Friday, May 31, 2024

Back to the Boat

Route 1 Bridge Construction
From the ICW, Jupiter, FL
May 30, 2024
The beautiful weather we are enjoying in Florida is good for a number of outdoors activities and one of them is boating. Yesterday we were able to head out onto the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) with the friends who watched our home and Finnegan while we were in Europe.

Iguana in the Dock Near our Boat
Seasons 52, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
May 30, 2024
The winds were light, the water had almost no chop and we enjoyed over six hours of motoring the ICW. The blue skies were fantastic. We set out soon our longest trip yet, motoring all the way south to Rivera Beach and in sight of Peanut Island, a manmade island accessible only by boat island at the south end of Lake Worth and entrance to the Lake Worth Inlet. 

It was a long motor to the island, about 2 hours. We didn't not land on the island but viewed it for a bit and turned north for our planned lunch stop at Seasons 52 in Palm Beach Gardens. We enjoyed a nice lunch and were amused by a green iguana walking the dock and checking out our boat. 

Setting up on the Beach
Jupiter, FL
May 30, 2024
After lunch we headed to a beach for some relaxing time, but that ended shortly after a large boat traveling very fast sent waves onto the beach which swamped our spot. It was very distressing as one umbrella became a watercraft for a short time. It was almost time to depart to get the boat back to the marina, so we broke camp and headed off. 

We enjoyed the day and Finnegan, who joined us, also enjoyed the boating experience. 

It was good to be on the water and at the helm. I had been on the water very often during the month of May, but as self-loading cargo. 

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Out the Hotel Window - Rome Airport

Mercur Da Vinci Airport Hotel
Fiumincio, Italy
May 28, 2024

 Chris and I stayed one night in a hotel during our European adventure. The other nights we were either on a cruise ship or in an AirBNB. I took the image to the right during the morning as we prepared to leave the room for the airport. 

It looked as if the day were to be another in a string of beautiful days that we had enjoyed during the trip. We did not get to enjoy the outdoors that day as we had a 7:40 AM shuttle to the airport and from there we were inside until greeted by the hot humidity of Miami upon arrival there. 

The scene out the hotel window is one of the last views we had of the Italian countryside, even though it was near the airport. With the sun rising, it provided a good memory. 

The travels have ended, but they are not forgotten.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Home, finally

Morning Selfie
Rome Da Vinci Airport, Italy
May 28, 2024

 We are home! Chris and I arrived home last evening about 8:45 PM after a long day of traveling which began at the equivalent of 1:30 AM EDT, or 7:30 AM Central European Summer Time. That was over 19 hours of travel related time.

Except for about a 45 minute air hold because of thunderstorms delayed landing in Miami, the travel day was as perfect as it could have been. We were fortunate not to have stood in any long lines and our bags even arrived with us. Yay!

Prosecco with Chris
Da Vinci Airport, Italy
May 28, 2024
We thoroughly enjoyed our flight on ITA Airways! We flew them both ways and they were great! I recommend them for international travel. 

I was in awe of the International Terminal at Da Vinci Airport. Wow! Huge and filled with so much to see and do. We enjoyed a glass of Prosecco while waiting for our flight. That was after discovering that all three of the airport lounges for which I have a membership were full and not allowing people into them.

Hot Meal after Take-off
ITA Airways Rome to Miami
May 28, 2024
Our flight was smooth and I was astonished by the amount of food and drink we were served. We had a hot meal, a mid flight snack, and then another hot snack at what was supposed to be about and hour-and-a-half before landing. We did experience the aforementioned air delay after the snack was served. As for the hot meal, I should have taken an image of Chris's meal because the salad had shrimp in it and I gave it back to the server--so that is missing from the place where I have my wine sitting. Oh wait, I had two glasses of wine with the meal. The pasta was fantastic! The other meal option was veal.

The trip is over. We have many memories and will be cataloging and reviewing photos and videos during the next few days.

Statue at Pompei
Pompei, Italy
May 17, 2024
To close out our trip, after clearing customs, we chose to take the Tri-Rail from Miami to West Palm Beach so that our friends would not have a 5-hour round trip to pick us up in rush hour traffic. That worked brilliantly and we will remember the Tri-Rail if we ever use Miami International again. The most northern Tri-Rail stop is just 20 minutes from the house. Very doable. And the cost was less than $18 for both Chris and me, combined. 

