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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
Colloseo
Vin e oli
People-watching in Spagna
Drinking under a statue
Watching Rome in Rome
Spanish Steps/fountain water
Train “explosions”
Etc.

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.

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…)

We’ve just about completed our transatlantic crossing. We’ll be arriving in Portugal at 11:00am, which is the latest port of call I’ve heard of on a boat. We’ve been having a lot of fun with the people we’ve met and some staff we’ve made friends with. We were already friends with Brad, our piano bar pianist from the last cruise, so it was really nice to find out he was going to be on this sailing as well. We’ve since made friends with the Club O2 (15-17 year old hangout on the boat) host, since there are exactly 2 15-17 year olds on the boat and neither of them show up for any “activities.”

As a result, we got to play some Guitar Hero tonight at least, to break things up a bit.

The crossing has also meant a completely ass-backwards sleep schedule. We’ve been eating breakfast at 8 and going to bed around 9 or 10, only to wake up around 7pm, just in time for dinner essentially. Craziness. Tonight, I’m popping a few melatonin and trying to pass out at a somewhat reasonable hour. Fortunately, we only have to meet tomorrow at 10:30 on the boat so it’s not too bad. It’ll just be a pain falling to sleep, you know, 7 hours after waking up. Whoops.

Tomorrow’s a busy day and my first in Europe. (Though Madeira is quite a bit off the coast of the Portugal mainland, such as it is.) Good times abound though, and I’m infinitely grateful that there are no scales on this boat. Because Christ. Seriously.

I hope to get some absolutely *amazing* photos tomorrow. But I’m expecting a great time all around. I also think we’re hanging out with Brad in Livorno, which should be a lot of fun, since we didn’t have any excursions, etc, planned.

More tomorrow, if I get around to it. Thanks, of course, for following along. It’s been a great trip so far, and we’re only, about, a week into the cruise. Good times indeed.

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.

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.

It’s been an absolutely crazy week. I’ve been trying to get all my ducks in a row at work and things there have been, well, busier than ever before. Thursday is my last day at the office and we fly out at around 11am on Friday, first to Ft. Worth and then into Miami. We’re staying there for the night before being driven to our ship for boarding at the gracious time of “about noon.”

I’ve got my packing list, but absolutely nothing packed. I’ll do a massive load of laundry Thursday night and then get packing. The list is a bit ridiculous, but I’m trying to make sure I’m covered entirely. (It’s available for perusal/mockery here: Transatlantic Cruise Packing List.)

I’m definitely excited. For those unawares, the itinerary of the trip on the Carnival Freedom is as follows:

4/25 Phoenix, AZ -> Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX -> Miami, FL
1 Miami, FL 4:00pm
2 Fun Day At Sea
3 Fun Day At Sea
4 (4/29) St. Maarten, NA 7:00am 4:00pm
5 Fun Day At Sea
6 Fun Day At Sea
7 Fun Day At Sea
8 Fun Day At Sea
9 Fun Day At Sea
10 (5/5) Funchal, Madeira, Portugal 11:00am 7:00pm
11 Fun Day At Sea
12 (5/7) Malaga, Spain 7:00am 4:00pm
13 Fun Day At Sea
14 (5/9) Livorno, Italy 9:00am 7:00pm
15 (5/10) Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, 8:00am Hotel Domus Praetoria
16 (5/11) Rome, Hotel Domus Praetoria
16 (5/12) Rome, Hotel Domus Praetoria
16 (5/13) Rome -> Atlanta, GA -> Phoenix, AZ (2:00pm)

(“Fun Day At Sea” is Carnival’s parlance, not mine, though the 5 days crossing the Atlantic should prove to be an interesting time.)

I’m not sure how often I’ll get to post updates to this. I think I can write them offline and do a burst while I download my email, but that may be putting an awful lot of faith into the ship’s internet. Not to mention that it costs about 65 cents a minute (45 cents with a package of 250 minutes).

More to come tomorrow, and I’ll see if Tony or Evan want accounts here.