Tag Archives: civitivecchia

Med Cruise II: A Taste of Tuscany

This day probably ended up being the most laid-back yet enjoyable leg of the entire cruise, as our excursion was just half a day and we then got the ship to ourselves for the whole afternoon and it was ecstatically gorgeous weather.

May 20, 2013 – Visiting Tuscania, an Olive Oil Factory, and a Sunny Afternoon on Equinox

And now it’s time to talk about Today, Monday, May 20, in Civitivecchia! As I mentioned, we didn’t do a Rome excursion, as it would just be too exhausting and we already had a pretty definitive experience there less than 2 years ago. So we picked an excursion that sounded nice and ended up being fantastic: An olive oil tasting on a farm mixed in with scenic driving through the countryside. It met all expectations.

Driving through Tuscan Countryside

We drove through a few medieval towns that were filled with charm and cool towers, such as Taquina (?) and then actually stopped and walked around the town of Tuscania, which only shares a name with the region known as Tuscany. It was a jaw-droppingly medieval town with gorgeous views everywhere. Also had a cheap (1 Euro) cappucino there in the town square.

Exploring the Town of Tuscania

After that we drove through more luxurious countryside while also getting to know some great people, Harriet and Doug. They were the first couple that was truly a blast to interact with, as most have been friendly but just not very energetic. Yay! We finally met an “Amy” I think. We actually saw them the night of the Monaco day as during that evening, we played craps (both Larry & I rolled – Larry did better than I did) and both of them had played a bit. I remembered her by her distinctive short hairstyle. Anyway, she’s a freakin’ riot, as is he. An older couple, but total NYers. Love them. Hope to see them again this evening or at least again a few times during the cruise.

Back to today’s excursion, we then got to the olive oil farm, and the handsome Italian owner, Flavio, first fed us some prusciuttto and bread along with various of his olive oils, and it was fantastic. There was also an adorable but big dog there that couldn’t have been friendlier. So cool. We got to see the operation a bit as well as do some souvenir shopping, and I got a very small tin of extra virgin oil. The drive back was very pleasant although I’m pretty sure I passed out. The countryside is unreal. Lots of pictures.

Olive Oil Factory

Anyway, the best part of today is that we were done by 12. We actually had the whole rest of the day to just relax and enjoy the ship, and it was fantastic as most of the passengers went on Rome-based excursions and they weren’t coming back till 5. Actually, as I type this on my balcony, I’ve been listening to the many tour busses coming back. That meant we had open access to everything. And it was gloriously sunny so we took advantage of that, first going to the lawn club for a few drinks before heading back to the Pool area, getting a snack to hold us over until our dinner reservation at 8:30pm at the Tuscan Grill. We then went to the Pool Bar where a very attractive Turk named Musa was holding bar, and he was a great bartender and very easy to talk to. I think we spent a few hours there just talking to him and enjoying the scenery there (him) as really, all the young people had left for the tours and not much was there to look at. He even admitted that. Got quite toasty there and met a few people at the bar, including a hilarious drunk British lady. Good times! Larry & I then enjoyed the hot tub as it was perfect weather and no one was around to fight for it. Then it was shower time and after a soft drink back at the Sunset Deck, we are back at the room, with me typing this novel while Larry passes out and recharges. I should do that, but oh well.

A Leisurely Afternoon on the Equinox

After that luxurious afternoon, we then ended up making reservations at the Tuscan Grille for dinner. Delicious and plentiful Italian food was pushed on us by our very courteous and friendly waitress, and I think it was good that we loaded up on food, as while we drank plenty of wine, we then decided to continue the fun, ending up back at the Martini Bar. While there, got to know the bartenders a bit and also ended up meeting Melissa, who had sat next to us with her empty bottle of alcohol that also happened to have a dead scorpion in it. I thought she was a prostitute at first, but after starting to talk with her realized that I was not correct. But she was a riot and had lots of interesting stories. Finally poured ourselves home as we still had another day ahead of us with excursions when visiting our next destination….

Nighttime Fun

2013 Mediterranean Adventure Pics

Day 1 on Equinox / Leaving Civitivecchia (2011 Trip)

Leaving Civitivecchia – Aug 29, 2011

Arrivederci, Roma!

After a fantastic few days in beautiful Rome, we wrapped up our Roman Holiday there in order to begin the true vacation on the Celebrity Equinox!  First things first, we had to get re-packed and ready for a bit of a hustle, as instead of doing the sane thing and calling a cab to take us to the harbor city of Civitivecchia, which happens to be about 45 minutes or so away by road from Rome, I thought an adventure by train was in order.   I had read plenty online about how to do it and frankly, it was cheaper, and quite easy.  But that “easy” part?  That’s if you’re traveling light.  We were far from traveling light, as not only had we packed for both a 3-day Roman vacation, but also an 11-night cruise, including formalwear.  So yeah, lots of bags.

