Roger's cruise Diary, Septemper 7 through October 2, 2015
09/06/15 Left from San Diego via American Airlines. First leg to Philadelphia went well, arriving on time. Had to walk about a mile to 2nd connection which I actually enjoyed. The airport was large and had lots of interesting shops and restaurants. My second flight to Barcelona however was a problem as the plane still on the ground began emitting noxious gas from the AC system. The technicians could not figure out how to fix it. A different aircraft was brought in by American, but it took 4 hours to get it ready. I drank wine in the bar to sooth my nerves and hoping perhaps it would help me sleep once I got in the air. Finally got in the air 4 hours late. The wine did help me sleep but I almost got sick from it and the motion almost upchucking. After about 2 hours I felt fine and actually got some sleep. The food provided by American/US Air tasted like swill Yuk Yuk. I listened to audible books classic novel Jane Eyre on my smart phone. What a wonderful book this is, but then I am a romantic at heart. I have never listened to such perfectly spoken English in my entire life.
09/07/15 The 7 hour flight was long and difficult to bear but I think I am getting used to these long flights and I was able to actually get a few hours sleep on this one. I arrived about 12:00pm and was met by a Celebrity greeter at the very modern nice Barcelona airport. Unfortunately because of an intestinal flu type out break on the previous cruise the entire ship had to be washed down and disinfected. So we were not able to get in our rooms until 5:00pm. The ship is the most beautiful and modern one I have ever been on. My room is large and nicely accommodated. Had a sushi and Chinese lite dinner at the 14th floor buffet and was in bed by 8:00am.
09/08/15 Was up at 6:00am as we arrived in port of Marseille, France. I took a few photos of port and had breakfast. My excursion today into Marseille’s inner city was a good inspiring way to start out my cruise. What a beautiful sea side city it is. I should have had a seafood lunch downtown, but I was worried about missing a shuttle back to the ship. We rode about 10 miles south on the bus and visited the Noderdame Basilica church on high hill over looking the city. After a short 4 hour excursion got back to ship for a light lunch. Still got jet lag so I slept another 4 hours and am now doing photo uploads and this diary. All is well so far.
09/09/15 Still suffering from jet lag as local time is + 9 hours relative to San Diego. The ship is much less crowded (probably only 2/3rds full) than the last Princes British Isles cruise I took. The percentage of Americans are much less. So far I have not even attended the evening dining room for dinner, so have actually made no acquaintances to date. I find that listening to chattering in a foreign language is annoying to me. I am spending a lot of time in my comfortable room sleeping, using my computer, and listening to “Jane Eyre” on audible books. My excursion today is not until 1:30 pm and is only 3.5 hours long. We are not on shore here in Nice and apparently the tender ride takes up to 45 minutes into Nice. I got on the pleasant tender ride into Nice and started my excursion. The bus headed north out of Nice toward Monaco which was about 15 miles north on a coast highway that went high into the cliffs along the beautiful coast. It was similar to La Jolla Cove in San Diego except higher and extended to 15 miles. The coastal scenery was breath taking with many expensive villas along the way. This area is more exclusive than La Jolla California. One of the homes we went by was recently purchased for $300 million dollars!!!!. We toured Monaco with only 450 acres and a population of 38,000. It is only for the very rich but heavily population with high rise condos and apartments on every square meter of land. I personally would not want to live here. The coast line and views from the high cliffs are extremely scenic. The weather is about the same as San Diego. The cliffs rise up toward Italy and become the Alps. We returned from Monaco and toured bit of Nice’s coast line and inner city. Got back to the ship around 5:00pm. I actually had a pleasant dinner in the formal dining room tonight with two couples one from Canada and the other from North Carolina US. I splurged and ordered a bottle of Caymus Cabernet 2009 which was excellent and should last me 2 - 3 nights. I was off to bed early at 9:30pm.
