Sunday, June 8, 2014

Our 2014 Mediterranean Cruise Rome Day 1



Who: Jim & Karen
Why: Jim had a "Seminar at Sea" via  Northwest Anesthesia
How: Ship Silhouette, Celebrity Cruise Lines Celebrity Silhouette
When: May 2 - 18, 2014
Where: Rome, Vatican City, Tuscany, Naples, Malta, Mykonos, Ephesus, Athens, Santorini, Crete, Venice and The Dolomites. The plane changes occurred at JFK NY and Paris, France
I will try to list prices as I go for those planning their travel budget.

May 2- Flight to Rome via JFK-

          The trip started of great. We arrived to the airport a bit early to see my sister, Bev and my nieces Tiffany and Abby off on their vacation to sunny Florida. Then off to JFK we went! We were lost at JFK and 2 different Delta reps said "Terminal 1" for our connecting flight...but it was Terminal 4! We ended up exiting the terminal and had to go back through TSA lines and had 20 minutes to spare on our flight (2 hour layover!). I was a bit stressed but Jim sat me down and bought me a corona. It was the best beer ever and did remind me I was supposed to be relaxing. I also think this was dinner.... this was an overnight flight. I broke my rules of not sleeping and watching Louis CK. This time I wasn't angry when we landed. Much shorter flight than Australia. Only 8 hours!

ROME-

We landed in Rome in the rain. We landed away from a terminal and got to walk down the stairs and take a bus to the terminal. I could tell by the planes around us that we were on an adventure and no longer in Kansas.
When we landed (on time)  I connected to the wifi at the airport. Apparently they had our flights confused and our driver for Rome in Lime, Franco, was patiently waiting 2 hours for us! Let me stop here and say how wonderful this company is. We really enjoyed being with Franco. I would not travel to Italy without this company. Rome in Limo You can do your own tour OR they have tour sharing (more about that later). DO NOT drive in Rome. Wildest driving we've ever seen! Leave it to the experts. Here is Franco-
We made a stop here: Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II in Piazza Venezia
They jokingly call this "The Wedding Cake". The statues were very impressive:



We were fatigued and I wish I had brought a pen and paper to match photos with facts! Behind us is the Arch of Constantine, but it was under construction -
We went to the Colosseum next door.









Palantine Hill, Ancient forum, The Capital, Circus Maximus and saw the Apian Way.
We moved onto the Pantheon.









We saw a few of the  many ancient obelisks



Onto Trevi Fountain passing a man dressed like a Roman soldier on the way-

 Throw a coin held in your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain to ensure you'll return someday. The crowds were thick. We weren't sure we wanted to come back. The local people said it was much more crowded than usual, and may be because of the 2 Popes' canonization the week before.


                                         At the Spanish steps

See- another obelisk-

Both the historic center of Rome and the Vatican are Unesco World Heritage sites-
Ready for lunch just outside of the Vatican

 






Onto the Vatican!

 The walls are tall and lines are long. We met our guide in line and went right in. The wait was 4 hours without a guide and no ticket.

 The walkway from the Vatican to the subway

 St. Peter's Basilica
 Massimo, our guide,was fabulous. He carried an iPad with extra pictures, info and even a picture of him with the Pope. He was loud and animated. Even a man from another group asked him to be quiet. He would walk through where people were taking pictures stating "The picture is much better with me in it!" Perfect for those of us with no sleep!
 Inside St. Peter's Basilica. Massimo says they borrowed the gold from the rest of the world and will return it February 30th.
 This statue of Mary holding Jesus had tp be put under glass because her nose was shot off 3 times.
 This is the :Good Father" Poppa Buono enshrined in wax
 Looking up into the highest dome of the basilica
 Just to give you an idea of the scale. This is just a side dome
 The Swiss Guard
 This is where the smoke comes out black or white when they select a new Pope
 This is us leaving the Vatican, heading into the basilica. We are beat!
So we ended the tour here. The cost- 360 euro plus 150 euro for the Vatican guide. Lunch was about 30 euro . We also paid entrance fees to the Vatican 16 euro pp and Colosseum 12 euro pp.
Our hotel was on Marriott points, but it was a bit away from downtown Rome, closer to the Vatican- but free! Courtyard Marriott Rome

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