Our ship arrived at daybreak into Oblia, the main port in Sardinia. This is our first time here and discovered it is smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and just 20 miles from Corsica. We traveled across the island to a smaller island of Maddalena. Its a picture perfect beach town and only accessible by ferry from Sardinia. He solid granite outcroppings as well as the harsh winds and weather in Winter create a slightly barren yet scuptural look. Hard to discribe but the tops of the mountains all have been shapped into odd, twisted statues of granite. They name them the Bear, the lady…its like looking at clouds and seeing things…but its all granite. The base for the statue of liberty came from Sadinian granite quarries. This is now just a beautiful vacation spot for thousands in the summer…and the rest of the year when the summer people leave…communities drop from thousands to hundreds…but the locals the are busy making pecorrinno cheese and growing olives.
This ship, which has amazing food as Jacques Pepin is the creative genius, has only Culinary School on the Sea. Yesterday after walking around Sardinia, we spent 2 1/2 hours (!) learning how to make fresh pasta and all things Italian. So much fun. The evening was capped with dinner at Red Ginger. A couple sitting at table besideus started up a conversation. They had been on their first back2back cruise on this trip. They live in New York City, he flies a his own plane, have a home in the Hamptons…5 grandchildren…and…wait for it….on the cruise to celebrate 60 th wedding anniversay!!!!! They were married 3 weeks BEFORE i was born!!!!!!!!!
Its impossible to do either of these cities in a day…but we attempted both. We met a group on Cruise Critic and signed up with them for a private tour in a van. It was great fun as we had all been communicating thru CC for a few months prior to cruise with online iDs and now we get to learn real names. such a fun way to get to know a few of your fellow passengers.
Florence was grand and crowded, as usual. As we have been here a few times, we took advantage of it and skipped going to the museums. Instead walked the streets and took in the city. We Sat and watched the people and children in the Piazzas. Never been to Lucca before and lved the ancient walled city. Must return. Rubbed the hogs nose in the Florence market again so we can return…guess it works. Wonderful full day..7am-7pm…now out to dinner with friends and sail away to Sardinia!
…Were clouded over and unavailable by local boat as water was choppy. So sad for those who had not visited these lovely spots. Brian and i had been here before but never to Portovenere. We had signed up to go explore this smaller and lesser known village. Surprise! Everyone came due to the weather cancellation! Tons of stairs and difficult for many to navigate. Brian and i broke from throng and had fun even as his headcold continues. He is a good sport!Still had fun with new friends from Palm Springs Gay and Larry eating pizza.
picking out his Yacht in Monte Carlo this morning !
One of the best things about Oceania Cruises is they give you tons of info by well qualified local guides then send you off to wander and enjoy yourself. Today we visited Arles and St.Remy, two beautiful Provence towns near (1.2 hour drive)our port in Marsellies. Arles was Home to Van Gogh for awhile until he checked himself in to the very beautiful abbey and hospital for insane after lopping off ear and then painted a few masterpieces and then killed himself ..hospital still operates. Who knew? Gorgous courtyards, lavender fields and iron bars on every whitewashed window. Had to remember not to talk to myself outloud. We visited the hospital, abbey and gardens as well as the towns and local spots he made famous in so many works of art. Wished Terry Cooper was with me for art inspiration! Found a small courtyard for a truly amazing lunch as only France can offer. Indescribable.. Only took photo of the Melon mint gaspacho because we were both busy dying at every bite. We decided should we ever find ourselves back in St. Remy…(we were in this area on our honeymoon) we would need to stay for a day..or two. Bullfighting is banned in Spain but tis the season here in Provence. Provence flag is almost the same as Catalonia Spain and they share a deep history. The local guide showed her hand at her disdain for Paris . A true Marseille resident to badmouth the Parisians. Also enjoyed a lavender honey ice cream. Perfection. Happy birthday Brian.Special Wine Spectator dinner on board tonight in La Reserve on ship . I think its 4 hours of culinary excellence paired with wine.
Sleeping in tomorrow with compress over eyes!
Van Gogh bedroom
Ship day is the best! Ships usually leave port around sunset so you have most of the day to get to the ship. In Barcelona you can even walk as the Port is just steps from the city center. Oceania is our favorite line and Marina is a fairly new ship to its fleet. We were in same suite in 2014 when we traveled to Balkans and loved it. How could Med be anything but glorious?? Walked the Barcelona Market and had early breakfast as stalls opened. Ship by 1 pm and dinner with new friends from Ottawa! Next stop France!
Basilica Familia Sagrada
Yummy Paella with cold beer
I was concerned that our only full day in Barcelona would be a Sunday. Most places closed but the result was perfect. We strolled through beautiful neighborhoods full of young familes picknicking and playing outdoors in warm September weather. Children dressed up for church and cathedral bells tolling everywhere. The Gothic area is amazing with narrow streets and cafes everywhere. People watching was at maximum and i learned three things.. 1. Very white skinned people really should not get big tattoos. 2. You must be a flat chested young woman to wear a tube top correctly . 3. To the guy i saw smoking a pipe like my grandfather used to… ” it still looks stupid so please stop”