We enjoyed nearly perfect weather for the whole trip. There were only two days where the rain interfered with what we had planned. The skies were blue and the countryside was beautiful. We enjoyed using trains, metros. busses, boats, aircraft, and of course our cruise ship. 

As Chris remarked last night, she is looking forward to a few days of vacation from our vacation.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Monday, May 27, 2024

Back to Rome

Italian Countryside
Somewhere in Italy
May 27, 2024

 The numbers of people crammed into the train stations in Italy are astounding. 

We boarded a fast train in Venice just about noon and arrived in Rome at 4 PM. It was a very pleasant trip where we got to see the Italian countryside again. We both remarked, it seemed much like what we had seen on our bus rides: flatlands with many crops and mountains in the distance. 

Chris Enjoying a Last Evening in Italy
Rome, Italy
May 27, 2024
The train was very nice and the four-hour trip sped by. We are ready for our flight home tomorrow. After arriving at the hotel, we sat at the bar by the pool to enjoy our last evening. The taxi ride from the Termini to the hotel by the airport reminded us of all of the sights we have seen and visited these past almost three weeks. 

Cabs are very expensive. The cost for the cab to cross Rome was 2/3 the cost for the first class ticket from Venice to Rome on the train. It almost doesn't seem fair. 

But, we got to our hotel about 5:30 PM and enjoyed the sun setting by the pool, along with some adult beverages. We have to get going early in the morning and hopefully will have an uneventful flight home.

And so, we are back where the trip began. It seems perfect after all of the places we were blessed to have visited and all of the people we have met. Wow!

I still need to rummage through the images and select the best ones to put in a book of our Italian and Adriatic Adventure. 

Tequesta or Bust!

-- Bob Doan, Rome, Italy

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Winding Down

Venetian Gondola
Venice, Italy
May 26, 2024

 Our vacation is winding down. We completed another day in Venice highlighted by a gondola ride and a visit to St Mark's Square along with walking over six miles. 

Yes, six miles!

St Mark's Basilica
Venice, Italy
May 26, 2024

We catch a train to Rome tomorrow at noon heading for an airport hotel to prepare for a Tuesday morning flight which promises to fill much of the more than 24-hour day, given the 6-hour time change. At least we are traveling first class on the high speed train and were upgraded on our 11-hour flight from Rome to Miami.

The gondola ride was exciting, but short. We were able to tour some of the area near St Mark's Square, but that is about all. We were briefly on the Grand Canal. Honestly, after the thrill of being in a gondola in Venice wore off, I was not all that excited about the short less than 30 minute cruise itself. 

Last Evening in Venice
Venice, Italy
May 26, 2024

St Mark's Square and the adjoining basilica are both fantastic and larger than life. Our day today was filled with crystal blue skies and bright sun with little wind. A perfect day to explore Venice--which we did. 

Chris Enjoying After Dinner Coffee
Venice, Italy
May 26, 2024

Chris took the image of our last evening in Venice while we were dining at a local restaurant. We became adept at finding great places to enjoy meals and happy hour. There is a lot of great food in Venice. As one travels away from the Grand Canal, the prices become more reasonable. For instance, a simple Aperol Spritz can cost €3.50-4.00 in much of Venice, but one bar on the Grand Canal wanted €24.00--that was high as most along the canal were in the €12.00 range. So we walked to the areas with lower prices, which were also less touristy.

As our last full day was a Sunday, some shops and restaurants were not open, but more than enough were open and catering to the hordes of tourists, and locals, walking the streets.

And so, except for the two days it will take us to return home, the trip is effectively over. It has been wild and exciting, but also very exhausting. I think we are going to need a vacation from the vacation.

Rome awaits! The die is cast. Wait, I am nowhere near the Rubicon.

