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About chefestelle

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  1. Wow! Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  2. [emoji23][emoji23][emoji23] Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  3. I finished all three Miss Peerigrine's School For Peculiar Children Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  4. We got in too late to eat, fell into bed, got up the next morning for a 4 hour round trip to pick someone up, and came home to BBQ 'd chicken skewers made into souvlaki with watermelon salad and foil bbq'd potatoes! Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  5. I didn't spend much time onshore in Albania. It looked pretty desperate. It will be a lovely place one day! Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  6. Oh I've heard Crete is worth exploring and I can't assess a place on one day. I was just taken aback when I compared it to the other stops. The people were lovely, the food was good and the shopping was the best. Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  7. I'm glad it triggered memories. Having done it once this way, there are many changes I would make next time. There would be a lot more DIY. I don't regret most of the tours because I haven't been to Greece before but I could easily do these ports on my own. It was a really lovely holiday! Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  8. Our last sea day and we were very lazy! DD got a manicure, I wandered the ship looking at photos, sale items and the like. Then we finished packing and snoozed on our deck. We made the mistake of having room service lunch instead of the lido because the MDR was closed. Ugh. DD's pasta was cold and my salmon had that texture of fish kept too long... Oh well, it's not as though we starved this trip! Such a relaxing day, though! Dinner was really nice in the MDR. The food left a bit to be desired selection wise but tasted good. I had the Italian wedding soup and duck, DD had the Asian crab cakes and Chana masala. We were each treated to a Venetian style mask. The crew came marching through to napkin waving and one of them sang a song for safe journeys. A fun touch. It was movie night after that for us and an early to bed once the suitcases were put outside. One more day in Venice... Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  9. Thanks silvertogold! I've been pondering doing just that! July 27: Argostoli. This was a stop I was so keenly interested in that I prepared myself by walking 148 stairs several times a week relatively diligently since January. I live 200 winding feet above the bottom of these stairs. Each morning that I did this exercise, I walked down the hill to the top of the stairs, walked down the 148 stairs and then walked back up the stairs and the hill to my house (about 22 flights worth of climbing). It was really hard at first. I took my dog (she's 65 pounds of energy and power) and one time she pulled me over on the stairs. She smelled something interesting and shot back up the stairs. Sometimes she reminds me of that dog on Up! "Squirrel!" I had to rest my ribs for a couple of days after and I had a really colourful bruise on my hip. I only hope I'm as active as her when I'm the human age of 63! It turns out those stairs were going to prepare me well for the whole trip. Anyway, to what end this torture? To do the 165 stairs down into the Drogarati Caves! I am mildly claustrophobic and particularly do not like dark closed spaces. However, I read that Maria Callas had performed there so I knew that it wouldn't be completely dark, it wouldn't be small and, if I practised, I could do 165 stairs... I also really wanted to see Melissani Lake even though I had read that the boat tours across the lake were short and unsatisfying. Going in prepared tends to ward off disappointment. So every day that I did those stairs, I told myself 165 stairs at Drogarati, 600 stairs at Santorini, 250 stairs to the Acropolis... We opted for a tour that covered both sites (and sights!) without the shopping plug. Not that I have anything against shopping, mind you! It's a favourite pastime! It's just not top of my list when I'm focusing on something else. We had an amusing ex-pat British guide who told funny anecdotes and gave lots of interesting history. He's retired. He and his wife moved to the island in 2002 when he took retirement. He seems genuinely content. Who wouldn't be? Sometimes he would start telling stories and then break off like Antonio Banderas doing puss-in-boots in the shrek movies. All you had to do was dangle a distraction in front of him and he lost his train of thought. In the guide's case, it was usually anything on the road. We stopped at a lookout point first. It was high above Myrtos Beach. Stunningly beautiful, I couldn't help but take a few pictures. However, DD and I agreed that it would have been far better to be on one of the