Holland America (HAL) TOUR:
St. Paul de Vence and Scenic Drive
DURATION: Approximately 4 hours (2pm-6pm)
PRICE: $43 Adult; $22 Child; plus $149 Field-Trip price
Depart Monaco on the Middle Corniche road that winds along the coast as far as Nice, where you will drive through town, passing the famous Promenade des Anglais. Now, you head inland to St Paul de Vence-a medieval city with an imposing silhouette. Perched high upon an escarpment, St Paul de Vence is the quintessential fortified town of Provence, and its ramparts are still amazingly intact. Painters such as Modigliani, Signac and Soutine met at a local café which has since become the sumptuous Colombe d'Or. Return to Monte Carlo via the freeway.
BILL DURRENCE'S COMMENTS: St. Paul de Vence has been called, "The most beautiful village in the world." If it's not #1 then it is certainly in the top 10. Built on a rocky outcrop with 300 days of sunshine a year, the village has attracted artists for centuries. Today a trip to the city is not complete without a visit to the Maeght Foundation, a private foundation with a substantial 20th Century art collection. We will not only photograph the city, but in a visit to the Maeght look for interesting ways to photograph art in the landscape, going beyond a simple documentation of the piece. (Museum entry fees not included.)
HAL TOUR: Transfer to Florence
DURATION: Approximately 9.5 hours (7am departure)
This transfer is intended for those who would like to explore Florence on their own. It consists of a 1-1/2 hour motorcoach ride from the ship to the city center. You will be dropped off at a central location, and your escort will advise you of the pick-up time for the return journey. You will have approximately five hours to shop and explore on your own.
HAL NOTES: Guide service, taxi transfers, entrance fees and lunch are not included in the transfer price. It will be your responsibility to be at the drop-off point at the given return time.
BILL'S COMMENTS: The heart of the Renaissance where the Medicis practiced politics with poison, and a young artist named Michelangelo was given a piece of marble rejected by a more "successful" artist of the day, in which he discovered "David." Florence is where Brunelleschi reinvented architecture to create the largest dome of the time, which would be the inspiration for Michelangelo's dome on St. Peter's. (Read "Brunelleschi's Dome" by Ross King.) (Museum entry fees not included.)
HAL TOUR: Gaudi's Barcelona
(HAL describes this as "strenuous activity")
DURATION: Approximately 4 hours (8:30am departure)
PRICE: $46 Adult; $23 Child; plus $149 Field-Trip price
For a general introduction to the history of Barcelona, your coach travels through the Barceloneta fishing quarter, up Colon Avenue, and past the Columbus monument. You will enter the upper Eixample area where the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) Church is located. Take photos of this marvelous structure, unique in both artistic and architectural form. Outside and inside, your guide will show you the church-the most famous of all Gaudí's creations. Continue driving to Güell Park, just 15 minutes away. The park is a unique representation of Gaudí's imagination and work. Return to the city along the Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona's widest avenue, with many Modernist buildings designed by Gaudí and other important architects of the time. A stop will be made at La Pedrera, also known as Casa Milá, to enjoy from outside one of the masterpieces of Gaudi's art. End your tour with an understanding of the special relationship between Gaudí, the architect, and the city.
HAL TOUR: Caves of Drach
DURATION: Approximately 5 hours (10am departure)
PRICE: $49 Adult; $25 Child; plus $149 Field-Trip price
A fascinating blend of scenery, history and geology, this tour leaves Palma by motorcoach, passing through the old harbor town of Porto Cristo, founded in the Middle Ages. Nearby are the Caves of Drach — a series of mysterious caverns that hide the world's largest underground lake. The play of shadow and light on the caves' walls create fascinating abstract images. You will stop in Manacor, famous for its olive wood and cultured pearl inlaid furniture industry, with time to browse at the pearl factory. The return motorcoach ride is across the island's fertile plains, through many typically picturesque farming communities.
HAL NOTES: Considerable walking and stair-climbing is involved. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
BILL'S COMMENTS: We will use the play of light and shadow on the unusual landscape as a starting point for making abstract photographs, with a little side trip into a philosophical discussion about my contention that all photographs are ultimately abstract, and that working with "non-objective" imaging can make you a better photographer of more traditional compositions.
HAL TOUR: Sidi Bou Said & Carthage
DURATION: Approximately 4 hours (7am departure)
PRICE: $29 Adult; $15 Child; plus $149 Field-Trip price
Tour along the coast to the picturesque village of Sidi Bou Saidan artist's paradise, with blue and white sugar-cube houses scattered across the hillside above the sea. There will be ample time to stroll and admire the typical architecture and local handicrafts, or to relax over some refreshing mint tea. Just down the hill lie the impressive ruins of Carthage, founded in 800BC by the Phoenicians. It was from here that Hannibal began his legendary journey. The Romans destroyed and rebuilt Carthage in 146BC, and it became the Roman Empire's second city after Rome. View the impressive Baths of Antonius Pius and the amphitheatre, as well as the Punic ports during your visit to the ruins.
BILL'S COMMENTS: Geography is Destiny. Here we will explore landscape photography with an eye to history.
HAL TOUR: Panoramic Palermo
DURATION: Approximately 3 hours (9am departure)
PRICE: $44 Adult; $22 Child; plus $149 Field-Trip price
This motorcoach tour features the best of Palermo's sights at a relaxed pace. Begin with a drive to the central part of town. Highlights you will see include the Norman Palace, which began life in the Saracen period, but was altered by the Norman kings. See the magnificent cathedral, built in the 12th century by an archbishop, and transformed into a mosque after the Muslim era. Housing six royal tombs, the basilica was restored to the hands of Christianity by the Normans. The remains of Palermo's protector, St Rosalia, are stored in the chapel, in an urn of pure silver. Watch for the notable landmarks of the Massimo Theatre and the Felice Gate, and the thoroughfare of Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Marina Square is a favorite gathering spot amid the Garibaldi Gardens, and you will see Mondello with a stop at the main square on the way back to the port.
BILL'S COMMENTS: So many landscapes are wide/tall and narrow that a traditional wide angle shot of the scene reduces much detail to invisibility while recording a lot of sky or other unwanted blank space. Shooting a series of detailed photos to be stitched together later to record all that information is what we will work on here.
HAL TOUR: Sorrento & Pompeii
DURATION: Approximately 8 hours (7am departure)
PRICE: $114 Adult; $57 Child; plus $149 Field-Trip price
A one-hour drive brings you to Sorrento, brimming with character and picturesque streets. Woodwork, furniture, embroidery, mosaics and porcelain can be found here. A typical Italian lunch will be served in Sorrento. At the foot of Mt Vesuvius, walk through the remarkable ruins of Pompeii-widely considered by archaeologists to be the finest example of an ancient Roman town. With the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79, the excavated city was buried beneath tons of ash and lava. Tour Pompeii on foot, passing baths, theaters, temples, markets, and forums.
BILL'S COMMENTS: Awareness of Life and Death is a part of all our lives. In this field trip we will contrast the vibrancy of Sorrento with the ruins of Pompeii, a city that would certainly have been as lively in its day as the Sorrento we experience, reminding us of the transience of all things. We will look at capturing mood and setting a tone in photographs. Carpe Diem!