Monday, November 11, 2019

Naples, Italy

Hello from Napoli!

I was hoping to be up early to get good pictures as we arrived in Napoli (Naples). We’re in an inside cabin this time around, so we turned the TV on to the webcam station last night so I could be awaken by daylight instead of an alarm. It worked great up until the time it didn't. We had thunderstorms throughout the night so the TV kept flashing white, making me think someone was turning on the light. Good thing hubby was snoring or I probably would have been blaming him for it. After a couple hours of being startled awake, the TV had to go off. Which should have meant I set an alarm. But I didn't so we slept. And slept. And slept.

We knew we didn't have to be anywhere until later in the day, anyway. With hubby’s stamina being the number one thing on my mind these days, I made sure today’s tour was an afternoon one so he had plenty of time for morning rest. We usually don’t take Princess tours but this cruise we are. 
Boy, we have a lot of sightseeing to do this month.
Being in a big group of cruise ship passengers in a confined space isn’t exactly our idea of fun. But Princess tour options typically pick up and drop off closer to the ship and keep pretty close to scheduled times, both things we need in order to keep him (hubby E) comfortable. I can’t wear the man out – there are still too many places around the world I want to see!

It wound up being a great tour. We saw a lot and I took a ton of pictures that I'll add later. Here's just a taste.
The ship docks in town. Next time we'll wander on our own instead.
Gelato for me and espresso for hubby. In Italy. Oh, yeah!

While we didn't get a chance to have pizza in Naples today, we still have a chance in Sicily tomorrow. will go to Alfredo's tonight instead. The Captain just announced tomorrow's port will be closed because of bad weather and we'll have a sea day instead. He tells us it'll be a bumpy one with the 50 knot winds. Hope it's not too bumpy by evening as it's formal night (just think about that champagne glass tower!) and we have dinner in the steakhouse tomorrow night  - in the back of the ship. It could get interesting.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sapphire Princess Embarkation Day

This may sound really weird, but the night before a cruise I don't get nearly as excited as I used to. I kind of equate it to going to the movies. Sure, you're happy you are going to see a movie, but you've been to the same movie theater before, had to drive through the same traffic to get there, and probably parked in the same area of the parking lot. Even if you go to a different theater, you know the concession stand will be after the ticket booth but before the actual theater. Once inside you might find a new spot to sit, but most likely you have your favorite go-to seats.

Cruising is like that for us. We use the same taxi company to get to the airport, usually fly the same couple of airlines to some of the same embarkation ports, and get on ships we've been on before. 

Ships with:
a layout like the others we've been on before.
the same kinds of food we've had before.
the same type of entertainment we've had before.
cabins we've had before.
some of the same crew we've cruised with before.
the same ports we've been to before with the same sights as before.

Which is probably why this particular cruise DOES have me more excited than usual. While we've left from Civitavecchia before (last year) and cruised on the Sapphire Princess before (several years ago), the ports are new. Every single one of them. Which makes the tours we're taking new to us, the sites new to us, and the adventure new to us. After having spent two months this year on the Royal Princess going to the same places we had already been dozens of times (Alaska and Mexico) I'm happy to say I think new is going to be a good thing for us. (Now hubby won't agree. He would rather be sitting in his rocking chair with the TV controller in his hand than be on any cruise or on any trip anywhere. But I know what's good for him, and this will be good for him. Trust me.)

As part of our new things, we did get a walk in after breakfast. A hill was involved and one of us worked up a sweat. Oh yeah, and got a peek at our ship. We're on the right and the Sky Princess is on the left. 
But as you would expect, our day didn't end there. We enjoyed just a bit of time on our little patio off our room...
 Before heading to port and boarding this beauty...

and seeing this behemoth ship docked across from us. Now little Miss Sky Princess doesn't look all that large in this picture, but believe me, she is. When we were in the shuttle to the port we could tell the difference between the two ships. Ours looks like a little baby compared to her. I'm hoping once one of us starts pulling away we will pass a bit closer for a better look.
We were able to board the Sapphire immediately, but cabins weren't quite ready. No worries for us. We'll just say hello to our home for the next 27 days. 
Can you tell we like hanging at the back of the ship on embarkation day?
I'm not sure of our plans for the rest of the day. A nap before muster drill perhaps? 

See you tomorrow in Naples!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

A Relaxing Day in Italy

No fewer than three times during the middle of the night last night did I sit up in bed and say in a loud voice. Ow, ow, ow! First it was the left calf. Later on it was the right calf. And if those two body parts weren't enough, the left foot got into the action even later in the night. Dang it hurt and I was so tired and discombobulated in the night I couldn't even forms words as to what I had going on. I had to look it up to remember - they were Charley Horses. It has been a good many years since I've had one (and never three in one night) but I'm guessing the 24 hours of traveling had something to do with it. So Dr. Deb prescribed herself lots of glasses of water, a banana for additional potassium, ankle pump exercises to increase circulation, and feet above her heart today.

