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

Ports

Toulon, France

The entry into the port of Toulon was enhanced by a lovely sunrise.  The terrain was more mountainous than I was expecting.

   

We had never been to this part of the French Riviera and were looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful part of the world.  Carol was still coughing a lot and not sleeping well, so she had to pass on another tour.  It was a shame, since this would be a great one.  Since the temperature for the day was forecast to be between 45 and 54, it probably would not have been good for her. Don had arranged a tour for our same group of five with Delphine Segret.  She has her own tour company named Toulon Private Tours (www.toulon-private-tours.com).  Don definitely found a winner with Delphine.  She provided a great tour and was such a pleasure to be with.

We were going to visit the towns of Marseille and Cassis. Once again, we were in a very nice comfortable van with a sound system, which made the tour that much more enjoyable.  We headed straight for Marseille and the highest point in the city, the site of the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica.  It is built on top of an old fort and is quite a sight.  We were able to see the basilica as soon as we entered the city; but now we were getting an up-close view of the beautiful building.  We weren’t able to get a photo of the whole building, since we couldn’t back up far enough away from it.  At the top of the church is a 37-foot tall gold leaf covered copper Madonna statue.

       

We were able to walk around the church to get different views.  With the high elevation, the views of Marseille, around 500 feet below, were breathtaking.  We were fortunate to be there on a bright sunny day.  We could see the harbor below with all the boats.  We would be going there next.

   

   

When we walked into the basilica, it was an OMG moment.  What a drop dead gorgeous place.  The multi-colored marble and richly colored mosaic decorations were overwhelming. 

   

      

There were just so many beautiful features to take in.  I read a description about this church and they used the term sumptuous; which definitely applies.

   

   

   

Below the main church building is the crypt.  It is quite a contrast to the richly adorned upstairs; but it is a lovely area.  It should probably be seen first to be able to appreciate it more.  At the entrance to the crypt is a lovely Madona and child statue.

 

After leaving the church, we admired the statues and decorations outside the church.

   

We were finally in a position where we could get a photo of the whole building and how it is constructed above the old fort. 

We then headed toward the port area and parked the van near Fort Saint-Jean.  There was a statue named The Bear Cub Trainer in front of an old church.  It was church of St Laurent, which was built in the 12th century and is one of oldest buildings in the city.  That is because it is one of the few that survived the WWII bombings. From this area we could see the port area and the basilica in the distanced on top of the hill.

   

Delphine told us to take the footbridge in front of us that goes past the fort, go through security and then take the next foot bridge to get to the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations).  She said that we would enjoy the views.  We took the first footbridge and checked out the area.

   

Then we saw the next footbridge that crossed over some beautiful aqua water and ended at an unusual, but quite attractive looking building.  It is a 160,000 square foot cube that is surrounded by a latticework shell.  It is a really pretty area.  From there we could see the Marseille Cathedral.  It looked like it was sitting on top of the MuCEM building from where we were.

   

   

When we returned to the van, Delphine headed to a different part of town.  I was surprised at how many tunnels there are under Marseille.  It did make traveling around much easier. We were driving along La Corniche, a five-kilometer costal road.  It was renamed Corniche J. F. Kennedy in 1963.  It is a beautiful drive; but I couldn’t take photos through the windows.  We did pull over to see the War Memorial to Eastern People that was dedicated in 1927 for the victims of World War 1. 

   

From the monument, we were able to get photos of the lovely coastline along the Corniche.

We continued our drive through the beautiful scenery on the way to the fishing village and resort town of Cassis. In the distance, through the haze, we could see large flat topped mountain. 

   

After we parked the van, we walked into the main Cassis tourist area.  Wow!  This was a beautiful place.

   

Delphine had chosen a very nice restaurant for our lunch, La Vieille Auberge.  It was right on the water in a great location.

   

The food was also quite delicious.  But what else would I expect from French food?  I had ordered a goat cheese salad and a veal dish. They also had a special menu where you pick an appetizer, main course and dessert for just a few dollars more than the two items I had; but I decided to behave and just have the two items.

While we were eating, the table next to us with some Swiss tourists, received their dessert orders.  They had an apple dessert that looked too good not to try, so I had to get one of those too.  I know, I’m bad, but it was worth the calories.

