Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Return to Reality

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.

Civitavecchia, Italy

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).

Livorno, Italy

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.

Portofino, Italy

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

The whole cruise was fairly luxurious, onboard and off, but this has to be the ultimate millionaire's paradise. We saw some huge yachts and boats in many of the ports but Monte Carlo is in a class of its own, not least for the Casino that sits up on the town square. In the morning, we took the train along to one of my favourite places, Villefranche, and enjoyed a stroll along its pretty promenade and narrow streets. In the afternoon, we walked miles to Monte Carlo's old town and caught the little tourist train which conveyed us around the famous sites.

Marseilles, France

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.

Palma, Majorca

Our last port of call before sailing to Barcelona for debarkation. It's many years since we holidayed on Majorca when the children were young and it was great to be back. Palma's stunning cathedral sits right beside the beautiful long promenade. After a walk along the front, we wandered through the old part of the town as we only had an afternoon here.

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.



Joanna said...

Welcome home, Rosemary. What a wonderful holiday - I really enjoyed reading your post and seeing these stunning pictures. Portofino looks amazing. I love pretty harbour towns.

Good luck with the catching up process and with all your autumn projects. xx

Frances Garrood said...

We visited some of the same places on our cruise, Rosemary. I'm glad you had such a good time. Enjoy the birthday!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks, Joanna - it was a great break from everyday life before getting stuck in again!

Thanks, Frances - it's better being on a slightly smaller ship to be allowed into some of these ports!

Teresa Ashby said...

It sounds lovely, Rosemary - and the photos are gorgeous. Marseilles sounds particularly interesting. Welcome back :-) x

Teresa Ashby said...

It sounds lovely, Rosemary - and the photos are gorgeous. Marseilles sounds particularly interesting. Welcome back :-) x

Angela Ackerman said...

What great pictures---sounds like you had a wonderful trip! :)

Jean Bull said...

Welcome home, Rosemary. That sounds like my sort of holiday! I've been to most of the places except Portofino. I'll have to put it on my list!

Wendy's Writing said...

I do love hearing about your wonderful cruises. I've never been to Portofino but it looks fabulous - I'm going to add it to my list of places to go.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Oh dear - my responses seem to have disappeared from yesterday. Sorry - I did reply!

Thank you, Teresa - Marseilles was most surprising!

Thanks, Angela- we did indeed!

Thanks, Jean - you would love Portofino!

Thanks, Wendy - hope you manage to visit it!

Vikki said...

It was amazing! Wish I was back on the shipx