Saturday, October 31, 2015

Finally, Gelato

I dreamed about Olivia Partridge last night.  Olivia dropped out of my life about 3 years ago and I haven't been able to contact her since.  In my dream, she called out of the blue and I asked her what was new.  She asked "you mean other than finding new ways to scream in pain?"  That was the end of the dream.  Does it mean anything?  Darned if I know.

I find it hard to believe this is only our 4th day on this trip.  It seems like we've been here at least a month.  I was sleeping so soundly, that Walt had to wake me up before breakfast arrived, since we had an early call for our excursion today.  But I woke up with the view of Monaco spread out before me.

I had been to Monaco before and I remembered the port there, filled with boats of the rich and famous.  There was

(no, that is NOT our ship at the dock...we are way out away from any dock)

Our group was going to Grasse and St. Paul de Vince, both places I had been before and enjoyed.  We got on our bus and headed off.  Char was taking a tour of Nice and Matisse's home, so wasn't with us. It's about an hour and a half to Grasse, the center of perfume making in this region, and the scenery all along was beautiful, as we were driving along cliffs and past beautiful homes.  We started by driving a bit of the Grand Pris route, through the center of Monaco.

I took this picture for Jeri.  Hey, Jer...remember Eze?

Like St. Paul deVince, which we would visit later, Eze is a hill town.  Access only on foot as there are no cars in town.  When our 2010 group went to Eze, Char and I opted to sit down by the bus and enjoy a cold drink and a chat instead.

We stopped at an overlook so folks could take pictures of Nice.  Walt got this shot, which I think is beautiful.

We drove through Nice, which was very nice.  I remembered where we had stayed before and recognized many things.  Nice was not my favorite place on our 2010 tour.  Too rich and too "beachy" for me, I guess, though we did scatter our friend Michele's ashes here.  Michele always wanted to go to France and never made it, so we decided a piece of her could stay here forever.   However, today there was no stopping, just a pass through.  (I have to say that our tour guide today, Caroline, was head an shoulders better than the gal we had yesterday, which made the day a good one.)

We finally came to Grasse, where I assumed we would be touring the Fragonard perfume plant again, which we had toured in 2010, but instead we went to Parfums Galimard, next door, where our guide, Veronica gave a fascinating tour. I learned a lot, though I was distracted often by her eyes,

I don't know that I've ever seen eyelashes like that before!  But she was very informative.  We learned there are some 30 perfumeries in the Grasse area and she showed us how flower petals are harvested and their essence extracted.  She also told us about the "nose." The people who create the scents that we ultimately know as perfume are called "noses."  There are only 200 noses in the world and 60 of them freelance in the Grasse area.  To become a nose you have to study chemistry in college and then complete a long training period, all of which costs thousands of dollars and after all that training, you are given >200 scents to identify by smell and are only permitted to miss two.  If you pass that test, your chance of being employed is very small.  Out of each graduating class, only one ends up being a nose in the perfume business.  Noses are generally between the age 25 and 60, since your sense of smell is not fully developed until your twenties and begins to fade in your 60s (though they still have a guy in his 70s working for them).  Just fascinating stuff.
Anyway, this is a mock up of what a nose's workroom looks like.

That big desk is called an organ because of its resemblance to a church organ, but this is where scents are mixed and tested.  Noses only work 2 hours a day to avoid sensory overload.  I also learned that to "cleanse the palate" between sniffs, they sniff coffee beans.

Afterwards was the expected sales room.  I bought a couple of very cheap things (soaps) and then sat down and waited for the others to finish.

I remember Paul deVince as one of my favorite stops from 2010.  

Of course I was 6 years younger and even though I was in pain most of the time, I was more limber then and didn't walk with a cane.  I'd forgotten that long walk from the parking lot to the town and then the very steep uphill climb of the main street.  I sent Walt along with the group and assured the Viking person babysitting me that I would be fine without her and so it was just Bob and Linda and me, ready to hit the town. I thought I'd be real smart and we'd go along the back street and then cut over at some point, not realizing that there was no cut over, but it was level to the end of the long street and then a turn to the left and there was the main street...just as steep on this end as on the other.  Sigh.

We girded our loins and picked up our canes and started making our way up the hill, stopping often to rest.  One older woman from our group saw me struggling and gave the thumbs up and said "you made it! Good for you!" Then she took our picture at one of our rest stops.

