Thursday May 13 to Friday May 14 -- Travel Day
Karen was too excited to sleep! We got up at 5:00AM
and went out for bagels for breakfast -- and for the freezer. We got to the
bagel place 15 minutes before they opened! We sat in the parking lot
waiting. We got bagels and brought them home because we had smoked salmon
at home. Lou got French Roast coffee, and Karen got a bottle of milk so she
could drink tea at home.
Sam seemed bummed that she wasn't having a bagel.
We took Sam for a walk, and then when we got home, we
still had hours to wait for the limo. We started watching the second
episode of Happy Town, but we weren't enjoying it so we killed it and
switched to Merlin. We puttered around doing the final packing. Karen
decided not to bring her raincoat. Then Karen glanced out the front window
and saw the limo parked there. She waved the driver to the driveway. We had
a nice ride in, talking to the driver. He asked what we thought of the
president, and Lou was diplomatic.
We got in line for the skycaps at the airport, and the
lady behind us complimented us on our cool silver luggage. When we got the
front of the line, we found out that we could not use the skycap because we
had an international final destination. We went in and did not have to wait
long at all to check in our bags. We had seat assignments on our first
flight to Atlanta, but not on the second flight to Rome. The ticket agent
told Lou that the second flight was oversold. We had a blast rolling our new
suitcases through the airport. They are very sturdy and roll easily. There
did not seem to be a lot of people e lined up at security but it sure took
awhile. Lou beeped and was led away. Karen had a little trouble gathering
up all the carry-on stuff as it came out the x-ray machine, but she got
everything and had Lou's shoes waiting for him when he passed inspection.
We had lunch at the airport, at a BBQ restaurant.
Lou tried to move us to business class or first class,
but there were no seats available. He did manage to get us sitting together,
in almost the last row.
We had a great first flight, a little bumpy.
We landed in Atlanta, which is a great airport, but we
had to rush to an E gate from terminal A. There was no time to enjoy
We got great seats on the long flight to Rome: together
in row 11, F and G. There were equipment boxes under the seats in front of
us, taking up some of our legroom and room for our small carry-ons. We each
had our own movie screen and the movies and games were free.
We tried to sleep but the best we could do was doze.
The flight was like 4pm to 1am, but the time difference made it 8am in Rome.
Man that is tough. We got off the plane pretty quickly because we were very
close to the door. We had a lot of trouble in passport control because it
was a complete madhouse, and we ended up trapped in a line that did not
move. It was super irritating because the line next to us was flying by. The
immigration guy for that line waved most people through without even looking
at their passports, while the woman at the head of our line moved like a
Eventually we got through and went looking for our
luggage. We could not find it. We did find a celebrity person, who told us
that we need to go to carousel 9. We found our bag already off the baggage
carousel and set in a line of bags. It was really easy to see our new silver
bag -- it stood out a mile away.
Then we headed to another Celebrity person, who took
all our bags from us. The bags would be brought to the ship by truck, and
screened, and then brought to our cabin. We decided to give her all three
suitcases, even though that meant we would not have bathing suits or camera.
It turned out to be a great decision, because we got on to the ship around
10:45 AM, and we were not allowed access to our stateroom till 1:30. We saw
many people rolling their suitcases around, and we were glad we did not have
to do that.
We had not been able to pre-pay for the transfer to the
ship, but we just had to get to the bus and they would charge the room. But
the guy could not find us on his list of Celebrity guests based on flight
number! But it was no big deal, we just filled out a order form with our
name and cabin number.
We went to the very back of the bus and Karen put her
feet up. The new compression stockings had worked well, and her ankles were
only moderately swollen. Then we looked over to the other bus, where every
seat was taken before it drove away. That meant that we would be jammed in
with three other people onto the last seat -- so we moved.
We had to wait around for awhile for the bus to fill
up. When like eight more people got on we clapped and said thank God you are
here. The guy said something funny about how we would have been happy to see
anyone at all.
The bus ride took about an hour, and Karen finished her
first book. The second book was stuffed in Lou's backpack and inaccessible,
so she fell asleep. Lou listened to his book on tape.
The check in process went pretty fast except that there
were no guest cards ready for us. We had to wait till they printed some for
us. But after that we got on to the ship pretty quickly. So quickly in fact
that the buffet restaurant was not yet open!
We ate lunch in the buffet which is called Ocean View.
It is great. The food stations are spread out, with a lot of space between
them. So you are not constantly bumping into people. The only tricky thing
is that you have to wander around first to see what is available.
The tea that is available in the buffet restaurant is
fantastic. There are little teapots and fancy tea bags. Karen was pretty
Then we wandered around the ship. We had been
disappointed when we checked in because all we got was one pathetic sort of
map that did not show where things were -- it just listed what was available
on each deck.
We checked out the lawn, which is pretty cool.
We explored the ship and got oriented. There are
amazing diagrams everywhere that clearly show where you are and what is on
the deck. It is so easy to get around, you do not need a map. Each display
had both a vertical and horizontal diagram which is a lot easier to read
than what we have seen on other ships.
