And, since most of you know me pretty well, you know that there must be some sort of a deal that we got on this trip, right?! Of COURSE!
I've mentioned this company/website before, but if you haven't checked them out yet, you need to! (hmmm... wonder if I could start getting some sort of kick-back from them for all of this advertising?! ;)) The webiste is Travelzoo.com. Every Wednesday, they send out a "Travelzoo's Top 20" that includes the top 20 vacation deals from your home city. And when I say deals, I mean crazy markdowns on really great trips, restaurants, and entertainment. Our cruise was close to 70% off with a free upgrade to a balcony suite and two free hotel nights that we can use anywhere (Europe, U.S., etc.) within the next 12 months! Woo-Hoo! I could hardly contain myself when I spoke to the travel agent and got all of the information. This was a trip we hoped to take for a 15 or 20-year anniversary, not FIVE!
So, sign up at travelzoo.com today (again, no commissions here, just wanting to share the deal-finding love)- you only have to give your email and home city.
On to pictures from the trip! I'm going to post each day/city separately so that there are not 100+ pics in one post. ;) Here goes day one!
Making our way to the new international terminal in Atlanta!
Saying bye to my sweet mama who dropped us off
Enjoying a humongous salad before getting on the plain.
Getting ready to board for ROME!
When we arrived, we had about four hours before we had to be at the port, so we decided to take the train to the Colosseum before heading down to Civitavecchia to board the ship. It was unbelievable!
Can you say, tourists?! HA!
What makes this shot even better is about 5 minutes after this picture, I decided to open the luggage and take out my walking shoes (as in New Balance sneakers) and put them on because my "cute" shoes were far from comfortable at this point. Oh wow. So Matt had the camera around his neck, we were each rolling our suit cases, and I was wearing running shoes with a dress. AHH! hahaha...
My "artsy" picture of the Colosseum from the street. I had fun playing with the manual settings on our new camera! I got a lot more confident with using it as the week went on!
First night dinner
Matt loved ordering two meals just about every night of the trip- ha! That plate in the middle is his second main course. ;)
After dinner, we toured the ship and found this Johnny Rockets that we ate at for lunch a few times during the week- YUM!
The ship traveled overnight to our first stop in Messina, Sicily. Rather than taking part in the planned excursions in each port city, Matt and I decided to go out on our own. It was SO fun to explore the cities with the "regulars", figuring out how to get to where we wanted to go, whether it be the train station, bus station, or walking to locally recommended shops and restaurants.
If there was ever a time when we were curious to learn more about a particular site, we would inconspicuously hover (take lots of pictures, look pensively, look like we were talking about what we were viewing, etc.) near a tour guide who was explaining information to a tour group- ha! So instead of paying $180-$250 per tour at each stop, we would spend 1.80 Euro a piece on a train and go at our own pace throughout the day!
This was also fun at our stops in Italy because it gave me a chance to use some of my Italian again, which surprisingly came back to me better than I thought it would. (I took Italian in high school and college and got to study abroad in Italy for 6 weeks one summer, living with a family and teaching English in an Italian elementary school.) Understanding was much easier than speaking, so whenever Matt and I were asking for directions, I would walk up to a local, ask a question, and if they started talking a mile a minute, I would say, "Solo parlo un po di Italiano, ma se parla piu piano, ho capitio migliore, grazie." (I only speak a little bit of Italian, but if you speak slowly, I can understand fairly well, thank you.) It worked out great! And made me excited that I really could understand the language still!
From Messina, where we docked, Matt and I walked to the train station and took a 45 minute train to Taormina, where we spent the day until it was time to return to the ship. It was beautiful!!!
On our way to Taormina!
We walked through the lobby of this hotel, Grand Hotel Timeo, where the starting price for one night is 480 Euro. What?! It was incredible. The pictures below are from the balcony/eating area of the hotel. We considered having lunch here but were afraid it might cost a fortune! So we just took pictures instead. :)
We found this cute pizza place that overlooked the water and decided to have lunch there instead.
Entrance, Pizzeria Restaurant, Terrace
Gelato for dessert!
And back to the ship for dinner after a great first day!