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Trip Reports & Member Reviews Discuss Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts in the Vacation Planning forums; Need to know- I am Kaleigh, 31 (had birthday on cruise) James is DH 32 and our daughter stayed home with the grands. This was our first trip to Europe ...
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    Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts UPDATED

    Need to know- I am Kaleigh, 31 (had birthday on cruise) James is DH 32 and our daughter stayed home with the grands. This was our first trip to Europe and our first Disney cruise.

    So, honestly I have no idea how long or detailed this will be. I will try to hold it to what is actually interesting, but I find my reactions to being in Europe for the first time pretty entertaining. So, buckle up and hang for as long as you like. I really just don't want to forget a single second of this amazing trip.
    Day 1- We took the overnight plane from JFK, and I was so excited that I could barely sleep. Here's the rub: two nights before I had woken up at 3 in the morning, excited about the trip and had a genius thought, "If I stayed up now, and went to bed early and did the same tomorrow, I could get myself on Barcelona time and avoid jetlag." And it worked...until that plane ride. It took off at 6, and they fed us dinner at about 8 (which would be much later in Barcelona), then there was a snack and excitement and discomfort and....very little sleep. Hence, jetlag. But who cares? My feet were about to touch European soil for the first time. And when we landed and saw the mountains in the distance and the Mediterranean, even in the rain, I sighed a sigh of joy and almost had to pinch myself.
    So, in order to avoid luggage fees (which are apparently nonexistent on international flights if you only have one bag) and to facilitate easier travel throughout Barcelona as well as an indoctination by Rick Steves to believe that backpacking through Europe and packing light really is the only way to go, we both just brought one hiking backpack each. More on how that worked later...but, for now just know that we both have fairly easy access to our clothes and James changes into long pants and a pink shirt that I had convinced him to buy for the trip. Now, most of you do not know James, but if you did, you would know that he wears shorts EVERYWHERE. In the middle of winter North Dakota, James changed into shorts everyday upon returning from work. In 40 degree football James where everyone else is bundled up, James is in shorts. So this long pants thing was a huge departure for him, and one that actually worked and was useful in this trip. See, not only does James wear shorts, but he wears tube socks up almost to his knees. Our goal was to not stick out in Europe as American tourists if at all possible. Pretty sure that didn't happen, but I bet the pants kept us from being laughed at in Italy. Suffice to say, the shorts would have definitely been out of place as everyone in Europe wears, wait for it.........jeans. And not much pink, which I had been convinced that European men wore. Oh well.
    So, James is changing and I am putting on a sweater and we are both a little iffy about being possibly pickpocketed and are concerned about exactly what the bathroom will be like and whether or not it will be our last free public restroom. But, no shady characters around and a perfectly modern, free restroom awaited us. I cannot begin to express the excitement at this point. We get our passports stamped for the first time (SQUEE!) and head out to find our train into Barcelona.
    If you are bored, I apologize. Find a shorter, less descriptive report. Just know, that this will probably continue throughout the entire report and I have pictures coming.
    Last edited by Kaleigh; 08-16-2010 at 02:31 PM.

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    woo hoo.. pictures are what i like and i know a guy like your hubby.. he wears his shorts pulled up to his armpits though.. and then the tube socks.. my hubby gets him at every autozone get together..
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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Had an easy train ride into town, passing graffiti and run-down apartment complexes with satellite dishes on the balconies. The train was very nice and clean; I thought it was nicer than New Yorks subway trains. We finally made our way to our stop at Passeig de Gracia which exits on the "block of discord" in the Eixample and is only a few short blocks from the Placa de Cataluyna which is where our hotel is. Only problem? It is raining. But, who cares when you are finally seeing something that you have watched countless travel shows on and have studied up on in preparation: the block of discord which is called that because it looks like the houses are competing against each other in architecture. The house on the right that looks like a dragon is designed by Gaudi and based on St. George and the dragon.

    We walked through the rain to our hotel which was right off the Placa (main plaza in Barcelona at the top of the Ramblas) and I prepared to try out my new language skills on the hotel clerk. See, in Barcelona, the main language is Catalan, not Spanish. And I had looked up a few Catalan phrases in preparation, one of which had something to do with needing to check in to the hotel. Well, James goes in ahead of me and apparently the lady said hi to him, unbeknownst to me because I go in and start with my Catalan... and she looks at me confused and asks, "are you checking in?" So she speaks English, and my Catalan ****s. We are able to get into our room immediately (at 10:00 in the morning!) and drop our backpacks.
    The room is great, a little small, but completely modern and clean with a great view.

