Thursday, February 7, 2008

Day at Sea; Naples; End of my Cruise - Part VIII

October 25, Day at Sea: A relaxing day at sea! I slept in a little and packed most of my things into my suitcase. There wouldn’t be too much time to pack the next day. At 11:30am I went to the captain’s club officer’s party where wine and champagne was served. The officers were supposed to mingle with the guests, but only a few showed up. Deb sat with me and we notice that Flavio looked at us and walked in a different direction. Deb had room issues too, so I suppose Flavio wanted to avoid talking to us.

On deck I wrote in my journal while listening to my mp3 player until the band started playing. They were too loud and I couldn’t hear my own music, so I moved inside for lunch.

Earlier in the week I was invited by Bruce and Gail for drinks in their room, so I went at 4pm. Cathy and Ed were there too – the four of them met on a previous cruise. Bruce and Gail also invited a friend that they discovered only the day before that she was on board! We had a nice time together enjoying some wine and pistachios that they bought in port.

As usual, drinks at the stratosphere before dinner. Fun, fun!! It was our last formal night and lobster for dinner! Surprisingly I only ate one lobster tail. But overall, throughout the cruise I didn’t eat everything on the menu. Sometimes I skipped the soup and dessert. (I even came home 1/2 pound lighter!) During dinner, Gabriel came to the table and whispered in my ear saying “I have something for you…if you remember our conversation.” Another bottle of champagne! He would have it delivered to my room this night. It was very nice of him to remember me.

After dinner, I went to the show to watch the singing comedy impressionist Scott Record. He was very funny! I think I saw him on another cruise. I stopped by the Michael’s lounge and sat with Cathy, Ed, Vicki, Alex, and the two Mikes for just a short while. I was getting very tired and we had one last busy day ahead of us.

October 26 Naples: Our shipped arrived in Naples at 7:00am. I got up early to get ready and to have a light breakfast before meeting the group (Deb, Robert, Craig, George, Mike, and Mike) at 7:30am. We headed out to buy a tram/train ticket for Pompeii across the street from the port at the newsstand. Tickets were 2.30 euros and I had asked the man, in Italian, the cost and directions. As we waited in the middle of the street for the tram, Mike told me he was shortchanged by 10 euros, so I took him back to the newsstand and demanded his money back. I don’t speak Italian well, but enough to let the man know he owed us money. The man didn’t say a word but after hesitating a minute he pulled out a 10 euro bill and gave it to Mike. We all wondered how much money he makes a day ripping off tourists!

The tram ride lasted about 10 minutes. Everyone validated his or her tickets on board. Thank goodness because a conductor came around checking all tickets. If we didn’t have any time constraints, we could have walked to the train station. We got off one stop too late and had to walk back a couple of blocks. Our train pulled out at 8:36am, right on time and there were 21 stops before getting to Pompeii Scavi. Craig and I tried to negotiate with a couple of tour guides, but all of them were charging the same: 95 Euros for a group. Figuring that we couldn’t find another guide, we settled with Luigi. Everyone paid 15 euros plus the 11 euros to get inside the ruins.

The tour lasted about 1.5 hours and we barely scratched the surface! The place was crowded with people, but Luigi did well in avoiding most of the crowds. There was a long line of people waiting to get inside the brothel and Luigi talked to two other guides (they had had least 25 people each group) and convinced them to let us pass the lines and get in first. We were a small group after all. Inside the building were beds made out of stone and pictures of the walls showing various sex positions.

With our tour over the gang and I took the train to Sorrento, which was about a 20 minute ride. My original plans were to go back to Naples with Deb and Robert but after hearing the guys were going to Sorrento and my thinking of “ceramic shopping” and “limoncello” we changed our plans. Even Deb just about drooled when she heard “ceramics.” In town we ran into David, Larry, Cathy and Ed who were having pizza for lunch. Cathy knew I was interested in buying some ceramic doorknobs for one of my cabinets and she had found a place that sells them. She was sweet to remember this and even gave me the stores brochure, located only a block down the street. I went ahead of the group and purchased four of them. They were only 8 euros each, which was in the range I wanted to pay.

