Transatlantic Cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette
11/5/16 to 11/20/16

Due to the length of the review, it is in 4 parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top of each page. 

Page 1 - Pre-Cruise in Florence Italy
Page 2 - Ship and Entertainment; Ports of Call:  La Spiezia, Italy
Page 3 - Ports of Call:  Provence (Toulon), France;  Barcelona, Spain
Page 4 - Ports of Call:  Palma De Mallorca, Spain; Tenerife, Canary Islands

Ship

Since we did a complete review of the Silhouette public areas in 2012, I am not going to include it again for this review, since minimal changes have been made to the ship.  If you want to see what the ship looks like, you can click HERE to go to the Mediterranean Adriatic review page it was included in.  I am making comments and including photos of changes below.

Sushi on Five - This specialty restaurant was recently added to replace the Bistro on Five.  It is an ala carte restaurant for sushi, that seemed to be rather expensive.  Rather than a low flat price for the meal, like Bistro on Five was, diners paid for each piece of sushi they ordered; which could be expensive.  I never saw many people in the restaurant, except for the ship's officers.  A down side of this restaurant was that they stopped serving sushi in the buffet every day.

   

   

   

Quasar – The night club has been reduced in size to make room for a larger Future Cruise Office.  It made a lot of sense to do this, since Quasar was too large for the number of people using it late at night.  Plus, the smaller size makes the club seem fuller and more intimate; which is better for guest interaction.

   

   

Future Cruise Office – This was one change that I was really pleased about.  The previous office was much too small for the activity level.  I booked a future cruise there not long after we boarded.  It turned out to be one of the few times that there wasn’t a line waiting to see a representative. It is a very popular place.

   

World Class Bar – This is just a name change to the former Molecular Bar.  They do have different drinks than before; but it is still a bar with more expensive delicious exotic drinks.

Luminae Restaurant - This is the new restaurant that is only for suite guests.  There are no set seatings in this dining room.  It is located on the starboard side of deck 3 and was created by taking away space from the Grand Cuvee Main Dining Room. It is a tastefully elegant room and felt quite comfortable to me.  Below are photos I took of the Equinox Luminae Restaurant, since it is the same as the Silhouette.

   

   

Artwork - I wanted to mention a couple of items of artwork on the ship. The first one we remembered; but had never read about it. Once we understood that the photographer told the kids to just close their eyes and open their mouths, we enjoyed looking at them. There were quite a few of these pictures on the wall of the elevator waiting area on deck 8.

   

Cabin

We booked cabin 8244, which is on the starboard hump in the middle of the ship. Its location is perfect in that it is close to the midship elevators.  This is important on the Solstice Class ships, since there is no aft elevator.  Cabins near the back of the ship require much more walking to get to different areas of the ship. Being on the starboard side for the westbound Transatlantic cruise was important to us, since we knew that we wouldn't have too much direct sunlight on the balcony.  We get enough sun in south Florida and prefer to use the balcony in the shade. 

The cabin is nicely arranged and relatively roomy for a non-suite cruise ship cabin.  We had plenty of storage space and the luggage fit nicely under the beds. 

   

   

The storage space above the beds is nice to have.  In addition to storing things we didn't use much, we also used it to store the large wooden hangers from the closet.  Carol brings wire hangers that don't take up as much closet space, so that more can be stuffed into them.

The desk has two US plugs and one European two post plug.

The balcony is the standard size, as opposed to the cabins we prefer on the edges of the hump that can have balconies that are two to three times more space.

   

The bathroom is adequately sized and there is plenty of storage space.

   

Our Stateroom Attendant was Aleksandar from Macedonia.  He had just been promoted from being an assistant.  Apparently, Celebrity is taking away the assistant position and giving each attendant less staterooms to take care of.  On this cruise, Aleksandar had fourteen rooms. On the cruise just before this our attendant, also by himself, had sixteen.  Aleksandar did a very good job for us and was always cheerful.

