Join us as we drive to several European destinations. Costs, itinerary, top sights and problems. Just the two of us and our dog.
Today we are in Vienna / Wien, Austria.
Previous Blog: European Road Trip, Leaving Berlin
Previous Blog: European Road Trip, Leaving Berlin
Why rush to Rome if you have already seen it? There is plenty to keep you busy in Civitavecchia, including just lazing your day away at the beach. Sunny blue skies with wispy white clouds, rugged buildings, cobblestone streets and the aqua blue Tyrrhenian Sea. This is the unfortunately overlooked port town of Civitavecchia. (View my Photo Blog for more pictures of the town).
We stayed at B & B Fuori dal Porto, an approximate 5 minute walk from the Largo della Pace (the port shuttle terminal). Read what they offer, how much it cost and more here: B & B Fuori dal Porto, Civitavecchia, Italy – Review. As the name suggests, breakfast was included and there was so much food, we did not need to eat until dinner in the evenings!
From our B & B location, you can walk everywhere – the waterfront, yacht port, museums, Fort Michelangelo, shopping, market, beach, train station – you get the idea, Civitavecchia is a small town.
Beautiful picturesque side streets are waiting to be discovered, filled with churches, cafes, boutiques; sip an espresso and watch the action as hand talking Italians intermingle with frenzied, lost tourists and ship crew wander about getting fresh air and restocking essentials. Most cafes and restaurants offer wifi. For those who are missing it, there is even a McDonald’s.
As we wander the streets, Enotecas are noted and tucked away in the back of our minds for an afternoon wine tasting or evening drink. The pace is generally slow and easy with only the occasional dog barking or migrant street vendor selling his wares, all to the bell like clanging transfixing sounds of the sailboat riggings flapping against their masts.
You can, and we did spend the entire day just wandering around this quaint port town, spending extra time in the huge market area and of course on the beautiful waterfront with plenty of benches and walking paths that seem like they go forever along the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea / Mediterranean waterfront. Pebble stone Pirgo Beach and sandy Civitavecchia Beach, two beaches separated by the impressive wharf, are free to use at your pleasure.
We order our afternoon wake me up of two coffees – Due caffè per favore – which means two espressos please! Delicious! The €3 is pricey for Italy, but I suppose they are pricing according to their type of tourist – cruise passengers.
For dinner our first evening, we went to an Italian restaurant called Il Boccone d’Oro (read my review / photos) and the second evening we went to a pizzeria called A Due Passi Dal Ghetto Pizzeria, which translates to Two Step from the Ghetto (read my review / photos).
The next morning we woke up to music wafting in through our huge port facing window. I jumped up to see what the commotion was and there was a huge sail ship called the Cuauhtémoc, from Mexico, playing the anthem and doing maneuvers in the port. The masts were lined from top to bottom with sailors! What an amazing site. We later learned this is their sail training ship.
Following another fabulous breakfast at B&B Fuori dal Porto, our host considerately took us to the train station. Normally, we would have walked, but my large roll suitcase had lost it’s wheels and I had visions of my clothes all over the sidewalk. Read about our train trip from Civitavecchia to FCO Rome airport on my blog: Transportation How to Civitavecchia Port.
Links of Interest:
Civitavecchia Photo Blog
Restaurant Il Boccone d’Oro, Civitavecchia – Review
Pizzeria A Due Passi Dal Ghetto, Civitavecchia – Review
B & B Fuori dal Porto, Civitavecchia – Review
Transportation – Getting out of Civitavecchia
First and foremost, we all know disembarkation day is seldom pleasant. Stay calm, think, compare, question. Each cruise ship will operate slightly different, so be sure to check carefully regarding ship offerings. The Port of Civitavecchia does not allow pedestrians, so do not think you will walk out off the ship and out of the port.
Basically, we figured out 4 possibilities to getting out of Civitavecchia. Whether you want to get to the airport, to Rome or simply leave the town, I have compiled a how to list. If you decide to stay in this charming port town for a few days, check out my blog Civitavecchia – Cruise Port to Rome, Italy.
The list of transportation means include:
1. Cruise Ship: shuttle airport transfer / excursion
2. Local Bus / Van transfers airport or Rome
4. Rental Car
#1 Cruise Ship Offers
Most of the ships offer a few possibilities. The Cruise ship we were on offered a shuttle to the airport for USD $75 per person on the ship. The pre-booked bus is waiting directly outside the ship. This is the most comfortable mode, but also the most expensive.
Alternatively, you could choose from 2 excursions with airport or hotel / city center drop off.