We found Walt at the high point of the hill, where it started down the other side, and we went to a nice outdoor restaurant called Le Teullil (the lime tree) which had delicious food.  I ordered carpaccio, that paper thin raw beef, and she asked me (in French) something about tomatoes. I thought she was asking if I wanted tomatoes with it, so I said yes.  Well, instead of carpaccio, she brought me caprese salad with lots of heirloom tomatoes surrounding a hug ball of buffalo mozarella.  I would have loved it, but I just had it the night before.  Still I managed to eat a lot before giving the rest to Walt.

While we ate, we were serenaded by this fellow, who sometimes wore a red nose as well and played the kazoo.

After lunch we finally got some gelato and we stumbled down the rest of the steep path to a bench under a tree, where we could finish our gelato and watch them play boule.

And then back to the bus for the long ride back to the ship.  When we were on the tender, I managed to get this photo of the Viking Star with the other tender headed for port in Monaco.  I took this on a roughly bouncing sea through a dirty window and I'm surprised it came out at all.

After we all had brief naps, we decided to go to the World Cafe for dinner.  This is a buffet and you serve yourself, so my photos aren't as pretty tonight.  I took a few starter plates (including carpaccio!) and then Linda discovered the other side of the restaurant, which had unlimited crab claws plus huge prawns.  I kept going back for "just a few more," so I decided for dinner just to have crab and shrimp, both of which were delicious, and then finished off with gelato.

It is now nighttime in Monaco

...and the passengers who went ashore to try their luck at the casino in Monte Carlo will be taking their tenders back to the ship and when all are loaded, we will start moving and when we wake up, we will be in Florence, where Walt and I will have 9 hours on our own to explore.

(We are moving! We are moving!)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Toujours Provence

I thought a lot about Peter Mayle, who wrote such a beautiful description of life in Provence, today.  

It was another great night.  I am starting to wonder if Viking would notice if I were to take the couch with me when we leave.  Probably.  But I slept well, waking at 4 for a potty stop.  I discovered at that time that the ship was rolling pretty good, but I decided to ignore it, went back to the couch and slept so late I didn't even hear the person delivering our breakfast.  As Walt and I were getting ready for the day, we both agreed that we are really missing Mike on this trip.  Kind of made me, briefly, a little teary.

Our excursion today was called "Cassis and France's Seaside Scenery" and described an idyllic "cruise through a network of magnificent canyon-like inlets--geological marvels of southern France and visit one of the most beautiful wineries of Cassis." 

First of all, there was no winery visit, unless you count driving past several wineries a "visit."  I will admit they were beautiful, and the guide was very knowledgeable about the vegetation (I think she pointed out every pine tree in Provence).  

But she had zero social skills.  When we arrived at our destination on the outskirts of Cassis (pronounced "Cassee," we were told) she said "let's get off the bus" and then took off in the direction of town while many of us were still on the bus.  She never took a head count, so wouldn't have a clue if anybody was missing.  By the time Walt and I (and Linda and Bob, along with some others) were on the sidewalk, our group was nowhere to be seen.  We headed in the direction we hoped was correct.

Char finally told the guide that she had left several people behind, so she stopped and waited.  Then when we got into town, she started her spiel about the history without the "quiet vox" (the sound system that lets the guides speak in normal tones and everyone hears through their individual earpieces).  When someone asked her why she wasn't using the quiet vox, she got petulant and said nobody had given her one, and went on speaking in a normal voice while those of us in back missed everything she said.  She finally discovered that, surprise, surprise, she had the equipment after all, so she used it after that.  I don't know how she expected to speak to us all without it on the small boat we would be riding out onto the ocean, when we were spread out all over the boat.

When we all had our quiet voxes set up, she told us that this fountain would be our meeting place at the end of the day.

And then we all walked down the narrow street toward the water.  It was far longer than the "short walk" 
that had been described.  The tour description said that we were supposed to ride a small "road train" but that shuts down in September.  Nobody mentioned that little bit.

It really is  a beautiful port and reminds me very much of a larger version of Portofino (I love being able to 
"place drop")

Before we got on the small boat, our guide told people where they could find restrooms, since there was no room for one on the boat, and she never told them they would need to pay to use the facilities.  Several people found themselves without money to pay to pee!