 

Dining (Link to Menus)

I have included copies of the menus for the lounges and specialty restaurants at Menus link just above and at the top of each page of the review.  Since the main dining room menus are the same as I have included on the last several reviews, they are not included this time.

Grand Cuvee Main Dining Room – After enjoying Blu on the previous cruise, we were looking forward to returning to the main dining room again.  We always ask to be seated at a table for six or eight, at the first seating.  We like to meet other cruisers during dinner and share the day’s experiences.  We have met lifelong friends that way.  When we booked the cruise, the early seating was scheduled for 6:15 PM each night.  When we boarded the ship, we found that it had been changed to 5:30 PM.  We were not happy about the change.  When we went to the dining room to be seated at our table, we then found that we had been put at a table for two.  We weren’t happy about that, but knew it could be easily changed.  During dinner, I was able to go to the Maitre D’ and get moved to a table for eight for the rest of the cruise.   Our table mates were couples Phyllis & Lee and Alex & Rosalyn.  We also had two singles Jim and Hildegard.  

   
Phyllis & Lee                                                                Alex & Rosalyn


   
          Jim                                                                Hildegard

Rosalyn asked the Assistant Maitre D’ why the time had been changed to the earlier time.  He said that people in the late seating had complained that they couldn’t get into early seating or anytime dining, so they made both seatings earlier.  That sounds like a good way to disappoint everyone.  She than asked if we could just come to the dining room later, since 5:30 PM was too early.  He told us to just come at 6:00 PM each night if we wanted to.  That worked for us.

The main dining room food was good as always, but we did find ourselves selecting the everyday items for appetizers and desserts regularly.  The appetizer selection was OK; but the desserts were really weak on this cruise for the most part.  Since we have had the various items in the past, we knew that some items were not worth ordering, so we stuck with what we knew we enjoyed.  We did find that the beef entrées, for the most part, were better than normal.

We were very fortunate to have outstanding servers on this cruise, Waiter Ben from the Philippines and Assistant Waiter Daisy from Indonesia.  Each night, I would ask Ben for his recommendations.  When I didn’t go with them, I normally regretted it.  So, it didn’t take long to just go with his recommendations. 

We enjoyed the main dining room so much, we never booked one of the specialty restaurants on this cruise.

Oceanview Café – I would go to the buffet most days for breakfast and lunch.  Carol preferred to go to Café al Bacio for coffee and Danish in the morning.  Since we have Elite Plus status with Celebrity, there is no charge for the specialty coffees.  It is a great benefit.  Most mornings I would go to the omelet making station for an omelet or over easy eggs.  After the first day, I went there, the order taker, Eric from Jamaica, knew my name.  I never had to tell him again.  I was impressed, plus he was a heck of nice guy and very organized in how he managed the orders.

The buffets on this class ship have a huge selection of items.  There is always something to eat.  We found that the pizza on this cruise was unusually good.  It and the salad bar were always busy at lunch.  The main problem with the buffet is that it can get very crowded.  This is a problem when trying to get food or find a table to sit at.  With the weather being cooler than normal, people didn’t want to sit outside at the Sunset Bar, just outside the buffet at the back of the ship.  This made it even more challenging to find a seat.  Adding to this, for some reason, the staff was very slow at cleaning up dirty dishes off tables.  Much of the time, the staff had to be asked to clean off tables.  So, adding to there being a shortage of tables, many that were available were dirty.  We had not experienced it being this bad on previous Celebrity cruises.  I don’t know if it was a staffing level issue or an attitude or training issue; but it was a problem.

Entertainment

Our Cruise Director and Master of Ceremonies for the evening shows was John Grantham from the United States.  We had him as a CD on our Hawaii cruise a few years ago, and enjoyed him.  He is very personable and friendly as he walks around the ship talking to passengers.  Unlike some CD’s, he doesn’t waste a lot of time at the beginning of shows telling jokes or on unnecessary talk.  During both cruises we have been on with him, John does a presentation during a sea day where he discusses his life as a stunt man in Hollywood.  It is fascinating.

