Christmas Adventure, part 4: Cagliari, Palermo, Naples…and home!

Tuesday, December 30
Day 8 – Cagliari, Italy (Sardinia)

I assumed we had information on Cagliari in our Rick Steves book, but we realized last night that we don’t. Oh well, time to fly by the seat of our pants! We took a free shuttle from the boat to the end of the pier, which was right at the base of town. The town basically sprawled across a big hill, so we had nowhere to go from the pier but up! After picking up a map, Charlie started navigating us uphill. We found a tower and walked up the 120 steps to enjoy beautiful views of the bay. We walked even higher uphill and saw the gorgeous Cathedral. Connor fell asleep before noon, and we walked to the Bastione di Saint Remy. It was an impressive arch with more wonderful views. Next we walked down a tourist-filled street lined with shops, then to a cemetery. Connor woke up on the way. After finding the cemetery and just beginning to walk through, a groundskeeper told us that it was closing at 1:00, which was in about 5 minutes. Luckily, Charlie understood enough of his Italian to figure out what he was saying, and we left before getting locked in!

Amazing views in Cagliari
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Bastione di Saint Remy
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We walked back along the shore to catch the bus to our boat. It was SO WINDY as we got on the boat and I literally almost fell over twice. After lunch, Connor and I went to the play room while Charlie went to our room to rest his back. (He tweaked it somehow and was in a lot of pain today.) Connor had a great time playing with Friedrich, his new German friend of the same age. We went back to our room to see daddy, then came to the play room again for the evening activity. Hooray, we got to play on the jungle gym in the big room again! Charlie joined us there, and afterwards we went to the art gallery and decided to buy a painting. We had each noticed and decided we liked the painting while we were alone, so when we realized the other one liked it, we decided to make the purchase. After dinner and bedtime for Connor, I went to the theater to see the show. It was aerial acrobatics tonight and it was amazing! The wind was picking up all evening and the boat was really swaying, but the performers never stumbled.

Wednesday, December 31
Day 9 – at sea

Connor had mercy on us and “slept in” until 7:00am. Charlie’s back was really bothering him and he was having trouble moving around normally. We had a relaxed morning and a late breakfast, and then I went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the boat while Charlie and Connor played. I loved the tour! We saw the galley, trash and recycling areas, laundry area, backstage of the theater, and the bridge. Afterwards I came back to the room and took nap with Connor while Charlie went to an appointment at the spa for acupuncture and a massage. It helped a lot with the pain, but he thinks a chiropractor is what he really needs. Just by looking at him I could see how misaligned his body is!

Look how enormous the washing machines are!
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We all went to a late lunch, then Charlie played bingo while Connor and I went to the play room. We played with Connor’s new German buddies, then others arrived for the evening activity. Tonight the teacher put on a puppet show with songs and animal puppets, and Connor loved it! Charlie met us there, but said he needed to go to the doctor. Connor and I stayed and played a little longer while Charlie went to the doctor, then had a quiet dinner. The buffet was pretty empty because all of the sit-down restaurants were having New Year’s Eve specials. We had planned to go to one of them, but between Charlie’s back pain and deciding to visit the doctor, we just went to the buffet instead. Charlie met us there as we were finishing, so we stayed while he ate. The doctor gave him a shot to help with the pain. It was a low-key New Year’s Eve for us, and no one bothered to stay up until midnight!

Thursday, January 1
Day 10 – Palermo, Italy (Sicily)

Happy New Year! We were supposed to arrive in Palermo, but the port was closed in the morning due to bad weather and strong winds. We had breakfast, then Connor and I went to the play room while Charlie laid down to rest his back. He felt much better, but still had some pain. Later in the morning, the Captain said we could head to port. By noon we were ready to head out. Palermo was not a beautiful town! It was filled with rundown buildings. Once again we had no specific plans ahead of time and just used the map to find whatever sounded interesting. We wandered off to find a few churches, but they were either rundown or just not open. Connor fell asleep, and we finally came across a touristy area, and it was fairly busy with people considering most places were closed for the holiday. We found the Cathedral and were excited to finally have something impressive to look at, but unforunately it was closed and we couldn’t go in. After walking just a bit further, we went back to the boat, and Connor woke up along the way.

We finally found some decent sights in Palermo…
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Teatro Massimo
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Cathedral
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Vacation is hard work!
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After a late lunch, Connor and I went to the play room while Charlie rested his back.  We had fun at Connor’s evening activity, which was exploring textures with cornstarch and water.  Connor loved it and he was a mess!  He and I played a little longer before meeting Charlie in our room to get ready for dinner. We had reservations at one of the specialty restaurants, Teppanyaki. Connor was enthralled by the chef, as we had hoped he would be! He had fun using his chopsticks as drum sticks and building alphabet letters. Actually, I think he successfully ate with them, too! He loved the food, and so did Charlie and I, of course. After he went to bed, I went to the theater to catch the end of tonight’s illusion show.

Friday, January 2
Day 11 – Naples

We were up and ready in time to meet at 8:15 for our shore excursion to Pompei. It was a 25-minute bus ride to Pompei, complete with views of Vesuvius along the way, and then we had two hours on our own to tour the ruins. We ran into Friedrich’s family in the ticket line (one of the families we always see in the play room), and the two boys had fun running around before we entered. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and not too chilly. We enjoyed taking our time to explore the ruins of Pompei. It was hard to imagine an entire city being covered with volcanic ash.

