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Ireallyneedavacation

My VERY late review of our Eastern Mediterranean cruise onboard the Navigator!

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So very happy to have found this review :). Just booked NOS for 5/5 so am really looking forward to your every post!

 

Now, just so you'll know....I'm a southern girl too and my next door neighbor is from Alabama and is an Auburn fan. So I give her a "War Eagle" every so often and she gives me a "Go Gators" and she's the best neighbor ever...but that Roll Tide thing just doesn't work for either one of us :).

Take care and thanks for entertaining us!

 

Go Gators! My bestfriend went to UF, and I moved to Florida, so I can't help but cheer for Florida...they are my 2nd favorite team!

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After we finished our tour of the Galileo Science Museum, we lost our sanity and decided we were going to climb the 414 steps up to the top of Giotto's Bell Tower....about 375 too many! The passageways and the steps are very narrow, and there are not many places to stop and rest without holding up those behind you. It definitely tests your stamina. This pretty much says it all....poor Corrie!

 

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The climb is very hard, but you have to do it, because the views are breathtaking!

 

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Edited by Ireallyneedavacation

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Ireallyneedavacation,

 

We are taking a tour of Venice, Florence and Rome the week before the cruise. I've been to the cities before but my wife hasn't. We really like your review and pictures.

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After climbing Giotto's Bell Tower, we decided to head back to the hotel, because we were supposed to do a bike tour of Florence with Tuscany Bike Tours that evening. It looked like it was going to start raining, and we wanted to get prepared. Nothing could prepare us for what was instore!

 

We got our trusty Florence street map out and really had no problem finding the meeting spot. However, on the way, it started raining, and it was getting cold, really cold....remember, I don't do cold weather well! When we got to the meeting spot we were the first ones there. We are not the best bicyclist, so when the guide mentioned possibly doing a walking tour, instead of a bike tour, we were all in!....if only those girls from N.Y. hadn't shown up! It was a group of 4, and they were determined that we were going to bike it. So, that's what we were going to do. We got our bikes and helmets adjusted, but they could not find a bike to fit one of the N.Y. girls, (NYG from now on) because she was very short. When she would try to sit on the seat, only the very tips of her toes would touch the ground....but this is what she ended up with. All but this NYG took the lead. She was in the back of the pack with me, and we were trying to keep up, with little success. When, all of a sudden we hear #?*%, and I do believe out of the corner of my eye I see a car mirror go flying. She had run into a car! When the tour guide heard her, he turned his head around (notice I didn't say stopped) and asked if everyone was okay. Her response, "Everything's fine"!.....maybe for you but not the poor guy who is missing his car mirror! And we kept going. Now, I wasn't 100% sure of what I saw, and I was having so much trouble on my on, that I didn't say anything. I am sure I will reap this eventually! Anyway, the rain was getting harder and the temp was falling. It had to be at about 50 degrees. When I booked the tour, I didn't think that we would be riding down sidewalks, but we were. Several times I chose to graze cement walls instead of taking out the pedestrians with huge umbrellas. I was MISERABLE. I was also starting to shake uncontrollably. This is just what I do when I get too cold. I don't even remember what we saw other than what we have in pictures (oh, and the cement walls). He finally allowed us to stop and get out of the rain for awhile. It didn't help much. At the end of the tour, we were supposed to stop for a drink or gelato. Everyone was so cold, we opted for a drink. He took us to a little hole in the wall place, and we were taken upstairs where no other customers were. He, on the other hand, stayed downstairs so he could "watch the bikes". Well, we sat there and sat there alone for about 20 minutes before anyone came up to acknowledge us. When we finished, we were not even sure what we were supposed to do, because we were still there alone. We finally just walked downstairs to find our tour guide feasting on wonderful food and drinks! I could not believe it! When we got back to the starting point, the other guys that worked there asked if we had a good time, and Katie and Corrie were mortified when I told them the truth and said it was miserable, and that I didn't enjoy myself! After all was said and done, we did laugh and laugh about the girl hitting the car, and about being left upstairs to our on demise. You can almost always find some kind of joy in any situation!