sailboats far below us, dipping into the sea and having our pictures taken by hot, sweaty tourists far above us. Turns out Myrtos is yet another one of those beaches with no sand but sharp shale. According to Keith, the guide, that is. I wonder if Greece has any sandy beaches. Something to research when we get home. Melissani Lake was shaping up to be a disappointment in the beginning. A hot, steamy line up wound its way along for a good half hour wait. Our tickets were included in our excursion but would have been 7€ each. I was beginning to regret the excursion when we finally got under the cover of a cave opening (and into its cool embrace). The wait was not much longer after that. There were only a few steps down and then an outdoor carpeted path led to the dock. You step onto the bow of the boat and snug onto the seats around it. The oarsman was really friendly. He took pictures of everyone with their own cameras. He won't be giving up his day job to be a photographer, but it was fun. He then rowed us across the lake, explaining a thing or two (reports that they speak no English are entirely wrong). Then he and the other two oarsmen started singing back and forth, even doing their version of a Gregorian chant in the cavernous turn around. We were well entertained and it brought home the impact of the acoustics and striking beauty of the setting. Yes, it is short. Yes, I wouldn't have minded staying longer. But it was worth seeing and I'm glad I went. I ate a sausage roll (quite hilariously, this is a hot dog in pastry) at the gift shop/ refreshment stand and didn't suffer for it. The next stop was Drogarati Caves. I didn't catch the price if we hadn't had it in our excursion. I'm sure it's comparable to the Lake. This was much more free flowing. You simply walk in and start down the narrow steps. It is dark, narrow and damp. The stairs are wet. The ground is slippery. You have to take caution. But the caves are beautiful! And the walk back up those stairs was easier than the stairs at home. I was red faced and puffing a bit but it was nothing like that preparatory climb I did daily. I'm going to research the height of the stairs at the cave once home. I suspect it was the incline that made the difference. We had time for Breezer refreshments before boarding our bus for the ride back. So I'm not fit. I can do it. You can do it. Mobility challenged people would not have an easy time of it. And neither location is what I would consider wheelchair accessible. These were both well worth the visit. I didn't enjoy the bus ride except for the overview of its history. There was some real tragedy and horror there. And some heartwarming stories too. The ride, though, was long, slow and tedious. Kefalonia is a large island and it looks like there are some decent places to stay -especially near Myrtos Beach. I'd fit this in to a Greek wander if I could. We had a nice dinner in the Pinnacle afterward (DD had the mushroom ravioli and I had the petite filet mignon - both were delicious. We shared a cheese plate which they just made bigger) and then retired to our room to watch a movie, then sat our on our deck to watch a blazing sunset. A really good day... Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  10. I forgot the shuttles were mandatory. That would be annoying if I were on the oosterdam as it was fairly close. Eurodam was far enough away to make me grateful for them! Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  11. We saw your ship, Wehwalt! I do hope you like Heraklion more than we did! But it wasn't too bad... July 26 - Heraklion, Crete was our last port replacement. I'll sort this by the good, the bad and the ugly. The good was: it's Greece! There was a lovely breeze this morning. We were docked quite far from the port terminal so HAL provided free shuttles. They ran all day and quite frequently. Once we got off the hoho, which I will come to under the bad, we were in a pedestrian shopping area, which was a breath of fresh air. The whole area had all ranges of shops and the prices were quite reasonable compared to our other shops. We had a lovely, no-pressure time exploring shops and lane ways. We also deduced that gyros can't actually be a Greek dish because in all our stops we only ever saw them advertised in tourist enclaves. When we finally found one restaurant in Heraklion that served them, it was completely deconstructed. This little restaurant was quite a delight. After our lunch was finished, we were treated to raki (took me back to Turkey) and a volcano cake that rivals any I have ever tried before. Body for the squad, I managed to get my raki down as well as a bit of DD's so the owner would not be insulted. Anyway, we then traipsed down to the port, hopped on a shuttle and were welcomed by the soothing embrace of our ship's a/c. It was sweltering by the time we got back! The bad was everything about the hop on hop off (except that it offered an excellent audio tour in 12 