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Libby1787

Back from the Splendour of the Seas - Review and Photos

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My husband and our families just got back from a cruise to the Greek isles on the Splendour of the Seas and we all had an amazing time. Prior to sailing, I used Cruise Critic as a planning resource and learned so much from various member's reviews, so I wanted to share my experience with everyone and hopefully be of help to those who are planning a trip or leaving shortly for their cruise. We really wouldn't have had such a great time if it weren't for those members that took the time to share their experience and travel tips, so thank you to all of you.

 

Ok, moving on now, the reason that our trip came about was that my husband and I wanted to celebrate our first year anniversary by going on a cruise to Greece, so we invited our parents and our sisters to join us - the more, the merrier! Due to all of our schedules, we chose to depart from Venice at 10/20/12 on the Splendour of the Seas for a week trip to the Greek isles (Bari, Corfu, Mykonos, Athens, and Dubrovnik).

 

My husband and I arrived in Venice on 10/17/12 after a long flight from California. We landed at Marco Polo airport and took the ACTV Line 1 Shuttle (you can purchase tickets at the manned ticket booth or at the machine in the baggage claim area) to Piazzale Roma. We chose this way of transportation based on price. The cost was 6 euros/pp. There is also the Line 5 Shuttle, which costs the same, but it makes many stops along the way to Piazzale Roma and it looked more like a regular city bus (my first thought was where do I put my luggage?). The Line 1 Shuttle is direct to Piazzale Roma and you could put your luggage below the bus so you didn't have to haul it on.

 

We arrived at Piazzale Roma in about 20 minutes and this is where we got our first glimpse of the Venetian canals. It was very exciting! The best part about it was the weather. There were rain storms prior to us arriving, and even right after we left, but we had excellent weather during our stay - clear skies in the high 60's.

 

Our B&B was located in the San Polo neighborhood, so we had to take the water bus (vaporetto) from Piazzale Roma to our stop, San Silvestro. To get there, we took Line 1. The cost was 7 euros/pp and we had actually purchased these tickets at the airport when we bought our shuttle tickets. The water bus station is clearly marked, so just head for the water after you get off the shuttle and you will see all of the different waiting areas for the different lines. You will need to validate your tickets prior to getting on the water bus and the machines are located right before you walk into the floating waiting area (if you don't and they check your ticket, it's some crazy fee like 50 euros). Fortunately, it was still early (around 10am) and the water bus wasn't too crowded. My luggage was pretty heavy, but I only needed to pick it up while I got on board. There was plenty of room to store your luggage, and we chose to stand with it instead of grabbing a seat.

 

It took about 20 minutes to get from Piazzale Roma to San Silvestro (one stop after the Rialto Bridge stop), but I didn't mind at all. It was a gorgeous ride and it was such a nice way to enter the city. The Grand Canal is beautiful.

 

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[On the the water bus heading to San Silvestro]

 

After exiting the water bus, we only had a short walk (3-5 minutes) until we arrived at our B&B (and we only took a wrong turn once!). The best part about our walk was that there were no stairs or bridges to travel over with our luggage - woohoo! My husband and I chose to stay at You & Me B&B based on the reviews we read on Trip Advisor and we were so happy with our decision. The B&B is owned by a lovely lady named Stefania who greeted us at the door. There are three rooms, all of which look like great choices. We stayed in the Tosca room. The location is wonderful. The Rialto Bridge is about a 5-10 minute walk (depending on how much window shopping you do along the way) and St. Mark’s Square is about a 20 minute walk. It is located above a small but busy walkway with a bunch of shops and eateries. The breakfast was delicious. There was a selection of cereals, pastries, and snacks and the fridge was full of fresh fruit, juice, yogurt, water etc. that was available to us all day. Overall, I would highly recommend You & Me.

 

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[The Tosca room]

 

We had 2 1/2 days to enjoy the sights of Venice and that's exactly what we did. I have to say that I fell in love with Venice. After hitting the major landmarks, we stepped off the beaten path and strolled through local neighborhoods and had a blast just walking all over the city. We only took the water bus when we first arrived and when we left to get to the cruise terminal. I personally think that Venice is a city that should be explored by foot. As most people say, it's all about getting lost in Venice.

 

We noticed some slight flooding in St. Mark's Square, but not enough for them to put up the walking planks. I'm sure our experience would have been different if it was raining and/or flooded.