    More to come!

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    awesome
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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    awesome so far!! I'd love to travel to Europe one day!!
    Tiffany~o ~ D23 member

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    So, we are still in Day 1, picking up at the hotel, heading out into the rain to explore Barcelona. (I had planned all this in advance, except for where we would eat lunch) A stop to pick up an umbrella is needed at the largest department store I have ever seen. (More on the store later) And, I actually had my only experience with someone who didn't speak English in the store, in Spain that is. It went just fine, although I did not whip out my poor Catalan. Then we head out in the direction of the Gothic Quarter. We are huddling under the umbrella. (Well, I was huddling as her is 6'4" and I am 4'10'.) And I am reading the Rick Steves tour through the Gothic Quarter out loud. First stop was the original Roman gate which is where the old city actually started, and here is where our first taste of how old Europe really is hit us. These bricks have been here for thousands of years. So cool!

    We make a quick stop in the old deacon's house and make our way over to the Cathedral. The exterior was under construction, so pictures outside weren't great. Here is one.


    Here is the cool thing about the Cathedral: if you get there before noon, admission is free. So we took advantage of that. The church was large and pretty, but stuffed full of people. It didn't knock my socks off like I thought it might. We left and started wandering the Gothic Quarter because it just looked so neat. We got lost on winding streets with little tucked away cafes that advertised churros con xocolata (chocolate) which we should have taken advantage of. We nipped into a little church we had never heard of that turned out to be absolutely beautiful and was just finishing up daily mass.
    We found a little square with the same name as our daughter, Veronica, and had to take a picture. And we saw Barcelona's bridge of sighs which connected the old palace and the cathedral.

    By now, we were starving even though it was only noon. And people in Barcelona don't eat lunch until at least 1, so we were going to stick out like touristic sore thumbs if we ate now, but we gave in. We found a little restaurant that looked like it might be open, but was deserted. There was a waitress/bartender who said they were open and got us a table. Little did I know that if we had only waited like 30 minutes, we would have been able to enjoy the tapas at the bar for cheaper prices. Instead, we had to order off the more expensive menu. But, it was not too pricey, and we just wanted food and a bathroom. So, now I give you... our food pictures! This is bread with garlic and tomatoes rubbed into it. It is kind of like a Catalan bruschetta.

    James ordered meat and potatoes. Okay, it was veal, but still. Adventurous eating is not what James enjoys. I think if there had been a Chick Fila, he would have kissed the ground.

    I was more adventurous than James and ordered this which was basically chorizo, potatoes and spices in a tomato broth. Perfect for the cool, rainy day.


    More to come!

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Still in day 1, lunch is over and now we are heading to a church of special significance to me. Well, within the week prior to the trip gained significance to me because I read a book about it. It is called Cathedral of the Sea, and the church is Santa Maria del Mar. The book is amazing and takes place in Barcelona during the building of the church, and the main character is one of the common men who carried the stones from Montjuic, down the beach to the site of the future church. The story is fiction, but the sites are real, and the church really was built by the common people of Barcelona and there were these men who carried these stones on their backs miles to build this church. And it is closed when we arrive. But, I take a picture of the tribute to these men which is above the doors of the church, and James promises that we will try to return.

    We walk back toward the Placa de Catalunya through La Ribera, a very neat neighborhood which is not quite as old as the Gothic Quarter, but is just as intriguing. I just loved how it looked.