   

Performers –
We had some of the best performers I have ever had on a single cruise.  It was a real pleasure to go to the shows at night.

Tenors of Rock –From the video they showed before the performance, this is a popular singing group from the UK.  They were very good and the audience went crazy for them. 

   

   

   

Antonio Salci – He was primarily a very good pianist; but he also played some other instruments.  He had a nice mix of music to demonstrate his talents.

   

The Simon and Garfunkel Story -  I haven’t had the best of luck on recent cruises tribute bands; but this show was not a tribute band.  The two guys that were made up to look like Simon and Garfunkel did perform many of their songs; but they told the history of the band from the beginning between songs.  It was an excellent show.

   

Laura Broad – This female singer has performed on TV shows and concert tours by herself and with her band, Coyote.  All I can say is that she was just outstanding with everything she sang.  The audience loved her and hated when the show ended.  We would have loved for her to be able to come back for a second show.  It was surprising that on a Transatlantic cruise, none of the performers did more than their one evening show.

   

David Austen –  David is a singer that performed music from Josh Groban, Ed Sheeran, Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, Sam Smith and others.  He was a good singer and kept the audience entertained.

   

Justino Zoppe’s Magic and Beyond –  He performed various tricks and illusions during his show that were well done.  Since we have seen many magicians on cruise and on TV shows, none of the stuff he was doing was new to us.  I am sure it was for some people, but the folks I talked to about the performance were also a bit disappointed with the same old kind of tricks.

   

Oli Nez – When the daily shows that the evening show is going to be an instrumentalist, many people decide to skip the show.  Well, this was not the show to skip.  Oli was an amazing musician.  His main instrument was a saxophone; but he played an assortment of instruments including one that is a strange wind instrument that creates an unusual range of tones.  His show was awesome and the audience loved it.  The next day I talked to people that had heard about it but hadn’t gone.  They were sorry they missed it.

       

Jeff Nease - My favorite type of performance on a cruise are the comedians.  Jeff has performed on Comedy Central, Showtime and other TV venues.  He was absolutely hilarious!  He provided a show where the audience was hurting from laughing when it was over.  It was such a pleasure to hear a comedian on a cruise with new and funny material.  Even when he discussed cruise subjects that most comedians try to joke about, his stuff was fresh.  People talked about his performance for the cruise.  If you are fortunate enough to have him on a future cruise, don’t miss him.

   

Kateryna – I had just seen violinist Katerina Rossa on the previous cruise.  When I saw that we were going to have a violinist named Kateryna on this cruise, I didn’t realize that it was the same person because of the different name spellings and no last name listed.  I am glad it was, since she is an outstanding violinist.  She played a very enjoyable music selection and mixed up the types of music.  It really showed off her skill.  Even though I had seen the exact same show just three weeks earlier, I enjoyed it again.

   

Stephen Ragatz – The daily said this juggler had appeared on the Tonight Show, Today Show, Rosie O’Donnell Show and others.  I was expecting quite a performance.  Unfortunately for Stephen, this was the roughest the seas had been for the whole cruise, so it wasn’t the best night for a juggler.  He did surprisingly well, since there was ship movement to make his job more challenging.  He did drop a few things, but he did better than expected.  The problem with the show was twofold.  First, he was a juggler.  Juggling isn’t great to watch unless it is a really unique show.  His was not, he juggled the normal things.  He did one thing that I hadn't seen before, he skipped rope while on a unicycle.  That takes talent!  The biggest problem with his show was that he did at least a 10 minute skit in the middle of the show that was more like a mime routine.  It was just terribly boring and people started to leave the auditorium.  I can understand why he wanted to have something to break up the juggling, but that routine did not work.  I felt sorry for him, because he is a very talented juggler.

