Mediterranean Cruise on the Disney Magic: Days 1-3

Lucky as ever

Lucky as ever, my mother, sister and myself embarked on a 10 day Disney Cruise around the Mediterranean, beginning in Barcelona and visiting much of the Italian and French coastlines. The level of customer service, attention to detail and overall enjoyment is very hard to fault, the cruise runs and smoothly on the inside as it glides smoothly through the Med sea. This was my second cruise so it was nice to have something for comparison. Living in Europe I felt fairly well at home on the continent, but it was nice doing things from a cruisers viewpoint, especially all the travel being sorted for. Food and fun on the high seas, without a single day of bad weather, did wonders for the soul.

Disembarkation date – Barcelona

We arrived in Barcelona the evening before the cruise and had a little nosy around (the shops). The city was sun-soaked and beautiful in late June. In the heart of Barcelona, the cruise terminal was a bustling hub of sights and smells, eating crepes as we watched a triathlon taking place. Before boarding the ship we went through the security procedures and were then greeted onto the Disney Magic in the lobby by clapping cast members. It can all feel a bit surreal with the high ceilings and chandeliers, but so luxurious. Our rooms were ready so we got changed into some swim stuff and headed to the top decks to lounge. We set about trying to ruin our evening dinner by sampling the food available beforehand, but nonetheless managed a three course meal and drinks, after all…we’d paid for it. One of the best things about the cruise is it’s basically all-inclusive and their is food available from dusk til dawn, and even at sit down meals you can order anything and everything off the menu if you’d like.

Days 1&2 – Day at sea & Pompeii

My first day on-board was a day at sea, filled with all the new Disney movies out at the time, shown in decadent theatres. You also had a catalogue of films on your stateroom TV, from Robin Hood to Frozen, and from Pirates of the Caribbean to Cool Runnings. As well as this, all throughout the day films are played on the top deck for you to peruse as you eat an ice cream or sunbathe. Disney don’t do entertainment by halves, as there are multiple activities constantly going on, such as crafts, quizzes, gaming and gambling.

Funnel vision
Help yourself to some ice cream

Pompeii

We docked in the Port of Naples, and from there took a 40 minute coach to the ruins of the Lost City, Pompeii. It was astounding how big it was and how much of it was preserved. It truly looked like a city, filled with tour groups and parasols in the hot weather. Entry was around 20 euros, which isn’t extortionate as there is a lot to see. Our tour guide was a notable Casanova routinely being praised by the other tour guides, which made for a memorable experience, though for a man of a certain age, he moved on very quickly and didn’t seem too bothered about losing members of the group as he whisked us around his favourite spots, most of which were ancient brothels. Being so close to a port, the city was littered with them, marked by phallic arrows and decorated with Kama Sutra-esque paintings on the walls. Perched atop the mountainous terrain that gives Pompeii its infamous story of destruction by Mount Vesuvius in 49AD, it’s easy to forget that at any moment history could repeat itself, since the volcano is still very much active.

The city stretches as far as the eye can see

In Naples, we also sampled Limoncello (known as Limoncino in Northern Italy), which was pretty tasty, but spirits are held when you return to the ship, you can bring on wine and beer, however. All in all, I loved the history of Naples, a true gem by the sea.

Day 3 – Rome

On a sweltering hot day, we knew we wouldn’t have the luxury of the Naples sea breeze, but we were determined to enjoy our ‘Highlights of Rome’ trip, booked through Disney for the assurance that if we were to be lost to the traffic of the capital, the cruise wouldn’t leave without us. Rome, again, was hugely touristy, with herds of people gathered around the must-see sights. Our first stop landed us a short walk from the Colosseum and the Parco del Celio. It’s a very impressive city, with ancient structures looking as charming as ever, and from the higher points of the city it doesn’t look like a modern metropolis, but a city marked by its past. I made sure to keep my bag pressed close to my side, as apparently lots of thieves operate in the area.

Next up, we found ourselves dropped a short walk from the Spanish Steps, designer and high street shops, and the famed Trevi Fountain. In the intense heat, the shops offered a shade and air-con, as well as the fleeting satisfaction of acquiring material possessions of course. There was also a very classy McDonald’s beside the Spanish Steps that made me feel like I’d gone back in history to the Roman age.

The Spanish Steps were pretty to look at and fun to have a photo shoot on, but under the glaring sun we didn’t hang around. Next stop through the beautiful tall buildings and narrow roads, we visited the place. La Fontaine de Trevi, Roma. The place where wishes come true, or so I hear. It was stunning, the crystal clear aqua water, the ivory coloured stone and apparently €3000 euros worth of tossed coins each day. Of course it was super busy, but if you time it well you can get a nice picture without some other tourists elbowing you in their desperate plea to film everything they see!