One of the tours, which started at 7:30 am offered the St. Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum for USD $159.75 per person. It suggests it is only for people whose flights depart after 5 pm from Leonardo DaVinci airport (FCO). No wheelchairs allowed; must be able to climb stairs and walk uneven paths and approx. 3 km. The tour is listed as being 6.5 hours, which means it ends at approx. 2 pm.
The other tour included the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica and a choice of Hotel or City Center transfer and is listed as having a 6.5 hour duration, starting at 8:45 am, costing USD $169.75 per person. The city center drop off point is the Ostiense Train Station. Hotel drop off is limited to Crowne Plaza Rome, St. Peters Hotel, Empire Palace Hotel, NH Leonardo Da Vinci Hotel and Hilton Rome Airport Hotel. Again, not wheelchair appropriate and has a exertion rating of moderate.
#2 Local Bus or Van
First, take the free port shuttle to exit the inner port area – be prepared for the chaos which will ensue. You leave the ship, go straight to the port shuttle bus, load your luggage in, grab a seat and wait for it to fill. It will shuttle you the 5 minutes to the port shuttle terminal Largo della Pace just outside the gates.
Note: this is a working port and you can NOT walk.
Once outside the port you have the following options available. Hawkers are everywhere, so no worries about finding immediate transportation.
– €20 per person for a comfortable Coach bus to the airport
– A shared Van for €20 per person (airport)
Bus to Rome City Center (not airport) for €10 pp
#3. The Train
Ticket pre-booking can be done either on the Trenitalia website or GoEuro.com for English – a one way ticket to the airport currently costs €11 pp. You can also buy your ticket at the station if you have not pre purchased one. The train to Rome – €5 takes about 45 to 60 minutes whereas the train to FCO airport takes around 105 minutes+. If you are staying in Rome, Frecciabianca is the fast train.
The Regionale (regional train) is the train you need if you are going to the airport (it also goes to Rome); we took this train and it was very comfortable. If you are going to the airport, exit at Roma Trastevere, (after approximately 1 hour), go under through the tunnel to platform 5 where it shows an airplane (airport). Take the next train to the airport and it arrives in approximately 26 minutes. It stops right in the airport – so easy – find your terminal & safe flight!
* Kids under 12 free
* Book online and ticket with scan code is emailed
* Train has a plugin (computer or phone charge) at seats
* Big comfy seats – we piled our suitcases and carry-ons into 2 seats and sat in front of them on 2 other seats
How to get to the train station?
i) Taxi €6 to €10
ii) Walk to the station – approx. 30 minutes – Walk out of the free cruise shuttle port terminal (Largo della Pace), turn left and walk straight. It will be on your left hand side.
iii) Argo Bus / red bus €2 pp – supposedly there is a ticket booth in the Largo della Pace next to the information point. Go here, buy your ticket and they will tell you where to go. I never saw this booth, but I did see the bus at the train station!
#4 Rent a Car
A great option for those staying a little longer who want to venture out and see some things! Also great for people traveling in a group of 4 people.
There are several rental places across from the port shuttle station
Note: make sure the car size can accommodate you and your luggage!
The rental car drop off is conveniently located in the airport – be sure to tell the rental agency which airport. Drive carefully! Note: It may be easier to pre-book your rental car online, due to the language barrier. It will also save you a lot of time.
A word of advice: Remember you are in Italy! They speak Italian and things move at a different pace. Stay calm and smile – you are creating great memories!
Our cruise ship, the Celebrity Constellation pulled into the port of Katakolo, also known as Katakolon, at 9:50 am. (Photo Album) We had big plans including Olympia to see the archaeological ruins, visiting a beach and seeing some of the beautiful greek countryside. Wine tasting was also an option we discussed, however we had done a tour and greek wine tasting in Santorini so we skipped it this time in favour of other stops.
The docks are literally in the town! Our small group of 4 walked off the ship and did a quick jaunt down the main street of Katakolo. Like most port towns, it was lined with little tourist shops and cafes. After around 15 minutes, we turned back and headed to the car rental place we had spotted earlier.
Gisela from Dias Rent a Car (main street left) rented us a little car for €40 and we tanked €10 of gas. Although she was very friendly at the beginning, when we dropped the car off, she was extremely surly – I guess she had a bad day! It is worth noting here, if you prefer to take a tour bus to Olympia, the cost is anywhere from €3 to €5 p/p (one way) – there will be people selling it everywhere, so no worries!
Alternatively, the public bus is €1.70 to Pyrgos Town plus €2.20 from Pyrgos to Olympia – €7.80 p/p round trip, approximately 1.5 hours, the train €10 p/p – roundtrip, 45 minutes. A taxi will cost around €80 roundtrip for 4 seats (approximately 4 hours). Because we wanted to see more than Olympia, the above possibilities were not an option. Schedules can be found at www.katakolon.org. I have embedded a map of the area below.