Edited by Ireallyneedavacation

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Once we got done with our bike tour, all we wanted to do was get back to the hotel, get dry and find food. When we got there, Luigi, an older gentleman that was at the front desk buzzed us in, and even being soaking wet, he proceeded to tell us how great we looked! Later that evening, he gave us directions and the name of a wonderful restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. He wrote the name of the restaurant down on our map, but this map, through all our travels, ended up with Katie or Corrie. I have searched and searched for it, but I cannot find it. I would so like to tell everyone the name! You all will now just have to stay at the Torre' Guelfa and ask Luigi what restaurant he recommends! All of the staff at this restaurant were so nice and attentive. The food was also great and not very expensive, and the tiramisu was to die for!! With our bellys now full, we went back to the hotel to call it a night. Tomorrow was another big day!

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Tuesday, May 22nd

 

What else would we do the first thing in the morning but climb the 463 steps to the top of the dome of the Duomo?? What happened to that elevator we so loved in Venice??? Once again the steps and the passageway were very narrow. Apparently, they had very small feet and didn't eat as much as me back in the day!

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On the way to the top....

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Inside the dome...

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We made it to the top!

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I am sorry this is taking so long to type up. I get a section almost done and photobucket freezes up, then blacks out, with only an exclamation point. I then swap back over to CC, and it blacks out. I lost everything twice tonight! I ran a full system scan on my computer last night but nothing big came up. If anyone knows what or if I am doing wrong, please let me know!

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I'm so glad you're doing this review! We're on this itinerary in June and will also be visiting Venice and Florence. I love your adventures and your way of sharing them!

 

Just a couple of questions so far, which train did you take from Venice to Florence? I'm trying to get in as early as we can, and while the June schedules aren't up yet, the ones that are don't have any from the S Lucia station directly to Florence, without a train change. Did you take the water text directly to the Mestre station?

 

And what did you think of the Galileo Museum? We only have one full day in Florence. I think my son would like it (he's 13 and into science type things). But with one afternoon, I'm not sure if that's our best option. How long did you spend there. Did you do a self tour or have a guide?

 

The bike tour sounds awful!!!! We're planning on a pizza and gelato making "tour" for our evening in Florence...I hope we have a better experience!

 

Thanks!

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I'm so glad you're doing this review! We're on this itinerary in June and will also be visiting Venice and Florence. I love your adventures and your way of sharing them!

 

Just a couple of questions so far, which train did you take from Venice to Florence? I'm trying to get in as early as we can, and while the June schedules aren't up yet, the ones that are don't have any from the S Lucia station directly to Florence, without a train change. Did you take the water text directly to the Mestre station?

 

And what did you think of the Galileo Museum? We only have one full day in Florence. I think my son would like it (he's 13 and into science type things). But with one afternoon, I'm not sure if that's our best option. How long did you spend there. Did you do a self tour or have a guide?

 

The bike tour sounds awful!!!! We're planning on a pizza and gelato making "tour" for our evening in Florence...I hope we have a better experience!

 

Thanks!

 

Oh, you haven't heard the half of our bike tour horrors! Wait until our Rome bike tour down the Appian Way the day before we were to come home! We have made a pact never to do another!

 

We traveled Trenitalia and had no trouble getting trains with no connections. These trains travel all through Europe. Are you looking at just local trains? If you go to raileurope.com, this site is pretty easy to use to get information. I did book our tickets through Trenitalia, however.

 

We did take the water taxi directly to the Mestre. We took more taxis than some would and stayed closer to the "action" because I wanted to make it as easy on us as possible. Plus, we were 3 women, alone in unfamiliar territory. This might have cost us a little more, but it did give us self assurance and piece of mind. I think it was well worth it.

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I'm so glad you're doing this review! We're on this itinerary in June and will also be visiting Venice and Florence. I love your adventures and your way of sharing them!

 

Just a couple of questions so far, which train did you take from Venice to Florence? I'm trying to get in as early as we can, and while the June schedules aren't up yet, the ones that are don't have any from the S Lucia station directly to Florence, without a train change. Did you take the water text directly to the Mestre station?

 

And what did you think of the Galileo Museum? We only have one full day in Florence. I think my son would like it (he's 13 and into science type things). But with one afternoon, I'm not sure if that's our best option. How long did you spend there. Did you do a self tour or have a guide?

