Ten years ago today, Livorno, Italy…Videos from our time in Europe…

Historic buildings lined the streets in Livorno, Italy. See the post here.

In yesterday’s post, we wrote about our lack of interest in revisiting Europe. You may read that post here.

As we sailed on three cruises in the Mediterranean ten years ago, we fulfilled most of our desires to see Europe, especially after spending weeks in Paris and London, three months living in Boveglio, Italy, and then another almost three months in Madeira, Portugal. We had a great time, reveling in history, historical buildings, and classic old churches.

Overall, we spent about a year in and around Europe. We often went sightseeing at famous sites and many more obscure locations, always searching for a unique experience. Our desire for uniqueness was usually fulfilled, and we were rarely disappointed.

One of our videos on YouTube was indicative of how much we treasured the history of Italy, as seen here:

Then, of course, was the video we took after we sailed on a gourmet dinner cruise on the Seine River in Paris in 2014, as shown below. Such a fantastic experience. We loved it all.

It was these and hundreds of other experiences in Europe that we found to be worthwhile and enriching as we’ve traveled the world beginning in 2012.

We spent enough time, off and on, in Barcelona, Spain, visiting some popular tourist sites, especially enthralled with Sagrada Familia, the famous church under construction for over 100 years. Fascinating!

We could go on, and on about sites we visited and unique experiences we had while in Europe, but we won’t be any more redundant than we’ve been the past few days and in the past. Long-term readers have read the stories and seen the videos in prior posts.

As we pulled into the port of Livorno, Italy…

Often people we meet are surprised we don’t often return to Europe after all these years, and someday we may, should we find ourselves longing to do so. We’ve observed that many long-term nomads spend much time in Europe, often returning to their favorite spots.

But it’s all a matter of personal preference. We frequently discuss where in the world we’d like to visit in the future. After all, I am 75 years old, and Tom is 70. It’s not as if we can continue for another ten or twenty years. Old age will catch up with us eventually, and we’ll need to change where, how, and when we travel.

It’s a hard reality neither of us cares to dwell on. For now, we’re still finding ourselves excited and physically capable of continuing to visit those places that appeal to us. Although we’ve been to all seven continents with many repeated visits already, we can now pick and choose what makes the most sense to us.

Cruise ships and ferries lined up to let off the tourists to explore.

Cruising remains one of our favorite means of traveling, but we no longer have much interest in sailing on our former favorite cruise line, Royal Caribbean. Although, in October, we will sail on a Celebrity on our cruise to the Galapagos Islands, but it’s only on a 16-passenger ship.

Today, we’re paying the huge final payment for this cruise that made us choke, but it was one of those memorable cruises we’d talked about for years. That dream will be fulfilled with exquisite sightings and hundreds of photos. We are looking forward to this and other smaller ship sailings we are embarking on beginning in a few months.

Why did we stop sailing on Royal Caribbean’s large ships? We have no interest in sailing on giant family-oriented cruise ships geared toward children’s activities and venues. We don’t need water slides, amusement park rides, games, or events that appeal to families traveling with young children.

Also, after the pandemic and our awful experience with Omicron, we feel smaller ships are more appropriate for us. Children are allowed on Azamara, on which we’ll be sailing in about seven weeks, but no accommodations or venues are dedicated to children. The quiet, low-key ambiance appeals to us the most.

This evening we’re meeting with two of our readers and look forward to a delightful time once again.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 7, 2013:

That is exactly how we envision Italy. This was Livorno. For more, please click here.

Livorno, Italy…Later…

As we pulled into the port of Livorno, Italy.
Views from the ship were limited.
Historic buildings lined the streets in Livorno.

Yes, we have now been in Italy for the past 24 hours, yesterday in Livorno and today in Civitavecchia, the port that brings us within an hour and a half drive to Rome.

It may have been easy for us to board the bus and visit Rome now. But, the excursions priced at as much as $395 per person, would leave us only five hours to explore. We’d decided awhile ago to save touring Italy including Rome when we can drive on our own from Florence, where we’ll spend the summer with a car. 
Exactly how we envision Italy, isn’t it?
At $865 per month for the rental car, most certainly we’ll be heading out to explore the many points of interest all over Italy throughout the summer,perhaps staying overnight in a few areas in the process.
The cruise ships and ferries were lining up to let off the tourists.
Boarding yet another bus with sneezing and coughing passengers was hardly appealing to at this point, let alone while still recovering from our recent illness which lingers in its annoying subtleties.

As the time nears to move into the house in Tuscany, we’ve contacted the owners to complete the payment.  Originally, they’d asked for cash in Euros for the balance for the two and a half months. With all this cruising and frequently moving about, we’ve preferred not to carry much cash with us based the dangers of pickpockets. 

From afar, we could see the Norwegian Epic, the ship we didn’t like due to poor design and…where we experienced the 50 foot waves while crossing the ocean.
When one travels for a few weeks, it’s no big deal to get cash off of a credit or debit card at a cash machine, paying fees upwards of 10% in a foreign country. For us, traveling constantly, this would be an outrageous expense. Carrying around large sums of cash is also foolish. Thus we’ve used PayPal and credit cards (not debit) for rental payments which has worked quite well up to this point.

With the owners  of the Tuscany property asking for cash in Euros for the extended period, we’ve been in aquandary. We could go to any bank and pay more fees to have our bank wire the funds to us to convert to Euros. 

We could use a cash machine each day in order to accumulate smaller amounts, paying huge fees, or we could open a bank account at a European bank which we’d prefer not to do, not knowing at this point how long we’ll be in Europe for the long haul.
This is not an issue for any of our future rentals. Thus, it didn’t make sense to go through all of this. As a result with angst looming, yesterday we contacted the owners of the property by email, offering to pay PayPal or credit card fees which most certainly would be considerably less than the up to 10% fees we’d pay at a cash machine.
An old grain elevator close to the port.
Much to our delight and gratefulness, they wrote back (using Google translate since they don’t speak English), telling us not to worry and that we could pay however we’d like, at any time we’d like. Their kindness prompted us to offer to pay the entire amount now using a credit card, paying the appropriate fees. We shall see how this rolls out but at least we can stop fussing over this at the moment.
It’s peculiar to us how the worries of our daily lives have changed as we’ve traveled; transportation from here to there, dirty laundry, exchange rates, runny noses, decent food, and most of all, time zone differences allowing us to Skype with family.  
The sunset shortly after our shipped pulled out of the harbor.