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Our last day in Rome is a day of churches. I lose count of the how many we see total throughout our four days in Rome. There are standouts of course (St. Paul Outside-The-Walls, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva), but in my head a lot of the rest have merged into one, impossibly-full structure. Even Sarah has to make notes on her phone to keep all the names straight. (And she's more than welcome to share them here.)

We return to the cat sanctuary, so we can do something nice for the kids who have been beyond patient. For the four days in Rome, they've walked forty kilometers and complained almost not at all. They've been really amazing. We also stop at the Trevi Fountain, where everyone throws coins and ensures their return one day. Back near the hotel, we spot a McDonald's and decide to give the kids a substantial lunch for a change, rather than apples, chips, or pizza with hotdogs in it. McDonald's, at least while we're there, happens to be the most popular restaurant…
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It's Sunday and Sarah has identified a few churches that hold mass in English. The closest is Trinità dei Monti which is the church at the top of the Spanish Steps. As we walk, we see dozens of joggers - it's the only day we see any joggers, so apparently Sunday is Runday in Rome. Every runner we see, regardless of age, runs at a fantastically slow pace, and it makes me feel all smug and superior knowing that I can run upwards of 7 kilometers per hour - until I remember that everyone here is running on cobblestones and probably would prefer to keep their ankles unbroken. We hike the steps only to find out that the mass times advertised online don't line up with the real life mass times. So we hike back down to another church and attend mass in Italian.

After this, we have a long walk (is there any other type in Rome?) in the direction of the Colosseum. We pass the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument - the wedding cake building - which was built in honour of the first king of Ital…
On cruise ships with Sarah’s dad, we often talk about what would be the worst job to have. Leaving personality preferences out of it, laundry staff often tops our list. So far in Rome, the worst job I’ve come across is the poor bastard who was the take care of the breakfast room at our hotel. I say this because the room is about twelve feet wide, maybe thirty feet long, and seats about twenty people. It’s like serving breakfast inside a toy submarine. Despite the close quarters, the food is very good: pastries, yogurt, cereal, bread with honey or Nutella, prosciutto, and cappuccino.
We’re taking the subway to the Vatican today. All nearby stations are closed due to escalator repairs, so the day starts with a bit of a hike, but we eventually get to an open station and we’re at our destination soon enough. The line to get inside looks about half a mile long, but it’s sort of now-or-never. The next day is Palm Sunday (which will be insane), and following that is Monday, which is a big to…
Disembarkation is as easy as can be. The only thing that goes poorly all morning is that Teddy wants to take picture of some of his friends but we only track down one (Kaveh). There’s another kid, Drayson, that Teddy’s hoping to find, but it doesn’t pan out and he’s pretty upset. He does eventually rally. As far as every other aspect of getting off the ship, it goes absurdly well.At baggage claim, our bags are right there and easy to find, then apparently it’s You Don’t Need To Pass Customs Day in Italy because we just waltz straight from International Waters onto land totally unimpeded. And then even though we’re off the ship 30 minutes earlier than expected, the shuttle we arranged is already waiting for us. Our driver is a middle-aged woman who is lovely but also chatty AF, and poor Nonna volunteers to sit up front with her. By the end of the hour-long drive from Civitavecchia to Rome, Nonna manages to squeeze in about four words. (And these words are si, si, preggo, and si.)
We’re …
While our first day in the Med was completely smooth, things got choppy on the second day. About 7am, the boats started rocking and rolling – and it’s the worst seas we’ve had so far. Susannah complains about a sore throat, and we assume it’s from the cough she’s had for a few days. Veronica is feeling very green, and Sarah’s mom is rough also, but Teddy is surprisingly fine. We decide that everyone would benefit from fresh air, and just before we get out of the cabin, Susannah stumbles into the bathroom and barfs. The sore throat is actually nausea, but once it’s out, she’s right as rain. Everyone gets a little breakfast in them, and the greenest among us have a walk outside, and everyone is basically okay again.
We spend a lot of time with Kaveh today, who I haven’t mentioned yet. He’s this very friendly kid travelling with his family, and his parents let him roam freely (as long as he meets them at given times). So he just sort of roams and makes friends and hangs out with whoever.…
We get off the ship soon after receiving the all clear. We’re in Valencia, and our destination is the Oceanographic, which is an aquarium and aquatic preservation area, and we have to get there well before it opens to we can be first in line for tickets (and skip hordes of people in the process). Sarah is wise in her planning. She hands me twenty euros and arms me with the name of our destination in the instance that all five of us can’t fit in the same cab. And she’s right, we have to take two cabs. If not for her, when we got separated I’d just waving a toonie at passersby, crying, “Need help! Find wife!”
Out of the cab, Sarah holds our place at the gates while I walk around with the kids. When we come back twenty minutes later, there’s about 200 other people waiting. The gates open, we’re the second family to get tickets, and we’re off to the races. We start at the outdoor ponds where we see sea otters and huge sea turtles. There’s actually a pretty big turtle area, including a reha…
Today, we sail into Alicante, Spain, and because the ship doesn’t actually dock until 11am, it’s the first day that we can really sleep in with gusto. So of course, the kids are all up at 8. I’m woken by Teddy talking a mile-a-minute about some Hot Wheels track that he wants to get when he gets home. He tells me all the features, the pros and cons, what tracks it can be combined with, insanely specific details about the commercials they’re featured in. I listen patiently with half an eye open. Sarah (no one’s definition of a morning person) puts up with about two minutes of it before going, “RAAAAAAGHHHHHHH!” until Teddy takes the hint.
We take our time with breakfast and then sign the kids into the kids’ club. Even though we’re docking soon, they’ll be such a crush of humanity trying to get off the ship all at once that we plan to stay until after lunch. Sarah and I go back to our room and watch music videos for, like, a really long time. We discuss whether we should do one of the shi…