Disembarkation and our trip to Barcelona

When we cruise, the first thing the real cruisers want to know about is the food. But the second is the embarkation/disembarkation. It’s been my experience after more than 30 cruises that if things are going to go wrong, one of these two times is when that will happen.

With this disembarkation, I am happy to say that nothing went wrong…except to say that they made us get off the ship (this is every cruiser’s lament). Pretty much everything went off without a hitch getting off the ship. We got up, had breakfast, and were asked to be out of our stateroom by 8:00 am. Sat for an hour in the Atrium, got our tag colors called, grabbed our luggage, took it to a van (since we were doing Viking’s post-cruise two-day extension), it was loaded into a van that followed our “luxury motor coach” into Barcelona from Tarragona.

That’s where thing kind of went bad. Viking now had to do something with the 35+ people on the “luxury motor coach” from 9:30 am when we got on until 1:00 pm when the Nobu Hotel in Barcelona would be ready to check us in. So they arranged a “luxury motor coach” tour that would drive us from the ship to Barcelona and then drive around Barcelona, showing us some of the sights. This started with them getting us lost before they even got the “luxury motor coach” out of the port (Seriously!).

Then they sent us a guide who admitted up front that he usually worked with Japanese tourists, so his English was not very good. On top of that, he also (like other guides we had previously toured with) felt like they had to fill every moment of the three-hour sojourn with the sound of his voice. He even started singing at one point. I overheard another passenger say, “I thought the guy with the flute yesterday was bad, but this guy is so much worse!” I had to agree. And since he was not confident in his English, he seemed to be much less confident in his directions and tour facts.

It took us about 70 minutes to get from Tarragona to the outskirts of Barcelona. He talked about 90% of the time. Mostly gibberish to us because his English was so poor. Our first stop in Barcelona was at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. This gorgeous art museum we thought was built high above and far from the city and not near anything. I took the header photo I am using today from in front of it.

We later learned that we were less than a mile from our hotel but that it would take almost three full hours to get there. And we didn’t stop to see the museum, just to use the bathrooms. Viking had bought tickets for us to get into the museum, but then we had 15 minutes to use the bathrooms and get back on the “luxury motor coach”…so we could be driven around and mumbled at while seeing the sights through a “luxury motor coach” window. As a photographer, this is my idea of torture. Seeing things I want to shoot but not being able to shoot them because the reflections in the “luxury motor coach” make it impossible to get a good shot. I did take a few when we got off at the museum. Here’s what they look like. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

Once we arrived at the hotel around 1:15 pm, we were told to go up to the second floor and that we would be checked in at a special desk just for Viking cruisers. When we got to the second-floor room they were using, there was about an hour’s wait to get registered. This is because they had planned well by sending the first “luxury motor coach” off and then not sending the second one for about 30 minutes. That way, we should have been staggered when we reached the hotel and able to check in without any lines. But this was not to be after our “luxury motor coach” driver got lost getting out of the port, and by the time he figured out how to get out, “luxury motor coach” number two was ahead of us, and we were not that far ahead of “luxury motor coach” number three. That meant we all pretty much got there at the same time. Viking had close to 250 people staying at the Nobu Barcelona. It was very much like the Marriott where we had done our pre-cruise extension in Athens. Both of them were four or five-star, high-rise hotels that were well outside (not in easy walking distance) of the main attractions of their respective cities. The rooms were nice, and the included breakfast at both places was delicious, but I would have traded that for something a little closer to where I wanted to shoot pics.

So instead of standing in line to register, we left our bags with the bellman at the front desk and took a taxi to a wonderful restaurant that Kathleen and I had eaten in when we were here in 2007—La Rita. The restaurant had been there for about 10 years before that and is still going strong. The menu was exactly as we remembered it. I made reservations almost a month in advance because when we go to Spain, we make our main meal, our lunch. People in Barcelona eat dinner around 9:30 pm, and we just can’t eat that late. So we have our main meal at lunch (around 2:00) and then grab some tapas in the evening.

After lunch, we came back and were able to check in easily, with no lines at all, and our rooms were ready. We unpacked, I did some posting on this blog and some photo processing, and we hit the hay for a very busy day on Sunday, our only full day in amazing Barcelona.

