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Carnival Breeze Mediterranean Cruise Travel Journal

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A Day in Messina, Sicily
Messina clock tower

The mechanical animated clock tower in Messina, Sicily is only a short walk from the cruise ship pier. It's activated each day at noon.

Messina Clock Tower (c) Linda Garrison
The passengers on the Carnival Breeze continued to enjoy calm seas and fair weather as we sailed south from Venice. That morning we ate breakfast and lounged around the ship before meeting up with our group for lunch at Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ, an outdoor barbecue spot open only on sea days. They had chicken, pulled pork, kielbasa, hot dogs, and sausages. Very good and a nice alternate place to eat (complimentary to everyone).

The rest of the day was quiet and I think everyone on the ship was happy to just relax and enjoy the sunshine and sea air.

The Carnival Breeze was sailing in the narrow Strait of Messina that divides Italy from Sicily when we woke up on Sunday morning. We had good views of Mt. Etna from our cabin, and I could see smoke drifting slowly from the top of its volcanic cone.

The ship docked in Messina about 10 am, and mom and I walked ashore. Since it was Sunday, almost everything was closed. We strolled around a little, poking our heads in a small lovely church that was setting up for services. The church had beautiful stained glass and a dome that looked much like blue Wedgwood china on the inside. We also walked into a galleria similar to the gorgeous one in Naples, but this one needed some significant renovation. It still had the lovely arched roof and glass. Messina was almost completely destroyed by a 1908 earthquake and then again during heavy fighting during World War II. The town didn't seem to have the vibrancy I've seen in other Italian towns, but it may have been because it was Sunday morning.

Mom and I timed our stroll to end up at the famous mechanical clock shortly before noon. It is housed in the bell tower of the town's cathedral. The bell tower fell down during the 1908 earthquake, but was rebuilt and the clock was added in 1933. Hundreds of people gathered to watch the clock operate at noon, the one time per day it works. The bell tower has six large windows with characters representing historical figures of Messina and religious themes. First the lion at the top window roared, and his head and tail moved. He had a metal flag in his hand and he waved it back and forth. The roaring/wagging/waving happened 3 times. Soon, it was the next window's turn. A rooster/cock stretched his head and crowed three times. Moving down the clock tower, the largest window had figures who moved through the window on a turntable. It looked like they were bowing to a seated figure and maybe presenting gifts. Surprisingly, none of the characters in the other 3 windows "performed". I'm almost ashamed to say it was a little underwhelming for me. Mom said she was glad we found a shady cement wall to sit on while we waited and that we got to stand in the shade to watch. Many of the people waited while standing in the hot sun for the 15-minute performance.

Although we chose to just stroll around Messina, many of our fellow passengers on the Carnival Breeze did organized shore excursions. The two most popular were probably day trips to either the volcano Mt. Etna or to the beautiful seaside village of Taormina. This gorgeous village is a favorite spot for many cruise travelers, but Taormina does get packed with tourists in the summer. If you are there on a clear day, the views of Mt. Etna from the old Greek theater are quite breathtaking. For those who have been to Mt. Etna and Taormina, another interesting tour visits two of the Sicilian villages used in the filming of the "Godfather" series of movies.

We returned to the ship for lunch, and mom and I ate at the BlueIguana Cantina. Very good. Returning to the cabin, we both conked out for a couple of hours. Guess all that heavy Mexican food did us in!

Dinner at the Blush Dining Room was one of the best we enjoyed in the restaurant (other than on the formal nights.) I had a hard time selecting from the appetizers and entrees. They all sounded good. Ended up with some very nice asparagus vichyssoise soup, a green salad, and a small steak filet. Chocolate ice cream for dessert.

After dinner, I went to the talent show. The talent wasn't great, but you have to admire the guts of amateurs who will perform in front of a live audience. John Heald (the cruise director) did his bedtime story act, which is so hilarious. We laughed so hard we cried. The show ran long (until after 11:30), but when we walked back to the RedFrog Pub, the place was packed as usual. I decided to pass on a drink and went back to the cabin.

We had another sea day the next day, followed by a day on Mallorca.

Carnival Breeze Mediterranean Cruise Itinerary

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