Saturday, 26 November 2011

MSC Melody Cruise

My Trip 2010 Part 4

Next part of my adventure about to begin - on my way to Genoa to board the MSC Melody for my cruise home to Cape Town South Africa.

My train was to depart at 09:46 from Rome and arrive at 15:00 in Genoa - so got up nice and early, had some breakfast - checked out of my hotel and walk down the road the station. Thank goodness I had asked inquiries the day before regarding as to which train to board, I was pretty confident that everything would be on track.

By 8:30 there was still no announcement as to which platform my train would be leaving from - I had no choice but to sit around and wait - did not mind much as I find people watching very fascinating - I was kept entertained for the next hour until my train departure time and platform was announced.

So off I was on to Genoa - by now quickly found out who were going on the cruise - quite a few people from my home country - so did not feel to alone. Everything was going smoothly - until we stopped at
Lervono station - and that's were we stopped for the next three hours. Thanks to the few Italian students on board that interpreted for us - the varsity students were doing a sit in at Pisa station on the railway line - protesting for some reason or other.

Nothing much we could do but wait it out. By now most of us South Africans had started to talk to each other and before we knew it we were off again. My plans were dashed for my afternoon in Genoa - as I had planned to walk from Brignole station to my hotel. We arrived in Genoa at 7:30pm  - dark, wet and very very cold. Temperature would drop to below zero that night. All I could do was catch a taxi to my hotel. Booked in and went for a walk - like to get to know the lay of the land. I was to meet up with a friend and his travel companion later  - they flew in that evening. On my way back to the hotel bumped into them coming from the station. They booked in and off we went for supper. Caught up on their travel experience from Cape Town over a good dinner and a glass of Italian red. As we had some time in the morning to explore before boarding the MSC Melody we decided to meet for breakfast and do a quick walk around Genoa the following morning.

Awoke the next morning to a very cold and snowy Genoa. As always I was up rather early  - so took a stroll before breakfast down to the harbour. Watched the MSC Melody docking.

She was going to be my home for the next 18 Days - I was looking forward to boarding later.

Genoa is a very busy port for ferries and Cruise ships - there were quite a few of the docked that morning.

Got back in time to the hotel for breakfast and was joined by Dino and Michael. There were quite a few South Africans staying at the hotel. A few of them we would meet again on board. Once we had finished our meal we were off on our quick tour of Genoa. As we had to board by 1pm we did not have much time.

The streets of Genoa are really narrow - no space for cars at all. Genoa is also the birth place of Christopher Colombus. In front of the main train station there is a monument in his honour.

In the background on the left is our hotel.

After a quick stroll through Genoa it was back to our hotel to check out and collect our luggage.

Yep a Primi Piatti.

Thank goodness our our hotel was not far from the harbour - so not that bad lugging the luggage.

Boarding the MSC Melody was quick and painless - very efficient. Once on board and settled did a quick tour of the MSC Melody and had lunch.

Departed Genoa at 4pm - it was such a pity that there was not enough time to explore more of Genoa, as they have the largest aquarium in Europe & so much more - will be going back.

As we left that harbour you get a good view of how Genoa is built - from the harbour and up against the mountain in the background - and the buildings all on top of each other. We passed many cruise ships and ferries on our way out.

We had hardly left port when we had to get to our mustering stations for our life boat drill. You have to be prepared in case of an emergency. I had no idea what to expect over the next 18 days - but decided to take one day at a time. I was looking forward to our stops at Barcelona (Spain), Cadiz (Spain). Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands), Mindelo (Cape Verde), Walvis Bay (Namibia) and then Cape Town over the coming days.

That all coming up soon.

Some of the pics above courtesy of my good friend Dino.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

MSC Melody Cruise

My Trip 2010 Part 3

29 November 2010

As I had decided to do the Hop on Hop off bus tour for the day - started out pretty early. Found a most delightful kiosk at Termini Station with the most awesome pastries and coffee. My main goal was to get to the Vatican. So caught the bus and off I went.

The route would take me past many of the places I had seen the day before - taking pics from a moving bus - a bit awkward. But got the hang of it. It was a perfect morning blue skies with a bit of cloud, but rain forecast for later in the afternoon.

Took some good pics of the Colosseo bathed in the first rays of the morning sunshine.
Its amazing how different it looked compared to the day before. Everything looked so clean and fresh in the sunlight.

Passed on and could not wait to get to the Vatican - would later retrace my steps to Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele 2 later in the day.

St Peter's Basilica  - what an amazing sight. Words cannot describe it - so I just took one pic after another. Piazza San Pietro is breathtaking too - my idea was not compete with all the tourists going to the museums, but to enjoy openness and the architecture of the buildings that surrounded me.

If this was the outside of the Basilica what was I expecting to see inside. Here are the pics you decide - I was speechless.

There is just so much to see - it boggles the brain somewhat.

Well took most of the morning walking around & around & around. I pretty exhausted but you just cant stop - I reckon if I went back I would probably find a whole lot of pic opportunities that I missed.

 This pic above is the famous Pieta - Mary holding her son Jesus's body.

What an amazing experience. On my way out had to take a pic of the famous Swiss Guards.

From the Vatican I walked down the Via della Conciliazione and came to the Castel Sant Angelo - For hundreds of years this fortress guarded the Vatican.

It is situated on the banks of the Fiume Tevere.

Had a break for a quick snack (purchased from my friendly vendor around the corner from my hotel) and hopped back on the bus. Now to find what the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps. Which I did with no going backwards and forwards as I did the day before. The Fontana di Trevi is the most beautiful piece of art I had ever seen. Amazing.

They say if you throw a coin into the fountain you will return to Rome - not being the superstitious person that I am - I did not throw that coin - I wonder. Sometimes pictures cannot capture the sounds and ambiance of what you see - all I can say is was an experience of a life time and was enjoying every minute of it  - even though I was on my own. A little way further down Via del Corso and a turn to my left down Via Condotti and there was the Spanish steps.

I am not sure what I was expecting - but I was pretty disappointed  - what was this about - to be honest did not tickle my fancy at all - did not hang around to long - found it pretty boring - compared to what I had just seen earlier in the day - so off I went again. On almost every street corner I found Chestnuts being roasted on open braziers - not one to shy away from trying something new - bought a few - I want some more.

Headed back towards the Emanuel 2 monument to get my bus. I still needed to found out about my train to Genoa the following morning and did not want leave it too late - like to get all my ducks in a row so to speak.

I had no idea that there would be so much to see in Rome - two and half days were just not enough time - I have to go back one day. Next to the Emanuel monument is church with a very unassuming facade  - but one you go inside - well here are the pics.

The view from up there is awesome.

Inside the church.

Next door to the Ara Coeli is the Campidoglio - as I said earlier there is just so much to see.

Adjacent to all this are the ancient ruins of Rome.

So after a wonderful day experiencing Rome it was back on the bus and back to my hotel. Had to be up early to to get my train to Genoa - thank goodness I made inquiries regarding my train trip as I would probably still be sitting at Termini waiting for my train - as my destination was Brignole train station I had to get the train via Liverno.

Well that's my next adventure - Part 4 coming soon