-- Bob Doan, Venice, Italy

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Venice Continued


Looking Over the Grand Canal at a Storm
Venice, Italy
May 25, 2024
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Another day in Venice is complete as our holiday draws to a close. We suffered through a drenching rainstorm that put a damper on our day, but survived. We had ventured a rather long walk from our lodging when the rain began and tried to wait the storm out, but finally decided to head back because we were drenched. I did buy an umbrella to ease Chris's suffering. The rain lasted a full two hours and was very heavy at times. 

Vertical Ornithopter
Venice, Italy
May 25, 2025
After a late lunch, and once the rain ended, we headed off to an interactive Leonardo Da Vici museum, which was a lot of fun. The museum had many interesting exhibits and many were models of his inventions. We found the museum to be incredibly enlightening and well worth a visit. I did not realize that Da Vinci invented/designed military weapons, and not just a few.


We most enjoyed just strolling around enjoying the people and the sights.

Gelato--did I mention gelato? I am not sure how we are going to survive our return home without gelato. The myriad of flavors is astounding. We have had gelato nearly every day of the trip.

Of course it seems that in every city there is a problem with irresponsible pet owners. Venice is the same, although I found this sign to be the most creative. The Google translation is: Please collect your pets' excrement. What was written in is a bit more graphic. To that end, we did not see a lot of pet droppings. Since there are no cars, everything is a walkway and if the droppings are not collected someone is going to have a bad day. 

Gondola on a Canal
Venice, Italy
May 25, 2024

Tomorrow's big event is an afternoon gondola ride on the canals. 

We saw gondolas today and it was a pretty sight while it was not raining, in the rain, however, it looked downright miserable. The temperatures have been cool and the occupants of the gondola are wearing coats because it can be downright cold. The Grand Canal got very rough during the storm, which was complete with lightning, and I think most of the gondolas and smaller craft sought calmer waters. 

Tomorrow is also our last non-travel day of the trip. Monday we return to Rome and Tuesday we fly back home. We can feel the trip ending and after walking 6 miles today, we are really very tired. 

Programming note: Like the past two Mondays, there will not be a Monday Musings tomorrow. 

-- Bob Doan, Venice, Italy

Friday, May 24, 2024

Off the Ship and in Venice

Arriving in Venice
Venice, Italy
May 24, 2024

 The day started early. Chris and I were both up before 6 AM preparing to depart our home for the past 11 days. We had a complicated travel day which included a port transfer to the Ravenna train station, a train to Bologna and a change there for the Venice train. And then, silly me, hopefully a taxi to our lodging. Well, as I learned there are no land taxis in Venice. We wound up walking.

Chris on a Venetian Bridge
Venice, Italy
May 24, 2024
Everything went smoothly. Amazing--well except for the final part. As it turned out our lodging was only about an 8 minute walk from the train station. It was the two bridges with stairs and me dragging two suitcases each weighing about 40 pounds that was the problem. This was after having to do a last minute bag drag in Ravenna because they changed the platform for the train at the last minute and that meant dragging the bags down narrow stairs and then up stairs to get to the correct platform.

The trains were clean and nice. We enjoyed our almost three-hour journey.

White Building is where our Apartment is located
Venice, Italy
May 24, 2024

Arriving in Venice was a bit of a shock after the past 11 nights aboard a cruise ship. We were not part of a tour group and had to find our way ourselves. We managed and did some great exploring after arriving at our apartment. 

Happy Hour on the Grand Canal
Pinot Grigio and Aperol Spritz 
Venice, Italy
May 24, 2024
The building is being remodeled and our actual apartment is very modern. The building is getting new electrical and water systems along with a facelift. 

After getting oriented, we headed back to the Grand Canal where we walked around and enjoyed the sights and the crowds while also enjoying Happy Hour at a hotel located on the Grand Canal across from the train station. There was a lot of activity to keep us entertained. Later we took dinner as a small local restaurant across the street from the apartment. It was very enjoyable except for the cigarette smoke. Many Venetians smoke. 

After dinner we went for a short walk, but as the sun was setting the temperature was dropping, so we headed back to our apartment to reflect on the day. One thing we realized was that exactly 2 weeks ago today we arrived in Rome and the adventure began.

We have two days remaining in Venice and then travel back to Rome in preparation for the flight home. I am very happy that we have a direct flight. I cannot believe that our holiday is coming to an end and we are beginning to prepare for the long trip home.