After lunch, we had some free time to walk around to do some shopping if we wanted to.  I took more photos of this most photogenic town.  Delphine told us that there were fancy homes on top of the mountain across the water.

   

   

   

   

When we met back up, Delphine took us to where the tour boats were to take us on a boat trip through the Calanques National Park.  Calanques are steep walled fjords Even though it was a sunny day and comfortable in the sun, the weather was cold in the shade.  We had hoped to find a boat that would have an inside area to keep warm, should we need it.  Unfortunately, because it was at the end of the season, there weren’t many tour boats; nor were there that many tourists interested in a boat trip.  Since we didn’t have a lot of time, we wanted to do the 45 minute tour, rather than the 1.5 hour one.  The one boat we could find was only interested in doing the 1.5 hour tour and he wouldn’t leave before 3:00 PM, which was a half hour away.  We couldn’t do it.  So Delphine said that she would drive to a place where we could see some of the area where the boats would have gone to.

The Calanques National Park is a large area that includes the forested areas that we had driven through to get to Cassis.  9,000 acres of those forests were deliberately set on fire earlier in the year by a person with a grudge against something.  We did see the black hill sides that had been scarred by the fire; and could not imagine someone wanting to destroy such natural beauty.  Nature will restore it; but it will take a while. The part of the Calanques that the boats tour are the steep white cliffs along the water.  Delphine took us to a parking area that allowed us to walk over and see the cliffs.  I am sure that the view is amazing from the water, especially in some of the other areas that are not accessible by land.  But we were most appreciative to be able to see some of what we had thought we had totally missed.

   

We then walked over to the other side of the park to see the beautiful view from there.  We took the opportunity to get a group photo.

   

We then drove further down the road to get a different view of the Calanques white cliffs; as well as the mountain we had had just posed in front of. I didn't realize at the time, that we would soon be on that mountain. 

   

For our last stop of the day, Delphine took us up the Cap Canaille mountain to a spot where we could look down on the Bay of Cassis.  This was such an amazing view point.  It was even better to look down to Cassis than to look up at the mountain.  With it being late in the day, the sun was spreading its yellow tones over the rocks.  Photos are so inadequate to be able to show the true beauty of this place.  A 3-D picture would help to show the dramatic drop off and stones extending out of the mountain.  But it is just something you have to see for yourself.

   

After we got back to the ship, we thanked Delphine for providing us with such an awesome tour.  We couldn’t have been happier with her.  This type of day is why we enjoy traveling so much.

 

Barcelona, Spain

We spent four days in Barcelona last year before our first Transatlantic cruise, and saw a lot of what we hadn’t seen the first time we visited there.  This time, I could take it easy and see a couple of places I was interested in.  With Carol still not feeling better and the temperature forecast in the 40’s and 50’s, she had no desire to go into town.  It was going to be a sunny day, which actually made it pretty comfortable for exploring.  Unlike in some ports where Celebrity provides a free shuttle service out of the port or into town, we had to pay 5 Euros to a private service in the terminal to get dropped off outside the port.  The ticket could be used all day for as many trips back and forth as you wanted.  Since it is such a long walk out of the port, I am surprised that Celebrity doesn’t provide it for free.  Perhaps the port requires them to use the service.  At least I hope that is the reason.

The bus dropped us off in one of the areas I had hoped to be able to explore, the area close to the Columbus Monument at the base of Las Ramblas.  Every time we have been in Barcelona, we have driven by the monument and beautiful buildings nearby; but had never actually been able to stop and see them close up.  It is a very nice area and I enjoyed walking around. 

   

The Port of Barcelona building has an elegant exterior.  I have tried to get photos of it from vehicles for years and was so glad to finally be able to see it in all its glory

    

   

Just outside the building is a statue of Romul Bosch Alsina, who was President of the Harbor of Barcelona in the early 1900’s.  It is a fairly recent addition and is not very becoming to him in my opinion.  Or, at least I hope it isn’t.

Down the street is another grand building, the Aduana de Barcelona.  It was the old customs building.  It is a very large building and still being used for government offices.