I had thought I could wind up the entire cruise with two more posts, one about Barcelona and disembarkation and one to sum up the cruise. But once I started talking about disembarkation, this one got too long to include our awesome day in Barcelona, so you will have to read two more. See you tomorrow. (BTW: we are home in Redmond after a hellacious day of flights and being up for 26 hours straight.)

You’d have a hard time finding anything better than Barcelona for food, as far as being a hub. Given a choice between Barcelona and San Sebastian to die in, I’d probably want to die in San Sebastian.  —Anthony Bourdain

 

Tarragona not Barcelona—it all worked out!

When we first booked this cruise with Viking, the itinerary finished in beautiful Barcelona. About three months later, we received a note from Viking that we would NOT be docking and spending an overnight in Barcelona. We would instead be docking and spending the night in Tarragona, a (we researched) small, industrial city south of Barcelona. (You can see how far apart they are above.) That kind of ticked me off because I was really looking forward to being able to wake up on the ship and then go for my pre-dawn photo walk and still be able to sleep on the ship that night.

We later learned that Viking had to switch because even though Barcelona is a HUGE port for cruise ships, there were going to be so many there over the two days (Friday and Saturday) that she would not have been able to stay for three full days. She needed four days tied up at a pier because we would have two days there (arrived Friday morning, disembarked Saturday morning) and then the cruise that followed ours would need the same (embark on Saturday afternoon, sail late on Sunday). Viking just could not take up a berth in Barcelona for that long. So that’s why we wound up in Tarragona.

In hindsight, I am so very glad that we did because it turned into one of my favorite photographic experiences on the trip. And I almost missed it once we were there. I almost missed it because we had tickets for the Viking-included excursion called “A Snapshot of Tarragona,” and when we got up, we just weren’t sure that we wanted to go. After being on the road since August 29, we were pretty much done. Kathleen wanted to just stay on board and pack, but she encouraged me to go ahead and take the excursion. I still (up until 15 minutes before it left) had not committed myself to go. But go, I did.

The first thing to note about leaving the ship was that it was docked a VERY long way from the gate to the port. In other words, this was NOT a port I could have walked out of. And then, once you got out of the port, it was a long way to the city. To say it was a very long way is an understatement. When we got on the “luxury motor coach,” we were then driven for about 30 minutes, and we were still in the port. It is a HUGE industrial port, and we were moored all the way out as far as you can get before still being at sea. And the road out of the port had what seemed like continuous speed bumps that the “luxury motor coach” could not go over quickly. Once we were out of the port, it was another 20 minutes before we were off the coach at the edge of downtown.

At this point, I am beginning to think that I made a mistake in coming. Viking was running shuttles all day long, about every 15 minutes, so I knew I could go back whenever I wanted. Our guide for the day was another guide that seemed to be paid by the word. She walked us around some Roman ruins (as much as I love Italy, if I never see a Roman ruin for a few years, that will be OK with me), which were pretty cool, but they didn’t really hold that much interest for me. I have so many photos from my Tarragona day that I will put the Roman ruins and what we could see from them here. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

What did grab my interest were explosions and gunshots going off about three blocks away. We had been told that there was a Catalunya-wide festival going on that weekend (Catalunya is the “state” that both Tarragona and Barcelona are in) so we were pretty sure that this was what we were hearing. We could also see fireworks and a parade at the end of those three blocks. Here’s what I saw when I looked down the streets and then walked around to do some more investigating.

No, I did not get to see the human pyramids in Tarragona. To show you the photo above, I took a picture of a picture. But we did get to see one being built on Sunday in Barcelona. We weren’t able to see one built in Tarragona, because around noon, it started to rain, accompanied by quite the thunderstorm, so they were canceled for Friday. After looking at a few more ruins, the guide said we would now have some free time, but not to go downtown, it would be too loud and dangerous near the parades. So you know what I did…I went right downtown where the parades were. I am so glad I did. An amazing experience, as you will see.

On the way downtown, I found people getting ready for a parade. It turns out they do the parades twice in the morning. Once from the square and once back. So I ran into a bunch of people getting ready to march on my way down. Here’s a quick gallery of those people.

