The Cruise

I was actually a little surprised when I went back and looked through my Europe photos. Once I got on the cruise ship, I basically stopped photographing things! I have photos from some of the ports we stopped in, but nothing from the ship. We did take a few pictures with our phones when we were in the ice bar (because hi, a room made out of ice is pretty cool... no pun intended) so hop over to Instagram to see those. I'm @theidenthal

We sailed on the Norwegian Epic. It's a monstrously large ship with... I don't know, 15 restaurants inside? There are a lot. We've cruised with Carnival before, but it was definitely a new experience to choose different restaurants every night. Erik was particularly thrilled because they had a Brazilian steak house, which is where you're brought endless pieces of meat of every kind you can imagine. That was a happy Erik night. Me? I enjoyed their fried bananas. Actually, my favorite restaurant on the ship surprised me. It was French and you could tell a lot of care went into every bit of food there. One night, we did a dinner/show where the tables were all set up in a circle around a tiny little stage in the middle. Different circus performers came out and performed while you ate and it was actually really amazing to see acrobatics, contortionists, illusionists, and all sorts of other crazy tricks up close. That was definitely a good night too.

Anyway! Back to the cruising part of the cruise!

Our first stop was in Florence/Pisa. We visited both and I have to say that the leaning tower of Pisa is a little underwhelming... especially when you drive to Pisa just to see it. No offense to any Pisa lovers out there, but I'd forego that if I could redo this trip. 

Our tour guide on this day who picked us up from the cruise ship and took us to all these lovely spots was fab. She was small but passionate! And went to bat for us when we were being harassed by street peddlers. Those guys should have been glad she didn't beat them up. I wouldn't have put it past her ;)

The statue of David was beautiful of course. So were many of the statues around him though. The massive quantity and quality of art in Italy is just impossible to wrap your brain around.

The next port we hit was Cannes, France. This was one of the few days we didn't plan anything to do, so we hit the beach. Sorry, no beach pictures. We were busy soaking up the sun and shielding Cade's eyes from the more liberal female beach goers :)

Then, we went to Barcelona, Spain. We visited a Gothic style cathedral, had enormous glasses of sangria, took a hop on hop off city bus tour, visited the Olympic stadium, and made a mad dash for the ship in a very stressful final hour of Barcelona. It's too complicated to explain all the confusion of THAT, but let's just say we all breathed a sigh of relief when we got back on the ship.

Sorrento was incredibly beautiful. We got there early enough in the morning for the light to be lovely and the cliffs were just amazing. We saw all this in just a little pit stop on the side of the road. Then we carried on to our destination which was Naples. There, we went to a lovely restaurant (there's no shortage of those in Italy) where the chef was nice enough to take us into the kitchen and show us how to make pizza. He let us all make our own little pizzas and you wouldn't think they'd be as delicious that way, but they were. It's all about good ingredients! That was probably my favorite meal in Italy. It was nice to eat on the patio, the food was incredible, the wine was good (I ordered the house wine almost everywhere I went so I didn't always love it), and they even gave us these ice cold chocolate shots of liquor at the end of the meal. I have no idea what they actually were. They just magically arrived with the bill, but they were delicious and since no one in my family drinks alcohol and Erik doesn't like chocolate, I could have two :) Well, really, I could have had like five, but I did NOT do that!

After lunch, we visited Pompeii. We played "don't touch the lava" because um what better place to do THAT? And just generally explored. It really is an entire city and I had never understood how enormous and well-preserved it is until seeing it.

And you guys, that's IT. That's our trip. Something like this could never really be adequately blogged about, but I know years from now I'll be able to read back on this and remember a few things I may have forgotten. I do wish there were more ship photos, but part of vacation is letting go! Leaving your room without anything except your key. Being cell phone-less all the time and camera-less most of the time was incredibly liberating. It's refreshing to just disappear from the world for a while and just BE IN IT.