My Thoughts · Travel

Ports 1 & 2: France & Italy

European map - Ports 1 & 2 - France & Italy

Our first two ports onboard the Norwegian Epic moved us to France and then on to Italy. What breathtaking sights we saw!

October 3—Cannes, France

We procrastinated on our excursions for this cruise, so the flamboyant trips to Monaco and Monte Carlo were full. We chose a delightful excursion to Nice, France, weaving our way through the streets of a quaint town on a small “train” (motorized).

Little Train in Nice, France - 2 ports
Little Train in Nice, France

Our ship couldn’t dock at the port at Cannes, so the morning began with a tender ride to Cannes, which always adds to the day. Because of my still experiencing neuralgia from shingles, my doctor said I might experience motion sickness, so I bought bands my husband uses. Thankfully, the ship and the tender didn’t cause motion sickness.

As we traveled through Cannes, I’ve heard of this place my whole life with the Film Festival—I couldn’t believe I was there. It felt surreal as we passed a mural of Marilyn Monroe the full size of the building. From Cannes, we traveled by bus twenty-seven miles to Nice, following the coast and seeing the allure of the beautiful French Riviera with sparkling turquoise water.

Horserace track - 2 ports
Horserace Track

On this trip, I enjoyed seeing a horserace track between Cannes and Nice, actually at Cagnes sur Mer—my country roots!

Repeatedly, we saw boats, boats and more boats—all sizes but mostly gigantic yachts!

Palace Hotel Le Negresco - 2 ports
Palace Hotel Le Negresco

In Nice, we passed the massive Palace Hotel Le Negresco, a landmark. “Staying at Le Negresco is like jumping into a joyous mixture of eras and styles. Contemporary artists, masterpieces, monumental sculptures… Le Negresco owes its well-respected identity to its important collection of artwork and period furniture with over 6,000 references.”

After the astounding little train ride around Nice, we ended up at “Place Masséna (Massena Square) is the vibrant center of Nice, attracting both tourists and locals.”

And the centerpiece of the square is the Sun Fountain with Apollo standing regal and powerful.

Larada at the Sun Fountain with Apollo statue - 2 ports
Larada at the Sun Fountain with Apollo statue

After our tour, we had a little free time here and went to a restaurant to get a drink, but mostly to use their restroom. We asked the owner if we would be served in 10-15 minutes—she said, “No!” So, I asked if we could use her bathroom. She saw our age and kindly said, “Yes!”

When we returned to Cannes, we walked around the port and took in the beauty. One thing I notice were the outrageous size of yachts and number of them!

At the end of the day, we tendered back to our ship. I had to deal with our internet package, and the line to the tech was way too long. I ended up figuring out our problem with the help of a woman in line.

That night we saw the “Burn the Floor, The Ultimate Ballroom Sensation!” What a great show it was! They moved from Viennese Waltz to the Latin influence to contemporary dance.

October 4—Livorno, Italy port; visited Florence & Pisa

The next day began early at 5:30 AM and then we went to breakfast. We ported at Livorno, grabbed our tour bus and headed to Florence or Firenze to the Italians for an hour and a half ride. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the countryside, seeing a castle on a hill and beautiful green fields.

Our guide, Claudia, began immediately sharing information about the area we traveled through.

Ponte Vecchio bridge - 2 ports
Ponte Vecchio bridge

When we arrived in Florence, we did a walking tour through town. First, we saw the Ponte Vecchio bridge that was bombed during World War II.

Replica of David - 2 ports
Replica of David

Then we walked to Piazza della Signoria, the square where the famous David statue used to be, but now we saw a replica of David—he’s so big! This was one statue I was so anxious to see! David was featured in a square where there were many statues. We also saw there the Poseidon fountain and Equestrian Monument of Cosimo I.

Claudia shared fascinating stories as we walked like you can see Galileo’s index finger from his right hand in a museum. The church cut it off because he used that figure to show them the rotation of the earth.

Dante Statue - 2 ports
Dante Statue

Also, Dante wasn’t buried in a church because in Divine Comedy, he has a pope in “the Eighth Circle of Hell.” We saw his statue in Piazza Santa Croce, outside the Basilica of Santa Croce.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy - 2 ports
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

We also saw the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a massive, beautiful church.

Then we had free time in this square, and I bought a beautiful leather handbag and reversal belt. Lin bought a wallet. And Lin squeezed in a gelato break for us before lunch.

Next we ate lunch where Claudia’s husband was a chef. We had vegetarian lasagna and chianti. Lin sampled the chianti; I had water. Then we had prime rib and potatoes and a delicious dessert.

From there we drove to Pisa and didn’t nap. We enjoyed driving through the Tuscany landscape. My new camera’s battery died! We walked to the Leaning Tower of Pisa near the Cathedral and Baptistery. We took lots of fun picture (using my iPhone), taking cues from creative people. Lin had another gelato, and I had a Fanta.

Our trip back to Livorno from Pisa was shorter. This excursion day exhausted me with so much walking, so I napped until 8:30 PM. We had a light dinner and turned in early.

I’ll end with a haiku I wrote that summarized our first three days:

Three countries, three days

Spain, France and Italy—Wow!

Connected by smiles!

Have you been to Cannes? Florence? Pisa? Share your experience with me.

News, News, News!

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~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet?

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

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~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: