CRUISE

Photo of Carnival Magic in Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize.

ITALY

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Our Trip To Italy

Thursday, March 23 - Monday, April 3, 2017

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Day 2
From the airport to Rome Termini Station

We arrived at around 8:00 a.m. at FCO (Rome Fiumicino Airport). We had booked ahead of time to take a Terravision bus http://www.terravision.eu/?adws=EN&gclid=CNrg3JOG69MCFcS6wAod0QoIgg to Rome Termini Station. The cost is 4 euros per person for a non-stop bus from the airport to Termini Station. (Click here for a link to a website that provides info on various bus services from the airport to Rome city center https://www.rometoolkit.com/airport/fiumicino_airport_bus.htm ) We went to the bus area, stood in a long line as people boarded the Terravision bus, then my husband handed the lady our paper tickets we had printed out at home like their website said to do. Two problems with that: 1) We were trying to board the wrong bus, and 2) She said we needed to exchange our pre-printed ticket from home for a ticket from their ticket booth. She told us to hurry because our bus was about to leave. We had a difficult time finding the ticket booth, then when we found it, the employee was on her cell phone chatting away, and in no hurry to help us. But finally we got our tickets from her and we ran to the correct bus, fortunately in time to make it on board. (The buses run about every 30 - 60 minutes from each other. Click here for the bus schedule http://cms-tvision.terravisionlondo.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/9/files/2017/03/cadenzato_fiumicino_marzo_2017_def.pdf?49de8b) The ride from the airport to Termini station was about 55 minutes in an air-conditioned bus.

 

Roma Pass

When we arrived at Termini station we bought our 72 hours Roma Pass http://www.romapass.it/p.aspx?l=en&tid=2 , as well as a 48 hours transportation pass, since we would be in Rome for 5 days total. (Click here for where you can buy the Roma Pass http://www.romapass.it/p.aspx?l=en&tid=8 ) (Click here for a website that gives helpful information on Rome's public transportation passes https://www.rometoolkit.com/transport/rome_travel_pass.htm )You can buy the Roma pass at various locations, including inside some metro stations; where you see the place in the metro station that sells newspapers and magizines and/or tobacco products, that is where you can buy the Roma Pass as well as public transportation passes. If you're unsure, don't be afraid to politely ask a local - in our experience many people speak at least a little English and they are happy to assist visitors.

I did a fair amount of research to decide if we should buy the Roma Pass or not, and for us it seemed right. With the Roma Pass, you get to skip the line when entering the Colosseum, which is a worthwhile perk because the line can get lengthy. Plus the Roma Pass includes free use of the city’s public transport network - it's valid for 48 or 72 hours, depending on which Roma Pass you purchase, from the first validation for access to museums, archaeological sites and local public transport. It's valid on all means of local public transport operated by ATAC (bus, metro A, B, B1 and C and railway lines Roma-Lido, Roma Flaminio Piazza del Popolo-Viterbo, Roma-Giardinetti), within the territory of the Municipality of Rome. We especially like not having to keep purchasing tickets at the ticket kiosks for transportation, so for convenience the 72 hours Roma Pass and the 48 hours transportation tickets worked well for our 5 days in Rome.

 

Our Airbnb

We had booked our stay at an Airbnb https://www.airbnb.com/ that was in the outskirts of Rome, but accessible by buses and the metro, so we did not have to rent a car. This was our first time using Airbnb. We stayed at three Airbnb locations during our visit to Italy, and one thing we learned was to seriously consider the bad reviews, because there's a good chance that the complaints are valid, as we found some of them to be. Having said that, we will definitely book through Airbnb again, we will just be more careful.

I have a very difficult time sleeping on planes, so I did not sleep at all on the plane, and my husband had not slept much. The first thing we did after checking in was take a nap for a couple of hours. After our nap, we went to the grocery market and got some essential items, brought them back to the Airbnb, and then it was time to explore Rome!