-- Bob Doan, Venice, Italy

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Last Day of the Cruise

First Port Call
Pisa, Italy
May 14, 2024

 Today was, sadly, the last day of our 11 night cruise around Italy with visits to Croatia and Montenegro. Wow, it is hard to believe that it is at an end. I had thought 12 days would drag, but no--it has been a whirlwind. 

From our first port call to our last, it has been an amazing journey and I highly recommend it. Celebrity has been fantastic and we have made many new acquaintances with the crew and some passengers. While the cruise was just an overview of some of the greatest sights in Europe--they are places that I might never otherwise have had the opportunity to visit. 

Moon from Celebrity Constellation
Adriatic Sea
May 23, 2024

Standing in Pisa, for instance, and seeing the Leaning Tower in person was a bucket list item for me. And that was just the beginning. Sadly, we were there before the tower opened for people to climb to the top, or I would have been one of the crazies standing there looking down on the slanted world. 

The trip was highlighted by stunning sunsets and even a moonset last night while I had insomnia about 3 AM. I shot the image through the window of my stateroom. It was quite a sight. And then there was the sunset tonight, as seen from our stateroom veranda. 

Sunset from Celebrity Constellation
Adriatic Sea
May 23, 2024

The sun was setting on our cruise--but not on our vacation as we still have three nights in Venice followed by another overnight in Rome before finally returning back home.

Curiously, the urge to get home is not that great. We continue to have a great time discovering new sights. It will be sad to leave the ship, which has been home for the past 11 days, but then we are onto the next chapter of our holiday in Europe. 

Tomorrow is an aggressive travel day. We have a port transfer to the Ravenna train station and then two trains, changing trains in Bologna, to get to Venice followed by a taxi to the AirBNB. Whoa! Who planned that? I have to take responsibility for that one. I wish it would have been smoother, but I don't really see how. 

Well, more soon. I am excited about Venice.

-- Bob Doan, Celebrity Constellation in the Adriatic Sea headed for Ravenna, Italy

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Final Port Call - Split, Croatia

South Entrance to Diocletian Palace
Split, Croatia
May 22, 2024
Our final port of call for our cruise was Split, Croatia. We had a light schedule with a scheduled three-hour tour of Diocletian's Palace and a wine tasting. It was our best excursion of the cruise because it was focused and a small group--six participants. 

Our ship arrived early in the morning to a very busy port and was expeditiously tied up. Chris and I did not have to be ready to go until 8:45 AM which gave us a lot of time in the morning to get ready. 

Duck Botiique
Split, Croatia
May 22, 2024
The tour of the palace was excellent; one of the best talking tours we have enjoyed on this cruise. We learned a lot about Split, the palace, Diocletian, and the subsequent Christian movement which occupied the palace following the death of Diocletian. 

We walked the medieval village that subsequently occupied the interior of the palace and enjoyed some a cappella music. 

We also found another Duck Boutique amongst the shops of the old town. We had also seen one in Dubrovnik. Amazing! Ducks! Who knew?

Croatian White Wine
Split, Croatia
May 22. 2-24
Of course the highlight of the morning was the wine tasting of local Croatian wines. They were excellent and I would like to have brought some back with us, but the suitcases are already full and wine is heavy. 

The wine tasting was really one of the highlights of the trip, probably due to the fact that we were in a group ion six and had some access to the staff for questions and discussions of the wine. As we departed the wine shop a group of about 25 were preparing for a tasting. I am sure they did not receive the same level of service that we enjoyed. 

Split is a very enjoyable city and a place that we definitely need more time to explore. 

Done with the wine tasting about noon, Chris and I found a gelato shop and enjoyed a cold delight. Then we explored Split a bit more before heading back to the ship. 

The view of the Adriatic Sea from the ship was stunning. We were invited to a private sail away party on the helicopter pad on the forward deck as the ship departed the quay and headed off into the Adriatic for Venice. It was cool and windy, but very enjoyable to get a few of the ship that most passengers never enjoy. Tomorrow is a sea day, allowing us to get packed and everything prepared for the final portion of our journey--time in Venice thence to Rome and finally Miami on Tuesday. 