There are glass elevators in the middle of the ship,
which is open from Deck 3 to the roof. You can see into the library and
other venues as you zoom up and down. There is a tree that seems to float in
the middle of the space in a huge glittery vase.
We love our cabin! The room seems huge, but the square
footage is actually a little smaller than on Princess. The balcony (veranda)
is awesome. There is an overhang to protect us from the sun.
We met the butler, Rudolph, who is in charge of getting
us food in the room. For example, he will be the one to order our fancy
dinner in the cabin, from the dining room menu, on both formal nights. (This
is a cruise on which we will NOT be getting dressed up.)
We were so exhausted yesterday. Karen was completely
zonked. We did not make it to the evening entertainment. We were in bed and
asleep almost immediately.
Saturday May 15 -- Messina, Sicily
We slept like 10 hours! Some sunlight sneaks around the
edges of the drapes, and the light woke Karen up at 6:30am. We both slept
great. Lou often brings Karen tea in bed, and we joke that Karen never
reciprocates because she is never up before Lou. So on this cruise, Karen
popped out of bed, threw on some clothes, and went to the Cafe al Bacio to
get Lou a cappuccino and Karen a latte. Adrian is the barista. He is very
charming. The coffee shop does not open till 7:00am, so Karen hung around.
We get free premium coffees and teas because we purchased a beverage package
on the first day.
There are also teeny tiny pastries at the coffee shop.
Chocolate croissant seems to be Lou's favorite.
We drank coffee in the room and then went to the sit
down breakfast in the Silhouette Dining Room. It is a very pretty room. We
skipped dinner there the first night because we could not stay up that late.
We sat with couples from New York, Seattle, Connecticut and Maryland. The
couple from Maryland were on their very first cruise. We teased them that
they were starting at the top and would be spoiled for any other ship.
After breakfast we tried to fix Karen's beverage
package. We needed to upgrade it because she can't get Perrier (boo hoo).
The Guest Relations desk sent us to a bar, but the bar sent us back to guest
relations luckily with a guest relations steward. After awhile we were told
that only the bar manager could refund one package and purchase another, and
that he was not on duty till after 11:00. So we left it unresolved.
We ended up back at Guest Relations to purchase some
Euros so we would have cash. The TV said that the exchange rate on shore
would not be favorable and the shops and restaurants might not take other
We rushed to the Equinox Theater 5 minutes late, got
stickers up on the stage for our tour, and then sat and waited. There was
apparently someone signed up who came very late, and so we waited and waited
while other busses left. Finally we headed out to the bus. We got fabulous
seats right behind the driver.
A guy got on the bus, very late and very angry. He sat
in the seat directly behind us. He started speaking very angrily to whoever
was in the seat next to him. The person had apparently left the ship without
him, and he had been looking for her and ended up holding up the entire
tour. At first, we though the guy was speaking to a child. He was giving
orders like, "You will NEVER leave somewhere if I have told you to wait for
me." Kind of like, if your kid runs into the street, and you are so freaked
out that he almost got run over, and you want to make sure that it never
happens again. But then this women started talking, really calmly, but
pretty rudely about how it was all his fault because she had asked him
several times to get her a sticker so they could board the bus, and that she
had not spent hours in the internet choosing excursions for him to make her
miss them... The guy was furious, and Lou was sure he was going to hit her.
He was thinking about what he ought to do if the guy did start hitting her,
but then the tour guide started talking and the angry couple fell silent.
Then the bus started rolling, and right away we could
tell that the tour guide Joe was not that great, because he droned on in a
monotone that was impossible to listen to.
We drove for about an hour and a half with no stops to
get to the Silvestri Craters, and the tour guide blathered on and on in
almost a hypnotic monotone. People fell asleep. When we got to the crater,
it was completely fogged in with clouds, it was really cold, and there was a
shocking wind. We tried to be good sports though and started up the easier
trail to one of the craters. The ground was all black rock and black sand.
Lava rock. But about half way there, the wind kicked up. All exposed skin
was pricked by like a million needles as the sand beat at us. That was okay
till it got into our eyes. We were both immobilized and then our eyes
started watering furiously and we knew we had to quit and head back to the
The people who own the restaurant own the craters. It
was so crowded, too many busloads of people at once. The line for the
ladies room was LONG. There was no line for the men's room. Lou stayed with
Karen however. We chatted with the ladies in line. Candace in front of us
was very unhappy. She was completely carsick and angry that we had come to
the crater when the weather in no way permitted a walk to the crater. We
offered to swap seats with her and her husband, and she accepted.
After about 25 minutes, Karen got to a bathroom. then
we got into another line to get a cannoli and a coffee. They ran out of
cannoli just as we got there, but the lady in front of Karen offered hers to
Lou. He gratefully accepted. The other choice was a light fluffy chocolate
cake that was super. The coffee was black or latte, and super delicious.
Because we could not go to the crater, we were all
ready to leave 30 minutes earlier than planned.
On the bus, we sat in the back. Candace's husband
handed back Karen's yellow hat. in the back, we sat near the lady who
offered Lou her cannoli, and near a very attractive young couple who look as
though they are on their honeymoon.
