After squeezing in as much of Rome as we could in our short time we are now headed to the port to board the Azamara Pursuit. The port for Rome is in Civiavecchia which is about an hour away. If you take a Mediterranean cruise that doesn't start in Rome but says it stops in Rome this is the port you will be in so keep that in mind when planning your day. Since we are on a smaller ship we will be visiting some ports that the big ships won't do on a typical Mediterranean cruise. I love the idea of visiting the smaller less busy ports, especially after spending a couple days in crowded and busy Rome.
Last night Daylight Savings ending here in Europe, which is a week earlier than back home in the US so now I am 5 hours ahead instead of 6. It also means that now sunset is around 5 pm which is a bit of a bummer. When we got up this morning it was rainy and windy. We realized we were lucky that we had such nice weather for our 3 days of walking around. On the ride to the port the weather seemed to get a little worse with the winds picking up along with some thunder. When we arrived at the port it was easy to see that that seas were very rough as the waves were crashing over the seawalls around the port. The boarding process was quick and easy, another plus of sailing on a smaller ship. We explored the ship, which has only been sailing for about 3 months since coming out of drydock so it still had that just like new smell. I really love everything about this ship. She isn't too big but not too small either. She seems brand new with a modern sleek style. There were a few other ships in port with us. The MSC Meraviglia was right in front of us and she is a mega ship so you really got a feel for how small the Pursuit is in comparison.
The weather was still pretty rough when we went to the muster drill and luckily since this is a smaller ship the muster locations are inside in either the theater or dining room. I have been on many cruises where weather has caused adjustments to our itinerary but this was a first to find out that our ship would not be leaving port today due to the weather. That obviously meant we were going to miss our first port of Olbia, Sardinia. It is always disappointing to miss a port but that is something you do always have to be prepared for when cruising. Since this cruise only had 1 sea day originally and it wasn't until the end of the cruise I am OK with a rest day to recover from all the exploring we did in Rome. It will be nice to sleep in and just enjoy the ship. The Captain said the plan is to leave port at 9 pm tomorrow so that is a long time to wait out the storm. For anyone that didn't arrive early for the cruise they might be happy to have a whole day to go visit Rome. I am thinking if the weather isn't too bad maybe we will get off the ship and wander around the port area which is in a city dating back to the 2nd century.
WOW! Like the saying Rome wasn't built in a day, the same goes for seeing Rome - you cannot see it in a day or even 2. There is just so much to see in Rome and we are trying to squeeze it all into 2 and half days while battling a little jet-lag! If you are like us and haven't been to Rome before and are taking a cruise out of Rome you really do need a couple days to even scratch the surface. If your cruise is round trip it might be easier to do Rome after the cruise but either way I think you need at least 3 days to just get a sampling of Rome.
As I said yesterday, I chose a hotel based on location that was close to things I knew we wanted to see and we really have walked to everywhere we have been in these 2 days. Yesterday our step meter said we did 13 miles! Our hotel's location allows us to walk to the Trevi fountain in about 2 minutes which is nice since that place is always crowded. We found this morning when leaving for an early tour we passed the fountain at 8 am and that was the least crowded it we have seen it. Our front desk said the best time to go is 3 am - which would be possible being this close but don't think we really need to do that unless we cannot sleep tonight for some reason. We have also easily walked to the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Navona. All of these you can just walk around for free no tour needed. Slightly longer walks but still easy to handle were the Colosseum and Vatican City. I did pre-book us a tour for the Colosseum with Project Expedition and I am so glad I did. Even though this is considered slightly off-season for tourists things have still been very crowded. Our tour not only allowed us to skip the lines but it also got us into places you cannot go on your own. It was very cool to go underground and also up to the very top level of the Colosseum. The tour also included the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Having a guide over there was really great since there was so much to see and learn about.
We weren't really sure how we would be feeling so I didn't want to pre-book too much and I am glad I didn't since we really couldn't have been up early the first day after an overnight flight. We decided for the Vatican we would just explore the outside for this visit. By the time we got over there the crowds were already large so I wouldn't recommend doing that without a tour that lets you skip the lines.
We also walked around the river and other things like Circo Massimo, Castel Sant Angelo, and Largo di Torre Argentina (this is where Julius Caesar was killed). There are also lots of shops, churches, monuments, and piazzas we wandered around. You can see how easy it was to do 13 miles in a day!
Food in Italy is pretty much as you would expect lots of pasta, pizza, and gelato pretty much every where you turn! There are just so many restaurants it can be hard to choose. I asked our hotel for a suggestion and they gave a great one. I also checked google reviews to get an idea. As you walk down the street many of the restaurants will try to pull you in. That wasn't as bad as some of the other people in the streets trying to get you to buy things. As with most tourist areas you will find the street art like the different performers and artists which can be fun. Then you have the "pop up" shops and guys walking around selling things which is fine to me as long as they are not pestering you to buy. Apparently selfie sticks are the biggest thing for these guys in the streets to sell as they were pretty much at every major attraction trying to get you to buy one. One thing I can stay about them is that a simple no thanks and they left you alone. The one thing I really didn't like were the African men that seemed to line the street around the fountain and they would pretend to want to shake your hand but really slip a bracelet on and then expect you to buy it. They were very aggressive and very annoying. It made me not want to walk that street and I am sure I wasn't alone on that. We went into the wonderful gelato shop right next to our hotel and the owner even said something about them and how he isn't happy about them being out there. The funny thing is we were going to walk down towards the fountain to get gelato but then decided we didn't want to deal with those guys so just went next door. It worked out since we realized that shop was great and very convenient for us. We have had a great time in Rome and definitely would come back again. Tomorrow morning we head for the ship. The port is about an hour away so you really do need to plan for transportation over there. There won't be much rest for my feet as the cruise is 9 nights and out of 10 days only 1 sea day! Most Mediterranean cruises are like that since there are just so many great places to see in a short distance. On one hand it is great to pack so much into one trip but on the other hand can be exhausting as well. I highly recommend planning at least a day or 2 after a Mediterranean cruise to relax and recover (kind of like a Disney World visit).
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