On the boat, she spoke continuously, which would have been informative if the captain weren't ALSO speaking (in French) at the same time--and I know enough French to know she was not translating what he was saying, but was giving her own spiel.  It finally bothered me so much that I just turned off my quiet vox so I missed all of what she was saying because she didn't seem to realize that the captain was also speaking!
However, all that off my chest, the cruise was...uh...shall we say "an adventure."  We were going into three of the "calanques little fjords of Cassis, inlets of the Mediterranean lined by spectacular lime cliffs.  At first it was lovely, the wind in our hair and the mountains behind.

It was beautiful, looking at those limestone cliffs, one of which had a nude beach.  "Naturalists," she said they call them here.  Looking at the beach and the water, I decided they probably didn't swim.  I can't imagine getting from the water back to the beach without endangering some "dangly bits."

(We were a little too early.  The guys were just disrobing and didn't appear in full frontal nudity until we were too far away to take a picture).

As we got farther out to sea, the water got rougher.  "This is nothing," said the guide as the boat dipped and rose and dipped again, water spraying over the bow.  In my heart of hearts, I knew it was OK, but it did make us gasp many times!  However, when we turned into one of the calanques, things calmed down and we could appreciate the limestone cliffs.

(Note the water drops on the lens from the sea spray)

The guide told us that this was the kind of quarry that Jean Valjean might have worked in.  Gives a better feel to Les Miserables (which she pronounced with the English pronunciation of "the miserables" which seemed strange!)  As we were coming out of the 3rd calanque, I was trying to remember if we were exploring three or five of them, praying it was three.  It was.  We were all relieved to be heading back to Cassis and dry, non-moving, land!

There was a wine tasting next, but the shop was too small to hold all of us, so half went in first while the rest of us wandered around trying to find something to snack on.  Linda hoped to find gelato, but was unsuccessful, so we went into a pastry shop and got something to eat, which we brought to the town plaza.  Walt and I got 6 macarons for 8 euros.

Finally it was our turn for the wine tasting, which was fun.  

I wasn't enamored with the wine, necessarily (and drank very little) but they had some paper thin salami that I fell in love with.  We were there about 15 minutes, I guess and tasted 2 whites and a rosé.  I don't think anybody bought any.  But it was fun.

Then we started on the long uphill road back to the bus.  Linda found her gelato, but it was too late to get any.

(Too bad we hadn't found it earlier.  I would have MUCH preferred gelato over the macarons!)
It was a long drag up the hill and I came in last, and must have looked bedraggled because the bus driver, seeing me turn the corner and head up the last few feet, started the bus and came down to meet me instead.  We gave him a special tip for his thoughtfulness, and I got to use merci mille fois instead of a regular thank you!

The drive back to Toulon took us through more vineyards and I thought of Peter Mayle again and his farm and vineyard in Provence.  I can see why he loves it so much.

Char wasn't feeling well, so didn't join us for dinner, but we enjoyed our time with Bob and Linda.  We couldn't believe it when we found out Bob used to run a model train store, is a model train enthusiast, and that Linda's late husband was also a model train enthusiast.  If only Mike (who loved model trains) had known that last year!

We ended the evening in the Star Lounge with a show that was advertised as "Songscape--an Operatic Fantasy."  It was cute, fun, clever, and almost no opera, but everyone seemed to like it.  My favorite, of course, was the Major General's song from "Pirates of Penzance,"

Though I didn't like it that the guy did a kind of Step-and-Fetch-It version, complete with rolling bug eyes.  It seemed demeaning and I don't know why he did it that way.  He's an amazingly talented musician with a great set of pipes.  The show was mostly show tunes with a few pop tunes (like Bohemian Rhapsody) thrown in.  And there was a strange, but very good duet which combined "Nessun Dorma" from Turandot and "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar.

I should also mention, for my technical daughter, that the backdrop was amazing, used all clever projections, static and moving, and I know it's cheating, but this was fabulous (and enabled them to do a pretty spectacular looking show on a shoestring).  I particularly liked the scene for the Nessun Dorma duet.

The comments from the audience exiting the theater were glowing, so who cares that there was almost no opera in this "operatic fantasy" whatsoever.  It was a fun show by a cast of seven extremely talented performers.  (But the critic in me feels the need to point out where it went wrong!  Busman's holiday.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


(That's "Oh My Gaudi")

My two fears about this day...for the past several weeks...were first, that a "moderate" level of excursion would not work for me and I would have to miss the thing I wanted most to see in Barcelona, which was all the Gaudi architecture, and second, that it would be raining.  I have been following Barcelona weather and there has been a lot of rain and predicted for today was showers.