Pompei
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After our bus ride back to the port, we walked around Naples on our own. We were all starving, so Charlie checked the Rick Steves book and found a recommended pizza place. Once we finally got there, we realized that we weren’t the only ones who wanted to have some authentic Italian pizza today. There was a crowd outside the door waiting to get in! There was another restaurant across the street that Rick Steves recommended, but it also had a crowd! Poor Connor had been nodding off for a nap as we walked, but we kept him awake since we knew we were about to stop. We walked a bit further and found a restaurant. Our two pizzas and my huge salad were fresh and delicious!

Walking through Naples
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Next we headed towards the Cathedral. Somehow we ended up walking through narrow streets lined with tall buildings on both sides, and it didn’t seem like a nice part of town, but the area was bustling with people and tourists. We finally found the Cathedral, which was (of course), closed for another 25 minutes. We tried to walk to a nearby church in the meantime, but (you guessed it), we had trouble finding it. Connor was exhausted and having a tough time, and who could blame him? We should have just let him fall asleep earlier when he wanted to!  Finally we found the church, but it had a line around the corner! Connor fell asleep, but only for a short nap. Deciding not to go back to see the Cathedral, we walked down a shopping street heading towards the port and stopped to look in the Disney Store.

Cathedral
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Castel Nuovo (we didn’t go in)
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Once we got back to the port, we stopped inside the terminal so that Charlie could use wifi for the first time. In our room, we got a lot of our things packed up since we have to leave our suitcases outside our room to be picked up tonight. I can’t believe it’s the last night of our cruise! We went to the play room and played on the jungle gym in the big room. Connor was exhausted and a bit of a mess tonight. On our way into the buffet for dinner, he spotted a special offering of strawberry ice cream. His mind was too focused on the ice cream to eat any dinner, and he finally got to have some after Charlie and I finished our dinner. After going back to our room and giving Connor a shower, he was even more of a cranky mess than he was earlier…and then he threw up. We were hoping that it wasn’t a stomach bug and maybe it was just a perfect storm of ice cream, no dinner, and getting himself all worked up. He perked back up after a bit and fell asleep pretty easily.

Sunset view of Capri from the ship
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Saturday, January 3
Day 12 – Civitavecchia and traveling home

Unfortunately, Connor got sick once more during the night. While I was cleaning up, he fell back to sleep with the lights on, so I guess he was pretty exhausted. He was up around 6:30am, and then actually fell asleep before 8:00am for a short nap. Meanwhile, Charlie brought a small breakfast to the room for us while Connor slept. We had to wake him and get him dressed, and then we were off the boat before 9:30. I didn’t realize ahead of time that we would be off the boat that early, so I had arranged for our driver to pick us up at noon. We picked up our bags and then went over to the check-in area to wait. I called the transfer company, and the driver was able to arrive by 11:00. Connor was happy and playing, then suddenly threw up again. The poor people waiting to get on the ship for the next cruise must have been thrilled to witness that and wonder how many germs were on the boat! I got Connor cleaned up, then we went outside and our van was there shortly. It was the same driver that had driven us to Civitavecchia to start our cruise! I think he was excited to see Connor.

Connor fell asleep on the way to Rome and woke up when we got to the airport. Another mistake I made was booking the cheapest flight of the day, which wasn’t until 6:45pm, so we had 4 hours to kill before we could even check-in and drop off our bags! We went upstairs and found an area to sit. Connor and I kept busy alternating between walking around and sitting down to snuggle. After a while, he got sick on the floor. (Let’s see…boat, cruise terminal, airport…we were praying it wouldn’t happen on the plane!) Finally it was time to check-in and drop off our bags, but we still had 3 more hours until our flight! Connor napped again, and meanwhile Charlie ran into the family from Spain that we spent a lot of time with in the play room. Well, what do you know…their 2-year-old had been sick since last night, too.

Our journey home was long. After a short delay, we took off and were almost ready to land in Frankfurt when we found out the runways were closed due to snow. The pilot circled for a few minutes in case they re-opened them, then he decided to divert to Stuttgart. The plane parked at a gate for about an hour and a half, and then we were able to take off again for Frankfurt. We were so grateful that not only had Connor NOT gotten sick on the airplane, but he was asleep for most of the time we were sitting on the ground in Stuttgart. It was difficult to hear him so upset as we tried to get him back into his seat and buckled to takeoff again, but he was able to settle back to sleep soon.

Finally we made it to Frankfurt, picked up our bags, changed Connor into his pajamas, and were in the car heading home by 1:00am. By that time, you could barely tell there had been any snow! We got home shortly after 2:00am and carried Connor up to bed without waking him. I thought we were in the clear, but he woke up at 6:15am throwing up, and Charlie decided we should head to the doctor just to be safe…plus, he wanted to be seen for his back. After several hours waiting around at the ER with nothing that could really be done for either of them (well no diagnosis, but a pain shot, muscle relaxers, and a chiropractic referral for Charlie), we were back home and ready to recover from our trip. Connor was pretty much back to his normal self later that day and was able to eat some dinner.

All in all, we absolutely LOVED our cruise and we would go on another one in a heartbeat. Weeks later, all three of us still talk about the people we met, the cities we visited, and the memories we made on the boat. Here is a photo that was taken just before we boarded the ship for the first time.  We laughed when we saw it and just had to buy the photo because Connor’s face said it all!  He had a great time, I promise :).

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It took us a few weeks to recover from all of our excitement, and we didn’t travel anywhere during the 4-day weekend in January.  (However, we used the 4-day weekend to help Connor learn how to use the potty, and he hasn’t needed a diaper since then!)  Now we are busy planning our adventures for our remaining months here!

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