Lastly, we went to St Paul’s Basillica but didn’t have time to look around seeing as the queue was upwards of 45 minutes. Also, it was hot as hell and I didn’t fancy covering my shoulders or knees for the sake of a church so we sat on the promenade, in a restaurants outside area, eating ice cream and sipping on a cold drink, being cursed at by beggars when we didn’t empty our pockets for them. After this relaxing break, we headed back to the port to join our friends for an exquisite dinner.

Next stop, Corsica. Thanks for reading, until next time x

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From the City to the Sea

After a short stay near Dublin, my boyfriend and I borrowed his mother’s yellow Mini Cooper and road-tripped down to the most South-Easterly part of Ireland, in the ancient province of Munster, staying a few miles outside of Waterford, in a charming seaside town called Tramore. Tramore holds all the delights of the seaside that I remember as a child, and then a few more. I don’t remember the pubs being as interesting when I went on my family holidays as a 10 year old. But Tramore is a perfect blend of Irishness and the coastal towns I love so much. Each night my boyfriend’s family (and lots of extended family, second cousins and great uncles galore) would congregate at the local GAA club: The Gaelic Athletics Association sports bars that are such a pillar of community, supporting hurling and Gaelic football alike. Here we’d drink, look at the unique decor, and even listen to some traditional accordion music.

Mr Accordion and a taste of the many strange pictures on the walls

Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside

During my stay, we did your usual; candyfloss and fresh donuts, picnics on the beach and losing money like there’s no tomorrow at the amusements. I also can’t miss out the golf: pitch and putt and the crazy sort. I felt like a kid again, relaxed and with no concept of money. It helps that my boyfriend’s family are so generous and treat me as their own.

What’s the tee?

There was one thing I didn’t expect however, and that was a diving board at a swimming club not far from the town centre. We drove out to a cliff and descended the steep stairs that led to a small diving board, with deep turquoise waves crashing off the rocks surrounding this cove. My heart was racing and every part of me wanted to run off that diving board into the cold sea. After some protests by my boyfriend, I finally pleaded that I could handle the current then proceeded to head up to the board.

The Guillamene Swimming Cove from above

The water was refreshing to say the least but the thrill of plunging into the water was just as breathtaking. As the tide that turned away other swimmers went out, the small spot then gained a lot more custom from locals in their wet-suits (smart) who jumped in with no hesitation, swam out and even climbed the rock faces. We went back the next day too, this place felt like a little slice of paradise.

I made a meme

The food was brilliant, I didn’t get a single bout of food poisoning which is a huge risk at some seaside towns in England in my experience. One thing I always think when I’m in Ireland is how genuinely lovely and friendly everyone is, so welcoming and charming, even if I can’t always understand what’s being said. The importance of kind locals are devastatingly underrated in my opinion, it can really make or break a trip. Anyone was willing to stop and have a chat, patrons of the pubs or fellow beach-goers, I chatted with the best of ’em. We also managed to drive to Waterford for a bit more sightseeing and shopping.

It was a beautiful trip and two and a half hours drive from Dublin on the motorway, and it’s well worth the drive. There is a coastal drive too, which I’ll be sure to do next time.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

A Day in Dublin

Before we embarked on our seaside getaway to Tramore, we spent the day in Dublin. Admittedly it consisted mainly of shopping and eating but we saw some sights nonetheless.

The History

Growing up English I’m ashamed to say that I was deprived a true understanding on Irish history and culture beyond drinking and swearing. Then I met my boyfriend, who is from County Laois smack bang in the middle of Ireland and I started to learn a little more, like what the English did and how this affected the Irish population in modern history. I’d recommend the films The Wind That Shakes the Barley with Cillian Murphy ( I’m so excited for Peaky Blinders Season 5!!) which is set during the Irish War of Independence, and also Hunger with Michael Fassbender, based on true events with Fassbender playing the role of Bobby Sands, a member of the IRA and a prisoner on hunger strike. It was eye opening learning about what Ireland has been through in these past centuries. Ireland has culture and interests that I didn’t even know existed, things like the fast paced racket sport Hurling. It’s incredible to watch but a little harder to play since my wrists are too weak to hold the great hunk of wood that’s used to rocket the slitter(ball) across a massive pitch.

Dublin

After a quick stop at Avoca Garden Centre we headed into the town and did some shopping. While Dublin has all the chains you’d find in any other European capital, what shocked me is the brilliance of the independent shops and markets. One such shop was a streetwear paradise called Nowhere, where I bought a gorgeous pair of Nike Air Force 1’s in pink velour for €75, a pure steal.

We also visited the Powerscourt Centre for food and shopping, with some beautiful cafes, homewear and fashion as well as a wealth of secondhand jewellery shops. It’s well worth a trip to gawk at the sparkly jewels.

Just for the day.

Although it was just for a day, I’m looking forward to exploring Dublin in more depth. My next post will be on what I did when we left Dublin and headed south to the sea.