I find it hard to believe we are winding down with only a few days remaining on this complicated and aggressive vacation. The cruise portion was always the easiest once we boarded the ship. Soon it will be back to my planning to complete the final days. But, we have one full day remaining on the ship to enjoy. 

Panoramic View from our Veranda
Split, Croatia
May 22, 2024

We were blessed with great weather and are looking forward to the weekend in Venice!

-- Bob Doan, Celebrity Constellation in the Adriatic Sea headed for Ravenna, Italy

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Montenegro--a must see

Churches on Islands in the Channel
Headed to Kotor, Montenegro
May 21, 2024

 I never really considered Montenegro to be a place to visit, but after a day in Kotor and the surrounding area I see that this is a jewel hidden in an Adriatic fjord. 

Cruising to Kotor is a magnificent experience with mountains on both sides of the ship and one area where the water is only 900 meters wide with a big cruise ship sailing through it. It is easily over an hour cruising once the ship departed the Adriatic Sea. It is the kind of experience I had hoped to see last year on our Alaskan cruise, but was thwarted by the weather. It was fun and a lot warmer today than last year in Alaska. 

Main Square Clock Tower
Herceg Novi, Montenegro
May 21, 2024
Chris and I chose to spend the day touring the coastal area and heading to the village of Herceg Novi. The village has three forts and an old town area which is very exciting.

The ship anchored in the channel and it was about a 20 minute tender to the port of Kotor where our day began. We then boarded a but for the one hour ride to Herceg Novi and our tour. Along the way we enjoyed the sights of the mountains and the sea as they came together. We heard stories of a secret Yugoslav submarine base built into the mountain and saw what was reported to be the entrance. Of course everything has since been abandoned. 

Fort in Kotor
Kotor, Montenegro
May 21, 2024

The coastal area is beautiful. It is a must see and we definitely need more time to explore this hidden gem. Water sports are evident everywhere as are the mussel and oyster farms. 

It was Independence Day in Montenegro and most of the shops were closed. Fortunately we were able to enjoy an authentic lunch and some local wine during our free time. 

Celebrity Constellation
Kotor, Montenegro
May 21, 2024
Historically, the area has been conquered on about seven different occasions during history. They finally wrestled their independence a few years ago and are one of the smallest countries in Europe and possibly the only one which used the Euro as the official currency but which is not a member of the EU. Fortunately, my European cell plan worked!

Motoring back to the ship on the tender, I was able to get a good shot of the Constellation against the mountains. We were lucky to be able to sit on the upper decl of the tender.

Another great day, but tomorrow is our last port day of the cruise and then on Friday, after a Thursday sea day, we off the ship and into Venice for a few days before heading home. One week from today our European adventure will be complete as we fly out of Rome and back to Miami and home. 

-- Bob Doan, on board Celebrity Constellation in the Adriatic Sea headed for Split, Croatia

Monday, May 20, 2024

Dalmatian Coast - Dubrovnik

 It was a bit of a down day. 

Old City
Dubrovnik, Croatia
May 20, 2024

Chris and I sailed into Dubrovnik Port this morning aboard the Celebrity Constellation with no concrete plans for the day. That meant we were taking a holiday from excursions! A day off from the Excursion Survival game we have been playing. 

Looking to the Adriatic
Dubrovnik, Croatia
May 20, 2024

After enjoying some of the services on the nearly empty ship during the morning, we headed off into the city for lunch and to explore the Old City. We had a great time. We saw firsthand the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic along the Dalmatian Coast from the fort.

Then we set off into the old walled city and were amazed at not only its cleanliness, but how modernized it was. I was aware of the siege of Dubrovnik during 1991 as part of the war and could not see any reminders of the damage, although I was told that the war forced a change to the house roofs from thatch to clay tiles.

