North America, Europe · 34 Days · 32 Moments · September 2016

JF's trip to Italy

31 October 2016

We arrived at 2:30 am this morning in Miami - we hurried up as there was an ill crew member they disembarked quickly (heart attack). He's doing better we hear. So here we are at daybreak having breakfast and saying goodbye to the Crystal Symphony. And "thanking everyone very much". We picked up a rental car and drove to Dani's house - here is Nonno waiting to see Sloaney. What a nice ending for a great trip! Thanks for journi-ing with us!

30 October 2016

Our last day at sea. Here is the Sargasso seaweed, my favorite spot on deck in the shade - and Cuba in the distance - and lots of ship traffic along the way. Here is our bar hangout and our favorite musician, Bruce Johnson. And our waiters, including a brand new Portuguese one on his first cruise. What a great operation Crystal is... Miami tomorrow. Hello Florida!!

29 October 2016

You can just barely see the mountains of Haiti we passed yesterday (Saturday) - and the rainstorm and a little piece of a rainbow. Not a Deck day. We went to an iPad lecture then AJ took a course on Excel pivot tables. He loves the fact that he is much better than I at Excel - but probably won't mention the fact that I knew all the iPad tricks. I took some pix of the cabin for the record - then the skies cleared for a beautiful sunset dip in the practicality private pool. Afterwards was the Captain's farewell party (dancing) and speeches by the cruise director who looks exactly like the captain sans stripes. He has a lot of fun with that. :)

28 October 2016

Land Ho! Early morning arrival at St. Thomas - and even a rainbow which seemed to bode well. Except as we left the ship on the little port shuttle, the skies opened up. I bailed and went back to the ship and watched it pour from the gym windows. AJ tried until lunchtime to take a ferry to St. John's - but washed out. So we had lunch in the DR and stayed inside until sail away. Worth the wait and beautiful! Here are our friends Beth and Bob dancing on deck - then we sat Titanic fashion on the bow of the ship and watched another amazing sunset. Heading home!

27 October 2016

AJ started his morning off Thursday at the Ship's Library - researching the Virgin Islands and what to do when we arrive at St Thomas Friday. I spent my time much more expensively - shopping! Well, we did have a shipboard credit to use up... After the obligatory walk around the crowded deck, and then the gym, we lunched and "pooled" our resources. Then they had a Dixieland Band before dinner at the Crystal Cove - and had a Conga (?) line doing the Charleston. A few had a few too many - but fun to watch. Note the young man leading the line with the Crystal Umbrella. Young at heart!

26 October 2016

Another crowded walk around Promenade deck to start Wednesday - followed by some coffee by Jasper at the Bistro - followed by cooling off in the shade or in the pool. Later on, Andre made friends with Andrey, a little Russian boy - and he and the bartender showed him how to open a bottle of wine. Never too young (Alex and Liam and Sloaney and Leo - Nonno will buy you your own corkscrews soon). Then we listened to Esther (our torch songstress) and the Dorsey band again. Great musicians!

25 October 2016

I watched the setup for the Gala Buffet yesterday (Tuesday) while AJ investigated future cruise possibilities. It was very hot so we found some shade on the bow of the ship - and in the pool. Then after enjoying another great sunset, we went back to Nobu and I had more lobster spring rolls and AJ ate sushi and tried some Sake. After which I saw the show - an Elton John tribute - and AJ indulged his proclivity for an early bedtime. ZZZZZake?

24 October 2016

Early Monday morning breakfast at the Lido Cafe - followed by a Promenade Deck promenade which was cut short by rain showers. The sun came out later and AJ talked poolside with his new friend, Bob, a house painter in Seattle and - Hawaii. Did I mention he was AJ's new BEST friend? A great afternoon in the pool was followed by a spectacular sunset which even turned the sea red. Then we saw a show (AJ too) (!) of the Tommy Dorsey band - great sound. Clarinet made me miss you, Mikey. But, heck, I miss ALL of you!

23 October 2016

Here is AJ supervising the filling of the pool. He requested it yesterday after protesting that the captain closed it at the drop of a hat. Squeaky wheel... but afterwards we went in a heated saltwater pool at sea - the ultimate. And poolside music to boot. Then a burger at the Trident grill and back in the pool. Wow. I thought the grand babies would like to see the giant metal seahorse sculpture next to the pool. Horsies!

