North America, Europe · 18 Days · 81 Moments · October 2017

Vecks & Meltons Mediterranean Adventure

21 October 2017

Driving home from our trip... No more sunshine, hello rain 😥 a few Krispy Kreme donuts to console us and or Starbucks coffee and teas. Mostly 80s playlist with a Monkey interlude... All monkey themed music to commemorate Shane 's Gibraltar experience... Monkey by George Michael, the Monkees, Brass Monkey by Beastie Boys, Monkey Business by Skid Row...
Crazy flight home... Made it to Newark just fine only to find it completely under construction. 2.5 hrs to get through customs and security checkpoint. Then 4 hrs more of a layover only to have a 2 hr delay with 4 gate changes. Got to Seattle at 12:20am and to the hotel by 1:10 guess that hotel stay was a good idea.

19 October 2017

Lawn Club Grill take 2...four 12oz ribeyes and a platter more of meat and veggies (not pictured: two baked potatoes and sides of dirty rice)...otherwise known as the Ron Swanson special, aka "meat tornado". Followed by apple crumble, cheesecake, chocolate chip pie, and blueberry crumble.
Heidi working for your dinner tonight at the Lawn Club Grill...not just for boys!
Some fun photos from our last day on Ship... We played and won the music trivia after failing miserably at all previous sessions of thier regular trivia. Then a picnic on our shared balcony of our bounty from our excursions and the buffet plus our champagne from Celebrity. And more fun drinks from some of the many bars.

18 October 2017

Tuscan Grille dinner after leaving Ibiza. Lemoncello toasts...

18 October 2017


17 October 2017

Port Tasting at the Celler Masters. Not only did we drink some excellent ports (including a $250 bottle, yum!) we also learned a lot about the history of Port. For example, I had no idea the British were key players in the discovery of Port wine. During wars with France (17th and 18th centuries), the Brits discovered Port to replace the French wines that were Boycotted. They also discovered the method of fortifying the wine with brandy so the wine could survive the trip to England. Which is now considered a key factor in Port manufacturing.
All dressed up and headed to Murano French restaurant. Lobster for dinner and crepes for dessert - flambe at the table
Heidi & Shane went into Port today. Kris and Liz stayed on ship. It was too hot and they didn't get very far. Once back on ship, we played cards at Cafe Al Bacio and then up to the Sky lounge for trivia before dinner.
Sailing in to Cartagena, Spain and then back out.

16 October 2017

Heading back out to sea. What an amazing view plus we had a pod of dolphins jumping the wakes as we sailed away. Thank you Gibraltar and our absolutely amazing tour guide, Peter, for a great day. Now on to Cartagena.
Beautiful view of Africa from the lighthouse. If only it wasn't so cloudy we could have seen it.
Military things on the Rock. Shane has now discarded his Roman gladiator title of Shane Maximus and shall now hence forth be known as Lord Admiral Shane.
Shane making friends today. He was lucky on two counts: no poop throwing and he did not get his scalp examined like the poor (brave) guy next to him.
Barbary macaques.... What more do I need to say? So darn cute.
Rock of Gibraltar
St. Michael's Cave, Rock of Gibraltar. AMAZING! This cave has been used as a hospital during past wars, but currently is used to hold concerts. Fun fact: almost all of the 'Rock' has been cored-out as a great military strong hold
Enjoying a pint @Lord Byron Pub, Gibraltar

15 October 2017

Hanging out on ship after Malaga then QSine for dinner.
Malaga was HOT! Our hottest location so far and I think I melted a bit. But we don't take beautiful sunny days for granted either. Malaga is a seaside city much bigger than I expected. But with charming streets lined with palm trees with nesting monk parakeets, it was vibrant.

14 October 2017

Celebrating my 40th in the Mediterranean! I can't think of a better way. And yep that's my Happy Birthday tiarra.
Mixology class. Wow that was a lot of drinks. 14 people 14 drinks... Big one that you make yourself and a 'taste' of everyone else's. Yum!
Starting the morning out right with a healthy breakfast.
The flamenco dancers were impressive and intense. Sadly, Kris and Liz missed it, but Heidi and Shane were seated front and center. We could actually feel the stage vibrate when the dancers stomped their feet. A few swirling moves brought feet within inches of our faces. No zoom was used on these photos.

13 October 2017

Dinner on the ship tonight at the Grill was ridiculous. We were served 'family style' with veal and lamb chops and Ribeyes and Chicken and shrimp. Crazy but delicious.
Born to Cook Barcelona, market visit and cooking class was such a blast. First we went to Santa Caterina market to pick out our items and then back to the kitchen to cook a five course Spanish meal. We made (then ate) Patatas Bravas, Gaspacho, an onion thing, Paella and Crema Catalana. All with free flowing Cava that enhanced the whole experience.