   

I then walked over to the Columbus monument.  It is 197 feet tall and was built in 1888.  Columbus was not from Barcelona, but he reported to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in Barcelona after his first trip to the new world.  It is quite a beautiful monument with many statues and detail work all over it.

       

   

At the base of the monument are lions at each of the four corners.  It was most enjoyable to be able to just take my time looking at the many figures on the monument.

The other thing I wanted to do while in Barcelona was to explore more of the Montjuic area.  There were many attractions on the mountain that I was looking forward to seeing.  I also wanted to get there by taking the funicular.  Last year, I had watched the funicular going up the hill from the ship.  This time, I wanted to be on the funicular.

I could see the two large towers that the cables are attached to in the distance.  One was pretty close; but it wasn’t the one that I needed to go to for boarding the funicular.  I found an information booth close to the monument and asked where I needed to go to ride the funicular.  They said the tower was at the beach and it was a 30-minute walk.  I decided to just take a taxi to the beach, since I hadn’t seen it either.

After I was dropped off, I walked onto the beach.  It was very nice with great soft sand.  After seeing Civitavecchia’s rocky beaches, this was a treat.  I could see the funicular tower close by.  Just off the beach was a strange looking statue. 

   

I walked over to the tower and searched for the entrance. 

I found a woman worker setting things up.  I asked her where I could purchase a ticket.  She told me that they don’t open until 11:00 AM, an hour and 20 minutes away.  I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t noticed that it wasn’t even running earlier.  I was also not pleased that the information booth didn’t think of mentioning the opening time to me.  I headed back to Columbus Monument, where I could just do some exploring around Las Ramblas.  I decided that I would just check out Montjuic next time I was in Barcelona; and hopefully it would be a warmer day.

Even though we had spent a lot of time on Las Ramblas last year, it is a place that one never gets tired of.  It is a pleasure to walk down the wide pedestrian street and enjoy the scenery.  The buildings are beautiful and there are statues around to attract your attention.

   

   

My first destination was to return to the Boqueria, Barcelona’s marvelous market.  I love looking at all the colorful food items.

   

   

   

Last year I really enjoyed the fruit cups that are sold there.  They have the sweetest fruit in them.  I was thinking of getting another one; but came to a counter that had what they called a burrito.  It didn’t look like any burrito I have ever had; but it did look quite good.  I know that the other people buying them and chomping them down in front of me were enjoying them.  I decided to try one myself.  It wasn’t like a Mexican burrito; but it was really good.

As you should realize by now, I enjoy going to churches.  In looking at the map, I found one that I hadn’t been to before that appeared to be worth checking out.  It was the Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi, a church that was built in the 14th century. 

There was a small charge to go into it; and I almost passed on going inside.  The rose window looked really nice, so I decided to see what it looked like from the inside.  It was very dark, since there weren’t many lights turned on.  A sign inside the church said that the basilica is one of the purest examples of Catalan religious Gothic architecture.  It would have helped if they had turned the lights on so visitors could see it better.  The only things that were illuminated were the stained glass windows; and that was because the sun was shining in.  The rose window was pretty though.

   

   

I was about to walk back to the ticket office to ask if they had blown a fuse, when the lighting in some of the chapels came on.  The chapels were just gorgeous.  I have taken a lot of photos of them, since they are worth remembering.

       

       

       

The ticket seller had told me to be sure to go to the other rooms at the back of the church, so I moved that way.  The first room I went to was the treasury, which had a small but very nice collection of Catalan jewelry and religious objects.  There were some beautiful pieces in there.

   

   

As I was leaving, I wanted to get photos of the last chapel, since it was a very nice one.  As I was starting to take a photo, the lights went out.  I waited a few minutes and no lights came on anywhere.  I walked out to the ticket seller and asked if the lights were coming on again.  She said to just wait, they go on and off.  Not a very tourist friendly way to display the church.

I waited a few more minutes and the lights on the one chapel I was interested in came on, but none of the others.  This one was rather special and I was glad I waited. At the base of the chapel was a statue of Mary that was very lifelike.  Just a beautiful work.

   

I left the church and walked around a bit more before heading back to the ship shuttle.  After I was back on board, I got a photo of the funicular in the distance that I will try to do another visit.

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