We drove for another hour to Taormina, an ancient
walled city (or mall, Lou insists). We got to spend two hours there. We
escaped from the group and the annoying tour guide as soon as we could. We
went to a sidewalk cafe and ate ham, cheese, and tomato pannini, yum yum
yum. We were near a sidewalk artist guy on a box who sort of attacked people
as they walked by. He had popped Karen on the head as she walked by. Lou
kept saying, "Don't make eye contact."
Then we basically just wandered around and Lou used his
fantastic new camera.
When it was time to go, we went back to the first
square and then Joe the awful tour guide without counting us or anything,
started back to the bus. We were two people short. Karen and Cannoli Lady
both said, "The young couple," at the same time.
Joe made some snarky comment and then walked out of the
parking garage. They showed up maybe ten minutes
late. The girl was very upset. She told Karen that they were at the square
on time but everyone was gone already. They ran to the parking lot too.
Anyway when Joe had found them, he was rude. She was wicked upset.
When we got off the bus, we did not tip Joe. He was
Australian. He was a jerk, not what you expected. There were some people
on the bus who seemed to be in love with him and
hung on his every word. We found him boring and sarcastic.
We got back on board and went to guest relations to
finally correct Karen's beverage package. Karen got to talk to Anna and
Bernardo (from Mexico) the young couple. They were very nice.
It seemed to take forever to find the bar manager, so
the guest relations lady suggested that Karen have a seat. She rejoined Lou
at the bar, where he was drinking something like Red Tide. There was an
excellent band called Headliners. They are from the Philippines. We need to
go listen to them more.
We wanted to go swimming before dressing for dinner. We
headed back the cabin. We found that our butler, Rudolph, had delivered to
us a few cookies and canapés for tea. They were waiting for us when we got
back from our excursion today, and we gobbled them up.
We went to the Solarium (enclosed adults only pool
area) and swam in the pool till one of the hot tubs emptied out. The pool
water was cool, and Lou made a huge effort to get Karen to dunk her head. So
the second that a hot tub was free, we hurried over, Karen shivering. There
was just a teenaged girl still in the hot tub when we got in. We said hello
but she ignored us. then an older lady joined us, and we had a nice chat.
Then it was time to dress for dinner at Silk Harvest.
Silk Harvest was fantastic! We were hesitant to try
the sushi because the sushi in the buffet is always lame. But not in this
restaurant. The entire dinner was fantastic. We booked another night there.
We wanted to go to the 60s dance party but instead we
walked a couple of "laps" on the Promenade deck. (Promenade does not allow
you to do a full lap -- there is only a walkway along each side, the
connecting tunnel at the front and back of the ship is crew only. So we
walked back and forth a few times. We stopped at the Ensemble Bar for water
and a drink for Lou. The guy mistakenly thought that we had an alcoholic
beverage package and was not going to charge us for the double Bombay
Sapphire and tonic. Karen called him over. He thanked us for catching his
mistake. It was hysterical though because the drink was $16 and Karen said
we should have stayed quiet and the guy laughed and agreed. We also got
water and came back to the room so Karen could write this record of
everything that had happened so far.
We had to turn the clocks forward one hour, so it was
ten minutes before 2:00am when we finally went to sleep.
Sunday May 16 -- At Sea
Our first day at sea! There are only two days at sea
on this cruise, so it is a busy busy busy cruise. We need to relax today.
Our mission today was to determine whether it seemed crowded on the ship. It
did not. There were free chairs near the pool in the Solarium all day. It
stinks if you cannot get a seat near the pool.
At 8:30 Karen made the arduous trip to the coffee shop
to bring Lou coffee in bed. Adrian said "You're late!" But the ship was
still pretty quiet. Losing an hour overnight was tough. While the coffee was
being made, Karen also checked out the menu at the Bistro. The waiter came
right up and tried to get her to come in. The menu looks great, the cover
charge is $5, so I think that we will go there eventually.
Around lunchtime, in the hot noon sun, we walked 8 laps
(one mile) around deck 14, which is the balcony deck overlooking the pools.
There is a red path marked out and called the jogging track. But with all
the people and the deck chairs encroaching it is not a carefree walk. We got
behind a few people, a few different times, and it was much easier to let
them clear the path and set the pace.
At 1:30, we got dressed up a little and went to the
Captain's Club party at Sky Lounge. (When we left the room, we discovered
that our next door neighbors are Anna and Bernardo!) W e shook a lot of
people's hands on the way into the lounge,
including the captain. We spoke to the Chief Engineer and the Environmental
Engineer as well. We had sushi and roast beef,
and listened to great music. The captain made a speech and warded red roses
to two ladies who had been on 32 cruises on Celebrity! Wow!
We sat in the Cafe al Bacio for awhile. Lou had a
coffee and Karen tried the Jasmine Green Tea.
We sat on our balcony for awhile. Lou listened to his
book, and Karen read Laura Bush's book.
Rudolph left us the dinner menu for the main
restaurant, and we chose what we wanted. Karen got quail and Lou got lamb.
