Thursday, October 24, 2013

March 2013- Europe part 2

Williamson Vacation 2013 Part 2

The second part of our trip was on a cruise ship. This is a much more relaxing way to travel, especially with a kid. The room was nice, food and entertainment was free, and we traveled in our sleep.

Day 8

We got to Messina, Sicily on Sunday morning. It was nice having the balcony on the cruise ship because we could take come cool pictures as we pulled into port. The boats docked right next to the middle of town, so we decided to just grab a map on the way out of the port and walk it on our own. 

The first thing that we saw was a little church from the middle ages. 

We headed over to the Cathedral of Messina, and Bell tower that was only a few blocks up the street. This cathedral was located in front of a large plaza. The Cathedral was one of the only buildings that survived the earth quake in 1906, and was a real testament to its design because it had large sweeping arches and a beautiful dome.

The inside of the church was lined with larger than life size statues of the 12 apostles doing strange stances and we took a few pictures in front of them.

After we left the cathedral we spent some time in the plaza and took some more pictures of the bell tower. The tower had large characters that would move like a huge Swiss clock. 

We made our way down the empty streets and found a park for Porter to play in, we let him play on some old quarter rides that looked like they were in front a a Stater Brothers about 30 years ago. Porter didn't care, he just enjoyed going for a ride. 

The time in Messina was a little short, but there really didn't seem like much to do. If we ever return, I'd like to take an excursion to the volcanoes. Once we got back on the ship, we took Porter to play at the kid center. It was nice letting him interact with other kids, even if they all spoke different languages.

He enjoys the "animals" left on our bed each night.

Day 9
Valleta, Malta is so beautiful. It reminded us of a beach city in California. It's a perfect spot to vacation in the summer. It was settled by a group of knights, and has such charm to it.

It's also popular because of Paul the apostle. While he was traveling to Rome his ship crashed into this island and he ended up converting the people while he stayed here...This is the church that is dedicated to him,
                                                                             pretty cool!

 The streets and shops are darling.

 We got on a tour bus and roamed around the entire city looking for ancient buildings.

We visited St. John's co-cathedral, where they once housed the arm of John the Baptist.

This is what they put his arm in. They wanted it to be sacred for the arm that baptized Christ. 

We saw the beautiful Barrakka Gardens, and the view was gorgeous!

Scott had to take a picture in front of an insurance office that we passed as we were walking the streets.

We walked the underground tunnel where the Las Caris war rooms were.

We saw the Grand Masters palace (Parliament)...

on our way back we saw the Valletta Waterfront.

Day 10
We were at sea all day, and boy did we need the rest! We took Porter swimming and to the kid center. That day was all about him. He earned it for being such a great kid.

We even let him eat as much yogurt as he wanted.

Day 11

Athens, Greece!!!! I have wanted to come here ever since I studied about Greek Gods in the 4th grade. We spent the entire day at the Acropolis, where basically everything is housed. My favorite was the Parthenon.

View from the Acropolis...

This is the ancient theater.

Inside the Acropolis we also saw the Temple of Athena,


and Mars Hill.

During our tour, Rick Steves told us to look for the rock that Paul preached from called Mars Hill. This is the rock we thought he was talking about...

we later found out this was the actual rock...haha. It makes a little more sense now.

I wanted Porter to be able to run around, but not get lost in the crowd. Scott and I had some conflicting views on using a baby leash. He said our kid would look like a dog.
I wonder where he got that idea?

We also stopped by the Acropolis museum which contains many artifacts from the Parthenon.

We stopped by some more temple ruins...
this one is Hadrian's arch.

And finished the day shopping.

 Day 12
Corfu, Greece is a small town that didn't have much to do or see. We were able to see Glyfada beach from the old fortress.

We went inside Sissi's palace...

But the best part of the day was shopping at all of these cute shops

 We bought Porter a rolling toy...he may or may not have been using it to poke tourists as they walked by.

Day 13
One of our favorite stops was Kotor, Montenegro. We were greeted with singing and dancing...

It was so medieval and well preserved. The first thing you see when the ship pulls in are the massive city walls. 

We ended up hiking along the walls to the smallest church I've ever been in. We found this on the way up...

 And here is the church...

The fortress was a little ways up, but my pregnant body couldn't take one more step.

 We headed back down into town, but we had to capture the view first...

Once we were on the streets we had to do a romantic picture...

and a family picture in the alley...

We saw some cool churches...

 and while we were inside one church we heard music from a window. It was a cute little parade that made you feel like you were living back in Medieval times. They were parading in this square!

We stopped by the bakery and got some treats...

and then we shopped.

Day 14

I think Venice, Italy is the coolest place I've ever been to. There's just no other place like it in the world.
Our cruise ended here, so we decided to stay a few nights. Here's our hotel...

 We stayed close to Piazza San Marco, which is right next to Basilica San Marco. This is where the remains of the apostle Mark are said to be held. The people of Venice fasted for his body to be found and laid to rest at this church. They were able to smuggle it out of Israel in a Pork barrel because they knew the Jews wouldn't check it, believing pork to be unclean.

We did a tour of the Grand Canal and saw all of the amazing houses and palaces along the way. Some of them were crooked because the city is literally sinking!

We were also able to see the famous Rialto bridge.

Day 15

The best tour we did was Ducal Palace. The palace was also used as a court where they would decide the fate of criminals. 

It's here that we also saw the Bridge of Sighs. If found guilty they would walk across the bridge to enter the prison. It's said that walking across the bridge, they would look out the window and "sigh" as they saw their last bit of freedom.

This is the inside of the bridge...

and the outside...

and the palace courtyard.

After our tour, we met up with Mike and Summer to check out the gondolas and eat some pizza.

More snaps of the "Bridge of Sighs"

Day 16
We took a boat to Murano to see a demonstration of glass blowing. They made it look so easy! We even bought some authentic Venetian glass while we were here.

As we returned to the main island of Venice we toured the theater, La Fenice, which was right next to our hotel.

We had dinner at a small romantic restaurant that overlooked the shops, and enjoyed our last real Italian meal.

Day 17
Heading home...and boy are we ready!

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