 

The main sights we took in were the Rialto Bridge, the Rialto market and fish market, St. Mark's Square, the Basilica, the Campanile (we went to the top and it was well worth it! I'm blanking on the price, but I think it was 8 euros/pp), the Bridge of Sighs, and the Doge's Palace. We also took a gondola ride, which I think is something you sort of have to do when you visit Venice. I probably wouldn't do it again, just because of the steep price (we did one that started in the small canals and it cost us 100 euros for 5 people). Other than that, we had a great time walking all over. We didn't travel to the outlying islands, just because of time, but if we ever go back, we'll make sure to do so.

 

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[Rialto Bridge]

 

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[At the top of the bell tower overlooking St. Mark's Square]

 

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[Overlooking beautiful Venice]

 

Now to get to the important stuff: Food! My husband and I love pizza, and this city does not skimp on the pizza. We ate pizza from two different places and both we excellent. The first was near our B&B called Antico Forno. We each ordered a slice (margerita for me, pepperoni for him) and a soda and it was pretty cheap. Delicious too! The second place was located near a school in some local neighborhood. We saw a bunch of the students eating there on their lunch break, so we figured it was a good spot. It definitely was! Both of these pizzerias did not have seating inside, so we took it to go and sat next to the Grand Canal. For our first night, we ate dinner at Antica Birraria La Corte, located just a few minutes from our B&B in San Polo. We sat outside and had a great meal. We ordered a pizza (go figure) and caprese salad with house wine. It looked like locals were eating here, but I'm sure they get their fair share of tourists. The next night, we joined up with my husband's family and ate dinner at their hotel's restaurant, called The Malibran Restaurant. I ordered gnocchi in a creamy tomato sauce which was wonderful, but super rich. Everyone else enjoyed their dishes as well. My sister-in-law got a pizza with fries on it! Too funny. We had plenty of wine and dessert there as well. The waitstaff was also very friendly and accommodating.

 

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[Pizza on the Grand Canal]

 

On Saturday morning, it was time for us to pack up and take the water bus back to Piazzale Roma so we could catch the people mover to the cruise terminal. I will continue my review on our embarkation process and our first thoughts on the Splendour of the Seas in a day or so, but for now it's time for me to get back to work! Ciao!

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Day 1: After arriving back at Piazzale Roma, I knew we had to take the People Mover to the cruise terminal (thank you cruise critics!), so once we unloaded from the water bus, we looked for the giant building with the People Mover sign. It was a quick walk over to the entrance, which looked almost like a driveway into a large parking structure. There were automated ticket machines which were very easy to figure out. The cost was 1 euro per person. Fortunately, there was an escalator to the top of the platform, so I didn't have to haul my luggage up the stairs (there's also an elevator). Once we were on the platform, we could get a good view of our cruise ship, the beautiful Splendour of the Seas. It was very exciting! After the quick trip over to the 'Maritime' stop, we exited the People Mover (BTW, the People Mover has three stops, Piazzale Roma, Maritime, and Tronchetto - all cruise ship passengers will want to get off at Maritime).

 

As we were getting off, we noticed that we were still pretty far from the terminal, or really any kind of building. But alas, there was a shuttle bus that drove us to the entrance of the terminal, for free. I believe this was operated by Royal Caribbean, but I'm not too sure. I talked with my mom later who boarded earlier than me and my husband, and she said they didn't see any shuttle, so they had to walk with their luggage to the terminal (probably a 10 minute walk). It all wasn't too clear, but everyone else was using the shuttle, so we figured why not. Luckily, we ended up in the right place!

 

Right as we grabbed our luggage off the shuttle bus, there were RC workers checking our luggage so we didn't need to walk into the terminal with everything. This appeared a bit unorganized, but once we saw the tags with the correct room number wrapped around our luggage, we felt a bit better. From there, we walked into the terminal and got in line to check in, but a helpful receptionist called us over immediately. Check in took a total of 5 minutes and we then proceeded to the security line. My travel agent told me before we left that we were allowed to bring one bottle of wine on the ship in Venice, but after that, they would confiscate all alcohol and return it to you the night before leaving. So, my husband and I tested this rule - and it worked! I figure that's the best piece of advice for everyone out there :-)

 

After security, we finally boarded the ship! We immediately went to our room and boy, were we surprised. First of all, my husband's parents had the room decorated because of our anniversary -very sweet. Second, our room was huge! Way bigger than expected. It was room 7066 on deck 7. And best of all, we had floor to ceiling windows. Wow! It was incredible. Next door, our sisters also had floor to ceiling windows, but not the entire width of the room like ours. Our parents' rooms were down the hall and they both had balcony rooms (rooms 7028 and 7026). They were definitely smaller in width than our room, but they had the balcony, which was a nice extra space. We also enjoyed being on Deck 7 because we were close to everything. The Windjammer and Park Cafe were on Deck 9 and our dining room was on Deck 5, so it was easy to use the stairs.

