Thursday, October 23, 2014

Casablanca - 15th October, 2014

After sailing overnight we arrived in Casablanca this morning, (at the container terminal)
looking forward to exploring the city.  We decided against an organised tour, (which in hindsight was a mistake.) the tour to Marrakech was over 3 hrs in a bus each way, and most of the other tours were not suitable for those who could not walk long distances. So, together with Alma and Sarah we made our way to the taxis !! As we only wanted to go the city (not very far) and not a tour not many of the taxi drivers were interested.  We eventually found one or should I say a couple, who almost had a fight to get the fare. First impressions not real good !! We asked to be taken to a market, and we were - just not what we expected.  We were shown into a room, and to our surprise Gaylene & Rob (from our table) were there as well.  After being shown some lovely carpets, we were ere served with some mint tea!!! Oh so very sweet !!!  
John For some reason indicated that he want a carpet and was taken to another room to barter the price. At this point I was a little concerned !! Then I was called to the room, as back up !! When I said that I definitely didn't want the carpet, the man offered to "suck on my breast" to convince me.  We were all then taken to another room, were we sampled hand creams and perfumes.
 As we finally left the market, the taxi driver, was there waiting for us - he didn't want take take NO for an answer.  we wandered around what seemed to be a very unsavoury part of town with really dirty streets.  We found a park & rested for a while, then walked in a different direction, where we felt a little more comfortable.
 Sarah took a liking to a dog, whose owner spoke some English, however he had never heard of Rick's Bar (from the movie), but did guide us to us to another bar where men & women could sit together. We were disappointed in Casablanca, as were most of the people we talked to, even the ones that did the organised City Tour. Ps Apparently Rick Bar in about an 1 1/2 hrs from the city !!!

Malaga - 14th October,2014

After about 42 hrs at sea, we arrived in Malaga, Spain. We decided to do a Shore Excursion. The original excursion we booked (Malaga - The White Town) was cancelled due to lack of numbers, so instead we did the City Tour. The bus wound it's way up the narrow streets to the Castillo del Gibralfaro
 We were able to see the amazing views of coastline and the town.  
After a short drive around the city, we left the bus at the Town Hall for time to explore.  Malaga  is a holiday resort on Costa del Sol. We walked a short distance to a plaza
. Definitely time for a Spanish Beer and and a light lunch of Mojo Potatoes!! Part of the plaza had a Roman Ampitheatre, which dated back to approximately 3000 years AD.  Malaga has lots of beautiful gardens and has horse drawn carriages making their way around the streets.  People busking in the plaza makes it a very relaxing 
 Malaga also has a cathedral - Santa Inglesia Catedral Basilica, which we visited.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

At Sea 13th October 2014

We decided that as it was a day at sea, we would have breakfast delivered to our cabin.  We spent mist of the day relaxing and trying not to get lost on the ship !! Weather has been great and sailing iwas smooth. Tonight was the Captains Welcome cocktail party followed by an introduction of officers and a show in the theatre.  After a lovely dinner and a few relaxing drinks we headed off to bed - it's amazing how tiring relaxing can be !!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Genoa - MSC Cruise - 12th October, 2014

 After a tiring day yesterday, we had a very relaxed morning and a late check out from our B & B.  Feeling very excited we had short taxi ride to Genoa Port, expecting to wait for an hour until we could check in.  To our surprise, check in had been bought forward, and after the checking procedure and of course security,mew boarded MSC Poesia. - wow !!! 
After checking out our cabin at the front of the ship on Deck 14 we then explored the ship and eventually found the buffet lunch.  A bit more exploring - the library, the Zebra Bar,
Reception, all amazing. At 5pm without any announcements we started to move.  What a great feeling !!!
We are on the 2nd Seating for Dinner in the La Fontaine Restaurant, which is on Level 5, at the back of the ship. The restaurant is lovely, we are seated at table 519, with 4 passengers from the UK and 2 from Australia.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Genoa 11th October"2014

After a little sleep in, we caught the No 35 to bus Genoa Principle, with the intention of going up the funiicolare to see the overall view of Genoa !!! And short cab ride  later only to find it was closed due to the floods.  Back on the bus to the Historic Centre, where we saw part of the original wall of the city and the fortified gateway.
 We even found Elvis !!!
We walked down the backstreets & lane ways , and bumped into some people we had met on the train yesterday.
 The church Mary the Virgin, has some oroginal paintings by Reuben.
We sat for a while admiring the church and then realised that the priest was walking around with his keys, waiting for us to leave!!! All the churches and most of the specialty shops close between 12 noon and 3pm. 