22 October 2016

Sunday we watched a painting exhibition by a friend we met the night before - he is a muralist who is also known for doing a painting in 1 hour - my photo is bad but his seascape was cool. And not bad that he gets to travel for free on Crystal and self-promote. A gorgeous day for a walk on the deck - no one else around! Later we went to chocolate high tea - amazing - then church@sea. Topping off the day was dinner at Silk Road (Nobu's restaurant) where we had lobster spring rolls followed by sautéed lobster. Photo of a happy man....

21 October 2016

A cooler day at sea - but still beautiful. And the aft deck was totally ours - fantastic! Later on, a shot from our balcony (not on the sunny side but still gorgeous). Here is a shot of the Bistro where we get our espresso - and watch a tea dance in Crystal Cove below. Sunset at the forward Palm Court, dinner at Casual Dining Lido. Very elegant. Unfortunately your father lost it at the Avenue Saloon when he complained of a cold nose and I lent him my Pashmina. We were in a dark corner ... thankfully. But I snapped a photo for future blackmail purposes.

20 October 2016

A lovely day at sea - even though the Captain said we were skipping the Azores tomorrow (Friday) due to Hurricane Nicole's proximity. So we had nothing to do but sit around on the deck behind the Golf Pro lecture and contemplate life's difficult questions - Front or back? Port or starboard? White or red? A dirty job, but someone's got to do it. Then the Captain's dinner with champagne and caviar. Oh, the sacrifices we make....

19 October 2016

We took a ship excursion Wednesday morning to the Portuguese hill town of Obidos - where we climbed to a castle-turned- hotel (Pousada). This town is famous for a sour cherry liqueur Ginja, served in edible chocolate tea cups- which we sampled. Yum. Note giggle. Then we looked at gorgeous views from the castle after which we headed back to Lisbon for the Symphony's sailing. Off at 4pm, with plenty of light to see sights along the Tagus River -the Geronimous monestary, Monument to Discoveries (scaffolded for renovations), and the Tower of Belim - all of which you kids first saw in 1987! I can still see you scampering across the pavement. :)

18 October 2016

The Comercio square looked a lot bigger this morning - then we went to St George's Castle overlooking the Tagus River (and our ship) where you kids played when we first came here in 1987 on the Viking Sky. My oh my. After we reminisced and took pix of peacocks, we went back to the restaurant from yesterday where Dad had sea bass. What a happy man. We embarked and had a nice glass of champagne watching the sunset from the deck - then Dad decided we had to go ashore to see some Fado - sad iconic Portuguese music. Very iconic. We are back on board at midnight - and getting ready for an early morning excursion to Obidos, a small medieval hill town north of Lisbon - before we set sail at 5 pm Wednesday. Waiting eagerly for SEA DAYS!!!

17 October 2016

Here is how they prevent Sicilians from fleeing after they get gas - the gate goes up at each pump only after you've paid inside. We returned our car at 8 am in Catania and flew to Rome (flying over the Strait of Messina). Stopover for a quick bite at the airport there - Nonno is holding Alex's and Liam's favorite! Then onto Portugal where we had a nice dinner (codfish and steak on a stone) and then walked on the famous lava stone calsadas ( sidewalks) which gleamed in the rain before heading to our hotel. Tuesday morning we will take a walk and see if our ship has come in!

16 October 2016

So here are photos of the blowout - not such a big one - at Ornella's. The colored fruit is fichi d'india - which everyone loved except moi. Now finishing packing... on a full stomach! 💤

15 October 2016

Yesterday morning we picked a basketful of walnuts - they were delicious! I thought for all these years we were growing hazelnut trees! Duh. Then Ornella and Marco came for pranzo (good old pollo allo spiedo) and had a rest outside (literally). We went to church at 6:30 (saw a baptism) then had supper at Teatro and watched the moon rise over Casalotto - and the Saturday movida. Today is our last day in Piazza - we are meeting Catania cousins at Ornella's for a blowout. Photos to follow. Tomorrow we fly to Lisbon via Rome. Ciao Piazza!

