Europe And The Mediterranean Cruise
Rome, Genova, Barcelona, Tunis, Sicily, Malta
Last Updated: Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:38:24 PM

Our last vacation included a Mediterranean cruise and visiting 6 different cities, 3 different countries, and 2 continents. As a first time taking a cruise we picked such a luxurious boat at a great price that we cannot wait for our next one. MSC cruises offer so much more than others, with a comfortable and luxurious ambiance. You can see more about their cruises at www.msccruises.com

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IMG_7681IMG_7754Our first stop from the Cruise was Genova, Italy, the italian port city with a nickname la Superba ("the Superb one") due to its glorious past and impressive landmarks. Its financial sector dates back to the Middle Ages. The Bank of St. George, foundIMG_7977ed in 1407, is among the oldest in the world and plays an important role in the city’s prosperity since the middle of the 15th century.
Genoa is the birth city of Christopher Columbus, we visited the Christopher Columbus Monument.
The port itself is watched over by La Lanterna. The Lanterna, the port lighthouse and a symbol of Genoa, is a 77-meter-high tower that has greeted vessels for centuries. It dates back to 1543, but unofficially, the rock upon which it sits may have held another tower that served as a lighthouse as far back as

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1128.  Also notable in the port area is the Aquarium (said to be the largest in Europe) and the Sea Museum which have drawn millions of visitors.

IMG_7785St. Lawrence Cathedral on the right, is the city's Cathedral, and is built in a Romanesque-Renaissance style. The big plaza and cute streets leading to the church are filled with markets, cafes and restaurants.

Try not to deviate from the main areas, as when we tried to look for a short cut back to the port we ended up in the "prostitutes area". We immediately turned around and went back to the main street.

 

BIMG_7971arcelona was our next stop on the cruise; however, we didn't get to see much as the time allowed on land was not very much. Our plan is to go to Barcelona in the near future and spend few days there, as there is so much to see.

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The large Roman Catholic Church Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.
Gaudí’s work enjoys widespread international appeal and many studies are devoted to understanding his architecture. Today, his work finds admirers among architects and the general public alike. His masterpiece, the still-uncompleted Sagrada Família, is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.This large piece of art is still under construction with estimated completion in 2028. We did not get a chance to go inside as we were rushed to get back to the ship. The line up at the church seemed to be miles long, I highly suggest to buy passes prior to going there if you plan to visit inside.
The metro system in Barcelona was well designed and allowed us to get to the major landmarks in minimal travel time. Barcelona was a pretty clean city, their metro was very well maintained and did not smell like urine like in Paris.
Due to the unenployement rate of 50% in Barcelona, pick
pocketing is a huge concern and quite the talent these pick pocketers have. Ensure you are wearing a money belt under your pants, and no purses or other bags with you while site seeing. One of the things I noticed pick pocketers do is pretending to be a tourist by taking pictures with their flip phones (which do not have cameras). I would highly suggest against asking other people to take your photo while you are there, as you will see the back of the thief running away from you with youIMG_8011r camera. Thieves will also bump into you "by accident" and before you know it, your wallet or other valuables you are carrying will be gone.


You can also rent these mini GoCars to get around. This is the perfect size for the streets of Europe.
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IMG_8371 After Barcelona we went to Africa. First and last time visiting Tunisia, while it was a different experience to us and worth while learning about Tunisian culture, visiting their colorful souks and tasting traditional tea and sweets, we won't be returning there to visit other areas. I highly suggest visiting Tunis with a guide, as their streets and souks are like labyrinths and you can easily get lost and not know where you are. Be careful when taking photos of people there, you need to ask their permission, and no photos are allowed of policemen.
Tunisia is known for their perfume making and their country flower "Jasmine". We went to a perfume house where they make the base for a lot of the perfumes in the perfume industry such as Chanel, Hugo Boss, etc... The base is then exported to the big perfume giants and used for making the final product.


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IMG_8184The tour we did was to visit the colorful souks. The tour guide will take you to the souks on a bus, show you how the traditional burber carpets are made, and other stores where you can shop. The shop owners are all about bargaining with you, if you don't bargain for at least 15 minutes, you are not worth their time. The prices they will give you will be high, but you can drop the price in half if you have the time and patience, just don't offer them drop at 80% as this would be insulting. 

 

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The brown falcon on the right can be seened in Tunis. They seem to be a great attraction in the touristy areas, if you want to take a photo of the bird you will need to give money to its trainer.

 

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