DaddyC being a photographer, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he booted me off the cruise ship each morning, blinking pitifully in the unfamiliar light of dawn, with instructions to venture forth into the Italian cities and take as many photos as possible. I obeyed, of course, because that is what one does in the face of parental instruction, and thus earned a reputation as tour group liability, generally to be found trotting along at least 50 yards behind everyone else, relying on my brother's impressive height to help us see over buildings and find them again.
So far, I have only processed and uploaded photos from the first two days of our cruise and, in doing so, have filled up a Flickr account. Apparently you can only have 200 pictures unless you want to pay out to go pro (which I don't), so I shall think laterally and make a second account for the rest.
You'll notice I'm skipping over the fact that I took 200 photos in two days. Before anyone panics and pastes on the fixed smile, this is the bulk of them - DaddyC ventured off the boat with us for the latter part of the week, so I handed over documenting duties to him.
I actually joined the cruise on the second day, having thrown a hissy fit at the idea of missing out on Eddie Izzard and a night out with Laura and W*P*D (which actually included Danni, too, as a welcome surprise). I bought a tshirt that says "Cake or Death?"; people will think I've gone a bit peculiar, but who am I to argue?
As an aside, because I'm sure at least some of you were wondering, here are the evening's official Laura Leandros Memorable Quotes:
- Are there small people hanging off my face?
- Am I the skanky goo pigeon?
- I can't imagine leaving the house as a willy in the morning
- I was generally dribbling about the area.
I think we finally clambered into bed, full of cheesy curly fries and chicken wontons, at about 4am, congratulating ourselves on avoiding a hangover by eating most of Tescos. The car turned up to take me to Luton airport at 9am and found a scraggly, hungover mess shivering in the snow. So that worked well, then.
All was well once I landed in Nice, of course, because as anyone who has been on a cruise ship knows, at least three quarters of the onboard space is taken up by Things To Eat. MummyC and BrotherC took me on a whistlestop tour of the ship and then it was time for the first of many, many meals. A three course one, in the posh dining room.
Shortly followed by a slice of pizza along the shopping arcade and a little visit to the 'informal' dining room upstairs, which was basically an enormous room filled with troughs of deliciousness. Even if you limit yourself to a demure spoonful of each dish that catches your eye, you still end up with an edible mountain. I do so miss that dining room.
On Day 1, my brother and I joined the organised tour to Florence and Pisa. We were the only English people, because the ship is American, so we were treated to the inevitable conversations about how politely we eat, how strangely we spell everything and how bravely we put up with all that drizzle. I think we were something of a novelty.
Follow the photos on the Flickr backwards, if you so wish, to see where the tour took us - as far as I can tell, we covered almost every landmark. Our tour guide was most impressive at herding us about the place. I need - and want - to go back and spend a little more time there, because it's impossible to take it all in at that speed, but it was a perfect introduction.
Day 2 was Rome, and quite possibly counts among the top 10 days of my life. I came back full of dreams of moving over there for a while, perhaps signing up as a tour guide and treating tourists to my uncanny ability to get myself completely lost.
I would love to do it, it's the most beautiful city I've set foot in, full of history and culture and beauty literally everwhere you look, not to mention the ridiculously attractive people. I hardly knew whether to gaze at the ancient monuments or ogle the tour guide.
This tour was as packed as the first , taking in Trevi Fountain, the Imperial Forums, the Coloseum and Vatican City, and there's plenty more I'm itching to see - so W*P*D and I have hatched a plan to go back for a long weekend and rent a villa on the outskirts, to give us time to have a more leisurely explore of the city. I'm pining to be there again.
Of course, both days were finished off with some quality MummyC time, moving from food outlet to food outlet at our leisure. These cruise ships also have their own theatre, big enough to seat 1000, so we took a slice of cake and some popcorn and settled in for a magic show on the first night and an ice show on the second.
Do feel free to browse my many, many photos if you're particularly bored at work. There's a little gadget on the sidebar that will take you right to them, or click here. Part 2 coming up when I've regained my sight from processing the first batch...