Monday, 30 September 2013

In Civitavecchia, the Port for Rome, Italy

'The Kiss', an enormous statue on the promenade at Civitavecchia
On our arrival at Civitavecchia, most of the ship's passengers were whisked away early to go to Rome, a 90 minute coach ride away. We had a more leisurely breakfast then got the free shuttle bus from the ship to the entrance of the port and explored the town on foot.
  There were 6 cruise ships of various sizes in port that day and I heard one of the officials say that meant 16,000 visitors in 12 hours. The mind boggles!!!
   Civitavecchia is a pretty town with a wide paved promenade along the shore, a fortress tower built by Michaelangelo and this much photographed statue of "The Kiss". It is a 3 dimensional representation of the iconic photo taken in Times Square, New York, when the news broke that World War 2 had ended. Now visitors queue up to be photographed with it.

Big statue, little people!
 Civitavecchia was easy to walk around, with part of the main street being a pedestrian mall. We found the fantastic food market - fruit and vegetables outside on stalls, meat and fish and cheese inside a purpose-built building. All so fresh and colourful at cheap prices we can only dream about at home!

Seasonal produce at the market in Civitavecchia

In the fish hall at Civitavecchia market
  I like roaming round new places, exploring on my own rather than being herded around on a pressured guided tour. I like to sit and watch the people and absorb the atmosphere, the sights and smells and sounds of somewhere different. Sometimes I'll go on city sightseeing buses, the hop on, hop off, type. But I don't listen to the commentaries! It's important to me that I use all my senses and having a tinny voice in my ear is off-putting. I take photos and make notes and if I want to know more about a statue or a building or a local legend, I'll research them after.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Naples, a Mediterranean Cruise Port of Call

Naples, Italy
After a relaxing day at sea, our next cruise port of call was Naples. And I must say, the cruise port terminal there is one of the best I've been in. It's a modern building with a range of shops, post office, cafes with WiFi and stalls selling souvenirs of the region.
  Naples is the port for visits to Pompei and the isle of Capri . But as we had been to those places on a previous cruise, we decided to stay in Naples and explore the city that has featured in so many movies.
  Across the car park outside the cruise terminal is the bus stop for sightseeing tours. We did two circuits of the city to see as much as we could while there.
  The Inner City tour took us through the narrow, crowded streets lined with tall apartment buildings in various states of repair. 
Inner city Naples, graffiti and vespas
Many of the buildings were defaced with graffiti and the general air of the place was one of neglect. Washing lines were strung between apartment blocks across the side alleys. The buildings are stacked up the steep hillsides, dominated by the castle at the top. Another castle guards the entrance to the port and yet another is across from the cruise terminal.
Washing day in Naples
   After changing to a different bus, we did the hop on- hop off tour that went around the shore of the Bay of Naples. I was so glad we did this as it showed us a contrasting side of the city. We saw beautiful villas and grand old hotels built right on the edge of the bay with terraces and arches framing views across the water to Mt Vesuvius.

Looking across the Bay of Naples to Mt Vesuvius
All in all, our day in Naples was very interesting and enjoyable. And we got back to the ship just before the rain started pelting down!   

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Visit Mykonos on a Cruise

Norwegian Spirit anchored off shore at Mykonos
Mykonos is one of the most popular places to visit on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise, one of those places where the white of the buildings contrasts with the blue sky and sea of the Aegean to make the quintessential Greek Island experience.
   Our ship anchored out in the bay and we went ashore by tender, a trip of only a few minutes, landing at the pier by the main town.
   In days gone by, villages on the Mediterranean islands were often threatened by pirates. So the little towns were built as a maze of narrow alleyways that twisted and turned to confuse invaders. Not much has changed in Mykonos except that now the narrow twisting, turning alleys confuse the tourists!
Wander the alleyways with their white edged paving stones
  When you get there most of the ship's passengers will, no doubt, wander straight into the main part of the town. But if you go to the right of the pier you can avoid the crowds. Just follow the edge of the sea round to the next bay where buildings with wooden balconies overhang the water in the part called 'Little Venice'. Most of these are now bars and restaurants.

Little Venice on Mykonos
 On the rise to the right are the windmills, restored now, making them one of the most photographed scenes of the Greek Islands.

Mykonos' iconic windmills
  And then it's fun to plunge into the labyrinth of Mykonos town, wandering and taking photos, perhaps stopping for an ice cream or doing a spot of shopping. There are many up-market shops here selling beautiful clothes, jewellery and homewares.

Typical architecture at Mykonos
Enjoy your day ashore!