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John and Diane's Amazing Round the World Aventure


Johnny B

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I awoke today knowing it would be my worse day, day 3 post chemo, but I had the joy of taking an 85 day cruise with John and Diane. It is so beautifully written and I so enjoyed being taken out of my world and into their world for a couple of hours. You will never know how much it has meant to me. Now could you extend your cruise until June so you can entertain me? Thanks for such wonderful descriptions so I still have some dreams during this trying period. Mary

 

Hi Mary:

 

I too send my best wishes to you at this miserable time in your life, and my hopes that you have a speedy and complete recovery.

 

God bless.

 

Valerie:)

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March 31 – Day 87 (so sad)

 

I swear, I think the purpose of this cruise is to prove me wrong! John and I traveled to Istanbul on a Black Sea cruise in 1972 (so long ago), and I never really had any desire to return. Having said that, of course I loved it. Our first impression of the city was of its cleanliness and the view of historical monuments along its skyline.

 

Our CSI tour took us around the Hippodrome, which now is just an oval street, but in 300 AD it was a Roman “racetrack” surrounding two obelisks, one from Luxor and one constructed in Istanbul at about the same time as the Hippodrome. The Egyptian obelisk is a single stone with hieroglyphics down its side, but the local one is made of separate stones, and even though it’s almost 2,000 years younger, it looks much older. We continued across the street to the Blue Mosque, called that because of the beautiful blue tiles inside. We dutifully took off our shoes (and it was COLD out there), and had a tour within. Crossing another street (boy, these things are close to one another!), we entered Haggia Sophia, an enormous structure built as a Christian church by Justinian in the sixth century and converted to a mosque about 1,000 years later. It really looks pretty bad from the outside, but the inside, now a museum, is absolutely beautiful, with tiles and gold paint. Our guide indicated that it was the first time in history that a building had been topped by a dome unsupported by pillars.

 

Crossing yet another street, we entered what is probably the most unusual tourist stop we’ve ever seen: the Underground Cistern. There were many of these cisterns in old Istanbul, and they held the water brought into the city by means of the aqueducts. No longer in use, they are now just incredible places to visit. This one is the city’s largest, supported by 336 pillars, two of which are supported by stones carved with the head of Medusa. Below the walkways there is about two feet of water filled with all sizes and varieties of carp, whose purpose is to eat the algae and keep the place clean. The water in there now comes only from the dripping, street-level roof. One of our tour members, a Paramount Movies retiree, told us that the cistern was used in the James Bond movie, “From Russia With Love.”

 

After lunch in an 18th Century home which is now a hotel and restaurant, we walked a block to Topkapi Museum, formerly the home of the Sultan until the 1920’s, when Attaturk led the revolution to make Turkey a republic. This place has more jewels than I’ve seen since The Tower of London. There was a cigar-box-sized crystal casket full of polished emeralds, the 86-carat “Spoonmaker’s Diamond, and various assorted jewels big enough to choke a horse. They also have what amounts to a museum of Islam, with such things as the footprint of the Prophet (Mohammed), the turban of the prophet Joseph, and the saucepan (yes!) of the prophet Abraham.

 

We finished the tour just in time to get back to the ship, shower, and dress for last night’s big event: a reception hosted by Stein Kruse (thanks for the spelling correction – still a cool name for HAL’s CEO) at another underground cistern. This one was like Aladdin’s cave. It was dry, decorated like a desert tent, and absolutely huge, with 224 columns. There was more food than the 1200 guests could eat and more alcohol than they could drink – a first! There were belly dancers, fire-eaters, a speech by Mr. Kruse and the American Ambassador, Ross Wilson, and lots of other entertainment. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, and I know that our group certainly did. After all, how can an evening that ends with a conga line through a fourth century cistern in Istanbul be anything but outstanding!

 

We arrived back at the ship in time to head to the Lido for the “Dessert Extravaganza.” There, more trays of drinks, including expresso martinis, made the rounds for those folks who had not had enough at the cistern. Then we headed up to the Crow’s Nest to watch the evening’s finale – ten minutes of fireworks over the Bosporus. When Mr. Kruse throws a party, he really does it right. The only bad news for the evening was that we had to set clocks ahead an hour for the second night in a row, since we’re headed east to Russia and Ukraine.

 

It was a full day, but everything was wonderful, and we really would like to return to Istanbul to better explore it on our own.