       

Production Shows –
I am writing this review after being on 27 days on this and the previous Mediterranean cruise, so my recollection of 8 productions shows I saw over the 32-day vacation is not as good as I would like it to be.  Unlike individual performers, the production shows are too similar and it is difficult to remember one from the other.  I did think that the singers and dancers on this cruise were very good.  Celebrity has been coming out with new shows.  I have found that many of them seem to have a silly story line that is confusing or distracting.  I do like that the new shows include more current music; but many people on the cruise are more familiar with other genres. 

On Broadway – This was put on at night as a substitute for the show Pearl.  They had some issues with the equipment used by the aerialists and had to rush to replace it with this show.  This is normally a show that they would perform during a sea day afternoon.  Each of the singers sang Broadway and West End songs they enjoy.  We were particularly fond of a young man named Dante, whom we had met at the muster drill.  He was a very nice young man and a talented singer.  He is in the first photo below on the left.  During the opening show that highlights performers that will be on during the cruise, he did a few songs.  He was more than just a singer, he was a real entertainer.   

       

   

Life – The show is described as “a euphoric feel good concert filled with a sense of life, light and love”.  It was the most enjoyable of the production shows to me, probably because it didn’t have a silly story connected with it.

   

   

   

   

Cosmopolitan – This show was described as “an Olympic postcard adventure to enlighten the senses.”  I don’t remember much about it; but looking back at the photos it was a strange story line.  Like the other shows, the singers and dancers did a good job, like they did on all of the shows; but we didn’t care for it very much.

   

   

   

   

   

Pearl – The description of the show said “Dive into the Unknown”.  Unknown was the correct description, since we didn’t know what in the world was going on during the show.  We could see that it was quite a job putting the show together with the many special effects that were used; but we just didn’t enjoy the show.  We felt bad for the singers and dancers, since they worked so hard during the show; but story line totally distracted from what they were doing for us.

   

   

   

  

Activities

With there being seven sea days to cross the Atlantic, I have provided the daily activities pages to let you see what the ship activities were while at sea for that long of a time.  The link to those pages is at the top of this page, or you can click this LINK to see what there was to do including the below items. 

Cruise Critic Meet and Greet (www.cruisecritic.com) - We have been on the website www.cruisecritic.com for 15 years.  It has provided us with so much valuable information that has helped us so much.  By joining what is called a roll call on Cruise Critic, we can meet other people that will be cruising on the same cruise as us.  This is very helpful in setting up private tours with other people; plus, it allows us to meet people before the cruise that we have become friends with during and after the cruise.  Celebrity sets up what is called a Connections Party, where those that have signed up for the party are able to meet others from the roll call.  Normally the Cruise Director and other staff members attend and sometimes even the Captain.

We had a very large roll call with almost 400 members on it.  With the cruise having port days the first five days of the cruise, the group assumed that the party would be set up for the first sea day.  After boarding the ship and going to our cabin, we were shocked to find out that the invitation to the party said that it would be at 5:30 PM that day.  People don’t have time on embarkation day to go to a party; but more importantly the fixed seating dinner was at 5:30 PM also.  With our having that seating, we weren’t able to go to the party.  In talking with others that did, there were less than 100 people there.  The host was a person from the activities staff.  The Cruise Director nor any of the officers showed up.  It was a very short party.  It is really a shame that they didn’t care enough about 400 passengers to consider the consequences when they scheduled the party.  They made a lot of people very disappointed with Celebrity.

Beyond the Podium Speakers
I always enjoy going to the lecturers on a cruise.  They can help you to learn about things that happened in the ports on the itinerary or other interesting topics.  We had some excellent speakers on this cruise, which was good since we had nine sea days.  Below are the three speakers that I went to regularly.

