Madrid to Barcelona to Naples and Back –August 2005
Just returned from a fantastic time touring Madrid, Barcelona, cruising the sunny warm Mediterranean from Barcelona to Naples, with stops in between at Marseille, Nice, Livorno/Florence, Citiavecchio/Rome, and Naples. We loved Barcelona and I recommend that city for a must see. I took 325 pictures on my new Canon E05 Rebel, care of the generosity of son Jon, and also snapped another 120 on my trusty, now old, 35mm SLR fabulous Pentax.
We met some lovely people aboard the magnificent 76,000 ton behemoth, “The Splendour of the Seas.” I ate like a savage but only gained 3 lbs, must have burned off all those calories with our extensive walking along the beaches at Villefranche and Marseille. Linda, who eats “right” all the time, lost 4 lbs! Wow! Meanwhile the beaches are an incredible eyeful and one has to admire the French boldness. My new digital camera was quite handy in capturing the wonders of geological and human splendor and development.
The ruins, historical sites the churches are the same in Florence and Rome, as always, from my early trip with my wonderful Grandfather in 1966. Linda also went to Italy in 1967 and had the same comment. I am still in awe of the utter mindlessness of the Victor Emmanuel II monument as I was 39 years ago. The sites are in great shape considering the traffic, pollution and general wear and tear of the public. The crowds in Florence, in and around the Ponte Vecchio, were immense. But don't buy gold there, go to 47th Street. The dollar doesn't have the punch it had in 1967, and I don't have my Grandfather's bank account. Meanwhile the Euro has made it quite easy going from country to country, but all in all it has raised prices considerably in Europe and there are local complaints.
Barcelona is magnificent and beyond my description here. I will write a long piece, when I have time, and send it out and post it on my blog/website. I created an extensive travel journal which has given me great pleasure. I will tell you all about meeting a high school wrestling coach, on board ship, that does a travel journal with water colours. What a great guy. He's a school administrator in Monterrey, who taught, history and art. Lo and behold he's from Pacific Grove, Calif, and knows Lighthouse Avenue quite well, where my great friend, the late and beloved Henry Littlefield, lived, with his wonderful wife Madeline, for many years. Of course he heard of Henry, who ran the York School for many years, before he taught at the fabulous Robert Louis Stevenson School, on the 17 Mile Drive. That was some co-incidence. Of course he also remembered the great and famous John Irving's citing of Henry in one of his books. The amateur wrestling community is still quite intimate and almost every one of a certain age gets to know everyone else. I told him about when Linda and I went to the Columbia-Cornell dual meet at the NYAC, a few years ago with Doug Garr and his brother, which was the 100th anniversary of collegiate wrestling, and I met Dan Gable, the legend of all grappling legends and Andy Fitch, Henry's old friend, who was a 2-time NCAA champion and an Olympian.
Meanwhile the cruise ship was great, the sea was smooth, the food was plentiful and excellent, the weather was sunny and hot, hot, hot, and there was great fun had by all. I even won a medal, with 5 others for “best legs” (male that is) on the the ship. Of course Linda persuaded me to join the fun with about 30 other “extremity” wannabees.
The trip back was long, don't fly Iberia Airways if you can help it. The airport at Madrid is too too large, and the service on Iberia is lacking. But the Airbus they use took off and landed, and that counts more then anything. We disembarked from the ship in Barcelona and stayed in a lovely Atrium Hotel, spent Saturday walking around, and then we were picked up and taken to the airport for a 50 minute flight to Madrid for our trans-Atlantic connection. All in all, I have no real complaints about the four fights, to and fro. Considering the conditions that exist today, I have no complaints about extra security, or waiting a bit to err on the side of caution.
Richard J. Garfunkel