Around 4pm, there was a knock on the door, and it was Rudolph with a cart,
brining us afternoon tea in our stateroom! We got little sandwiches and
treats, and Lou had coffee, while Karen chose tea. One cup of tea, instead
of endless cups of tea. And Rudolph took away our dinner selection.
We were looking on pay per view for a movie (about $12
each) but it turned out that we did not finish dinner till 9pm. Karen was
too tired for a movie.
We walked 8 more laps before dinner. Most people were
gone, and so it was much easier and more pleasant. We kept a good pace. On
our first lap, a lady called out hello. It was the woman from breakfast,
the couple who were on their first cruise. We asked if she had been reading
her book on Med cruises, but she had not found time. We had a nice long
chat. She WON the cruise from work for having high sales at Hunter Douglas.
Maureen and Richard.
We found Celebrity Central. It is a small theater.
There was bingo at the time. We were looking for it because that is where
they play movies, and we had an idea that we might see the "new" Star Trek
movie again. But that did not work out.
Lou wanted to smoke a cigar. However, smoking is
prohibited on the balconies! Instead, we went up to the lawn, near the
Sunset Bar. There is smoking allowed on the starboard side. Lou sat in a
very comfortable rattan chair and watched guys playing bacci.
Around 7:15pm Lou jumped in the shower. Karen went to
talk to Servio. She asked if we could have our turndown service at any time
from 7:30 to 8:00pm because we were having dinner in the room and staying in
all night to watch a movie. Servio sent his assistant to clean the bathroom
and turn down the bed.
Dinner was amazing. Lou had suggested simply bringing
all the food out to the balcony because it had warmed up (the wind
stopped). But when Rudolph arrived, he brought a white tablecloth and set
the table just as beautifully as though we had been in the main dining room.
He started us off with our appetizer and soup. He left our salads in the
room, and promised to come back in a little while with our entrees.
Fantastic! There was actually steam coming off the soups when we got to
Our entrees were very good. The quail was
better than the lamb. We had dessert and then
collapsed onto the couch.
Monday May 17 -- Athens, Greece
Our wakeup call came at 6:00AM. We needed to be in the
main dining room at 7:15AM for the excursion. We had filled out a card for
breakfast in our stateroom, and we chose 6:30 to 7:00AM. We had hoped that
it would arrive closer to 6:30 but it did not. Time was ticking away, and
we were wondering if we would have to go to the buffet instead. Then at ten
minutes before 7:00 Rudolph called to announce that it was coming. He
brought in a white tablecloth again! He set up the table beautifully
again! Then luckily he left because we had to wolf it down. Lou said that
his omelet was very good. Karen had cottage cheese and oatmeal and toast.
We did not finish our tea and coffee because there was no time.
We went to the dining room and got stickers for bus 2.
A couple from Scotland sat with us, but got pulled into
conversation with an English woman at the next
We got on the bus, in the third row, not too bad. The
bus was held up when one of the men realized he had forgotten his
wallet and asked if he could
run back to the ship for it.
Our tour guide was Nasia. She was pretty good. She had
a pretty accent.
We drove to a restaurant next to one of the bridges
over the Isthmia Canal. We walked out on a bridge to look down and take
pictures. Then we decided since we had time to get a coffee. As we entered,
we saw the Scottish couple with coffee. We joined them and had yummy
coffee. (The coffee has been amazing on this trip.) The waiter left us a
bill for 5,50 Euro. We had a nice chat and some laughs with the couple. I
do not remember their names.
We drove to Corinth then. Karen realized that the
people who live in Corinth are the Corinthians -- and
remembered St Paul's Letter to the Corinthians.
At Corinth, we went to a museum and then wandered
around an archeological site.
In the museum, there were many statues with no heads.
Turns out, statue bodies were "mass produced" and then all you had to do was
commission your face!
Lou got a photo of Julius Caesar's head.
Corinthian pottery, lots of it, in the museum.
We saw the ruins of a temple with Doric columns. It was
ironic that the columns were Doric and not Corinthian.
We saw the Bema which was probably where St Paul was
brought in front of a magistrate by the local Jews for teaching unapproved
things about God, but the Roman magistrate had no jurisdiction so he drove
them out. Nasia read to use from The New Testament (Acts 17).
The Leicion Road linked the ruins to the port (about 2
miles). At first it was dirt but later it was paved with stone. Karen took a
couple of pictures of Lou on the road. We had
wandered away from Nasia who was lecturing about the water supply. Good
thing we did because we left right after that. No one else in our group got
to stand on that road. Karen did not. she stayed on the walkway so she
would have a good vantage point for shooting the pictures.
We piled back into the bus.
we stopped at a store to kill time before the canal cruise. Too bad we did
not stay at the archeological site for that additional 30 minutes.
The boat was not there when we arrived but all the
people from bus 1 were there.
Karen started to feel bad so we ate lifesavers.
Soon the boat came and we all piled on. We got on
almost last but there were still plenty of seats
available. Lou got a great spot at the very front of the boat.
We went into the canal behind a
pretty sailboat, the Moon Bird. All black,
including the mast. It was windy.