09/10/15 Up at 5:45 am this morning to make my early excursion at 7:20am to Florence and Pisa Italy. It will be a 10 hour plus day for me. Last night I found out that a drink package was actually included in my fare, I was able to get a couple of bottles of non premium water free for the trip. This cruise line Celebrity really nickle and dime their customers for every conceivable item. My drink package includes soft drinks, coffee bar, and counter type wine, beer by the glass. Some of the drink packages go up to $55 per day, I think I got this one for a promotion from my travel agent. Apparently the intestinal flu out break is over as they allowed us to serve ourselves at the buffet this morning. The excursion to Florence was awesome and very busy with lots of walking. The bus parked at least 2 miles from the inner city. Everybody should see this historic city before they die. The government is constantly restoring various churches and buildings. The leather goods are probably the best in the world, but quite expensive. Our lunch was great consisting of fresh salad, bread, two pastas perfectly cooked and sauced, and all the Chianti wine we could drink. Bathrooms were a constant problem on the trip with none on the bus and others required Euro money to buy a ticket. After Florence, we drove to Pisa and I was so tired that I actually slept for an hour on the bus. The walk into Pisa was 2 - 3 miles round trip from the bus. We only had time to walk around the outside of the structures as it was too busy to wait in line to see any of the insides of the building. It was another world heritage awesome site worth visiting at least once in your life. Got back to the ship at 6:00pm really exhausted. I had a few bites at the buffet and retired to bed within two hours.
09/11/15 Got up 5:30 am for my excursion departure to Rome at 7:15am. The bus ride took about 1.5 hours during the rush hour. Rome is an amazing city and anyone remotely interested in Roman history should visit this extraordinary historic city. Lots of walking (4 - 5 miles total over irregular ancient cobble stone streets and sidewalks) was required on this tour with unbelievable quantity of tourists visiting the same locations. The bus first did a short tour of the inner city where the famous ruins were actually part of the current city with constant restoration work in progress. The bus was parked and we walked at least a mile past old ruins, old buildings, and new buildings to “St. Peter’s in Chains” Basilica where we saw Michelangelo’s statue of Moses an awesome piece of art. Next we walked about 45 minutes to see the Roman Forum and then the huge historic Colosseum. The weather was perfect for site seeing in the mid 70’s with broken clouds. Our Roman guide was excellent, a female college professor who was very engaging with a great sense of humor. The Italians have very fun personalities. Next our bus took us to a huge hotel for lunch. The cuisine was again Italian salads, pasta dishes, french bread, all the Italian wine you wanted to drink, and a desert something like Tiramisu. I became friends with two ladies belonging to a travel club for professional females. One owned a business and the other one was a doctor. They liked wine and I have started having lunch with them on my tours. They are lots of fun, eager beavers always at the front of the line and have given me lots of tips about traveling in this area of the world. Bath rooms are a problem in France and Italy, but this hotel had free ones. Yesterday was disastrous as I had no Euros for a bathroom. Today I had Euros but did not need them (I drank less water and wine). After lunch our bus took us to the Vatican. What a crowded place this was but the museum and St. Peters Basilica the biggest church in the world were both awesome. We saw the Sistine chapel and the world famous Vatican Museum. I have never been bumped so many times by human bodies in my entire life. It was like playing high school football. The art was incredible, especially anything by Michelangelo and the many tapestries in perfect condition. We had three guides (two who constantly held up our tour number 14 plaque to keep our group together). The main guide had a radio transmitter who constantly told us where to go and giving us an audio description of the major pieces of art. I was very paranoid about getting lost and stayed real close to the front guide most of the time, but still separation happened and a bit of pushing and shoving was required to get back close to our beloved guide. They gave us phone numbers incase we got lost, but a good part of the time my cell phone had no signal and just making an International call is a challenge for me, hence I stayed close to our leaders at all times. After the Vatican Museum we walked to St. Peter’s Basilica the largest church in the world about 2 US football fields long. It was too awesome to describe. Most of the art and statues in the church were done by Michelangelo or his students. It was truly worth seeing, but we were all exhausted now and it was time to walk about a 1/3 of a mile through a rain shower back to our bus. We all mostly slept on the bus trip back to our ship. It was a 11 hour day. The sleep on the bus did rejuvenate me however and I hurried to the ship formal dining room for a pleasant repast with my dining group.
09/12/15 Got up about 7:00am and listened to my “Jane Eyre “ Audible book as it was so intriguing to me that I could not stop listening for 2 hours and its ending. Truly a classic and any person even a bit romantic should read or listen to this book. Today is a sea day so I had breakfast late at 9:00am. Spent a few hours working on my photos and my diary. Did the jacuzzi and a lovely tornadoes of beef dinner with a great 15% alcohol Chilean wine which had to be decanted as it was so bold. It was excellent and with alcohol content, it may last me 3 nights.
