Most days we booked our own independent tours, but on the days we stopped in Cannes and Palma we took ship excursions. As a rule, the ship excursions are overpriced and real cattle herding affairs (these weren’t really different than the norm). The one benefit of the early morning excursion was the reduced breakfast crowds. We basically had our own private omelet station on the outdoor deck of the ship. It’s quite the life looking at beautiful vistas and eating eggs.
We began the excursion with a walking tour of Cannes, seeing some beautiful fortified monasteries, as well as a mask alluding to the story of the Man in the Iron Mask which inspired Alexandre Dumas’s novel. The outdoor market was a real highlight, with delicious baked goods and a bright array of fresh veggies. We purchased some Provencal inspired spices to take home (we used the Cannes blend to season a recent dinner and it did not disappoint).
Afterwards, we ferried to Ile Saint-Honorat to visit a monastery. The monks there make wine and we had a wine tasting in a hot, dusty, rocky field. Far from a highlight of the trip, the scenery was beautiful but standing in the heat drinking some nasty ass monk wine was not.
I needed to find some way to expel that odious wine, so we broke off from the group to use the monastery’s outdoor toilets. I entered the tiny cell and was faced with a porcelain coated hole in the ground. There were two ridged areas where I’m assuming one should put her feet. But there was no clear flushing mechanism, toilet paper, or conventional toilet design. Undaunted, and really needing to pee, I removed my pants and underwear and put my feet in the ridges. I looked down into the hole and I’m pretty sure I saw some workers off to the side of my peripheral vision. After seeing the workers, I was a bit less certain that I was standing on a toilet, but I was certain that a bunch of French workers had full access to seeing my privates.
“Sacre bleu! Is zat bea-var I zee?”
Baffled, I decided to heed nature’s call and so I peed in some kind of French piss trough over some monastery workers.
Cannes was a level 3 tour (the hardest level) and so we were delighted to learn that the Palma tour we’d be taking the next day was a lazy level 1 tour suited to overweight, middle-aged schlubs like us.
We tendered back to the Epic and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Cagney’s Steakhouse. Since we had a free meal certificate, we went all out. Shrimp, crab cakes, wine, wedge salad, two porterhouse steaks, truffle fries, mac and cheese, creamed spinach, and sautéed mushrooms. Paul had a brownie for dessert and I had the most amazing apple tart with red wine ice cream.
We wrapped up the night with martinis and a Latin band. The people dancing brought some tears to my eyes. Beauty lived in their joyful, happy abandon. The band played a broad and eclectic range of songs, ranging from “Despacito” to Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello.”
Saturday we slept in and enjoyed some more early morning omelets. The excursion to Palma was very restful, bussing around to castles and monasteries. Eventually, we drove to the charming town of Valldemossa and enjoyed the scenic rugged landscape views.
Naturally, we decided to forego more sightseeing and instead had a fun Spanish lunch. Seated at a sidewalk table at a quiet café, we enjoyed paella, sangria, and bocadillos (tiny sandwiches of manchego and serrano ham).
We wrapped up the day back on the ship with more music, pub food, and a pleasant run in with a couple we met during our CBM tour. The anti-Tracy-and-Dan, these folks hailed from Canada and they made our day by telling us about Tracy and Dan trying to sing karaoke, but entering in the wrong song and yelling at the cruise staff because they had to sing “Love Shack” instead of the Righteous Brothers. Readers, hop in my Chrysler. It’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail….to Barcelona!