Karen bought a diet Pepsi for
Lou and a peach juice box for herself because she
felt pretty bad. After drinking the juice, she
felt better immediately.
A guy on the moon bird went
up via ropes about halfway up the mast.
it looked as though the mast was too high to fit under
the bridges but it fit
Then we went downstairs and
inside for mezze (snacks) and ouzo. Lou sat down, and Karen waited in the
line to get food. It took awhile. The snacks were
interesting, fried sardines and French fries and
sliced of tomato...
We fell asleep on the bus ride back.
When we got back on the ship, we went for coffee and
tea, and Karen brought her laptop and recorded more events in the trip log.
We found a good spot to watch the ship leave port, up
on Deck 15 Forward. Lou hung out at the rail while Karen
walked a mile on Deck 14. There was a lot of traffic, so we left a half hour
late. Using thrusters, the Captain spun the ship away from the dock and got
We ate dinner in the buffet and then got some Euros.
Tonight Karen noticed that there is 4 hours in the bus
for the tour we chose for Turkey, but the cancellation deadline was 8pm
Tuesday May 18 -- Mikonos and Delos
We got up at 6:15AM, and breakfast was delivered to the
room around 6:40AM. Rudolph suggested that we eat breakfast on the balcony,
so we did. It was lovely. Then Karen checked email, and Lou had a work issue
We were late again to the sticker for the tour, and we
ended up on the last bus again. Paul and his family were on that bus too.
There was a dolphin at the dock, and we got our
pictures taken with her.
There was a football argument while we were waiting to
walk to the ferry. A guy from Gainesville said that Tim Tivou (not related
to the Tivo enterprise) was the best player in college football and that it
was odd that he was drafted 25th. This was in response to Lou saying that he
hoped the NFL did not go to his head (because he is a great guy). Then this
other guy piped up with, "No way is Tivou the best player in college
football. I can think of at least 25 guys who are better." The Tivou fan
kept saying, "Name one player who's better than Tivou," and he was like a
dog with a bone.
The ferry ride to Delos was a little rough. We sat near
Paul and his wife.
Our guide told us to call him Adonis, even though his
real name was Antonio. He was GREAT. He was well informed and charming and
funny. It was easy to keep listening to him. He knew how to hold your
We wandered all over the island of Delos. It was easy
to navigate. The ground was mostly flat dirt or stone. We walked on the
original roads. We started with the commercial area and the main road to the
There were 5 lions out in the open, guarding the Sacred
Lake. Originally there were many more lions, perhaps as many as 19, but many
were stolen. There is one in Venice where they have stuck the head of a dog
into the lion body, because the lion's head was lost during transport.
We had coffee, which was just OK.
We wandered up the hill into an area with nicer shops
and mansions and the theater. In this area, there was no question about
whether what we were seeing was restored or original -- it was all original.
What had happened was that second stories had collapsed into first stories,
and then time and weather and nature covered the rubble with dirt and
vegetation. The archeologist simply removed all the dirt, vegetation, and
second story rubble (which was used to build the dock) and simply revealed
the streets and first levels of homes.
We jumped back on the ferry. The ferry did not bring us
back to the ship. They dropped us off in town, sort of near the shuttle
buses to take us back to the ship. It was irresistible to go into town. We
wandered through a maze of alleyways. Everything was painted white. The
alleys were twisty and narrow to make it impossible for the town to be
invaded. You were supposed to expect to get lost, which we did. But Lou got
us back on track, and then we settled in to the Nikos Tavern for a late
lunch. We had awesome chicken soup. Karen had a Greek salad, and Lou ate
spicy meatballs with rice and fries.
Then we walked just a short distance, and we were at
the waterfront (which is where we needed to be for the bus).
A woman made a big production of saying hello to Karen
but Karen had no idea who she was.
Once we got on the bus, smart alec Lou said, "This is
the last bus," and the woman in front of us panicked. He told her she was
We got back on the ship very quickly. Now we are in the
coffee shop and Karen is writing this trip log.
We got a lot of great pictures today. Karen wants to
change the picture on her desktop at work from the lion on the bridge near
Big Ben in London.
We need to buy gifts for our pet sitters but nothing so
far has jumped out at us.
Tonight, the plan is: comedian at 7:15PM, dinner at
the French restaurant at 8:30PM, and then go to bed! We have one more early
day tomorrow, then the excursions are later.
We have decided to cancel the freaky volcano and hot
springs excursion in Santorini. We'll just explore on our own instead. We
always book too much! And then wear ourselves out.
This has been the best cruise ever, and that is saying
The only thing that could be improved: the hot tubs
have no place for your feet. Plus too much chlorine. And the pool is too
Wednesday, May 19 -- Kusadasi Turkey
We were a bit worried about today because one of the
flyers said the trip home would take two hours. We tried to cancel the tour,
but we had missed the deadline. The shore excursion woman told Karen that we
would be allowed to switch to a different tour, but not cancel.