09/13/15 Arrived in Valletta, Malta this morning around 7:00am. The dock is right on the pretty scenic prehistoric walled city. Temperature in high 70’s, not a breath of wind, so I had my eggs Benedict, croissant, fruit, and coffee breakfast on my balcony over looking the scenic city. My excursion leaves at 9:00am so I have few minutes to enjoy the balcony before I leave. Well Malta, a small group of islands, is a Republic, historic and very pretty. The small country is very old and has been controlled by many invaders; Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, French, Italians, Turks, and most recently they received their independence from Great Britain. We did perhaps 5 miles of walking in two cities; Velletta and Mdina both very old historic well preserved cities dating back to BC. Our English speaking guide was excellent getting a tip from me. It was a relatively short 5 hour excursion with no lunch, but was quite exhausting due to the fast walking standing, and the high temperature and humidity. When I got back to the ship, I headed to the pasta bar for a nice lunch with a glass of wine. After lunch I felt overheated and dehydrated, so I slept in my room from 3pm to 9:00pm drinking lots of water and recovered satisfactorily. Had late night sushi dinner and diet soda for food tonight and then returned to bed.
09/14/15 A sea day. I had breakfast this morning in the dining room with 4 other people from the US and Scotland. A very fun and friendly group we had. Spent the day listening to my new audio book “Charlie Wilson’s War” and processing my photos for the web site.
09/15/15 Arrived in Mykonos, Greece this morning about 6:30am. It is clear and warm but very windy perhaps 30mph gust, this morning. As luck would have it my excursion is a boat tour to a small island called Delos. I sure hope I do not get sea sick. The 1/2 hour boat ride to Delos was quite exciting fast moving perhaps 8’ waves to contend with. Many people came very close to getting sick. I stayed on my feet keeping my eyes on the horizon and using my legs to counter act the wave action thus keeping my brain concentrated on something other than getting seasick. This excavated city on the island was truly amazing and was very old lasting apparently from 900 B.C. to around 100 A.D. The fabled birth place of the Greek god of the sun, light, harmony, and beauty named Apollo lived here. Our guide talked into a walkie-talkie which was transmitted to the entire group. I am finally getting used to these devices which are quite useful in tight quarters where you are some distance away. The wind continued caused the mic to transmit extensive wind noise. The guides needed to use the dead cat mic wind guard. We walked at least 3-4 miles over rough rocky stone covered trails. Temperature was in the low 80’s. The ruins and the story of this very old and well preserved civilization are well worth visiting. The boat returned back to Mykonos city center requiring us to walk along the ocean another 1.5 miles to pickup our bus shuttle back to the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship.
09/16/15 We arrived early in Athens, Greece today. The Greek ports are very active boats of all sizes and class moving around in all directions. My excursion at 8:00am is a sight seeing tour of Athens which includes the Acropolis and Parthenon. Athens is a very large city of 4 plus million people. It was not very impressive in my opinion. The coast line is nice but all other areas seem to be in a bad state of repair reflecting Greece’s recent financial problems. We had to stay in the bus until we got to Acropolis and the Parthenon. When we finally got there it was mobbed with people. It requires a short walk up to the top of an hill perhaps 500 to 600 feet height and has a very impressive view of the city. It is in amazingly good condition considering that it was built in 500 B.C. The clever architecture used amazes modern architects to this day. There was no wind today, but our guide with an heavy accent had to use radios to keep in contact with us all. Our group was perhaps 35 to 40 and several almost got lost but our vigilant guide was able to find the missing ones and had the patience of Job. Again I stuck with her like flies to honey. Got back to ship at 1:00pm. Had a small hot panni tuna salad sandwich for lunch keeping it light because we get lobster for dinner tonight. Yum Yum. Got my laundry back from 12 days on the ship and it cost $100 (no dry cleaning or suits). Quite expensive for even a cruise ship. This Celebrity Cruise line is trying hard to raise their bottom line. The only reason to visit Athens Greece in my opinion is to see the Acropolis site. The large city is not to my liking.
09/17/15 Arrived in Kusadasi, Turkey another beautiful Mediterranean busy little port. I got a routine going now; up at 6:00am to shower, then to the 14 floor cafe for raisin bran, banana, cantaloupe, pineapple, and water melon. Then down to 5th fl. gourmet coffee shop for black coffee, almond croissant, and bottled water for the excursion. Then to the room to drink coffee, a bit of computer time, and then to the ship theater to line up for the excursion of the day. I found if one gets to the theater before the scheduled time they still give you a sticker for your bus. You then sit in the ship theater near the exit to the disembarkation for quick get away when your number is called. Employing this method I was able to get a seat in the bus, in the first 4 rows. Being a single I usually got two seats to my self and was able to stretch out and have a spot for all my camera equipment.
