April 16, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 102

Day 102 - Livorno, Italy. Livorno is the closest port to both Pisa, and Florence. As we dock this morning the temperature is a cool 57, but the skies are clear and sunny. By late morning the temperature in Florence is about 70, we couldn't ask for it to be nicer.

Livorno is mostly an industrial port. The "Silver Wind" is here and the "Moby Wonder" along with many ferry boats. The Wonder has the most colorful paint job I have ever seen on a ship. She looks like a cruise ship, but someone says she is a gambling ship. I can't waste my precious internet minutes to research it.

I take a bus to Florence which gives me free time all day to explore the city on my own. Being Saturday the traffic and crowds are relatively lite. The bus driver risks a fine and drops us off within a block of The Church of Santa Croce. Normally we would be dropped off outside the city and have to walk in. When it is time to leave we are all gathered in two groups, one for the front door and the other for the rear door of the bus, the guide calls, the bus arrives, and we all board within a minute and he drives on before he can get a ticket for stopping.

Our group is well behaved today, the guide even tells us it is the first group she has had in many months where everyone was at the meeting place on time. True or not, she had an easy day, even if I don't have any new bad behavior to write about.

I find the walking on the well worn uneven stones a little challenging, but manageable. I am just careful to look where I place each foot for every step. This leads to a moment of becoming a little nervous. There are numerous armed military personnel at all the major plazas in Florence. They walk side by side in pairs, and are watching the crowds for any suspicious behavior. I look up, there is one at 10 O'clock, another at 2 o'clock, looking and walking straight towards me from about 7 feet away. I don't flinch and they walk by on each side of me within inches, automatic rifles in hand.

Maybe it is because I had taken a picture of some of them earlier, or maybe I just fit the profile of a terrorist, I'll never know. I do wonder which message they received about foreigners carrying passports?

I see the outsides of many of the major attractions. I have already had my fill of church interiors and dead popes. Tickets for the better museums need to be purchased days or months in advance. I have lunch at one of the dozens of little restaurants. Pizza was excellent but I have Coke Zero instead of wine. I must find my own way back to the bus meeting place, no guide to lead me. Later I have a gellato.

There was a photo shoot of several models with various outfits taking place in the middle of one of the streets. Extra subjects for a number of the tourists. I have no clue what it was for, there were about 6 or 8 professional photographers there and two or three men directing the whole thing.

Martin Rudner, Rita's husband, lived in Florence a number of years ago. They tried to find the apartment where he lived, but were unsuccessful. He says Florence has changed a lot since he lived here.

When we are ready to leave port, the wind is blowing directly on our starboard side at about 35 to 40 mph. The space to turn the ship around is very tight and the captain has called for a tug to assist us. We normally do our maneuvering with bow thrusters and the azipods, but today he feels the need to be sure he doesn't touch the dock. The channel is only about 50 feet wider than the length of the ship, not a lot of room for error.

Once out in open water our speed is about 11 knots and the strong winds are directly on the port side. There is the usual creak and moan to the ship but rolling is minimal.

Tonight we cruise to Monte Carlo, Monaco, expecting to be ready to disembark about 7:00 in the morning. Originally Monte Carlo was scheduled as a tender port, but this has changed and we get to tie up at the only pier. Tendering is OK, but it takes a lot of extra time, being docked is much better.

In case any of you are wondering, we went on the outside of the island where the Costa Concordia's captain chose to take the ill fated inside passage.

Tonight's show is a short performance of two previous entertainers. I attended for a few minutes as I don't need to set my alarm until 8:00 tomorrow morning. The female singer is the worst I've heard in years, I leave and return to my cabin.