When I finally reached the city square, I could tell they were getting ready for something. At this point, I thought I had missed it all. Then I heard (from a side street) firework explosions. I headed from the square to where the parade would be coming from, and this is what I saw. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

OK, sorry to post so many photos, but it was a photographic bonanza where I got to combine travel photography with street photography, my two favorites. I spoke to so many other photographers during the parade. They would see my camera and comment on it, and I would ask about theirs. Or about what was happening in the parade. They all spoke some English, and I speak zero Catalan, but they were so hospitable, and they did their best to tell me about their city and the festival. This, to me, is what travel is all about. What an incredible time I spent shooting in this awesome city.

After I had shot all these photos, it was back to the ship (I actually shot more than 900 photos of the festival—aren’t you glad I didn’t put them all online?) I was actually back on the ship in time for lunch with Kathleen. Then we spent the afternoon with Kathleen napping and packing and my processing photos, posting the photos and writing about our adventures. Speaking of processing and writing, I have had a couple of people ask about what cameras and lenses I use and how I decide what to post and not to post. I promise to do a separate post about that when I have finished the cruise write-up.

Two more posts will finish this trip. One for our disembarkation and full day in Barcelona and another to sum it all up and review the cruise. We are sitting in Barcelona airport, ready to board our flights home. See you soon.

I saw a human pyramid once. It was very unnecessary.
—Mitch Hedburg

 

Marseille and Seti finish our time in France

Let’s get this out of the way quickly. We have been to Marseille before. We were not impressed the first time, and the ship was moored a VERY long way from anything worth seeing. So to make a long story short, we stayed onboard. No reason to get off and see the same 500-year-old churches and museums we had seen before.

Now let’s talk about Seti. It seems to us that in every country we have visited (except tiny Montenegro), Viking has planned a stop in a small but interesting village that did not have a major draw; they just gave the visitors a taste of what life is like in the real world. Sibenik, Croatia, Crotone, Italy and now Sete, France.

Sete is a tiny (by French standards) fishing village. It is so small that we could do a tour of downtown without leaving the port on a “luxury motor coach.” We did have to take that “luxury motor coach” from the ship to the front of the port because it was a very industrial port, and they didn’t want people walking around. It was kind of funny that the “luxury motor coach” we got on to go less than half a mile was the nicest “luxury motor coach” we were on for the entire 21 days.

We were doing the Viking Walking Tour of the village, and we had a guide who we thought was going to be great. He led us along by playing the flute. We looked like the rats being led to the sea by the Pied Piper. But once we were in town and he got down to the actual touring, he became just like every other guide—paid by the word. Instead of telling us that the town’s main canal held its fishing fleet, he had to tell us how you fish for this and that fish. To be honest, if I want to know how to fish for tuna, I will look it up. I wanted to know about Sete, France. Here are my pics from Seti. At least the ones that are interesting enough to share. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

That about sums up our time in France. Of course, we had Eze and Nice yesterday, but this tiny town, Sete, was the real deal. Just a sleepy fishing village.

I woke up one time coming out of a blackout, and I was on an airplane, descending to land in Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. And all I can think is I must have decided it was a good idea to go to France, and got my passport, and got on a plane.  — Joe Walsh, lead guitarist of the Eagles.

 

A very long day in Eze, Nice and Monaco

The morning after we left Livorno, we awakened in Monaco. That’s the best part of cruising. You go to bed at night in your hotel, and when you wake up, your hotel is in a brand new city. And you don’t have to unpack again.

In Monaco we were doing an eight-hour ship’s excursion that would take us to the hilltop village of Eze, the beachside city of Nice and then the old and new parts of Monaco. The afternoon before when we were watching the port video on the TV in our room we noticed that they had changed the rating of the excursion from “moderate” to “demanding.” Well demanding was fine for me but not for the rest of the group, especially Kathleen and Jamie but they came along with us hoping they would be able to find a place to sit and wait when it got “demanding.”

Hilltop Eze

Our “luxury motor coach” first took us to Eze. We had been to Eze back in 2007 and had loved it but it is quite a climb. So Kathleen and Jamie stayed at the bottom while Steve and I climbed up. Here’s my pics from Eze along with captions which will tell you even more. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

On to Nice

As soon as we climbed back down and collected our waiting wives, we were back on the bus for a short drive (again on crazy, twisty roads) to Nice, France. We did a 20-minute drive-through with our guide pointing out sites as we went. Then the driver dropped us off near the huge farmer’s market and the promenade that lined the beach. After a short walking tour, the guide told us we could wander off on our own and meet her back at the bus at a particular time. Of course, we walked in and found a place to have a seat and an Aperol Spritz (our clear choice of drink on this trip). While Kathleen, Jamie and Steve sipped their spritzes, I, of course, took a lot of pics. Here they are! You know the rules.

