This has been one of our more interesting cruises, maybe because
it had extremes. Extremes can best be explained by saying that we went from The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, to the pyramids in Egypt to the beautiful city of Marrakesh. This splendor was then added to with the beautiful art in Florence, the wonderfully clean and interesting Barcelona and the beautiful island of Mykonos in Greece. Then all of this was offset by the third world sites in Dakar, Senegal. Of all the places we were I can say that I am glad we stopped there to see it, but I am not in any rush to go back. Our cruise was exciting, interesting and of course we met many wonderful people playing trivia and our table mates were outstanding, diverse and interesting. Was it our best cruise, probably not, our best one is always the next one, and we don’t even have that one booked yet.
Friday, December 12, 2008
We have been to Dominica before so we didn’t book a tour but instead walked into the city center. On the pier on the way in we again seen a strange looking fish, it was about 8-12 inches long and looked like a pencil. I finally asked someone the name and she told be that it is a Pin fish. As always in Dominica when you get off the ship there are lots of small tented stores selling about every type of souvenir available. Dominica is an island with mountains and rainforest and is extremely beautiful. Now, two days at sea and we will be home.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Today we arrived at Devils Island, well almost, we tendered
into Isle Royal which is right next to it. Isle Royal is where the administrative offices were and some holding cells and the hospital. All prisoners were first brought here, processed and then taken across some shark infested water to serve their term on Devils Island. One of the neat things is that from the ship you can see where the European Rocket launch facility is at, but no launches scheduled today.
Finally we were on the deck at the right time. After four failed attempts we have a picture of the equator, it is a little tough to see but right in the middle of the picture is where the equator is at. You may have to click on the picture to see it. Funny thing, Judy also thought that she felt a little bump as we went over it. Next, Devils Island.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
This morning we arrived in Fortaleza, Brazil. It is a large city with over 3 million people living there. We have been in Brazil before, but never in one of its larger cities, but it seems no matter what the size of a South American city, they all have markets and we went to a kind of nice one. It was on several levels with the center open and small shops on all sides selling most everything. Even though we found no one who spoke English, we did manage to purchase a couple of things for a decent price. Another port now under our belt with only two more to go, we can already sense that we are getting closer to home. Next a couple of sea days, lots of trivia, (we are winning once in a while) then Devils Island.
Well, today we crossed the equator, and just like the last time we crossed we rushed out to see if we could see the black line as we crossed it, but for the third time we missed it. Later in the day a ceremony was held that initiated the pollywogs (those who haven’t yet crossed over) into the right of the Shellbacks. As before the ceremony was hosted by Neptune and his wife Amphritrite. As before it was funny and one of the crew, this time the cruise director was tossed into the pool. Next stop Fortaleza, Brazil
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Well, Dakar was definitely an education. We booked a city tour for late afternoon. Maybe a little background would be good. The unemployment rate in Senegal is nearly 50%, so we knew it would be a poor country. Before our tour we went off the ship and went to a small craft place that had been put up near the ship. The locals were very aggressive trying to sell things. We were warned to not even wear watches or other jewelry as it was dangerous to do so in some parts of Dakar. I left my Mickey watch behind and Judy put hers in her bag. You could immediately tell it was a third world country. There were people all over the place, lots of them selling trinkets and some unique items. One of the places we went was the market and I couldn’t believe the smell, for me it was a bit overbearing and we learned later that it was one of the worst places for pickpockets. Luckily we had everything when we left, but heard of other people who lost camera and money. The people here seemed happy, but of course if it is the only life they are aware of, they are probably better educated and better off than their parents were. All in all for me it was a sad scene, but one that was interesting to us because it gave us a small peek into third world life. Now three days at sea before we reach Brazil.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
We arrived in Casablanca right on time but it was cloudy, cool and raining. We were on a tour to Marrakech that left at six thirty in the morning, shortly we were on our three hour trip to get there. We were surprised to find a wonderful and new four lane highway all the way to Marrakech. The weather there was beautiful, no rain and clear skies. Upon arriving there we went to the kings palace and he was away so we were able to tour the palace, it was nice, but not blow away beautiful. We then toured the Marrakesh markets and how wonderful they were, with lots of shops of every description. There were spice shops with barrels and barrels of every spice imaginable. There were shoe shops with people making the shoes. We were surprised to see craftsman in their small shops making the items they were selling. The aisles were small and we quickly learned to pay heed to the sound of a bike horn, because as soon as you heard one, a motor bike was heading either toward you and coming up behind. After a while we really paid attention to the horns. The shops were all wonderful and the long ride back was good even to we were late getting back to the ship because of traffic in Casablanca.