Our week in Rome was wonderful. We walked miles, and saw so many amazing sites that I couldn’t even had dreamed of seeing. One I missed mentioning in my last two blogs was the Victor Emmanuel II Monument. This monument was built to celebrate the unity of Italy. The unified Italy was the 19th-century political and social movement that resulted in the consolidation of different states of the Italian Peninsula into a single state in 1861, the Kingdom of Italy, under the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy. Building started 1885 and ended 1935—fifty years to completion. What is so incredible about the moment is the enormity of it.
Now I don’t feel negligent that I left out a very beautiful and important monument in Rome, but it’s now time to share highlights of our cruise back home to the United States.
When we flew from Phoenix to Rome we flew three hours to Calgary, British Columbia, Canada. Then we boarded a plane for a nine hour flight to Rome. The plane operated by West Jet maximized their seating, so the seats were small and cramped. When we arrived in Rome, we took two days to rest and diminish our jet lag. Coming home on a cruise ship was a whole different story. For several nights, the captain of the ship would tell us to set our clocks back one hour, so our time changes were gradual. Arriving back in the United States was not tiring.
We stopped at several locations on our cruise out of Rome. The first stop was in Toulon, France. We had signed up for a tour of the Pope’s palace in Avignon. The tour bus picked us up at the port, and off we went. How do I describe our tour guide? He was a middle age Frenchman who was slightly portly, and his clothes appeared as unkept. His balding head had slightly long hair that was in desperate need of a good shampoo. The first thing he told us was that he spoke American English, I guess in contrast to British English. After telling us that, it was pretty much the last thing we understood. A lady on the tour told me that her first language is French and her second language is English, and she said she could not understand him. I should have know right then we were in trouble!
I took this photo and I realized the look on this girl’s face clearly showed how everyone on the tour was feeling! This was the worst tour I have ever done!
There are always lovely views on our way to a destination, and France did not disappoint in that matter.
First, they got lost driving to our destination. They didn’t admit to it, but several people noticed that we were going over the same road over and over again before we finally arrived. Not only could we not understand our tour guide’s English, he would start talking about something facing us and then spin to look at whatever it was he was talking about, and then we couldn’t even hear him to figure out what he was saying! What we didn’t realize was that because we got lost, he did not shorten the tour. As our bus was driving back to port, we all realized we would be arriving after the the ship was set to sail. Fortunately, this was one of the ship’s tours so they were required to wait on our return. Speaking with Customer Service the next day, we were told we were late because we were held up due to a major accident on the highway. We informed them that was untrue—traffic moved along well to our destination and back.
So, since I didn’t learn anything from the tour guide (because I couldn’t understand a word he said), I checked this place out on the internet. The papal palace in Avignon was built in 1252, and was inhabited by the pope in 1309 because Pope Clement V did not want to be in Rome and the violence surrounding his election as pope in 1305. (It took him four years to get out of Dodge)! A few popes after him, but not immediately following him, Popes Clement VI, Innocent VI, and Urban V continued building to this structure to become what was known as the new palace. I just had to put that sentence in because I love the name of these three popes!
Although the palace remained under papal control for over 350 years afterward, it gradually deteriorated despite a restoration in 1516. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789 it was already in a bad condition. It became the scene of a massacre of counter-revolutionaries. The palace was subsequently taken over by the Napoleonic French state for use as a military barracks and prison. It was further damaged by the military occupation. The remaining interior woodwork was cleared away for use of the structure as a stables, the frescos were covered over and largely destroyed. The palace was vacated in 1906, when it became a national museum. I’m glad I found this information so I can appreciate what I saw that day!
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
We took a walking tour of the city. It was nice, but nothing memorable. The only memorable part was when our tour guide scolded us like school children when we improperly crossed the road! It was a pretty city, but we could have done this tour on our own.
This is the Beliver Castle. We were not able to go inside, but we could enjoy the views around it.
Our tour bus came back into Palma de Mallorca for a walking tour of this pretty city.
It’s always interesting to find an American establishment in the middle of an old European city.
Our beautiful views at we headed to sea leaving Palma de Mallorca.
Now to my two most favorite places on the cruise–Cartagena, Spain and Ponta Delgado, Azores! This just seems too much to add to this blog, so you will see in the next couple of days. If you thought these photos were great, wait until you see the Azores. I had no idea where this place was located much less how beautiful it is.
I hope you are enjoying traveling with me. The next blog will finish up the trip, and the one after that will answer questions you may have about cruise ships. Maybe not your questions, but the ones I came up with while on the cruise that were not answered on the cruise. Until next time . . . stay tuned!