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Published: September 21st 2016
I keep saying I’m going to get around to typing up another blog but then… work, sleep, eating, ya know. Life gets in the way. When I do have time – getting off the ship is a high priority. I have managed to get off the ship a few times and time is still absolutely flying by. It’s strange to think that I have actually been gone for a third of this extremely long contract. Next cruise Adina comes cruising, and by the time that cruise is over a week later I’ll be in Sydney waiting to join the Radiance.
Being on the 4-8 watch getting ashore is much easier –so I’ve been out in Sicily, Kusadasi – Turkey, and Naples as of late.
The port of Messina is just a few kilometers from the Italian mainland on the island of Sicily, and has its pier right downtown. Having a pier/cruise terminal right in the middle of the city is a huge strength so I took advantage of it for sure. The main cathedral in town has a huge live model of the solar system that is coupled with a clock which shows the day/month/year. It’s all plated in
gold leaf and is hundreds of years old. Unfortunately there isn’t much going on in the city other than a couple blocks that are catered to tourists. There was a rather cool fountain of Neptune - which wasn’t on and clearly hadn’t been tended to in a while. So it was more like a statue of Neptune, but still cool.
Kusadasi was exactly like I had imagined. Over the years I’ve had quite a few coworkers who have told me about the bazaars full of fake goods, delicious cheap food, and rugs. I wandered around for a while dodging salesman trying to sell me the same fake goods that I saw in the markets of SE Asia – watches, soccer jerseys, sunglasses, and who knows what else. I found a smaller restaurant off the beaten path that wasn’t full of tourists and had a fantastic kebab plate. I ended up chatting with the owner during the meal. Really nice guy who was very willing to chat about life in Turkey these days and how it’s effecting lots of people. Anything tourist based like Kusadasi is hurting bad. All the major cruise lines have pulled out of Kusadasi except Royal
Caribbean at the moment, which is nice for the guests on the RCL ships but rough for the locals who are so far away from any reason for people not to go there. After the fantastic meal I was sure to tip him well and then decided to go to a highly acclaimed rug store, When in Rome right? I had no idea what a rug costs but saying something like that when prices are negotiable is a bad idea. It was quite the experience discussing rugs, the styles, construction materials, dyes, and figuring out what would look good under my coffee table at my house. I felt bad when I found out the 2 rugs I liked best had $2500 and $1800 USD price tags… and that was not really within my budget.
Naples is somewhere I had been 2 years ago while the Oasis was in Europe but apparently I missed that there was a few really cool squares and cathedrals within a short walk from the ship. The Piazza Plebiscito is actually a pretty close representation of St Peters Square in the Vatican – no obelisk but either way it was pretty awesome. I ended up
walking up to St Elmo’s Castle at the top of the hill to get a great view of the city, and then my attention was turned to pizza. I had looked up online beforehand where the best pizza places in the city were, most blog posts and lists had some crossover of the top 5 and 2 of them were within walking distance. I read online that the Pizzeria Brandi has its back door open in the alley which leads to the kitchen in the mornings before the place opens. Sure enough the kitchen was in full action making dough for the days pizza and getting the oven up to temp. The stone ovens in these places are wood fired – and are somewhere between 800 and 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Baking time is no more than 90 seconds. I ended up going to Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, which started as a street food vendor and opened its doors as a pizzeria in the 1820s. It is the oldest pizzeria in the city which lays claim to the birthplace of pizza – which means it was probably the first pizzeria in the world. The pizza I had was topped with buffalo mozzarella,
tomatoes, and basil. That’s it. I’m not a big tomato fan but it was a fabulous pizza.
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