everyone else – you guessed it – still sleeping! Don’t they know they can sleep when they get home? Speaking of home – it’s starting to set in that we go home on Saturday. This really is sad to me. I know we’ve traveled longer than most people ever get the opportunity to. I know that my kids are anxious to get home to their friends and routines – even though they admit that they’re really enjoying each and every day! But I am loving every single moment and could do this for ever. Now – how does one fund traveling full time? Sigh…

My parents, they have told me how much they have appreciated all of the planning that I’ve put into it and they have kicked butt! They are doing great on this trip, even with so much walking!

Anyway – today is a Sea Day – a bit of time to relax a bit and gear up for the last few days we have on our trip.

I went out on the balcony and it was pretty obvious that today would not be a day to sit out at the pool or out on deck reading and relaxing! It was windy and overcast. I decided to go up to the spa and see if I could get Keith a spa pass for just the day. I think I may have mentioned that he isn’t particularly crazy about cruises to begin with. If he can’t spend his one day at Sea lying in the sun relaxing, he would be pretty miserable. He feels pretty trapped on a ship.

I was thrilled to get him the Spa Pass! It was only $39 for the entire day. I thought this was a great deal and if you could see the Spa on the Epic you would too. Do I have one single picture of it? NO! If it’s not the largest spa at sea, it’s one of the largest. There are thermal chairs, hot pools, cold pools, sauna’s, steam rooms. This is exactly what Keith loves. If I didn't have the kids with me, I would have been there with him.

So, I went back to the room and woke him up and the two of us went to breakfast at the Garden Café Buffet. we got a window seat – outside was far too windy still. We sat and watched the huge waves crashing outside.

After breakfast we went up to the spa so Keith could have a quick tour before he went back later. He was pretty impressed. I knew I made a good decision in getting him the day pass! We went back to the room to get the kids up. It was about 10:00 am and Keith went back to the spa. He liked it so much that I didn’t see him again until I dropped Megan off at the spa at 2:15 for her manicure! He was still there!

The pools weren’t even open on this windy day. The kids and I spent the day just sort of wandering around. We spent some time in the library. They played a few games – chess, checkers etc.

I’m glad Megan had her Manicure scheduled – that gave her something to do! Alex went to the teen club for part of the day. Finally late afternoon the rocking started to subside and the sun came out a bit. The pools did finally open I think. I went out on deck and read for a bit. Keith finally came out of the spa around 3:00 and we went to Shaker’s Martini Bar for the Martini Tasting!

This was a lot of fun! Maybe a bit too much fun! It was $15 I think, maybe $20/person for four martini’s. We learned the history or the martini and how each was made. We started with the original martini, which I’m NOT a fan of, but for the sake of the class, I suffered through it. Then we had a Cosmopolitan. That was quite good! Then a Chocolate Martini - which was fantastic. It was different from other Chocolate Martini’s I’ve had in the past. There seemed to be more ingredients in this one. And then their Signature Martini – which at this point I couldn’t begin to tell you what was in it! I won a travel mug for answering some question correctly – again – can’t tell you what that was. Four martini’s and I am a bit fuzzy on the end of the “class”! I do know that about half way into it Megan and my mom came to show me her manicure and Megan told me that I’d already had quite enough “Martini’s Mom!”

After our class, Keith and I sat at the bar and had just one more drink each. I believe that was not the smartest decision…but live and learn. We made our way back to the ship which seemed to be a bit more wobbly again! And I took a little nap, after the kids made a bit of fun of their mom – the downside of sharing a cabin with your teen and preteen – after a martini tasting!

Tonight we have reservations with my parents for the Cirque Dreams Dinner! This is a Cirque du Soleil type show put on in a circular center stage dinner show theater. This is the only show we prebooked prior to boarding the Epic.

We all enjoyed the show quite a lot. We found it to be entertaining and well done. All of the shows so far on the Epic have really been very good.

We also all enjoyed our food. No complaints from any of us during any part of the meal!
So – Keith left the dinner right after the Main Course – and back to the Spa he went. He wanted to get the most of his day pass. While he still thinks he wouldn’t have gotten the full use of a week long pass with the intensive port days, he really got a full use of the day pass!

