Page 8 of GregCath Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » National Capital Territory » Delhi November 11th 2009

Touch wood our travel arrangements continued to run without hitch. After some minor crowd scenes at Goa airport, we flew Air India to Delhi via Mumbai. On the climb out we could see the cove on Goa's southern river (Zuari) where Star Clipper had moored, then into the clouds before we could see much of Goa's famed northern beaches. There is no mistaking the thick pall of smoke/smog/haze/fog that hangs over these parts of India. Visibility as we flew into both Mumbai and Delhi was very poor and worse. Some people were saying the failure of this year’s monsoon had something to do with it. Nonetheless Delhi pollution is legendary. We ended up in Delhi on four occasions: after arriving from Goa (10th - 11th Nov); after our first Intrepid trip (16th - 22nd Nov) and ... read more
Food stall
Streetscape and wiring
Greg looking relaxed

Asia » India » Goa » Colva November 7th 2009

From the luxury of Star Clipper we set off into the splendid chaos of India. We had made some contacts on the ship and so the omelette chef - a Goan - arranged our accommodation for us. It was a very modest but wonderfully friendly beach side 'block of flats' called "Fisherman's" at Colva beach south of Goa. We shared a cab with another passenger, though he was headed to the other end of the luxury scale in the Ramada. At Fisherman's we were met by our Goan friend as well as host Cris Rodrigues, and then started one of those memorable Sunday sessions: drinking Kingfisher beer; eating fresh fish and squid barbequed in Goan spices; talking with Goan fishermen, a Phillipino ship's agent, and a Jamaican ship's steward. The air was hot and humid with ... read more
Fishing boats outside our flat
Newly wed with Henna decorations
Sacred cows in front of the Basilica of Bom Jesus

Oceans and Seas » Indian November 6th 2009

After a long delay we are now back on the Blog, safe and sound. The voyage from Safaga to Goa harbour took us a total of 14 days, which is certainly a long time but on the other hand, one of our lives' most interesting fortnights. In the last hour before departure from Safaga all passengers were briefed on the security threats facing the ship in the Gulf of Aden and give the opportunity of leaving then, and the option of rejoining in Goa for the rest of the crossing to Phuket. No-one took these options but it did leave us intrigued and unsettled. While we were in Luxor the crew had skirted the ship with razor wire and a 2000V electric fence. During the first 2 days of the voyage other measures were temporarily enacted ... read more
Protective measures 1
Protective measures 2
Enjoying the bow nets for the last time

Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Luxor October 24th 2009

We had a smooth crossing between Sharm El Sheikh and Safaga. Not that it mattered: we were both weary from the day's activities and the next day's excursion was to start around 6. At about 4 we took on a pilot and started maneuvering into the docks at Safaga. This is a major port for Australian wheat and alumina so you can imagine how romantic the surroundings are. Still it was a lovely sunrise and the seas were calm. Quickly to the buses and through the deserted streets. Again the coastal mountains were completely without vegetation and mostly jagged granite. The road to Luxor ran through the narrow valleys which were lush by comparison: one to two sage bushes per 50km. This changed completely as we got to the canals of the Nile and then the ... read more
Lush Nile valley
The Nile
Temple of Hatshepsut

Africa » Egypt » Red Sea » Sharm el-Sheikh October 23rd 2009

Early on 21 October the ship rose early, took on board the pilot and extra crew, and took its place in the southbound convoy for the Suez canal. It took us the whole day to transit and with this and the northbound convoy we must have seen 40 big ships using the amazingly narrow strip of water. Strange to see completely barren flat desert on the Sinai side and relatively lush oasis on the Nile side. Through the canal the boats are separated by 5 minutes but at the Bitter Lakes the southbound let the northbound convoy pass and we got to see them all. Some massive container ships. We passed under the centre of the Peace Bridge with 1.5m to spare above our main mast. The Star Clipper led the convoy out of the southern ... read more
The southbound convoy
Star Clipper's masts under the Peace Bridge
Control post

