Our first port of call on our Med. Cruise was Gibraltar. It actually attached to Spain and there have been many times I the past when the Spanish have wanted to get back this small piece of land from the British and although the British Government would be happy to make such arrangements, there was a referendum in the late 1960's when the people of Gibraltar....voted very strongly against it.
We did not go to the hill tops as that is where there are loads of monkeys who are very mischievous and not at all nice to tourists. Pam does not like them at all !! so we stayed in town. It was the first time I had visited Gibraltar and found it quite a pleasant place. Lots of lovely shops in particular jewelery shops that I can't resist !! I don't quite know how it happened but I found myself actually in one of these delightful shops and within a few mins was very easily persuaded that a new pair of diamond earrings might just prove the best buy of the holidays particularly as they were tax and vat free and I managed to get a 60% discount......in yet another jewelery shop Mary discovered herself walking out with a lovely gold bangle...again vat and tax free and 60% discount.....no wonder we had to find Pam and Henry and a tea shop to sit and recover !!!
Second port of call was Toulon in Provence, France.. There were many museums in and around Toulon, however we did not have very long ashore and although the cruise company had laid on courtesy coaches to take us into town we did not have very long so other than a quick look around we did not see very much. A rather disappointing town altogether..
Florence in Italy...was our next day ashore. We had pre booked a tour to Florence and once we disembarked around 9.30 we soon found our coach. The driver was very helpful and got the chair into the hold without any grumbles !..our very nice lady guide was called Loretta she had a good way of describing the various places that we passed through on the hour drive. The coach was parked outside the City and it was a good walk into town. Mary walked with Loretta and so everyone walked at her pace. All went well with the exception of Pam and I !!! we were confronted by lots of steps down pavements....now wheelchairs and scooters don't really like drops on pavements and the Romans had not heard of drop kerbs LOL ( it would have been great for their chariots if they had....mind you maybe they didn't even have pavements in these days LOL.).. however the other folks on the tour could not have been kinder and we were soon masters at the art of me jumping out of chair and others pushing and pulling said chair into the road !! actually in the end I gave up getting back on the pavements and decided to take my life in my hands and stay on the road. We arrived on the Palazzo Della Signoria ( Palazzo Vechio) dominates the Piazza, with a copy of Michelangelo's statue of David adorning the stairway it was completed in 1314, what a wonderful sight David is. We were all but dead beat by the time we got there as the temp was in the high 80s so after an examination of David and some of the other magnificent statues Lunch and shade was the attraction. I soon found a nice cafe on the square and Mary and I enjoyed a cool drink and as we were in Italy an Italian Pittza was ordered between us !! very nice it was...Pam and Henry soon appeared as well and were soon relaxing at an adjoining table. I had remembered from a previous visit the story of a bronze pig at a market quite near the square so I asked the waiter exactly where it was and Mary and I were soon of in search.of it....now the story is if you rub the pigs nose you will return one day...as I never thought I would return, although I had rubbed his nose previously.....maybe it does work so I had Mary give him a good old rub....one day maybe we will return we both liked Florence very much....despite the pavements !!! The only sad part was that as on my previous visit I did not have time to visit the Ponte Vecchio Bridge this is the oldest bridge 'remaining in Florence and is now lined with Goldsmiths.....maybe be a good job I didn't get there !!!
(In Bath we have a lovely bridge called Pultney Bridge that was inspired by the Ponte Vecchio in as far as there are shops on either side ) Actually the bridge was not far from where we were but it would have been a few steps too much for Mary...After an hour and a half we met up again with Loretta and were marched back to the coach. It really was a lovely day and enjoyed by everyone I think.
So there you are the first of our off the ship trips... None of the tours were very long, in fact all were a bit rushed but it gave us a taster for the places and you can never tell we may be able to go again one day...
Getting of and on the ship was really quite a military operation. when we boarded for the first time we were photographed and given a credit size shape card...this card was all we used all the time on board, it was a "cashless ship" if we bought anything from any of the shops, bars etc. we just showed our card and by the time we got back to our Cabins we could check our account on the TV and see exactly how much we had used. When I first booked I managed to get us all $200 spending money !! (free !!) and so we were well into our second week before we actually began to "spend" any money....This same card was used as we went off the ship and so they could check we were out and again on our return so that the ship would not leave without you it was also our room "key" and had our room number on it also the deck number of our dining room in other words a "magic card" Tonight I might try and get some photographs downloaded...watch this space...
Goodnight, God Bless, Love one Another xxx