Cruising through history, culture and grandeur: My first Mediterranean cruise

Have you ever been in one of those cruises that just took your breath away? If not, I highly encourage you to try it at least once in your life. I promise you’ll never regret it.

I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I am now when my dear friend, Dr. Lorraine Diego asked me to join her and her parents, Ray and Nora, to go on a cruise.  Don’t get me wrong — I am not hard to please.   Of course, I love the idea of sailing to some of the world’s great cities, meeting different people and feasting to your hearts content. I just didn’t have any expectations – yet – because I haven’t been in one. All of that changed when two weeks ago I had one of the most unforgettable trips in my life (Thank you, Lorraine!).

So off I went with no expectations. The package was a Mediterranean 7- day cruise through Spain, Italy and France. Since it was my first time, I couldn’t remember ever feeling so excited and nervous at the same time.

Our port of embarkation was in Barcelona where we spent the first night. There, we boarded the Norwegian epic and before I knew it, we were sailing towards Rome. We met with our friends, Junior Catindig and Gilbert, who gave us a tour around the city.

Our first stop was the Colosseum. Voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Colosseum is just breathtaking. The vibe takes you back to the Roman Empire and you hear echoes of ancient gladiators fighting.

This great amphitheater was built to give favors to successful legionnaires and to celebrate the glory of the Roman Empire. Its design concept still stands to this very day.  A shout out to those who want to explore Rome:  this should be in your bucket list.

We also went to St. Peter’s Basilica and I was awed by its grandeur and magnificence. The Basilica overlooks St. Peter’s Square, which was designed by Bernini in the 17th century. After our jaws dropped over the cathedrals, we had to stop by the Trevi Fountain (3rd to the left in photo) where Lorraine and I tossed coins as we wished upon this infamous fountain.

By the way, we also met a lot of Filipinos in the places we visited. Most of them live and worked there for many years. As always, it’s a wonderful experience reconnecting with our kababayans in different parts of the world.

We also visited Pompeii, which is a city in Rome that was buried under a thick carpet of volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. This volcano near the Bay of Naples in Italy has erupted more than 50 times.

Then we sailed off to Florence, Italy on our fourth day. It is one of the most beautiful provinces we’ve been to. It was very cosmopolitan but still preserving the old world look. There are designer stores and fabulous restaurants everywhere, and the whole place is just nostalgically magnificent.

And since we were in Italy, we didn’t pass up the chance to check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  History tells us that it was constructed in 1173 but was interrupted due to subsidence, which is the reason it is “leaning.”

The following day, we sailed to Cannes in France – very chic and sophisticated.  Then we were off to Marseilles the next day.

Our last stop was back to Barcelona where I saw the beauty of Spain when I gazed at at the awe-inspiring spires of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It is, hands down, the most beautiful and enchanting church I have ever laid my eyes on.

It was stated that the Sagrada Família Basilica has entered its final stage of construction, over 100 years since its foundation stone was laid and 90 years after its designer, Antoni Gaudi died. Six new towers will be added to complete the work. The tallest of the six spires, the Tower of Jesus Christ will measure over 172 meters and make the Sagrada Família the tallest religious building in Europe. Chief architect Jordi Fauli said the structure is on track to complete in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

Last but not the least, we visited the Montserrat church. “Montserrat” literally means, “saw (serrated, like the common hand saw) mountain” in Catalan.  It describes its peculiar aspect with multitude of rock formations that are visible from a great distance. Montserrat is Spain’s first National Park.

Overall, the experience left me yearning for more. I love that I’ve learned a lot about the cities we’ve been to. I must say, this trip has awakened my newly discovered fascination of Roman history. I was also glad to have met a lot – or should I say – majority of the ships’ crew who are Filipinos. About seventy-five percent of them are Pinoys and Pinays; from waiters to chefs, stewards, officers, even performers. What can I say, Filpinos are amazing people and they are literally everywhere!

All of these memories and awesome experience I will carry with me forever. All thanks to Lorraine, her parents and to our friends who joined us.

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Monet Lu is a Marikina-born, award-winning celebrity beauty stylist with his own chain of Monet Salon salons across Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Ultimately, Monet is known as an all-around artiste who produces sold-out fashion and awards shows as well as unforgettable marketing campaigns. Monet is also the founder of the revolutionary all-natural beauty products such as Enlighten, your solution to discoloration. To contact Monet, please visit www.monetsalon.com or email him at monetsalon@aol.com

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Monet Lu
Monet Lu

Monet Lu is a Marikina-born, award-winning celebrity beauty stylist with his own chain of Monet Salon salons across Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Ultimately, Monet is known as an all-around artiste who produces sold-out fashion and awards shows as well as unforgettable marketing campaigns. Monet is also the founder of the revolutionary all-natural beauty products such as Enlighten, your solution to discoloration . To contact Monet, please visit www.monetsalon.com or email him at monetsalon@aol.com.

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