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I’d love to recap everything about Rome right now, but that’s not going to happen yet. I lost basically all hope of internet connectivity for the past few days so I haven’t been able to update.

We also missed our full flight home; the train broke down and delayed us almost an hour which was enough to push us just past the “baggage acceptance” timeframe from the airport and they couldn’t put our bags on another flight or something convenient like that, even though we were there with 45 minutes to spare. Brilliant, that.

So we’re in Jersey now, having arrived at JFK yesterday. We’re supposed to be able to get out of here at 6:25pm tonight, but we’re only in “standby” status right now so I’m on the phone with Carnival, who booked our initial air, to ensure they can get us confirmed tickets instead of on the standby list… And so yeah, we’re not able to be confirmed but ostensibly there is plenty of room on the flight and standby should work just fine.

I’ll post a proper post about Rome and the restaurants and the monuments and the statues and the artwork and the fun experiences we had later but I’ll end this post with a quickie:

Outside of the Trevi fountain, there’s a great gelato stand. I went inside, wanting an after-dinner treat. There are about 50 flavors and I see a white one, drizzled in some red syrup, so I point to it and ask “Che?/What’s this?” The older Italian gentlemen on the other side of the counter simply stares back at me and deadpans: “Ice cream.”

I stare for a couple of seconds until his younger associate says “pay him no mind; it’s strawberry yogurt flavored,” while laughing at the other guy’s obtuse response.

Quick list of awesome things for my own future reference:
Coin stealing from the fountain
Blessed by the pope
Guanciale/Bucatini Al’Amatriciana/Al Pompiere
Campo di Fiori/wrong exit in Spagna station/Italian vacationers
Trastevere/$3 shots
Wooden trinkets/successful bargaining
Singing bus
Sistene Chapel
Vin e oli
People-watching in Spagna
Drinking under a statue
Watching Rome in Rome
Spanish Steps/fountain water
Train “explosions”


Our day in Malaga, Spain was a great success. While our tour guide was terribly boring, the caves were quite impressive. We enjoyed a great omlette breakfast in Nerja. The drive to and from Nerja was pretty terrible; visually unimpressive and desert-like in some areas. Nothing like Portugal, which was truly breathtaking at every turn.

When we returned, we had to option to be driven back directly to the boat, or dropped off at the entrance to the port (a good mile away from the boat, actually). We opted to spend our remaining 3 hours in the city. (Well, Tony and I did; Evan went back to the boat for some heretofore unclear reason.) We met up with Hilly by chance on the streets, one of the friends we’ve met who we’ve been having a great time with. Hilly metioned a tapas bar he had seen in the city center (centro cuidad or something) so off we went.

My hunt for chocolate con churros had been unslaked, until we turned a corner and landed at a cafe at the end of a square, advertising it in the window. My dad had told me years ago that if I ever ended up in Spain, I *had* to try the chocolate con churros. I hadn’t really understood why that one thing had stuck with him, but I certainly understand it now. We had the perfect little dessert; the chocolate was so rich and perfectly sweet, the churros fresh and amazing and it just fit perfectly with gorgeous weather, an accordion player who Hilly called over and paid to play a song (or two) for us, a creepy beggar guy who mumbled something in idiomatic, perhaps Basque/Euskara, since it was barely intelligible, and a beautiful facade across all the buildings that surrounded the cafe. Truly, the highly of our day in Spain.

We have our final sea day tomorrow. Or, later today, such as the case may be. After that, we’re landing in Livorno and then Rome immediately following. We’re planning to hang out with Brad, the piano bar player, in Livorno, hopefully heading straight away into Florence. He’s never been to any Europe ports of call so good times to come for sure.

Tony, Hilly and I entertained ourselves in the long re-embarkation line by singing random showtunes, to much hilarity. There was also: more chess on deck, drunkenness made considerably worse by INCREDIBLY choppy waters in the Mediterranean, Daft Punk, pouring rain, long talks with new friends and a great deal more excitement. For instance, we visited the supper club last night and it was absolutely incredible; one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten, period. Absolutely worth the $30/person.

There’s a lot more I’m missing, I’m sure, but for now, it’s 6am and I want to get some sleep and wake up at a reasonable hour today. It’ll help me get in bed on time for Florence.

We just returned form an amazing day tour through the island of Madeira, Portugal. It’s absolutely incredible. I can’t upload any of the 940 photos I snapped today until I get to faster internet, but I definitely got to see Cabo Girao and drive above the clouds and eat some indigenous fish and so much more. A perfect day.