Professor Lisa Didier – Lisa is a retired professor who works on several cruise lines.  Her subjects focused mostly on the areas of the world we were visiting; but her last talk was about famous Madams of houses of ill repute.  She was a real character.  She shows history through interesting stories and facts rather than providing boring information.  Every one of her many lectures were heard by large audiences.

Melinda Bates – Melinda published a book called The Ultimate Whitehouse Insider.  It tells about her experience running the Whitehouse Visitors Office.  She is the only person who has ever run it for the full eight years of a President’s administration.  She had met Bill Clinton when they were both students at Georgetown University.  She worked on his class presidency campaign and became friends.  When Bill Clinton became president, Melinda told us an interesting story about how she got the job.  Each of her presentations filled the auditorium, even the ones during lunch hours.  She gave us tours of the Whitehouse and Airforce One, along with numerous stories that kept us fascinated with her experiences with famous people including royalty, politicians and entertainers.  She did an outstanding job and she was able to keep politics out of it; which was quite an accomplishment, since we were on the cruise during the election.  She did say that her schedule for the next four years had opened up a lot after election day.

Professor Alan Fishman -  Alan is an artist who gave several presentations about art and how to look and understand paintings.  His presentations were quite educational and enjoyable.  It was interesting that he actually lived in the artist Norman Rockwell’s house for several years.  This provided interesting material for his presentation.

 

Ports of Call

Livorno, Italy

When we checked in, we were given a letter telling us that due to weather conditions, we would be docking at the port of La Spezia, Italy rather than Livorno.  With La Spezia being 50 miles north of Livorno, it would impact the tours for the day.  I was surprised that they thought the weather would be any better there than in Livorno.  What was also strange was that the Captain knew that the weather would be better in La Spezia two days before we got there, since it was announced on the previous cruise.  They must have much more faith in weather forecasts than I do.

As we approached La Spezia in the morning, we could tell that it was a commercial port with containers piled everywhere.

   

We had a tour booked that was arranged by our friends, Don and Liz, that we met on our Iceland cruise six months earlier, who were also on this cruise.  It was with a very well respected company, Rome in Limo (https://www.romeinlimo.com), who we had previously toured with.  Don had contacted them after boarding to make sure that they knew we would be in La Spezia rather than Livorno.  

Our group met at the Passport Bar on deck 3, which was a great location, since we would disembark on deck 2.  Don and Liz’s friends Jen and Larry were also joining us on this and several other tours.  Carol was too sick to go on the tour, so we only had five of us rather than the six we had planned for.  With the cloudy weather and rain forecast, I was glad that Carol was back in the cabin.  When we got off the ship, we met our driver guide, Simona.   She did a fine job of driving and telling us all about where we were going.  She also used a sound system, which helped everyone to hear what she was telling us.

Our first destination was the walled city of Lucca.   Simona parked the van and we walked up to the wall.  It was just a mild incline to it, rather than what I thought would be a bunch of steps, since we normally have to climb up to walls.  Once we got to the top wall, we could see that there was a wide walkway along it.  There were lots of joggers and cyclists taking advantage of the long flat surface for their morning exercise.  From there, we could look out and see where the turrets and other interesting structures were. 

   

   

It wasn’t a very tall wall; but it was higher hundreds of years ago when the grounds around the wall were much lower.  We could see a bit of fall color in the distance within all the lush green around the fort.  On the other side of the wall we could see some parts of the city.

   

A light rain began not long after we began the walk.  Simona had originally asked us if we wanted to walk the entire wall, which would have taken quite a long time.  We were just interested in a sampling, so when the rain came down harder, we left the wall.   Wall walking isn’t that great in the rain.

It didn’t take long to get into the main part of the city with its beautiful churches and towers.

   

We came to a gate that was the entrance to the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro.  This is in the location of the 2nd century elliptical Roman amphitheater that was there. 

   

We continued walking down the narrow streets with our umbrellas raised.  We paused by a candy store to discuss where we would go next.  The treats in the window did look appetizing.