 

The bike tour sounds awful!!!! We're planning on a pizza and gelato making "tour" for our evening in Florence...I hope we have a better experience!

 

Thanks!

 

I forgot your question about the Galileo Science Museum. I put this on our "to do" list only because I thougt my sister would enjoy it. It was very interesting but if it were me, and I only had a few hours, I would skip it. There are just so many other things to do. We just bought a ticket and strolled. They have little signs with explanations as to what you are looking at. We only stayed a little over an hour. It isn't huge. There is a lot of stuff in there, though. If you read every plate, you would be there for hours and hours.

 

 

Oh, and I think your pizza and gelato tour sounds awesome! It has to be better than our bike tour! We found the best gelato in all of our travels in Florence. I wish I had written the name down!

 

If you come up with any other questions, let me know!

Edited by Ireallyneedavacation

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Up next a little shopping before making our reservation at the Accademia to see the Statue of David. Okay, if you don't read anything else, read this! You must prepurchase your tickets to get into the Accademia. If you don't, you will be waiting in line for hours. There are two lines, one for those who have tickets and one for those that don't. We were so glad we were in the short line! Some vendors are very smart and park there carts right beside the lines. This is where I found the most beautiful Florence Christmas ornament. I love it! They also had a rack of calendars of all types, including the Priest of the month and even one where they highlighted penises from different statues. Now, we were very curious to pick up the penis calendar and take a look at it but didn't want to seem like pervs. We thought we were whispering when all of a sudden the man in front of us gets it off the rack, looked at us and said, "I think we all are a little curious"! He then handed it to us. Now, shocked, I am stuck holding a penis calendar.....I wish I had taken a picture of it, but I would have seemed like a cheap perv then. Who would buy this calendar?? BTW, the Priests in the calendar were very calendar worthy!

 

Finally, we make it inside the Accademia, and like everyone else, we headed to David. You have no idea how huge and beautiful it is until you see it. It is amazing. There is a bench that goes along the wall around the back of it, so you can just sit and gaze, and we did! We were trying to soak it all in and have a mental image of it, since no pictures are allowed.

 

Now that we checked The David off our list, being on a tight schedule to get everything in we wanted to do, we skipped the rest of the museum. I know. That is horrible! It was around lunch, and we wanted something quick, so we visited the most American establishment on the face of the Earth....McDonald's. I joke that the only time I go to McDonald's is when I am in a foreign country. BTW, this was the last time I went to McDonald's. It is kind of true!

 

Pictures from the morning...

 

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After we had our lunch and used the free restrooms (if you find a free restroom in Europe, use it, whether you need to or not), we were on our way to Piazzale Michelangelo....by foot! We really didn't know how far it was until we started heading that way....

 

See the hill with the church on it, that was where we were going!

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View from the bridge, looking down the Arno to the Ponte Vecchio...

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Poor Corrie...

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We walked back down from Piazzale Michelangelo. Our next stop, Basilica si Santa Croce, the burial place for Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.

 

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Edited by Ireallyneedavacation

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What's left for the day? The Uffizi Gallery, of course! We prepurchased our tickets for the Uffizi Gallery as well. It was a little confusing as to where we were supposed to check in. You had to go across the street and trade in your voucher for an actual ticket, then go back across the street and stand in line to get in. There were a few portraits that we definitely wanted to see, but Corrie was getting very tired. She made friends with every bench in the museum! Katie and I basically made a dash through the Uffizi, because, to be honest, we all were getting tired. We stayed maybe an hour. This is one time that I wish we could have lingered a little longer. Sorry, but no pictures allowed in the Uffizi. After our dash through the museum, we made what had come to be our customary stop for gelato and headed back to our room. After a little rest, we went out to walk around and get dinner.

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You know us well enough now, I might as well tell you. I wanted a shirt from the Hard Rock, so we just ate there. Sad, again, I know! It was really good, though, and it was nice to just get to sit there and relax without having to be anywhere. After dinner, we went back to the hotel, because tomorrow was another big day, our day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa with a Tuscan lunch at a Chianti winery!

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