By Sandra Elzie
I almost feel guilty about last week’s picture challenge. After all, there’s a McDonald’s on every corner (almost) in every country of the world…almost.
Deciding to take this trip began one February morning when I got a call from a friend who asked if hubby & I would like to join her & her hubs on a two-week Mediterranean cruise. Well, duh…do crows fly? Of course I’d love to go. There was only one hitch. We had to make up our minds & call the travel agent with a deposit by midnight that very day. (Why can’t life be simple?)
So, a quick discussion with hubby and we committed. My goodness…who can refuse a Senior discounted, fill-the-ship-at-the-last-minute special? Of course, that was before we added up the cost of shore excursions in the various countries and before I booked airfare from Atlanta to Rome that cost more than the two-week cruise. Guess we forgot to check out a few pesky little details before calling the agent. But, in the end, it was worth every Euro inflated dollar.
In Rome we hired a private cab driver to pick us up at the airport and then tour us around the city. I’d been told that all the group, bus-type tours rush you too much to be able to adequately see the sights…especially St Peter’s Basilica, so a private tour was perfect. We gave him a list of the things that we most wanted to see and he took care of the rest. It cost us only $285.00 per couple including tip and we were with him for seven hours. Great deal.
The architecture is gorgeous in Rome and I can guarantee you that spending only one day in that ancient city was not enough. There’s history and photo opportunities around every curve in the road and we barely touched the tip of the iceberg. Think about it this way. America has been a developing country for just over two hundred years compared to Rome that has been there for several thousand years.
The top point of interest for us was St Peter’s Basilica. Needless to say, St Peter’s Basilica is the best-known, Catholic church in the world. It took many years to complete…1506 – 1626 and was built in the Late Renaissance style. According to Catholic tradition, the basilica was built on top of the apostle Peter’s burial site.
I was also fascinated by the Vatican Museums which house an extensive collection of religious art, sculptures and artifacts, accumulated over the past 600 years. The beauty…and the wealth…is almost overwhelming. Also, we enjoyed seeing the Sistine Chapel with it’s beautifully painted walls and ceilings.
Another attraction…one that particularly interested my husband…was the Roman Colosseum. This marvel of design & engineering was a symbol of power and majesty for the Roman Empire. The Colosseum was started late in the 1st century by Emperor Vespasian and completed by his son, Emperor Titus. Sadly, it was used primarily for the violent amusement and entertainment of the Roman citizens…such as putting Christians and lions in the arena…but if you can put all that aside, it was a very impressive structure.
Just driving through the streets of this old city was a treat. There were more fountains than you can imagine. My favorite, of course, was the Trevi Fountain. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730 and built by Nicola Salvi. It was completed in 1762.
When the tour was over, our driver took us to the hotel where we’d stayed. Near the hotel was the McDonalds…and I’ve got to stop here a moment to tell you about that experience. As you can see, this is unlike any McDonalds in America. There was the usual counter to order meals, but there was also a separate coffee and dessert counter where they served Triple Chocolate cake (my personal fav), cheesecake, scones, Tarimasu and about a dozen other fancy pastries. The coffee was made to order with fresh-ground beans and had a drink menu that put Starbucks in second place. All I can say is that it’s a good thing that the ones here don’t offer these things since it would really make dieting a much more difficult challenge.
The next day, at the port city of Civitavecchia, Italy, we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Sea for two glorious weeks.
SHIP AHOY!!! Next week we’ll be stopping for a quick visit to Naples, Italy and Ephesus, Turkey. Hope to see you then!