Here’s Lisa chatting with a local from Poggio, a tiny town high atop Mt. Cappenne on the island of Elba.
Napoleon was exiled here for nine months but it seems he got around even more than George Washington. Even the pizza places have signs saying “Napoleon ate here.”
Poggio is famous for chestnuts and charcoal. Chestnut trees cover the mountain and the charcoal was used to purify the iron found nearby. The hills used to be infested with Tuscan wild pigs, but they were all turned into salami some time ago.
We hiked a trail built in the 8th century by the Lombards to an ancient chapel in the sky. Which oddly also featured a Pokestop. Then back down for a typical lunch featuring boar stew and polenta. We were on the last tender back to the boat and as soon as we boarded the Captwin hauled anchor and set sail for the Amalfi coast.
We’ve been blessed by calm seas and smooth sailing but we miss you all. And fast Internet. And Niners games.
Bonjour from Monaco! So ends the first half of our cruise.
We tried very hard not to gloat as most of the ship’s cohort headed home today heaving heavy sighs. We debarked with them for a day of sightseeing in Monte Carlo, happy knowing that we’d soon be back on board for another 11 blissful days. This is the longest either of us has ever been away from home, but so far we’re handling it gracefully.
We were in Monaco for several days last year so we chose the lazy tour and rode the top deck of the Hop On Hop Off bus around town hunting Pokémon and shooting pictures.
Now we’re back aboard sipping drinks poolside and waiting for another gorgeous sail-away sunset. We don’t even care that we’ll be missing an Apple event in a few hours.
Lisa’s picture of the port of Monte Carlo featuring our ship is on the flip side. The Mediterranean really is that blue.
Tomorrow we head to Italy; Elba, Amalfi, Positano, and Pompeii await.
Love to you all – wish you could be sailing with us!
Today’s a sea day as we make the 500 mile run from Ibiza to La Lavandou in the south of France.
There’s nothing lazier than a sea day. Breakfast in the café – a triple mocha and an almond croissant for me, a cappuccino and fruit for Lisa. Then upstairs to our cabana on deck 12 to listen to books, play cards and do crosswords until lunch. It was rainy in the morning so we had the hot tub all to ourselves. By afternoon the sun was out and we enjoyed sunset on the deck while playing cribbage.
The crew on the Encore is universally jolly: our cabin stewardess, Sarah from Ireland, the sommelier, Nataly from Ukraine, our waiter, Miguel from Portugal, hotel manager Lynn from Belgium, and Jennifer our Maitre d’ from the UK. They’re all so friendly and helpful. We want to take them home with us.
Today’s picture is from our aerie looking down on the pool deck. It truly is a sight.
Lisa is standing in front of the “mystic” rock that inspired Stephen Spielberg’s rock from Close Encounters. At least that’s the story the locals tell.
Today we 4x4d off-road to get away from the discos and see the nature and beaches on the west side of the island. Let’s just put it this way, we’re glad to have survived the ride. But we got a good look at wild Ibiza.
That’s our last stop in Spain.Tomorrow’s a sea day so we’re going to take it easy. Then we’re headed for France.
We’re sailing out of Malaga, Spain at sunset. The band is playing at the pool, we’re nibbling on our nightly in-room caviar (!), and editing our photos.
The big decision tonight is where to eat dinner: Italian night on the back deck, steak at the Thomas Keller grill, or the Chef’s Dinner in the main restaurant. I’m lobbying for the sushi bar; I hear the toro is really good. There’s always in-room dining. Life is so tough shipboard.
Malaga is a pretty little vacation town. The flip side is the view from the old Portuguese fort overlooking the town bull ring. You can see our ship in the distance. We took a tapas tour with Fernando, a philologist who loved talking about how many English words came from Arabic. We’ve been blessed to have exceptional guides on this trip. They’re all locals with great style and stories.
Tomorrow, Cartagena, a town founded in the 3rd century BC. Cartagena comes from the Arabic words for New Town. New indeed!
Yesterday was a sea day so we did nothing but lounge about. It was a perfect (non) Labor Day.
Today we traveled into Seville, about an hour and a half from the port of Cadiz, and saw the amazing Plaza de España and the Real Alcázar, the palace of the king of Spain (when he’s in town). The Alcázar dates back to the 13th century and combines Moorish and Gothic architecture with beautiful gardens and fountains and the most lovely detailed plaster work we’ve ever seen.
On the flipside Just a bit of the Seville Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the the world and truly awe inspiring. Tomorrow on to Portugal! Love to you all,
Just a quick note because the ship is about to sail and we’ll be out of cellular range until Tuesday.
Valencia is amazing – an undiscovered gem on the Mediterranean. This is where paella was invented but they make it with chicken not seafood.
Also home to an amazing group of buildings by Santiago Calatrava, the designer of the whale next to the 9-11 Memorial in New York. On the flip side is one the group. It looks like a giant eye in the sun.
We’re having a blast. Just had caviar service before dinner at the Thomas Keller restaurant on board. Next stop Cadiz!
We spent the day wandering the Gothic Quarter and the old market, La Bouqueria, with our guide, Lidia, ate lots of jamon Iberico, and ended with a visit to the Picasso Museum. Picasso gave the museum hundreds of paintings from his workshop and it was fascinating to see his development from a precocious 15-year-old to the genius we know today.
We ate dinner at a cafe on Plaza Reial just off La Rambla – more ham, late summer tomatoes, and Spanish cheese topped off with a perfect apple tart and coffee. Then we hunted Pokémon all the way back to our hotel in the old Jewish Quarter.
Tomorrow we board our ship and sail for Valencia, Spain.