12 October 2017

Got back to the room and found a thoughtful gift from the parents! Thank you! Love you!
An amazing Iced Tea Experience after a long day of touring... And for others gelato with espresso or hot chocolate...
A few more photos from the day. Olympic park high above the city. Amazing views of everything including our ship.
La Sagrada Familia - Wow! That is one crazy building. From the passion in the voice of our tour guide you can tell that it's very important to Barcelona. There is definitely a mad genius aspect to it. Still not sure if I loved it or not.
Some Chocolate with Churros after our Tapas lunch
Cava Tasting at ArtCava Winery with the winemaker Eric! So much fun. They have been making wine on site for hundreds of years. We learned about the old method and how they have modernized for this new venture. They've turned the old underground vats into rooms to store the cava as it ages. Also a very lively discussion about what's going on in Catalonia and the US these days. 3 full glass 'tastings' make for impassioned words. Sending a 'care package' home.

11 October 2017

A quick pic of Shane from our fancy dinner. More pictures of all of us coming but had to share how swanky he was looking!
Setting sail out of Villefranche... On the balcony
Sasha took us to the top of the world for our picnic. We could see the whole coast from Monoco to Eze to Nice. You can see our ship featured as well. Our lunch was perfect, everything was wonderful and we were the only ones there. You can see we had sandwiches, macaroons, crepes, olives (cheese and almond stuffed and provincial herbed), cheese, wine and more...
Never seen anything like this...
Monoco was all luxury and excess. These people aren't rich they are billionaires! Huge yachts expensive cars it was ridiculous. Time for dreams.
With our awesome tour guide, Sasha, we traveled around Nice, France this morning to gather our lunch for later in the day. First we went to the flower market and picked up some olives and cheeses, then to the boulanger for sandwiches, quiche and desert, finally we picked up a bottle of wine. It was a lot of fun.
Holding up the Tower of Pisa. This was the end of our day of Winery, Lucca and Pisa. We were so tired by the end of the day and just stopped by for our required photos... With 5000 others...
Tuscany Vineyard. We started out our day with a visit to Colle Verde Winery, this small picturesque vineyard and olive grove. Our guide, Giovanni Oliver, showed us around explaining both how they harvest and make Olive Oil and wine. I really appreciated the olive oil portion as I had no idea how the process works or what the difference between Extra Virgin, Virgin and just Olive Oil was. Will just say it's EVOO from now on. Once we finished the tour they had a beautiful set up for wine tasting on the patio with a view of the valley. Amazing. We tried 4 wines all generous pours and all before noon. Ah the joys of being a tourist.

10 October 2017

Silent Disco Party! Everyone had one headphones with 3 different options for music. Blue - Modern, Red - Old favorites, and Green - Latin. It was so much fun - we had to drag Heidi out of there.
Lunch in Lucca

9 October 2017

Boarding our Ship!

8 October 2017

Late night trip to the Trevi Fountain one last time and then dinner and gelato... We are going to miss Rome but looking forward to a slower day tomorrow. Looking at my Fitbit we've walk a marathon while here over the last 4 days. Oh my aching feet!
Our evening tour was of the Bone Chapel of the Caputian Monks and the Catacombs of Rome... We had a great quirky tour guide, Georgia from the UK. She made what could be a very morbid topic into something lighter and very enjoyable. Combining my love of history, anthropology and religious schooling background this tour was right up my alley. The Catacombs was one of the most interesting places I've ever been. We saw some of the earliest Christian Fresco's from before the new testament was finished. We were able to see and hear about how the first Christians formed thier story to create the foundations of all the Christian religions. And whether or not you are religious it's an amazing story.
Our afternoon was filled with more fabulous sites. We climbed the Spanish Steps on what turned out to be a beautiful day. And then walked over to the Piazza del Popolo to have another lunch with a view and then a tour of the square. Heading back to the hotel before our night tour.
We started our morning with some more of the bus tour. It was on an alternate route because it was Sunday so we enjoyed seeing some new areas of Rome. And this delightful gentleman dressed up as a fun? The pope? Washing car windows. Overall a nice relaxing morning for our tired feet.

