This is my simple photo journal. I like to take pictures and once a month or more, I load them onto this blog so that we can remember some of our family highlights.


Cruisin' the Mediterranean

Tom and I just got back from the Mediterranean coast.  
We went with our friends and travel partners, the Oklands.  We have dreamed of doing this trip since we were newlyweds.  With Kaci Okland and I turning 40 this year, our husbands made it happen.
We booked a cruise on the Seven Seas Mariner...figuring that we could see more of the Western portion of the Mediterranean that way.  Amazing ship and we loved it.  Big thumbs up.
(Barcelona-Marseille-St.Tropez-Lucca-Amalfi Coast-Capri-Rome)

Before you sense a brag blog beginning...let me inject some reality here.
About 2 days into our 10 day trip, Tom started feeling yucky.  At first we thought it was just a sinus infection and jet lag.  The Oklands gave Tom the z-pack they brought. 
 Dang it to all he just never got better.   He ended up with pneumonia. 
So crazy and terrible timing....blah

So,  I got to be a sister wife to the Oklands on most of our outings.
A couple of people even asked me if  I was the 
ship photographer because it was just me and my big camera.

We arrived in Barcelona where we would board our cruise ship the next day.
I loved this city.
Beautiful tree lined streets and all types of impressive architecture.

With only a day and 1/2 there-- we hired a tour guide, Gemma, to take us to the highlights.
Gemma knew her hometown well--she made me want to learn more about where I live.
We learned that Barcelona is Catalan.
The Catalans do not view themselves as Spaniards.  
Learned a lot of new things on this trip.

Gotta love Tom's swagger stance.

When you're a little jet-lagged you must concentrate harder

The big shining star of Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia

A monstrous gothic basilica that has been under construction since 1882
It looks like a sand castle that someone just poured water it is melting.
I was blown away by this building.  I have never seen anything like it.
It is soooo weird-- it's cool.

Below is another funky building by the famous architect Gaudi.
I could stare and stare at his buildings.

and an apartment building

This city has the most diverse and beautiful buildings.
Everything from the classic.... very modern

We tried to stay awake and alert, but the jet lag took hold when we sat for any length of time.
Actually the Oklands handled the 9 hour time difference a lot better than Tom and I did.
It took me a good 3 days to get acclimated.

We did find our girls some fans...really it was for Meg. She collects them.
A couple years ago this was the main thing she wanted for Christmas.

After about 36 hours in Barcelona, we boarded our ship and set sail for Marseille, France

All the rooms have a balcony, which makes a huge difference on a cruise.  
At least Tom had some fresh air when he was sick.

(I tried to put the posts in just keep scrolling down...if you care )


We had 2 stops in France:  Marseille and St. Tropez

Things I loved about France:

Everyone says Bonjour!

Potted flowers and plants everywhere

Vines growing on walls and stairways

Shutters on every window

Built-in excercise.  They do not accomodate for laziness.
There are inclines and stairways everywhere worth getting to.

Cobblestone streets

 Clock and Bell Towers that ring on the hour

Very old things

Inspiration for the prison in the Count of Monte Cristo.
(Alexandre Dumas was from Marseille)

Fresh Food Markets everywhere.  And I am not kidding, there are no heavy people.
Bill made the observation and so I started to take note and I seriously did not
find an over-weight person in Marseille or St. Tropez....except tourists (:

Crepes with thing I ate.  

Red Lighthouses along the coasts

 But there was a peeve...
There may be one public restroom in the whole town and it is not made very clear where that one toilette may be.  In fact we asked a French policewoman and she was not very helpful.
This is Kaci re-enacting our quest for the bathroom.
When we finally did find it, 
they charged you money to use it and there was a man standing with homemade goods wanting you to try so you would buy.....  just awkward.

So grateful Bill and Kaci let me tag along.  They are such a classy couple.

Tom had a fever and chills--so he did not make it to any part of France.

 When I walked by a fish market, he wasn't there
to entertain me with his reaction.  
It wasn't the same seeing all these things without him.

Monte Carlo

Monaco is an amazing place.  It is the second smallest country and most densely populated in the world.

The land of Grace Kelly and the Grand Prix.
You can walk from one end of the country to the other, it is less than 3 miles wide. 
 It prides itself on 0% crime and unemployment and the world's highest average income of almost 200k.
It also boasts the longest life expectancy--90 years old.

I couldn't get over how perfect everything was.  It is beautiful--a little unreal.
This was the first stop that Tom felt good enough to leave the ship and take a short tour.
A french doctor had given him some breathing treatments and a heavy duty anti-biotic.
We jumped on a bus tour and rode around the city and saw the highlights.

This is Monaco's  famous Oceanographic Museum.  
It sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean.

The Oklands and I went inside.  It was the highlight of Monaco for me and I
know Tom would have loved seeing it.  Unfortunately the bus tour was all he could handle and
so I toured on foot without him.

The changing of the guard was kind of pathetic.  So not worth waiting around to see.
The guards don't even really believe in what they are doing.

Here is the famous casino.  
This is how Monaco decided to get on the map and make itself into a destination for the rich and famous.
Monacan citizens are not allowed to gamble.  
They do not pay income tax and so Prince Albert does not allow them gamble.  
He just wants to take outsider's money.... a smart King.

LOVE Lucca!

Our first stop in Italy was a port called Livorno.
Not a lot to see at that port.....

so the Oklands and I jumped on a bus and rode inland to the city of Lucca.  It is close to Pisa.
In fact we could see it from the highway.
Wishing our bus would have just driven us home via Pisa  so we could see the leaning tower.

I think Lucca was my favorite stop.  We toured it by bicycle.
It was a beautiful day and we rode along the city's famous wall that surrounds
the heart of the city.  We had this amazing tour guide named Vonda that pronounced every word very clearly and in this great cadence.  I can still hear her voice in my head.
 She had great stories and fun facts.  
I fell in love with Italy.

Look at the trees growing on top?  It is one of the mysteries of Lucca.

We saw a bazillion Catholic churches on our trip.  I can't keep track of them all.
This one was interesting because it had saints assigned for each month of the year.
The only one that was destroyed and beyond recognition was my birthday month, November.
So it stood out from the others.