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Sonora5

26 days on the Oosterdam-Venice to Fort Lauderdale-Report

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Thanks for all your thanks. My husband is an artist and I always love the pics he takes.

 

I wanted to mention a couple more things about Albania. The first is, it was a private tour and I am very grateful that we got help on the ship to get our whole group out on the tender early. That was very nice.

 

Secondly, we had an opportunity to taste the local liquor, raki. It reminded me of something we would dump into a rubber trash can along with many gallons of Hawaiian Punch for a party in college. Whoa! it was strong! Had to be pretty close to pure grain alcohol.

 

Consume at your own risk.

 

I am sorry to hear that HAL has dropped this as a port. I hope there is a clamor and it gets picked back up. They were very pleased to have us. Friends rented a car and visited a beach that they said was quite nice, so I think there are opportunities to have fun there other than the ruins and the bunkers.

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Our next port was Katakolon, from which one may tour Olympia. We had an amazing tour. We did a taxi tour with another couple with Nassos taxis. Nassos met us as agreed and our first stop was a visit to a traditional Greek Orthodox nunnery. We drove through bucolic countryside, farms and animals, on a bright sunny day. At the nunnery we were greeted with some candy by an older nun. Barbara and I had to put on aprons since we were wearing shorts.

 

We went to the chapel where a young, pretty nun with a nice smile proceeded to tell us a gruesome tail of icons, caves and babies being tossed off cliffs. We were nonplussed. We heard the tinkling of many bells and realized livestock were being driven up the mountain. That was scenic but I still felt a little queasy about the dead babies.

 

So, off to Olympia, where Nassos had procured us the services of Ari, a very nice young archeologist who gave us a great tour of Olympia, both the grounds and the museum. She had all the good soap opera like stories of the gods and their antics, and also was knowledgeable in an interesting way about the architecture and the preservation of the buildings and fields. I would totally recommend her. Just, when Nassos asks, pick the winery over the nunnery.

 

Then into the small town of Olympia to dine on a huge amount of food for an extremely reasonable price. A little souvenir shopping and back to the ship.

 

Back on board we got ready for our Sel de Mer dinner we had planned for that evening.

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The building at the top was the entrance to the icon cave. Just to the right is an opening in the rockdface that was, I believe, the place where the babies were tossed. The cave was where you took your baby and prayed to Mary. If you truly believe, your baby would survive the fall. If you were just testing Mary, well the baby didn't fare as well.

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Olympia museum. Statue of Herad. In his armor you can see Romulus and Remus.

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Olympia museum. I forget who this is but it's interesting for the illusion it presents. From this side he seems to have a smile.

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Nassos gave us a small bottle of wine as a thank you. It was pretty good!

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Your pictures brought back fond memories of our visit to Olympia.

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It was really a beautiful day and a nice tour.

 

When we returned to the ship we got ready (sort of) for Gala night and a Sel de Mer dinner. By now you have all probably heard rumors of trouble at the Pinnacle Grill. We had had breakfast there prior to our Sel de Mer dinner and it was fine, albeit a little disorganized.

 

We had set up the Sel de Mer with another couple, and it was an enjoyable evening. We were seated promptly, orders were taken, little snack brought, drinks, etc. All courses were served promptly and at the proper temperature. I particularly liked the cauliflower puree side dish.

 

I did make a tactical error by ordering the dessert souffle. It was huge and I was already kind of stuffed. But what I ate of it was delicious.

 

We had no hint of what was yet to come with the Pinnacle Grill on the Oosterdam.

 

The next day was a sea day, the last for many, many ports. We relaxed and enjoyed the ship.

 

Next: Naples, Herculaneum and Sorrento

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Heading for Napoli we pass through the Strait of Messina. It's between Italy and Sicily.  This pic is the Italy side.

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We had planned an excursion to Herculaneum for our stop there. The scooter sisters had booked an excursion with smartcruisetours dot com, and we decided to join them along with another couple. The driver was there to meet us when we lift the ship. Unfortunately, the van was not equipped with a lift device so it was difficult to raise the scooters into the va,

 

The sisters had been told they could tour Herculaneum with the scooters. This was not really true. I admire their grit, because they walked a little unsteadily through the part of Herculaneum that we toured. Our guide, Suzie, was informative and the features of Herculaneum very interesting. It is like a pocket Pompeii.

 

We then went to Sorrento. The van a/c was not working well so windows were cracked, which caused us all to be treated with car exhaust during the tunnels.

 

We had lunch at a good restaurant called Il Convivio. (order the creme caramel) Then a scenic drive back to the ship.

 

Next: a tour of Etruscan villages from the port of Civitavecchia

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Herculaneum. A small excavation because of the surrounding neighborhood.

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Herculaneum. At the time of the eruption this was beachfront property. The skeletons under the arches are the remains of people trying to flee on boats.

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Just got caught up with your wonderful reports and fantastic pictures.

 

Brought back many memories from when we toured Herculaneum and Sorrento.

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It does remind me of Pompeii,  brings back memories, great pictures.

allan

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It is like a pocket Pompeii. I am really glad we got to visit it.

 

Thanks for all your kind comments.

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We had been to the port of Civitavecchia several times before, and wanted to try something new. MrShorts came up with a tour of Etruscan villages and we decided to join them.

 

Unfortunately we were there on a Monday so a lot of things-musuems, etc-were closed. We were lucky that our guide, Luca, had access to Trajan's baths just outside the town of CV. That part of our day was very interesting. We had sole access to the ruins so did not have to fight crowds, etc.

 

We then visited the towns of Tarquinia and Tuscania. A highlight was a 12th century church with a terrace with amazing views.

 

Amazing, but chilly and windy.

 

We also had a very nice lunch in Tuscani, and I cannot recall the name of the restaurant. However I had carbonara alla tartuffo that made me moan it was so delicious.

 

Return to the ship through lovely countryside. We ate in the main dining room and agreed to share a table, which was a mistake, as we got stuck with a bore who spent the meal talking over everyone else and mansplaining everything.

 

Next: Livorno and a fabulous trip to Cinque Terre.

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On 11/17/2018 at 1:39 PM, Sonora5 said:

By now you have all probably heard rumors of trouble at the Pinnacle Grill. We had had breakfast there prior to our Sel de Mer dinner and it was fine, albeit a little disorganized.

We were on for 24 days departing in Barcelona. We ate in the PG for breakfast which was slow but usually is and had 14 dinners with no issues. Surprised about any “rumors” on the PG. We found that Rick and Ice ran a very nice restuarant. So sorry to hear your experience is so different.

BTW loving your review and pics. Thanks for posting

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