But this morning we woke up to clear skies and a beautiful sunrise, and then breakfast delivered to our room.  How lovely and perfectly civilized to eat on the deck overlooking the Mediterranean...

I had actually slept most of the night, thanks to the very comfortable couch. Before our 8:30 meet time, I took two Aleve (believing the ad that says 2 Aleve will last all day!) to help keep the knees and hips from hurting too much...and off we went.

The first thing we learned right off the boat was at this monument to Christopher Columbus. He was Jewish, apparently, and Barcelona had been controlled by Jews, but in the 1400s, Jews were being expelled from here and so the journey, financed by a Jewish banker (which blows Stan Freberg's theory all to pieces!) was prompted by the fact that he had to leave town, not that Isabella sold her jewels to finance his search for a new world!  Who knew?  (The guide even apologized for destroying our fantasy!)

Near here, as we drove into town, was a huge area with people selling their wares, laid out on the sidewalk.  While you see this in a lot of places what's unique about it in Barcelona is that the police don't control the land right next to the water, so the illegal immigrants can set up their wares there and can't be arrested but if they cross the street, they can. (Not surprisingly, the guide says there is controversy here over that!)

We drove through a lot of the city, a very lovely looking city, today all decked out in flags because Catalonia is trying to break free of Spain fact, tomorrow is the vote which will decide if they want to become an independent country.  It's all very complicated, but it is interesting that our tour guide talked about it a lot and another tour guide refused to discuss it!

We ended up at Parc Guell, which is a park where one can see the full extent of Gaudi's genius.  It is a multi-acre park of gardens and "architectural elements."  Several years ago, when things were freer in Russia, the park, which at that time was free, was overrun with Russian tourists, the sheer numbers starting to destroy the park, so they now have to limit the number of people who are in the park at any one time, and they charge a fee for admission.  I think I saw a sign that said something like only 300 people could be in the park at any one time.  Fortunately we had reservations.

I had seen lots of pictures of this undulating mosaic in reading about Gaudi and Barcelona but didn't know what it was for.

Turns out it's a bench that encircles this huge overlook area. It's all made of stone and ergonomically designed so that lump underneath the mosaic hits you right in the middle of your back and it was so remarkably comfortable that I wanted to stay there all day.

From here we took pics of some famous Gaudi buildings and then the tour was to go "underground."  "You're not going down, are you?" asked Walt, but yes, I was definitely going underground and how glad I am that I did.  Here are amazing creations mimicking underground caves including one that looked like champagne glasses.

It doesn't show up well in this picture, but each of those "glasses" is a different color.  That's because Gaudi had his crew breaking local stones into tiny pieces so he could put all the red, blue, and gold colors into different structures.

I loved this fence.  Gaudi copied the structure of a Spanish palm tree and had a mold created for the metal pieces that went together to create the fence itself.

We passed under some columns holding up the cistern drainage mechanism (also designed by Gaudi) for the viewing platform and then down to another level, passing along the way this cute statue of a dragon.

We were getting a 10 minute break for bathrooms, gift shop or whatever else we wanted. I decided that since we had to go UP to return to the bus, we would start on ahead of the group.  A page about the park includes this warning:  If you're visiting the park by metro be prepared for at least a 20 minutes walk. The last 200 m walk is up a steep hill. If you have difficulties going up steep steps then a taxi or bus may be a better means of transport.

It was a killer climb, almost entirely steps, and definitely steep!, but I took lots of breaks...fortunately, because I stopped to hear this guy playing guitar and because of that, as I looked up from my bench, I saw the structure above him had little alcoves and in each alcove was a bird--kind of like a pigeon apartment.

We staggered back to the bus, sweating and panting, but I felt triumphant because I had done it!  But the piece de resistance was still to come.  La Sagrada Familia.

There is a song Ned wrote after he returned from our London trip, where so many buildings were undergoing refurbishment.  The song begins "Don't go to London, it's under construction..."  We have used that phrase many times when going somewhere with buildings under scaffolding.  Well, La Sagrada Familia has been "under construction" quite literally since 1882.  It was the work of Gaudi's life, and he spent some 30 years doing this magnificent basilica.  On his death, he had given instructions on how it was to be completed and completion is now scheduled for the anniversary of his birth, 2026.  So..."don't go to Sagrada Familia, it's under construction" !!  But if you wait for it to be finished, you could die first!  