7 October 2017

And now dinner and desert. Next door to our hotel is a nice resturant called La Cabana. We ate like true 'Romans' tonight. Started at 8pm and finished around 10. We started with an antipasto plate that had the best prosciutto we have had to date and a litre of the house red wine. The main course was quite good; Liz and Heidi had veal scalopini marsala, Kris had veal saltimbocca and Shane surprised us all with spinach ravioli in a cream and mushroom sauce. We spied the desert cart earlier and knew we had to try all the options. Liz loved her ricotta and chocolate pie, Kris had the lemon meringue and Heidi had the cheesecake. To cap off the night we each had a small glass of a late harvest Moscato. YUM ! Full and a little tipsy we safely made it the 5 ft back to the hotel to call it a night so we could be ready to tackle the next day-- our last full day in Rome.
School of Athens, Raphael, 1511
Our second tour of the day was a VIP tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine chapel. There were over 45,000 visitors to the Vatican today. We were so smart to pick this tour. We were able to skip over the skip the line line. We did overlap the crowds for about the first hour in the common areas. However we were granted access to rooms and places that the massive crowds were not allowed to go. The crowds were a bit overwhelming, but when the museum closed it was a joy to spend time looking at and absorbing the magnitude of the works of art. Rafael, Bramante, Michaelangelo and thousands more. We finished up the tour in the Sistine Chapel...all by ourselves...just the 15 people in our tour. Our amazing guide walked us through the components of the room and ceiling telling engaging stories that made the unbelievable real. We finished up with 10 min of absolute silence taking in the majesty. Breathtaking... To top it off we got to exit the museum in a HUGE elevator with bench seats!
BEST TIRAMISU EVER! Taking a moment before our evening Vatican tour.
Restaurant hopping around the Vatican while we wait for our second tour.
Our first tour of the day was of St. Peter's Basilica. The number of people filling St.Peter's sqare this morning was overwhelming. At 9:30 am we met our tour group, and good to their word skipped, the line and went right into the Basilica with our Guide who was wonderful. I love that she made a point to identify the only 3 women who are memorialized in the church-- and they had to be Queen to get there! A mass was going on at the time we were getting our tour which was good and bad. We were not able to get up close to the center alter (which is a stunning piece of art), but the mass provided the ambiance that helped us remember that this is a working church. Masses, Marriages and Baptisms are performed here regularly. Also, it provided quite the soundrack as we were viewing all the artwork and sculptures. Especially, when viewing Michaelangelo's Pietà; it was a once in a lifetime moment.

6 October 2017

And the second Gelato to end the day...
More from the Colloseaum including those from the museum on the top floor.
The night tour of the Roman Forum and the Colloseaum was amazing! So beautiful to see these places without the crowds and with a different view. Hearing about the different places within the Forum was worth the whole tour.
On the way to the Colloseaum we walked up to the Capitoline Museums and by the Roman Forum. The Septimius Severus Arch is inspiring.
While waiting for our night tour, Heidi and Shane climbed to the top of the Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument.
Early dinner at I'll Pastarito since we were having a night tour. It was pretty good for a very touristy place. Huge portions.
An Italian Jack Russell. A 'Jaques' if you will!
Afternoon of more touring. Campo di Fiorni, and Piazza Fiorno. On our way back we stumbled upon a place we later found out was the Largo di Torre Argentina what happened here we wondered and found out it was where Julius Ceaser was assassinated. And a final stop at the Piazza Venezia right by our hotel.
We spent our day wandering around the city. Started at Trevi Fountain since it was so crowded yesterday. Still pretty crowded but better. Then we saw the Marcus Aurelius Column and a couple obolisks and amazing quaint alleys. We found the Panteon. It was inspiring and beautiful and so the perfect view for our lunch at one of the cafes with a view.
Piazza Colonna and the Marcus Aurelius Column
Morning at the Trevi Fountain.

5 October 2017

Found this awesome Restaurant, Antica Birreria Peroni, for dinner. about 2 blocks away from our hotel and on our way back from Trevi Fountain. (Better pictures of Trevi coming tomorrow).
After our hop on hop off tour we walked to the Trevi Fountain and had our first gelato of the trip. Yum. It was so crowded we couldn't get near the fountain so we'll be back later so we can throw in our coins.
We wanted to start our trip off with a hop on hop off tour for a couple reasons. 1. a nice easy activity for a very tired bunch 2. a way to get a highlights tour and 3. get the lay of the land. We quickly learned that we will never drive here since lanes are apparently a suggestion and not a rule... There were some beautiful sites to see. So overwhelmed and feeling like that's not going to change anytime soon.
We've arrived! We left Seattle this (yesterday?) morning and flew to Chicago then Rome without much to comment on. Pretty uneventful flight just how I like them (although it was the first time i've been served grits). After customs, getting our luggage, we located our driver through a sea of drivers with placards taped to the exit barrier - I kid you not there were probably 100 - it was like the paparazzi on the red carpet! Our driver, Michael, was smart and used bright yellow paper so finding each other was not so difficult. We loaded our luggage into a giant mini-van and made it to the hotel in no time. The hotel is in a tiny alley side street that is nice and quite. Our rooms were ready to go; which was wonderful!

3 October 2017

What a great way to start our journey. Beautiful day; Great food at the Happy Valley Food Carts and then a no traffic drive to Seattle. Dinner at the Cactus Restaurant which was right on the water so we took a short walk after dinner for some great views. And now all checked in for our flight tomorrow. Can't wait!