14 October 2016

We had a quiet kind of stormy day here in Piazza today. Marco had school all day long and Ornella was supposed to come to S. Croce for pranzo. The weather was so blustery that we decided to meet her for lunch at Pepe's again. Afterwards we walked past Piazza Cascino and noted the playgrounds they installed. Wish they had been there when you were little! We went back to Ornella's for soup tonight and caught this photo of the full moon rising over S. Stefano. Bellissima!

13 October 2016

Yesterday was an historic day as the old palm tree near the well (in the painting I did of you kids) had to be removed - killed by beetles. So a truck and big chain did the deed. After which we went to "Chinatown" where we bought a lamp and made friends with the owners' son, named Andrea and born in Piazza. Speaks perfect Italian and Mandarin and he loved the pictures of Alex and Liam. Last night we all hit the Highlander pub and had "ambourgurz". More planting and sprinkler work today for AJ - but it looks green now because it's fall. We had cannoli from Gianfranco at Torre del Gusto followed by Fettuccine Ragù at Ornella's. Diet? What diet?

11 October 2016

A domestic day which started with a typical no-show workman at 6:45 am, after which we suited up to go meet a city engineer about parcels of S Croce they expropriated but still showed us on the tax rolls as owners. See the plan I scanned with all the 🚫. Nice fellow who agreed with it and promised to fix it. Wow! So we had a drink at the bar near the station to celebrate and watch all the teenage school kids get on busses back to their home towns. Afterwards - we sat outside in the beautiful fall weather at S Croce. Note AJ's slow recline! Woke up in time for supper at Ornella's, though... never misses a meal. Hahaha.

10 October 2016

Today was Marco's day off, so he drove us to Agirà to see the World War II cemetery dedicated to the fallen soldiers of Canada. A beautiful peaceful spot, so clean and spotless it seemed to be finished yesterday instead of being 70 years old. You can see a lake and Mt Etna through the pine trees. Afterwards we stopped to meet with our architect-engineer again - who liked the new scheme we proposed to keep the Belvedere for the stable and sell another piece of land not so favorably placed. Hooray! Then another night out for pizza. I'm ready for sushi...

9 October 2016

We woke up yesterday to a gorgeous warm fall day - Kaki and I took the sun while AJ gardened and Jon explained the S Croce electrical system to me - even waved at me from the sidewalk where he looked for the transformer. Geeks unite! After lunch we drove them to Catania (passing by Mt Etna) to their hotel - from where they were leaving for home at 5:30 am the next day. Bon voyage! We got a little lost and ended up driving through a flea market. Oops. We got back in time to have Luca join us for supper at S Croce (Ornella and Marco went to a dinner at the Lion's Club - no, not you, Leo.) Today after more gardening, and Skyping Alex and Liam and their parents, we were treated to pranzo by Luca and Marco at a restaurant next door to Ornella's house. Now back at S Croce, I'm catching up on Journi while Nonno sleeps it off. 💤 Hoping to FaceTime or Skype the other kiddies tonight when it's Sunday afternoon in the US.

7 October 2016

We started early this morning to show Jon and Kaki the Roman Mosaics 3rd century AD - and we beat the tourists! Here are the Bikini girls and Cyclops (Polyphemo) - remember Bis- Nonno's stories? We toured the Cathedral and Monte quarter where the weather looked threatening but it cleared up beautifully to sit out at S Croce and enjoy the sun (after a gelato at bar Diana). Luca came from Catania for dinner at Ornella's with us, where we had fun looking at photos - then we all went to see the Commenda next door ( Marco has keys). Piazza by night!

6 October 2016

An early breakfast at Caffe Colorado was followed by a trip to Agrigento - but first a stop at Gela on the south coast. Gela was the place where Jon's and my Dad landed in WWII. Jon and Kaki are standing in front of the pontoon bridge my Dad helped build in 1943 - still there! Afterwards, a visit to the temples at Agrigento - then a visit to the Temple of Cannoli back in Piazza. Yum! The evening closed with a mini blowout at S Croce - then a nail-biting night worrying about Hurricane Matthew. Palm Beach police called at 3:45 am to tell me the alarm at home was going off. Wow. Not a lot to do about that.

