Monaco, Rome and Home

Trip Start Jul 23, 2004
Trip End Aug 04, 2004

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Louis XV

Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Thursday, August 5, 2004

Hi all,

We're now home. We had a very busy last couple days before flying back, and between lots of sightseeing and getting ready to leave, I couldn't write a final entry to our travelogue. So, here it is.

We eventually left the beautiful city of Barcelona, where we did indeed manage to communicate to the taxi driver and got back to the ship with several whole minutes to spare, discovering on arrival that we had overpaid the fare by 50% or more (and the driver was such a friendly guy - was that a clue?). That night (Saturday night) was our final formal night, with another wonderful dinner, after which we saw another very good show, called "Elements". It was a little corny, and way over the top, but the effects and music were really well done (the set itself scared Zoe a little, but she was so tired she fell asleep and missed the whole thing anyway).

Caroline, sadly, and against all predictions, did not win the "Celebrity Idol" karaoke contest. (The guy who won did a showy version of "O-Wim-O-Weh, The Lion Sleeps Tonight"). However, she did get a Celebrity T-shirt and a suitable for framing certificate... and for three days, people were coming up to her saying she should have won! That helped. She has also had some incredible slot machine sessions and is on the verge of becoming known as a slot machine queen. She's hit a few pretty sizeable jackpots and as of Saturday night she was up a considerable amount. Jeff on the other hand learned about the dangers of single deck blackjack, and just how mindless roulette really is... So thanks to Caroline's skills and ways with the one-armed bandits, we ended up "up" for the trip.

On Sunday, we toured Villefranche, France and also went to Monaco. This area, the French Riviera, is even more beautiful than it looks in the movies. The cliffs and harbors and small capes (such as Cap Ferrat, where Sir Elton John has a house, though we hear he's selling it) are magnificent indeed. It was a misty, overcast morning with wispy gray clouds so low that the tops of the cliffs disappeared into the fog. As our tour bus wound its way higher on the switchback-laden "Upper Corniche Road" to Monaco, we went into the clouds ourselves, and when we would emerge, a new harbor or craggy cliff-face was presented to us. Monaco is stunning, and Monte Carlo is its crown jewel. There really are Rolls Royces, Ferraris and Lambourghinis casually tooling around, and the French-influenced architecture is a very stylish mix of the old and the new. Sorry to sound so ga-ga, but it is truly another world. Thank God it was Sunday, so not very much was open, including the Grand Casino de Monte Carlo (where I just know we would have received a far-too-expensive lesson in the vagaries of probability...) We stopped and had cappuccino and croissants at the Cafe de Paris right across one street from the Grand Casino and across the other street from the Hotel Louis XV.

The tour then went to the Garibaldi family royal palace. Yup, some folks do know how to live. However, it turns out that the Garibaldi's stole the place from the previous owners in the 15th century by disguising themselves as monks, who were then let in by the unsuspecting owners (sort of a Catholic Trojan Horse move); they then proceeded to pull out swords and vanquish the guards from the inside, and won. They have been in power ever since, which makes them the world's longest-lasting dynastic royal family currently in power anywhere. The palace is a complex of buildings, and we saw Princess Caroline's residence, Princess Stephanie's residence, the church where Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier (as well as her tomb in the same church, adorned with flowers), and the changing of the Royal Guard. We had to admit it was actually pretty cool.

That night we packed, and the next morning we "disembarked". It was very sad to leave the Galaxy, but the process was as well-organized and as smooth as every other aspect of Celebrity has been all along. How could anybody not miss that kind of luxury and pampering?

We went to Rome for two days after we left the ship. Here, we were on our own, as most of us had some familiarity with the city. The afternoon we arrived, we took the girls to see the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Victor Emmanuel II Monument and Government Palace, the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. And we walked the entire route (except for the cab ride to and from the Crown Plaza Hotel). We had dinner at a little outdoor cafe near the Coliseum. The next day we saw the Vatican (although because of Vatican policies about shorts and shoulders, Jeff, Caroline and Mike were not permitted entry; Doreen was "approved", as were Zoe, Marina and Brianna, so those four went in. We met them in St. Peter's Square about an hour later; I asked Zoe how it was in the Vatican, and her whole response was "Good". She was interested in when we were going to return to the hotel to use the pool. After lunch at a place called Il Pozzetto on Borgo Pio, we walked to Castel Sant'Angelo, and down into an older part of Rome to the Piazza Navona where Zoe got a henna tattoo of a rose on her right upper arm, of which she's very proud, and we had more gelatto, and then we found the Church of St. Mary Magdelena, and eventually found the Pantheon built by Agrippa in 167 BC and rebuilt by Hadrian about 200 years later. It was a huge day for walking, and we rewarded ourselves with a nice dinner at a place near the hotel, after a little pool time (well, for some of us it was pool time, and for others it was time for a last little bit of shopping... care to guess who did what?)

Our flight back on Air France was very good, with no problems, excellent food and great entertainment (Zoe watched "Shrek 2" at least three times on her seat's individual TV screen). We arrived in Boston about 3:00 pm on Wednesday.

And so, we are home. What a trip. It's going to take some time to sink in. We have a thousand memories, some clearer and some grayer, some which spring readily to mind and others which creep in slowly and take form in feelings and shadows. But although tired, we all feel truly relaxed and "well-vacationed".

It was simply a fantastic time.

That's all,
Jeff, Caroline and Zoe
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