Okay so off the ship and met our driver for the day Alberto. A day trip with only eight of us. James was the token born and bred Australian, I was the only Ausiwi and the rest Kiwis. Off to the town of Tuscania.
Lots of medieval buildings, churches and the requisite cute alley ways. What was nice was to be able to peep over into their gardens and see all their vegetables growing etc.
We had our first rain of the trip today so we’ve been incredibly lucky, and even today it hit hard and fast and over quickly.
We spent a pleasant little stop drinking cappuccinos for 1€ ( my first coffee in a while) and this is the first trip I can say the coffee overseas has been mostly great.
This is James, Maxilyn and Rob, as we finish our drinks before we went spying into the nunnery.
We love visiting these old towns and this was so refreshing as we had it practically to ourselves, we did see a tour group coming in just as we were about to leave.
Next stop was to a bigger town with a great museum. And a great view out of the window.
Off to the tombs out of town and wow how cool were these! they were just awesome.
There were 22 open today so lots to walk down and see.
While we were looking at these, two of the ladies wandered into the nearby village and found a lovely providore for us to have lunch at. We also had a wine and James and Duncan had a beer. The wine was delicious so we all bought a couple of bottles to bring back on.
Next and final stop was to a castle on the coast, the wind was up so you could get the feel of how desolate it would have felt in the olden days living there. This castle had some great glass inlays over the original dirt floors showing graves buried underneath and some lovely costumes and armour from days of olde.
This day was a great alternative to going into Rome where we had been before and would rather go again when we have time to stay a while. The countryside is also a bonus when on these trips out of port.
Good grief just when you think you’ve seen all the wonderful ports or cities, you float into Valletta in Malta and the port area surrounds stuns you once again.
We were scheduled to arrive at midday but came in a little earlier just after 11am.
The We had another private tour booked and met our guide and driver and had a brilliant day touring.
Our first stop was the town area of Valletta and the Cathedral of Saint John. Wowsers everything gold was real gold leaf. It was incredible.
Then it was up to the gardens on top of the embankment overlooking the harbour below. ( picture above). Stunning views and a pretty respite from the city for the locals as well as tourists.
Next stop was the Blue Grotto with a boat ride to see the caves and a chance for James and I to have a quick dip.
Next stop after eating yet another ice cream ( a habit formed quickly here in Europe) was to the oldest known buildings in the world! Even older than the Pyramids.
Our guide was superb and really added to the day.
Last stop was to the Mdina. Time for a quick walking tour and cold drink with something to eat. Food was delicious and fairly cheap.
Too soon it was time to head back to the ship. We did head back into Valletta but didn’t stay in for dinner. We were pooped. We had a meal at the horizon court and went to the show featuring local folklore singers and a dancer which was tops. The dancer was a style of flamenco, belly dancing and tango all in one.
Next it was time to head up for sail away and wave Malta goodbye and of course to celebrate the Kiwis winning the Americas Cup.
Another outstanding day.
Its hard to beat a port stop like Venice but Slovenia has its own charm, full of green hills terraced for grapes and olive trees and although a small coast line it has several beach holiday towns.
We took a ship tour to Piran a medieval town which was as charming as its sea side setting.
This location gave it a universal appeal for most tourists as it had history a lovely marina and quaint laneways with shops, ice creameries, bars and restaurants and local homes.
We had a walking tour through the square and up to the church and monastery and then free time which gave us the opportunity to swim in the sea, eat ice cream and for James to buy New sunglasses.
The tour also drove through several of the other sea side towns and a look at the salt fields where in days gone by families of up to ten shared homes with perhaps five other families also with up to ten members all summer to skim the salt off the fields as the water subsided. The salt was scooped up and without filtering or washing bagged and off to market it went.
The town of Koper where the ship was docked, also had an old town and a small area flagged off for swimming. It was a Saturday and as the temperatures were high it was as busy as you would expect. Sand isn’t really a thing so people were camped out on the grass with little shade.
Slovenia is extremely close to the Italian border and people here speak both languages plus learn English.
It is also easily within sight of Croatia and at least people could say that although they didn’t get there they did see a small stretch of its boundary.
What a magnificent way to arrive in Venice. On board our floating home, we sailed into late afternoon on the Wednesday afternoon a day ahead of our scheduled arrival. Unfortunately a medical emergency evacuation off the coast of Corfu meant our Croatian stop was cancelled, but the two full days and three evenings in Venice took the sting out of the disappointment. And boy did we make the most of that time.
