The world so far...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Well because the entire country is only about one square mile (making it the most densely populated country in the world), there really isn’t that much to see or do. We went to the Royal Palace, saw the Casino and main Cathedral, walked around the Botanical Gardens and just enjoyed the amazing weather. It seems like a great place to vacation or own property (most of the houses have ocean views as the entire city is pretty much built on hills). Not much doing though, I’d rather have spent more time in a different port, but all the same it’s nice to see. And for all the HAL people out there: yes – I did have the cast show Monte Carlo stuck in my head ALL day (Monte Carlo the excitement is in the air; no casino in Vegas or Reno ever could compare)!

Livorno, Italy

So what’s in Livorno? That I cannot answer; it is, however the gateway port to Florence, which I didn’t go to, and Pisa. Ronan and I set out to see if it is possible to push that tower to the ground. Pisa itself is beautiful, as you can tell from the pictures, and the old city is even more spectacular. La Piazza del Duomo (home to the Tower as well as the magnificent Cathedral and Baptistery) was a sight to been seen – wow, what a stupid expression, but true. The architecture is simply astounding, embellished with elaborate designs and carvings. We even got to enter the Tower and walk up the 300 or so steps to the bells at the top, which is something that only recently has been open to the public (within the past year or two). I highly recommend this area of Italy and would love to go back and do some more extensive touring at some point.

Civitavecchia, Italy

I was expecting to get into Rome for a couple hours, but by the time I was ready to go there was a train strike – a quite common occurrence in this area. Ronan, Steve and I just grabbed a pizza each at a restaurant on the boardwalk and headed back to the ship to work. Mine had “meat” on it… what kind of meat I could not tell you. Oh well, next time.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Well this is all I got to see of this supposedly gorgeous city. Because this was the first time two HAL ships, both on Grand Voyages were docked together, Head Office decided to throw an extremely lavish event for the Amsterdam and Prinsendam guests aboard our ship. What it translated to was four hours of complete open bar on Lido Deck and some of the drunkest guests I have ever seen (including some being taken away from the party in wheelchairs because they were passed out). The event itself was actually very fun: ship tours of both ships, the cocktail party and a special performance by a girls’ school choir as well as the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Piraeus, Greece

Well this wasn't the most eventful day, but a good one nonetheless. A bunch of us took the train into Athens, which conjured some very Harry Potter imagery for me. All I really had time to do was wander through the Agora - something I didn't have time to do last year. Because of it being Easter monday, pretty much all the shops outside of Athens main tourist districts were all closed (not that I wanted to get anything, but still). Athens is beautiful and full of ruins all over the city. It would be a ton of fun to truly search thrugh the city with a lot of time on hand, but alas, with only a few hours I make best with the time!

Kusadasi, Turkey

If any of you were on my email list from last year you’d know that Kusadasi was by far one of my favourite ports – nothing changed this time around! Jon had never been to Ephesus (even though he’d been to Kusadasi a ton of times), so I decided that he’d have to go. What is Ephesus you ask? It’s one of the best preserved ancient Greek cities in the world, which is why I’m so gung-ho about it. We left the ship as soon as it was cleared, nicely greeted by the morning sunrise and no guests anywhere in sight. That’s right; we left before any of the shore excursions. We actually arrived ten minutes before the gates to Ephesus opened. Needless to say, we were the first people through the gate (with only a German tour group behind us who doddled along at an extremely slow pace).

Craig’s #1 pet-peave: random people and tourists in his photos.

The amazing news is that all of my pictures have no one in them except for either Jon or me. NO ONE! If you’ve ever been to any archaeological site of interest you’d know that this is not only uncommon, it’s practically unheard of. Just a special mention on two of the pictures: the goddess on a triangular slab of stone is Nike and we were both wearing Nike shoes; and the restroom sign in the one picture reads (and this is quite self-explanatory as to why the picture is on my blog), “Only 50 cent is enough to feel the magic atmosphere.”

We randomly ran into Lori in the bazaar after returning to Kusadasi and decided to get a snack and enjoy a hot cup of Turkish apple tea (the weather now warrants long pants!!!). After ordering what we thought would be a couple small appetizers to share, they brought us each a plate of each appetizer – so much for the snack idea. It was only half way through eating that Lori mentioned she was meeting Christine for lunch in about an hours time (oh Lori). We shopped around the bazaar and I restrained myself, only buying a glass lantern for myself and the lovely Lucy. Why not eat some more? The second restaurant (with Lori, Jon and now Christine) was the main course… I love the food here. Anyway, such a great day; such an incredible time. If you can make your way to Turkey, or more specifically Kusadasi, go!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Romance on the Nile

Just nother dress-up night...