The Principality of Monaco

From Nice, we were off on the low road to Monaco. Although Monaco is less than one square mile, it is divided into two parts. The older section on top of the rock is much more historic. The newer section where you would find the casino (where James Bond plays cards) and the “fancy” shops are down the hill. It is amazing how many people have slammed into this tiny country. Since we were here in 2007, they have almost doubled their population yet; the area is still the same…although they are building out over the sea now.

We first stopped in the older part of Monaco, where you would find the cathedral, the palace and an awesome place for lunch. Our guide walked us up from a really strange underground parking lot that was so big about 20 “luxury motor coaches” could fit inside. When we reached the surface, it was a hike past the Oceanic museum to the cathedral. By this time, it was getting pretty late (lunch-wise), and Kathleen needed to eat, or she would get a headache. So she and I broke off from the group and walked up and found this awesome place that served us our favorite Aperol Spritz and a pizza Margherita. It was just what the doctor ordered.

After lunch (Steve and Jamie joined a few minutes later), we went back down, and I went into the Cathedral, took some shots, saw the grave of Princess Grace, remembered why I am not Catholic anymore and left. Took a few more pics of the outside, walked over and did the same at the palace, including a cool pano of the rest of Monaco, and that was about it for the old town. We met our guide at the yellow submarine outside the Oceanic Museum and went back down to the bus to be driven to the newer side, which the locals consider Monte Carlo.

On the Monte Carlo side, we did even less. Kathleen and another woman from the bus had had their fill of stairs, so they found a bench in the shade and waited while I went around and took a few more photos. We got back on the bus and went back to the ship. Here are the pics from Monaco. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

That concluded our day. It was a long one. Many hours on a “luxury motor coach” going around tight bends above high cliffs, seeing where rich people live. Eze was the best part. Just wish we could have stayed for some crêpes like we did the last time.

It’s true that Ferrari and Monaco are the two most important things to F1.   —Albert II, Prince of Monaco

Pisa and its Tower

This one will be short and sweet as I am still high as a kite about a photographic experience I just had in Tarragona, Spain, today (it’s Friday, September 23 as I write this). Besides, our visit to Pisa was not the best day of our trip. Not because the Tower wasn’t leaning, but because it was just kind of a ho-hum experience. After so many days of getting on a “luxury motor coach,” testing our Vox earsets (so we can hear our guide while we walk around), driving to wherever, getting off the bus, having the guide rush away like a madperson, having to go and ask them to slow down, listening to them tell you the history of everything while wearing the headsets, then going from place to place quickly and standing while the guide talks (you would think the guides are paid by the word), it was getting really old.

This was another of Viking’s “included” excursions, so we were on the bus to Pisa at 8:30 am. We are glad we went in the morning (we had a choice of the afternoon as well) because those who went in the afternoon said it was a total zoo with huge crowds. We were able to at least move around the square.

Today’s guide was a speed demon. She went so fast that the people at the back of the line lost track of her leading the group. And worse, there were numerous other groups from bus tours who had parked where our bus did, and we were mixing in with our crowd and we with them. It was horrible. And this was the day the Vox system that we bring from our rooms (headsets so we can hear the guide) decided to fail. We knew it wasn’t our headsets but the guide’s microphone because no one could understand about 80% of what she said—too much static.

So there we were in the square in Pisa, with the Tower and the basilica right in front of us and not able to understand a word the guide said, so we ditched the tour. We just took off on our own, went at our own pace and made our own plans. The guides kind of know you are going to do this because they tell you in advance where to meet to go back to the “luxury motor coach.”

So I shot some pics; it started to rain; we sat by the church and then decided to take refuge at a sidewalk cafe with huge umbrellas and have a cappuccino. It was delightful just to sit and people-watch. After a while, Steve and Jamie joined us, and we started walking back to the “luxury motor coach.” Then we found out that we were just going back to the same place to meet the “luxury motor coach.” If they had told us that, we could have turned the almost mile-long walk into something where Kathleen and Jamie could have rested every so often instead of their version of the Bataan Death March. These guides just do not get it. Usually, I tip our guides quite well. So far on this trip, I have tipped two. Just two. The others have either been rude, in a huge hurry, rambling or worse. Of course, we all tipped Luigi and Alessandro in Cinque Terre, but they weren’t Viking guides.