Where we had Lunch
Dubrovnik Old City, Croatia
May 20, 2024

We found a very nice place in the main square to enjoy lunch and enjoyed a very nice, did I say two-glasses each, local 2007 vintage wine. Sadly, it is not available for sale or we would have bought a bottle to share with friends. The wine was named Dingač. (Yup, I figured out how to get a Slavic č)

After lunch we strolled the Old City and enjoyed the ambiance as the crowds were building. We visited some of the shops, including a Duck Shop which sold rubber duckies similar to those awarded by Jeep owners. Then we headed back to the ship to get ready for our evening activities. 

Looking Back at the Port and City
Dubrovnik, Croatia
May 20, 2024

The ship did not sail out of port until after dinner when night was falling and I was able to get some very nice images of the coast with the lights of the city. It was a beautiful sight.

Another great day as our adventure continues.

-- Bob Doan, Celebrity Constellation in the Adriatic Sea headed for Kotor, Montenegro

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Olive Oil and a Medieval Village

Brindisi Harbour, Italy
May 19, 2024

 Our ship, Celebrity Constellation, sailed into the Port of Brindisi this morning for our port call. Chris and I were scheduled for a much shorter 4-hour tour rather than the 8-10 hour tours we have been enjoying. Today only had two stops: the medieval village of Ostuni and an Olive Oil factory in Cisternino, Italy. 

Out the Bus Window
Ostuni, Italy
May 19, 2024
We also had a much more reasonable departure time for the tour of 11 AM, rather than the 7:15 AM departures of the past two days. That meant we could enjoy breakfast. Our first stop of the day was Ostuni. It was about a 45-minute drive from the port. Ostuni is a village atop a mountain and the entire village is white. Tradition has it that the whitewashed buildings protected the village from the plague during the Middle Ages.

Piazza della Liberta
Ostuni, Italy
May 19, 2024
We enjoyed a couple hours in Ostuni. The town was alive on a Sunday morning and we walked to the cathedral at the top of the village. Seeing the sights and enjoying some local pizza and gelato for lunch was how we spent our time. Almost too quickly, it was time to get on the bus for the next part of the day's touring.

Old Method Olive Crushing
Nettare de Olivia, Cisternino, Italy
May 19, 2024

We were off to the Olive Oil factory. This was a most interesting experience. I found the process of producing oil from olives to have some similarities to the that of getting juice from grapes! There is the sorting, the washing, and then the pressing of the olives. 

Selfie in front of a Blooming Olive Tree
Nettare de Olivia, Cisternino, Italy
May 19, 2024

What I learned, however, is that there are two ways to press olives: with and without the pits! Without the pits is a new production method and only being done by seven olive oil facilities in Italy. We were treated to samples of olive oil from both processes infused into bread so that we could experience firsthand the differences. The factory also produces wine and beer as well as cosmetics made from olives. No part of the olive goes to waste and the busy season is from September to January as the olives are picked and processed. We weregild they work 24 hour per day to process the olives as quickly as possible once they are picked.

The day was over, almost too soon and we returned to the ship. Yes, we have some olive oil with us to help remember our time in Cisternino.

Tomorrow is a down day for us. The ship will dock in Dubrovnik, Croatia, but we do not have a schedule tour and will take some time in the morning to ourselves before hearing out to explore during the afternoon. 

-- Bob Doan, about the Celebrity Constellation in the Adriatic Sea

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Elusive Mt Etna

Mt Etna
Giarre, Sicily from the Expressway
May 18, 2024
It was hard to believe, but one of the biggest and most active volcanos in the world played hard to see today. We headed off the ship and out into the Sicilian countryside where Mt. Etna dominates the landscape only to be engulfed in a nearly impenetrable fog, which about mid-afternoon became a driving rainstorm. I had become accustomed to the crystal blue skies and bright sun, but not today. 

I managed to snap one quick image from the moving bus as we were returning to the port. I thought I briefly spied the top of Mt. Etna through the mist and hoped the camera would be able to pull the volcano out of the mist--and it did. Unfortunately, we were passing a gas station at the time and I did not have a lot of time to frame and focus the image. On the other hand, we have visited two volcanos in two days!

Main Street
Taormina, Sicily, Italy
May 18, 2024
On tap for today was visiting a medieval town, Taormina; a lava flow from the 1992 eruption of Mt Etna; a winery on the slopes of Mt Etna; and a jewelry factory. Sadly we could not pick and choose our stops.

