We were all very sad to leave the Celebrity Silhouette this morning – so sad, in fact, that Mom and I genuinely looked into staying through the next sailing. The ship was making its way to Venice on an Adriatic cruise that hit Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and plenty of stops in Italy. We began looking into this around Day 9, convinced that we weren’t ready to leave.
Unfortunately, we decided that it would be too spontaneous (I have to work sometime, I guess) so we parted ways with the best cruise that we have been on since the Seabourn Legend. It’s always a sign of a great vacation when you aren’t ready to come home!
Celebrity was just top-notch. The fantastic service and excellent food that I spoke about on the first day only grew exceedingly better as the cruise went on. The size was perfect, it never felt too crowded and we never had to stand in line for anything. There was always something to do, we were never bored. I either sat back and read a book, worked from the cafe, or enjoyed the fantastic onboard entertainment. We attended several programs (mainly involving cooking), watched almost all of the shows (our favorite being guest entertainer, Judy Kolba), listened in on the live music (there was a very talented A Capella group that was the best I’ve heard since UGA’s Accidentals), picked up some culture (but no art) at the art auctions, and ate at a couple of the specialty restaurants (our favorite being Tuscan Grille).
No doubt about it, Celebrity is one to beat when it comes to large ship brands. Seeing is believing, so if you’ve been needing a change from mass market but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, this is definitely the next cruise line you should try.
After another timely and wonderful transfer from Pallenberg Brother’s, we arrived back to the Westin Excelsior. When we received our room keys, the staff informed us that both rooms had been upgraded! Carmen, my fantastic rep for the property, worked her magic and got us in a Jr. Suite and a Suite, both of which are immaculate.
I also realized that another Virtuoso property, the Regina Baglioni, is right across the street from the Westin, so I stopped by for a quick site inspection. (thank you, Davide, for accommodating me so last minute!). It’s a beautiful hotel – dark and modern with elegant twists and very different from the Westin. It’s great for travelers in search of a smaller, more boutique property in Rome with contemporary decor.
The Westin is a larger option that showcases a much more traditional style. I am so fortunate to work for a Virtuoso agency where we have connections at such amazing properties (like complimentary breakfast and upgrades when available for all of our clients!), not to mention great reps who go above and beyond to take care of our guests.
After settling into our suites, we took a taxi to the Colosseum, which my grandfather had been dying to see. We spent a few minutes inside, walking around long enough to say that we’ve been.
By the end of our day in Rome, we realized how ready we were to get home. While this trip has been amazing, I have overindulged beyond belief. I’ve had so many carbs that even Atkins would be ashamed. I’m not usually one of those “does this dress make me look fat” kind of girls, but I am more than ready to hit the gym and eat something healthy when I get home.
Also, there have been times over the past two weeks that I’ve wondered if my family could get any more American and the answer is Yes, yes we can. Tonight, we reached a new low. After deciding that we couldn’t possibly stomach more cheese, tomatoes, or pasta, we walked across the street, ordered take out at the Hard Rock Cafe, and brought it back to the suite for a last supper around the dining room table. This is probably a sacrilegious move in Italy. I decided to keep it Italian and had two scoops of gelato for dinner (remember what I said about eating something healthy? I meant starting tomorrow…).
And that’s how my family takes on Rome.
This was also the way we celebrated Nan’s birthday. While sitting back on the couch in her suite’s living room, she announced, “This is going to be a hard birthday to beat.” I’d have to agree.
For as long as I can remember, Papa has been an avid coin collector. He has pieces from all over the world and all over the centuries. One day, long enough after Nan’s heart attack that the doctor had cleared her to travel abroad, Papa came home, took her by the hand, and told her that he had sold his collection so that he could afford to give her the trip of a lifetime.
I think he did just that. They are truly an example of two people in love. I’ve watched them as they walk together, almost always hand in hand, and know that that kind of love is worth searching for in my own life.
It’s really been an incredible experience to travel with my family like this. If you have the opportunity to travel with the people you love, don’t pass it up. Life’s just too short to take people for granted or postpone living out your dreams. We came very close to learning this the hard way with Nan a few months ago and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better trip to celebrate second chances.
What I’m listening to in Rome:
Well, time has a way of throwing it all in your face
The past, she is haunted, the future is laced
Heartbreak, you know, drives a big black car
I swear I was in the back seat,
just minding my own…
This could be all that we know
Of love and all.
– Gregory Alan Isakov, “Big Black Car”