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I awoke today knowing it would be my worse day, day 3 post chemo, but I had the joy of taking an 85 day cruise with John and Diane. It is so beautifully written and I so enjoyed being taken out of my world and into their world for a couple of hours. You will never know how much it has meant to me. Now could you extend your cruise until June so you can entertain me? Thanks for such wonderful descriptions so I still have some dreams during this trying period. Mary

Mary, I am sorry to read of your illness but pray that your recovery is as smooth as possible. I am glad that these adventures can give you are break from the difficult time you are living through.

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14 years ago I traveled to China for a lengthy business trip and a co-worker suggested a journal, I was reluctant but wrote every day. So many years later I really see the benefit in capturing those impressions on paper. Last year I followed Bill & Maryann on their RTW adventure and it really put the bug into me to someday have the same opportunity, but Diane, I must say you two have made me a 'groupie'! Thank you for your very articulate journal. Your descriptions of the places you visit make me feel like I've experienced it too. Many times I read your daily updates & then check Jeff's (bronzeboy) blog site & he has pictures of this wonderful trip you are both so lucky to be on! As loyal HAL cruisers, my DH and I hope to someday sail the HAL GWV!

 

As the map gets greener & greener - I get more depressed right along with you....I'll have to go back to reading novels! Keep traveling & writing!

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April 2 – Day 89

 

You wouldn’t believe it, but this trip can be TIRING! I know, I know, stop whining, Diane, you’re on a world cruise, for heaven’s sake. But really, it can be! For 3 months, we’ve had the pleasure of turning our clocks back every few days and getting extra sleep, and enjoying lots of sea days. But in the last three days, we’ve had to turn our clocks FORWARD twice – two nights in a row, and then it’s just one port after another. I had no idea why we’d have to turn them ahead on the night we spent in Istanbul, thinking we’d be on a different time from the city. When I asked at the front desk, I felt like an absolute fool – it was Daylight Savings Time. The next night was because we were headed east into the Black Sea.

 

Regarding the tiring part – yesterday was a good example. We were in Sochi, Russia, where John and I last visited in 1972 while suffering from food poisoning, so our memories of it aren’t too good. It is scheduled to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. This time, rather than pay $300+ for a Russian visa, we signed up for a tour called “Sochi, Seaside, and Spa” which was scheduled to leave at 1:30 PM and included a blanket visa. Because it was a tender port, rather than a dock, it took much longer than they had expected, and we finally got ashore at 3::00. We drove through the really quite beautiful downtown area of Sochi and alongside some flowering parks and thought it was one of the prettiest cities we’d seen. Although it’s on the same latitude as Toronto, it’s in a Black Sea microclimate, which makes it, according to our guide, the northernmost tropical area in the world. Well, it was about 50 degrees, so I don’t know about that, but it is full of palm trees, magnolias, and other lush plant life.

 

We drove to a spa in the European sense, where people have gone for years to “take the waters.” This one is situated on a natural sulphuric spring, which just sends the olfactory senses reeling, but it is a very popular place for Russians to have their holidays. Inside a large Georgian building, there is a huge central hall and then the wings to each side have a series of small rooms with oversize bathtubs or other apparatus for bathing the body or its parts in the water from underground mixed with fresh water. We met Anna, the head medical person, and she looked just like every picture you’ve ever seen of a middle-aged Russian woman – if Anna gave you a massage, you’d STAY massaged! Based on the statistics they gave us, their treatments seem pretty successful.

 

From there we drove back into town to a park called “The Riviera,” which could be anywhere in the Southeast, overflowing with magnolia trees and beautiful walkways. A couple of our friends on the tour snuck around the corner to a liquor store and came back with a quarter-liter bottle of Vodka (at least that’s what they thought it was, not being able to read the label), and another woman spent $5.00 for a bottle of Russian Champagne.

 

Finally, we were on the next-to-last tender back to the ship, and returned just in time to have about a half hour’s rest before going to Bill and Mary Anne’s cabin for a little pre-dinner get-together. Many of you have read their blog from last year, and they just boarded in Istanbul. We’d met them on CSI’s 20th anniversary cruise to Alaska last year, and it’s great to have them at the table again.

 

Needless to say, all this touring and socializing is exhausting, so after dinner, we headed back to the cabin, set our clocks back an hour to 9:00, just kicked back for awhile, and then got a really good night’s sleep. Don’t you feel sorry for us? No, I didn’t think so!