    On our way, we decide to look for the City Museum of Barcelona which is supposed to have an underground Roman city as well as a walk through the old palace. We found it and toured it. Even for newbies to old stuff like us, it was a little boring. We knew what we had coming at Pompeii had to be better. But, we got to step foot in the room where Ferdinand and Isabella received Columbus after he returned from discovering America. So that's cool.
    After that detour, we decide to head to El Corte Ingles for some churros and xocolata because I had read some blog where these people ate them there, overlooking Barcelona, and had this idea that we had to go there. Now, let me tell you about this store. It is like a supermarket, Macy's, Home Depot, furniture story, fabric store, liquor store, Best Buy, and cafe all in one. And the cafe is on the top floor, which is like floor 11 or something. I could look it up, but I am too lazy. All I know is that it felt like we took a million escalators up to the top. Then, we couldn't find any trace of the churros. Too embarrassed to ask, we headed down and decided to forego the churros for the time being. Anyway, it is now time for us to head to the most stunning attraction in all of Barcelona- La Sagrada Familia.
    This church absolutely defies what you normally think about churches. Instead of stained glass inside the church telling the story of Jesus, it is the architecture on the outside. It is still under construction, has been for over a hundred years, and probably will be for another at least 30. I hope I get to see it completed in my lifetime. So we took the subway up to it, pausing to look like stupid lost tourists at the subway map which attracted a shady character who claimed to need money to call home. Of course, we got outta there immediately and found our way just fine. Again, the subway here rocks. And remember, we are still traveling on our T10 card.
    The church is breathtaking and entirely worth the money, even though it is pricey. And I spend the next 30 minutes or so pointing out to James things I am sure he could see for himself. "Look, there is Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss!" "Look, there is Peter denying Jesus by the fire!" "Look, there are the wise men!" and so it goes. As James took pictures, I gawked and so several picture from Sagrada Familia have my butt in the foreground. Fun. And no, I will not post one here. But, I will say "Look, there is Mary and Joseph on the donkey!"

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Still Day 1- After seeing the Sagrada Familia, we hopped across the street for some churros and chocolate, finally. Unfortunately, we overpaid because we were right next to a major tourist spot. We should have gotten them in one of the more off the beaten path places earlier and probably would have gotten a larger portion for cheaper. Oh, and the way they eat churros and chocolate in Spain is a little different than you might imagine. They get these thick cups of hot chocolate and dip the deep fried sugar donut sticks into them. Yum!
    The rest of the evening ended up being a not that interesting mess. So here is the short version- walked the Ramblas in the rain, couldn't find anything decent to eat, went to a boring mall, got soaked getting back to the hotel, capped the evening off with chocolate cake.
    And now, we finally make it to DAY 2! We get up, super excited about getting on the cruise, but still very early due to jetlag. So, we decide to hold off on checking out and head back to the Santa Maria del Mar to see it before going to the boat. It was enormous, and just beautiful in its stark simplicity. I was just thrilled to see it after reading the book about it. I think in our entire trip that we didn't see a church that felt older.
    After getting back to the hotel to check out, we load up our backpacks on our backs and take the subway down to the waterfront, planning to take a bus to the terminal. The sun is coming out for the first time since we have been in Barcelona, and we wander around by the Christopher Columbus monument for a bit looking for the bus stop, and a bus had just pulled away. The info I had read before the trip claimed that there were at least 3 more bus stops along the way before our terminal, so we decide to walk until we get to the next one. It is a nice day, after all.
    After about a quarter of a mile, we see another bus stop, but there is no bus. So we decide to keep walking. It can't be THAT far. We see another bus pass after a bit, but no more bus stops. So we keep walking. And walking. We wonder if we didn't turn when we were supposed to, but we see the Disney ship way up ahead, so we keep going. And are then confronted by where we are supposed to turn: the bridge. Now, this is a huge bridge that is arched so that some ships can go under it. And it is very steep and long. And we still have our backpacks. But, there are no more bus stops, so we have no choice but to hike the bridge. We must have looked so crazy hiking that bridge with our backpacks! Later, when talking to our dining partners, Eliza and Maynard, we find out that they saw us and wondered what in the world would inspire someone to climb that bridge, nevertheless with backpacks They laughed like crazy when they realized it was us. So, hot and sweaty, we finally get to the terminal after a good hour of walking. We are thrilled to dump our bags with the Disney folk and get into line.
    The wait wasn't bad, and I kept trying to recognize people from the DisBoards. The atmosphere was festive, and they even had a flamenco dancer in the terminal. We had a bit of a wait which we thought would be much longer, considering how slowly they were calling the numbers at first, but soon it was our turn to board the ship.

