Monday, June 18, 2012

Rome & The Celebrity Equinox- Our "Special" European Vacation, 2

May 11, 2012 -- Rome, Italy

We had breakfast at our hotel in Rome.  As we walked around the hotel with Aidan, we got several pleasant smiles and remarks from the hotel staffers.  I would even hear many remarking in Italian, "Que bella!" (meaning "So Beautiful").  At the breakfast buffet, the very nice Italian cook guy came over to our table just to greet Aidan, and said "hi," and touched him, saying, "Bella!" (beautiful).  It was so nice to get such a warm and happy greeting from the Italians.  Surely, they have not seen too many children in wheelchairs out and about in Rome, and yet the Italians still greeted Aidan with a friendly smile...rather than the awkward stare that we so often get here in America.
With Grandma and Grandpa Leung at the Trevi Fountain, Rome
Kevin had arranged a private van and tour guide to take us to see the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, the Coliseum, The Vatican at St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel.  Since we had a good size party (7 of us), and for the convenience of getting Aidan in and out of transport, we figured private transportation and tours made things easier and more flexible for us.

At the Coliseum, Rome
To navigate easier through the big crowds and some stairs at the Sistine Chapel, we backpacked Aidan.  It was so cute to see Connor insisting on holding Aidan's hand while he was in the backpack.  It was one way to keep him close while wading through the crowds of tourists.  Having the private tour guide was great too, because she took us through some shortcuts which made things more accessible and saved us a lot of time and avoided the crowds.  I was really pleasantly surprised by the overall warmth and friendliness of the Italians towards Aidan.  So many of them would smile at us and were wanting to talk to him and not afraid to touch him and remarked how beautiful he was.

Walking thru the Sistine Chapel, Rome
After the quick tour of Rome, we setoff to board our cruise ship, the Celebrity Equinox.  This would be Aidan's 3rd cruise!  The first cruise we did was to the Caribbean, when Aidan was about 2 years old, before Connor was born.  The second cruise we did was to Alaska in 20007.  Aidan was about 4 and Connor was about 2.  Cruises seem to work well when you have kids and you want to see a lot of places in a short period of time.  You don't have to worry so much about logistics and everything is self-contained on the ship.  These cruise ships are truly marvels on water…a virtual floating, moving city on water.   Our Celebrity Equinox ship had 16 decks, about 6 different restaurants, 3 swimming pools, a casino, a running track, a basketball court and a full service spa.  Our suite was quite large because our travel agent upgraded us for free.  It even had a grand piano in it!  Lucky for Connor, he could continue his piano practice while on the cruise.  So we've gotten used to needing more space to navigate Aidan around and for overall comfort.  

The big Leung clan boarding our cruise ship, Celebrity Equinox

May 12, 2012 -- Messina, Italy

Our first port of call was at Messina, in the Sicily region of Italy.  We took a group bus ride to Taormina.  We walked around the town and the tour guide took us all to a restaurant that had a flight of stairs and no elevator.  I rather figured most of Europe would be like that since the country's origins were much more older than America.  So we carried Aidan and the stroller, separately, down the flight of stairs.  The restaurant was on a cliff side so it had a beautiful view of the ocean beach of the town.  We had lunch and traditional Sicilian pizza.  Connor loved it, thin and crispy crust the way he liked it.  We also had the first of many gelatos in Italy.

On board the Celebrity Equinox
Strolling thru Taormina, Italy
Taking in the view at Taormina, Italy
I had the tour guide save the first few seats on the bus for us so that it would be easier for us to carry Aidan on and off the bus..  But, apparently he had saved the very first seat which had a divider bar and made the legroom rather a tight fit for Aidan’s Special Tomato chair.  Monica said it was quite an uncomfortable ride.  We re-boarded the ship in the late afternoon.

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