A Travellerspoint blog

Home again

After Barcelona, we went to Funchal in the Madeira Islands. We were here on a Sunday, so most stuff was closed. It is a rather.small city, but very pretty.

From Funchal it was seven days at sea to Ft Lauderdale. The sea days were lovely and relaxing. Most days were quite warm (mid 20s). Though we encountered storm force winds one night, the ship was very steady.

Ft Lauderdale is totally overdeveloped. I can't imagine choosing it as a holiday destination. We were caught in a traffic jam for an hour one night about 6:30. We did have a comfortable motel and I did discover the best stamp store I have found in years and Shirl found a couple of fabric stores, so it was a good day before the marathon flights home on Wednesday.

The whole Penticton family met us at the airport and it is good to be home. The trip was everything we hoped it would be. We are thankful and content.

Posted by JimShirl 17:20 Comments (0)


Another beautiful, sunshiny day greeted us in Barcelona. Our tour to Montserrat left at 10:00, so we had a leisurely breakfast.

Monserrat is an old Benedictine monastery high up a windy road. Most of the buildings are fairly modern because of all the centuries of war destruction and earthquakes. It is a beautiful place and they have a large boy's choir which has been there for 500 years.

When we got back to the city, we took the subway to La Sagrada Familia basilica. It is without doubt the most beautiful building we have ever visited. The interior is a forest of lofty pillars but filled with light from all the windows, most of which are stained glass. There are few straight lines in the building, it is designed as a complex interplay of parabolas and other curved lines. You have to see it to get the effect. They have been building for about a century and estimate it will be done in 2026.

Posted by JimShirl 17:15 Comments (0)


It turned very windy over night and at about 10:00 the captain announced that it was not safe to go into Toulon harbour and therefore we would bypass it and head for Barcelona, keeping close to the coastline in calmer water. A bit disappointing, but we had a nice day on the ship relaxing. Tomorrow will be in Barcelona.

Posted by JimShirl 17:09 Comments (0)


The ship docked in the port city for Rome, Civitavecchia, along with nine other cruise ships. Dozens of buses carried us all off to Rome, an hour and a half away.

Our tour guide offered us tickets to the Vatican Museum which let us skip the 2-3 hour line up to buy tickets. The museum contained hall after hall of the most amazing stuff. My favourite, though, were a set of a dozen sixteenth century tapestries illustrating the life of Christ. The big bathtub looking thing In the picture with Shirley really is a bathtub from the ancient Baths of Caracticus.

The crowds were huge. We shuffled along borne by the hordes.

At the end of the museum walk was the Sistine Chapel. It is not large, but the famous ceiling and other paintings are beautiful. No picture taking allowed.

The guide had told us how to get from the chapel to St Peter's Basilica without going outside and needing to join another hour long queue. The Basilica is one of the architectural wonders of the world. But the crypt, with the sepulchres of many popes, including Peter, as tradition has it, was also very interesting.

We ate a quick, not very good, lunch from a kiosk in the street. Jim wanted to see the Pantheon, so he walked quickly over to it. Because time was short by now, he only had ten minutes there but it was worth the walk. It is the only Roman building left that is still in almost intact condition.



Rome was interesting, but one of the overwhelming memories will be the crowds.

Posted by JimShirl 17:04 Comments (0)


Actually, we didn't do anything in Naples itself. We took a bus tour along the Amalfi Coast and to Pompeii.

The Amalfi Coast is a famously scenic place. The bus crawled along a very narrow road for about 30 km. The road is high above the water and we could look straight down into the water from our seats at many places. There are many flowering shrubs, lemon and olive trees and terraces for other agriculture. The houses cling to the sides of the hills and often have four or five levels down the cliff face. It is one of the world's beauty spots according to UNESCO and now us.

After lunch in a hotel in Minori we drove to Pompeii and had two hours there. The ruins are extensive, but mostly brick walls. One building that is almost intact is a bath. They also have plaster casts of the holes in the ash that were left by the bodies of the people who died in the eruption in 79 AD. It would have been nice to have time for the museum where all the real treasures are.

Posted by JimShirl 16:50 Comments (0)

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