5 October 2016

A nice lunch out yesterday with Ornella, then an afternoon spent gardening at S Croce. Lovely sunset shortly before Marco came for a light supper with us. Today Andre and I drove to Siracusa to pick up Jon and Kaki after their bike tour of east Sicily. We had drinks at the Grand Hotel of Ortigia, fish lunch with cannoli at Don Camillo, then we went to see the Ear of Dionysus (a large cave with great acoustics) and the Greek amphitheatre. A drive to S Croce was followed by doing a wash (including floors- ooops), a quick visit from Marco with new adapter plugs, then a ride to Da Nino for pizza. I'm soooo full....

3 October 2016

The attack of the Killer Cugi started immediately this morning with JoJo's waving at a random passing motorcyclist who turned out to be Giorgio Giordani (Fernanda's son) - still cool but balding and bearded with a white goatee. Then off to Ornella's for pranzo with Pietro and Narcisa Giorgio (from Milano) both of whom came to RH and met you kids 10 years ago (not Dani - but including Ed Choi!). But who remembers, anyway? Here is pasta alla Norma, just to make you jealous. At 6pm, we went to see the engineer Lantieri who confirmed we sold our last lot! He showed us plans for the stable - gonna be nice in about 3-5 years. Then Ornella and Marco came to S Croce for supper - and brought soup. Not much rest today - I'm ready for 💤 and a cugi break.
Red Double Decker buses run free from our hotel to Heathrow - so we hopped on one and then took another bus to Gatwick airport. Had a pub lunch at the airport - then they delayed our flight , of course. But after an hour, up up and away over the English countryside. So pretty - as was the sunset. When we got to Hertz in Catania, AJ was thrilled to see his name up in lights. After a drive in the dark, this old bed looks inviting.

1 October 2016

Here is the gorgeous lounge at JFK where we had breakfast and met Mary D'Alton, MD, the chair of OB-Gyn at Columbia in NYC who is Irish and on her way to visit family in the U.K. She is excellent friends with Henry Lerner. Small world. Andre ended up sitting next to her and I was on the other side of the plane - ok cuz we had champagne at the bar and then I watched the Avengers and Star Trek Beyond. Or maybe I should be worried... Anyway here is our Heathrow hotel - tomorrow we fly to Catania from Gatwick and should be in our own house! Hooray! To quote my grandkiddies whom I miss more than Magnums or Dollhouses.

30 September 2016

Freedom Tower in the rain - but we still had fun. Nonno wheeled Leo around while we waited for our Haus burgers, then back to Leo's apartment for some hangout time. JoJo relinquished possession of Leo long enough for pix of Court, Nonno and Leo - with a little Pirates watching. (Andre asked - "Is this a comedy?"). Then Daddy Mike took a long loving look at his son - after we showed him this photo of himself with Cristina. A little chunkier version of Leo? Too soon we said goodbye and waited in our hotel to get a cab to JFK for our flight to Europe Saturday. G'nite Big Apple.

29 September 2016

A big day out in the Apple - but first a computer tutorial (with JoJo's Renaissance trompe d'oeil in the mirror con Leonardo) and then Leo napped with... Leo... in his crib. Off we go to the Oculus with Leo in his nifty stroller. Then lunch at the new Eataly and Leo slept again. Mike cooked a yummy pasta dinner for all while Courtney fed Leo - who promptly fell asleep again in Nonno's arms. Will the Lion sleep tonight....?

28 September 2016

Goodbye Florida! Andre is already cold (!). Hello NYC! Making a special first trip to Mike and Courtney's new home ... and to meet Leonardo da Best! Nonno is very happy. JoJo is ecstatic. Leo is wondering who these strange peeples are. Courtney looks amazing and is a natural at mothering. Nonno and Leo watch Daddy cook. Yum! Then Mike's childhood buddy Real Dog who flew up from Florida pops out of Jojo's bag. Whatta reunion! Later, the Guys just hang out while the Sox and Yanks battle. Whatta town!

27 September 2016

Getting the maps ready on D-1.