EUROPE 2005

 

We started our European trip with a three day stay in Rome.  We then boarded Radisson Cruise Line's Voyager of the Seas for a seven day exploration of the Italian and French Mediterranean cities.  We ended the cruise in Barcelona where we stayed for three additional days. 

 

ROME

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Our first tourist stop in Rome was the coliseum.   Even in May there are long lines, but the visit is worth the wait.

Everywhere you look in Rome there are 2000 year old structures.  This is what is left of the Roman Forum.

The Spanish Steps is on every guide book don't miss list.  I'm not sure why.

On the other hand the Trevi Fountain is well worth seeing.  We would have thrown three coins in the fountain, but the Euro was too expensive.

This sculpture of Romulus and Remus being nursed by a she-wolf is near the Capitoline Museum.

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We rode on this observation balloon in the Villa Borghese.  The next four pictures were taken from the balloon.

An aerial view of the coliseum.  This is a true city icon.

Looking north, the cathedral at the Vatican stands out.  We visited St. Peter's Square and the Sistine chapel.

the Borghese Museum limits the number of visitors so it is uncrowded.  The building and the Bernini sculptures are beautiful.

One of Rome's innumerable fountains.  This one is in the Plaza Navona. 

AMALFI COAST

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The Amalfi coast road between Sorrento and Positano offers many photo ops.

There are small fishing villages up and down the coast.  This one is near Positano.

Positano is somewhat difficult to reach, so it is not overrun with tourists.  It is very picturesque.

The eponymous city of the Amalfi coast is very quaint.

Sorrento features some outstanding resort hotels on a cliff overlooking the sea.

FLORENCE

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The famous Il Duomo is being renovated and is covered with canvas.  The ornate church that fronts the dome has been recently sandblasted.

We saw the original David, but no photos are allowed.  This copy stands  outside the Uffizi.  

Here is Pat on the banks of the Arno River with the Ponte Vecchio in the background. 

The shops on the Ponte Vecchio sell either silver of gold.  This one has an interesting view.

Like the rest of Florence, the old bridge is inundated with tourists.  No one seemed to be buying anything in the shops.

PORTOFINO

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The harbor at Portofino looks too good to be true.  The ratio of visitors to residents must be at least 10:1.

Note the clear water in front of this villa on the outskirts of Portofino.

The Splendido Hotel is one of the world's best.  The cheapest room in the off season goes for about $700 per night.

The grounds at the Splendido are impressive.  Here are some of the flowers on the path to the swimming pool.

Santa Margherita is a short ferry ride away from Portofino.  It has a beach, but it is pretty rocky.

MONACO

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This looks like a country of all millionaires.  Pat checks out a Lamborghini and a Rolls at the local dealership.

The harbor is congested with $1,000,000+ yachts.

At the Prince's Palace there is a formal changing of the guard ceremony every day at 11:55.  

We visited the Jacques Cousteau museum and aquarium.  The jellyfish display is like a work of art.

Pat waves from the front steps of the Monte Carlo Casino.  This is as close as we got to the tables as we forgot to bring our passports which are required for entry.

MARSEILLES

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The boats in Marseilles harbor are distant cousins of the yachts in Monaco.  The emphasis here is on commercial fishing, with the fresh catch available at dockside.

The Notre Dame de la Gard church sits atop the tallest hill in Marseilles.  We took a bus to the church and got some great views of the area.

This view of Marseilles and its harbor is from Notre Dame de la Gard.

The Count of Monte Crist, by Alexandre Dumas, takes place on this little island in Marseilles harbor.

This church in Marseilles is known locally as "the pajamas".

SÈTE

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Sète is a scenic village on France's southern coast.  The main streets border on a river.

A representative of the local tourist board told us to hike up Mont St. Claire.  The map she gave us didn't indicate the steepness of the road.  Look closely and you can see our ship.

The final leg of the hike includes 200 steps.  The views of Sète are fabulous, but come at a high price.

The coast line west of Sète features miles of beautiful white sand.

Exiting the harbor, we passed this artistically designed solar powered marker buoy.

BARCELONA

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The Christopher Columbus monument marks the entrance to the harbor.  An elevator to the top gives a good overview of the entire city.

The heart of Barcelona is Las Ramblas, a wide boulevard full of activity day and night.  This aerial view of Las Ramblas is taken from the top of the Columbus monument.

Construction continues on Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.  There is no end in sight.

This is another building designed by Gaudi.  It is called Las Piedras, and is an apartment building.

Eating at tapas bas is a treat.  In this one, the woman pictured is a "cortador".  Her job is to cut thin slices of jamon, the delicious Spanish ham.

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The "gherkin" is the latest addition to the Barcelona skyline.  It is modeled after a similar building in London.

We took a walking tour that described Pablo Picasso's life in Barcelona.  Our guide Miguel was a fast talker and an even faster walker.

This building design was one of Picasso's final projects.

The food at a local market, the Merkat St. Josef, was a treat for the eyes.  Everything looked very fresh.

The Parc Guell was a Gaudi designed housing development for the rich.  Although the project was a flop, the few remaining buildings look like an early version of Disneyland.