After checking out of the great Best Western Hotel Royal Santina, it was time to schlep ourselves over to the nearby Roma Termini.  Frankly, the easiest part about this was that our hotel was very near to the train station.  But that was it.  Because once we figured out the right tickets to buy, we had not a  clue which track was the right one.  None of the ones we were near were right.  Only after getting a bit of help at the info booth did we discover that the train track we needed was pretty much as far away as you could get from where we were.  So more schlepping of luggage.  We managed to get there with plenty of time and actually had a nice comfortable place to sit and put our luggage, which was a relief.  We were able to spend that time cooling down and drinking water, as I knew that our death marches weren’t over for the day yet.

The train ride from Rome to Civitivecchia is gorgeous.  After getting an interesting view of Rome from the tracks, you then ride through beautiful farmland and countryside until finally you end up on a traintrack along the Italian coast.  Ah-MAH-zing.  All the nonsense was worth it at that point, even if we were drenched in sweat.  This train wasn’t ending in Civitivecchia though and you had to be paying attention to the stops, as you could easily end up missing it.  Of course, we didn’t, as I am an amazing navigator.  We got off the train fairly easily, but then you’re now at a train station in the town of Civitivecchia but the cruise port is still a mile away.  Ugh.  And as I read about on the internet, there really isn’t a taxi scene there.  So you walk.  And walk we did.  Did I mention it was effing humid and hot at this point too?  I didn’t?  It was effing humid and hot.  Larry & I continued the schlep of our luggage along the coast, walking along the beautiful coast and the quaint little shops and restaurants, surely disturbing or amusing the patrons.  Whatevs.   I knew where we were going, at least I hoped I did.

Train Ride to the Coast

Fortunately, I did know where I was going and we made it to the Castel Columbus (or something), where the massive cruise port is.  At this point, things get a bit easier for you, as you just have to wait for the frequent shuttle buses for your particular cruise line (Celebrity, for us), load up your luggage, and then get driven to the embarkation area.  There was a bit of confusion by most of the people waiting at the shuttle bus station though, as it seemed they were all first-timers too.  Two buses came by that weren’t for us but finally a big Celebrity bus came and my sense of relief started to finally come.  It was even air-conditioned.  Praise the gods!

The embarkation terminal was a relief as well, as we could finally drop off our fucking luggage to a porter.  At that point, we just had our carry-on bag with our IDs and such and it was time to check-in for the cruise.  This took a bit of time but who cared at that point, as the ginormous Equinox was right there awaiting us, as were the many drinks we were about to consume!  The staff ends up taking possession of your passport, with your Celebrity SeaPass effectively becoming your ticket in and out of each of the countries.  It’s also your drink card.  That fucking card is magic.  After completing check-in, we boarded the Equinox and truly, finally, the next phase of our vacation was at hand….we were on a muthafuckin’ SHIP!   Upon arrival, you’re even handed a glass of champagne.  FINALLY.

Arrival at the Cruise Terminal at Civitivecchia

A steward then grabs you and takes you to your room – we ended up on the 11th floor (yes, 11th – there are actually 16 stories to this bad boy, I believe) on the Penthouse Deck in room 1649, which was situated on the port (left) side of the ship near the back.  We booked Concierge Class which means you pay for a bit more pampering as well as nicer rooms.  Our room was amazing.  The balcony….oh, the balcony.  It’s so wonderful to sit on a balcony while looking out over the water.  It was spacious too, so you could recline a bit while sipping on a drink.  Another perk of Concierge Class when leaving is a chilled bottle of champagne waiting in your room – yeah, we finished that bad boy up.  🙂  After finally stopping the geek-out of how cool our room was, Larry & I both called our families to let them know we were onboard and ready to sail.  We then started our initial exploration of the ship, ending up first on the pool deck area and grabbing some food at the grill as we were STARVING.  The drinking began in earnest at that point too.  We had a Classic Drinks Package, meaning we could drink as much as we wanted but certain higher-level brands of alcohol were off limits.  It didn’t really impact us that much for the cruise, honestly.  I think though (speaking in 2012 and about to go another cruise in May 2013), we’re ready to go to Premium level. It’s such a nice thing to not worry about another bill at the end and having to worry about it.  Plus, if you love alcohol?  Yay!

Exploring the Equinox

There was a very cool party atmosphere around the pool area as the Equinox began to actually leave the port, and by that point, I was in heaven.  It really was such a great start to the vacation, especially after the hectic activities getting there.  Totally worth it all, and as you will see in the other pages to follow, lots of exciting destinations and experiences awaited us!