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Today we are in Gibraltar. We didn’t schedule a tour here but elected to walk into the city. We grabbed a shuttle to the downtown and then walked up a very long shopping street until we had gotten to the changing of the guard. We watched it and walked back. We had been here before and seen the monkeys and the tunnels dating back a long time. We heard some interesting stories thru the day about the monkeys. The monkeys on the mountain are very aggressive and will steal all food right out of your hands, and sometimes cameras and other things as well. Sometimes they will decide to jump on people and decide it is time to empty their insides. We heard all of these stories today. A great thanksgiving dinner was served tonight with all the trimmings including pumpkin pie. Tomorrow, Casablanca and our tour will take us all day and goes to Marrakech.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We arrived in Barcelona on a cool but sunny day. We didn’t have anything booked here and had decided to go into Barcelona and walk around on our own. There was a shuttle into a central point of the city and by the time we had got there it had warmed up to the point of comfortable. We walked along Los Palmas, a unique shopping street in Barcelona that has about anything that you would want. Some where along the way we got off to a local market where we tried some chocolate pieces that were really good and we bought a few. The place had vegetables and fruits all over the place as well as fish and meats. We finally found a place to have something to eat and had some tapas, paella and sangria. The evening was spent back on the ship where we had some local performers doing flamenco dancing that was quite good. Tomorrow a day at sea, then Gibralter.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Well, we had some rough seas yesterday and because we were suppose to tender into Cannes, they canceled the stop because of rough seas. We have been there several times before so it was no big deal. We feel for some of the people that were welcoming their first time here. Last night was smooth for the first time for a long time, so hopefully it will be a wonderful day in Barcelona. We are going in and walk around a bit, watch for a report tomorrow, and hopefully some more pictures.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Livorno is the port for Florence and Tuscany. We took an easy tour into Florence. It has been twelve years since we had been in Florence so it was nice to see the beautiful buildings and the artwork that surrounds everything. Our great and funny guide told us that 70% of the world’s fine art is in Italy, and 70% of that is in Florence. Of course any stop in Italy calls for some gelato which of course we enjoyed. We got back to the ship, seen a beautiful sunset and met our new tablemates. This time our table is full and our initial reaction is, they are all great people. Tomorrow, Cannes.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
We had some excitement on our way to Rome. While we were at dinner the sea became very rough, so we decided to skip the entertainment and go to our room. We watched a little tv, then tried to get some sleep, but the boat was rocking pretty good because of the gale force winds ( about 60 mph). About 11 pm while we were both trying to sleep, the ship took a large lurch and came down with a bang because it had hit a big wave. All of a sudden the room went dark and the engine stopped. All was quiet, and a bit scary, but soon (maybe 3 minutes, that seemed like an hour) the lights came back on, then off again for a minute or so and finally back on. The deck came on and informed us that they underestimated the severity of the storm and were going to fast, they had to slow down and we wound up getting into Rome 8 hours late. But it is just enough experience that we will be able to tell our friends and family. Tomorrow, Livorno.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Today we are in Alexandria, the city that Alexandria the great founded. The first thing that we found, that Alexandria is much cleaner than Cairo. The city seems much more modern than Cairo as well. Our tour guide on ez Alexandria said that the governor of the city was responsible for the cleanup. The traffic was just as bad as we wound our way thru the city looking at monuments and going to the site where the lighthouse of Alexandria once stood.
We had a folk loric show from Egypt before we sailed that included a not so good belly dancer but a wonderful twirling dervish. He was a guy that was dressed in wonderful costumes that. Twirled around for at least 15 minutes without falling over.. The next couple of days are at sea, then we arrive back in Rome and continue on our next part of our wonderful trip.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
We had a very short time at the Egyptian Museum but long enough to see the remains and treasures taken out of Young King Tut’s tomb including the death mask that we associate with him. The museum was very crowded but we did manage to see a lot of the things there. In the viewing room for King Tut’s death mask, we seen our first celebrity on this trip, it was Kurt Russell who was in the small room with the rest of us, of course he had a tour guide of his own. Soon it was time to leave and it was much too soon. A long ride of almost four hours and we were back at the Grand Princess, and it was then we realized how tired we were. Tomorrow, Alexandria
We have finally arrived at the Pyramids in spite of the bad traffic, and what a sight they are. The city of Cairo is almost built right up to them, so it seems strange that they are not out in the desert. First they are amazing to realize that they are 5000 years old. We saw the Great Pyramid of Cheops which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Judy had the fortitude to go into the one of the pyramids. She had to go thru a four ft tall small tunnel and go down fifty steps bending over, then 50 steps up to see a burial room. She is still sore from the bending over. Me, I was the smart one; I stayed outside and took pictures. Too soon we left the pyramids and went over to the Sphinx, now that was really amazing, something we will both remember. Judy earlier in the day had leaned over to me, and said pinch me, I want to make sure I am really here. Next, the Egyptian Museum.