After dinner – you guessed – same old routine! Except tonight – I started organizing our things to pack. Tomorrow is our last day on the Epic. It’s also perhaps the day I had been most looking forward to! We dock in Naples – we’re going to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast!

Here is a link to our Sea Day Pictures - I really didn't take too many that day! Very unlike me!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tripsnp...7634856753287/
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Old Jul 30th, 2013, 11:26 AM
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Can't wait to share this part of your journey. JR and I loved Pompeii!
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Old Jul 31st, 2013, 09:18 AM
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Wow, it was a lot of fun catching up with you in this trip report (although I really do need to get back to work now)! What a fabulous job planning your trip -- and the report itself and photos are fabulous as well!

I can relate to Meghan's meltdown. During our family trip to Italy, during one of the best dinners we had -- the food was great, we were all having the best time talking and laughing together -- my youngest suddenly started sobbing saying she was homesick and wanted to go home! Even if they're excited and having a great time, traveling can still be unsettling and a bit stressful I suppose!
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Old Jul 31st, 2013, 10:18 AM
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Very enjoyable trip report - love the sound of your day in Mallorca.

I'm interested in hearing about your time in Pompeii. I found it a very moving place, but I was there in February so didn't battle crowds.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 06:50 PM
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Again, life gets in the way of the more enjoyable things - my trip report! I've been working on getting my pictures from Pompeii and the Amalfi coast uploaded and writing the day's events...I'm going to split this day in half. I have the Pompeii part here and then I'll post our afternoon in a separate post.

Tuesday, June 25th – Napoli

This is a day I had been so looking forward to! From the very beginning of the planning this port was one of the highlights for me. Not so much because of Naples, or shall we say, Napoli. But because by docking in Napoli we’d be able to not only be able to go to Pompeii but also the Amalfi coast! What could be better? All of this in one day? Well, of course spending more time some would obviously say - but to be able to visit both in one trip for us, this was perfect!

We would be using Joe Banana Limo’s again and our port day was thankfully a long day. 7 am – 7 pm. We chose an “all inclusive” day with Joe Banana – the tour included our lunch as well as a guide in Pompeii.

Alex however was not too excited about our plans for the day. Sure he was interested in Pompeii, but he felt there was something huge missing. He could not believe we had a day planned in the place where pizza was essentially discovered, which is Naples – and yet we wouldn’t actually be setting foot in the city of Naples itself! How could we not be getting authentic pizza from Napoli? “Mom – you of all people? To not get the original pizza?” He was horrified! Well, it really didn’t seem quite right did it?

Anyway…we got off the ship and met our driver, Paolo, right on time at 8 am. Right away, we could tell this was going to be a great day. Paolo was one Italian who loved his job! Mimi mentioned to Paolo that maybe during our day if at all possible, could Alex get some authentic Napoli pizza here in this Pizza Capital of the World? Well – Paolo very enthusiastically accepted this mission!

We all got into his van and he explained his plan for the day as we set off for our first stop…Pompeii! He gave us some history on the way, which included some video clips he had on his dashboard iPad! He showed us some videos of the lava flow, eruptions, and pictures of Mt Vesuvius.

This man loved the history of this doomed city!

I think I may have mentioned that prior to the trip, the kids and I had several “International Movie Nights” to prepare for some of the places we’d be visiting. Many movies were watched by just Megan and I. Alex thought they were a bit too “girly”. But we all watched a documentary on Pompeii. I think it may have been a PBS or National Geographic special. Alex had actually watched it in school before, but Megan had never seen it. It really was great that they both had such an in depth knowledge of what had happened there and what life would have been like leading up to the eruption.

Mt Vesuvius was looming at every turn during our drive. The crater had a few clouds around it, but the volcano was just huge! I can not imagine living there with such an active volcano just waiting to erupt!

We arrived at Pompeii, and like our other private tours of the ruins we’d been to, we got there before the big buses filled with huge masses of other tourist arrived! Nice!