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I have been reading with rapt interest your wonderful blog and just love your descriptions, you make it so interesing and make the reader feel like they are there with you. I have always wondered how it would be to be on a cruise like you are on - and I have dozens of questions but will wait until you are home and recovered before I bombard you with them...I hope that you are enjoying your final month on the cruise (sorry to have to mention that) and look forward to reading the rest of your installments.

 

Thanks for sharing!

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I also have lots of questions but will wait for you to get home. A world cruise is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I most likely will be retiring at the end of 2010 so January, 2011 would be my cruise date. Thanks for all of your great port reviews.

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April 3—Day 90

 

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

“Forward the Light Brigade!

Charge the guns!” he said:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

 

Thus begins Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” which describes one of the many battles fought during the Crimean War (1854-1855).

 

As Diane is slightly under the weather, I’ll attempt to describe one of the best days of our world adventure. Despite winter weather (for us California wimps), Sevastopol, Ukraine definitely left a profound effect. We booked a ship’s excursion primarily to see the famed battlegrounds described in Tennyson’s poem (my favorite poet—well, second to Keats), but what we experienced before that was truly amazing. Our first stop, after a 25-minute tender ride to the port, was to the Panorama Museum, which displays a panoramic scene depicting the events of a battle on Malakhov Hill in June, 1855. It was painted in Munich over a three-year period and then moved to Sevastopol. Although badly damaged in WW II (or The Great Patriotic War as often referred to by the Russians), it was restored and reopened to the public in 1954.The painting is about 30 feet tall and 250 feet long, placed on the interior wall of a round building. The foreground is a diorama which simulates the conditions during the fighting—buildings, animals, weapons, wounded/dead soldiers, etc. which all blend into the actual painting. It’s really hard to describe, but is truly a remarkable work. The present city of Sevastopol has been constructed since 1945 as only 7, yes 7. buildings were left standing after the war. It’s a mix of nicely reconstructed 19th century buildings marred with Soviet block-like buildings—not so nice.

 

Our second surprise of the day was being taken to a former secret submarine base in Balaklava. Carved into a massive hillside and camouflaged from the air by netting, the base was used to repair diesel subs, load nuclear weapons onto the subs, and as a shelter in the event of nuclear war. After the breakup of the USSR, the base was abandoned and now is being restored as a museum. It was kinda creepy to be walking into a 600-yard deep tunnel in the side of a mountain that 20 years ago was top secret, even to the people living in the small seaside town, while wondering if it was still radio active! But truly a fascinating experience—how often can one say he was in a secret Soviet submarine base built into the side of a mountain?

 

After that we had a nice lunch at a seaside restaurant specializing in fish! The food was great, but the high light seemed to be the soup (remember it was cold). I can’t recall what it was called (not borscht), but everyone raved about and some fellow travelers got the recipe, so we’ll track it down later.

 

Next we hopped back into the bus to see the famed battle site of the Light Brigade, now covered in vineyards, Our excellent guide pointed out where the Russian, British, and Turkish troops and weapons were situated and how the events of the battle took place. High on a hill overlooking the battle site, Lord Cardigan (of sweater fame), gave orders to charge a hill and retake the cannons that the Russians had captured, but, in brief, the order were misunderstood and the famed six hundred went the wrong direction, thus leading to many fatalities. Of course, there is much more to it, but to be at this site was truly memorable. As we returned to the ship, our guide told us that Winston Churchill had visited the site and the British cemetery close by, as did his daughter a few years ago.

 

Finally, a note on Ukrainian/Russian history and politics: to say the least, it’s very confusing and still an ongoing process. Even though Sevastopol is in the Ukraine, most of the people are Russian! The Russian navy “rents” port space from the Ukrainian government for about 90 million dollars a year. The recent discussion of whether the Ukraine should join NATO are extremely controversial, as the Russians, who control the gas and oil shipments to the Ukraine, are against it. So, stand by—history is still in the making. So, summing up our day in Sevastopol and Balaklava: fantastic!

 

We are now cruising the Sea of Marmara after having passed through the Bosporus earlier this morning and will pass through the Dardanelles later today, on our way to Santorini.

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Say hello to Bill and Mary Ann......pleased they made it and you enjoyed their recent cabin hospitality!! The HAL 2010 GWV itinerary has just been released by Cruise Specialists and it's awesome. Tell Bill and M-A we are booking it. Keep the fantastic travelogue up, it's a masterpiece of observations and detail of places far away. Well done to both of you.