 

Our first meal in Italy

We were so hungry when we left the Airbnb, and we had seen a very small, casual restaurant that was a couple of doors down from where we were staying, so we decided to try their food. The place is called Pinsa & Gusto. http://www.pinsaegusto.it/ (Their website is only in Italian, so click here for a link to reviews on tripadvisor about Pinsa & Gusto https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d6962421-Reviews-Pinsa_e_Gusto-Rome_Lazio.html)  We were very glad we went there. The seating at this place is limited, but sufficient, since many people take the food to go. They have several personal size pizzas pre-made, but not yet cooked, on display. You can choose from one of those, or from one off their menu. They also have suppli, I think 3 kinds, and some sandwiches that are pre-made and tasty. The pizza I chose had pesto sauce, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. The pizza dough is delicious and the pizza is baked perfectly. The tomatoes in Italy are fabulous, they are so tasty and just perfect, and they don't skimp on the tomatoes at Pinsa & Gusto, and the basil in Italy is so flavorful too. My pizza was such a delight to eat, and it cost only, if I remember correctly, 4 euros! They don't have beer on draft there, but they do have beer in a self-serve cooler, along with other beverages. We ended up eating at Pinsa & Gusto three times during our 5 day stay in Rome, and I could have eaten there more and been entirely happy with that decision. If you are in the area where Pinsa & Gusto is located, I recommend trying their food - the prices are great, so you don't have much to lose, but you do have some really yummy food to gain.

 

Off to see the Colosseum

After enjoying our first meal in Italy, we headed to the metro station to go to the Colosseum http://archeoroma.beniculturali.it/en/archaeological-site/colosseum The metro station that you exit for the colosseum is Colosseo. (Click here for a Rome metro map http://johomaps.com/eu/italy/rome/romametro.html )We knew that Colosseo station was taking us to the area of the Colosseum, but we didn't know it takes you directly there! When we walked out of the metro station the first thing we saw was the Colosseum brightly lit against the night sky - it was impressive and exciting! We were finally there! All sorts of things were going on around us, people were pushily trying to sell us things, people were laughing, shouting, eating, painting, entertaining, but for a few moments all I noticed was the immense, ancient structure before my eyes - a structure that has survived for nearly two thousand years, that has survived (for the most part) earthquakes and stone robbers. It stands there quietly, but with so much history to tell. (Before we left for Italy, I researched some of the places we would be visiting, including the Colosseum in Rome, so that I would better understand those places, and I highly recommend doing that, if you don't already, because it gives you so much more of an appreciation of the places you're visiting.)

From the metro, you have to cross a street that has very little traffic to get to the Colosseum. (The Colosseum was closed at night.) We eagerly crossed the street and stared at the structure a bit more before walking up to the closed entrance area. Inside the Colosseum, just passed the entrance gate, was a black cat staring at me. As my husband took photos of the Colosseum from afar, I tried patiently to get the cat to come to me, but to no avail. It just sat there and stared at me. I wasn't surprised to see a cat in the Colosseum because I had read about the stray cats of Rome. There are a number of people who care for these cats, but some people don't want them around, so a disagreement on what to do with these stray cats persists. I'm an animal lover, and I'm happy to know that people are caring for these precious creatures. My husband and I have two cats, even though he would much rather have zero cats. So there I was trying to persuade the cat to come to me, and then another woman came along and persistently tried to persuade the cat to come to her, with the cat just sitting there staring at us through the bars. Then my husband, who is not interested in cats, comes along, and the cat walks through the bars, walks straight over to my husband, and lets him pet it. What is the deal with cats?? That always happens! Then I tried to pet the cat, and it walked away from me! Whatever, cat!

A man dressed as a gladiator came over and said, in Italian, that the cat wants food. (Thanks to Duolingo, I had learned a tiny amount of Italian before our trip, enough to understand him, and enough to learn that I cannot pronounce Italian words properly at all.) I agreed with the gladiator, that the cat wants food, but I had no food for the cat. The gladiator offered to let me take his picture with the cat, but, because I'm somewhat frugal, I declined, thinking he probably expects to be paid for us taking his photo. It's not everyday that a gladiator offers to let me take a photo of him with a cat.