After the march, it was back on the “luxury motor coach” and back to the ship where I wrote you another blog post and processed my photos, which you can see below. Hope you enjoy them. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

That was our day in Pisa. Pretty boring, to be honest. I could have done the entire thing in an hour instead of the two-and-a-half that Viking thought we needed. But I truly think that’s because the guide was paid by the word. Too bad we couldn’t hear more than twenty percent of them.

I’ve been to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s a tower, and it’s leaning. You look at it, but nothing happens, so then you look for someplace to get a sandwich.  —Danny DeVito

“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and you can’t see it in a day

That headline was my feeble attempt at humor and to explain why we decided to stay on the ship when Viking Sky arrived in Civitavecchia, the port for the city of Rome. We have been to Rome at least three times before, and as much as we love the city, the idea of leaving the port at 6:45 am, driving the 45 minutes to an hour into Rome and then just driving around looking at the sites from the outside is just not something we wanted to do.

So this post is about pretty much nothing. We did some laundry. Stop! Let’s talk about that—laundry on a ship. Most cruise lines no longer have laundry facilities on board or never did. Our long-time old favorite, Celebrity, never has. If you needed something washed, you either did it yourself in your stateroom sink, or you sent it out to their fairly expensive laundry. On our January Holland America cruise, we were in a Neptune Suite, so we had laundry included. But being newbies here on Viking, we weren’t sure how the whole laundry thing would work out.

Laundry

It turns out it works wonderfully. On each deck, there is a small “laundrette” with three washers and three dryers stacked on top of each other. There are also two ironing boards for passenger use. If you decide to use the machines, you drop in your load, push a button to add the free soap and softener and then start it up. A timer on the front of the machine tells you how long until it’s done. I set a SIRI timer on my Apple watch for that amount of time and then I come back to change the loads. Only a couple of times when we have tried to use the machines has there been anyone else using them.

It’s all about the timing. If you go in the evenings, I have heard it can be very crowded. But we have done laundry three times. First when we got on board because we had been traveling on land for six days, then in Rome two weeks later because we were running short on some items, and today we are doing a quick load while we are here in Marseilles. All three of those times have been during the day when most of the ship is on shore.

Another great thing we found that kept me away from the ironing boards is that the type of stateroom we are in (a Penthouse Verandah) has free pressing included. So I wash the shirts I have been wearing to dinner and then toss them in a bag, and they come back tomorrow ready to wear, hanging on hangers. I love it.

In case you are wondering, we both pretty much do our own laundry at home, but she does the linens and other household stuff, and I do most of the cooking. Onboard I have to do the laundry because the way the dryers are situated above the washers, she can’t see into them, let alone reach them. This surprised a couple of the women I have run into while washing clothes.

Lots of places to relax

Another thing I want to mention about the ship is that is VERY evident when you are on board in a port but still very true all of the time. This ship has a lot of great places just to sit and relax, to have a conversation, to play cards or games, to do just about anything you want to do. At first, I thought it was that way because they just built in those spaces, but then I realized that there is another HUGE reason all these great spaces exist—the Nos. About a week before we sailed, I wrote a post about all the reasons we were sailing on Viking Ocean for this cruise and not one of the other lines we had used before. You can check it out by clicking here.

In that list, you can see that Viking has:

  1. No children (which means there is no space for a kid’s club).
  2. No art auctions (which means that space is not needed).
  3. No casino (which means an extra room where a casino would go)
  4. No ship’s photographers (which means you can use that space as well).

When you add up all the space that is revenue producing for other cruise lines and take it off the table, no wonder they have such awesome areas all around the ship that are just for passengers to relax. Here are some quick picks of some of my favorite places on the ship. You can go ahead and look at these with your phone…they are just onboard photos of some of my favorite spots.

That just about concludes our Roman day onboard the ship. We probably ate in The World Cafe and watched Downton Abbey. It’s funny that someone on Cruise Critic asked us what the nightlife was like. We can’t tell anyone because that’s not us. We finish a long day touring, have dinner someplace, go back to our room and collapse. Between my getting up at 5:00 am to walk my miles on deck two and the lousy sleep we have been getting, that’s about all we can manage.