languages). We had been planning to walk to the city centre from the port because we read that it was just a pleasant 15 minute walk. When we got outside at the start of the really helpful yellow line that guides the way, we saw the hoho. It was only 15€ each and would do the route of all the things to see in Heraklion in an hour. It sounded like just the thing to do. DONT DO IT! The traffic is hideous and way too much of the trip is in broken down resi-commercial areas with no stops and nothing to get out for anyway. By the time we got to the stop at the top end of the pedestrian shopping area, we were truly fed up. I'm sure if you wanted to see a sight or sights you would be way more comfortable taking a cab. The ugly is the broken down buildings, crowded streets and prolific graffiti. Such a gorgeous setting and then you see this. I think, apart from the oasis of the pedestrian shopping area (heretofore an oxymoron in my world) Heraklion was our least favourite place. We had a gala night tonight. I got to wear my new dress and we went to a sitting featuring a Le Cirque menu. The amuse bouche was foie gras with rhubarb something or other. Now, I love foie gras but I was paralyzed about what to do about DD. She asked what it was and I said goose liver. She decided to try a wee taste. As her face screwed up, she said "you know what a liver does, right?" And then, after a pause, she said "wait, isn't this when they put tubes down the throat of the geese and force feed them?" I nodded. And then even I couldn't finish the delight... The rest of the dinner was very nice, though! I had the escargot, the chateaubriand and the strawberry pavlova. DD had the deconstructed Caesar salad, sea bass and strawberry pavlova. Absolutely lovely dinner! We are now watching the sea go by having stopped briefly on the Seaview to grab a beverage and enjoy the view from there... Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  12. Yay! I'm finally in the internet again! And thank you everyone. I'm so glad you are enjoying my little journal! July 25: Santorini. This is a place we already planned to return to on a longer visit. Santorini was supposed to be tomorrow but the date was changed to escape the hordes now anticipated to be there at the same time (30,000 passengers). The best part of that news, aside from the joy of less masses, is that we would be there at sunset! All aboard is 9:30. When we discussed what we thought we would like to do here, we knew there were certain things we could cross off for this too-short stay: donkey rides and vineyards. I had wanted to take a transfer to Oia and back. DD wanted to spend the day on the beach. The beach won. A day of rest in the sun seemed too good to pass up! The transfer process was once again very easy. The tender boats were the biggest yet and we hopped up to the top deck for the ride. It was deliciously breezy. We were transported to the new port to board our bus to Perissa Beach. Though a beach transfer does not come with a guided tour, Lena obliged anyway. She was a complete gem, telling us humorous guiding stories and anecdotes about the island. We learned so much from her excellent delivery. Tourism is obviously the main industry on Santorini and wine is the second place one. However, they also grow capers, cherry tomatoes and a vegetable whose name I have forgotten. I will look it up later when I can get Internet to work again. This is the first time I have absolutely not been able to get into it. They also make a softer, creamier feta here. I enjoy the creamier ones at home too. Unfortunately, we moved too fast to catch any details of what you could rent or do on your own. Also, I think only excursions are taken to the new port. Everyone else is delivered to the old port at the base of the tram and donkey stairs. The beach was marvellous. We stayed at the Demilmar beach. The beds were included in our transfer price and the drinks/food were very reasonable. I had a Santorinian Greek Salad, DD had the saganaki and we shared a chicken souvlaki for 29€. It was a very generous portion of everything. We stayed at the beach for three hours and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The sand is black which was the attraction to DD. The wind blew a gentle breeze the whole time but gusted hard enough to toss you in the waves and blow dust around. The water was a bit cooler than Mykonos but was very refreshing after lying in the sun. Had we wanted to, we could have wandered off to explore nearby shops. There were plenty of the usual tourist ones near the big white church. Santorini also exports pumice so perhaps we could have bought some from there. On our return to the port, we wandered the shops, bought a few things and stopped for a refreshment at Idol, a cliff top restaurant overlooking the harbour. The view was spectacular! The plan had been to walk the stairs back down because we expected the tram line to be too long and wanted to maximize our time in town (when we were departing in the afternoon instead of evening). MeHeartCruising posted a great video showing the trip down. As it happened, there were only three passenger vessels in the harbour. One was a very small sailing ship, another was a very small Celebrity ship, and then there was us. The only lineup to get down was if you just missed the tram. