This past weekend seemed to be the longest of long weekends thanks to the Pandemic and being isolated from family and friends, and so I decided to write a Trip Report about our first European adventure 6 years ago. For my wife Carla and I, Europe in general had always been a bucket list item, but time/jobs/kids always seemed to get in the way. Now, we’ve now been to Europe 4 times in the past 5 years and our 5th and 6th adventures are/were scheduled for Scotland in June and England in September, both will/would be on-our-own self driving trips. But our first trip was a cruise followed by a 5-night stay in Rome In October 2014. I did do a post a few months ago about why I thought a cruise was the best choice for us at the time https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/how-cruising-helped-us, and now I’ll try describing the trip through my eyes as a first time European visitor. *This report will be focusing mainly on our destinations and not on the ship experience.
It was this trip that I discovered Rick Steves. We’d booked the trip in November 2013 and for Christmas, I had gone to the bookstore to get Carla a couple of travel guidebooks. I grabbed a Fodor’s Mediterranean Cruise Guide when I noticed a blue and yellow book about Rome. I almost didn’t buy it because I didn’t really like the book’s yellow and blue cover. Little did I know that the RS Guidebooks would become my ultimate go-to guide for every trip moving forward. That book helped me answer quite a few of my initial fears and concerns of going to a strange place for the first time, such as how to get from point A to point B, tips on how to fit in, and my greatest concern which was language. But the most memorable piece of advice I took from the book for this first trip was how to cross a street in Rome. I smirked to myself when I first read that, but until you’ve been to Rome, you won’t understand the value of the advice to catch the driver’s eye and then start walking. You may wonder if it’s safe that first time you try, but driver will stop…or at least slow down.
One other experience that made me realize that I shouldn’t expect perceived North American ideals when travelling to other places was an email conversation I had with a tour company in Naples. The similar excursion offered by the cruise ship was ridiculously expensive (see more on my Day 9 post), and after some research, I narrowed my decision down to two companies for an excursion that included Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. But one was significantly cheaper than the other. So, I sent a message to find out what was included. The cheaper company messaged back that everything was included and not to worry, and so I started worrying and asked very specific questions about what was included. Finally, I got a message back that said, “Everything is included, unless it’s not.” I went with the other company.
Trip report is continued in the ‘comments’ section;