More to come. Oh, and to those who know me well enough: just received official word that we won the state contract. It’s a goooood day. 🙂

You should really take a second and check out the webcam today. It shows a blurry image of beautiful Madeira. That is all. I’m off to breakfast, after no more than five hours of sleep (but rather refreshed nonetheless) and then on to the excursion. Wish me awesomeness.

(No idea if that image will display properly or for how long…)

It’s day four of our transatlantic crossing. It’s kinda cool to look at the positioning screen that they have throughout the ship and just see LINE-DOT-BLUE. It scales out to give context, but it has to scale out damn far.

We stayed up to watch the sunrise, from the very front of the ship. Then we managed to make it another hour and go to a wonderful sit-down breakfast of… many, many foods. Eggs all around.

We also discovered “deck 15” which is, to say, the deck where the spinning radar and satellite elements of the ship reside. And where the laundry drier “exhaust” comes out, so like kittens delighting in warm laundry air, we stood, with otherwise colder air around us.

The temperature is really quite nice. 70s all around and windy. Food has been great and we’ve been enjoying ourselves quite a bit, now that we’ve found some great people to stay up with and have fun with.

That’s all for now. More later. Portugal on Monday. Balmy 72°F.

We’re now in GMT -2, so it’s… 5:15pm here while it’s 12:15pm back home. Tomorrow, we’ll be in GMT -1 and then the next day, GMT. Woo.

I just shot out my memory card on the sunset. About 1,100 pictures, almost all of them crap, but I was playing around a lot with the aperature/time value (shutter speed) settings and learning more about how those work. (The photos store all the settings at the time of the shot, so I can look back on them and use that as a reference.)

More of the same yesterday, hanging out at the piano bar and the “disco” because that’s where folks our age tend to gravitate. All 12 of them. We all pretty much know each other now, so that’s good times.

Dinner last night was really good and our waiters are really nice and fun. They keep showing us tricks and the like.

Oh, and Lindsay: The comedian on board is the same guy that was on the Triumph. Same racist indian jokes that aren’t funny. Same terrible set. Except this time, and I shit you not: he ended it with a bellowing rendition of “God Bless America.” And he was dead serious. So after all the mockery of other cultures and races, it’s okay, because you know, God Bless America. I almost threw up. Srsly.

Heading to dinner soon. Had to re-buy internet, because I’m being terribly *un*judicious. Two more days across the Atlantic. Check our location with the link on the left; we’re definitely in the middle of NOWHERE now. It’s kinda creepy when you consider it. There are no land masses about ANYwhere near.

I’m getting way excited for Portgual, but we definitely need to come up with something to do once we reach Livorno, Italy. More to come later, naturally. Thanks for following along!

23 hour days are a strange sensation and a bit of a challenge. Given the alternative of 5 hours+ of jet lag all at once, this is clearly the way to travel. Because we’re traveling east at a rate of exactly one time zone per day, each of the five days of our transatlantic journey involve a one hour “leap forward” on our clocks before we go to bed. With nothing substantial to do on sea days like this, though, we can sleep as much as we need to play off the timezone shift. And booze.

We’ve been enjoying ourselves just spreading out and finding things to do on the boat. Tony has been writing music for his schools, I’ve been writing lyrics for the band, Evan’s been watching shows in the cigar bar. Life is good. (And watching a sunset off the stern of the boat is good inspiration, to be sure.)

I also think I *may* still be able to “hack” the internet, or at least piggyback off of someone else’s connection. My computer is causing me a bit of trouble, but I hope to be able to get around that. We shall see. As it is, I have about 30 of my 250 minutes left so a rebuy may be in order.

Poker’s been kinda terrible. The house takes a ridiculous 15% rake, capped at $5 which is just obscene. It’s no limit, which is interesting, and I’ve thrown about $160 into it and that may be all. It is at least for now.

The satellite TV has dropped most of the channels, so we’re watching our own TV we were smart enough to download. Kudos to that.

Met some more folks our age; we think there’s all of 12 of us on the boat. So we hung out with them last night. Evan and Tony got to see a penthouse suite and watched the sunset from the balcony. I was elsewhere, but it’s just a big room.

More good times to come.

We went to bed promptly near midnight last night, aided by copious amounts of melatonin, helping each of us to varying degrees. Woke up promptly at 6:50, when I had programmed my alarm, showered and set off for breakfast; our first. Breakfast was very tasty and since I mentioned our situation, (in at 7:30, needing to meet the group off the boat by 8:15) very timely. I had scrambled eggs with cheese, hash browns and bacon. Evan went for the Eggs Benedict and Tony had an omelete. Good times.

I’m downloading my photos now. I managed to shoot about 775 of them, almost all of them crap or totally redundant, but that’s how it goes with digital. I’ll upload any decent ones if I get a chance.

