Tuesday, October 6, 2015

CIAO ... for now

Our ship docked for the final time in Venice, Italy on Saturday and we caught a cab to the rental car company with only the clothes on our backs ... and 10 suitcases.

Fortunately, the car company upgraded us from a two door speck to a four door speck. Tom and I were not happy with the amount of baggage. His entire wardrobe and mine fit in one third of one suitcase, but it all fit into the back and the middle of the back seat and the floors of every seat.

Tom drove without the benefit of seeing out of any window.

Lake Como was about 3 hours and 45 minutes (and forty two "roundabouts") away according to our British GPS woman.

On the way to the hotel, we stopped at one of the fanciest rest stops I have ever seen. They served cappuccino and had a fresh bakery and a beautiful restaurant inside. I was only expecting a clean bathroom and ritz crackers.

The hotel was fairly easy to find if you maneuver through streets that looked more like sidewalks (I think we drove on a few real sidewalks too).

Our rooms were side by side. I was happy to find our bathroom had an extra sink right next to the toilet. I've seen these before and realize that they must be put there as a convenience if you want to wash your hands immediately while you are seated.

The rest of the bathroom was not very user friendly. It seems that most of the European bathrooms that are in hotels are about the same size as the ones on our ship, I could only fit half my body in at a time (granted, that is buffalo size ... but still).

The view from the room was spectacular.

We got to know that balcony well ... not only for the view but also because the heating system at the hotel only had two levels hot and off. The door to the balcony stayed open a lot.

The first night we ate at a little café (Caffe Duomo) across from the Cathedral.

I will tell you ... without a doubt ... that the food was as delicious as I have ever tasted ... ever. I had spaghetti carbonara that was perfect (not too heavy on the carbonara and not too light on the consistency). Tom had lasagna and the girls had salad dishes that they loved.

We explored every block of this beautiful city.

From the Cathedral at night ...

,,, to the street markets in the afternoon ...

... where even the lady in the poster was impressed with the fresh veggies ...

... We took the ferry to Bellagio (amid the hordes of lost tourists) ...

... basked in the beauty of Lake Como ...

... and the homes that were edged into the mountains ...

By the way, I repeatedly remarked ... "THAT'S WHERE GEORGE CLOONEY LIVES!"

Of course no one listened to me until I showed them a picture of Amal and me at an awards event when George asked me to be her date.

This guy clearly didn't care. Making out with his girlfriend the whole trip ... WAIT A MINUTE!

OKAY ... Just seeing who was paying attention ... here's Bellagio!

... pretty darn cool huh?

There was SO MUCH MORE ... a couple of trips to funky casinos, a wacko waiter who called Tom and I "Big Bosses" and lots of great stories.

Flying back tomorrow! 

CIAO (for now).

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cruising Continues

Man ... the time has flown by. We are almost finished our vacation and I am still only on Day 5 of my posts.

I'll try to give you just the highlights of the rest of the cruise for now.

Next post will be the remainder of our trip and time spent in Italy.

This is the Monastery Paleokastritsa in Corfu. Built in the 15th Century, the name translates into "Old Castle". That's about all I remembered ... well that and 38 busloads of other cruisers all trying to maneuver the narrow steep paths to the monastery, while competing tour guides gave information to their groups simultaneously.

(Don't you love how rich and detailed my descriptions of our travels are?)

These are "Tenders", the vehicles that brought us to and fro the shore.

I posted this one because it was the cause of many discussions about "how the driver got up to his seat and why his seat was up there to begin with".

You can see why no one concentrated on significant facts like what caused the wars between Athens and Sparta ... or what were the great discoveries during the ancient times in medicine and physics.

However ... There were a lot of questions about nudity and the Olympic games (okay I asked if it was uncomfortable).

I think Dubrovnik was the most beautiful of the cities we visited in Croatia.

It's amazing to see where they are today when you consider the devastation and genocide that happened here just 15 years ago with the Serbian/Bosnian wars.

I snapped this shot as we ate at a local outdoor café. Life is now normal and the people are some of the kindest we have met (even though they have a series of wife-beaters hanging on the line).

AND ... they are even filming Game of Thrones here for the fifth season. I don't know what that means because I don't watch it but I'm sure it's pretty cool.

Our last port was in Croatia at a tiny village named Sali.

This is a guy sitting next to us at a coffee shop smoking Marlboros and drinking coffee and wine with his buddy.

His face tells the story.



Sunday, October 4, 2015

Next Stop Olympia

The service at the restaurants aboard the ship was just incredible  In fact the service on the ship in general was incredible. Everything you wanted was there and if it wasn't, the crew was truly happy to oblige.

The restaurants had fancy names like The Restaurant and Restaurant 2 (seriously). The menu at Restaurant 2 was preset and each item was described in detail ... followed by a half hour dissertation by the wait staff. You'd think foie gras was an entire meal by the description. Geez ... even geese probably are embarrassed by the amount of space it takes to describe their livers. And, of course each item was about the size of a quarter.

Okay enough about the liver ...


Our next stop was Olympia, home of the Olympics in ancient Greece which began in the 8th Century. .. located in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula. There are a variety of buildings (all of which are sadly reduced to columns and pieces of stone).
Included are: Temple of Hera, Temple of Zeus (remember him? Temple in every port), hippodrome (chariot racing like Ben Hur), Gymnasium (practice facility) and the Stadium (main stage) where Deb and I practiced the 100 meter dash (slowly)

Our guide was knowledgeable but ... how you say? ... monotone. And she tried to fill every second with an interesting fact like how many olive trees there are in each city. I noticed as we went from guide to guide that the facts changed slightly.

One said that the population in Athens was 5 million while another said 3,4 million and yet another said 3 million. We heard that the gods became devils in modern times and yet they also became modern saints.

I was ready to do the "Airplane" suicide on the
bus between stops,

NOTE: Hey ... guess who we saw at the Olympic Museum? ROCKY!


Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 4: At Sea and Off to Monemvasia

The cruise started on the 26th … it was a Saturday.

We took the cab to the Seabourn Odyssey. What a ship. It has about 450 passengers and all the rooms are suites. They spoil you rotten. Our room was stocked with food, champagne, wine and our own personal assistant.

I didn’t know how to act.

We even had breakfast served in our cabin this morning ... I could spill food on my robe and not even get a scolding from Debbie.

Only one negative thing about the ship. Internet service is slow, expensive and has really impacted my blog writing. (Maybe that's a good thing).  

I think I'll try to cover multiple days to save time and space (and pain for my readers) ...

Monemvasia (Sunday)

This was the first stop on our trip. It’s a beautiful island. One of the oldest … it was founded in the fifth century and was part of the Byzantine Empire. The town and fortress make you feel that you were transported back in time.

Our guide for the day was a very special friend of mine, Kathy (Dunathan) Waterfield. She was actually a former student of mine when she was in sixth grade at Canterbury School. Now she is a published author … living on this beautiful little Greek Island. They both write about ancient Greece and are prolific in Greek culture and history. Note: Kathy reminded me that when she was in my social studies class she made a super 8 movie about the death of Julius Caesar with cue cards and sound effects.  LOL I guess that had an effect on her future career.

Kathy offered to show us around. She generously spent most of the day with us, ending with a trip up the mountainside for a great lunch.
Thanks Kathy …. You are the best! And your film about the death of Jullie Caesar was a cult favorite (at least in my classroom)!

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...