Well, I did indeed have a complete rest from social media for over a week - and from everything else in my normal everyday life! Husband, daughter and I just returned from a week's cruise of the Riviera yesterday and had a fabulous time visiting beautiful ports in Italy, France and Spain. It was a sort of pre-celebration for my special birthday coming up in October and I thoroughly enjoyed being spoiled onboard and enjoying an interesting city or town each day. It was full on, so I got plenty of exercise to counteract the fantastic food. Here's a quick impression of the ports.
We've been to this port of Rome a few times now and this time we stayed overnight as the ship sailed from there. It has a beautiful long promenade and a wide seafront and the view from the very basic hotel was a lovely start to the holiday, even though it turned cloudy on the morning we left. There's a brilliant statue on the prom, of a sailor greeting his girl, or saying goodbye (you decide).
Again, this was one port we've visited before and many passengers go on the tours to Florence. We always do our own thing on cruises and couldn't face the long trip in the heat so stayed in the elegant town for the morning. There's a great outdoor and indoor market selling every kind of fresh vegetable and fruit, as well as clothes and gifts.
Easily our favourite place as it's just so pretty, clean and interesting, with narrow cobbled (and hilly) streets leading up from the colourful harbour. I'd happily live here for a week, soaking up the creative atmosphere. There's a quirky sculpture park rising up from the port entrance and a very tiring, hilly walk up to the church and castle.
St Tropez, France
I was looking forward to seeing this legendary place, and enjoyed walking along the harbour front and exploring a few of the back streets, as well as the art gallery and a very good exhibition about the famous French actor who starred in the film, The Gendarmes of St Tropez. But I did think it all had an aura of shabby chic, or faded luxury, about it (though it was full of luxurious yachts and we saw a fashion shoot taking place) and it wasn't nearly as pretty as Portofino. Partly due to the nuisance traffic allowed along the front.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
We've never been here before and couldn't believe how beautiful it is, as it's the second biggest city in France, next to Paris. The harbour area is huge and truly lovely to walk round, with the impressive Cathedral visible on top of the hill. The old town is full of atmosphere and historical walls, fortress and Romanesque church as well as quirky little shops.
We took Le Petit Train and it turned out to be the best way to reach the Cathedral - taking us on a rickety journey round the coast and right up to the top of the hill. I managed to get a photo of the Chateau D'if lying just off the coast, which was the inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo. We're definitely hoping to have a holiday in Marseilles another year.
We were grateful to have a morning on the ship at last and I stayed out of the heat in its wonderful library! It was a glorious holiday and we had some memorable meals onboard, not least in the Red Ginger Restaurant, one of the speciality choices where the whole evening became an experience in Asian dining.
No wonder it's taking me a while to get back to reality, but I only have to look at the mountain of washing and endless emails to bring me down to earth. I'm just grateful to have had the chance to make so many more great memories with my lovely husband and daughter.