Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Pleasure and Guilt on the Grand Tour

Well, my Mediterranean cruise has come and gone like a strange and lovely dream peppered with statues, frescoes, mopeds, monuments, Newport Menthols and many many cocktails. Barcelona, Ville-Franche, Monte Carlo, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, Palermo. Not bad for seven days. It’s speed tourism indeed, even though the ship only goes 25 miles an hour.

My two fears were allayed the first day of cruising. One, that I would feel claustrophobic on a ship, and two, the vegetarian food would be rubbish. Firstly, the ship is vast. It’s bigger than the building I live in. It has 15 decks. It should not be able to float. It floats. Secondly, ‘why should we be fated to do nothing but brood on food, magical food, wonderful food, marvellous food, fabulous food!’ In other words the food was amazing and we ate and ate and ate, as though they were the final days of Rome, while attentive waiting staff from second world countries scurried to and fro with refills, empties, menus, more more more. Hence Pleasure and Guilt on the Grand Tour. Belch. Let’s hear it for goats’ cheese quesadillas, chilled strawberry bisque, chocolate malts, sweet potato and creamed chestnut soup, hash browns with Swiss cheese … Needless to say I am fat as a pig and I just don’t care.

Though the weather was disappointing in parts (three days glorious sunshine matched by three overcast days with showers, plus one day of complete Roman washout) nothing can sully the romance of Italy. In fact, standing in the rain before the replica of Michelangelo’s David while thunder and lightning raged about the Florentine sky and carthorses thrashed through the puddles around me is the kind of romance you want to bottle and sell. Rome was the only day where spirits were dampened to flickering point. Rain rain rain, and cold rain at that. We were assured it was the rainiest day there in a decade. By the time we got to the Trevi Fountain I thought ‘Oh good, more water’. Still, I had enough uplifting moments that I vowed to return, and threw a coin in the Trevi to ensure that I would.

Nobody wants to see snaps of my sunburned mush so I’ll post a few photographic highlights instead. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was on my mind the entire time in Florence, hence some of the gushing captions …


1 comment:

Neil B said...

I'm glad you're back though! Also, I think you should get a proper camera, cos you're photos are brilliant x