Our guide, Enzo, was there waiting and he had our tickets already so we could walk right in. Paolo made our introductions, we had a quick stop at the rest rooms and off we went!

Enzo was an interesting older gentleman. A bit goofy at times even! But he seemed to know Pompeii in and out! I know we only scratched the surface but we sure saw enough to get a feel of the daily life there. As we walked through the city, one could imagine the eruption and what came after!

We saw the government areas, the shops - the “fast food” stands you always hear about! The bakers areas with the brick ovens that even could have been used for pizzas! Or maybe just breads… We saw the bath houses. We saw the residences - I felt like we saw it all - but I know we didn't!

There is so much detail here. So much history and really such tragedy. What amazing places these were! We of course saw the bodies frozen in time. This was so touching. Their breath literally taken from them as they were covered in ashes.

It was so easy to imagine such a busy port city that this was before it was destroyed!

This was the one place we bought one of those little books that shows the overlays of what the ruins look like and what the original city may have looked like. It was just fascinating to me. The size is just immense! The last page of the book shows a map of Pompeii in 79 A.D. and it could be of any modern day city. It’s just amazing to me. Then you turn the page and see what has been excavated. Such a small amount! There is so much more still under the earth! It’s hard to believe so much is still uncovered. Walking there it felt big – imagine how much more is there, underground today.

It was early when we arrived, so it was never too hot and it was never too crowded. Enzo seemd to always move us just as other people showed up where we were standing. I had no idea that Pompeii had already experienced pretty severe destruction from an earthquake prior to the eruption and it was in the process of rebuilding.

We had seen now ruins in Athens, Ephesus, smaller ruins in France and now Pompeii. Each was so different. So unique. So fascinating!

Just as the crowds started to really arrive it was time for us to move on. We said good bye to Enzo and met back up with Paolo.

We were ready for a totally different part of the day. We were ready to begin our journey up the Amalfi Coast!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 07:42 AM
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Traveling along with you....
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 11:09 AM
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Loving the report. I head for Sicily, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome in seven weeks. You've given me some great ideas.....
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Continuing along....when we left off we were getting back into our van with Paolo after a most wonderful and touching visit to Pompeii. We were ready to head off to the Amalfi Coast for the rest of our day!

We began our drive through the Amalfi coast towards Positano where we’d be having lunch. As we started our drive Mt Vesuvius was a constant reminder of our visit to Pompeii. Such a beautiful landscape, but such massive destruction!

As we drove higher the views became more spectacular. The camera was clicking away!

We drove through Paolo’s home town. I can't remember the name, but he told us he visits home often! His family still lives there. He pulled over on the side of the road, left the van running and told us not go anywhere! Said he’d be right back…we watched him run into a shop, but he came out looking disappointed. Unfortunately it was still too early for his favorite pizza shop to have their pizza ready. He was taking his mission to get Alex the best authentic pizza in the region quite seriously! He promised he would not let him down!

Paolo slowed down every so often to let us take pictures and once and awhile he’d stop at one of the pull offs for us to get out and view the beautiful scenery.

At this point, I was sitting up front and while he and I were chatting about making homemade pasta and life in Italy in general, it became pretty clear that he was a photo enthusiast himself. He started asking about my camera and somewhere along the line he asked if he could take some pictures from his side of the van to get the scenery. By the end of the day I just left the camera in the middle of the seat between us and he’d take the pictures he liked, I’d take the ones from my side! We made a good photographing pair!

He loved my camera! I gave him the info on where I got it – he was shocked at the US prices and thought maybe he could get a cousin he had in NJ to get it for him – even with shipping to him back here it had to be less than it would cost to buy it in Italy!

So anyway, the drive was more than interesting! Not for the faint of heart! So many roads were so narrow and winding! One car or truck would actually have to back up or down, to let the other pass! The big buses actually even go on those roads! Crazy! At one point, as we squeaked pass a big bus, Megan said she could actually see the whites of the eyes of the passengers on the bus as the passed us! We had complete faith in Paolo though.