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Middle of Day 2- Just boarded the ship! After boarding and getting announced and all that, we head to Rockin Bar D's to get on the list for a Palo Brunch and head up to Topsiders for the buffet. Finding a table was really difficult, and we ended up letting another couple sit with us. Hi Marty and Allison, if you ever come across this blog! While standing in line at the buffet, I keep glancing at the guy in front of me in line, suspecting that he may be our dinner partner that we had set up in advance. And it is! So that is our first introduction to Maynard and, later his amazing wife, Eliza. These people absolutely rocked, and we were so lucky to find them to eat with every night.
    As for the meal...ugh. I ate enough to not be hungry, but am glad I wasn't paying out of pocket for it.
    At 1, we head down to our room and WHOA! So, we originally booked a cat 11, I think. It was a military discount and we were just thrilled to get a 10 night cruise for the price we paid. Well, we were upgraded to a freakin veranda on the 5th floor. It was such a great location too because it was so close to the elevators and the atrium. I start paging through the navigator(schedule) and James is drooling over our view of Montjuic and then... he says "okay, let's go back out so we can hit the Maritime Museum." Now, it is unfair to James to say that I didn't expect this at all. He had been talking about it, but I figured that after the bridge debacle, we would just explore the ship etc. James often does this on our trips, and I just have to roll with it, but it is against everything in my nature. When I am on Disney property, the last thing I want to do is go outlet mall shopping, or attend a college football game (both of which he has dragged me to). I don't even like eating off property. The one thing I was okay with was going to see the musical, Wicked down there a few years ago, but we had planned that way out. So, feeling that my heart was being ripped from my chest (yes, I am a bit dramatic), we left the boat and took the BUS to the monument which is right next to the museum.
    It was only 5 euros for both of us because it was being renovated, but James got to see what he really wanted which was the replica galley.

    It was pretty cool, and didn't take very long, and soon enough we were back on the boat for the safety drill. After that, we headed up for a snack (or full meal, whatever) of chicken fingers and pizza and walked the deck. We tour the ship a bit, and head back to the room to figure out what to do until dinner which is not until 8:30.
    So, here is the weird thing. Normally, James is not big on getting out there and meeting people or doing stuff. He is a bid standoffish at first. Not on the ship. He decided that he wanted to get in there and do what was available which turned out to be great. So we plan to go see Mickey Mania, a game show, then the big show for the night. About halfway through Mickey Mania, we realized that we know MUCH more about Disney than the people playing and decide to volunteer next time.
    We go to the main show that night which was a combination of the entertainers we would see later, mainly a ventriloquist and a flamboyant magician. We really enjoy the show and are surprised at the level of talent in the main cast. It actually ended up being James' second favorite show of the whole trip. Not even a full day on the boat, and we are already having a blast.

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Second Day- Conclusion. So, I knew I would mess up if I tried to go by memory instead of by looking at my navigators. The Mickey Mania game was actually AFTER the main program that night. What is the importance in that small detail, you may ask? Well, now that I remember that, I recall that James didn't even want to go to the show that night. He was reading a book, and I left early to explore the ship and begged him to meet me there. He did, and the show was so impressive to him, he decided to get involved. A small detail, but interesting to note.
    After the game show was our first dinner. We were in Parrot Cay, and Eliza and Maynard were there waiting for us. We clicked immediately with them, and we would later learn that we had quite a bit in common with them. They live, quite literally, in the back yard of Disneyland and are two of the neatest people we have ever met. Unfortunately, they were the best thing about dinner that night as the food was slightly/ very disappointing. Both of the guys steaks were overcooked and mine was just kind of eh. Dinner took quite awhile, mostly because we were talking and laughing with Eliza and Maynard. One of our servers later told us they thought we all knew each other.
    Well, James had seen 2 words on the navigator that always capture his imagination... scavenger hunt. And he decided that we were going to this scavenger hunt in Rockin Bar D's after dinner. We hoped to be looking all over the ship for things, and feared for something hokey. We made our way down, and began a ritual which we would follow each night after dinner: adult time at Rockin Bar D's.
    David, our emcee, told us to all get in groups of at least 4. Our group ended up being: me and James, a couple that appeared to be in their 60's, Susan and Mike, an Irish guy who appeared keen to live up to the Irish stereotype, and a guy, Greg, who was traveling alone and very sweet. Now, this scavenger hunt was one where you had to find a specific item within the room or within the group. An example would be a drink menu, a belt, the shortest person in your group (me), the tallest person in your group (James) and so on. Our group designated James as the leader who would bring the items to the front. All was fine and dandy until David called out "a woman's bra". Now, normally, I would have gladly volunteered, but I was wearing a camisole with a built in bra, so it wasn't coming off. To our shock and laughter, Susan (the 60+ lady) stepped up and wriggled out of her bra so that James could run it up to the front. The one item we could not bring to the front was a man wearing women's shoes because James cannot even fit his toes into a woman's shoes. Lucky for us, he didn't make it up there because they ended up making those guys dance with the bra on, the shoes and other various items. Wait, maybe that would have been good....And thus ended our first day on a Disney cruise. Old lady bra and all!
    Last edited by Kaleigh; 07-31-2010 at 10:15 PM.

