The week of April 18-25, 2006 Silversea's Silver Wind welcomed a group of K-Mozart listeners for a cruise from Barcelona to Rome. The station's weekday morning host Rich Capparela reports.

Tuesday, April 18 - Day 1: Barcelona

We're Off!

In the south of Spain, on a Catalunyan afternoon graced with nearly cloudless steel blue skies, just under 300 passengers convened aboard the Silversea line's altogether luxurious ship the Silver Wind . Of those 300, around three dozen are in the group put together for K-Mozart by Jay Johnson and the crew at Coastline Travel in Garden Grove.

First order of business was the mandatory emergency drill. Every passenger on board crowded into the top deck Panorama Lounge, our well-appointed muster station. While awaiting instructions - fully decked out in our handsome orange life vests - two women standing next to Marcia and me started talking. "Where are you from?" "Los Angeles." "Really. Are you with a group?" "Yes, through a classical music radio station." At that point I piped in with "Oh, and don't you just love that morning announcer they've got! He's great" Thus, I got to meet the first member of our group - the tolerant Jeanie Mills.

Tonight the rest of us got to meet one another at the 6:15 Welcome Party poolside back up on Deck 8. It's a widely varied group of couples and singles, all sharing a love and respect for certain people with first names like Ludwig and Wolfgang. It's a bright, well-informed group that has come together for this once-in-a-lifetime cruise from Barcelona to Rome by way of Monaco, Sardinia and much of the western coast of the Italian mainland.

For those wondering where I've been since last Wednesday morning's show - Rome! Marcia and I can't linger when the boat arrives in Rome's nearby port of Civitavecchia (there's a Pacific Symphony live broadcast Thursday night with my name on it) so we tacked on Rome at the beginning instead. This way we can tell our group where the best gellato is, using only the most up to the minute reconnaissance.
We set sail tonight at 11 after an unbelievably scrumptious first dinner. Life is good, even in a life vest. Oh. You mean I don't have to wear this thing all week? Cool!

And that is our first Postcard from the Water. Observations on the K-Mozart cruise from Barcelona to Rome aboard the Silversea cruise line's ship the Silver Wind. I'm Rich Capparela.

Listen to the Day 1 Report - We're Off!

Wednesday, April 19 - Day 2: Somewhere South of Spain

At Sea with Rich & Leonora

Today we are at sea. We pulled out of the port of Barcelona at 11 last night, leaving behind the city associated with the whimsical, dazzling architecture of Gaudi, including the landmark Sagrada Familia, a cathedral that Gaudi, as fate would have it, neither started nor finished. Scaffolding hovers over the ongoing construction like a protective flock of metal birds.
This morning at 10 in the spacious Parisian Lounge on the 6th Deck I gave a one hour talk concerning my checkered radio career including a few details about my delight in being at KMZT-FM. About two thirds of our group was there. I suspect a few of those not present were busy working on their jet lag. Nine hours of time zone difference is considerable.
This afternoon at five we were treated to a private recital by Irish pianist Leonora Carney. Yeah, that's right. Our group gets our own pianist. Wanna make something of it?

Leonora, blessed with a vibrant, vivacious personality, is a real people person and a joy to be around. Then she sits down at the piano - and no one laughs. Her first of two recitals during this cruise featured a wide range. How wide? Scarlatti to Debussy, that's how wide. Along the way she ably served up Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Haydn. This, dear listener, is cruising the way it ought to be: Music, good company, splendid service and top notch accommodations, all taking place on a more intimate size of ship than one usually associates with ocean cruising.

And that is another Postcard from the Water. Observations on the K-Mozart cruise from Barcelona to Rome aboard the Silversea cruise line's ship the Silver Wind. I'm Rich Capparela.

Listen to the Day 2 Report - At Sea with Rich & Leonora

Thursday, April 20 - Day 3: Monte Carlo, Monaco

The Slums of Monte Carlo (or Have a Nice Day)

Sunny with a high of 68 degrees. This is the kind of weather you can demand and receive when you are a member of the exclusive club of Beautiful People who can call the Principality of Monaco home. This choice real estate exists because of a deal worked out between France and the Grimaldi family about 700 years ago. The size of New York City's Central Park, the entire Principality is home to some of the highest priced land on the planet. The principal draw is the city of Monte Carlo, best known for its elegant casino. This is the kind of casino that charges you ten Euros (around $13) just for the privilege of entering - and losing your shirt at Baccarat. Of course many many people do just that - hoping they'll catch sight of agent 007 at one of the tables.
A foot tour of the city doesn't take more than a couple of hours. Monte Carlo is intimate, navigatable and very, very expensive. For the tourist who has in one's history several years of being an active SCUBA instructor, the biggest draw is the Oceanographic Museum in Old Monaco. The museum is regarded as one of Europe's best. No surprise when one learns that the enterprise was administered by the late great Jacques Cousteau.
After some shopping - with great success - and after looking for some trace of human suffering, with little success at all - we hopped on a bus for the 45 minute ride to nearby Nice. Officials just lowered the bus fares, dramatically. It costs 1 Euro 30 cents one way from Monaco to Nice (about $1.50!). And that ride is along one of the most spectacular roads I've ever encountered. Imagine Highway One along Big Sur and Monterey combined with Malibu and that gives you some idea of the views and feeling. By the way, no human suffering was immediately visible in Nice either. Lots of beautiful people, though, engaged in some pretty competitive relaxation.
And that is another Postcard from the Water. Observations on the K-Mozart cruise from Barcelona to Rome aboard the Silversea cruise line's ship the Silver Wind. I'm Rich Capparela.

