A Travellerspoint blog

Honeymoon: Days 7 and 8

Forget the birth of democracy--- they've got puppies!

rain 40 °F
View Our Honeymoon on je55ica's travel map.

A cruising day. Nothing to report. We ate. We slept. We started gambling.

Athens, Greece

I had done a little indie research on hiring a driver to take us around Athens instead of book a cruise excursion. It was about the same price and we would get to see much more. Plus, get the real scoop on the situation in Athens and have fast wheels with a local in case a riot broke out.

We met John at the terminal, holding a sign that said DERRICK MANSMITH. Geez. It's going to be awhile before we can sort the names out. Everyone keeps calling Craig "Derrick."

We hopped in his very nice taxi and he yelled at some other taxi drivers in Greek, laughing of course since they were all there vying for the tourist business. He was so nice. He made great conversation with us while getting us about. There was to be a demonstration in downtown that day at noon, so he switched up his normal tour order to get us across the demonstration route to the Acropolis. We drove along the natural harbor where there are 50 seafood restaurants, went by the palace (missed the changing of the guards by 2 minutes), hit Mt. Lycebetticus (soooo spelled wrong, but I'm working fast here, people), Hadrian's Arch, the Acropolis and then the Agora.

We were pretty ruined out by the time we went to the Agora, so I was starting to take some funny videos... when a band of puppies came bounding up to us!!! Ohh... my heart melted. They were jumping all over me and so sweet. What killed me was the runt of the litter who was timid and hung back, peeking his head around the corner to look at us. He finally came near and I scooped him up. He was adorable and pitiful and I wanted to smuggle him onboard in Craig's jacket. It was touching. There are so many stray animals, but they seem well cared for.

I can't describe the splendor of Athens' ruins. I also can't upload pictures. Craig's laptop is rejecting my memory card and the photo lab here wants to gouge me on the disc transfer. I guess it will wait until we get back. I can tell you that we are learning a lot about ourselves as Americans and consumers. We live far more extravagantly than we need to and have had such a narrow view of the world. I feel very comfortable abroad and hope that we can make some changes when we get back.

Our taxi driver also gave us great commentary on the political situation in Athens and moved us quickly back to port when another demonstration started. John was awesome... he even lent Craig his jacket because I left mine on the ship like an idiot. And it was cold. :(

Posted by je55ica 10:02 Archived in Greece Tagged cruises

Honeymoon: Day 6

Squid Ink and Dead Monks

sunny 65 °F
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We decided to forego arranged tours in Palermo and walk. We wandered through the city, firing each other from map duty as we got turned around a few times. We grabbed a Cannolli Siciliani to go and walked west toward the 4 corners. We stopped at a variety of piazzas, fontanas and interesting sculptural sites to take photos. I swear I will upload them at some point soon. Maybe tomorrow.

We stopped at another piazza and ate our cannollis, which were the best we'd ever had. The shell is different than the ones we've had in the US and much crisper. The filling is lighter.

We moved on to find the Catacombs de Cappuchini, a monk cemetery that has 4,000 monks buried in its vaults with several hundred on display. It was relatively easy to find and a solid walk from the port. We saw many stray dogs, cats, dog poop, scooters, graffiti, litter, and tour buses. Palermo is kind of dirty.

The tombs were amazing. I was shocked to see that the bodies are just hanging out in the hallway, from pins in the wall, no covering, no partitions, all in various states of decay (the youngest at least 100 years old). The parts that really saddened me were the children, infants and full families that were on display. I think most people would feel that. There was a little girl who looked like she was sleeping, she was so well preserved. Craig began to cough and waited for me outside (he was breathing mummy dust). I took my time.

We went next to the Marrionette Museum by the port since the day was drawing late and we needed to be back to the ship by 4:30, plus we hadn't yet eaten lunch. The museum was okay. I definitely got some amazing pictures. I also found a morbid similarity between the mummy displays and the lifeless marionettes hanging about.

We moved on to a local restaurant and ventured to try the tourista menu. Our server didn't speak English, so it was challenging to know what we were ordering. We started with some delicious fried cheese drizzled with honey, bread, red wine. I got the swordfish steak with spaghetti and Craig asked about a dish he was interested in.

"Ink fish," explained the server. "Calamari," I said. "I like calamari," said The Man. He ordered it.

Now, for those of you that know Craig, he is a picky eater from the midwest. I mean, he ordered hamburgers in Barcelona. So, I was proud of him for being adventurous.

His meal was chunks of tender calamari served on a bed of spaghetti... in squid ink. It was good! He really had a hard time with the ink thing, but liked the taste and ate most of it. I could tell he was freaked out, especially when he saw that his tongue was black.

And we grabbed some gelato, headed back onboard. Tried to sleep while watching the end of Fool's Gold in 3 languages. Went to the honeymooner's gathering for free cake and champagne while watching the MOST awkward, geeky man try to salsa with his mail order bride. Really, it was like they didn't know each other and they were having a hard time communicating. Craig said that the man was searching for an algorithm for salsa dancing in his head while he flung her about like a rag doll. People watching on this ship is pure gold.

Dinner was okay. I am really hoping we can change our table. We fell asleep and missed the Strait of Messina and now I am wide awake for another day at sea. At least we move the clocks forward one hour, so my sleep will be a little more standard.