(my very first view of the building)

We had to wait in line while our tour guide got our tickets.  I was more than thrilled that we were there in October and not in the summer.  We had a cooling breeze to keep us from melting.

The church is laid out so that the front of it, which faces east and the rising sun, celebrates the birth of Jesus and all that surrounded that event, while the back of it focuses on his death and the stations of the cross.  The front is mostly joyous.  I love how happy everyone is here:

But I was deeply disturbed by this depiction of one of Herrod's soldiers killing all the babies in the hopes of killing the child he felt would rise up to defeat him.

(You can see a baby being held aloft behind the machine that held a man cleaning the stonework, and two dead babies at the soldier's feet.)

Then we moved inside and what an amazing ediface this is.  Char says it reminds her of when we were at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul -- The buildings are very, very different, but the experience was the same.

I will only print two photos, but every view is breathtaking.  Gaudi chose the theme of nature, to which he felt very close, and so the pillars are all trees and the stained glass windows are designed so that they go through the period of the day and the seasons of the year, from blue to red, around the building.

At noon the Angelus bell was rung and a recording of the Montserrat nuns singing Ave Maria was played.  If the place hadn't been so full of damn tourists taking pictures, it would have been a magical moment!  (But then I just love moments like that).  I sat down while it was playing and put the camera on my lap and just shot up to see what I would get.  This was what my camera saw.

The back way out was very dark, with the theme of Jesus' torture and crucifixion.

But I was amused to note that the soldiers guarding him looked like Star Wars storm troopers.

On the way back to the bus, one guy in our group was pickpocketed.  In all of our now-5 trips with Viking this is the first time this has happened and our tour guide said that it was the first time it had happened to any of her groups. The guy was very blase about it and felt that once he contacted his bank, he would be covered and it would be a minor inconvenience.

Nearing the dock area, as we crossed over the bridge taking us "home," we noted a new mega liner had pulled into port and you could see the size difference.

We dragged ourselves back to the ship and stopped for lunch at the World Market, where we were almost the last people to eat and then we dragged ourselves up to our room to rest until it was time for the mandatory fire drill at 5.  Walt had no trouble sleeping!

At 5 we went to the Star Theater to assemble for the safety drill.  When it was over, we finally met up with our traveling companions, Linda and Bob and we made plans for dinner.  We were back at "Restaurant" and had a wonderful time chatting and getting caught up on their excursion (they didn't do Gaudi) and ours.

At some point during our dinner, the ship had left port and so we were underway to our next destination: Tulon, France.  After we finished dinner, we moved out to the lounge where a classical trio was playing.  It was soon replaced by the Captain's welcome and introduction of the crew.  

It was so nice to hear a captain who actually speaks English fluently and a surprise to discover that two members of the crew are American.

When all that, plus a preview of coming attractions for entertainment on the ship, was finished, we headed off to our respective cabins.  As I looked out the window of the elevator, I could see they had started to dance.  Rats.  Walt and I missed our big opportunity to tell my mother we went dancing!

This was a perfect first day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

For Want of a Cord

I have brought with me:  my laptop, my iPad, my iPod, my cell phone and my Kindle.  What I have NOT brought with me is the cord to recharge them (except for the laptop, which fortunately runs on electricity!).  I also have not been able to connect to the internet in our room and there is no computer center on this ship, since so many people have their own internet devices (and for most people internet connectivity is not a priority on a cruise!).  But I trust that later today that problem will be solved.  In the meantime, I collapsed at 8:30 local time and woke up at 1 and with no internet to play with, I'll get this entry written.

I was, predictably, a long day, but I'll tell ya, this getting old business has its perks.  Wheelchair travel in airports is the way to go!  This time around, Char is also using a wheelchair, so we are quite a pair.

The Air France flight was long, but the seats were more comfortable than, say, United, so it wasn't too bad.  They had good choices for movies to play on your own viewing screen.  I was finally able to see Inside Out, which I loved.  I also watched My Old Lady, which I thought was a comedy, but was anything but and ultimately I loved it.  It was kind of a Maggie Smith marathon, as she was in My Old Lady with Kevin Kline and Second Best Marigold Hotel and also in Grosford Park, which I started watching and decided it was like a second class Downton Abby and didn't finish--but she was in that too, not quite as old as Lady Grantham, but as cantankerous.  So I watched 3 full movies, part of a fourth, an episode of Big Bang Theory and another of NCIS.  I was in a center seat, so no place to lay my head and I didn't sleep at all.  But actually, when we got to Paris, in "my time" it was 1;30 a.m., which is about when I would be going to sleep in Davis anyway, so no biggie that I had not slept on the 10 hour flight.