So, after another lovely breakfast on the balcony, we
got on bus 28. Bulent, our tour guide, was funny and interesting, and we
thought that we had struck gold. We drove out to Sirince, and hear a lot of
interesting stuff about how fabulous Turkey is. How it is first, second, or
third producer in the world in a whole bunch of things, like fruit, olive
oil, jewelry, etc. The miles flew by because he was so good.
Then we got to the Artemis Restaurant in Sirince. The
Clintons ate there. Ooooh. Anyway, we looked out over the countryside and
listened to Bulent talk about farming and the ancient village. Then we went
into the restaurant and saw a traditional Turkish sofa (a sectional with
three sides) and a huge tray in the middle with plates and hookah pipes.
Families eat here.
We also saw a lady making a special thin bread.
Then as a sort of afterthought, he suggested that we
might taste some wine produced locally from fruit. Lou was not thrilled,
since it was 9:00am. He had a tiny sip of peach, blackberry, and pomegranate
wines. They were okay, very sweet, nothing Lou would want to buy. A bottle
(in a cute burlap sack) was six Euros, but no one purchased any.
At this point, the tour went to hell. We moved over to
the gift shop and stood around for 20 minutes while people looked at crap
and eventually bought some. We started our tour through Sirince, but Bulent
did not tell us anything. He just basically walked though a shopping area
slowly so people could shop. We passed a very interesting looking building
with a tall skinny tower. Karen thought that he would explain what it was,
but he did not. He got a freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, and some people
on the tour did too for 2 Euros each.
Eventually Karen asked about the building. It was a
mosque. The Imam goes up the minaret to call the people to prayer 5 x day.
Bulent was carrying the Celebrity sign for bus 28, but
he was not holding it up in the air so you could see it. That meant you had
to stay near him or else you could not find him.
It was boring and pointless. Karen did buy some neat
olive oil soap.
Then we got on the bus and went to Tire. Bulent did not
even bother bringing the bus 28 sign with him. This was a bad idea because
we were on narrow streets, turning corners, and you had to stick close or
get lost. (Some guy did get lost.) Karen thinks that Bulent was just LAZY
not to carry the sign. No other tour guide ever has been that lazy and
We walked through cobblestone streets and stood outside
a Turkish Bath and saw some house in disrepair. We walked through more shops
and saw a demonstration of how they make felt crafts.
Then we got back on the bus and Bulent said it was time
for lunch. We pulled up in front of a building in Tire, and he announced
that this was the museum that we were supposed to see, but did we want to
see it or go to lunch? People said yes they wanted to see it. We wandered
through and he talked a little about the artifacts.
We got back on the bus and drove for a really long
time. We were seeing some of the sights again from the morning, and I said
to Lou, we are almost back where we started in Sirince. Then the bus
abruptly did a U turn. No explanation was given for awhile, although
everyone was awake and wondering. It was also getting late, around 1:00, and
everyone was hungry.
So Bulent got on the mike again to explain that there
had been a mix-up about which restaurant we were going to for lunch. There
are two restaurants of the same name, and the phone number that they gave
him did not work, so he decided that it must be the one near Sirince... We
had driven 25 km the wrong way, and now we were headed back.
Bulent went to the back, without a mike, and talked to
people there. Karen heard him say that the travel agency would not allow us
to switch to a different restaurant, that they were making us drive back.
There was a woman who had been very afraid on the mountainous roads, and he
was reassuring her that we would not have to go that far.
Lou and I ate life savers because were
pretty hungry. Breakfast had been five hours
We went way back to Tire practically! It was awful,
and then suddenly the bus driver did another U turn! A collective groan
went up. What was happening? We were lost.
Eventually we got to the place. Everyone rushed to the
bathrooms. the ladies room was filthy, only one stall seemed useable.
Lunch was okay. The bread was good. this English
couple later said that they were worried that the kitchen could not be clean
since the bathroom was not clean.
We actually had a nice time talking to people at lunch.
It started to drizzle, which broke up lunch almost as soon as the chunks of
fruit arrived as dessert.
When we got back on the bus, rainwater was leaking out
of one of the air conditioning vents onto a lady. Not just one or two drips
either. It was quite a torrent.
We started driving, and someone had asked if we could
skip the rug demonstration because they wanted to go shopping on their own,
and so much time had been lost. At first Bulent agreed, but then we pulled
in to the rug place. He asked if he could have 25 minutes for the silk and
dye demo. Well, we were there for an hour. No one bought anything, even the
people who wanted to, because the prices were too high.
Lou and I refused to go in. We sat at a picnic table in
the shade. We asked for coffee, and the waiter was nice but the coffee never
ever came. Everyone in the tour got a drink, so we eventually went back and
asked again for Diet Coke.
Karen waited till neither the tour guide nor the cruise
escort was around, and she tipped the driver.
We filled out a questionnaire about how bad the tour
When we got off the bus we had to wander through stores
again to get back to the ship. Karen took Lou's photo near a Starbucks sign!
And now we are having coffee in our favorite spot.
