Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Perfect Mediterranean Summer Vacation

This was the third time that the Edstrom's of Ashburn have spent almost a month in Europe.   In 2005, we went with my parents and my sister to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary.  My father said he would pay for a European vacation if I picked up the flights.  I said yes immediately.  It was easy to say yes when you have over 750,000 miles on United Airlines :-)   In 2008, we did our second European vacation to celebrate me and my wife Julie's 25th wedding anniversary.  My parents came along for that as well.  This trip was to celebrate my wife Julie's upcoming 50th birthday.   It was Julie, John (23), Michael (20), Tim (17) and me.

Wednesday Julie, Michael, Tim and I flew out to Rome to meet John who was already in Europe since May 12th backpacking through Europe and staying at hostels.  Thursday morning we met John at Hotel Artemide in the center of Rome

  We walked around Rome to check out the  Colosseum, Forum  and the Spanish Steps.

Pat McGibbon ordered me to wear my MTInsight t-shirt all over Europe to drive up sales.  Here I am at The Colosseum sight seeing and taking MTInsight subscription orders.

Friday we took one of those open double decker bus cruises to see a large part of Rome    We went on a guide tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peters Basilica   Tim and John climbed to the top of St. Peters Basilica.  As we walked into
St. Peters Basilica, Tim said, "I forgot how massive this place is. We're talking Appleby's at Fair Oaks massive".

Julie and I in front of St. Peters Basilica.

The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II) or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) or "Il Vittoriano" is a monument to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. The monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885; sculpture for it was parceled out to established sculptors all over Italy, such as Angelo Zanelli.[1] It was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1935.[2]  (This is all from WikiPedia)

Michael notice the Beamish logo on top of the Bull Dog Bar in Rome.  We had heard of this bar on the tour bus.  John, Michael and I went in for a few beers.  Michael and John drank Beamish and I stuck with Fosters.  I bought a round for two Alaskans - Tony and Chris. 

Sunday we slept in.  Julie, John and I climbed to the top of St. Peters Basilica.  That is really a must do in my opinion.   You could fit the Statue of Liberty inside the Basilica with room to spare. 

Monday Julie and the boys went to the catacombs and I went on a full day walk beyond Vatican city and throughout Rome.   I had lunch at La Sofitta my favorite restaurant in Rome.   We had a great dinner at Anthony Bourbaines favorite restaurant in Rome called La Sporita.

Above is the huge gold globe inside the Vatican that our guide spun for us.

 Tuesday we went Civitavecchia and got on board the Mariner of the Seas.

 Above are two pictures of our ship - the Royal Carribbean's Mariner of the Seas
 The HD LCD tv rotated between the bedroom area and the living room area.

  Above are multiple photos of our Owners Suite or the Henry Hudson Suite.  The boys also had their own suite as well.

There were three formal nights.  We arranged to rent the tuxedos and shoes from the ship so we did not have to carry them around. 

Here I am talking with the Master (THE Captain) of the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.  When you have a big suite, you get invited to all of these meet the Captain type of events and this is the first evening.   The Captain is 100% Norwegian.  I told him that I was 1/2 Swedish and 1/2 Norwegian - which I am.  We got into a discussion about Norway vs. the United States.   The Captain said that Norway was a better country than the US.  I said, "well it depends."  Let's say you want your child to have the best opportunity to be an entrepreneur, then the US would be best.  He disagreed.   I said, "let's play a game Captain. I will name three inventions of the US and then you name three from Norway.   The telephone, the personal computer and the Internet.  Your turn.  Top those."  Julie gave me the, "don't piss off the Captain the first night!" looks :-)

Here we are in front of our all time favorite restaurant in Rome -

la Soffitta Renovatio

Our second favorite restaurant in Rome was the one that Anthony Bourdain went to (but never gave the name) that Tim found for us called:  La Taverna del Porto

   We had the Owners Suite and the boys had the The Grand Suite.  We both had access to the Concierge Club which is free drinks between 6 and 9:30.

Wednesday we were in Sicily.    We went on a winery tour, The Godfather tour, Mt. Edna,  and to Savoca where we went to the bar where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) meets Apollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli).

Here were are at Savoca.

Thursday was an at Sea day

This is Corinth in Italy.
Friday we were at Athens.
Above is the protests in Athens getting ready to happen in the next hour according to our private tour guide.

 Saturday we were Ephesus.     Julie fell and the guide said,  "there are 35 ways to say fall in French".   Tim immediately shot back for all to hear, "I thought there were 35 ways to say surrender in French?"  That's my boy! :-)

Above is me in the water.   I was not planning on going swimming, I was walking around the city trying to Julie and the boys.  That is our ship in the background.

Above is where the Rhodes of Collosus supposedly stood. Sunday was Rhodes and it was amazing.    Michael and Michael were our tour guides.    They did not know where Collosus of Rhodes actually stood which I thought was hilarious.

This is the view from Lyndos on Rhodes.
Tim is breathing hard because he just inched me out in a 150 yard dash.  John came in a distant third.   I should not have given them the 25 yard lead :-)

   Julie, Tim and John took the donkeys  up     Michael and I are not donkey people :-)   We had a snack at a small restaurant
We had lunch at the old castle area at Rhodes.   They forgot my lunch and John said, "they just forgot the wrong guys lunch".   When I asked what happened they said the computer forgot.   I said since the computer forgot, the computer can buy me a big beer. 

Monday was Crete.   We had a very nice winery tour owner son and owner at the Dourakis Winery.     Lake Mournas was dirty and nasty with snakes (per our driver).   John said it reminded him  of Lake Accotink.  We left quickly.  Ocean beach very nice.

Tuesday day at sea.

Above is inside the Blue Mosque.

Wednesday and Thursday was Istanbul.  Istanbul was very interesting.

Friday was the All Access Tour.  It was great!

Saturday was a sea day.  Julie and John went on a bridge and galley tour.

Sunday Naples and Pompeii. 

Since we had suites, we had our own concierge club with the other suite holders.  Many times, were the only ones there.  From left to right - Newman, Shravan, John, Michael, Julie, Tim, me and Lucca  Free drinks and food :-)

Monday. Lido Ostia.   Julie and I had a great dinner

I am sure I will had more photos later if you got to this point :-)

PE-RSA-N-IRC - mnemonic
Pompei, Ephesis, Rome, Sicily, Athens, Naples, Istanbul, Rhodes, Crete