 

Paul

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Say hello to Bill and Mary Ann......pleased they made it and you enjoyed their recent cabin hospitality!! The HAL 2010 GWV itinerary has just been released by Cruise Specialists and it's awesome. Tell Bill and M-A we are booking it. Keep the fantastic travelogue up, it's a masterpiece of observations and detail of places far away. Well done to both of you.

 

Paul

 

Hi again John and Diane: I'm still totally enthralled and hanging on your every word.

 

Just to say (and trying not to hijack this thread) would you please also say hello to Bill and Mary Ann for me. I really did not have much interaction with them on the 2007 GWV but did have a great time with them on the CSI's 20th Anniversary Cruise in Alaska. They are so much fun to be with. I had hoped to join the ship in Istanbul also but am spending my money on this year's Asia/Australia Grand Voyage instead.

 

Valerie:)

 

p.s. For Paul and Maria: Hi, how are things "back home"? I can't afford to visit there anymore thanks to the dollar's miserable decline, however I do have my beady little eyes set on the 2010 GWV or at last a segment or two - still places I have no desire to visit or have already "been there - done that and don 't need to go back".:D

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April 3—Day 90

 

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

“Forward the Light Brigade!

Charge the guns!” he said:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

 

Thus begins Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” which describes one of the many battles fought during the Crimean War (1854-1855).

 

As Diane is slightly under the weather, I’ll attempt to describe one of the best days of our world adventure.

 

I am so sorry to hear that Diane is under the weather and I hope that she feels better very, very soon.

 

Ah, 'The Charge of the Light Brigade': that was one of the poems we had to memorize in high school. I grew up in Cheltenham (England) and since Alfred, Lord Tennyson spent several years in Cheltenham he was always a favourite of our English teachers.

 

I remember also learning about the Crimean War. I wish now that I had paid more attention, but then again how often have I said to myself "why didn't you pay more attention in high school?" Of course way back then I had no idea that one day I might be lucky enough to visit all these places I had heard about when I was just a dumb little "know-it-all"?:D

 

I hope that you are both feeling hale and hearty and that you continue to enjoy this great adventure that you are kind enough to share with all of us.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

 

Valerie:)

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Hi again John and Diane: I'm still totally enthralled and hanging on your every word.

p.s. For Paul and Maria: Hi, how are things "back home"? I can't afford to visit there anymore thanks to the dollar's miserable decline, however I do have my beady little eyes set on the 2010 GWV or at last a segment or two - still places I have no desire to visit or have already "been there - done that and don 't need to go back".:D

 

 

 

Lovely to hear from you Valarie. Maybe see you on the 2010 GWV then! Sounds like Johnny and Diane will have a ball with Bill and Mary Ann for the rest of the voyage. I hope that this travelogue is available as one document once the they tie up in at the end of this amazing adventure.

 

Paul

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March 31 – Day 87 (so sad)

 

I swear, I think the purpose of this cruise is to prove me wrong! John and I traveled to Istanbul on a Black Sea cruise in 1972 (so long ago), and I never really had any desire to return. Having said that, of course I loved it. Our first impression of the city was of its cleanliness and the view of historical monuments along its skyline.

 

Our CSI tour took us around the Hippodrome, which now is just an oval street, but in 300 AD it was a Roman “racetrack” surrounding two obelisks, one from Luxor and one constructed in Istanbul at about the same time as the Hippodrome. The Egyptian obelisk is a single stone with hieroglyphics down its side, but the local one is made of separate stones, and even though it’s almost 2,000 years younger, it looks much older. We continued across the street to the Blue Mosque, called that because of the beautiful blue tiles inside. We dutifully took off our shoes (and it was COLD out there), and had a tour within. Crossing another street (boy, these things are close to one another!), we entered Haggia Sophia, an enormous structure built as a Christian church by Justinian in the sixth century and converted to a mosque about 1,000 years later. It really looks pretty bad from the outside, but the inside, now a museum, is absolutely beautiful, with tiles and gold paint. Our guide indicated that it was the first time in history that a building had been topped by a dome unsupported by pillars.