We decided to walk around and take pictures of Deck 5,
while there were few people about, but we got distracted because Celebrity
Destinations was open with no passengers being helped. What an
opportunity! So we chatted with Mikki and ended up booking a Holy Lands
cruise in October 2011 on the as-yet-unbuilt Silhouette (another Solstice
class ship just like the fabulous Equinox). We will overnight in Alexandria
Egypt!!! Oh my God how awesome.
We wandered a little around Deck 5 taking pictures, and
then went to dinner at 8:30PM.
We ended up in the buffet and met a nice couple from
LA, Lela and Robert. She uses CruiseCritic.com to find private excursions
to take in port. That way they are not trapped on a bus. A lady in a
Mercedes Benz drove them around Kusadasi yesterday. Lela says that this has
worked for them a few times. The trick is that she makes sure that she reads
reviews and only books a private excursion if the reviews are all
favorable. Sometimes you see things like, "The guide did not speak English
well enough," or "The driver got us back to the ship an hour late, and I was
very nervous that we would miss the ship..." Avoid those tours!
Thursday May 20 -- Rhodes Greece
Ah, finally a leisurely morning! Lou woke up and sat
out on the balcony reading his camera instruction manual and enjoying the
ocean. Karen woke up around 8:15 and ran down to get frothy caffeinated
Breakfast was delivered to the cabin, and then we
docked at Rhodes. We are lucky to be on the port side so we can see the
walled old city and Lou can take a million pictures.
Our walking tour starts at 10:15.
Karen is wearing lipstick because a few people have
called her "Sir" on the trip.
We dropped off our complaint form to Shore Excursions
The tour guide was Nina, and she did a great job. We
wore "whisper" audio devices so she did not have to shout. She carried a
green umbrella that was easy to follow.
We walked down the busy street and entered the walled
city. We started at the remains of a Catholic church called either Madonna
of the People or Mary of the People. The stone of that church and of the
wall around the Old Town is toufa (or toupha) and is rough and tan colored.
Nina told us all about all the various nations that
conquered and ruled Rhodes.
We walked through the streets and saw a couple of
fountains, which were not grand but rather cute.
We toured the hospital of the Knights. We saw the
infirmary. There were rather tiny windowless rooms along the infirmary wall,
and there is some debate whether those were closets or small rooms where the
terminal patients were kept. The hospital served the men who fell ill or
were injured on their way to or from the Crusades.
We walked along the Street of the Knights, up hill on
an interesting kind of stone street, where thousands of round flat rocks are
held sideways and upright in cement.
At the top of the hill, it was breezy and lovely. Karen
got her picture taken with a pirate.
We toured the Palace of the Grand Master. It was
rebuilt after an explosion. The exterior dimensions are the same as the
original, but because no plans survived, they had to guess at the interior.
The floors are covered with many amazing mosaics. Those mosaics were taken
from early Christian buildings on the island of Cos.
The explosion was caused when the Turks invaded, and
the Knights hid all the remainder of the ammunition in the church basement,
and then years later lightening struck the church tower and the whole church
and palace blew up.
When the tour ended, Lou got a picture of Karen and
Nina. Then we headed off through the twisty narrow streets to look for
We wanted to have lunch in a restaurant on a roof, and
we were almost back to the square where there were several to choose from,
but then Robert (and Lela) called out hello. They were seated at a sidewalk
cafe and had just ordered. We joined them and had a great lunch. Karen fed a
stray cat a bunch of swordfish.
Then we wandered through the streets. Karen bought
some embroidered hankies.
We founded ourselves back at the main gate and decided
to return to the ship.
We drank coffee and tea in the coffee shop. We got
refills and ended up taking them to go.
We bought a photo of Lou hugging a huge stuffed
We also got a summary of our ship account. We saw that
we are being charged $15 per day in gratuities, but that is no good since we
are not eating in the dining room. We plan to tip several people in cash.
We got a list of the recommended tips guidelines for each person per day.
For example, the butler gets $3.50 per person per day ($70).
Later we headed to Sky but it was closed for a private
function. So we ended up in Molecular Bar (Karen keeps called it
Microbiology Bar) where barista Adrian works. He explained that this is a
very special bar, established by Junior Marino, where fabulous and rare
juices and liquors and spices are used to create amazing drinks. Lou tried
Adrian's recommendation: Dragonfly. He liked it. The final step in creating
a Dragonfly is to pour in some liquid nitrogen, which sends off plumes of
cold mist and freezes the top of the drink. Then Adrian poked a hole in the
ice so Lou could drink. Lou also tried Cazzarita, which he also liked. That
leaves ten more drinks to test.
We ate in the buffet at 9:00PM. Lou loved his salmon
and roasted vegetables.
Now we are in our room, in our PJs.
Friday, May 21, 2010 -- Santorini Greece
This is the island Lou has been most looking forward
to!!! It is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. We do not have a tour, but
will wander on our own.
The weather did not exactly cooperate with us today. We
were completely socked in with clouds, and we even had a downpour!
We ate breakfast on the balcony, admired the view, and
then headed down tot he tender around 9:00AM. It was a good tender ride, no
seas sickness. We jumped on the cable car and then started looking for the
taxi stand. Jay, one of cruise staff, had shown us where on the map to get
a taxi or a bus. He had warned us that it would be very easy to get a taxi
to Oia -- but that it would be much more difficult and expensive to get one
coming back to Fira.