2011 Mediterranean Trip Pics Index

Capri, Sorrento & Pompeii + Return to Rome (2011 Trip)

I was appalled to discover that I had stopped posting pictures from my Mediterranean Cruise.  WTF?  I left everyone hanging with my pictures at Mykonos.  How do you know I even got home?  What if I’ve been writing from some Greek island this entire time?  All my stories are just that….STORIES!?!  Anyway, the new way I can display galleries of pictures makes it really easy to post things, so I’ll do that here.  And since I know very few people actually check my site out anymore, consider this post like a DVD’s special features.  🙂

As for the pictures shown here, this was basically the last port we went to before returning to Rome/Civitivecchia.  After Mykonos, we had a day at sea, and the sea was rough.  It was a nice break in the action and I even signed up to get a massage to see if that would help ease the pain in my lower back, ass and leg.  Obviously, I learned later that massage wasn’t going to cut it as it was a sciatic problem, not a muscle problem.  But the massage itself was pretty nice.  Here are pics from that Day at Sea after Mykonos:

Day at Sea, Sept 7, 2011

September 8, 2011 – Our Last Port of Call

So the next day was a doozie.  We knew from when we booked the excursions before the cruise that this day was a long one, as the excursion was high intensity and lasted 10 hours.  OY.  It started early as we disembarked in Salerno and immediately boarded a huge ferry bound for the Isle of Capri.  Not the casino in Biloxi, but the actual place in Italy!  It’s a gorgeous, GORGEOUS island and the weather was wonderful for such a visit.  Unfortunately, it’s MOBBED with tourists.  And in Capri, you arrive at the port but the truly scenic stuff is up on the top of the island, and you basically have to take a funicular.  It’s a bottleneck, to put it nicely.  It’s a fucking nightmare, to put it bluntly.  I’m still in pain and now I’m a little tired (as vacationing can be tiring) but waiting in long, barely-moving lines is a quick way to Rage Town for me.  Anyway, we finally get up there and our tour is pretty awesome.  It helps when the place is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.  You can see in the pictures below, especially when you see the crystal blue-green waters.  Wonderful.

The Isle of Capri

After some time up top gawking at the scenery (natural and masculine) as well as getting some gelato, it was time to head back.  That line was just as fun as the one up.  Then at the bottom, after waiting so our tour group could re-group, it was time to wait in another long line for another ferry off the island.  Waiting in that line created an annex to Rage Town.  Regardless, we got off the island eventually and about 45 minutes later, the ferry got us to the coastal town of Sorrento.  Amazing place.  Fantastic food.  Lots of touristy beautiful alleys through charming buildings, much like in Trastevere in Rome.  After food there was time to browse and shop.  Yay for shopping.

Our First Time in Sorrento

The final stop after this was Pompeii, the famous city that got pummeled by Mt Vesuvius 2000 years ago.  We boarded a coachbus that drove us along the beautiful coastline to Naples/Pompeii.  This was a nice drive.  Pompeii is also great, but I was pretty much exhausted by this point.  I regrettably became irritable.  Sorry, Larry. The most I can say is Pompeii is awesome, but to do an hour-long tour does not do that site justice.  It would be worth it to go back, I believe.  After that visit (and I know I’m doing it a disservice here, as I’m not writing much, but we didn’t get to really experience it that much and it was massively crowded.  It is a phenomenal site though), it was an hour and a half drive back to the ship, which I was soooo happy to see.

The Ruins of Pompeii

We had one last dinner there and a final night to hang out with our ship-pal Amy at the “karaoke” night which only 10 people showed up to,  it seemed.

Last Night at Sea

September 9, 2011 – Back to Civitavecchia and the End of the Cruise

Everyone was most likely packing and resting, as of course, the next day was disembarkation and the cruise line basically tells you, “get the fuck off our ship.”  It’s slightly politer than that, but I can’t say it was much more than that.  Your bags are taken off the ship over night and you can find them in a big hangar once you leave.  My sciatic pain was really bothering me at this point too, and while I had initially intended to reverse our route and take the trains back to Rome, I said “fuck it” and paid for a taxi.  We ended up sharing a van taxi with three older Australian women who had just finished a 27-day cruise.  27 days!!!!  That was most definitely the smartest use of money at that point, although we ended up getting to the airport like 5 hours early, so our flight wasn’t even on the boards yet.  Eventually, we got back…..but that was a long ass day of traveling home.  OY.

Enough of that recap – here are some pics.  Plus I also realized that while I posted on Facebook and have all these pics on Picasa, I actually never posted or wrote about all the time before Day 2 of Istanbul either….such as our three days in Rome before the cruise and the ports before Istanbul, including Santorini, Athens and Day 1 in Istanbul.  For shame!

2011 Mediterranean Trip Pics Index