Here are all the countries we have visited within Europe!
After digging out the biggest suitcase from the closet and packing all our much needed summer clothes, having our passports in our hands and relevant travelling tickets needed, we were ready to leave. Our journey started at the bus stop where our coach would pick us up for the overnight journey to Genoa, where our cruise ship departs. It was a 16 hour drive through the south of the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and finally in the north of Italy. We had the whole back seat area of the coach as it wasn’t completely full, and could luckily get some sleep across some of the chairs. For me was easy, but Lennart sure did struggle with his 196cm length!
Waking up to the early morning sunrise in Switzerland was beautiful, seeing the snow on the mountain tops and the houses hidden on the mountain side. Stopping at the gas station we bought some breakfast before crossing the border to Italy. Most other guests on the coach were 50+ and we had our speculation that the cruise would also be filled with the older generation, but we didn’t mind as it was a brand new travelling experience for us.
Arriving in Genoa at the cruise terminal was an exciting feeling, checking in our bags and receiving all the information needed for when we were on the ship, like our dinner time schedule and room key. We had a few hours to wait before we could actually get on the cruise ship, so like most other guests we headed into the city of Genoa to start soaking up the sun.
Beautiful city, and much bigger and busier than expected! We knew that we would have a few more hours in the city when our cruise returned for the home journey with the coach, so we had no rush to see the city now. While waiting for the time to board we found a little café for some lunch. We were very nervous and excited that we didn’t actually eat much!!
It was time and we were ready. Finally standing next to the ship was amazing, warmly greeted by the personnel while others rushed around with taking peoples suitcases to the correct room, cleaning the whole ship and making all the preparations to depart. It wasn’t the biggest cruise ship on the sea, but to us it was breathtaking.
Our first day and night was towards our first destination of Marseilles, France. We had to take part in the safety routine emergency drill, grabbing our life jackets from our room and heading straight to our safety point. Definitely made us realise the seriousness of being on a massive ship with up to 3500 people in an emergency. However it was like being in a comic scene seeing people in life jackets, wondering around lost and taking selfies, making the best of the routine emergency drill. It all added to the excitement as our cruise ship departed the docks of Genoa.
Joining in with our first sit down dinner at our time schedule we learnt how we would have the same table every week, with the same guests on our table. It was very organized and new to us. To our delight we had a lovely older Dutch couple who had the same interests as us, and also the same charming waiter every day, making our dinner time’s very ‘gezellig’.
We had an inside cabin, which we didn’t mind as it had plenty of space for us to unpack and make it cosy. Couldn’t feel the ship moving at all and once we turned the lights off it was perfectly pitch black and couldn’t hear a thing from other guests in the hallway. Our first nights sleep on our cruise was a delight.
Check out Day Two where we arrived in Marseille, France.
In 2010 my partner and I took a last minute Cruise which docked at five different locations in the Mediterranean sea. We had a rather cheap deal for the Greek Louis Majesty cruise ship at roughly €500.00 per person for 7 days all inclusive, as a few months prior it made headline BBC news for an 26ft wave crashing into the ship killing 2 people and injuring at least 14 others.
We toured the Mediterranean anti-clockwise. Check out the itinerary below as each destination I have created a separate blog post (Some still WIP):
Marseilles, France – Cruise Day 2
Menorca, Spain -Cruise Day 3
Palermo, Sicily – Cruise Day 6
Back to Genoa, Italy – Cruise Day 7
Thinking back to 2010 seems so long ago already, but the experience hasn’t been forgotten. A cruise vacation is definitely something we would invest in again, giving you enough time to visit more than 5+ places during a holiday. The downside of course is not having enough time at those places to do and see everything we wanted, and really only visiting the touristic things.
We met some great people, explored all new locations and the cruise ship experience was very enjoyable, especially with the swimming pool/jacuzzi and the all you can eat buffets from more than 5 different types of restaurants!!
We booked a tour online with City Wonders that would pick us up at 7am in Rome for a long drive to Pompeii for the excursion. Our lunch and entrance tickets for the Pompeii Lost City were included in the price and we would be back by 11pm. We were a bit skeptical as we would be sat on a coach for a total of 6 hours (3 there and 3 back) and this is hugely something out of our comfort zone. Plus with Lennart being 196cm tall he’s not the comfiest person sitting on a coach, but we really wanted to visit so we prepared ourselves for the long journey.
From the first hour on the coach to Pompeii we already had a great impression of how the rest of the day would go. Our guides were Luca and Dmitri who were fantastic! Luca told all different information about the region, the food and the history of castles on the way in such an interesting and comic way that we really enjoyed it. He also made it personal by adding in little stories of his wife and children and how they have experienced life in the region.
Once we arrived at the Pompeii ruins we were appointed to a guide who works at the Lost City to show us a main walking route that takes 2.5 hours. Right from the start it was impressive and fascinating to be walking through the ruins. Experiencing the houses of how some of the richer families lived to the poor areas where the famous brothels were. Truthfully we could have spent all day exploring there, but for an excursion this was the perfect amount of time. It is definitely a place we will return to and explore more.
(It’s been hard to choose which photos to share as we have so many! This last photo above shows Mount Vesuvius in the background, where we headed next.)
Back on the overheating coach we headed to a booked restaurant for lunch. We were treated to a set meal of a fresh salad, a Napoleon pizza of our choice and a much needed cold drink, since it had reached 29°c! From there we had about a 40 minute drive up to the highest part of the volcano. Lots of twists and turns in the road definitely made it a challenge for the coach driver but he did a fantastic job getting us to the top, most likely something he does often on these excursions.
We bought a fresh cold water at the temporary little shop and prepared ourselves for the steep walk to the top of the volcano. It was temporary because the previous little shop had been struck by lightening a few weeks before!
We were prepared with our sneakers on, rather than some guests with high heels on. There was a time limit of 20 minutes for us all to get to the top and enjoy the views before having to get back to the coach as we still had the 3 hour drive back to Rome.
If you open this photo above larger, you can see the dried lava/volcanic rock in grey from the eruption from 1944. The other two photos are of the creator of the volcano.
We were extremely lucky for such a clear day. There was a super friendly Chinese guy on the tour that took our photo at the top, he lost his wife near the coach as she was wearing heels and literally couldn’t walk up the steep part, but he didn’t want to miss out and joined us to the top.
The day ended back in Rome at 12pm, later then expected due to some traffic from Naples. We highly recommend City Wonders tours, since we can’t think of any negative things to say about the day as we were well informed about the history of Pompeii, Naples, Mount Vesuvius and the overall service was fantastic. If we visit another city that the tour company is based in we will certainly book another excursion with them.