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    sounds like so much fun!! Can't wait for more!
    Tiffany~o ~ D23 member

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Day 3- Today was a sea day, so it was great to sleep in and finally catch up to Europe time. We got up and decided to go to brunch at Lumiere's which was actually the only time we ate breakfast or lunch in the restaurants on board. I got fruit and this amazing broiled or pan seared fish with lemon. James got waffles and said they were just okay. Now, I am not sure if I have mentioned this previously, but James is very into history. His degree is in history, he reads it for fun and that is what he loves most about traveling, the history of it all. We saw that there would be some history talks on board and were excited to attend them. Which is why at 10:00 that morning, we headed to the big theatre to listen to the lecturer who was to speak on the history of Tunisia. Neat, huh? Well, it could have been if James had been giving the lecture. And he knows very little of Tunisian history, but he knows more than the guest lecturer did. Just to give you an idea, her sources were from wikipedia and google. It felt like she just googled Tunisia and built a slide presentation about it. We won some chocolate for answering questions right, and that was the high point. So we would NOT be attending any more of this woman's history talks, but unfortunately would be forced to hear her speak again. More on that later. A good part of this is that we might have found a good second career for James after the military. That would be so cool to cruise around, giving lectures on the different ports. He would rock at that because he is such a good teacher.
    At 1:00, I went to a cooking demonstration which I was excited about because I have totally been all about the food network lately. James was reading some history book about Malta or something, so I went alone. And who do I see, but Susan and Mike from last night! They invited me to sit with them, which I did. The entree was Jamaican Jerk Chicken with rice and beans. We all got a sample with a small wine sample. It was really good, but the recipe they gave us was not what the chef did at all. And the chef would not have been Food Network Star material if you know what I mean. He was trying, but was just not great at demonstrating or describing what he was doing. It went super fast, then a sommelier came out and talked about wine tasting for a bit. After, I stayed and talked to Susan and Mike for a bit and found out that they were huge Disney fans too, were DVC and even sent their kids on honeymoons using their points. They were a great couple.
    So, our DISboard meeting was to be at 2 in the Promenade Lounge, and I drug James along to meet everyone. It went very well, and here is a pic of us all.

    We ran into most of these amazing people many times throughout the cruise. Maynard and Eliza missed the meeting as well as this great college kid, Mike, who wants to work for Disney one day. (He and his family were going to hear the history talk on Pompeii; I felt sorry for them.)