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the walk, considering how ripe those stairs smelled from so far away! The tram is 5€ each way. Each of the six cabs holds six people. They are small and stuffy. The air doesn't move until the tram does. Even so, it gets going pretty quickly and you are soon on your way with even more spectacular views. Once at the bottom, there were lots of shops, stalls and drinks places. There were plenty of,signs offering speedboat transfers to Oia that would only take 15 minutes. Some offered at transfer back to Thira. I believe that was Blueline Tours. Tender back was also quick and easy. I imagine the lines get longer as the all aboard time nears. Dinner at Tamarind rounded out our day. It is our last meal in this fabulous restaurant. I had the Jewels of the Sea soup and the wok fried garlic lobster. DD had the chicken rice soup again and the vegetable tempura. It was a LOT of tempura. We both enjoyed the trio of sorbets which were green tea, wasabi and I think passionfruit. The last one had herbs in it so it was hard to tell which fruit it was. We retired to our deck to catch our front row view of the sunset. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. If you were on the starboard side of the ship, there was a sunset drink special and treats on the Seaview deck. Sunset for everyone! Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  13. It has been interesting. I'm not regretting their choices at all. We knew about the Istanbul cancellation I think about three days ahead of the embarkation. It was the same morning as the attempted coup but before the coup started. The reason stated was the airport attack. I found out about Albania while I was in line at guest services to break down some bills on embarkation day. That was because of the coup attempt and resulting state of emergency. I am disappointed because I loved what I saw of turkey years ago but I'm sure the Turks have bigger problems than my disappointments. And the replacement itinerary has been marvellous. We are in Greece, after all... Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  14. Oh how wonderful TcMagnum! You will love it. I'm sure Turkey will be back on the agenda by then! July 24 - Rhodes was our next replacement port. We had resolved to rest our skin and to have a reading day. It was already quite hot by the time we got up around 7:30. The sun was directly on our deck for the first time this trip. Looking out, we could tell there was not much to access easily from walking off the ship. The fortress walls are in good shape and are interesting to look at. We did this from deck 10 after breakfast. Breakfast was the best to date because we had it in the MDR. The food was hot, made to order and came relatively quickly. Definitely the way to go if you are not on a schedule! DD decided to try out the ship gym. she says it's fine. I packed a bit, booked her a manicure for sea day and then retired to a shaded lounge chair on the lido to write my updates and drink English breakfast tea in the sultry breeze. The whole day was spent reading, dozing, dining (breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner) and resting some more. We could see as we sailed away from Rhodes that there are many coastal communities along the shore that look like they have hotels to offer those staying longer. They would be fabulous places to launch daily jaunts or trips to the beach. I can't say that Rhodes is on our return list because we didn't explore any of it. But it sure isn't on our no way list. Perhaps it would be part of that Greek saunter I foresee. We had a fabulous dinner at the Tamarind again. We have our last night there tomorrow night. It's our favourite spot on board. DD had the spring rolls and udon stir fry. I had the short ribs and lamb. It was superb. For dessert, we both ordered the chocolate fortune cookie. Omigosh! It is HUGE, sweet and impossible... Back to the deck to enjoy some green tea and watch the seabirds, the sunset and the sea. Sadly, the family next door was having a bit of a family issue so we were driven inside. I'll go back out once it's had time to run its course. Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
  15. We were due in to Istanbul on HAL on the 22nd I think it was. Then Kusadasi on the 24th. Just popping in to let folks know both ports were cancelled and the itinerary completely shaken up to add Saranda Albania and the Greek ports Mykonos, Rhodes and Iraklion. Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app
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