 

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[Our room, 7066]

 

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[Our room, 7066]

 

After scoping out the rooms, it was off to the Windjammer for lunch. By this time, it was around 1:30pm, but luckily it wasn't too crowded. I personally thought there was a large selection for lunch. The best part was the drink selection. We knew we weren't going to buy the soda package because we don't drink soda, so I was curious to find out what drinks were available for free. We were pleasantly surprised! We had the choice of iced tea, water, coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, lemonade, fruit punch, apple juice, and orange juice. I thought this was very generous. I was expecting just water and maybe iced tea.

 

For the rest of the day, we explored the ship and waved goodbye to foggy Venice. It was sad to say goodbye to Venice because we had a wonderful time there, but we were also eager to start our cruise.

 

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[saying goodbye to Venice]

 

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[Foggy St. Mark's Square]

 

I do have to make a note here about the appearance of the ship. The Splendour looked incredible. The newly remodeled centrum, the updated rooms (new linens, drapes, and bathroom countertop) and the addition of the Park Cafe and Hot Dog stand (which my husband frequented often) were all noticed and appreciated. Everything was spotless. They also had antibacterial pumps located at the entrances of every place that served food, which was also appreciated.

 

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[Centrum]

 

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[Pool area]

 

I will comment on the cruise/activity directors in my next post, and our first port, Bari, Italy! Ciao!!

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I can not believe you came along today with this , I leave on the 17th, you said (Next door, our sisters also had floor to ceiling windows, but not the entire width of the room like ours), was that cabin 7068, if it is that is the cabin I have, do you have a picture of it, thanks you so much for this Thread, cant wait to real more and see you pictures.

 

Ron

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Thanks for the beautiful pictures and review so far. The Splendour is our favorite RCL ship. Loved the crew and had the best cruise ever on her. Hope the rest is wonderful for you two. Happy Anniversary!!!:)

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Great pics. Looking forward to the rest especially since my SIL, BIL, niece and respective other half were on board with you.

 

Thanks for sharing. :)

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We are sailing on the Splendour in May and I am so glad I came across this. Thank you for taking the time to write your review and Happy Anniversary!

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Hi Ron! Yes! My sisters were in room 7068! What are the chances? I don't have a picture of the room, but I asked my sister-in-law for one, so if she has one, I'll be sure to post it. I did spend a lot of time in there, so I will tell you that it is a little bit smaller than 7066, in width, but not by much. The window takes up a little less than half of the wall, whereas it takes up the entire wall in 7066. If you look at the picture of 7066, just imagine the window starting on the couch side, and ending at the pole (divider) in the middle. I hope this helps a bit! I'll make sure to post a picture if I get one. Happy cruising on the 17th!

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Thank you all for the well wishes! I'm hoping to review Bari and Corfu today, but may not get to the other ports until next week.

 

Fiona, how wonderful! Did you enjoy your time on the Splendour?

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Thanks. We used to sail the Splendour of the Seas when it was out of Galveston. I sure miss that ship and the 4 & 5 day sailings it did.

Edited by Jimnbigd

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Hi Ron! Yes! My sisters were in room 7068! What are the chances? I don't have a picture of the room, but I asked my sister-in-law for one, so if she has one, I'll be sure to post it. I did spend a lot of time in there, so I will tell you that it is a little bit smaller than 7066, in width, but not by much. The window takes up a little less than half of the wall, whereas it takes up the entire wall in 7066. If you look at the picture of 7066, just imagine the window starting on the couch side, and ending at the pole (divider) in the middle. I hope this helps a bit! I'll make sure to post a picture if I get one. Happy cruising on the 17th!

 

 

Thanks so much!

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Your pictures are great, I just stopped to see them one more time.