I had hoped that with the nice wheel chair attendants, I would finally lose my hatred of DeGaulle airport, but ultimately no,  I was incredibly grateful for the wheel chair assistance, though. We had to transfer from Gate B to Gate 2F 27 and that involved about a mile of weaving in and out, up and down elevators that we would have had no clue existed, a ride on a special bus that took us to a different building, another ride weaving in and out until we got to our gate.  Sadly there were long waits at every place where we had to wait for new chairs and new pushers and "expediency" is not in the staff's vocabulary.  We arrived at the gate to board the plane literally 2 minutes too late, so we had to wait until everybody else had boarded before we could get on.  Had there been a little less chit chat at the other end, we would have been in the preboard group.  But let it pass.

The flight over was uneventful, but we flew over some incredibly gorgeous cumulous clouds, the kind of clouds where you expected to see Disney unicorns chasing each other across the top and in and out of the puffs, the kind of clouds where maybe a stork would stop to check directions before delivery a baby elephant to its intended mother.  I should point out that I did not take a single picture in transit.  In fact, I didn't get out my camera until we arrived at the ship.

When we got to Barcelona, they loaded us onto a special truck which drove to a special gate and then we rode a motorized lift down to the ground before entering the airport to get our luggage.

There were about 4 or 5 Viking representatives waiting to greet us...there was ultimately a whole busload of people on the flight...and they led us to the waiting bus outside.  I kind of stumbled onto the bus, my knees really protesting loudly, but everyone was kind and had saved a front seat on the bus for us.  I'm not the only one with a cane and there are people here with wheelchairs, so I do fit in, though tomorrow's excursion may be a killer.

The drive to the ship gave us a bit of a taste of Barcelona, including one spectacular cemetery that made me angry that my camera was buried deep in my backpack.  It is built into the side of a mountain and just HUGE, crypts going all the way from the ground up to the top of the mountain, like some weird apartment building with tiny box-shaped apartments butting up against each other.  I hope we pass by it again so I can take a photo.  It was really quite spectacular.

We could see "luxury liner row" off in the distance, these huge floating hotels docked, and behind them the little luxury liner that could.  Though this is a huge ship compared to our river cruises, it looked like a luxury liner wannabe next to the other ships (again, sad I didn't have the camera out).

Our room is more luxurious than any we have had with Viking.

We have a balcony with a view out to the Mediterranean and that couch is full size, so perfect for me.  Very comfortable!

After we settled in, we decided to do some investigating of the ship.  We started on Deck 9 and worked our way down.  On Deck 7, we came to this small pool.

It is attached to one of the many ship's bars, so that was the end of exploring.  We went down to relax poolside and have a drink, caipirinha for Walt and margarita for Char.

We met Barbara and her daughter Elizabeth, traveling together while their husbands are at home.  Very nice ladies.  And then we went into the restaurant appropriately called "Restaurant."  We met a couple in the elevator that really made me think I was out of my league, in my sweats and t-shirt, while she was dressed to the nines in a long gown and gold everywhere.  But there were more "me-s" in the place than "hers" so maybe she was the one out of place.

We still had not seen our traveling companions Linda and Bob, but we had a delicious dinner and I started my "dinner of the night" photos.  Two guys were sitting next to us and one of them was taking pictures of his  meal too and we started talking.  Very nice, funny guys from Florida, George and Kevin.  If this were a river boat, we would probably see them often, but with a group of about 900 passengers, this may be the last time our paths cross, but I hope not.  I was so sleepy by this point I was literally dozing off briefly in the middle of conversations.

When we went back to our cabins, we knocked on Bob and Linda's door and Linda came out, in her nightgown.  They were on their way to sleep and so, shortly afterwards, were we.  Walt and I sat on our balcony for a bit and watched the full moon over the Mediterranean.

I couldn't keep my eyes open a second longer and went to the couch, where I was asleep in seconds, even without a blanket (must get one tonight). So comfortable I woke up without any back pain whatsoever.  This will be a very good trip, sleep wise.

We have put in our order for breakfast in our room at 7 a.m. and will be on the bus for our Gaudi tour at 8:40.  We're on our way...