   

Some of the brick streets had a very nice pattern in them.

We passed by more small lovely churches.  Lucca certainly had its share of churches.  They seemed to be everywhere.

   

One of the planned stops on the tour was to the Lucca Cathedral.  We were looking forward to getting there, so we could get out of the rain.  It didn’t appear to be a large church from the outside; but it did have a tall bell tower.  We were concerned if we could even go inside, though, since it was Sunday.  We were fortunate that we were there between services and could enter.

   

Well, looks can be deceiving.  When we walked inside the interior was quite large.  It was also very beautiful. 

   

   

   

The illuminated ceiling and area above the altar were just amazing. 

   

Don, Larry and I were taking so many photos of the beautiful church.  There were just so many beautiful decorations and stained glass windows to admire.

       

       

While we were in the cathedral, the weather improved.  When we went back outside, I was able to take photos of the relief above the entrance door without getting soaked.

Continuing our walk, we passed by more churches and could see another tall tower in the distance.  It was just a very pretty town with lots of lovely things to look at, especially when it wasn’t raining.

   

   

We saw a preview of our next destination, San Michele in Foro Basilica.  Well, at least we saw the bell tower.

When we came around the corner, we could see the beautiful exterior with its statues and inlays covering it.

   

On the top of the roof is a 12-foot tall statue of the archangel St. Michael. 

The exterior of this church was much nicer than the cathedral we had just visited; but Simona told us that the interior wasn’t nearly as nice.  Having looked up photos of it since I got home, Simona was correct, the exterior was the reason for visiting the basilica.  It was a good thing, since a service was underway and we couldn’t enter it anyway.

Our next stop was at the courtyard in front of the home of composer Giacomo Puccini.  He was born in Lucca and spent his youth in the house.  In front of it was a seated statue of him holding a cigarette.  Apparently, he was a very heavy smoker.  We were all Puccini fans, which Simona was thrilled about.  She said that she would take us by another Puccini place later, since we liked him.

   

We were running well ahead of schedule, due to the rain and modifications we had to make to the itinerary.  We were supposed to eat lunch in Lucca; but it was way too early, so we decided to go to Pisa earlier than planned.  When we got there, we took a quick look at the exteriors of the Duomo and bell tower, which is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

   

The first time we visited Pisa in 2000, they were working on stabilizing the structure, since it was sinking.  The tower had cables attached to it then.  It has been stabilized and the angle of lean was improved from 5.5 degrees to 4.0 degrees, which means that the top is almost 13 feet displaced from the bottom.  Since wide angle lenses distort an image, the angle does not look that significant in the photos.  It appeared much greater in person.

   

I liked decoration over the entrance to the tower.  In the open area, there was a large statue of a fallen angel.  It was just added in 2015, although it looks quite old.

   

We walked to the back side to take photos of the baptistry and rear of the Duomo.  It really is a beautiful place, even with them doing roof repair.  I was looking forward to seeing the inside of the Duomo and baptistry after lunch, since we didn’t enter them during our first visit in 2000. 

   

   

We went to a restaurant named Ristorante il Tourista for lunch.  It was just outside the grounds and close to where Simona had dropped us off.  It was very convenient and also very good.  The waiter recommended that we try the Pasta Pisan Style entrée with Bolognese meat sauce and mushrooms.  It sounded great to most of us, and that is what we got.  It was just delicious!  The pasta was so light and flavorful.  It was a most enjoyable lunch.

Simona had told us that we wanted to visit the baptistry on the hour or half hour, since an employee demonstrates how the sound travels perfectly in it.  Since we didn’t have much time to get there before the demonstration, I hustled over to the baptistry and was able to get there before they closed the doors for the 1:00 PM demonstration.  The others didn’t make it; but they did later.  The interior is relatively plain compared to the ornate exterior. 