Kusadasi with old and new buildings was a relatively clean seaside resort town and looked very similar to San Diego even with Starbucks coffee shops. It took our bus about an hour to get to the ancient archeological site of Ephesus We spent 2.5 hours walking through this magnificent site of the ancient Romans. It is said that the Virgin Mary lived here the last years of her life. Our female guide was a very energetic speaker, an extraordinary historian, humorous, and entertaining. Anyone visiting Turkey should definitely not miss going to Ephesus. Next we had an excellent Turkish style lunch in a beautiful theme park similar to Caesar’s Palace in La Vegas. The even gave us toga robes to wear so we looked like real Romans. Great food and great fun indeed. A Roman style dance group did a performance outside on one of the stages after our lunch. Next we stopped at Basilica of St. Johns ruins where the remains of the disciple St. John is thought to be in one of the tombs. We then return back to the city of Kusadasi where we visited a Turkish rug establishment named Majestic Carpet & Jewelry where we were given a presentation of the different types of Turkish rugs and why they are better than other rugs of the world. I actually purchased an expensive 5 x 7 wool rug to put in our living room in front of the fire place floor or wall. It took one year to make and I think it is beautiful, but we must wait to see what Linda thinks? I will have photos on my web site. We were all forced to walk back through a shopping bizarre with high pressure Turks pressuring us to buy some thing, but to no avail as I had spent enough for today.
It was formal night and lobster night at dinner on the ship. Yum Yum.
09/18/15 A sea day. Cooled off to low 70’s today, windy, and sunny. Had a relaxing day soothing my sore muscles in the jacuzzi from all the walking and camera hoisting. Had lunch with two New Zealand’s and two Australian’s who where very friendly and humorous fun people. Dinner was just me and the Canadians Bill & Zydia but lots of fun. Bill was an electrical engineer and Zydia a teacher both were very well educated people, very engaging and fun to talk with on virtually any subject. We had our waiters take photos of us together and promised to look each other up if traveling close by.
09/19/15 Arrived in Istanbul, Turkey at 4:00am. I got up at 6:00am and got on the internet to use up my final 40 minutes. I met a couple who are also doing back to back cruises and they wanted to take a cab tour privately as the ships have suspended all excursions because of an incident at the US embassy which may have involved an Isis scum bag. Many people are going ashore or staying over night so I do not feel it will be too dangerous. I get my new Sea Pass card at 9:30am. Exiting the ship early we decided would be a zoo, so we stayed for lunch at the “Bistro Five” a premium restaurant which we got comped in, because of our back to back cruise status. After lunch we three headed for the taxi area and were immediately approached by a driver who spoke broken English so we engaged him to take us to old town Istanbul to see the Blue Mosque. It was an unbelievable ride and at one point I was a bit worried that he was taking us some place to be robbed. I never went past so many Mosque’s in my life. I tried to keep the driver talking but his English was really bad. He informed me that there is 21 million people living in Istanbul (goggle says there is 14.2 still very large), no wonder traffic is bad and streets are narrow. We found only one parking spot in a business area in front of a rug-jewelry-leather dealer, the cab drivers brother-in-law! We were told that no cabs were allowed within two blocks of the Mosque which turned out to be true. The rug dealer now provided us with guide free of charge to take us to the Blue Mosque. The huge structure was beautiful with very nice grounds around it. Unfortunately we did not go in as the line was an hour long. We then purchased some Lira from a street money vendor with our guides help. 3 lira equaled one US $. We needed lira to get into the Basilica Cistern (Sunken Palace) built in the 6th century, with a roof system that collected rain water and piped it down into a super huge cistern under the Basilica. We employed another guide who bought our tickets getting us to the front of the line and guided us through the under ground cistern which was quite impressive technology for that period of time. It was damp and quite dark down there, but my camera still took reasonable photos. When we got out the first guide was waiting for us and he guided us next to the Hagia Sophia museum which was an amazing structure with beautiful grounds. The lady in our group had bad diabetes and was ready to go back so we did not enter the museum. The other couple were very slow, so I and the guide talked a lot getting to know each other very well as he spoke excellent English. To my surprise he would not even take a tip. I guess is job was to get me primed to buy rug, jewelry, or leather. We got back to the shop and low and behold the cab and driver was still there. We got in the cab and he drove us back to the ship through very heavy rush area traffic. All roads especially in the old city were very narrow and sometimes made of cobblestone. He stopped the Galeta bridge to let us out for photo opts of the beautiful river bay. Got back to the ship and we were ready to pay our 70 lira which he quoted us at the beginning but now he tells us that it was 70 eur not lira’s. We finally ended up paying 60 eur’s for the cab trip which was actually quite reasonable considering that he provided us with guides and waited for us while we were sight seeing. I would definitely like to revisit this city to see more of sites and museums. It was a very crowded old city but relatively clean for its age and high density.
