Cruisin’ the Mediterranean in May

For some reason my prepaid SIM card didn’t like roaming so this is a fairly long post covering our whole cruise.

From Barcelona we moved into our second phase of our trip, the Mediterranean cruise. Along the way we make a number of stops so that we can visit Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Pisa, Florence, Cannes, and Marseille, before returning Barcelona.

In our research for our trip we found an offshore excursion company who are an independent company specialising in excursions for cruise ships. They offered very similar excursions, and guaranteed that you’d be back on time, however they were considerable cheaper than the excursions offered onboard. If you are doing a cruise it’s worth checking them out – Cruising Excursions.

Stop 1 – Naples Italy, including a visit to the excavations of the ancient city of Pompeii.

Pompeii – this is a place that we have all read about in school – the place that got buried after Mount Vesuvius erupted and rained ash down on the town in 79AD. I must say that I was surprised at the scale of the place.

We had a half day tour including a brief sight seeing tour of Naples and then onto Pompeii.

The tour of the excavations at Pompeii was an excellent way to get an appreciation of all the different facets of Pompeii and what the city must have been like all those years ago.  However due to the popularity of Pompeii it is incredibly busy with people everywhere so tours can feel rushed and not provide enough time to sit and reflect on the enomatity of what happened to the people who lived in the shadow of the mountain that eventually killed them.

It would have been nice to just have some extra time to just wandering around by yourself.
In addition to the excavations, an exhibition of sculptures (not associated with Pompeii) was on display which was spectacular in the back drop of the excavations.

Here are a few photos from our day

an early form of catseyes on the roadway to guide the way.

they had bars

they warned guests about their dogs

they baked bread – not pizza yet as there were no tomotas here

early lego..??


Stop 2 – Civitavecchia Italy (Rome)

The closest port to Rome capable of taking large cruise ships is Civitavecchia which is approximately an hour away from Rome. Unfortunately the day we turned up, there was a train strike and a fairly large protest march around the Colosseum. This meant that both traffic was busier and all the roads around the colosseum were closed. This impacted our day. Given that we only really had 5 hours in Rome what can you see?

The protests had an impact on our plans and instead of catching the tour bus around Rome, we walked. Overall though we saw all the things we wanted to see and enough of a taste to come back and have a much better look around.

Here are a few photos from our day in Rome.

protest that held us up … but it was colourful

coins were thrown

missed the Pope by a couple of hours

Stop 3 – Livorno Italy (Pisa and Florence)

I had been warned that Pisa is really just a tourist trap with lots of commercialisation of essentially some engineering that had gone wrong.  And I guess that is largely right and if it wasn’t for the tower then this place may just be another town in Italy with some cool old buildings.

But it is here and it is still a very interesting sight.

Our guide was a history lecturer and just loved Florence and had a huge wealth of information that she shared.

What has constantly staggered me is not only the size of these old building but the size of the task and the time required to build them. I wonder whether anything like this would even be commissioned today.

this bridge is called ‘the old bridge’ i guess because its old

Florence apparently is also the place for beautiful leather, ice cream, food and wine. In our short visit we certainly sampled a few of the local specialties and the plastic can testify the cost of the beautiful leather jackets.

Stop 4 – Cannes France

Welcome to France.

We planned a more relaxed tour today with a small group tour to Nice and surrounding areas. This meant that we could have a bit more say in timing and destinations. Given that we had no idea of the area we pretty much went with the drivers recommendation. After a bit of a drive up the coast we stopped in at the Flower markets for awhile where we picked up something to eat and went down and ate by the sea.

Flower markets in Nice

Eating lunch of local produce on the Nice beach

From Nice we climbed the hills to a little village of St. Pauls which was not only picturesque little village but had loverly little shops filled with beautiful paintings and sculptures sold and a wide array of other handy work. It’s probably a good thing we weren’t there too long as our ports are getting fuller.

St Pauls

Horse made out of horse shoes

Stop 5 – Marseille

Back on the bus for a short tour inland to a little town called Aix en-Provence about 45mins from Marseille. This was just a beautiful little French town. The place that I pictured a French town to look like.

statue of 4 boys under all that moss … apparently

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