We finally left the gladiator and the cat, and walked all the way around the Colosseum. I was looking for the large section of the wall of the Colosseum that was missing due to an earthquake a long time ago, but I couldn't find it. Then I realized they have restored part, or maybe even parts, of the Colosseum. You can see in the photo where new blocks have been added. The new blocks are not as light as the original blocks, and they have a different look, so they don't perfectly blend in. At first I was disappointed because I wanted to see it with that large, damaged section that's so familiar - it helps to tell part of the Colosseum's history; but then I thought about it and figured they likely restored it for good reason(s), maybe for structural integrity for safety and preservation. But if they restored it just to make it look more like it originally did, then they've failed, because it's obvious the materials aren't meshing aesthetically. Of course new materials next to old materials, even if they are the exact same material, will not mesh perfectly aesthetically, but this appears to not even be the same materials.

We walked around the area of Rome that's around the Colosseum, took photos of the Colosseum from different angles, then headed back toward our Airbnb https://www.airbnb.com.

 

Back To Our Airbnb

We went back to the grocery market to get a few more "essential" items, like Italian wine, Italian Beer, Italian crackers, Italian chocolate, you know, things that you must eat when you're in Italy. After bringing the essential items back to the place we were staying at, we headed out for more food.

Just around the corner from our Airbnb was a restaurant/cafe that was open 24 hours/day. They have three sections. One section offers pastries, sandwiches, baked goods, and gelato, as well as tobacco products and beverages. Another section is a sit-down restaurant where you order off of a menu, and the third section is a buffet with typical Italian buffet offerings. My husband ordered … to go, and I ordered a pastry that looked delicious.

My husband said the Shrimp Pasta was good, but the pasta was more al dente than he would have liked. We noticed that the pasta we had in Rome was more firm than the pasta we had in Florence and Venice. The pastry I had was good, but not nearly as good as it looked.

It was getting late, so we decided to wind down and watch television. The television where we were staying received tons of channels, but unfortunately we could find only one English channel, and it was something we weren't interested in watching. But my husband figured out how to adjust the television setting so that any show or movie that was being dubbed from English to Italian could now be heard in English without the Italian dubbing. There were now several channels we could watch in English. Yay! I was excited for our next day - we were taking a day trip by train to Tivoli, Italy!

A photo of the Disney Fantasy Ship form the Carnival Magic ship while docked at Port Canaveral.

Disney Fantasy from Carnival Magic as we get ready to sail away

This review is lengthy because when I’m planning a cruise, or any vacation, I’m the type of person who likes to read and read about my upcoming trip. I like to know what other people did, what they liked and didn’t like, and what recommendations they have, so that way I have an idea of what to expect, and also so that I’ll have an idea of what to possibly do or not do. Reading other people’s reviews also gets me excited about my upcoming trips! I hope that my review of the Carnival Magic is helpful for you.

The main focus of my review is the food, because I’ve noticed many people are inquiring about the food on cruises, so I hope this review will be helpful for you if you’re curious about the food choices on the Carnival Magic.

(This is the first vacation I decided to write about, and looking back we realize we should have taken more photos of things on and off the ship. I promise that for my future vacation stories I will have more photos.)

 

Getting To The Ship

We decided to use Go Port Canaveral to save money on parking. (Here is a link to the pricing for parking at the cruise terminal at Port Canaveral: Cruise Terminal Parking pricing and info.) At the time of writing this blog, the cost to park at the terminal for 7 nights is $128.  The cost of parking at the Double Tree Hotel is free. What you pay for with Go Port Canaveral is the shuttle service. They have a shuttle service that takes you from the Double Tree Hotel parking lot to your ship for $7 per person each way, and a shuttle that brings you from your ship to the parking lot for the same price. (These prices are what they are at the time of writing this blog. Click on links above for current pricing.) So for 2 people round-trip the cost is $28, saving two people $100 compared to parking at the cruise terminal.

We have used other park and shuttle services before to take us to the port, and those services were much faster. We arrived at the Double Tree Hotel parking lot a little before noon. Go Port Canaveral claims they have shuttles running every hour on the hour, but that wasn’t the case. We had to wait until after 1 p.m. to be shuttled to the port, and the traffic going into the port and at the port was soooooo slooooooow. The places we have parked at in the past cost slightly more, but we waited a very short time for the shuttle to arrive to shuttle us to the port. We would rather pay slightly more and not have to wait over an hour for the shuttle to pick
us up.

Photo of Alchemy Bar drink marker gift given with martini flight on Carnival Magic.

 Alchemy Bar Martini Flight free gift
(Deck 5 - Promenade Deck of Carnival Magic)

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