It was a 40 km, 45 minute relaxed drive to Olympia on very good roads, but there were LOTS of beggars at every stop and corner. I think it was around 1/2 way there when we took the time to drive off the highway onto a rugged dirt path heading uphill. Although we second guessed ourselves a few times, it eventually opened up to some amazing mountain views. (please note: we do not recommend doing this).
Olympia town is a cute tourist town with shops, cafes and restaurants. There is ample parking everywhere, just remember exactly where you parked in case you exit at a different point than you enter.
Entrance cost for Ancient Olympia was €12 p/p which includes the Ancient Olympia grounds, the Botanical Gardens and the Museum. It took us around 2.5 hours at a fairly fast pace, but reading everything to see all of the ruins. A Security lady at the Temple of Zeus was extremely rude to the tourists (not to us). She was telling people they could take pictures, but no smiling, no silliness, no, no, no… Maybe she was having a bad day too.
After our enthralling self guided tour of the archaeological ruins, we headed past the Botanical Gardens – although they looked beautiful, we did not stop as we still had so much to do – and arrived at the Museum. It was packed full of people, but if you like artifacts, I strongly recommend going in. You will need minimum 1 hour, much more if you want to read the plaques explaining statues and excavations.
After leaving the museum, we found a little cafe where we sat and all had €1 beers before hitting the road again. Our next stop was Spiaza Beach where the crazy one in our group went for a very cold swim. The beach was empty and houses were still closed, leaving the entire stretch completely to us! It was interesting and sad to see anti German spray painted walls – it seems some locals do not like Germans. After swimming and snacks, we made our way back towards the ship.
At one point, you can see the ship in the far distance – a huge block looking mysteriously out of place in this mainly farm area.
Katakolo Map – Train Station, Public Bus, Port, etc.
Costs per person:
Rent a car + gas: €50 = €12.50
Entrance to Olympia: €12
Total: €25.50 *
* We had brought snacks (fruit, muffin) and water from the ship, but certainly along the road, food and drink would have been very affordable.
Great place to visit – Do it!!!
The Egypt waterway, which connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean was constructed in the 1800’s to reduce travel time for ships. We have had the pleasure of transiting it 3 times by cruise ship, and we never grow tired of it! (See Suez Canal Photos) Come with me on this special voyage!
Each time is a little different, for example in the fall there were a lot of flies, where as this time, in the spring, there were no flies – but wind, lots of wind. Interesting fact: The average cost per ship to pass through the canal is $251,000.00.
On Wednesday, at 11:30 pm, our ship, the Celebrity Constellation dropped anchor in the Gulf of Suez in preparation for the north bound Canal entry. It was at this point in time our convoy was planned and eventually formed. Ships go through in convoys, which allows, in addition to protection, a smoother process due to the numerous ships and necessary by-passes.
At 4:30 am on Thursday, our convoy of 23 ships made it’s entry into the Suez Canal, 1.5 hours before sunrise; I was tucked in my bed fast asleep. By 8:30 am we were showered and out on the deck enjoying our breakfast. I think it was around 9 am when we made our entry into Small Bitter Lake which then logically continued into Great Bitter Lake.
The weather was fantastic, typical hot, dry desert heat, full sunshine and a great wind which made you forget the heat. The landscape was ever changing, small towns, farms, military posts (for security), cities and a lot of sand. We passed the El Ferdan Railway Bridge which holds the current record of having the largest swing bridge span in the world. Interesting fact: it spans 340 meters!
Around 12:45 pm the Suez Canal Bridge,also known as the Mubarak Peace Bridge came into view. This beautiful bridge was built in cooperation with the Japanese government in order to promote development in the area. Interesting fact: it connects Africa and Eurasia!
As we passed small boats, ferries and or populated areas, people were continuously looking up at us with big smiles and lots of waving. It was fun to wave back and bask in that cruise ship feeling. Interesting fact: there are 14 Ferry connections crossing the canal
At around 3 pm we approached the Port Said Fork. Our convoy had grown from the original 23 ships to 27 ships by now; we were 3rd in the unhurried moving line. The Suez Canal Container Terminal, with an lineup of trucks that went for kilometers came into view. I can only imagine how long those poor truckers had to wait for the Ferry.
Shortly after, we cruised by a very beautiful Port Said and the Port Authority. Interesting fact: Port Said is ranked second for Egyptian cities according to the very complex Human Development Index.
At 3:50 pm the Celebrity Constellation entered the Mediterranean Sea, en route to Piraeus, Greece.