Well, the trip started in Rome, after a 14+ hour connecting flight, we finally arrived. Being inside the Roman wall is literally like living in the past. Every corner you turn, you are faced with beautifully preserved ruin sites. To top it off, their October weather is just fabulous, warm (~20C) and sunny (big contrast to what our weather is like).
(World renown spiral staircase at Vatican Museum)Of course, no trip would be complete without a visit to Vatican city, since it's right there. We went on a Monday, which is consider busy because of its closure on Sundays. There were tons of group tour vendor trying to get you to buy their skip the line pass for the museum by telling you the wait is over 2 hours. In reality we only waited for 1 hour despite the fact that the line up looked more like it would be 4 hours long. There was so much to see at the museum. So if you are really into the history of everything, be prepare to spend a day there.
(no picture allowed once you are on the tour, also remember to dress appropriately)
Tip: I highly recommend this tour to everyone, except people who are claustrophobic. It was pretty tight and humid down in the tombs. Also if you purchased this tour, I would suggest you go first before checking out the basilica, because the exist of this tour was right inside the church, so no need to lineup, and save you a good half an hour to an hour.
Tip: booked your train tickets early at Trenitalia, because it's a lot cheaper than buying it there. Look for something called mini fare.
Once we got to Civitavecchia port, that was another mess. Apparently there were shuttles that took you from port entrance to the actual ship, but there were Nobody around to facilitate this. After a good 10 min pass by, we saw a bus labelled NCL Jade, so decided to hop on. Once we got off that bus, it did not get any better. There weren't any clear signs anywhere, so we followed this huge crowd into a warehouse that was apparently the luggage drop off zone. As we were all slowly moving towards the drop off, some officer point us all to another entrance, which turn out to be the check in. At this point, we were in line for the check in, so decided not to go back for the drop off. However once we were on board, everything was great. Good thing our room was actually ready ahead of time, so we were able to drop off everything before grabbing lunch. So, if any NCL staff is reading this, your check in process could definitely use some improvements:
- more signage
- more staff to direct the passengers, facilitate line up, so it won't be such a mess.
Tip: we didn't do a excursion, so we used Geo-travel right outside the port, and it's only 10 Euro/person for return tickets to Olympia.
Tip: before you get to the metro station, there is a good 20 minute walk from the port. Just ask the locals, they will point you in the right direction. Also, take caution with your belonging while riding the metro, especially if locals start to talk to you and try to help you without asking. We were actually pick pocketed, which I actually witness, but because there was nothing in R's bag, so we didn't make a scene.
Did you know Nike was a Goddess, before it became a brand? Don't believe me, just look at the sign underneath the right arm, looks familiar?
Tip: skip the Carpet/Leather factory if you can, they really wasted so much time (at least 1.5 hr), the the prices are also insane.
Also, Egypt was definitely an eye opener for me. They don't have any waste disposal system, so they would throw garbage into the streets. Once it piles up, they would just burn it down and start the cycle again. All I can say is we are truly fortunate for where we live, how we live and our clean environment.
Tip: if you are not planning to buy, then just ignore the vendors as rude as that may sound, it's the only thing that worked. Also, get a local guide (we used Ramses tour), because it definitely helps when dealing with the camel ride operator and local vendors. We were pressured for a lot more tips at the camel ride. Although we paid the high tips, but eventually got part of it back after we told the guide of our experience.