 

Crossing yet another street, we entered what is probably the most unusual tourist stop we’ve ever seen: the Underground Cistern. There were many of these cisterns in old Istanbul, and they held the water brought into the city by means of the aqueducts. No longer in use, they are now just incredible places to visit. This one is the city’s largest, supported by 336 pillars, two of which are supported by stones carved with the head of Medusa. Below the walkways there is about two feet of water filled with all sizes and varieties of carp, whose purpose is to eat the algae and keep the place clean. The water in there now comes only from the dripping, street-level roof. One of our tour members, a Paramount Movies retiree, told us that the cistern was used in the James Bond movie, “From Russia With Love.”

 

After lunch in an 18th Century home which is now a hotel and restaurant, we walked a block to Topkapi Museum, formerly the home of the Sultan until the 1920’s, when Attaturk led the revolution to make Turkey a republic. This place has more jewels than I’ve seen since The Tower of London. There was a cigar-box-sized crystal casket full of polished emeralds, the 86-carat “Spoonmaker’s Diamond, and various assorted jewels big enough to choke a horse. They also have what amounts to a museum of Islam, with such things as the footprint of the Prophet (Mohammed), the turban of the prophet Joseph, and the saucepan (yes!) of the prophet Abraham.

 

We finished the tour just in time to get back to the ship, shower, and dress for last night’s big event: a reception hosted by Stein Kruse (thanks for the spelling correction – still a cool name for HAL’s CEO) at another underground cistern. This one was like Aladdin’s cave. It was dry, decorated like a desert tent, and absolutely huge, with 224 columns. There was more food than the 1200 guests could eat and more alcohol than they could drink – a first! There were belly dancers, fire-eaters, a speech by Mr. Kruse and the American Ambassador, Ross Wilson, and lots of other entertainment. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, and I know that our group certainly did. After all, how can an evening that ends with a conga line through a fourth century cistern in Istanbul be anything but outstanding!

 

We arrived back at the ship in time to head to the Lido for the “Dessert Extravaganza.” There, more trays of drinks, including expresso martinis, made the rounds for those folks who had not had enough at the cistern. Then we headed up to the Crow’s Nest to watch the evening’s finale – ten minutes of fireworks over the Bosporus. When Mr. Kruse throws a party, he really does it right. The only bad news for the evening was that we had to set clocks ahead an hour for the second night in a row, since we’re headed east to Russia and Ukraine.

 

It was a full day, but everything was wonderful, and we really would like to return to Istanbul to better explore it on our own.

hello john and dianne,

i was on this very cruise back in january and not sure if i met you ..i was a guest entertainer i boarded in florida and left the ship in nuka hiva..i met some lovely people whilst on board and am trying to keep in touch..

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April 4 – Day 91

 

Cobalt blue ocean, blue sky, white clouds, whitewashed buildings and cobalt blue domes – when you think of the Greek Islands, most people picture Santorini, whether they know it or not. It was a perfect, blissful day and our only complaint was that it was too short, since we couldn’t get a tender until 11:00 and the last tender returning was at 3:30.

 

Since Santorini is really an erupted (or exploded) volcano, when the ship lowers its anchor, we’re really in the middle of the caldera, surrounded by one medium sized island (Santorini) and several smaller ones. When the tender takes you to the island, you’re directly below the village of Fira (or Thira), and you have three choices of how to get up the mountain to the village. You can take the cable car, you can hike up the serpentine walkway, or you can take a mule up that same walkway. Since we had been here in July and taken the cable car up and walked down, I had made up my mind that this time I’d take a donkey. However (and I know that you know how much I like animal rides), our time was short and John and our friend Eloise outvoted me, so we took the cable car up again. (At least I got to ride an elephant and a camel!)

 

We spent a little time in Thira, looking at overpriced gee-gaws and some really nice jewelry (which we found out last summer is MUCH cheaper in Athens), and then we found our way to the town square where we hailed a cab to take us to Oia (pronounced eee-uh), the village on the far end of the island. Actually, when sailing into the bay of Santorini, Oia looks like snow atop the mountain, but it’s really just whitewashed buildings.

 

Oia was really quite wonderful, with smaller shops, lots of locals, and some beautiful buildings. Apparently the tourist season here starts on April 1, so we saw lots of people working on their shops or restaurants, and the smell of fresh paint was everywhere. There are windmills here (like Mykonos) and just lots of plain folks. Oia, according to our taxi driver, is where most of the hotels are located, but it seems as if the hotels have, at most, ten rooms each.