Listen to the Day 3 Report - The Slums of Monte Carlo (or Have a Nice Day)

Friday, April 21 - Day 4: Livorno, Pisa & Elsewhere

Congratulations, you're the Billionth!

It was once a mighty city state, plying the waters off Italy's west coast in search of bounty and glory. After getting thoroughly whooped by Florence (a well accomplished whooper throughout the region) it started to evolve into today's sleepy little tourist destination.

Why do people come? Poor engineering. Since it was built in the 12th century, the bell tower in the center piazza of Pisa has been something of an issue. It started tilting after it was a mere two stories tall. And things after that got only tiltier.

Today Pisa's famed bell tower is off vertical enough to make it a global must see. And a must photograph. Marcia and your scribe found ourselves on a bus for a tour of Pisa from the ship's docking place at the city of Livorno. Livorno is a city that was well bombed during the second World War and today is home to an oil refinery and a large docks works. It's not a pretty sight. But I digress.

On our bus ride we sat next to two of our group, Beverly Freed and Ruth Webster. These two charming ladies go back. Way back. To graduate school at USC. Upon getting within Kodak range of Pisa's tower they were kind enough to pose while I documented the startling fact that Pisa's tower doesn't really lean at all......if you shoot it from the correct angle.
And then, like those penguins in that French documentary, we instinctively followed a tradition as old as the hills: trying to make it look like we were single handedly holding up the tower from toppling over. Turns out we were tourist group number 1,000,000,000,000 to do so and were awarded by the city fathers a $1 plastic replica of the tower. We were greatly honored until we found out that we were the one billionth - that day. Sic transit gloria Pisa.
And that is another Postcard from the Water. Observations on the K-Mozart cruise from Barcelona to Rome aboard the Silversea cruise line's ship the Silver Wind. I'm Rich Capparela.

Listen to the Day 5 Report - Congratulations - You're the Billionth!

Saturday, April 22 - Day 5: Poltu Quatu & Poltu Cervo, Sardinia

Packed in like.....

Sardinia. The very word conjures up...well, I guess it doesn't conjure up much of anything for most folk, does it? That is, until you've seen it. A large island off Italy's west coast, Sardinia was home to an ancient civilization now shrouded in mystery. These days it is a very fashionable resort destination for Italian mainlanders and foreign visitors alike. The landscape is one of rugged rock outcroppings meeting crystal clear waters under hopelessly blue skies.
Our ship anchored off shore a quarter mile or so and provided tenders (water taxis) to Poltu Quatu, from which we then took buses to nearby Porto Cervo. Group members Darlene and Paul Lavoie took the opportunity to hunt for a type of China they believed originated on the island. They didn't find it but seemed not the least bummed out by that. I think they were taking in the bigger picture.
Many others in our group took the guided tour of these picturesque, remote paradises which are not as old as one might think at first glance. Poltu Qualtu may look convincingly timeless, but was in fact established in 1987. As far as Porto Cervo goes, it too enjoys spectacular natural surroundings and features high end shops and cutting edge fashion. Imagine South Coast Plaza without the rich history or amazing bargains.

Last evening our resident pianist Leonora Carney gave her second and final private recital. Titled Chopin and Friends, it alternated works by the Polish master with pieces by the likes of Schubert, Grieg and Debussy. At the conclusion of Leanora's brilliant performance the crowd found itself arguing "Which was more exquisite, the Grieg Nocturne or the Debussy Claire du Lune?" Leanora, as mentioned in a previous post, is altogether approachable and charming. Our group has had the rare opportunity to get some one-on-one time with a first rate artist and get the inside dope on what it takes to become a musical pro. Quite the treat for everyone.

And that is another Postcard from the Water. Observations on the K-Mozart cruise from Barcelona to Rome aboard the Silversea cruise line's ship the Silver Wind. I'm Rich Capparela.

Listen to the Day 5 Report - Packed in like.....