Well we took a wrong turn somewhere and could not find
the taxi stand. But lo and behold a taxi just drove up to us! We struck a
deal and headed to Oia.
The TV and paperwork all emphasized that the best
views, the most beautiful sights, were in Oia. All postcards and movies are
of Oia. So we had to see it.
We stopped on the way to Oia (pronounced Eee-ah) to
look over an overlook at a Catholic Church and at the caldera and our ship.
Then we zoomed to Oia. He walked up a narrow alleyway with steps up to a
great vantage point. If only it had been sunny! The view would probably
have knocked our socks off. As it was, the sea and the mountainside were
pretty. Lou got some great pictures anyway.
Someone handed us a sesame snack treat, in the hope
that we would then buy one. It was pretty good. But we were not in the
We walked back to the taxi. He wanted to take us to the
beach for a couple of hours, or to a restaurant where we could have munch...
but no way. We didn't want to spend that much. So we went back to Fira and
were dropped off in a great location, next tot he Museum. And we started
Lou wanted a light colored hat, so we were on a
mission. And we eventually found one that he liked.
A few raindrops fell, reminding us of Seattle.
Coffee time. We sat in a sidewalk cafe and enjoyed a
coffee and people watching. But then it really started to rain. Right above
us, two canopies met -- and there were leaks! We decided to move inside and
up stairs. Then the skies really opened up. We weren't going anywhere. Lou
suggested lunch. It didn't seem like a fabulous restaurant, but the rain
made the decision for us.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush -- as we
sat there, several couples came up the winding staircase and had to go back
because all the tables were full. At one point, there was even thunder!
Lou ordered a chef's salad, and Karen got stuffed
tomatoes. Both were very good. We also got bread, at a nominal additional
cost. It was a great lunch. We talked nonstop but cannot recall anything we
talked about ;^) Oh yeah, we were trying to determine whether Patsy and
Omer would like this trip or not.
The waiters rushed up and down the circular winding
staircase a bunch of times. Once when there was a long line of diners slowly
going down, one waiter skipped down the super narrow end of the steps like a
Eventually the rain stopped.
We wandered through the maze of stores, and then
decided to call it quits. We found the line for the cable car, and it was
probably ten minutes to ticket window, five minutes to cable car, and three
minutes to the bottom. Not bad!
We tendered and got back to the room where we dropped
off our stuff, talked about tips, and then headed tot he coffee shop with
Tonight we have a reservation at Tuscan Grille, Celtic
music, the Celebrity 20th anniversary toast, and then Liar! Liar! at
We can stay up as late as we want because tomorrow is a
Saturday May 21, 2010 -- Sea Day
Sunday May 22, 2010 -- Naples Italy
Monday May 23, 2010 -- Travel Day
We set the alarm clock for 4:45AM because we were due
off the ship at 6:00AM for a bus to the airport. We went to the buffet for
breakfast, then went back to the room for our bags. The process of getting
off the ship went smoothly, and we got onto a bus for a long quiet ride to
the airport. But when we got to the airport, we were told that our flight to
JFK had been cancelled.
A lot of people were on this flight -- it was a full
flight. So the line to the ticket agent was huge.
A little old lady came over to Karen and asked if she
could cut the line. She wasn't speaking great English, so it wasn't
immediately clear what she wanted. But once Karen knew, she said NO WAY and
pointed to the end of the line which was far afar away.
No one looked happy as they walked away, but when we
finally got up to the agent, we got great service. We were placed on a USAir
flight that was leaving just like 30 minutes later than our original flight.
So then we got in line for the initial security
screening, and then we got in line for checking bags, and then we got in
line for the normal security screening. Then we popped out of security into
a room with doors to the outside world but no gates. There was hardly anyone
there. We were mystified. Then Karen suggested that we would be boarding a
bus. So we went closer to the door. And eventually a bus came. It brought
us to the G gates.
At the G gates, there were loads of shops and bathrooms
and gates. We used up the rest of our Euros buying one last delicious
coffee and pastry, plus beverages to carry onto the plane.
Karen got a migraine, but had Immitrex handy in her
Karen also ran into Lela and Robert and got their email
We hung out at the gate after unsuccessfully trying to
upgrade our seats. Then we got in line to board, went down several flights
of stairs, and were stopped at the bottom by a lady who told us that the bus
was full and we needed to wait. Another bus?! What, are we driving to the
We got on another bus that took us directly to the
jet. We got out onto the tarmac and climbed the stairs into the plane. It
was so big, there were stairs at the front and back.
We had good seats, not too far from the kitchen area in
the back, which is good because we seriously spent time back there standing
Karen slept for a couple of hours then the migraine was
gone and she could read and watch movies.
Lou listened to his book on tape. The woman next to
him kept moving around, fidgeting and bumping him. Karen offered to switch
seats but he declined.
Anyway, it was not a bad travel day, and we were
thrilled to land in Charlotte and then in Raleigh.