Africa » Egypt » Mediterranean » Port Said October 20th 2009

On the morning of the 19th we were effectively becalmed and mired in thick smog/fog/mist. We could see dozens of ships at anchor on the outskirts of Alexandra harbour: the crew dropped the sails and started winding the way through to the unseen harbour. On this ship you often don't know what to do first even though it is small. In this case participate in Tai Chi, enjoy another huge breakfast, listen to the historical commentary about the famous library or lighthouse of Alexandria, or watch the crew deal with the pilot and ubiquitous tugs - Greg took the tugs, Catherine took the Tai Chi. Finally into the harbour which was pretty decrepit. There were actually half-submerged hulks to one side and we wondered what mooring fees must be :). There was no mistaking our arrival ... read more
Alexander's desert
The Citadel
Greg in front of the pyramid of Cheops at Giza

Europe » Greece » South Aegean » Rhodes October 19th 2009

We set sail from Piraeus with light rain and gentle breezes. As is customary on this Line, the sails are raised to the sounds of Vangelis: its not as cheesy as it sounds particularly with this much sail! The cruise has continued with winds below 25kts and just one night anyone would regard as rough. There are currently about 120 passengers aboard and this will reduce to about 50 for the crossing. The crew and passengers come from 35 countries though passengers are primarily. Europeans, Yanks and Australians. Greg has had his hands on the wheel just once so far but more to come. The ship is reaching under 75% of its sails and about 9kts: no greyhound. Mykonos was lovely with the picturesque harbour and whitewashed houses and narrow lane ways. Particularly good because the ... read more
Greek boy washing boat
Whitewashed streets
Rhodes from the sea

Europe » Greece October 15th 2009

It was simple getting from Tirana down to Athens by plane and we had chosen a hotel we knew so we slipped easily back into town. Obviously we were quite busy on the blog today but that will be the last for a while as we sail tonight. This one comes from my Blackberry from Piraeus dock, where this cabin is moving! There were two definite highlights of the quick visit to Athens, the first being the New Acropolis museum. This is a spectacular setting for presentation of a stunning array of artifacts and they have done a great deal To make the story of the great artwork accessible to everyone. It was a wet day so this was also a convenient place to spend the day. The other highlight was a demo just outside our ... read more

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana October 15th 2009

Catherine enjoyed frankfurters for breakfast heated over a Gaz-type stove and in a 250 mL coffee pot. Such was the Ulcinj Hilton/home stay. Our cabbie was on time and we headed for the border along ever-deteriorating roads. This area really was a frontier in geography and vibe. At the frontier proper, the wind was cold, chilled by the previous night's snow! The roads actually improved in Albania though the old mercs - a legacy from Hoxha era smuggling - seem to adopt a speed mania. Our destination was Schkodra bus terminal and we soon recognised the similarity to the villages of Vietnam. It must have been a communist design thing. Getting from taxi to the Tirana bus took a second as bus touts grabbed our gear and secured our custom. We then sat for 20 mins ... read more
Wiring outside Freddy's hostel
Coloured apartments in Tirana
Kruja castle remains

Europe » Montenegro » Ulcinj October 14th 2009

The trip from Dubrovnik to Tirana was a 4 step 2 day trip along the coast of Montenegro to the Albanian border and then south to Tirana. We left Dubrovnik very conveniently by cab when the cabbie offered a good price. The Croatian coastline south of Dub was more of the same small coves and turquoise sea. This day the squalls kept coming from the south. The cabbie pointed out the lack farms or factories in southern Croatia: another sign of war. Crossing into Montenegro this cabbie was with us until Herzog Novi bus station. His nerves were on edge due to a history of antagonisms between these folks and the Dubrovniks. Travel to Albania is notoriously ill-defined through here. The first "quote" for our trip through to Albania border was €100 but we went with ... read more
island life
Montenegran village

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