Friday, 24 July 2009

the full monte

Monday 20th
Monaco today. We were here exactly a year ago. Last time we viewed Monte Carlo from above whereas this time we’re in the port looking up. After a leisurely breakfast, we’re about to venture out. We did the Martini at the casino thing last time (well, you have to do that, don’t you?) so we might skip it this time. I’d like to buy some new clothes, just a few shirts and some jeans, but I suspect that Monaco is not the place to do this! Ah well. Day after tomorrow we’ll be in Barcelona. Maybe a bit of clothes shopping will be on the cards there (I hate clothes shopping! Just bring me out clothes that I’m going to like and that will fit and let’s be done with it!). Well we’re off to once more enjoy the views of Monaco.

We decided to do a tour all over Monte Carlo and Monaco. That of course is not hard to do as Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, after the Vatican, with an area of just 1 sq kilometre. It has a population of around 40,000, no unemployment, the highest standard of living in the world and has the highest population density on the planet. The harbours are beautiful and can be seen from almost any vantage point in the city.

I’m losing track of the days. Tomorrow, I believe, is Wednesday and it will find us in Barcelona.
Note to self. Tilt camera down to right in future to correct crooked horizon!
Somewhere not too far up those mountains Monaco ends and France begins.

There must be a high demand for defibrillators.
Damn that bus and damn my lack of software prowess for cutting

Oops. There's that crooked horizontal again

Casino seen from the ship

Deceased butterfly on the balcony railing outside our stateroom

Sunday 19th
Today saw us in Livorno Italy. We wandered around ... and finally found ... somewhere to dine. Being Sunday most of the place was closed. We just wanted a Pinot Grigio and pizza ... we found it in an al fresco Ristorante and dined with pigeons.

Saturday 18th
Return to Rome. We stayed on the floating hotel.
I hate being involved in disputes and yet that is where I so often find myself. The common factor in the disputes is me ... so that leads me to think that the problems are of my doing ... but ... but .. no!
I had a complaint on-ship and the manager I raised the issue with handled it extremely poorly, leaving me, and probably her also, feeling pretty awful. So I escalated my complaint which now was both the original complaint and another about the manager’s handling of the situation. The escalation of the complaint left me feeling a lot better in that now at least my original complaint was being listened to and acted upon. I got what I felt I had been entitled to and the wording of relevant documents on terms and conditions has now been changed to reflect my original suggestions. I’m feeling a lot better about the whole thing, but I wonder how much of my current feeling is the knowledge that I’ve been vindicated ... and how much is simply that the dispute handling mechanism the second time around was much better.

Friday 17th July
Messina, Sicily today. The big highlight was the clock tower which puts on a 15 minute performance at midday. The lion raws (did I really spell 'roars' like that?), the rooster flaps and crows, people and angels move around; all to the tune of Ave Maria. The most remarkable thing about it is that someone designed it and someone invested in it and it got made ... and hundreds of tourists just like us turn up every day to go ‘wow!.’ I mean ... really ... why?

We lunched today with a couple from Nevada who we’ve spent a bit of time with on the cruise. Ks comment later was “And I thought that we were the Gurus of Grump.” We met the couple on the first or second day of the cruise and Mr Nevada has steadily become more disenchanted. K and I had commented to each other this morning that most of the coffee on board is that ‘weak American stuff.' Mr Nevada’s rant at lunch today was about the Espresso rubbish they serve in all these Italian ports. Apparently they need to learn to make good American coffee in Italy. Poor guy, he ordered a ‘filtered coffee’ and told us how much he was looking forward to it. I had my doubts that the waiter understood. K and I got the espresso and cappuccino we’d ordered, Mrs Nevada got her Coke Light, but Mr Nevada got a bowl of coffee flavoured ice-cream instead of his Americano! Sigh! The world is conspiring against him.

Clock tower with rooster that crows and lion that roars at midday.

Obligatory well dressed horse - cart ride.

Back to the ship
Thursday 16th
Today finds us at sea between Greece and Italy. Yesterday we visited Athens. I’m sad to report that I didn’t like it at all. It seemed to have all the worst aspects of some inner suburban areas to the west of Melbourne. Walls everywhere were bedecked with graffiti. We were twice ripped off by taxi drivers. We weren’t ready for the sleight of hand trick where the 25 euro we handed the driver suddenly became 15 euro. It was only an hour later that we realised that must have given him the 25 we thought we had – he had a neat magic trick that turned the 20 into a 10. The second driver tried the same stunt with a 50, but we were awake up to it the second time and stood our ground! That kind of thing leaves a bitter taste. Despite my gammy foot, we took the walk up to the Parthenon with 15 million other people on a hot July day. It wasn’t worth it, though I didn’t mind donating the 12 euro entrance fee that I assume is going to restoration works. We were both glad to be back on our floating hotel.

The Acropolis

At sea between Greece and Italy

Attarturk greets the dawn in Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus from the Lido Deck

Monkey greets us when we get back to the ship

Diet coke makes a good icepack

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