Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 3 - First Three Stops

Our cruise was 9 nights with 6 stops after leaving Barcelona and before arriving in Venice. Today I bring you our first three stops: 

  • Ajaccio, Corsica; 
  • Naples with the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii; and 
  • Messina, Sicily.

Ajaccio, Corsica

Even though our first day of the cruise didn't go quite as planned, we pressed on and did our best to enjoy our first stop at Ajaccio, Corsica. 

I have to admit after getting up at 4:30, we were all quite tired, and very little of what we saw actually sunk in. But I do remember a little bit.

It belongs to France

The flag which is a Moor's head with a blindfold above his eyes. The blindfold used to cover his eyes, but in 1755 the General of the Nation decided it should be above his eyes to signify the liberation of the Corsican people.

Napolean was born here and he seemed to prefer statues of himself in Roman emperor robes.

We had no complaints about the beer.

Naples, Italy

I always imagine Naples as dirty, overrun with mobsters who are fueled by great Italian food, but mostly pizza. I can't say that my image of Naples itself changed, because we never actually saw it. Instead, we headed out to drive along the Amalfi Coast, ending our day in Pompeii.

The Amalfi Coast is absolutely spectacular. The road is narrow and winding and sometimes just built onto the cliffs. We drove along part of the coastal road, and then took a boat to see it from a distance.

 I can see why so many rich and famous flock here. I can also see why traditionally Mediterranean people are so healthy. I don't think it's so much their diet, as the walking and climbing they do every single day.

Just look at that road! It's not even really part of the cliff; it's just added onto it.

View from a church

So many lemons.

Pompeii was also fantastic. It's hard to believe that so much has survived from so long ago just because of Mt. Vesuvius erupting and preserving everything. I also got such a kick out of what the kids noticed. We headed through a brothel. All Eamon really picked up was the bit about the stone bed. Utterly fascinated. He talked a lot about how uncomfortable a stone bed would be, yet it would be kind of cool to have one. He even posed for a photo with it. 

Crossing an old Roman street

During excavations while picking away at the hardened ash, they discovered these holes. To preserve what had made the hole, they poured in plaster. After picking away the ash, they have a statue of what was there and had made the hole. Sad to think that a person perished in that position so many years ago.

Probably one of the most photographed and published images. It appeared in one of the kid's books about Pompeii that we read before arriving. 

Messina, Sicily, Italy

There was a whole lot of walking in Pompeii, and it wore out Dad. So for Messina, we decided we'd try to do something at a much slower pace. What a mistake. Sadly, we had a terrible tour guide. The "visit two fishes villages" was really just driving through a couple of areas of Messina where they still fish. And the main stop was at an ugly stop by the side of the road. But at least, Eamon reported, the gelato was fantastic.

It would have been nice to stop and walk along the fish market rather than zoom by.
At least Kerry caught the photo of the swordfish.

One thing none of us realized was that mainland Italy was so very close. It's the land just across the water.

And all was not lost. I've been thinking about doing something fun with our stairs to the basement. Tiling the rise is an idea that's taken hold quite firmly in my mind. Yet what kind of tile? I'd been thinking something bright and fun, but then I see this in the church and I like it.

I can tell this was not one of our favourite days. My journal entry is short. We barely have any photos. And I don't even have much else to say. However, I am not deterred from thinking we should give Sicily another chance some day.

But one interesting tidbit caught our attention. They celebrate the day they were liberated in WWII. Ummm, but they are part of Italy. Is it a liberation when your side loses? 

I think that's enough cruising for today. Check back later to hear about the other stops.

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