My fixed dining at 6:00pm tonight was in the middle of the dining room and quite noisy. My fixed dinner companions were a Japanese couple from Vancouver Canada and English woman from Kent. We all complained of the luke warm food tonight.
09/20/15 A relaxing sea day. I worked on laptop doing diary and photos. I got diarrhea today and I think was from lunch yesterday and spicy beef crepe or the crepe suzettes may have caused the problems. Started out with stomach cramps. It was formal night tonight so I wore my suit. We all complained of cold food again tonight. I did have a nice salmon tartar appetizer and strawberry soup with custard type thing that was excellent. My rack of lamb was cold and bad, but I was eating lightly anyway because of diarrhea affliction.
I finally made a show tonight the first one so far. It was a British song and dance production show with high energy tribute to varied pop, rock, and international music. Two or three very talented singers and all the dancers were great including a few circus type acts. The choreography and sets were superb. My favorite singer a young beautifully proportioned girl sang songs like “Don’t you wish your girl friend was as hot as me” and “ Hornado’s Hide-a-way. I went early and got an excellent seat 4th row back. One of the best ship shows I have ever seen.
09/21/15 Arrived in Kudasi this morn at 8:00am. Perfect clear weather with mild wind in the low 70’s. I am still experiencing diarrhea (hope it does not develop into something more serious) so no excursion today. Had I known that this back to back cruise only had one new port on the return trip I may not have done the back to back. It is very relaxing on the ship when the majority of the people are gone out on excursions. My window and Veranda has breath taking view of the bay with islands, fortresses, and many different kind of ships cruising around. If I feel ambitious I may take a walk to shore.
09/22/15 Arrived in Mykonos Greece this morning at 8:00am. No excursions today because of thunder storm predicted. I have already been here last cruise and had no excursions booked any way. Last night, I was telling a house keeper manager that I was not feeling well and she started asking questions. I finally told her, I had diarrhea but was feeling better today and she later called the doctor, who called me and asked that I come in for an examination. I had to fill out all kinds of forms about where I had eaten the last 3 days. He said I had a fever and thought I might have the Nora Virus. He gave me pills and quarantined me to my room - bummer. They are going to call me this morning at 10am to see how I am doing and hopefully will let me out of prison, as I feel a lot better this morning and have had no diarrhea since the examination. He called as promised, I told him I was starving and had no diarrhea episodes last. He released me from quarantine (prison) and I immediately headed up to have breakfast. Yum Yum My room was totally sanitized to eradicate the Nora virus. Spend the day exploring the ship and working on my lap top. Went to main dining room at 6:00pm getting two new people, as one women left because she did not like our waiter or the luke warm too cold entrées he was serving us. This trip I have ended up with some very uneducated dinner companions, but it is still better than eating alone. I practice my Dale Carnegie skills on them and have fun with them. The ship is loaded with Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, UK’ers, Americans, and every other nationality imaginable. The Americans are barely in the majority. I watched an entertaining fashion show after dinner that was promoting high end clothing, jewelry, and purses. Most of the participants were non professional travellers, but a few definitely had some professional model training.