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Still Day 3- So, this is a very special update to this trip report because it will not be posted on my website due to the fact that my grandma is reading that trip report. Because after the Disboards meet, I had a reservation to the TEQUILA TASTING! Yay!
    I am a big fan of margaritas, but had never shot tequila before. James was originally going to participate as well, but was feeling a bit seasick that day, so decided to forego the drinking. But, he came along to watch. One of the disboarder's husbands was going along as well which turned out to be really funny because he apparently dealt with seasickness too, but he had a different take on it. "Drinking cures seasickness, or at least makes you not notice it." I guess the idea is that you are oblivious...?
    So we make our way down to Diversions and join a very small group of normal looking adults who, within minutes are shooting tequila like college students. Seriously, they had limes and salt and everything. After the tequila was explained to us, we learned different shooting techniques, then it was a free-for-all with everyone spiking their margaritas with the extra tequila from the shots. Let me tell you, these were large shots. This tasting would be double the price in Epcot. We started with Patron Silver and it got better from there. 3 shots and 2 mini margaritas and I felt good the rest of the day, not sloppy or hungover or headachy, just good. I guess that is what good tequila does. I wanted to do the martini and mixed drinks tastings, but they ended up being when other stuff was going on. One more thing to do next time!
    After tequila tasting. Forgive me if I don't remember too well. I know I ate fast food up on deck, and I was consistently happy with the food quality/selection. They always had some interesting pizza selections and pretty good burgers. I think I slept the rest of the afternoon. That evening was formal night. Oh yeah, I read my new Nora Roberts book in the tub. Yes, that tiny tub in our room. I am willing to make ANY tub work. So we got dandied up for formal night. Well, as dandied as we could with what we carried in our backpacks. Twice Charmed was the show for tonight, and I just loved it. The quality of the acting and singing continued to surprise me, and I started the standing ovation. Which was pretty much just me and maybe one other dude...
    But they deserved it, and I loved it. After the show, we went to see the ventriloquist in Rockin Bar D's and saw the people we could have been had we brought Veronica along. This poor couple looked miserable with their child who was V's age. We talked to them a bit, and they said "you made the right choice" when we told them how we left her with the g-parents. I think it is just difficult to really relax with a child that young on a cruise in Europe.
    The ventriloquist was super funny, but not entirely child friendly which was funny considering it was supposed to be the family show.
    Day 3- Dinner and Late Evening
    So tonight's dinner was the Prince and Princess Meal. The meal was definitely better than the previous night's. Eliza and I got lamb that was so good we ordered more. (I have pictures, but I am an absolute idiot at trying to put pictures in here and can't figure out how to get them onto a webpage from my download folder.)
    After dinner, we went to Rockin Bar D's for the "adult cabaret" of the magician. Now this magician was truly something to behold. He was the fulfillment of every cliche that you have ever held about magicians/illusionists.
    A slim, dark Frenchman wearing all black comes onstage to rock music that was cool maybe 8 years ago (This Love by Maroon 6 tonight). Suddenly, his thin, blonde assistant appears wearing... a leopard print halter top catsuit. Yep. Imagine that. She dances and dramatically hands him items, and honestly does more impressive illusions than old Phil. (the magician) There was no humor or self depreciation in the entire show, only entirely serious, flashy, magic that you have seen before on television (not done exceptionally well) James and I LOVED it because it was just so ripe for ridicule. The dramatic pauses, the costumes, the slightly worn props, the lacking applause; it was priceless. Oh, and the flourishes when the trick was completed... truly great. We saw every one of this guy's performances. We love to compare him to Gob from Arrested Development and would hum Gob's theme music every time he came on stage. Oh no, I just realize that I said he did tricks. He created illusions, a trick is what a "fallen woman" does for money. (Sorry, I had to quote Gob just once) Next time: Finally get to a port: Malta!

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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Day 4- So, we finally get to a port in this trip report! It's Malta! James and I were both pretty excited about this stop. One, because we knew it would be a good introduction to Europe because they speak English and two, because James had read a book about the history of Malta and is really great about making history interesting. That morning we get up early and decide to go up to the buffet for breakfast and watch the ship come into the harbor. I took the opportunity to get my one picture with a character for the whole cruise

    As we come in, James is describing to me how the Knights of Malta held various forts that we were passing in the Great Siege and is pointing out where they stretched a large chain across so that ships couldn't get in the harbor etc. It is very neat and interesting and then... the lady from the history walk comes over the loud speaker and attempts to ruin my good time. Again, with her wikipedia information, she tries to impart a sort of "Malta for Dummies" speech without actually knowing anything herself. At one point she is pointing out the large dome on the skyline of Valletta and musing that it must be the Co-Cathedral, while James and I know that it is definitely NOT, but is a much more recent church.

    It was truly painful and I felt bad for the people who hadn't done their research and were forced to take this woman at her word. But, as you can see the view was amazing! We went back to the room really quick when we pulled into port and enjoyed the view from our veranda for a few minutes. This was such a nice port.

