Our first stop was in Toulon France where we went up to Mount Faron via a cable car with friends we had met on the cruise. We captured some really nice photos of the city below and the mountains in the distance. In the city we also visited a few interesting sites such as the Opera House and Cathedral along with a very interesting sculpture of the bow of a ship. We had been to Toulon once before but it had been on a Sunday when many of the shops were closed. It was nice to see the city alive with people on a normal work day. Toulon is also one of the key ports for the French navy and you can see many of the naval ships as you tour the harbor.
After Toulon we made another visit to Florence, Rome and Naples. After having a much needed sea day to rest up a little we went to Mykonos but unfortunately the weather was so windy that we were unable to safely reach that port, we proceeded onward towards Istanbul. Istanbul is a great port to see and we will talk about this later in a future blog. We visited Kusadasi the following day and tried out a Turkish Bath where we had the full treatment (sauna, steam, salt, scrub, soap massage, facial peel and 30 minute oil massage). Delightful! We have now crossed this off our bucket list! Yesterday we were in Athens where we walked around the Acropolis, visited the spectacular ruins of ancient Greek civilization, temples and strolled down the cobblestone streets of Plaka (lively shopping district) colorful stores, tempting cafes before we settled for a lunch at a Greek restaurant. In our next blog we will further discuss our port visits to Turkey and Greece.
We have been to Rome now 3 times and thought we would share some pictures from our visits to this amazing city. There are so many unique sights to see in Rome! The first picture shows Castel Saint Angelo which started as a mausoleum in the second century that was converted to a fortress to protect the popes in the Middle Ages. Later this castle was converted into a prison until it became a historical sight to visit. The next picture shows a lady in Piazza Navone feeding pigeons. This lady had pigeons resting on her arms as she was throwing bird feed to the hundreds of pigeons that flocked around her. The picture showing a sandwich shop shows our favorite place to grab a salami and mozzarella cheese sandwich on focaccia bread. This shop is located just around the corner from Piazza Campo d. Fiori and we recommend you try this out on your next trip to Rome! The next few pictures show your traditional Rome sights: Pantheon, Trevi Fountain (under restoration) and Coliseum. You can then see a picture of us riding our bikes around Rome with Diana and Robert (4-hour bike tour, great way to see Rome). This picture is followed by a good shot of a local pizza maker taking out a long pizza from the oven. The next picture shows Ancient Rome where you can roam and imagine what Rome might have looked like thousands of years ago. You really need one of those books that show before and after pictures to appreciate what the Romans were really able to build. Two of the next three pictures show the Vatican. In the first you can see people gathering for a Wednesday morning mass where the Pope was presiding. It was amazing to see thousands of parishioners from all over the world come for the service/visit and to be recognized by the Vatican for attending. In the second you can see a unique side view of the Vatican from a nearby hill that overlooks the city. There is also a picture of the tomb of Giancolo who was the hero of Rome. Unfortunately he died trying to defend Rome against the French when they came to restore the popes to the Vatican. The final picture is an overview of Rome from Janiculum Hill. There were so many great pictures from this hill it was hard to pick out just one. There is also a canon that is fired from the hill every day at noon where you can also listen to the many church bells that chime all over the city. Rome is certainly a city of many fascinating sights!
Naples/Sorrento/Positano/Amalfi Coast Pictures
The sights along the Amalfi Coast are really breath taking. The cliffs that go down to the sea are beautiful and it is amazing to see all the hotels, buildings, and homes that are on the side of the mountain/cliffs. We went to Positano this trip for the first time and really fell in love with the little city buried along the Amalfi Coast. It is much smaller than some of the other villages but there are shops all along the narrow cobblestone roads that run through the city. Before leaving the Amalfi Coast we visited Sorrento for some great marguerite pizza and wine. This is a nice town with many restaurants, shopping and beautiful views from the marina area. Our private driver, Antonio, was very easy to talk to and helped us learn more about Naples life and what it has to offer. One of the pictures shows us with Antonio and friends (Tim and Lynette) who we went with on one of our trips to the Amalfi Coast. It is amazing to watch the driving in the Amalfi Coast. The cars and buses just park along the side of the narrow roads and other cars and buses don’t hesitate to pass these vehicles even with other vehicles coming from the other direction. In the meantime scooters/motorcycles are racing in and out of traffic even while going around hairpin curves on the cliffs. It is amazing you don’t see wrecks as we are told the locals take their driving very seriously – they do not text while driving and know better not to drink and drive. They know they need to have minds much clearer while trying to maneuver in what we would call “very dangerous driving conditions”. Amazing to note the many times we have visited, we have not seen a crash of any sort. You will note one of the pictures also shows a school bus which we saw frequently on these narrow roads dropping off children who walked up or down the cliffs to their homes. No warning lights/arms, kids just exit and the drivers stop. Kids go to school from 8 am until 12 noon Monday through Saturday. You will also see a photo of a local bakery making cannoli’s (a favorite Italian pastry). No, we didn’t have any pastries here; we stopped earlier that morning at the famous Dolcezze Siciliane bakery that is well known by locals for their Italian pastries/cakes that arrive each day from Sicily by ferry.
Although we have been to the Amalfi Coast many times, we continue to find new places/sights to see that we have not seen previously. It is truly a remarkable place to visit in Italy!
Greg & Sharon