I asked the store owner to suggest a good place for lunch. She suggested da Gigino’s (via degli Archi, 15). Good choice. It’s located on a side street and was filled with lots of German tourists. There’s both indoor and outdoor dining. We were able to grab the last two outdoor tables. Service started slowly but was fine after we ordered our meals. I sat with Craig and George and the other four were at the next table. My pizza was excellent! Quattro Stagioni or “Four Seasons” made with ham, artichokes, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. I also ordered sautéed spinach (in olive oil and garlic) to share along with the green beans that George ordered. Everything was very good, including the house wine. While we ate, a few musicians played for us.
After lunch we split up and planned to meet back at the train station by 3:10pm for the 3:26pm train to Naples. The guys headed to the upper end of town to see the port area while Deb and I dropped Robert off at a café so he could enjoy some coffee while we shopped. I found a small grocery store and purchased a bottle of limoncello for only 6 euros. Most of the shops were selling bottles for 10-14 euros.

Gathering up Robert, we slowly walked back to the train station, window-shopping along the way. The guys showed up at the train station soon after we arrived. Tickets were cheap, just under 4 euros and the train left on time. Back in Naples, we caught the tram to the port and walked to the ship. The man was still at the newsstand, probably steeling more tourist money.
After a short rest and last minute packing I got ready for the evening. My bottle of champagne had been chilled in the afternoon, so I took it with me to the stratosphere lounge where I asked the bar tender to supply some glasses. The bottle went quickly. Bruce and Gail showed up just before dinner. Dinner was excellent!! Rack of lamb. I was waiting for this one meal, as the one on the Zenith last year was fabulous! This was too. The lamb was very tender and cooked the way I like it.

After dinner, I met Cathy and Ed at the stratosphere but stayed for a short time. I was very tired and needed to get my luggage out into the hallway for pickup. We said our goodbyes and promised each other we would keep in touch. I had such a great time with them (and everyone else too – really good group of people on the cruise). I was unsuccessful in looking for Gabriel to thank him for the champagne. I will have to send him an email and send him some photos from the cruise. Back in the room, luggage packed and moved outside into the hallway, I was in bed and asleep quickly.

October 27 Civitavecchia: Time to go home. I got up very early, but could have slept in a little. I had red #7 tickets to get off the ship by 6:15am. 7am would have been just fine and I could have walked right off the ship via deck three rather than going to the rendezvous lounge. By the time I did get to the lounge it was empty. I had arranged transportation for 14 of us to get to the airport. Two vans arrived at 7:30am. Our luggage was split between the two and we piled in. It took 50 minutes to get to the airport and there was no traffic at all.

The vans stopped at terminal B, but I think most people needed to be at terminal C. Not a big deal, as it wasn’t a long walk, just crowded inside with people. My flight was delayed an hour so I hung out with Mike, who was on my flight. I had called Tony the night before stating we would drive Mike to Baltimore so he wouldn’t have to take the train from downtown Philadelphia.
The flight was uneventful but with some turbulence. My t.v. (seat 12B) didn’t work at all, so I spent most of my time writing in my journal and trying to nap. Lunch was … ick … terrible. I had the ravioli and should have asked for the chicken.

Just as we were about to land the pilot changed course climbing up very quickly, probably to avoid another airplane in the air or runway. Who knows, but I was not a happy camper. The air space around Philadelphia is too crowded with plans and I decided at that moment no more flights to/from Philadelphia.

Luggage collected and through security, Mike and I waited for Tony outside. I brought my cell phone and had it charged up the night before, so I could call him in the terminal. He showed up … with my car … newly painted in gold!!!! What a surprise, but not really. I had told him for my next car I wanted one with a champagne color. For the last couple of months he would point out a car and say, “Is that the color you like?” It’s beautiful.

We dropped off Mike, had a quick dinner, and were home around 7pm. Lucy was so happy to see me. Laundry completed the next day and most of my things were put away.
The cruise is over and I had a great trip! As I said in the beginning, we visited some great ports and I enjoyed meeting everyone on the cruise. It was a great group of people and I think everyone had a good time.

Now to work on my photos and get them posted. And now it’s time to plan my next big trip: China October 2008!



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