I’m writing from the Tryp Hotel at the Barcelona airport just prior to our return to the US. $134 US prepaid with free Internet and shuttle to the airport in the morning. It is ok for the value and location.
Looking back on the last ten days the visuals coming to mind are many and the emotions again bring me back to being glad to be born in America and living the life we do.
Las Ramblas in Barcelona is not to be missed when here. The street performers are the best in the world with elaborate costumes and shenanigans. The stroll down the boulevard is wonderful and people watching superb.
Marseilles and Genoa disappointed with nothing extraordinary and no visual memories at all. Genoa was dirty. My memories are of soot covered buildings where the columns at street level are shiny from people leaning against them and rubbing off the soot. Those two cities would be better if they had the money to keep them up.
Napoli was more of the same, yet the home of our visit to Pompeii so one of the two best stops. Again we saw the poor side of southern Italy with a lack of upkeep and deterioration everywhere. The forty minute bus ride to the other side of Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii showed more of the same. It is hard to imagine an entire city being covered in meters of ash and not rediscovered for over 1600 years but it is true and happened here. The walls of the homes and shops still exist where excavated and the marking in the original streets are still there for all to see.. The preservation effort continues and many items are still in storage and being cataloged. We took the tour, but a taxi and train ride was more cost effective and provided more time at the ruins.
Most of the house sizes were no more than 20′ x 20′ with one palatial home of 3,000 square feet being the largest on site. A piece of original marble floor broke loose under my scraping foot and I have my souvenir of Pompeii. It was amazing to see the volcano in the distance and imagine what it must have been like when that dust cloud starting descending on the city. It lasted for five days and buried everything over 30 feet deep in ash.
On the way back to Napoli, in the tour bus, we drove by a dump on the city outskirts. There was an entire community living in that dump, including women and children. The homes were cardboard and scrap wood fashioned together barely offering shelter from rain and wind. They were smaller than the homes in Pompeii which were made of brick and stone 2000 years ago and offered far superior protection from the elements than the current dwellers of the city dump. I was reminded of other such “neighborhoods” we have seen around the world and the sadness of the human condition at times.
Our last stop was Africa in the city of Tunis and was clearly the most different as we had moved into a land of different beliefs and customs. The taxi driver’s Koran was on the dashboard and he allowed me a look through. I felt privileged he would share it with me although we were clearly a world apart.
The market in Medina was packed and narrow with many native wares being offered, and many “imported” fashions as well, in extremely small quarters and tiny stalls. Until the cruise ship tour arrived it was us and the French couple we had shared the taxi with with, and the merchants of the market. I was comfortable in the surroundings although I oddly stood out with my light skin, height and size. The merchants were pushy but not rude and we made our way to a perfume vendor for the obligatory “demonstration” A family member of another perfume shop owner took us to the top of a carpet sales building where we had a magnificent view of the city and we followed him to his shop as well. A small 10 euro purchase was enough to get us off the hook in that shop.
Then on to Carthage which was extremely disappointing. The ruins were intermixed with current structures and they showed little or no maintenance or historical literature that we could find.
The cruise itself overall was a letdown. The cabin was adequate but the breakfast and lunch buffet offerings were cold. Even the pizza was a bit of a disappointment. Our dinner guests were a hoot. Katy got to share her Irish heritage with three from Ireland and we also had a couple from Melbourne, AU with us that kept us laughing during our evening meals.
Although I enjoyed meeting people from Cambodia, the Soviet Union, UK , Macedonia, France, Italy, Canada, and countless other countries, I missed the American presence. I met one other American at the blackjack table. It will be our last cruise on a foreign line. I’m used to people waiting until we get off the elevators before they try to cram themselves on board and I’m used to an ordinary lines instead of pushing, cutting and shoving to get ahead.
Our ratings on a one to ten scale of the adventure:
Not all holidays meet up to ones expectations. We saw and felt new things and experiences that we would not have had we not been offered the opportunity through this hobby. I’m grateful for those memories.
Deal of the Day
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