Mediterranean Enchantment – 2009

Port of Naples, Italy

April 26 - May 10, 2009

 

IFlights from Memphis to Rome via Amsterdam

VISpain’s Island of Mallorca

IIRome with visits to Historic Ruins, Vatican

VIIPort of Tunis & Ancient Ruins of Carthage

IIIBoard Ship Noordam at Civitavecchia Port

VIIIPalermo, Sicily & Mondello Beach Town

IVPort of Livorno, long drive to Florence, Pisa

IXPort of Naples, Italy

VMonte Carlo & Spain’s Barcelona

XReturn to Rome, Visit to More Ruins & Home

 

Updated July 4, 2009

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

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To view photo album of 128 pictures mainly taken by Betty Nolan, go to www.ritzpix.com and sign in under Lewis’ email name of lewis_nolan@yahoo.com (password ln9876 with lower case initials). Under “My Albums,” activate “Rome and Mediterranean Enchantment” album and play as a Slideshow with longest offered delay in seconds.

 

Thursday, May 7, 2009 – Thursday, In Palermo, Sicily

 

I awoke about 7 a.m. and our ship, Holland America’s Noordam, was already docked in the busy harbor of Naples, Italy. I had read in Fodor’s Guidebook that Naples was founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Greeks and became a playground of the Romans. It was thereafter ruled by a succession of foreign dynasties, including the Bourbons of France.

 

My thinking yesterday was that we would take advantage of the ship’s all-day stop at Naples to walk around the harbor and downtown areas. But between the large volume of trash blowing around in the wind and a worsened cough, I opted to have a leisurely breakfast in our Superior Veranda Suite and enjoy the view of the city from our glass doors and large windows. Room service delivered yet another excellent morning meal of bacon, toast, Danish, sliced bananas, tomato juice and a pot of freshly brewed coffee that Betty enjoys to start her day.

 

Also delivered was our preliminary ship’s charges bill for us to review. The $527 in charges – covering $22 a day for room services covering both of us – plus Internet use charges of $35, Spa charges of $35 plus a $10 tip for fitness and dietary counseling and assorted bar charges. All in all, I felt this was a bargain price to pay for over-and-above services beyond the basic cruise charges that amounted to over $6,000 including airfare for both of us and upgrade charges of $50 per day that bumped us up from a regular statement to a large, well-equipped suite with a fabulous, private deck on a high vantage point of the ship.

My soreness in the upper right part of my back – probably brought on by violent coughing that never did release congestion in my chest – fired up so bad that Betty and I canceled our tentative plans to walk from the dock around downtown Naples. Interestingly, here and there we have run into what seems to be the nearly immutable siesta time in Italy and Spain, where most businesses are closed from lunchtime until as late as 4:30 p.m. so natives can eat well and nap just about every day.

 

So I took a muscle relaxant and napped in our cool stateroom while Betty read and enjoyed the sun while on one of two wicker chaise lounges on our deck. It was sunny with temperatures rising into the mid70s. The wooden deck just outside our stateroom also had two wicker chairs with footstools, a wicker table and two small tables for holding drinks and the like.

 

We visited the ship’s office to exchange some of our American Express Travelers Checks for Euros. We wanted to pay cash to our private guide, Franco Lattughi, for pickup and touring services tomorrow. He would drive us to the Westin Excelsior Hotel in the historic section of downtown Rome. That is where our Gulliver’s Travel agent had booked for us a luxury room as part of our Northwest Airlines long weekend package.

 

The ship Noordam departed the port of Naples at 5:30 p.m. for the overnight sailing to the ancient Roman port of Civitavecchia, which is about an hour’s drive from Rome. That evening, we took advantage of a complimentary dinner in the ship’s ultra-nice Pinnacle Grill, where regular passengers pay a premium on top of their regular cruise fare to eat some very special dinners. Cleverly placed mirrors on the ceiling reflect the churning white water tossed up by the ship plowing through the waves. It was maybe the swankiest restaurant we’ve ever eaten at; the tableware was set up by large crystal glasses brightly shining in the candlelight.

 

We both had terrific crab cakes and lobster bisque as appetizers. For the main course we had large lobster tails perfectly cooked and served on freshly cooked spinach. Dessert was heavenly servings of three flavors of crème brulee, all knocked down with generous pours of chardonnay. It was truly a magnificent meal that was magnificently served, a very nice way to end our 10-day Mediterranean Enchantment cruise.

 

I’m regretting that my cough-caused back injury is limited my mobility even more than just the upper respiratory infection. But at least the beauty of the Naples harbor set off by a scenic castle and expensive development on the surrounding hills provided some compensation for my limited mobility.

 

Sailing out of the port of Naples presents beautiful views of world shipping and the development over the centuries of old buildings and other structures that march up the gentle hillsides that surround the harbor. I don’t understand how residents can tolerate all the wind-blown garbage that clutters the downtown streets.

 

I’m reminded of this and other sights on this trip provide a “reality check” to me of the hometown boosterism that aims to rank Memphis as one of the leading cities of the world. Memphis is our much-loved home since 1970 and a wonderful place to live and raise a family. It is our pleasant residence of choice now that Betty and I are retired. But a world city – not!

 

We didn’t venture out from the ship. But nearby are two places I’d like to visit someday. One is the Island of Capri, one of the playgrounds for the very rich of the world. The other is the Roman city of Pompeii, which has been unearthed from a volcanic eruption and debris that destroyed and roasted alive its citizens long ago.

 

On this, the last evening of our cruise, I took a codeine prescription pain pill to quieten my heavy coughing and relieve the corresponding pain in my back. While I napped, Betty performed her usual packing magic and got our three shipping and one carry-on bags ready for deboarding the next morning.

 

We retired early so we could get a decent amount of sleep before carrying our own bags off the ship the next morning at the nearest port to Rome, the ancient town of Civitavecchia, Italy. Franco is to meet us at dockside for the 1 ½-hour drive into Central Rome and the Westin’s Excelsior Hotel.

 

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