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'Cause sometimes I even surprise the knit out of myself.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"So which way to George Clooney's villa again? I'm bringing the vino"

So this is the continuation of the gratuitous vacation pictures we continue with Portifino, Italy, otherwise known as the Italian Riviera, Barcelona, Spain, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

We arrived to Rome on 9/1/07 and our trusty driver, Claudio provides a whirlwind tour of Rome. I mean this dude had "connections". It turns out his wife was very high in the police force so we just parked wherever we wanted and went to places I'm not sure if we were actually allowed. We were grateful nevertheless.

On Sunday, 9/2/07 we leave the Rome Cavelieri Hilton to the port of Citativecchia to meet up with the Costa Concordia. Finally, our Hilton Honors points got us somewhere at this hotel folks. This was the swankiest place I've ever stayed in and for the same amount of points we get a crappy Hampton Inn in the states. SWEEEEEET. So this Hilton was practically all marble, with an aviary, arboretum, and antique art gallery. The painting in the lobby behind a glass shield was worth 3 million euros. You do the math, kids. It ain't pretty in US dollars. So this is the view of the pool area from our veranda. And this friends, is the view of Rome from our veranda. Sweet huh? You can see the Vatican dome here. On Sunday we were off to the ship. This is my best friend Wendy and I looking extremely mischievous here. The two of us together are mayhem and sarcasm at its best. We are always up to no good and there may be some wine involved or Guinness.
This is the view up from the lobby of the ship. The elevators are there to the left. I swear to you that emerald green theme carried out to the whole ship. I was about to ask someone where the Great and Powerful Oz was for most of the cruise.
Those are sea anemone looking lights that changed colors. These become more interesting after a few drinks.
This is the ship itself. It is the largest in the Costa Fleet. For those of you not familiar with Costa, it is an Italian cruise line. The eight of us in our group, with about another 25 or so folks were the only native-English speakers on a ship of about 5, 000 people. Talk about being the minority language. The announcements were always made in Italian first, then Spanish, French, German, English and sometimes Dutch. I found out later this is a high-end line owned by the Carnival Cruise family and Cunard. It bore no resemblance to Carnival. BTW, some useless knowledge for you....the smokestack is yellow because the Costa family made their first millions in the olive oil biz.
Mom and Dad watching us depart from Rome. Arrividerci Roma. Now on to George Clooney's villa. yeeaaaah. Boy he's an elusive little bugger.
Our first port was Savona (Genoa), Italy. At the waterfront was a statue of Christopher Columbus known to be from this area of Italy originally. Yes, that is a bird on his head. What statue would be without one? This is the port of Savona. Very nice with lovely colored villas overlooking the Med.
A saint watches over the port and fisherman during their daily seafaring routines.
How do you like my new villa folks? The dinner party is at 6. I have a lovely selection of wine and cheeses for you tonight. Do you like my tree? This is where I will knit all my days away. Such a rough life.
By the way, this is now a private residence in Portifino overlooking the Italian Riviera.
Now on to the town of Portifino. This area is famed with local residence such as the likes of George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The lovely villas on the cliffs were breath-taking. More villas and little seaside restaurants.
My first real Italian Gelato at our first port of call. Didn't take me long did it? Anyway this is post annihilation from me before I realized I should have taken a picture when it came out all pretty with an anisette cookie.
Wendy and Jo-Jo enjoying their espressos and gelatos. We would be wound up on espresso and gelatos for the rest of the cruise.
And this guy here is Emeril Lagasse's brother. Naw, not really but could he not pass for him? This is Oscar. The highlight of our dining experience as well as Rosie our wine steward who we kept very very busy. Yeah, about this photo. Well our dear friend here is expecting and Oscar surprised her with a bowl of ice for her glass of milk. He kept the milk carton chilled right next to our wine bottle. What? Sure you can get "milk drunk".
Second port of call: Barcelona, Spain. I loved Barcelona. It was clean, cosmopolitan, vivacious and young. Take me back.
This is architect Salvatore Goudi's unfinished cathedral masterpiece. It's still under construction since his death. It was be an awesome work of art when complete.
This is Holy Family Cathedral under construction. Another masterpiece in the making.
On Wednesday we ported in Palma de Mallorca, a Spanish Balearic island. I honestly don't have any pictures because we couldn't take any in the Caves of Drach. Lake Martel is the larges underground lake in the world. It was all stalagmites and such. Some of the caverns open very large and it reminded me of the movie, "Goonies". I half expected it to open up into a lake with a pirate ship and a candy-bar eating kid name Chunk.

Those are rowboats you see with lights around the edges. They sit you down in this opening overlooking the lake. They turn out the lights and you are in pitch darkness. You start to hear the bittersweet wail of a violin and the sound gets closer. There is an organist and two violinist on a middle larger rowboat. I think I may have also detected a cello but you really couldn't see. You only had those little lights on the side of the boat. They played a bittersweet symphony as they floated past and the sound echoed through the caverns. It was one of those moments that kind of bring tears to you eyes because the music was so sweet.
Photo courtesy of

And these cutie-patooties are our friends from the Dublino bar. The first night, the girls and I parused for a regular haunt. Every bar is named after a city. So you had the Vienna lounge--nah, the Lindra (London)---nah, the Budapest---nah, the Berlino= polka, ooooh hellll no, and then on to what's this???? The Dublino Bar? An Irish Pub on an Italian cruise ship??? F'ing BRILLIANT!
So yours truly walks in expected to plant herself in a corner with her favorite hops and barley poison, Guinness and guess what? No freakin' Guinness. WTF? Let's just say that in 1 minute I established that "We" were the most Irish things in that place. I planted myself anyway and harassed the bartender, standing to the right there for a Nutty Irishman sans the Frangelico cause they didn't have that either. Aw bloody hell. Well, he made an awesome substitution for which I savoured as best as I could. The only beer on tap in the ship was Carlsburg. Gah! I was already wined out from dinner so I took what I could get. The gentleman on the left was the waiter and a total sweetie, but he wasn't always in there. The cutie to the right is Ariel from the Philippines. His smile could light up the whole room. No lie. He was so sweet to talk and had a lovely, fun personality. We learned so much about life on a ship with no days off for 8 months. Dude. That is so not for me. I don't know how he does it.
Needless to say, he, the girls, and I were rather attached to each other by the end of the trip. (We've already emailed him the pictures taken in the pub with him). Little did I know this guy would be our solitude until the last day. The Dublino Bar was dead 90% of the time so we were able to escape the mobs of pushing, vacationing folks through the other ship areas. I don't mean that in a derogatory way but folks, but folks didn't queue nor do they excuse themselves when they sqeeze past you. I say this only because I have a major personal space thing. This something to get used to if you do a European cruiseliner. I expected this but others do not. It's just a cultural difference and neither is right or wrong, but it took some getting used to.
I gleefully hid every night from the other vacationers right here......everynight......without fail.....I missed the second on the ship because I was exhausted from trying to find George Clooney in Portifino. Both these guys were asking my friends where Sharon was having only been in there the night before. Needless to say, I didn't miss a night from that point forward. The nice thing....
mya Italiano was-a starting-a to suck-a after-one-a bottle of-a vino.
I already miss my buddies. *sniff* LERVE.
Ok well tomorrow on to my favorites.....swaying 5 foot waves and three-inch heels and depths of the Souk el Bey in Tunisia. Stay-tuned. Same knit place....same knit channel.
Umm, I do have some knitting to show as well. I got my Ravelry invite yesterday! Whoot! You can find me as HolyKnitballs.


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