09/23/15 We arrived in Athens Greece this morning. Temperature in the high 60’s with broken clouds. The air was very clean as it had rained through the night. I got up at 8:00am and studied a problem with focusing on my camera for at least an hour. It was operator error as I had the focusing switch in “continuous” instead of “single” mode hence the focus green light never locked in unless the camera was very still which is normal operation. I put it back to “single” and all was well. Went up for light breakfast at 10:00am. Ate very light so as not to activate any more Nora Virus symptoms. Returned and got my very dirty laundry sent out. Laundry cost a fortune on these ships. $130 - 10% this time. Visited the ships “future cruise reservations” for Panama Canal trip from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego. Spent time doing diary, web site, and listening to new book called “The Target” by David Baldacci. I must saying cruising can become quite relaxing. The sea port in Athens is beautiful and very active. I have spent time on the Veranda taking photos and watching the marine activity going on. There are about 10 large tankers 5 miles out anchored waiting to come in to unload their cargo. The clouds in the sky are beautiful and in the morning a layer of fog floated over the cities high cliff side houses.
09/24/15 It is a Sea Day and the ship is busy. A full pandemic of Norovirus has happened on the ship the last 2 days and every precaution imaginable is being done by the crew to keep it from spreading. It appears from documentation I have read, that one is unlikely to contract the disease a 2nd time for 1 - 2 years, so I should be safe for now. It is getting quite boring on board now as so many on board are quarantined, many do not speak English, and those on board who do, are not very friendly. Not taking any tours is adding to the boredom. I will be taking one in Croatia on the 26th. It is a formal night so I must break out my suit again. My new book the “Target” gives new meaning to violence but it is exciting and sure keeps my attention. It looks like I will be learning a lot about North Korea.
09/25/15 Arrived in Dubrovnik, Croatia at 8:00am. Another beautiful port with a breath taking view without even getting off the ship. In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It used to be a part of Yugoslavia. It has one of the best prehistoric preserved walled cities in the world. We stay here two days and it only had one excursion I wanted to see “the prehistoric walled city” which is tomorrow. I made reservations for the Premium Asian Restaurant tonight called “Silk Harvest”. It was raining most of last night, but the weather has turned beautiful with temperatures 65 to 75 F. I am totally back to normal now health wise. I have been looking for the last hour for one of my Fuji 55-200mm lens and can not find it anywhere. I checked ship lost and found to no avail. Probably rolled out of my camera bag on one of the bus excursions. I have hardly used the lens at all but still hate to loose it, Bummer. The Asian Silk Harvest restaurant was bust, average at best, fortunately I did not pay full price to get in on a promotion. I tried the hypnotist show tonight. He may have been a good hypnotist, but he was lousy entertainer and I walked out in the middle. Did some people watching and then watched the excellent production cast singers and dancers do a short skit in the main 3rd floor area.
09/26/15 Got up early for my Dubrovnik excursion this morning. We had an excellent guide and headed straight for the inner city. It was very very busy and the guide used audio radios which I am finally getting used to, but sure is hard to keep the speaker phone in ones ear. Another beautiful day in the low 70’s. The city deserved it’s UNESCO rating. It is quite large with several churches, basilicas, and monasteries 90% Roman Catholic. A quite a few people actually still live in this prehistoric city. It has lots of shops, restaurants, markets, etc. Because it was Sunday there were many locals, dance groups, and various entertainment. We were left to explore on our own for 45 minutes. I made it back to the pick up area OK as I now have learned to use architectural features to help navigate back to the mother bus. Next the bus headed down the beautiful coast for our luncheon restaurant. We encountered a traffic accident on a very curvy mountain road and the bus rerouted deep into the country side. The roads reminded me of our trip into Norway, but not quite as suicidally steep. In 1991 most of this country side farms and village houses were pillaged and destroyed by the Yugoslavia, Serbs, or whoever. To my amazement the majority of the houses were all rebuilt and looking great. We finally got to our luncheon restaurant located on a very scenic little river. We ate out side in covered area immediately on the river. They served excellent local wine all we wanted, split pea soup, fresh breads, a nice salad, sauteed fresh trout, scalloped potatoes, and a cherries jubilee type desert. I sat with a Chinese couple the husband accountant living in Hong Kong and the wife living in Canada. They were quite fun to talk to mostly about there respective countries and what cuisines they like. We then got on bus heading back through the countryside and along the sea coast to our ship in Dubrovnik. The Europeans just flock to this place for holiday relaxing. Croatia’s main industry is tourism. The area looks a bit like San Diego, but is greener and the high coast line is actually prettier then San Diego. I was very tired so no dinning room tonight having only sushi at the buffet.