At one point I think we took a “detour” that Paolo doesn’t usually take – there was some traffic he wanted to avoid – and we got to go up through Montepertuso. Here we got to see the hole in the rock that legend has it Mary made with the touch of her finger in a challenge with the devil. The devil could barely scratch the surface.

We arrived at the restaurant we’d be having lunch. I didn’t write down the name though. It seemed to be full of many tour groups, at least at lunch. Tourist restaurant or not, it was fantastic! All homemade food, served family style. The views were beautiful.

We started with bruschetta, meats, cheeses, veggies, potato salad, beans and it seemed to go on and on and on! Huge bowls of food! Wine of course was also served! Then we had four types of homemade pasta! Gnocchi, cannelloni, ravioli, and a fusilli type pasta. And if that wasn’t enough we had five or six different types of desserts brought out. Again they said they were all homemade. They were fantastic. And of course, dessert wouldn’t be complete without a shot of Limoncello! We are now in the Amalfi Coast right? Salute!

Tummy’s very satisfied…we piled back in the van for another twisty, curvy drive into Positano. The jewel of the Amalfi Coast. Approaching this town, I see where this nickname comes from. And as we parked the van and started to walk into this town, I totally understand the name. It is indeed a jewel!

I’m sure it’s an expensive one at that though! We had about an hour to explore. Surly not enough time. Just a total tease! Paolo told us we could either walk down to the beach, or up into the streets. We all decided to walk down to the beach.

This was for sure one of those places where you guessed it…”I LOVED THIS PLACE!”…I would want to come back to here for sure. I would love to take some serious time here just strolling through all of the streets and shops! And then go to the other towns. There were so many flowers and it was so alive and bright! Not to mention that the sea was right here! Heavenly!

So, we got to the water and Alex and Megan got their feet wet. This of course ended up to be a major trauma for Megan. Now she had black, rocky pebbles in her shoes. Agh! The beach itself is not a nice sandy beach like someone from the East Coast of the US might be used to and those rocky pebbles were making her go crazy! They wouldn’t come off and she couldn’t find anywhere to wash her feet. Finally we found a public restroom and she was able to rinse them a bit and she finally calmed down and realized that, no buying NEW shoes here in Positano would not solve the problem – her feet still were covered in the rocky sand – the new shoes would get dirty anyway! All was calm again!

We resumed our day and strolled back up the steep hill to our van and met Paolo to continue our day.

Next up, Sorrento! We really only had about 45 minutes here. Sorrento seemed to be all things Lemon! It is a much flatter town than Positano. We split up here. Megan went with my parents to find Gelato and Alex came with Keith and I.

We stopped in one of the Lemoncello shops and were immediately hit with several samples. In this particular shop they make their own products. They were practically forcing the samplies on us, including Alex...Who was pretty happy about this! The samples were perfect and served at just that perfect cold temperature! It wasn't too difficult, we were sold on a little bottle that was a twisted combination of Lemoncello on one side and the Lemoncello Cream on the other. I really like the creams…apparently Alex did too and seemed to think I should be buying him his own bottle??? This whole teens drinking in Europe is a bit strange to me! A sample, fine, but a bottle? I don’t think so! Just as we were walking out the entire store filled up with wall to wall people! We got there at the perfect time!

We found Mimi, G-Pop and Megan and met up with Paolo. We got into his van and there was this amazing smell…turns out while we were exploring Sorrento he went and found the most authentic Napoli pizza he could get and got Alex an entire pizza and had it waiting for him right there in the van! The smile on that kids face – again – do I have a picture? Of course not~! I’ve really got to work on the pictures of the people and not just the pictures of the places!

Anyway, he passed back that box of pizza and Alex enjoyed that super thin crust pizza in record time. I think he may have passed around one piece for the rest of the van to share – I know it never made it’s way up to the front seat to me though! I think the fact that Alex was so happy truly made Paolo’s day as well!

On the way back to the ship Paolo and I talked and talked all about his life there in Italy. He was just shocked that we eat Mozzarella cheese that is already shredded and out of a bag! He said he gets suspicious when he visits he mom and she offers to send some home with him. He wonders if maybe it’s more than two days old? They eat their mozzarella often the same day they get them milk from the cow! And that is why everything tastes just so darn good there!