Edited by gambee

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Day 2: Bari, Italy

 

Before delving into our second day, I wanted to touch on our dining experience in the King & I Dining Room. When we made our reservations for our cruise, our travel agent informed us that the traditional dining time at 6pm was full, so the other options were to sign up for 8:30pm (a little late for us) or do My Time Dining. So, My Time Dining it was! About a month before departing, I was able to log on to our Pre-Cruise Planner and reserve a table for the 8 of us at 7pm every night. It was a very easy process, and all I needed was everyone's reservation numbers. So, we when boarded the ship, I checked to make sure they had them in the system, and sure enough, they did! So, every night, we showed up at the MDR (5th floor) and were seated at the same table with the same waiters, who we absolutely loved (Banzil and Juliana). It pretty much felt like traditional dining, other than the fact that other guests were being seated at various times around us. The food was excellent. Every night, we had a starter, entree, and dessert, and oftentimes Banzil brought out the chef's special for our table to share. Dinner typically lasted an hour and 45 minutes, just in time for us to head to the 9pm show in the theater. All in all, MTD worked out great.

 

Ok, now my review for Bari. Before leaving, I did a lot of research about Bari, mainly on CC, and found that most people weren't too fond of Bari (a lot of comments about it being a port town with not much to do). So, given that my husband and I aren't huge fans of large tour groups (like the RC shore excursions), we decided to sign up for a shore excursion to Alberebello through Get Your Guide. We chose to see Alberobello because the pictures were so charming and it looked like a beautiful little village. I learned about Get Your Guide through a basic Google search. The reviews were mostly positive and the price was great (I think about $45pp for 5 hours - we prepaid online before the trip). The major benefit was that our guide was going to meet us at noon at the cruise terminal, whereas the trip to Alberobello through RC started at 3pm.

 

At noon, the 8 of us met our guide, Catarina, outside the port terminal exactly where the directions told us to be. We waited only for a couple minutes for another couple to join us and off we went. With a total of 10 people on our tour, we really lucked out. The group size was very manageable and we had a nice small bus to ourselves with plenty of room. We made it to Alberobello in about an hour and had a lovely tour around the town. Catarina was fantastic! She was full of knowledge about the Trulli and shared interesting stories while we strolled through the town.

 

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[Driving through Bari to Alberobello]

 

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[Trulli]

 

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[Trulli]

 

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[Trulli]

 

After the tour (about 2 hours), we were left with 45 minutes of free time which allowed us to eat paninis and gelato - yum! On our way back to Bari, we took another road along the coast which was beautiful. We made a stop for those who wanted to see St. Nicholas' Basilica before the bus continued to the port terminal. We decided to get off and see the church, but it didn't take long. Our walk back to the ship took about 10 minutes and it was along the promenade, which was really pretty. Although we didn’t spend much time in Bari, I’m glad we took a tour away from the city. I'm sure the old town area was lovely, but as we were driving through Bari to get to Alberobello, it looked like a large, crowded city.

 

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[st. Nicholas' Basilica]

 

Once we were back on the ship, we had another great dinner in the MDR and watched that night's entertainment, ABBA MAX. It was pretty fun to listen to ABBA songs (of which I always think of Greece because of Mamma Mia), but the crowd didn't seem super into it. Oh well, we had a fun time!

 

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[Getting ready for ABBA MAX - 42nd Street Theater]

 

I'll take a bit of time to comment on our cruise director and activity directors. Bill Brunkhorst was our cruise director and we thought he did a great job. Since I have only been on one cruise prior to this, I'm not sure what is expected of cruise directors, but we thought Bill was entertaining. We had a running joke that Bill was everywhere. Every show, every activity, and every time we turned on the TV! We also enjoyed his 'entourage', the Italian and German translators. They were pretty funny. There was also a guy from the Dominican Republic who was hysterical. I can't remember his title, but he was also everywhere we went. He did a lot of the warm ups for the shows in the theater, which were hilarious. He also hosted karaoke and made it worth going to.

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Fiona, how wonderful! Did you enjoy your time on the Splendour?

 

We didn't actually go, it was just my four family members sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece and her husband. But we followed the ship's itinerary on sea scanner everyday and have been enjoying looking at their photos, and now yours too. :)

 

(But DH and I are going on Oasis next month to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary, which is why we didn't go this time.) :D

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We didn't actually go, it was just my four family members sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece and her husband. But we followed the ship's itinerary on sea scanner everyday and have been enjoying looking at their photos, and now yours too. :)

 

(But DH and I are going on Oasis next month to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary, which is why we didn't go this time.) :D

I'm glad you're enjoying the photos! I'm sure you're going to have a wonderful time on the Oasis! Happy Anniversary!

