Wind Spirit Day #6 - Portoferraio, Italy (Elba)
Our last full cruise day was in Portoferraio on the island of Elba. As you probably know, this was the island that Napoleon was exiled to for a short period of time. Again, I tried to pick something unusual as a half-day excursion - Mt. Capanne “On Top of the World”. Our tour bus drove us from the port through the hills and then along the north coast of Elba to Marciana Marina and then inland to the base of Mt. Capanne. There the fun began! I guess we should have been advised when the cruise information told us “. . . your guide will explain how to get in and out of the cable car, and every 20 seconds a cable car will be boarded 2 by 2 . . .”. But, of course, we didn’t pay as much attention as we should have. Well, it turned out to be one of the most frightening experiences of my life!
Let me start by saying that I am comfortable with the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - they have 20-person cars that take you to the top of Mt. San Jacinto - well, maybe not quite the top of 10,000 ft. - the tramway station at the top of the mountain is about 8,000 ft. But, it is a long way from the desert floor. The almost brand new tram cars revolve as you go - very high tech.
These cars on Mt. Capanne were NOT high tech - they were little yellow cages that held two people (although we saw a couple of cages with two adults and a child). The space wasn’t really the problem - it was the length of time that you had to enter the cage. It didn’t stop at all (I guess it is like riding to the top of a ski slope, but I have never done that, so I am not sure), and you had to follow it and have two people jump in as it passes by. They didn’t really prepare you for this - you had to observe the people in front of you as they boarded the “cage”.
Well, we got in OK - big surprise! The ride up the mountain was beautiful - and petrifying! Because you knew that when you got to the top, you had to hop out in those same 20 seconds! And, you had lots of time to think about it because it took 20 minutes to get to the top. It was very quiet and peaceful as you traveled over the tramway posts - I tried to take some pictures, but I was afraid to let go of my vice-like grip of the posts in the car. I also had this vision of my camera disappearing over the edge of the “cage”, never to be seen again. We did get to the top, and it was a beautiful view. I was only trying to figure out how to get down the mountain without taking the car down! I guess there is an actual trail to climb up and down, and I actually considered it, but the ship would certainly have sailed without me by the time I got there!
And here we are at the top
But, yes, we did make it down. It was still pretty early in the day, and the tram was still not busy, so we asked if we could ride back down one by one. We figured that it wouldn’t have been quite as difficult to board and depart from the “cages” if there was only one person doing it rather than two. Worked out pretty well, except for the solitary descent.
I did get a picture of Bill getting out of his “cage” - I know he was glad to be back on solid ground again!
The next stop was back to Marciana Marina for a little winetasting and shopping. The wine shop had lots of good stuff in addition to wine (spices and pastas), but we got two bottles of the Italian favorite, Limoncello. If you haven’t tried it, Trader Joe’s has some small bottles of both regular Limoncello and Cream Limoncello. I prefer the regular kind myself.
Back to the ship for our final cruise dinner. We had met a lot of nice people during the week. We were seated with different people each evening and had fun with them all. We also met people out by the pool. One man was kind of long-haired and wore earrings. He was on the ship with his sister and her two sons. Bill and I had a drink with one of the sons (who had just turned 21 during the cruise) when we got back from our shore excursion. He revealed to us that his uncle was not a psychologist as he had told us but instead plays piano with the San Francisco Symphony, and he was going to play a couple of numbers in the lounge before dinner. Kind of nice to have something like that happen on our last night on board. His name is Robin Sutherland. I found a bio on him on the San Francisco Symphony’s website.
Friday Night Dinner Menu:
Appetizers: Sauteed Shrimp & Crab Cake with Brown Butter, Capers, Lemon and Fried Leeks, Sevruga Caviar on a warm rice Blini, garnished with Sour Cream and Asparagus
Soups: Country French Lentils with Braised Ham Hock and Garlic, Chilled Saffron Gazpacho with Shrimp Stuffed Tomato
Salads: Tomato and Garlic Tartar with Fresh Basil and Olive Oil, Wind Spirit House Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Entrees: Pistachio Crusted Fish of the Day on Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Lemon Star Fruit Butter, Whole Roasted Beef Sirloin with Creamy Onions, Chef's Vegetables & Mashed Potatoes, Basque Style Grilled Chicken with Herbed Potato Puree, Pappardelle with Asparagus, Wild Mushroom and
Wind Spirit Day #7 - Civitavecchia (Rome) -
Sadly, we had to pack up and disembark the next morning. Finally got everything stuffed into the suitcases, and that wasn’t easy! We had a driver picking us up at the pier and driving us into Tuscany. Stay tuned for the next episode!