As today was already a planned relaxation day it was an easy prescription to follow. The hotel we are staying in has a free breakfast so we started our morning by taking our 13 steps to the restaurant. I always find free hotel breakfasts fascinating. Not because they are free, but because the variety of foods we find depends on the part of the world we are in. Today's was heavy on the sweets.
I love seeing the oranges with their stems still attached.
I'm a mostly-protein gal so I had just a couple options.
I'm also a gal who likes to taste a little bit of several things but not too much of one thing (if that makes sense) so I was careful not to overdo it with all the choices available. 
In my choices I found something unbelievable tasty. Something I've never had before; something I've never seen before. It has probably been around the US for a while but since I don't do many carbs I wouldn't know it if it was. This chocolate covered mini Belgium waffle thingy was one of the best things I've eaten in a very long time. It was like an old fashioned doughnut batter made into a mini Belgium waffle shape with a chocolate coating. Oh. My. Gosh.
I also discovered this salami and an oh-so-flavorful roll for breakfast. Another oh my gosh moment.
Hubby and I talked about taking the couple blocks walk down to the water after breakfast, but it was pretty chilly and windy outside so we hiked our 13 steps back to the room until things warmed up some.

Which is where my I don't care day started. I think it was the combination of being carbo-loaded and hubby deciding to watch Italian TV in the room. The Italian TV channels were fun to watch, but then he found a sports channel he stuck with. I decided the sports channel watching was a good time to close my eyes for a tiny bit.

And I soundly went to sleep.

The next thing I knew, there was a knock on the door from housekeeping, coming to clean the room. Hubby grabbed the door, I thought in my mind I don't care about the room being cleaned and without even thinking about it, went right back to sleep.

Later on, a thunder clap woke me up. We had left the patio door open so it was loud. But I thought I don't care. And went right back to sleep.

Then we had the big birthday party we heard in the restaurant. Singing Happy Birthday in Italian. It woke me up, I thought how nice, then I don't care, and went back to sleep.

So there went the day. We both got plenty of rest, skipped lunch (the restaurant here isn't open anyway, but I did have my banana to add potassium into my system), drank plenty of water, and never made it down to the ocean. Even the walk became an I don't care. Heck, we're going to be on a cruise ship for 27 days so we'll see plenty of water.

At precisely 7 pm we headed to the restaurant for dinner. Another I don't care happened there, too. Just like last night, cruise passengers were having a pissing contest talking loudly from across the room about who is more important and how many cruises they've been on and blah, blah, blah. (If you cruise a lot you know the kind of people I'm talking about.) We had more of those loud folks in the restaurant tonight, too. But not long into the meal a large family of locals showed up for dinner. About 20 people in all, speaking Italian and having a grand time. It was fun listening to their conversations and enthusiasm even though I could hardly understand a word they were saying. Much better than having to care about being distracted by the annoyingly loud braggart cruise passengers.
I had no idea what the locals were saying, just like I don't know exactly what this Coke was trying to tell me.
Delicious homemade pizza in Italy? Oh yeah!
It wound up raining most of the day and into the evening. And guess what? I don't care. I'm in Italy having a great, grand, magnificent relaxing and mind, body, and soul boosting day.

Tomorrow we're joining the Sapphire Princess. The big, beautiful brand new Sky Princess will be here in port with us, too. I hope to get a good look at her as well. (From the outside only, of course).

I'll work on keeping Charley and his Horses in the barn tonight and will see you back here tomorrow!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Civitavecchia, Italy it is!

When we stripped down to our underwear and climbed into bed at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon in Italy we fist bumped and high fived each other.

I guess that sounds like it’s about to get a bit naughty. I better back up and start from the beginning.

Yesterday and today were going to be big days for us. And they were. A big 24 hours, really. While I'd like to say everything was absolutely perfect, if you travel a lot you know travel days are not without bumps. The bumps we encountered over the last couple days made us realize The Universe really is working in our favor.

It started with our taxi driver arriving early to pick us up.
Which led to an early arrival at the Boise airport.
That gave me additional time for the I'm going to reach around the inside of your waistband and the spread your legs wider so I can feel the inside of your upper thighs pat down I get every time at the airport.
Which allowed us enough time at the gate to check and recheck to see if any of our Lufthansa flights were cancelled. (They weren't.)