 

We found a wonderful little terrace restaurant sitting out over the cliff, and we could see all of the islands near Santorini as well as our ship in the distance. Lunch was Greek salads and Souvliki, which we learned to like one summer in Greece with a Methodist Work Team. Strangely enough, I don’t like feta cheese at home, but it is really delicious here. I guess some things just don’t travel well. We also got to drink some more Mythos beer, which we had enjoyed last summer. Even though it didn’t get above the mid 60’s today, the shade over the terrace felt good.

 

After picking up a few more gifts, we headed back to the cable car. I would have suggested walking down the mule road, but you REALLY have to watch your step there!

 

Since last tender was a 3:30 and sailaway at 4:00, we thought we’d get back early, so we caught the 3:00 tender and are, as I write, enjoying a beautiful view off the veranda while John, true to form, is pretending to read while watching the water and the island.

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hello John and Dianne,

there is a lady aboard your cruise name luceanne she is travelling with a man called conrad please say hi if you catch her always on the lido deck smokers side well that where we used to sit when i was there...also a lovely couple marty and barbara..had coffee every morning with marty in fact i got him on stage during my show...please send them all my kisses

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April 4 – Day 91

 

Cobalt blue ocean, blue sky, white clouds, whitewashed buildings and cobalt blue domes – when you think of the Greek Islands, most people picture Santorini, whether they know it or not. It was a perfect, blissful day and our only complaint was that it was too short, since we couldn’t get a tender until 11:00 and the last tender returning was at 3:30.

 

Since Santorini is really an erupted (or exploded) volcano, when the ship lowers its anchor, we’re really in the middle of the caldera, surrounded by one medium sized island (Santorini) and several smaller ones. When the tender takes you to the island, you’re directly below the village of Fira (or Thira), and you have three choices of how to get up the mountain to the village. You can take the cable car, you can hike up the serpentine walkway, or you can take a mule up that same walkway. Since we had been here in July and taken the cable car up and walked down, I had made up my mind that this time I’d take a donkey. However (and I know that you know how much I like animal rides), our time was short and John and our friend Eloise outvoted me, so we took the cable car up again. (At least I got to ride an elephant and a camel!)

 

We spent a little time in Thira, looking at overpriced gee-gaws and some really nice jewelry (which we found out last summer is MUCH cheaper in Athens), and then we found our way to the town square where we hailed a cab to take us to Oia (pronounced eee-uh), the village on the far end of the island. Actually, when sailing into the bay of Santorini, Oia looks like snow atop the mountain, but it’s really just whitewashed buildings.

 

Oia was really quite wonderful, with smaller shops, lots of locals, and some beautiful buildings. Apparently the tourist season here starts on April 1, so we saw lots of people working on their shops or restaurants, and the smell of fresh paint was everywhere. There are windmills here (like Mykonos) and just lots of plain folks. Oia, according to our taxi driver, is where most of the hotels are located, but it seems as if the hotels have, at most, ten rooms each.

 

We found a wonderful little terrace restaurant sitting out over the cliff, and we could see all of the islands near Santorini as well as our ship in the distance. Lunch was Greek salads and Souvliki, which we learned to like one summer in Greece with a Methodist Work Team. Strangely enough, I don’t like feta cheese at home, but it is really delicious here. I guess some things just don’t travel well. We also got to drink some more Mythos beer, which we had enjoyed last summer. Even though it didn’t get above the mid 60’s today, the shade over the terrace felt good.

 

After picking up a few more gifts, we headed back to the cable car. I would have suggested walking down the mule road, but you REALLY have to watch your step there!

 

Since last tender was a 3:30 and sailaway at 4:00, we thought we’d get back early, so we caught the 3:00 tender and are, as I write, enjoying a beautiful view off the veranda while John, true to form, is pretending to read while watching the water and the island.

 

Yes, Johnie and Diane, Santorini is quite delightful, and in season it's populated with many happy young college kids. I rode the mule up the hill a few years ago [when I was a bit younger and more agile] and it was thrilling. Talking of thrills, I depart Toronto tomorrow for Venice, and will join your cruise on Monday -- I beleve I'm on Dolphin deck [no veranda, sigh] but would enjoy meeting you, as I've enjoyed your journal immensely. If you wish to contact me, I am travelling alone, and my surname is Verity. I'm sorry that I was unable to join the ship at Hong Kong, as originally planned -- it's a long story -- but at least I'll be on the final leg!

