Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro

Today is our first day of rain, and it's still gorgeous! This is a beautiful ancient town on a bay, with steep mountains rising behind and on three sides. We had a wonderful time walking the old city in a light drizzle, then stopped for a drink and to catch up on email at a cafe on a lovely plaza - with free wi-fi. The wi-fi on the ship is 75 cents a minute, so we haven't been using it!

We had a marvelous lunch in the old town: goulash (the best ever!!), fish soup, and Montenegro steak, a thin piece of pork, topped with a thin slice of ham and cheese, then folded and grilled. It was all delicious! And since we're on vacation, we also had some of the good local wine. Now it's time for catching up on my notes and a nap. Tomorrow: Dubrovnic.

Split, Croatia

Split, Croatia
October 26, 2012

Old town Split is quirky and interesting. Although we have a Rick Steves tour book, we decided to hire a local guide, Nick, and he turned out to be great! We paid €10 each for a two hour tour and it was worth every cent. His cynical yet humorous take on his country's history and future was sobering and provided a different perspective on capitalism, which he seemed to think is the cause of the ruin of his country - and he's probably right. He says that tourism, while saving his town from ruin, has also caused all the locals to move away, as the profit motive is now the reason for every decision regardless of the consequences to its citizens. Kind of like the US. It's always eye-opening to talk politics with locals and hear their thoughts about the impacts to them and the world; it seems like Americans are the least politically aware people in the developed world.

Split is a wonderful mashup of Roman, Renaissance and modern architecture. We loved just walking the narrow, cobbled streets and picking out the various genres. Nick pointed out one wall with three windows, stacked vertically: one from Roman times, one medieval, one from within the last hundred years. He explained that Croatians are not wealthy enough to replace all their windows at once, so they will do one at a time. It's actually quite charming. He also led us into a private set of apartments and showed us the shared kitchen sink (a plastic bucket arrangement) and shared toilet. Sobering.

Next we stopped at the Poseidon restaurant, whose fleet of fishing boats provide a bounty for their fisherman's platter, supposedly for two but plenty for the four of us. Two whole fish, a lobster, two squid, a dozen or more whole shrimp, and several dozen mussels, plus I probably forgot some. Totally delicious! All for €39, roughly $50, including a couple of beers for Mary and a carafe of wine for the rest of us. Of course, we still had dinner just a few hours later!

I haven't mentioned the food on board yet, but it is excellent.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finally some photos

Here are a few photos: leaving home, meeting our grand-nieces, Venice!  I hope to post more later, we are having technical andtime issues.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cruise 2012: Venice to Rome and more

We are in Venice! Molto bene! We arrived an hour or so ago, and are having a glass of wine in our apartment while we start some laundry. After looking around at the local restaurants, the one we like has too long a wait, so to the grocery - more like a 7/11, just a few staples - for pasta and pesto!
The trip has been perfect so far! Our afternoon in Seattle was quiet, just a walk through Pike's market, and then we went for oysters at a crab place, where we ended up eating halibut collar, clams and sushi at happy hour prices. Several glasses later, we went back to our hotel to watch the presidential debate and get to bed early.
Up at 4:30 to catch our flights to NY, Madrid and Marseilles! We caught a few hours of the baseball game between uneventful flights. (Go Giants!!!!) Catching the bus to Aix was a piece of cake, and we had time for a nap at the Cardinal Hotel before meeting Andrea, Ambri and our adorable 6-week-old grand-nieces for a drink at Place Richelme. I can't adequately describe the pleasure of meeting these adorable babies and seeing our nieces while enjoying a kir in Aix! Life is very, very good.

We spent all day Friday and Saturday in Aix, drinking coffe in the mornings to help with jet lag (the worst I've ever experienced), then playing with babies in the afternoons and evenings. Doug has thousands of photos of them! Did I mention how cute they are? We went out for a wonderful dinner the first night, then fixed dinner at Ambri and Giuliano's the next two nights. Try as we might, we could not eat at a reasonable hour - dinner at 10:30. And we can honestly blame the babies for one of those nights! Photos to come - we are still working out some technical issues.