Years ago we decided that we would try to go to Europe, with our three children, for our 25th anniversary. One of our children had a job commitment, so he could only join us for one of our planned two week adventure. Our first week was spent on the MSC Splendida. MSC is an Italian cruise line. We decided that if we were going to Europe, we were going to try to immerse ourselves in the culture. Probably 80% of the people on the cruise line were Italian, with some French, Germans, Dutch, English thrown in. We were the minority, which was fine by me.
I had never been on a cruise. I wasn't sure that I would like it. There are some definite advantages to a cruise. Every morning we woke up in a different port. We got to see five countries. You don't get to see five countries, just a little taste of them. But we have some ideas as to where we would go if we went again.
We would eat breakfast and head off. We had coffee and baked goods it a lot of towns. Our first stop was our shortest, Tunisia. The old town had some beautiful buildings but the number of people intently trying to sell you things was startling.
We went back to the ship for dinner. Dinner always including a pasta course and the risotto was amazing. Every night a different area of Italy was highlighted. We had some good food on the ship.
The next day we work up in Malta. Malta was amazing. There are forts and armor every where. Walking around Valleta was beautiful. We got a ticket to go to a couple museums.
I enjoy a museum. I may enjoy two museums. But by my third museums, I may sit in the courtyard, people watching. I may run into Rod Stewart who had performed the night before.
The next day, we woke up in Messina. We had hired a driver to take us to Castelmola and Taormina. Two picturesque towns high up in the mountains. We enjoyed strolling around and eating gellato and drinking coffee. I could retire here. Serve travelers coffee.
This is the town's public library. Could you read here?
Rome was a big day for us. The port is about 1.25 hours from Rome. We had hired a licensed driver/tour guide to show us the town. It was a whirlwind of activity. We were underground, we were above ground. In ruins, surrounded by bones. Finally, we stopped for a delicious lunch. The pasta and fish were suburb. Fish were piled in the restaurant, ready for your selection. What a lovely day.
The next day was Genoa. We hopped on a double decker tour bus and went all around town. Stopping for coffee and pastries and finally eating some pizza in the plaza by this church.
On Sunday, we went to Mass in French in Marseilles. Where has it gone, all that French that I studied?
By this point, I wanted off the ship because I knew that the next day, Joe would fly into Barcelona and we would all be together. Something that doesn't happen often it seems.
We did a whirlwind tour of Barcelona and flew to Paris to spend some time in our spacious, 500 sq ft apartment. In Texas, spacious and 500 sq feet don't go together...
I loved our apartment. Down the block from a metro stop, a open air market, a boulangerie. The ideal location for us.
We bought a museum pass... How to balance museums and foodie finds? It is a very delicate balance.
We will probably have to return to perfect the balance.