This is going to be a long one. A 12-day trip should be though, right? And... extremely impossible to look through 700+ photos and choose the few that depict and describe the amazing scenic events we experienced on a daily basis. Can't even begin to thank my parents for sharing their pre-60th-anniversary celebration with their two daughters and husbands by taking us on this trip with them!
We spent the first day flying from Salt Lake to NYC to Venice. We boarded Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas and had the evening to walk around Venice and explore Piazza San Marco and the shops around the Grand Canal. In a 24-hour period we were on a plane, ship, train (people mover) and automobile (taxi). It's fun to hang out with the Kings because we have lots of laughs.
Day 2 - VENICE, ITALY - We toured a glass factory on Murano island and watched artisans at work and then went on a gondola ride. The ship sailed later that afternoon and John and I enjoyed massages as we sailed to the next port.
Day 3 - KOTOR, MONTENEGRO - A beautiful coastal town that used to be part of Yugoslavia, this port was one Steve, John and I looked forward to since we booked a 3-hour cycling tour while Michelle and my parents went on a city tour.
We stayed with our group of 10 cyclists the majority of the trip until John noticed he'd lost his cell phone and he and Steve cycled back 4 miles uphill to see if they could find it. No luck. (Unfortunate event #1) We were privileged to stop at the Moric family's farm to see their working olive press and enjoy a wonderful lunch made from everything on their farm. Their homemade olive oil was amazing!!
Day 4 - DAY AT SEA - My mom fell in the night trying to walk to the bathroom in an unfamiliar stateroom and hurt her back and tore up her arm (Unfortunate event #2). Michelle and I were her hair washers and wheelchair pushers/human canes the rest of the trip.
Day 5 - SICILY, ITALY - We went to the top of Mt. Etna, the tallest active volcano of Europe and one of the two most active in the world (it actually erupted the day AFTER we visited). If you look closely, you can see the steam coming from the top. We hiked around a couple of craters and enjoyed the view.
Next stop was Taormina, Sicily's legendary resort town with twisting medieval streets. Had one of my favorite pieces of pizza there and of course gelato since Hailey told me I needed to have it every day I was in Italy and I followed her advice.
Day 6 - NAPLES, ITALY - Hired a driver and guide for the day and enjoyed a wonderful tour of Pompeii. Pictures can't even describe this ancient Roman town-city!
Next stop was Sorrento, a small town in Campania, southern Italy on our way to the Amalfi Coast.
Our guide took us to one of his favorite restaurants in Sorrento and I would have to agree it would be one of my favorites too. One of the best margharita pizzas ever!!
Last stop of the day was the village of Positano on the Amalfi Coast with beautiful beaches, shops and views.
Day 7 - ROME, ITALY - One of my favorite cities with so much to see and not enough time to see it all. Again, we hired a driver/guide who did a fantastic job fitting in as much as we could possibly do and see in 9 hours. Trevi fountain was beautiful and we all threw coins in the fountain with our right hands over our left shoulders.
Our fearless guide Sergio showing us how to use Roman drinking fountains by Circus Maximus.
The Colosseum was incredible and definitely in my top 5.
The Vatican. We were there on a Sunday and the Vatican museums and churches are closed on Sundays so we were unable to go inside which was disappointing. We went to the Galleria Borghese instead for a guided art tour and it was pretty spectacular.
Panorama of Rome in the background with the whole familia!
Day 8 - TUSCANY REGION, ITALY - Pisa was the first stop of the day and we beat all the tourists which enabled us to get the "holding up the tower" shots and first to climb to the top of the tower. Steve, my dad and I were the only 3 brave enough to climb the 256 steps to the top.
Driving through the Tuscany region was incredible. It was everything I thought it would be.
Classical Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performs at HIS Teatro del Silenzio, an open air amphitheater in his hometown of Lajatico, Tuscany. The theater hosts a concert by Bocelli, its honorary president, once every July, while remaining silent the rest of the year.
Had a gelato stop in San Gimignano, another medieval hill town in Tuscany.
On to Florence. Beautiful city. Michelangelo's "David."
Ponte Vecchio, the closed, arch bridge over the Arno River.
Day 9 - MARSEILLE, FRANCE - The only chilly and a bit drizzly day of the whole trip which they said was lucky for us at the end of October. First stop was Palais Longchamp.
Visited the old port of Marseille and then went up to Notre Dame de la Garde for an overlook of the city.
Ended our day in France with a french pastry since I couldn't get my daily gelato...
Day 10 - BARCELONA, SPAIN - The amazing Roman Catholic basilica and church of the Holy Family designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.
A walking tour through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.
Visited the Olympic stadium which was built for Barcelona to host the 2004 Summer Olympics.
This arena used to hold bull fights but was turned into a mall a few years ago.
We left the ship and spent the night in Barcelona. The next morning as we were almost to the Barcelona airport ready to catch our flight to Paris, our taxi driver received a call that we'd left one of our suitcases back in the hotel lobby. They sent a second taxi with that piece of luggage and we met him at the terminal just before we had to check in. (Unfortunate event #3)
Arrivederci, au revoir, adios--until I can visit again!! I could write a book about our trip--especially since I have at least 600 more pictures to share...