Sunday, April 23 - Day 6: Sorrento, Capri & Pompeii

Panting in Capri

It is downright perfect here along Italy's west coast. Approaching the shore at Sorrento this morning was breathtaking. The town of Sorrento ends abruptly with shear cliffs plunging down several hundred feet to the Tyrrhenian sea. The high today in Sorrento is expected to reach 74 degrees under clear skies. It's been like this all week long. A large contingent of our group took advantage of a journey to the fabled Isle of Capri, some 30 minutes away - by hovercraft. Jeanie Mills made her way to the tour titled "A Taste of Sorrento." It included a visit to a typical olive oil mill. Seems that, in these, parts, if you're not growing lemons for the region's celebrated limoncello, you're making olive oil - really, really good olive oil. Maybe the best.

Another sizeable group of K-Mozart listeners took the trip to Pompeii. On the way we could see mighty Vesuvius in the distance, reminding us of that fateful day in 79 A.D. when the nearly 20,000 inhabitants of this bustling community met nature's wrath so memorably. Walter and Diana Otto were especially taken with the mind-bogglingly well preserved ruins of Pompeii. "It emits the breath of the past" Diana noted during the picturesque and thoughtful bus ride back to Sorrento.
Tonight all of us reconvened back onboard for a gala formal dinner. We all got to swap stories of our adventures in and around Sorrento, one of the most magical shorelines these eyes have ever set eyes upon.
I've got to tell you, Sorrento is as beautiful as you've heard, and Pompeii is a profoundly moving experience. Go. Just go. Work out the details later. Go.
And that is another Postcard from the Water. Observations on the K-Mozart cruise from Barcelona to Rome aboard the Silversea cruise line's ship the Silver Wind. I'm Rich Capparela.

Listen to the Day 6 Report - Panting in Capri

Monday, April 24 - Day 7: Amalfi Coast - Ravello & Positano

I Miss the 405

Today was the last full one of the tour. As a group we took a tender ride to Amalfi and from there a bus trip up a virtiguous road to the idyllic gardens of Ravello. These charming gardens were visited by Richard Wagner who, upon walking through one particular archway, declared that he had at last found the setting for the second act garden scene in his final opera Parsifal - the garden where the evil Klingsor hopes to vanquish our hero. There is, not surprisingly I suppose, a snack bar at the entrance to the garden. Its name: the Klingsor Snack Bar.

We then got back on the bus for what was supposed to be a one hour ("Maybe seventy-five minutes if traffic is not so good") drive along the celebrated Amalfi coast to nearby Positano. Things didn't work out quite that way. There was an accident - an accident on the main road. Just about two bumper-to-bumper hours later than expected we arrived in Positano - so late that we had to forgo our lunch dessert (at the restaurant Le Sireneuse - boasting a view of epically picturesque proportions) and immediately head for, not our bus, but a hastily booked boat for the trip back to Amalfi. We made it back to the Silver Wind with forty-five minutes to spare. The weather was perfect and the waters like glass. What started as a scheduling disaster turned into an amazing boat ride along one of the world's most photogenic coastlines.
Tonight is the final get together over dinner. This group has bonded so nicely. Many new friendships have sprouted along the decks of this ship. Address books being passed around, email addresses shared, last minute group photos snapped. What more could one ask for?
And that is another Postcard from the Water. Observations on the K-Mozart cruise from Barcelona to Rome aboard the Silversea cruise line's ship the Silver Wind. I'm Rich Capparela.

Listen to the Day 7 Report - I Miss the 405

Tuesday, April 25 - Day 8: Rome

Looking Back

Unlike most of our group, we are heading home today. Marcia and I take the train from the port of Civitavecchia right to Rome's Fiumicino Airport for an 11:30 morning flight home. Our group now scatters for extended stays in Rome, side trips to Venice, Florence, the Tuscan countryside and other destinations.

We've been lucky enough to do a lot of travel in our lives. This group has been one of the very best with which to travel. These K-Mozart listeners are engaged, lively and a sheer joy to be around. Many are already talking about where we can all go next. In fact there are plans for a 2007 Silversea trip that will tour either South America or the far east.

From getting to spend Easter Sunday at the Vatican with the Pope and a few hundred thousand friends, to gazing in silent awe at the aftermath of a two thousand year-old volcanic eruption, this has been a memorable trip. For now, though, we bid a fond farewell to Spain, the Principality of Monaco and Italy. We look forward to crossing paths again with members of our group and with Silversea and Coastline Travel. Thanks Dani and Dawn and all the others who helped make this a trip to remember. Congratulations all 'round on a great experience.

And that is our final Postcard from the Water. Observations on the K-Mozart cruise from Barcelona to Rome aboard the Silversea cruise line's ship the Silver Wind. I'm Rich Capparela.

Listen to the Day 8 Report - Looking Back

Silversea: Barcelona to Rome
Related Web Sites
(These links will open as new windows)

Silversea Cruises

Coastline Travel

History of Italy

Italy Maps & Other Links

Cardiff Studios Home Page