Taormina was a bit of a disappointment. A great town with a lot of potential, but we arrived about 8 AM and most of the shops were closed and only began opening as we departed at 10 AM. We had the chance to view the city gates and walk the length of main street  to enjoy a coffee and filled croissant.  

Lava Rocks from the 1992 Lava Flow
Zafferana Etnea, Sicily, Italy
 May 18, 2024

Next was a long drive to and about halfway up Mt Etna to see one of the lava rivers from the 1992 eruption that nearly destroyed a village until it was successfully diverted. This was a short stop, about 15 minutes to see the lava rocks and imagine the destruction had the lava flow not been diverted.  

Murgo Winery
Santa Venerina, Sicily, Italy
May 18, 2024
Then we drove back down the mountain to a small winery to enjoy samples of wine and olives. It was a great stop and thoroughly enjoyable. The winery provided olives, dried tomatoes, and other assorted snacks along with tasting their wines. They ship to the United States, but frankly the wines, with the exception of the sparkling wine, were not exceptional. It was a very enjoyable stop before heading to our last item on the itinerary: the jewelry factory. 

Chris and I in the Motor Launch
Salerno, Italy
May 17, 2024
I am not going to write about the factory because it is a must miss and one of those stops designed to part cruise patrons with their money. They did serve a sumptuous snack after the tour and time in the showroom, but it would have been time better spent elsewhere. We also got back to the ship late, but fortunately were on a Celebrity-sponsored excursion and so they had to wait for us.

I added a bonus picture for the day. It was one taken yesterday as we were preparing to motor off to tour the Amalfi Coast. One of the deck hands snapped this image for us.

-- Bob Doan, Celebrity Constellation, Ionian Sea

Friday, May 17, 2024

Amalfi Coast and Pompeii

Mt Vesuvius (right) in the Morning Light
From Celebrity Constellation in Naples, Italy
May 17, 2024

 We played another day of excursion survival today--but it was worth it.

The day started cool and we thoroughly enjoyed a motor launch tour of the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento to Amalfi (and then return later).

Along the Amalfi Coast nearing Amalfi
Amalfi, Italy
May 17, 2024
The day dawned as our ship berthed in Naples, Italy, and Chris and I made a 7:15 AM muster call for our excursion. It was another all day excursion. I was excited for our tour of the Amalfi coast and subsequent visit to Pompeii! I have always wanted to go to Pompeii and I was not to be disappointed.

Beginning in Salerno, we boarded a motor launch to tour the Amalfi Coast. The coast was beautiful in the cool morning air as we plied the waters. Around each mountain bend there was a new treasure to enjoy. We sent some time exploring Amalfi and enjoying the limoncello and gelato. Then it was time to board the motor launch to retrace our steps to Salerno. 

Then it was off to Pompeii, well after a great Italian lunch of pasta and chicken along with both white and red wines appropriate for the meal.

Looking Down a Street of Houses
Pompeii, Italy
May 17, 2024
I was on archeological overload in Pompeii. The idea that his apparently vibrant city was destroyed in just over a day with residents fleeing to the sea and many more dying in their homes was hard to wrap my head around. This was a complete city, as I learned, and a large city with multistory homes and shops. It was a growing center and the record left behind buried in the volcanic ash attests to how advanced were these 1st Century AD Romans. They had a fatal flaw, however, using lead pipes to provide running water. We saw some of the original lead pipes. Additionally, it seemed that STIs were a problem for the Pompeiians as well. 

Main Square looking to Mt Vesuvius
Pompeii, Italy
May 17, 2024
We toured a bakery, other stores, the gym and baths, as well as the bordello. Arriving at the main square, it was clear that this was a thriving metropolis that the volcano destroyed. And it was advanced. Apparently Pompeiians lived quite comfortably. We looked into the barracks where the gladiators lived as well as into the small theater where they fought. I captured many images, but our tour was a short overview of the site. I thirst for more time to explore and see what has been uncovered in the centuries of excavations. 

What a great and exhausting day!

I will likely never return, although I wish that someday I  might.

-- Bob Doan, Bay of Naples aboard the Celebrity Constellation

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