We arrived in Barcelona around noon on Friday the 13th and were delighted to find that our hotel, the Montblanc, was located in the heart of the "Gothic" district. Over the nexty two days we strolled up and down La Rambla, the pedestrian plaza that extends from the Catalonian Plaza to the waterfront. We had tapas and wine, and watched the people on their constitutionals. We gravitated eevery so often to the Mercata de Boqueria where we bought food and candy from the vendors' stalls and gaped at the bounty on sale.
We took a tour bus to Sagrada Famillia the cathedral designed by Gaudi. It looked to me as if it had been designed by Dr Seuss. We visited a famous garden also designed by Gaudi. We visited, among other things, the Picasso Museum, the Chocolate Museum, and the Aquarium. The Picasso Museum featured pieces from Picasso's own collection of Japanese erotic art with examples of their influence on him. Mrs Vache Folle surmised that the art was done by men since the penises were drawn all out of proportion to what occurs in nature, especially for Japanese men (as if Mrs Vache Folle would know anything about Asian men's penises). The Chocolate Museum was devoted to exploring the heritage of Barcelona as the gateway for chocolate into Europe from the New World. Back in the day, ten cocoa beans would buy a rabbit or a prostitute, and 100 would buy a slave.
On our quest to find the Picasso Museum we found a wonderful little restaurant in the back alleys: Economico.
On Sunday the 15th, we boarded the Norwegian Gem in the harbor. I got a bizarre seaweed wrap, steam, massage treatment and settled into cruising mode. Monday the 16th was at sea as we steamed for Malta. The weather, which was supposed to have been in the fifties and rainy, was sunny and in the seventies, so our gamble on the off season paid off.
We arrived in Valetta, Malta on the morning of Tuesday the 17th. We took a tour to the old city of Mdina and then back to Valetta where we visited various sites related to the Knights of St John Hospitaler. It was amazing how much survived the bombing in World War II. The churches were beautiful. We leaned that Maltese is a Semitic language and that the Maltese reckon that the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on the island. It must be so because St Paul appeared on horseback in the sixteenth century to help repel the Turks. He wouldn't have done that for just any old island.
From Malta, we went on the Naples. We visited Pompeii and were surprised to find that the site is a whole ginormous city. We also went to Sorrento and Capri and visited a cameo production facility along the way.
Next stop was Rome which, although it was not built in a day, we had to see it in a day. We visited the Forum and the Colisseum and St Peter's. We were told that St Peter's is the biggest church in the world, but I reckon they weren't counting monstrous megachurches that aren't Catholic.
We then went to Florence where I was cursed by a gypsy hag on the Pontevecchio. She was begging for change, and I reached in my pocket and gave her what I had. It turned out to be 11 cents, and she was offended by my gift. She began giving me raspberries and following me around screaming in her gypsy lingo. I assumed I was being cursed. I did get the flu a few days later. We had a lot of free time in Florence. One of our fellow tourists, a Virginian complained that he reckoned Florence was "just a dirty old town". I thought Florence was the coolest place we had been to. Mrs Vache Folle bought a handbag at an open air market. I got gelato, as I did every chance I got in Italy.
Then we went to Cannes. Mrs Vache Folle and I didn't book any excursions, and we just walked around and had lunch and sipped beaujolais (it had just arrived). We felt very cosmopolitan.
Then it was back to Barcelona to catch a plane to Newark. We didn't see much of Newark as it was late at night when we arrived.
Our travels lead me to question why anyone would ever leave Italy.