Rome was not built in one day.  —John Heywood
You can’t see Rome in one day.  —Jim Bellomo

Pizza and Piazzas in Napoli

For those who were worried because I missed a day, never fear. We were in Monaco yesterday and did an eight-hour excursion that had us wiped out by the time we got back, so we had dinner and slept. But I am back now with my short tail of pizza and Piazzas—a Napoli excursion.

We had initially decided to do this elective (as opposed to included) excursion because, being the pizza-crazy Italian-American that I am, I wanted to watch them make pizza in the home of pizza—Napoli. But first, the Piazzas.

Wait! I should mention that when I got up for my morning walk on deck 2, I was treated to an incredible display of lightning on the sea about (I am guessing now—using the old count, the time between the lightning and thunder) 20 miles behind us. Every time my walk would take me aft, I would see five or ten streak lightning bursts hit the sea behind us. As we were trying to get into port, the storm caught up to us. Luckily for me, I had finished my walk by then and was safely inside. The storm was pretty much very heavy rain by this time. But it also meant that the visibility was cut down so much that we could not get into the port. It wasn’t because we couldn’t see to get in by because the pilot boat could not bring us the pilot. So Viking Sky kind of went back and forth just outside the port until the pilot boat could come in and get us. Here are a couple of photos I took while I was waiting for us to be able to dock. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

I should mention here that when we eventually got into the harbor, we (Viking Sky) were moored very close to Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. This Royal Caribbean behemoth made Sky look like a lifeboat. We have 9 decks; she has 18. We carry 928 passengers while she carries as many as 6,590. I didn’t notice a huge difference in how crowded the port was, but my brother, who went to Pompei (we had been there before), said the place was swamped with her passengers.

Before I tell you more about the pizza, I should tell you that Kathleen bowed out of this excursion. She still had not been sleeping well, and we were worried that the old stones of granite and marble that made up most of the walking surfaces in Naples would not be conducive to her not falling again as she had in San Francisco on our last trip and in Taormina on this one. So I was off on my own. The “luxury motor coach” picked us up just outside a flooded parking lot at the cruise terminal in Naples, and off we went for about two hours of just driving around. I think we stopped once to take pictures, but that was it.

This needs to be mentioned here (and it was just as true when we were here on a previous trip); Naples is a dirty city. There is garbage everywhere. Since it is highly industrial, the air isn’t the cleanest. So when you see my pics, realize that they do reflect the place.

Then it was lunchtime (we were running late due to getting into port late), so it was pizza time. This was fine with me because that’s why I was there. We stopped at Viking’s designated pizza stop. As you can see from the sign, Solopizza has been in business since 1979. Since pizza was invented in Napoli, I kind of thought we would get a place that had been in business since 1799, but it was not to be.

Inside we all sat down and waited while our pies were made. I was under the impression that we were going to be able to see a demonstration of how the pizzas were being made. I love making pizza, and I am always looking for new techniques, so this was the real reason I signed up for this tour. I asked the guide, and she said she would see what she could do. I got really lucky. Since I was the only one who even asked about it, she got them to let me watch them make the pizzas in the kitchen and take as many pictures as I wanted. I got some great technique ideas from the two pizza makers. You could tell they had been working together for quite a while as they made the pizzas with very little discussion, just one after the other. And let me tell you, the pizza was amazing. The hit was the Pizza Margherita, the most traditional Napoli pizza with just tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil on it. The crust was as close to perfection as I had ever eaten. They also had a rule, “One person, one pizza.” Thankfully when they brought the pizza, it was to be split among the groups at each table. But then they just kept bringing pizzas. They brought enough (and left the empty trays in the middle of the table) that we (9 of us at the table) realized we had almost eaten one pizza per person. It was a great lunch.

We then hopped back on the “luxury motor coach” and drove back into downtown Naples where we disembarked for a short tour of downtown followed by 30 minutes of “on-our-own” time. To me, this meant go take some pictures, which I did. Here are the fruits of my picture-taking in Naples. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…

After our downtown walk about, it was back on the “luxury motor coach” and off to Viking Sky at the pier. Kathleen had a relaxing day, and we kept in touch by text. I want to conclude my report on Naples by showing this amazing work of art. The best thing I saw there all day.

You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.  —Yogi Berra