October 25, 2023

Virgin v2 - Barcelona - Toulon - Marina di Carrara - Sea Day

Barcelona for a quick visit, street photography, churches, good food in France, and Mitzi's first visit to Italy. And we encounter Carrara Marble.

Virgin v2 - Barcelona - Toulon - Marina di Carrara - Sea Day

We arrived back in Barcelona this morning. Since we are staying on the ship for another week we did a little exploring then zipped right back to the ship.

I did some street photography and enjoyed it today. I'm getting better at getting them in focus and clear. Not always but certainly improved. These were with the M11 and the 35mm Summilux lens.

We walked over a mile to the Cathedral of Barcelona. Saw some interesting things on the way.

The cathedral is quite impressive. So many people though. And we couldn't go inside because they were having their Sunday morning worship. They were only letting in worshippers, and with our cameras we didn't exactly look like Catholic parishioners so we didn't try to pass off as that haha.

There was an excellent chorro chocolate place nearby so we walked over there. It's a tiny little place and there was a line out the door.

Yum! We sat inside at the counter. There was room for just a few other people in there.

Then we caught a taxi for a 40 minute ride up the mountain to the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Built I think in the 1930's.

We asked the taxi driver if he could wait for 15 minutes and then take us to the cruise terminal. He agreed.

There were a ton of bikers and runners running up the huge mountain, and riding down again. I guess that's what people here like to do on Sunday.

We got back to the ship after walking over 4 miles and spending $120 on taxi fares. Totally worth it.

We had lunch on the ship, got into our new room which is 12261A (right next to 12267A which was our last one).

When our room attendant brought us ice she told us this funny story.

When we request ice our picture pops up. One of her coworkers got the message and said, "Ugh, the system is having problems again, these people just requested ice and they aren't even on the ship anymore!"

She laughed and said we were on the ship and it was legit.

Then this evening she told us that her other coworker walked into our room to clean it this evening. He said, "Wow, is this sewing machine becoming a trend! These people have a sewing machine just like the people from last week!"

She laughed and told him it was the same people :)

We had dinner at the steak restaurant called The Wake. We've had so many amazing meals on this trip. This was another great one.

Toulon, France

Our last day in France on this trip. Sad. Because we've loved France so much.

We were worried that Toulon might be like Marseilles, run down and depressing and very un-french. However we found Toulon delightful and while not as charming as some other places, still a great place.

I enjoyed some street photography today.

This first one was Mitzi's favorite. It was a last second shot and I had to adjust the camera super quick. It's clear and composed properly – I'm getting better! Mitzi sees her as fiercely independent and defiant soul and would have been interested to talk with her.

Our first stop was lunch at L'Equerre. We just love French cuisine and will miss it when we are out of France.

After lunch we wandered by the ship sculpture. Then the opera house. Too bad we couldn't go in.

Next stop was La Maison du Macaron where they have the best macaroons Mitzi has ever tasted. She asked for one of each and we all had a good laugh.

Then another stop for a little ice cream.

Next over to Cathedrale de Notre-Dame-de-la-Seds. Built from the 1200's to 1600's like so many others we've seen in this part of the world. This was much larger than appeared on the outside. These buildings have the effect of making one feel small.

Walking back to the ship we encountered some French art sculptures up close.

And some old boats in the marina.

After we got back to the cabin Mitzi sampled every single macaroon! She loved them all except the coffee one, not a taste that works for her. She said they are the best macaroons she's ever had.

In an Irish shop Mitzi found this stylish shirt and bought it. Time for some modeling :) Such a classy shirt, I love it!

At dinner I was testing out the Leica Q3 for the lighting and focus. Mitzi being playful posed for me as I snapped some pictures. She's too cute.

We went to the Italian Extra Virgin restaurant on board tonight. It was good. We've become so spoiled with so many amazing meals, especially in France, that it's a high bar now for a dining experience to be amazing.

After dinner we walked around the lifeboat deck. This ship is huge. Mitzi posed for me at this colorful wall. We are under sail, the seas is a little rough, it was dark, and the wind blowing around 40 knots. However this picture makes it seem like we were having a stroll through the park on a sunny and warm and calm day.

Porto di Carrara - Italy

The actual Porto di Carrara, we were told, was not where to go. So we hopped on a bus that Virgin chartered and rode about 25 minutes to nearby Forte dei Marmi. Mitzi's first time in Italy. My second.

We wandered around looking for a place to eat.

With the coldish weather and rain, along with the season ending, most businesses were closed.

We came across a boulangerie and bought a chocolate filled croissant and vanilla filled croissant.

Then we stumbled across a church and walked in. There was so much marble in this building. Everywhere.

Turns out Carrara is known for its marble. One of the ladies on our bus said that the statue of David that Michealangelo made was made of marble from Carrara. After hearing this we started noticing it everywhere.

A rather effeminate version of Jesus in the painting, but okay. Pretty sure Jews 2,000 years ago didn't dress like this or have blond hair. Not sure why the fingers are raised and what the crystal ball is for, I'm probably missing context.

Images of Jesus over the centuries seem to represent what made sense for that time period in which it was created based on the narrative about him at that time. I find it all rather fascinating, seeing many old Christian buildings and art work over the last couple of months in different places and from different times.

This church had a confessional. This was one is huge in a relatively small building. The massive cathedrals we've seen over the last week have tiny confessionals. Hmmmm. Trying to figure out the logic of that and what it means haha.

Some of the streets here are literally paved with marble. Cars drive on this.

We found a restaurant open for lunch.

We've never seen or had noodles like this. Real noodles in Italy, cool!

We went down to the water front and this interesting piece of art was there. Not sure what it means or represents, but it's intriguing.

The base of the sculpture is a huge block of marble.

Then we got back to the ship and noticed it is docked 50 feet from a shipping storage area for massive marble chunks. We hadn't even noticed it on our way out.

We found out that all the white in the mountains across the city is Carrara marble. We would have assumed it was snow.

We went to Razzle Dazzle for dinner. This was for both of us our favorite meal so far on this ship.

We headed over to the ice cream place for dessert.

After dinner we took a walk around the ship while the moon was briefly covered by a cloud.

Got one last picture of the marble blocks, this time from deck 7. I don't think they have to worry about one of the passengers grabbing one to take home. Hence the measly fence around them :)

It was a nice day in Italy!

Sea Day

Today was a quiet day at sea as we sail toward Ajaccio, France. We'll be in port tomorrow morning.

We stayed in the cabin most of the day. The weather was nice and we enjoyed the hammock on the balcony.

We had dinner at The Wake, the steakhouse. We both splurged. I got the Aged Tomahawk Steak, Mitzi the 'small' seafood platter. Both excellent!