09/27/15 It is another sea day. I got up before sunrise and set up my camera and tripop to snap some HDR photos of the rising sunset. Jupiter was also visible. Had a light breakfast at the buffet having cereal, fruit, and coffee only. The entire ship seems to be moving around this morning. I decided to watch a photoshop tutorial on Lynda.com about HDR processing. Still amazed how well the internet works even with live streaming.
09/28/15 I got up about 5:30am and looked into sky from my Veranda discovering the lunar eclipse was going on. I quickly got camera installed on my tripod and shot a few photos of the event before the moon went behind some clouds. I had breakfast in the formal dining room at 6:30am with a group of fun Canadians. Arrived at the port of Civitavecchia, the entrance into Rome at 7:00am. I am not doing Rome excursion this time, but am doing a countryside excursion which also includes olive oil, vinegar, and wine tasting at a local farm. Sounds like fun and is only about 4-5 hours instead of 10-11 hours for Rome. Did the cruise and had a great time. The countryside was pretty and full of olive trees, vineyards, sheep, and farm produce vegetables. We stopped at a small town in Tuscania where we walked approximately 1.5 miles through old town and to a look out of a castle fortress across a wide valley perhaps 4 miles distant, which apparently was a UNESCO site. On the way our guide told us more about growing and harvesting olives, more than I ever knew. She also explained in detail how different grades of olive oil is made and what the various terms mean. It was very educational indeed. Continued on past thousands of olive trees to the farm house restaurant location. It was a charming villa and the lunch they served was excellent including anti pasta salads material of the highest quality including 4 kinds of extra virgin olive oil that tasted really wonderfully good and fruity. The luncheon also included a really good pasta with a Pesto dried tomato sauce. Yum Yum. I bought four small bottles of the flavored olive oil - garlic, Pesto, rosemary, and lemon - to bring home. Had a nice dinner in main dining room tonight accompanied by a high end full bodied excellent red blended wine from Chile which had 15% alcohol. The main course a grilled thick pork chop with brown demiglace sauce, butternut squash pureed, red cabbage, and grilled pear slices all perfectly cooked. Yum Yum. Before the main course I had a chicken mushroom pate, barley soup, and a pear vegetable salad. I was too full for desert and took off to make the 7:00pm show, put on by Jon Courtenay a comedian and an extraordinary world class piano player. This guy really has talent and put on a very funny and high quality show. The theater even on the first show was near capacity. Most of the people who cruise are party hounds and the ship becomes alive after dark and into the night. I people watched as I finished my glass of wine, for a bit in the casino and at the Martini Bar (with frosted icy bar top) before retiring to bed.
09/29/15 We arrived in Florence this morning at 7:00am. I want to do the “Coast of Clinque Terre & city Portovenere (a UNESCO site)” excusion today but was unable to get space even after getting on the wait list a week prior. Oh well it was a 9 hour tour with lots of bus riding which can be exhausting for me. The internet is still working great, so I will spend the day working on web site and uploading a few pages.
09/30/15 Arrived in Nice France this morning. No additional excursions I want to see here, so I will again spend the day on ship working on web site and soaking the jacuzzi. It is formal night and lobster tonight. I thought the cranky waiter had driven every one off except me, but the Chinese couple show up tonight. Had a nice dinner with a Barola wine but was too tired to wait until 9:00pm for the Cirque du lee show tonight. I think they are playing tomorrow night.
10/01/15 Arrived in Provence France this morning. My last day before departure in Barcelona tomorrow morning. Its been fun especially the first leg but I will be happy to get home to Linda and the Pups tomorrow. These air lines sure nickle dime you as they will not let you select seats when booking and by the time they will let you select seats, all the good seats are gone. I had to pay another $140 to get isle seats on my last two flights home. I got my big bag all packed and ready for pickup tonight. YAH every thing fit!
10/02/15 Arrived via cruise ship on time at Barcelona Spain. Picked up luggage at 7:30am and got on my Celebrity transfer to the airport. It took forever to get my bag checked in at the airport but finally got checked in with no problem. I may try to avoid using American Airlines in the future as they are not efficient for checking and many of their planes are quite old without adequate leg room. On the leg to Miami they had removed rest rooms on the plane to put more seats in and hence a serious shortage of rest rooms at certain times. On the leg to San Diego my premium exit seat had lots of leg room, but the seats were hard as stone and the backs would not recline because it was on an exit. I may not consider exit seats in the future. I did arrive in San Diego on time and no problems with baggage. Linda had a hard time finding me for pickup as all the business men were coming home on Friday night.