Monday, September 26, 2022

Family and friends

 *So...There I was...*

Mrs. J's 6 month campaign to get the Juvat Clan and friends together for an overseas cruise has finally arrived at the execution phase.  All the covid stupidity has been complied with.  Shot Cards are enclosed with the passports.  Airline Tickets are in hand.  Rendezvous with MBD, SIL and MG is complete and drop-off at the airport completed.  In-processing is complete and airport security is next.

I get told I have to take off my suspenders as the metal clasp on the shoulder straps might set off the metal detectors.  I also get told to take off my belt.  And the person supervising the metal detector happens to be female.  I get told to hold my hands up high and not spread my legs quite so much.

You see where this is going donch'a?

Well the first time they turned it on, I had to break formation and grab my pants otherwise...

Splained that to the lady.  She laughed and said "Don't do it again".

Fortunately for all concerned, a combination of large inhale and sneaking my thighs a little closer together prevented a catastrophic rampaging exodus from the airport.  

Loaded onto the airplane and discovered that my Travel Agent, being the wonderful woman (and Wife of mine) she is, had arranged for bulkhead seats.  In addition to the extra leg room, it also allowed MG to either have a bassinet to sleep in or a reclining crib sort of thing attached to the bulkhead.  More room for her parents, more room for her.

Or so we thought.

Unfortunately, MG is in the 96 percentile of growth for her almost 11 month old age group.  She didn't fit in either option.  

Arrival in Barcelona the next evening and rendezvous with our winemaker friends went smoothly.

View from the B&B balcony.

MG charming our winemaker friends

The following morning our meetup with our Uber driver for the drive to the cruise ship involved a bit of my HS Spanish as well as his HS English. Luckily, global war did NOT break out. After a minor hiccup or two, we arrived at the cruise ship in a timely fashion. 

Since the harbor looked out over the Mediterranean, the military historian in me got a kick out of the fortress on the top of the hill overlooking the port.   Back in the Day, Captain Hook's real life compatriots were a definite concern.

First Port of Call was Toulon where we planned to visit a few wineries on a cruise company tour.  (That's kinda important because if a cruise company tour is delayed for any reason, the ship waits.  If it's not a company sponsored tour...KMAGYOYO!)

Unfortunately, the tour got cancelled.  But, Toulon is a big French Navy base, which meant two things.

One, there was an old fort overlooking the harbor.

And the French Navy was present.

MG was enthused. Mrs. G, however, was underwhelmed.

The day passed and it became time for an Adult Recreational Beverage and Relaxation Break (ARBARB in Naval Vernacular).

Next stop was Nice, which was nice.  Actually, the ship anchored in Villefranche-sur-Mer which is a very pretty and small town just east of the city. 

Even the houses had cannon turrets.  

 A quick train trip and we're downtown Nice.

In addition to Castles, we explored cathedrals.  Some were pretty breathtaking.

Although it was a bit of a downer to walk out of the cathedral and watch a drug deal going down not 50' down the road in broad daylight. 

No, Beans, I did NOT take a picture!

Next stop was Ajaccio, Corsica.  AKA somebody named Bonaparte's final home birthplace (Oops).

Line was WAY too long to go inside.

But, I did think this was humorous.

Went to the Open Market, wandered around a bit, and found a wine tasting booth. can imagine what happened next.  Was waiting in line and the guy and his wife in front of me asked if I knew anything about wine.  

"A Bit...what would you like to know?"

We ended up spending about an hour with them over a bottle of a nice Corsican Red.  But MG was the star of the show.

 I also got a few woodworking project ideas there.

After a long day, we headed back to the ship for a little relaxation on the veranda.

The following day was Civitavecchia, the port for Rome.  Mrs. J, MG and I stayed on board as we'd been there before and it was an hour and a half bus ride out and back.  Chilled, enjoyed peace and quiet and a little nap.  

The following morning, we were in Portofino.  A nice little town.

Which still warranted Castle support.

Stopped in Cinque Terra next.  Unfortunately, I had not charged my phone overnight, so I am having to rely on Mrs. J for photographic assistance.

We had stayed in Cinque Terra for a week back in 2010 or so.  Very quiet, very small, very pretty villages.  Not so much anymore, lots of turista's.   Course back then, we went in late October instead of the ending of the "season" this time, so our fault.  Nice to visit again though and the food was fabulous.

The local wine was PDG also!

Last port was Palma de Majorca.  Plan was to ride the funicular up the mountain to Sóller and have lunch.  Got on Board and shortly thereafter, the conductor came on board and said they were having mechanical difficulties and it would be 15 minutes until departure.

MG decided she'd pass the time entertaining the two ladies from Germany in front of us.  Always the diplomat, that girl.  Unfortunately, after about 45 minutes, we started looking at the time, comparing it to the sail time and watching the progress (AKA None) on fixing the problem.  Discretion being the better part of valor, we elected to disembark and ask for a refund.  Took a bit of cajoling but we got paperwork to submit to our credit card company.  Hustling back to the trolley stop, we passed by the Cathedral.  The line wrapped around the cathedral and sailing time hadn't changed, so all we got was this.

Note the battlement in front and closer in around the Cathedral.

As we're walking to the bus stop, the god's of weather decided we needed a shower and provided the water.  Surprisingly, it was fairly refreshing.