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I'm glad you're enjoying the photos! I'm sure you're going to have a wonderful time on the Oasis! Happy Anniversary!

 

Thanks! And Happy Anniversary to you too (albeit belated). :)

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Day 3: Corfu, Greece

 

We woke up to a beautiful, sunny day in Corfu, which was wonderful because I heard it rains a lot there. My in-laws left early for their RC shore excursion to the Achillion Palace and Monastery of Paleokastritsa, but we took our time getting up because we had nothing planned for the day other than walk around the town. We were planning on walking from the ship to the old town and old fort, but our waiter told us the night before that it’s best to take the shuttle because it’s a 30 minute walk. We would have easily walked, but considering we had to be on board by 2:30pm, we didn’t want to risk not having enough time exploring the town. So, we purchased shuttle tickets at the Guest Services desk in the morning ($10/pp round trip) and we walked off the ship.

 

Right as we walked off, there was a shuttle bus (looked more like a city bus) that everyone was jumping on, so we thought that was the shuttle that would take us to the old town. Well, it literally took us for a 30 second ride before dropping us off in front of the terminal building. We then had to walk through the terminal building and exit the other side before boarding the ‘real’ shuttle bus (where they checked our tickets). We now figured out that was just a courtesy shuttle for people who didn’t want to walk to the terminal

building.

 

The shuttle bus took us through the narrow streets of Corfu and dropped us off in a large square, with the old fort on the right and the old town on the left. We decided to walk to the top of the old fort first (because we could tell it was going to warm up as the day went on) and we’re happy we did. It was definitely a climb, but a short climb. It took us about 10 minutes to get to the top, but we took a bunch of pictures along the way. I would recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes if you plan on doing this. The top of the fort offers beautiful views of the ocean and Corfu’s old town.

 

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[Entrance to the old fort]

 

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[View from the old fort's bridge]

 

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[At the top of the fort...you can see the Splendour in the background]

 

After taking in the view, we journeyed back down to the old town where I immediately bought a chocolate croissant fresh out of the oven. It was out of this world (I’m a chocolate fiend). I’ve been to Paris, but I’ve never had such a delicious croissant in my life. Once thing my husband and I noticed is that the old town is packed with shops, mainly souvenir shops. It doesn’t take long to wander through the area. We stopped for a milkshake (I know, I overindulged in Corfu) and relaxed in a little square for a while, and then we were pretty much ready to get back to the ship. I’m not a huge shopper, so I didn’t need much time there. I would say we were in Corfu for a total of 3-4 hours and felt like we had seen as much as possible on foot. If I ever go back, I would take a private tour around the island so I could see more of Corfu, but it was nice to spend time in the old town on my first visit.

 

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[Lots of shopping in Corfu]

 

Back on the ship, I met up with my sister and parents and we hit the pool deck. It was around 2pm and it was getting pretty crowded because most passengers were back on board. We hung out there for a while and watched a hysterical game taking place on the pool deck that was broadcasted on the giant TV. It was called Copycat and all of the teams had to copy a skilled crew member in a certain amount of time (bartender making a martini, baker frosting a cake, room attendant folding a towel into an animal). It was a lot of fun.

 

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[View from the ship]

 

That night was our first formal night. It was also my parent’s anniversary and our waiters did a cute celebration for them (candles, singing…the works) which they had also done for my husband and I on the first night. Very very sweet!

 

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[Me and my hubby]

 

We also attended British trivia in the Top Hat Lounge that night, and considering we’re not British, we pretty much failed at it – but it was so worth it. The British activities director (I forget his name) was charming and witty and everyone had a great time.

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. . . I would say we were in Corfu for a total of 3-4 hours and felt like we had seen as much as possible on foot. If I ever go back, I would take a private tour around the island so I could see more of Corfu, but it was nice to spend time in the old town on my first visit. . .

 

On our only visit, we rented a car an drove to Paleokastritsa on the other side of the island. DW who was in charge of those arrangements had in mind we would go there and take a boat ride that, as I recall goes through some caves or grottos. It was a great trip with wonderful views, but when we got there [keep in mind it was November] the boats were closed for the season. I say this just to point out for others interested, there are a lot of things to do on Corfu and renting a car/driving is pretty easy.

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