Genoa 10th October, 2014

Wow !!! did I mention that I hoped the weather would improve !! Well it got worse. Just after 10pm the rain started and was torrential !! Some of the heaviest we had seen/heard.  The thunder was incredible as was the lightening. We have never heard thunder so loud. When I looked out the window at 4am the water was cascading down 
and there were sirens almost continuously. 
Thinking the worst was over, we ordered a taxi about 1 1/4 hrs before our train - it didn't arrive !! By this time we knew we had missed our booked train to Cinque Terre, but decided to buy another ticket and go anyway. 
We caught the train to  Monterossa ,  which is about 2hr trip. Thankfully, the rain had stopped, although it was still overcast. We had a lovely lunch overlooking the beach (the sand is nothing like what we have in Australia), wandered around and then decided to catch the train to the next town, Vernazza, which is a fishing cove, now overrun by tourists.  We were about to head to Riomaggiore, one of the others towns, when we were advised that the trains were running at least 45 mins late, so decided to head back to Monterossa for a few drinks,(by this time the sun had come out) before our train back to Genoa.

We had booked 1st class tickets for our return to Genoa, and about 4 stations from Genoa Principe, our train was stopped, as it was too heavy to go over the flood damaged tracks Genoa Brignole, so we were transferred to a local train.  We were able to see some of the damage - it was just devastating.

As it was about 7.30 we bought Pizza & wine on our way from the bus stop to our B & B, where we met a very nice man, who gave us lots of information on what we should to tomorrow.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Venice to Genoa 9th October 2014

We left Venice this morning on a foggy, but warm morning. We caught the 8.50am train to Milan, which is a 2 1/2 hr trip in a high speed train. I even managed to do a little sewing, as the train is very smooth.
We changed trains in Milan and reached Genoa about 1.45pm, to an overcast and rainy day.
We are staying in a B&B, Home Grifondoro, in a room with sea views.  

We had a quiet afternoon, and the caught the local bus into town for a Chinese dinner.
Tomorrow we are doing a day trip to the Cinque Terre, which is about 1 1/2 hrs from Genoa, so hopefully the weather will have improved.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Venice 8th October,2014

First  thing this morning we went in search of the Ghetto Nuovo, which was a gated village, in which the Jewish merchants lived when they fled to Venice after the Spanish Inquisition in 1541. It is no longer gated, but has a main square surrounded by ramshackle buildings, and a constant police presence. 
Next stop was Piazza San Marco, to see the Basilica Di San Marco.  As we arrived at the piazza, we could see that it was starting to flood, which is nothing unusual.  Tourists lined the raised walkways to gain access to the Basicila.  It is very different to any we have seen.  
From here we took the lift to the top of the Campanile Di San Marco, which is a bell tower that has 
breathtaking views of the surrounding areas.
Back on the Vaporetto to the Rialto Bridge, where we stopped for lunch.
John was keen to find a music museum that we stumbled across on our last trip, but we couldn't remember its name, so unfortunately after wandering around unsuccessfully, we returned to our hotel before heading out for a little shopping, some last photos of the back streets in night time Venice, and dinner.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Venice 5-6 October,2014

We arrived in Venice after approximately 27hrs travelling, feeling a little weary!! We walked from Pl Roma bus station to our Hotel and whilst checking in we're offered an upgrade to a suite in their sister Hotel a short distance away, which we accepted. On arrival at this Hotel, we found it was the Hotel Canal  Grande, where we stayed 2 yrs ago.
When making our reservations for this trip, we actually had a hold on a room at the Hotel Canal Grande, but decided that it was more than we wanted to pay, so cancelled the reservation about 3 weeks ago !! So I guess we were meant to stay here !! 
We had breakfast overlooking the Grand Canal this morning, which was lovely, and as we were leaving the hotel for a days sightseeing,
were offered a complimentary Water Taxi ride to Murano, to one of the Glass blowing demonstrations and as we were intending to go there, we accepted.
After watching the demonstration, we then made our way to Burano, which is known for its traditional lace making. We watched a demonstration on how the lace is made by hand, and learned that it can take 3 women 5 days minimum to make a 6 inch doily. We enjoyed lunch chatting to some American tourists, and then set off to find the leaning Bell Tower. Whilst taking
 some photos, we met some people from Springwood, near where we used to live. Burano is a very colourful and relaxed place and we spent most of the afternoon wandering around the streets before heading back to the Vaporetto for the 40 min ferry ride back to Venice Island.
After a quiet pre dinner drink, we strolled around the back streets near the hotel and found a lovely little outdoor restaurant for dinner.  The mix of American, English, Italian & Australian quests and a waiter named Sorry, made for a very enjoyable night