    We had planned the day out and I had printed a map, so we were good to go. Just a bit of advice, I would never pay to do an excursion at this port because it is just so easy to get around and you can save so much money. Even an all day bus pass was only 3 euros I think in case you wanted to go to Medina.
    But, we had just planned on staying in Valletta and could walk everywhere. Which is normally just fine, but here is the thing. James is 6'4" and was super excited. I am 4'10" and am in not as good shape. Plus, I had bought some new sandals for the trip. I had broken them in and they were very comfortable, plus stylish. I normally wear crocs any time I am going to be walking a lot, but my mom said that they would laugh me out of Italy if I were to tread the streets in crocs. Hence the new sandals. I am going to post this and pick up in a minute so I don't lose my progress.

  15. #15
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    Re: Disney Mediterranean Cruise Report- A Trip of Many Firsts

    Day 4- Malta
    So, picking up where I left off. James is excited and tall, I am short and wearing improper footwear. And we're off... the boat that is. One of the first groups off behind one of the tours. Now to get up to the town, there is a huge hill from the port. We heard a rumor that there is an elevator in the parking garage behind the mall beside the port, so we decide to try to find that. James is charging ahead of me, walking behind the mall where there is no sidewalk and cars are rambling by in this tiny alley. We pass dumpsters and a truck unloading and come out... on the other side of the mall. Should've gone through it. Then we see the tunnel to the parking garage. Yes, tunnel. One way tunnel and we head up in the dark to who knows where. At this point, I am already fussing at James about walking too fast, leading us to weird places and generally annoying me. My voice echos through the dark tunnel and we just started in Malta. Fun. But we come out into a parking area and spot the elevator and are saved that huge hike. The one through the tunnel was much less steep and much shorter. I think we actually saved 5 floors of walking. So, good. We come out right next to the bus station and can see the gates to Valletta across the street. I think we made it up there before anyone, even if I was huffing and puffing. Here are the gates.

    Pretty cool, huh? Valletta is mostly a walking city with very few streets that cars could go down. Some streets were so steep, there were steps on the sidewalks. As we enter, we see some high end shopping and a Burger King. We head further and see a band of preteens playing and marching, I guess in our honor as this is only the second time Disney has docked in Malta. They did not look thrilled. The Co-Cathedral (not the dome church) was easy to find and we stood in a short line to enter. The line was much longer later. A audio guide was included with admission and was very good.
    The Co-Cathedral is the church of the Knights of St. John as it is St. John's Co-Cathedral. It shares cathedral duty with a different church in Medina. The outside is fairly unassuming, but the interior is beautiful.

    Yes, this is unassuming in Europe.
    Pictures were not allowed, so google it. It is cool. The floor is covered with tombstones of the knights and there is fascinating artwork in every alcove. The fresco on the dome tells the story of St. John the Baptist's life. My favorite part about this church was the two Caravaggio paintings. They have The Beheading of St. John and St. Jerome. Let me tell you. If you have never seen a Caravaggio in person, you don't know what you are missing. I am not a huge art fan, but these were spectacular. They look so realistic, and he uses light in such an interesting way. Interesting thing about Caravaggio, he was a knight for a little while, but ended up leaving the island in disgrace. Apparently dude was crazy and had a penchant for drinking, fighting and gambling. Typical. He ended up dying young, but has quite a few paintings scattered around. I didn't get to see any of his in Rome, and all but one in Florence was on loan, but next time... I am coming for you Caravaggio.
    The Co-Cathedral was totally worth it, but I would only do it again to see those paintings. There were also some really neat tapastries and old song books, vestaments, but not worth seeing again. As we left, James got a small statue of a knight of Malta. When we headed out the door, we were let out near a small street and saw a sign for St. Paul's Shipwreck Church which we had wanted to see.

    The sign is the third one on the left, and the entrance is completely hidden, but this is the side entrance. The church was going through some renovation, but was free and deserted. And awesome. They had a relic of St. Paul's wristbone. If you don't know the story, St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta (it is in the Bible) and brought Christianity to the people. He is a big deal in Malta and they celebrate the anniversary of his time there every year. So, they got his wristbone when he died and it is here. There were some other interesting items throughout the church, and the interior was very pretty and relaxing. No hustle and bustle like the Co-Cathedral. After we left, we headed around front and saw this sign which cracked us up.

    I don't know why, but the fact that they put "worth visiting" on the sign just struck me as funny.
    Next on our itinerary was finding the restaurant that I had researched for lunch. It is the number 1 rated restaurant in Valletta on tripadvisor, and I had looked at the menu and it didn't seem scary or pricey. Up next- La Mere.

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