Well today was interesting, we docked at Port Said which has been christened the “Gateway to the East”. Our day started early when we got on the bus at 8 am and then we finally got on our way to Cairo. I guess I never had an idea what the economy was like in Egypt, I guess I had always assumed it was an oil country. It is not, it is a very poor country, and looked more like third world than I had imagined. The traffic was terrible and we were subject to check points as was everyone else. There seemed to be police everywhere and we even had a security man on our bus. Everything was extremely dirty, with garbage laying everywhere. We seen goats and farm animals in the streets of Cairo, for a city of 18 million (largest in Africa) it was really strange. Thank goodness we were on our way to the pyramids.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Mykonos is one of the prettiest Greek Isles. Most of the houses are white with blue roofs and it is one of the Greek Isles that has been discovered by the movie stars and the wealthy of the world. It has beautiful beaches, wonderful small restaurants, and friendly people. Some parts of it are like Venice, in that the houses are built right down to the water and makes for a neat appearance. Lots of small alleys filled with merchants. We had been here before so we didn’t take a tour. Tomorrow a day at sea and then the Pyramids.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Istanbul was amazing. Quite a statement, but very true. We took day long tour that took us to the Blue Mosque, The Topkapi Palace many other mosques and finally to the Grand Bazaar. We had a wonderful tour guide who was very knowledgeable and was able to answer all our questions and described in great detail the history of the Istanbul. First Istanbul had a population of 14 million people and miserable traffic, but seemingly very friendly people. After learning all the information our mind could endure we were dropped off at the Grand Bazaar. The bazaar has over 4000 shops and I got lost, but as usual Judy had it all figured out, she took a picture of the entrance and when even she wasn’t sure where we were, she showed the picture to one of the shop owners and he pointed in the right direction to get out. Another wonderful day for us. Tomorrow, Mykonos in the Greek Isles.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Today we did not have a tour booked as we had been here before. We decided to go the grand bazaar which was right near the ship. The bazaar is always interesting. We visited a lot of small shops, mostly leather and jewelery stores, talked to some interesting people, but bought nothing. the most interesting store we seen was one that had the display " Real Fake Watches" and they had a store full. We got back to the ship, I napped, Judy tolerated me. Kusadasi by the way means island of the birds. Tomorrow, Istanbul where we have a day long tour scheduled.
After a wonderful day at sea yesterday and a fun dinner with our table mates… Today, Athens, the birthplace of modern civilization. The Greeks gave us Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and many other thinkers that set the basis for most everything we know today. We took a city tour that lasted about three hours and took us to some of the oldest places that still exist from the ancient times here in Greece. We saw the Arch of Hadrian, the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus where the Greek tragedies were performed. To explore Athens is to walk in the footsteps of those who planted the seeds of western philosophy, science, culture and art. We had a wonderful guide that explained to us in plain English a lot about the Greek culture, and todays modern Greece. Tomorrow, Kusadasi.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Today was Naples. After a very good and needed almost twelve hours of sleep, we woke up and we were already in Naples. We really had no plans here but planned on just walking around in the city. First all of the drivers in Italy are nuts, but the ones in Naples are really bad. The day can be considered a success if you walk around Naples and manage to get back to the ship without being run over by some kind of vehicle. Heck you are not even safe on the sidewalks here, they are just considered additional driving space when the streets are blocked. We did our little trip into town and came back early enough to win the first trivia that we attended. The day was beautiful, so we played some cribbage, laid in the sun, of course went to afternoon tea for our scone fix. At dinner we met our table mates for the first time. They are an extremely interesting group and I am sure we will enjoy them during this trip. This is for Steve, they include a lobbyist for the generic medicine industry and a lady who works for Pfizer. Tomorrow at day at sea, and our first formal nite.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
After a long day of flights which were all on time and good flights, we arrived in Rome and patiently awaited with anticipation to see if the luggage had made all the plane changes. We weren’t at the luggage carousel for more than ten minutes and voila, our luggage arrived, we both sighed a big relief and headed for the Princess greeters who took our bags and we headed for the bus to take us to Civitevecchia. Now we had always said that this place is where the ship is docked for Rome. Well, this time we learned how to say Civitevecchia …….chee-vita-veckia. It means old city. Tomorrow, Naples.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The living room is full of suitcases, clothes are hanging everywhere waiting to be folded and put into three suitcases and two carryons. The schedule for now calls for us to pick up a rental car on Saturday morning, drive to Miami, stay overnite, drop off the rental car and get to the airport in plenty of time for a 1:30 flight to Toronto and hopefully onto Rome eventually on Monday, and on the ship by 4pm. So everyone keep their fingers crossed for us that everything goes well.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Well, We are back from California and a wonderful visit with Weston, our grandson. Now it is get ready time for some exciting places we have not seen before, Including Istanbul, Egypt and the pyramids, Senegal on the west coast of Africa, all in all, 33 days with stops in Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Morocco, Senegal, Brazil, Devils Island, Dominica, and home to Ft. Lauderdale.
Our trip starts with a flight to Rome aboard Air Canada that takes us from Miami to Toronto, to Frankfort, Germany and finally to Rome where we will board the Grand Princess. Our hope at this time that with all the plane changes and different cities that our luggage will arrive when we do. During this trip we are hoping to add to this blog on a daily basis along with a couple of pictures of the different ports we stop in. Hope you all enjoy it.