Along with Michelle, Paul, Julie and Matt we took the free water shuttle offered by the ship for that first evening into Venice. We had a curfew of 1 am for last shuttle back and I think we were close to that time.
How wonderful to see the looks and get caught up in the excitement of four friends seeing Venice for the first time. The girls had trouble keeping their heads out of the shop windows as we travelled down alleyways soaking up the atmosphere that is Venice. It was a hot and satisfied group whom sat down for a few drinks in a lovely court yard just off the Rialto bridge.
Happy and tired we made our way back home after five incredible hours.
Thursday Paul and Michelle had a ship tour booked and we took our two day water bus pass and went to Burano. We had been there before but with not a lot of time to really explore. We sat for a pizza lunch and started chatting with the young couple seated next to us. Julian and Paula were from Germany and he was turning 18 in a weeks time. We spent a lovely hour with them, Julian gave James his card for when we go to Germany as they live near the best Riesling vineyards he said.
We made our way back to the ship had a shower and change of clothes and met the others and we went off back in for dinner on the waterfront and some more exploring of the area to the right of St Marks square. Another great night.
The last day we used our pass to travel around the local waterways traversing the whole Island. Took a side trip to Lido and found the beach, not clean like our waters and we wouldn’t swim there, but interesting to see how other countries enjoy their downtime. Also took a few walks around different neighbourhoods, getting a different perspective.
Had a lovely break in a park, got to video message mate Cathryn. Enjoying ice cream and beers.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Venice and be more than happy to go back again.
It was an early wake up as we came up to top of ship to watch our entrance into Santorini and watch the sunrise over her cliffs. The picture above is our home “The beautiful and friendly Sea Princess” at anchor for our incredible day at our first port in the Mediterranean.
Excitement mounted and there were a lot of extremely happy travellers disembarking for all their tours or just walking around soaking it up.
We had a private tour booked and joined our fellow tourists for a day that had us covering a lot of ground. We took in both the red and black beaches, a monastery, archaeological ruins, Oia and the town above where the ship anchored, this meant a ride to the top to join our guides, either by donkey, walking or cable car. Time was short so we took the cable car which afforded beautiful vistas all the way up.
It was a photo fest day as we clicked away but still made sure to put them away and soak it all up.
Relaxing with a pizza and beer overlooking the harbour at the close of our day with dreams of returning another time.
Before we knew it the day was over and we headed back to the ship for our sail away.
I guess we’ve all heard of the Suez Canal and it didn’t disappoint, travelling through starting at 4 am in the morning we were the lead ship of a convoy of 28 ships going through that day.
You are of course travelling through Egypt the whole way and there was indeed a lot of dessert to see particularly on our starboard side.
There was also a lot of towns and farms along the waterfront as well. Mansions to shanty’s.
Every now and then on the side were platforms piled up, waiting to be put together like a jigsaw to make a floating bridge for military traffic or I guess emergency evacuation if or when needed.
Starting so early and with no problems we came through the canal and into the Mediterranean at 2 pm.
It was an exciting day and we spent the day going from side to side and front to back, with wonderful cooling swims in the pool.
Another box ticked and a lot of happy travellers.
We arrived into Petra early in the morning on Thursday 15 th June 2017.
We met up with our tour group which was a private tour we had booked through cruise critic. There were 12 in our mini bus and as soon as you like we were off for the two hour trip to Petra. We drove through the town of Aqaba, the port town which was fairly quiet due to Ramadan. Our guide Moses whom is Greek Orthodox explained all about the history of Jordan, the royal family and the tensions in the surrounding countries; which when you look on the map you can see Jordan shares borders with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Syria.
What can you say about Petra!!
Photos do not do it justice at all.
It is simply incredible and to think they believe 85% is still to be unearthed is mind blowing. I think with the state of uncertainty in the surrounding countries at the moment it is probably best left uncovered for now.
To do it justice you really have to stay in the local area and visit over a couple of days.
We didn’t race to the monastery as it would have been at full pelt and in the heat we decided to keep this visit to the Treasury, the Royal tombs, the amphitheater and the temple. This allowed us time to really appreciate these sites and still give us something keep on the list for next time.
The visit to the site of Petra ended with a meal at a local restaurant which was tasty and welcome by 2:30 in the afternoon.
The countryside was just as much a surprise, as we were all delighted to see many Bedouin tribesmen and their families living in goatskin tents tending their herds of goats and camels.
Others on the ship went to Wadi Rum and others went to a local hotel resort to swim in the Red Sea.
Before knew it it was time for sail away and our next adventure sailing through the Suez Canal.