This was by far the most perfect day, our last port day.

Tomorrow we leave our time cruising and move on to an apartment in Rome for three days. Our time on the Epic could not have ended any other way than today. It was amazing.

Tonight we actually had plans to dine separately from my parents. But the date was a significant date. It’s June 25th. Our day was so fantastic that no one dwelled on the fact that it was the 6th anniversary of my brother’s death. This trip was actually to put that in the past and to get over that for my parents and to start a new beginning for them, and I suppose all of us. Isn’t it something that on the anniversary of his death we had probably one of the most peaceful days of our vacation! Those are the times that if you believe in things like this, you think that maybe he had something to do with it. He was there somewhere knowing it was time to spend that day doing something peaceful and wonderful! I called my mom and asked her if they wanted to have dinner with us “it’s June 25th mom” “wow, she said”.

So we all went to Teppanayki. We already had reservations there, and while Japanese is not a favorite of my parents – they joined us and we toasted Johnny. He would have loved this trip.

Teppanayki was really quite good. Our chef was really great! And my dad, who really is not a fan of Japanese food, said it was the best Japanese restaurant he’s ever been to!

I had big plans for tonight – I wanted to go back to Howl at the Moon, maybe go to FABBA - the ABBA tribute party - you know, take advantage of all the Epic had to offer,…but after our busy day and the fact that we had to leave tomorrow, I ended up just going back to the cabin and packing and then going to bed.

Tomorrow the last leg of our journey! Back to Rome!

The pictures from our day in Pompeii and the Amalfi coast are here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tripsnp...7634896621857/
ShellD is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 10:57 AM
  #156  
 
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Astounding shots and colors, ShellD! What a wonderful day. Imagine, those poor folks didn't even know the volcano was there! Would you have rebuilt the town??? Eeesh.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 02:30 PM
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Looking forward to your mother discovering her roots.
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 04:31 PM
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TDudette - That really is part of what makes Pompeii so amazing - that they didn't even know it was a volcano! And NO way would I have rebuilt that town and I don't even think I would live anywhere near there now! Paolo was telling us how they have emergency evacuation drills now and he's pretty sure there's no way the entire population could ever evacuate even with enough advance notice of a major eruption! Not to mention all of the people who wouldn't leave because they wouldn't believe it was for real!

HappyTrvlr - our "Back to our Roots" day is coming up - 2 more days in Rome first! It's a bit bittersweet though because it's the last day of our trip! I've so enjoyed putting this trip report together and sharing it, that ending it means the vacation is "officially" over!

I'm working on the photos from our first day back in Rome and hope to have them uploaded by tomorrow!
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 07:46 AM
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I must say again how much I am enjoying your report with all the details. Also the beautiful photos.

Nikon D7000 camera, correct?
I looked it up and the price was from $1,000 to $1,500 depending on the model. Did you really spend that much on a camera? Or maybe you got a better deal somewhere---if so, I'd like to know where. I agree the photos are wonderful and you said you love the camera, but that's a hefty price to pay unless you are a professional using it for magazine work.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 10:12 AM
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TPAYT - Thanks for the compliment on the report and the photos!

Yes it's a D7000 - if one is going to jump into the DSLR range that's about what you would expect to pay. I'm more than the casual vacation photographer though. Just as some people spend money on cars or maybe collecting items in their home, my hobby (other than travel) is photography. I am not into portrait photography - it's really not my thing, but if I can sell some work here than there, great - but no, it's not my career - as much as I'd love to find a way to do so!

As for the price, I upgraded from my last DSLR and was able to trade up the body and lenses I had. Sort of like when you trade in a car for a new one. The condition of my old equipment was excellent and my out of pocket cost was less than $600, including an additional lens and full insurance on the body and lenses.

For what it's worth, a professional, shooting for a magazine would likely be spending FAR more than $1500 for a body and lenses on their DSLR. Look into the price of the Canon EOS 1D body only! That retails for over $6700 without the lens.
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