We also had plenty of time in the Denver airport as the Lufthansa systems were down. No printed boarding passes, no new seat assignments, and no passenger manifest. Thank goodness we had our boarding passes printed in Boise! Every passenger had to be checked in manually and physically checked off a list before boarding. Whew, it took a long time.

Since we had a 9+ hour flight ahead of us, we were able to make up time in the air.
Vickie, at one point Cape Breton popped up on the map and I thought of you.

We had time for a dinner and breakfast onboard. Hubby loved the BBQ beef, polenta, and green beans for dinner. We only had the fruit and half a roll at breakfast and by the looks of the eggs you can probably see why.

Before breakfast we saw a beautiful sunrise over Ireland from the camera on the tail of the plane. We had three different views we could look at from the monitors on the back of the seats. 
Good morning, Ireland!
Looking forward
Looking straight on down
A screen that actually wound up again, like last year's Air Alitalia flight, about six inches from my face. Today (well, really today and yesterday) it was due to the lady in front of me who reclined all the way throughout the entire flight. Even when she was up walking the cabin and standing up and using the restroom multiple times and reading, and well, you get the picture. 

Before we arrived in Munich, announcements were made about multiple cancelled Lufthansa flights. We listened carefully (first in German and then in English) and didn't hear our Munich to Rome flight on the list. We doubled checked again upon landing and we were good! But not so good for all these other people. I took a shot of one of the screens, but there were several screens full of multiple cancelled flights. This photo shows the cancellations for just 35 minutes of the day.

In total Lufthansa cancelled 600 flights today because of a strike, with most of them coming in and out of their hubs in Munich and Frankfurt. All those cancelled flights left us in a very quiet terminal in Munich. I headed down one way to see the gates. Empty.
When we boarded our plane, I looked the other way. Empty there too, but for one lone plane. (And ours, of course.)
If you wanted a seat at a restaurant in the terminal in Munich today would have been your day. Shops had no lines, either. But the biggest bonus came for hubby for two reasons.
1. The mobility assistance services provided at the Munich airport, according to hubby, were the best he's ever experienced. Ever. At anywhere in the world, including the US. (Actually, the services provided disabled people in airports in the US are among the worst we've encountered.)
2. Every person who dealt with us pronounced our last name correctly. It's Pfeifer, pronounced like "Fifer". It's a German name and most people everywhere else butcher the name. But we're in Germany and they know how to pronounce it!
Goodbye, Germany. Wish we could have stayed longer.
Finally a small bit of blue sky
Hello, Italy!
When we arrived at the Rome airport, we already knew our plans would be different from last year's. Last year we grabbed a bus and headed to a hotel in Rome for a couple days of sightseeing. This year we knew we had to preserve hubby's stamina so we are staying in a hotel near the port. They were able to arrange transportation from the airport to the hotel, even. Although again this year, we thought we were on the Autobahn with the speed the driver went. I couldn't see the speedometer from where I was sitting but I'm certain we were doing over 90 MPH. I tried taking pictures out the window and nothing showed up on the camera but blur.

With one exception. 

A rainbow.

It was magnificent - wide and full and brightly colored. And a double rainbow even started to form. The pictures taken through a shuttle window while zipping down the Italian Autobahn certainly don't do it justice.

We arrived at our hotel after 24 hours of travel with absolutely no sleep on any of our three flights (full disclosure - hubby did nod off a couple times in the front seat of the shuttle going 90 MPH) so we were exhausted.

And excited. We made it! We stripped off our clothes down to our underwear and climbed into our hard double sized bed and couldn't have been happier. (Hence, the fist bump and high five.)
You can tell by the sharp corners on the mattress how hard it is. No softness here.

Hanky panky? Nope, nappy nappy.  A few hours of sleep had us ready for dinner at the hotel. I counted the steps from our door to the restaurant doorway. 13 steps. With a day like today, I think 13 might just be a lucky number for us.

Tomorrow we have no plans but to just relax and recharge. 
Ever try and work on a blog in Italian? Good thing I know my way around my blog!
It may be 2:45 in the afternoon at home but it's 10:45 in the evening here in Italy, so buona notte!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Around the World in 31 Days?

So yeah, we're really doing this.

The air portion of our voyage begins tomorrow. 
Wish us luck on that one, though. We are flying into and out of Munich, Germany on Lufthansa Airlines. On the same two days the Lufthansa flight attendants are going on strike. 1,300 flights have already been canceled so I'm crossing my fingers ours doesn't wind up popping up on the list.

Then the sea portion of the voyage begins on Sunday. And boy, it's a long one at 27 days.

By the time we're done we will have circumnavigated the globe by air, sea, and land.

It's going to be a trip of firsts and of lasts, so stay tuned...