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Yes, Johnie and Diane, Santorini is quite delightful, and in season it's populated with many happy young college kids. I rode the mule up the hill a few years ago [when I was a bit younger and more agile] and it was thrilling. Talking of thrills, I depart Toronto tomorrow for Venice, and will join your cruise on Monday -- I beleve I'm on Dolphin deck [no veranda, sigh] but would enjoy meeting you, as I've enjoyed your journal immensely. If you wish to contact me, I am travelling alone, and my surname is Verity. I'm sorry that I was unable to join the ship at Hong Kong, as originally planned -- it's a long story -- but at least I'll be on the final leg!

To NYC or beyond? We join Amsterdam on April 27th in FLL, and I know Bill and Mary Ann are continuing through the Panama Canal with us.

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To NYC or beyond? We join Amsterdam on April 27th in FLL, and I know Bill and Mary Ann are continuing through the Panama Canal with us.

 

 

Alas, I'll only be aboard as far as NYC. Maybe catch your friends on another cruise? -- I'll be on the final leg of a Regent Seven Seas Grand Cruise in Dec 2008, Auckand to LA.

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April 6 – Day 93

 

The first time we went to Venice, we were told by some others that “You’ll hate it – it’s just so dirty.” We arrived in Venice, walked outside the station, the Grand Canal was sparkling – and we’ve loved it ever since.

 

The sail-in this morning between 9:00 and 10:00 was just spectacular. We sailed very slowly into the lagoon and then past St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace, and to our docking area. All the good sights were on our side, so we got the wonderful view. It was beautiful, and the day began sunny and bright, with just a few clouds.

 

Because we’re about a mile and a half from St. Mark’s Square, HAL is providing a courtesy shuttle boat from here to just beyond the Doge’s Palace. We, however, decided that we needed to get a little exercise, so we hiked up over the freeway, into Piazzale Roma, across the Grand Canal, and through Venice to St. Mark’s. It took us two hours, but we had a wonderful time just bumbling along tiny little alleyways, poking into shops, looking for Venetian glass and masks, and generally playing tourist. The best part of our walk was that we were in parts of Venice that were so far from the main tourist areas that most tourists don’t see them. We saw not one person from the ship until we got right smack into St. Mark’s Square. On the way there, we found the perfect glass shop and were able to buy a gift for some friends who are watching over our house.

 

When we got to the Rialto Bridge, we found a restaurant in the shadow of the bridge, which we’ve enjoyed before, so that was our lunch stop. It was delicious – a shared salade nicoise for a starter, and then fresh fish for a main course. The waiter brought the fish to us on a platter and then proceeded to skin and fillet it before putting it on our plates. Yummmm! However – and this is a big however – Venice is NOT cheap, and with the dollar tanking at an ever-increasing rate, everything is pretty darned expensive, meals included.

 

The Venetian glass was heavy and it was getting cold, so we decided that the wiser part of valor was to take the shuttle boat back to the ship, where we dropped off the gift, put on warmer clothes, and then took the next shuttle right back into the fray. This time, we just walked and walked and walked, finally finding ourselves near the train station and a little hotel we had stayed at once before. We remembered a trattoria down the street as a good place to drink cold beer on a hot summer day, so it became our dinner spot tonight. This time, the shared salad was Caprese (tomato and mozzarella), and then we each had a big cheesy pizza – mine was Margarita (tomato and cheese), and John’s was salami. They were soooo good.

 

Finally dinner was over and it was time to hike back to the ship, since we had stayed past the last shuttle at 7:30. It wasn’t too long from the restaurant, however, but when we got into our room at 8:30, we decided that we had had enough – and so the day ended.

 

Tomorrow’s another day in Venice, until sailing at 5:00. Can’t wait – we’ll just have to walk some more!

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We've loved reading your travels and appreciate you taking the time to do so. We are headed to venice for a HAL cruise - short by your standards - for 12 days. We will have an overnight in Venice and had a quick question. Were you able to get off the ship at any time in the evening when it was in port or did they have a "curfew"? I realize the shuttle shut down at 7:30 but wanted to know if we could enjoy the nightlife a little bit...

 

Thanks!

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This is the best ever. What makes it so fantastic is that I can scroll by until I find the poster I'm looking for, and they pick up where they left off. I know many people want questions answered, but I appreciate the log and the questions can be answered later.

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