   

       

It was kind of disappointing until the demonstration began.  The sound was so beautiful and reverberated around for so long.  During the demonstration, I realized that I needed to record it, so the below video just has a small section of the demonstration.  It did make the visit to the interior well worthwhile.  I have read reviews of people that visited the baptistry and complained about the visit; but they didn’t realize that they missed the part that was most enjoyable.

 

 

When I came out, I met up with the others and headed in to see the Duomo.  The back of the Duomo is really pretty.  When I went back through the photos, I realized that I didn’t take any close-up photos of the front of the Duomo.  It is really nice, but the focus or our attention in the front is to the tower, not the church itself.  But the back of the church has no competition for attention.  The entrance is at the back and a small line had formed.  They let people in as other people leave, so it doesn’t get too crowded.

   

When we entered, I couldn’t believe how beautiful this church was.  No one ever talks about it, just the tower.

   

       

I was very impressed with the long gorgeous ceiling in the Duomo and amount of the detail work on it.

   

As I walked around taking way too many photos, I wondered why we didn’t visit it in 2000.  There were large richly decorated chapels throughout building.  We missed out on the most beautiful attraction in Pisa.  It kind of bothered me; but then remembered that it was just a quick stop to see the tower before spending most of our time in Florence.  I am so glad that I was able to return and see it.  I wish that Carol had been able to come with us.  She would have enjoyed it too.

   

   

       

One unusual item in the church was the tomb of Saint Ranieri.  He is the patron saint of Pisa and protector of all travelers.  I just can’t see someone being exposed for all eternity.  He has been like that for over 800 years when the church was built.

   

I was just blown away by our visit to Pisa.  When Don suggested this tour, I thought that I would like Lucca, but seeing the leaning tower again wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Well, seeing the interiors of the baptistry and Duomo were a very big deal and I am so grateful that I was able to appreciate Pisa the way it is supposed to be.

Since we had extra time, Simona took us to Lake Massaciuccoli.  This is where Puccini had a villa where he wrote his music.   She thought that since we were Puccini fans that we would like it.  She was right.  It was very thoughtful of her to bring us there.   The lake environment was quite peaceful and lovely. 

   

   

Another statue of Puccini with a cigarette was also there.

   

We walked over to Villa Puccini, which was closed; but we were able to get a view of it.  The palm tree made it an obstructed view though.

Simona felt badly that we hadn’t been able to enjoy Lucca, when we were there, as much as we should have due to the rain; so she asked if we wanted to visit a beautiful place that would require us to drive along a snake road.  Since the girls and Larry were already asleep when she asked, Don and I said absolutely.  The road was very snakey, like she said.  When the girls woke up, Liz was not very happy with the snake road, since she can get car sick. 

Fortunately, she lasted until we arrived at the gorgeous town of Port Venere.  This town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was designated as such in 1997 along with Cinque Terra, which was only 30 minutes away.  This was such a beautiful place.  Simona had some difficulty finding a parking space, so she dropped us off to walk around on our own for a while.  She told us on the way up to Port Venere, that if we had been visiting during season, she wouldn’t even attempt to take us there, since the traffic would prevent us from doing it.  It is a very, very popular place.

   

   

We couldn’t take our eyes off the crashing waves at the opening of the harbor.  We had to get closer to see it.  It was intense.  I have included a video below to show what it was like, since still photos can’t do it justice.

 

Simona found us and wanted to walk us up the hill to see more of the town.  I am so glad she did.  It is such a charming beautiful town.  At the top of the hill was the Church of St. Peter; but we were more fascinated by the crashing waves below us.  This was a much better and drier place to see the activity.  Lord Byron used to come to Port Venere for inspiration and meditation for his literary works.

   

   

   

   

We walked back down to where the van was parked taking in the beauty of this special place.

As we drove away from Port Venere, Simona told us about the fishing industry in the area and pointed out the fish farms in the water near the town.

This had been a much better tour than I had originally thought it would be.  Simona went above and beyond to provide us with an incredible experience.

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