Europe Update Number 2

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September 20th 2019
Published: September 20th 2019
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Hello friends. I hope you enjoyed my last blog and that you had a few chuckles, reading about our adventures so far.

Update…I did not manage to get Noel to learn/do any dancing with me on this cruise.

Our port after Corfu was Santorini. After the calmness of Corfu it was a bit of a shock to wake up to gale force winds of about 50 knots and super choppy seas. But this beauty of a ship handled it with ease and the captain said that the water is too deep to anchor in the caldera so he was using satellite positioning to keep the ship in one place by using rudders and thrusters. I did not get off the ship in Santorini and I can tell you this baby did not move an inch!!! I was watching the shore through the same window for a couple of hours…YEP exact same view every time I looked up. Sooo clever. So I decided to be lazy and stay on board to watch a movie on the big screen and just chill for a while. We have been on the go for 2 weeks and I needed a “time out”. Plus (unless a major drama befalls us in the next year) I will be seeing Santorini next September with my family so I was not too concerned about missing this prized destination. Noel ventured up when they said that anyone without a numbered tender ticket could go ashore and he said he waited for about 3-5 minutes for the gondola ride up. He was pretty lucky because I met a couple of ladies (at the bar mind you) who told me that the gondola queue was soooo huge when they went ashore that they turned around and went straight back to the ship and sat themselves down at said bar. Noel got some great photos and wandered around for about an hour before heading back. He told me he met a couple in the gondola who told him they had been “whale watching”. He looks at them befuddled and said “but there aren’t any whales in the Mediterranean are there?” and they replied “no… the whales ON the ship”. Very cruel of them, but funny too, because they are totally correct. There are some HUUUUGGGEEE people on board. I feel thin (well thinner) against them. And they have a penchant for wearing teeny tiny bikinis…O.M.G!

Next stop was Mykonos. Gale force winds are still happening. So bad that the ship had to put away the deck chairs and tables around the pool. The actual ship is so great at handling the seas and winds that you wouldn’t know the weather isn’t great, but the wind gets up in the open areas. Some of the stairways close to the side of the ship were shut in case people got blown off the side!! Mykonos was lovely. Little narrow streets and plazas. White buildings everywhere all with different coloured doors and window trims/shutters. Pink, red, greens, blues, yellow etc. Very pretty. We saw Little Venice, the windmills and walked to a local beach that had one brave lady sunbaking in the only 2 square metres that was not being blasted by hurricane force winds and crashing waves. My dear friend Marion mentioned in a Facebook post that Mykonos is always windy in September and to try the eastern side of the island. You are correct Maz. Other people we have met, spent Euro 20 to get a cab to a beach on the other side and they said it was Heaven. WE had an excellent salad lunch in a seaside restaurant followed by a quick trip back to the ship to get the laptop so I could publish my first blog, back in town, at a different restaurant….NO we did NOT have another lunch but coffee, wine and beer WERE on the menu.

Athens was our next port of call. The Fab Four managed to locate the train station near the port, which was in a disgustingly filthy area. You would think with the massive amount of fees these cruise lines must pay to dock in these places that SOMEONE could organise a clean-up crew to keep the surrounding streets looking a bit better than the slums of Calcutta. We were displeased. We managed to negotiate the Athens railway system without any problems. In fact we were so early for the changing of the guards at Syntagma Square that we were tired of waiting by the time they finally arrived at 11 am. It was a spectacle with the military band banging away and the guards in their frilly frocks and fluffy shoes goose stepping up the plaza. Back on the train before the guard change had finished (to beat the crowds – great plan) and exited right in front of the Acropolis!!!! WOW. You see these places so many times in your life, in books and movies or on travel posters etc. but it doesn’t prepare you for seeing it in real life. It felt like we were walking “IN” history. To see something so old and so damaged over the years…2 or 3,000 of them and still standing in all its glory, is just a bit incredible. There were thousands of people climbing all over the Parthenon and Acropolis. I still don’t get why some people can’t see the hundreds of others queued up behind them while they pose for the perfect photo. “HELLO!!?? Can you just move OFF the path you dumb arse?” A moment in history was followed by Deb finally getting her wish and we ate moussaka and Greek salad IN Greece.

Now we have been to some pretty amazing places already on this trip but I would have to agree with Angela, David, Julie and Josie that Taormina in Sicily is just divine. Beautiful, clean streets. Lovely shops. Pretty flowers everywhere. Magnificent views down the coastline. We were even serenaded by a two piece band while enjoying lunch and watching the thousands of tourists go by. I could easily have stayed there many more days just soaking up the ambiance. We took the cable car down to the beach which was nice but were then disappointed to find out when we left, that we were only 200 metres away from the most beautiful of beaches, in a bay with Isola Bella (beautiful island) at its centre. Missed it by that much! Oh well… time.

On our way up the coast last night, we saw the Stromboli volcano off in the distance. It was pitch black and then a bright orange/red glow from the top of the volcano would light up the blackness. These blasts would last a few seconds and then disappear until the next a few minutes later. Today we docked in Naples. Another disgustingly filthy port area. Graffiti is everywhere. The traffic does not care what colour the traffic lights are and they are not concerned if they hit you. In fact we actually saw the after effects of an incident while walking to the train. Some poor guy hobbling along with one shoe and sock off and his trouser leg rolled up. Deb had been told by people that Naples is “beautiful” and their “favourite place”. Well they must be blind because we didn’t see anything worth coming back for…except Sorrento. Yes, we escaped the dingy city and headed on the train to beautiful Sorrento. Very much like Taormina. We spontaneously decided to go on a 2 hour boat ride to see the coastline and swim with the fishies in a lovely bay. The Mediterranean waters are the bluest of blues. Just magnificent. This was a wonderful trip….until I threw up about 100 metres from the disembarkation point at the end of 2 hours. Well THAT was a downer… but only for 5 minutes. We finished the night off with a fantastic show on board called Legends in Concert with impersonators singing Elton John, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson songs. It was fabulous.

I’m all caught up with our news so I will post this blog on Friday when we get settled into our Rome apartment. Tomorrow is our last day on the cruise and we are training it again to Lucca and Pisa. Photos to come.

Love to everyone. Take care. xxx


20th September 2019

Greek drama
Hi Margaret and Noel. Sounds like those Greek wind gods were being fickle which is a pity because I think Santorini is a really stunning spot. Glad Taormina was more enjoyable. Everyone is OK back here (at least as far as we know). Continue to enjoy. Paul and Kim

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