The shore excursion ended up a great deal of fun, but it started off with problems. It seems the owner of The Lord Sheffield, the pirate ship, decided to take a contract with a Royal Caribbean ship at the last moment and completely screwed the nice woman, Marilyn, who had put this entire thing together. And confirmed just two days ago. What ended up happening is that 20 of us still went on the Random Wind, a fun sailboat and the group kinda parted ways. What’s very interesting is that everyone who wanted on the boat ended up there, everyone who bailed appeared just fine and went to go see the carnival (parade) so not as bad as it could have been by a long shot. Still, incredibly poor form by the Lord Sheffield to be sure.

The Random Wind took us around the cove into a nice little bay right off the coast of the airport. If you’ve ever seen those pictures with the enormous jets landing all of 10 feet above a beach, it was that airport, just off the right side of the runway. Very cool stuff.

We definitely got to swim some, which was great and had a tasty lunch of curry chicken, which I fear may be causing my stomach to rumble in unsavory ways as it’s doing now. I also managed to get a bit burned on the arms, but all in all I’m alright.

Good times. Now to dig through the hundreds of photos I’ve taken. Total trip photo count: 1,435.

Sketchy internet is sketch but at least I was able to see one of my stock plays triggered exactly as it should’ve and made me about $160 today. Woo for daytrading from the ocean, right?

I’m thinking I’m going to run a dryer load, after Evan and me got doused on the deck last night with the Canadians; it was raining and we went out in the rain, which quickly became gale force/monsoon quality and drenched us completely. Fun times nonetheless. Saw them today while Tony and I were having lunch and chatted for a bit.

Time to unload everything on the camera, make sure both batteries are charged and pack it into plastic bags in my carrying case. We’re going on a really cool excursion set up by another cruiser who we found through a forum I was frequenting for this trip. It’s two boats; a pirate boat and a longship, that have been chartered to sail together. I described it in my earlier post. We’re way excited about that, but I’m not sure how wet we can expect to get on deck so I’m going to do whatever I need to to make sure the camera stays dry, and I’ll bring the cellphone with to make a couple calls and as a backup camera, since getting *it* wet isn’t as big a concern to me.

We’ve got to be off the boat and at the meeting spot at 8:15 am, so it looks like we’ll all be taking a couple melatonin shortly here, considering no one woke up before 2 today. (And that we didn’t fall asleep until 6 or 7.) Maybe we’ll get up at 6 and try the whole “breakfast” thing. We’ll see.

I’d love to get pictures up, so let’s see how this one works out. It’s of me carefully pondering my next giant chess game move against Evan, from the first day:

Another fun day. We woke up pretty late, which is basically the norm on the sea days. Had some more amazing fish and chips and took a bunch of pictures from the balcony over the Lido deck buffet for a series I call “what’s on your tray.” (I was challenging myself to shoot out my memory card and/or battery. Neither happened before I ran out of things to shoot.)

We played around on poker a bit, watched the Suns take their first game and enjoyed the piano bar as always. We also made contact with the Canadians; the only other people our age we’ve found thus far, who we first spotted in the embarkation line, one with a Canadian flag on their backpack. We spent a good amount of time chatting. They’re far more chagrined that they’re on the Voyage of the Damned between normal waking hours. On the plus side, everyone is in bed promptly at 8 with a warm glass of milk, so there’s that. I knew it was bad when I passed a group playing Mah-Jong. And when I got chastized in the dessert line for taking a piece of strawberry mousse cake by an old man: “It’s all fat! Don’t eat it!!!!” Thanks, dude. Ass.

It’s seriously pretty bad, so buddying up with other like-aged folks is a worthwhile venture. Tomorrow is more of the same. We’ll be waking up likely no earlier than 2pm. Because we have an interior stateroom, it is exceptionally dark in here and very difficult to wake up at *any* time. We’ll definitely make sure we’re up on time for the shore excursion in St. Maarten, though.

Also, it sounds like we won’t have TV at all once we start the cross. Which makes sense, since satellites can only service a certain circle’s worth of space, and there’s no point in covering ocean. We’ve got plenty of stuff to watch that we already downloaded so that’s a backup.

I’d like to be playing more poker, but the appeal is only so-so for me. I don’t know if playing the stock market has just killed my desire to put money in a riskier venture or if the crowd or small player counts at the table are doing it, but my interest is decidedly dulled. I keep bouncing up and down, but I’m down about $80. We’ll see what happens.

I’m getting excited for the excursions. It’s clear they’ll be the real meat of the voyage. We need suggestions for what to do in Livorno/Florence, Italy and in Rome proper. Leave ’em as comments, hm?