Cruisin’ along

Hello! This is Aidan. Sorry, we haven’t been posting because we didn’t have Wi-Fi for the past two weeks, because we went on a cruise! The cruise line was called Costa. It’s owned by Carnival Inc., along with a bunch of other companies like Holland  America and Princess… and almost every other cruise line I’ve heard of.

We all shared a small but comfortable cabin at the front of the boat that had only one large bed and a bunk bed. When we first got on, we had to do an emergency drill. There’s an alarm in our room, so the 7 short 1 long whistle was so loud, we couldn’t even shout to each other. We got life jackets and went to our Muster Station and they made us stand in organized lines and they counted us. When we got back to our room, they had brought our luggage in!

Our first stop was Barcelona, Spain, home to one of the best soccer clubs in the world: FC Barcelona. We took a tour/excursion provided by Costa to see a bunch of Gaudi (famous architect) projects.

First we went to the top of a cliff that had a great view of the city. The next thing we saw was Sagrada Família, a massive and beautiful church that wasn’t completed when we saw it. The original architect didn’t finish the plans, so Gaudi took over in 1883, using a Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau style.  It is still under construction and is expected to finally be complete in 2026.

Next, we went to what is now a park, that was intended to be a nature city. Count Eusebi Güell wanted to have a city with more plants and trees and less pollution and huge buildings. He bought a 42 acre hill that he wanted this city on, and had Gaudi design the plans. Unfortunately, nobody moved into this place because it was too far from the main city of Barcelona and transportation back then wasn’t as good as now, so it is now a huge, beautiful, and colorful park.

The next place is the Barcelona cathedral known as La Seu Cathedral.  Romans first had a temple at this location in 343 AD, and an earlier cathedral was built in 1035. The current building was started in 1298, but not finished until 1913, with the addition of the central spire.  It is also connected to the palace of Barcelona. There are also always 13 geese in the courtyard.  Each goose represents one year in the life of the martyr Santa Eulalia, a young girl supposedly tortured to death in the 4th century by the Romans for her religion.

The food on the boat was quite terrible because all of the ingredients had to be frozen, and we had to eat the bad food because we were stuck on the boat.

We had a day at sea, and Willem and I played lots of Foosball. We also met a 12 year-old from Switzerland named Eric. He spoke English, so we spent lots of the day with him.

The next day we woke up in Casablanca, Morocco, (New continent for me!) where we did an excursion that showed us the third largest Mosque in the world, the Hassan II Mosque. It also had the world’s tallest tower on a Mosque. The building was really nice; not crumbled or anything. Everything about it was perfect. The inside was soooo huge, and I’ve been in the Boeing building in Everett.

Also in Casablanca, we went on a short shopping trip, we went in another church that had beautiful stained glass, and we saw the Royal Palace of Morocco.

Next country: St. Cruz De Tenerife, an island of the coast of Spain. Here, we went on our own instead of taking an excursion. We took a taxi to Loro Parque (Parrot Park). There we saw lots and lots of parrots and other colorful birds, white tigers, an emu standing under a bridge (We thought that would be a good poem), Loro Parque is famous for their penguin habitat (which is indoors). It has fake snow, and the water has plenty of fish! The highlight of the zoo was the dolphin and orca shows. We saw the dolphins first, and they did flips, jumped fifteen feet out of the water and over a rope, and even pulled a baby from the crowd in a little boat. Finally, we went to the orcas. Willem and I sat in the splash zone, which was awesome. Willem decided too late that he didn’t want to sit there… At the beginning, the big TV over the orca tank showed a bunch of people from the audience and even had speech bubbles. Then the orcas did a bunch of tricks similar to the dolphins, except they purposely splashed us.

The ship then took us to Madeira, an island of Portugal. Another bus excursion took us to the top of the city which is on a steep hill. Here, we’re going basket riding!

Wicker basket toboggan riding is a traditional thing they do in that city, because the rich people who had summer houses on top of the hill needed a faster way to get back home in the fall. Two guys push you down a long hill in a basket. You just sit inside it, and they stand on to pegs in the back. The basket has rails  on the bottom, so you just slide down the hill! After that thrilling ride, we drove around the island’s large hills and saw lots of farms and waterfalls. We had lunch at a restaurant that rotated like the Space Needle, then drove back after taking pictures.

After a day at sea, we arrived at Malaga, Spain. Here, we drove out to the country and went horseback riding, which was really fun.

After that, the cruise ended for us at Rome, Italy, and we rented a car and drove out to a place by a lake that’s an hours drive from Rome, where we drove to after three days. We arrived today in Rome, returned our car, and then relaxed because traveling from place to place for us is quite difficult and tiring.

 

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Happy Halloween!!!

Happy Halloween from Rome! We don’t have costumes, but we are still celebrating. I found an online pumpkin carving thing, so Willem and I carved electronic pumpkins! I wanted to be a gladiator for Halloween because we’re in Rome, and in a store we saw real swords and armor, but they were expensive. I hope you all have fun!

trevignano romano + roma

it’s been good to be back on terra firma, although sometimes while lying in bed i still feel like i’m on a boat.

way back when i was pregnant with willem, kevin + i went on a cruise in the carribean. neither of us had ever had any desire to go on a cruise but this was (thanks to merrill lynch) an all expenses paid cruise on a smaller luxury ship. we appreciated the ease of retiring each night in the same spacious cabin complete with balcony + then the ability to arise each morning at port all ready to disembark + explore a new island.

at the end of august while on the island kurcula, we were already a bit weary from the logistics of travel + we only had accommodations secured through the end of september. beyond that our plans were exhaustingly vague.  so, we booked the cheapest cruise we could find that would take us to some interesting places without the hassle of figuring out where to stay, how to get there, what to see, how to get there, where to eat, how to get there, where to stay, how to get there, what to see, how to get there, where to eat, how to get there….

and so, for that convenience, the cruise was good.  we saw some really cool places + have some unique experiences to appreciate.  our ship + cabin were not the same luxurious quality kevin + i experienced a decade ago, but we survived quite well sharing a small room with two boys.

i thought some time in the country would be nice after disembarking the ship in civitavecchia, the port for rome.  trevignano romano is a quaint town about an hour outside rome on lake bracciano.  the countryside was gorgeous.  below are some photos of where we stayed.  this time of year, the place was teeming with flies, the pool was covered, the shower water barely tepid, the internet connection frustratingly spotty + weak, + the neighboring unit was under major construction.  but, having a washing machine + a bottle of procescco in the fridge was just what i needed… as well as the wifi at a cafe in town, where we were able to book many flights + finalize plans for the next two months.

 

we are now in an apartment in rome, pictures below.  we are enjoying the city + have seen lots of old ruins + have had our fill of pasta + gelato.  we leave for athens tomorrow evening.  today is halloween + while there seem to be pub crawls + parties at dance clubs, i don’t know what we can do with the kids to celebrate one of their favorite ‘holidays’.  yesterday evening we ventured to find an apple store as rome is the first place we’ve been that has an actual apple retail store since aidan went swimming w/his ipod touch in his pocket.  so we took the metro to the terminal where we crowded on a bus that took us far outside of the city center to a galleria (shopping mall), so far out as to be near an Ikea –  a very long bus ride to a very typical mall.  we accomplished our mission of replacing aidan’s phone + holey shoes, ate ice cream for dinner, + were fortunate to have a faster ride home.  we’ve whiled away the rainy morning just hanging out at the apartment.  trying to muster the energy to try to figure out what to do, what to see, how to get there….