All in all, a very nice 10 days.  The tourist-ing was interesting and fun, the ship stuff was OK not great, but the Family and Friends part was fabulous.  MG was a blast.  Very little fussing.  In fact, when the airplane landed in Austin after an overnight flight from Barcelona, we're standing up getting ready to deplane.  There was a French Guy in the row ahead of us who noticed MG in Mrs. J's arms.  He asked where she'd been sitting.  When we told him she'd been behind him the whole time, he was astounded.  We just shrugged and asked "Isn't every baby like that?"

He chuckled.

Peace out, y'all!

*Standard juvat caveat indicating what follows is a "War Story" where the Author agrees to "...never let the Truth interfere with a good Story."  


  1. A very fine travelog juvat, photos made the crowning touch. Uh, in Corsica was that purple hair?

    1. Nylon, it was more of a blue-ish color. As such it was one of the more conservative non-natural hair colorings we encountered. There was a woman on board with waist length bright neon pink hair. I suspected she was on board in case of power loss, so the ship could be spotted from low earth orbit. I'd say about 5% of the folks (yes, not just ladies) had neon dyed color hair.
      Fortunately, as you can see from the photo of me, my chances of adapting this trend are minimal.

    2. Heh...heh.....ha..ha..ha..(snort) gasp......heh...heh.....

    3. It's only a slight exaggeration. It was not difficult picking her out in a crowd from fairly far away. Fortunately, she seemed to know where she was going, so the "lighthouse" effect was useful at times.

  2. Nice AAR on the trip.

    One correction (yeah, I'm gonna be THAT guy), Ajaccio was where Napoléon was born - that house was the very spot. His final home was on the island of Saint Helena.

    1. Sarge, OOPS! Corrected. I'm going to plead jet lag, but I knew that. Something I saw/read had planted that seed, but you are correct.

    2. No sweat, I do that all the time. Fingers want to type one thing, brain overrides the fingers and then I type something neither fingers nor brain had any part of.

  3. Thank you for taking us along with you.

    The inside of the cathedral in your Palma de Mallorca photo is beautiful and I saw it when the Forrestal visited there in '74.

    1. Yeah, there were several really nice ones. That one had the advantage of right time of day/sunlight to make it into the post. I've also got an idea for another post on a similar subject, sometime in the future.

    2. John in Philly, I saw the Cathedral in Palma when the Forrestal visited in 86.

    3. JimC,
      Yeah, it was impressive from the outside. Just didn't have time to wait in line. One of those 7000+ Pax Mega-Cruise ships was in port, so everything was pretty crowded. Would've been nice if we'd had a bit more time in each port, but didn't.

    4. JimC, I spent another three years on Forrestal as a civilian yardbird when she went through the overhaul in Philly Shipyard.
      Two years as a snipe in #1 Auxiliary Machinery Room, and three years in #1 Main Machinery Room.

    5. JiP,
      Kinda home away from home, then?

  4. @Nylon12 or is that when red wine mixes with blue hair? IT'S JUST A JOKE!!!! Very cool travel report. There's a fair bit of Spaniard in my gene pool, and those castles sure fire the imagination. And a happy baby is a joy. Our kids were like that, too.
    I used to get busted for taking film pictures of projects that fired my imagination. Since the advent of cell phones, that doesn't happen anymore. Sketching on the back of a receipt was right out....

    1. STxAR, your theory had some possibility although I don't think she had started on the wine before I saw her. Could be wrong though. As to Castles, my ARMEEE Training Sir!, kicked in after the Barcelona calendar and as we would come into port, I'd look around and think where a castle should be built, both for lookout and cannon fire. The intact (ish) castles were easy, but I did spot a few castle ruins on hills I thought likely.
      Yeah, the cell phone has done wonders for photography. Film and processing was expensive and you didn't know how good your shot was until it was too late for a retake. I think my number was well into the 300's on this trip. Most are not all that great.

  5. Sounds like a great trip Juvat. Thanks for sharing!

    1. THBB,
      It was, although the Family and Friends part was by far the best. My Pleasure.

  6. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. Sounds like fun and the photos are great!

    1. Barry,
      Thanks, we did have a great time all round. MG was just the frosting on the cake.

  7. Thanks, friend for sharing your trip. I was gonna pour a glass of Kirkland Pinot to accompany the voyage, but miss Jeanie pointed out that it was 0900! Spoil sport! Not the table dancing fighter pilot’s wife I married. Just kidding. I’m not the fighter pilot table dancing guy she married, either!

    1. D4,
      Thanks, Been a while since I did any table dancing myself. Which is probably a good thing, both for the health of my joints and bones as well as the funny bones of anyone watching.

  8. One should always have de fenses around one's port. De fences to keep people out of course. And one should have decent defenses, too, manned defenses with cannon and stuff. Might be more important these days than normal.

    Sounds like a nice cruise. Hate planned tours as they never, in my experience. Go someplace and let the winds blow and make the course, so to speak. This, of course, is a shocking statement from me as I am one of those people who plan a week ahead to do something simple like shopping and I normally don't handle uncertainty and change very well.

    1. Beans,
      Yeah, we normally go our own way on tours on cruises. However, this was a training cruise for new service folks, therefore, the time ashore was generally shorter than normal. And...If you're not aboard at sail time, but on a cruise line tour, they wait. Otherwise, you're on your own. So, we erred on the conservative side.
      That having been said, planning is good! As are De Fences! ;-)

  9. Glad it all came together and y'all had a successful trip! And MG did well!!! :-)

    1. Yeah, we did and Yes she did VERY well! Wow'd 'em!

  10. Sounds like an excellent cruise! Glad things went smoothly and you had a great time.

    1. Aaron,
      Yeah it was. Got a lot of good info from your posts, so thanks.


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