Posted by je55ica 19:28 Archived in Italy Tagged cruises

Honeymoon: Day 5

The Cruising Lifestyle

sunny 46 °F

Apparently, there are people who do nothing but cruise. Really, they are on this cruise and have already planned their next one. It's very strange - many of these people have been to these places before, some don't get off the ship when we port and just hang out, scrapbooking or taking meringue lessons like they were at camp. Where are the cameras? I feel like I am in Dirty Dancing. Seriously, I know there is a super fun staff party with provocative choreographed dancing going on somewhere here. Probably behind one of the tempting doors that are labeled, "No Entry. Staff Only."

We spent our day at sea engrossed in many activities: drinking, gambling, ping pong, hot tub soaking, eating, playing crazy golf (I hit a kid's foot on accident. BUT... I did manage a hole-in-one. I know - I rock.), sleeping, and so on. It was a formal night, so we had to hurry and get ready for that. We had a killer formal photo taken in front of a backdrop that resembles the grand staircase from the Titanic and heard the captain speak about... stuff.

And then we slept after another scintillating dinner. Our table was full this time and thankfully M. was sitting next to some poor new guy, shoveling baby scallops onto his plate. He didn't want them and she just would not be quiet or keep her shellfish to herself. How shellfish of her.

I wanted to go to the disco later, but fell asleep until 6:30 am. We're still very messed up on our sleep schedules. As I write this, it's 4 am. Wednesday is a day in Palermo.

Posted by je55ica 19:18 Archived in Spain Tagged cruises

Honeymoon: Day 4

McDonald's and Doughnuts


Made it to the ship! It's huge! We waited in an ungodly line and then boarded amid the utter chaos of people in lifejackets wandering about. We were really confused and decided to go to our room.

It's pretty cool. It's nice to be back in a "hotel" with someone to make our bed and cook our meals. Plus the view from our balcony is gorgeous. Lots of water!

We grabbed our lifejackets and went to our emergency assembly area for a briefing. There we were, all these touristas, in our life vests, sitting in an elegant dining room. I didn't have my camera - it was pretty funny and wish I could have snapped a picture.

We unpacked and walked around. Changed for dinner, had a drink in the Schooner Bar while I slammed 5 couples from the UK in "Name that Romantic Tune" trivia (we won keychains. Yay.) and then went off to dinner. I was okay with the motion on the ocean until we sat down. I started to feel a little woozy. We met the nice older couple Margaret and James to our left and Gregor on our right - all from the UK.

Margaret and I were chatting about ... pleasant and mindless things when she mentioned Martin and Spencer's. I'd forgotten that Kate had mentioned it to me, so it took a couple of minutes for the recognition to set in. Margaret said, "I thought everyone had heard of Martin and Spencer's." "Well, we don't have one," I explained.

"Right. You have McDonald's and Doughnuts."
"American," I said wryly. "I'm so glad that's what we're known for."

And she shut up. Good god. And we have assigned dining seating!!!! Aggggh!!!!

Margaret is going down.


Posted by je55ica 23:16 Archived in Spain Tagged cruises

Honeymoon: Days 1-3


semi-overcast 45 °F
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Wow! That was a really sucky flight! I mean, our seats were okay... the movies and food were great and the Air France attendants were very accommodating. All of our luggage made it and there were cute little kids instead of crying infants on the flight. It was my cold that made it very difficult. I lost and still haven't fully recovered hearing in one ear, my eyes were just weeping and I felt like my head would explode. I couldn't sleep. But we made it to Barcelona!

And what a city! I wish this computer on the ship had a memory card reader so I could upload some pics, but maybe later from Craig's laptop. Right now, I wanted to just get some words down to say hi to everyone... that we made it... and we're having a wonderful time.


Day 1 - We took a taxi from BCN to our flat in the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) on Calle Obradors off of Calle Escudellers. If I have to venture a guess, "calle" means "creepy dark alley." We were totally freaked out, especially Craig having heard all of the stories of pickpockets and other thieves. We made it without incident and Suzana, our contact, let us in and gave us the tour. The flat was adorable - just the right amount of space and division for us. Spanish tile, 2 floors, small stainless steel appliances. We slept. I woke around midnight, took some Tylenol PM, called Mom and passed out for another 8 hours to sleep off my cold and try to catch up with "future time."


Day 2 - Around 11, we ventured out to walk the Barri Gotic and take photos. I am in love with the Gothic Quarter's architecture, maddening mazes and little secrets to discover. It has all of the old world romance I envisioned Europe to be. Granted, there are very modern parts of Barcelona, but this was what I was hoping for. I had also started reading Twlight (thanks, Kate!) and so it just seemed so timely to read a vampire book while staying in BCN.


It was just 2 days before Ephiphany, so there are a lot of Christmas trees, decorations, nativity scenes and holiday music about. The street performers (always) on La Rambla are very talented in their costuming and posing. Well done for most of them. We ate lunch at Santa Anna- I had a Mediterranean plate and Craig had... hamburgers. lol. Yeah. We did get some sangria and a "spicy bomb" however. A spicy bomb is battered and deep fried mashed potatoes smothered in spicy peanut sauce. It was good for my cold. That and the local beer, Estrella Damm.


Later, we slept and woke around 10. I convinced Craig to go out to sample the nightlife - he was still worried about being robbed. We made it out to Schilling and O'Hara's (yeah, I know - an Irish pub in Barcelona? Why not?). We had some great mojitos, then Craig had a Magner's cider (yuck) and I had a John Smith's Extra Smooth (yum) and to be the cool Americans that we are, shared a Duff beer and went home. It was already 3 am!


Day 3 - The goal was to get out to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's still unfinished cathedral in the northern part of the city. We walked and walked and enjoyed the Arc di Triomph, other architectural amazements. We rounded a corner and there it was - my jaw was on the pavement. I have never seen such a tremendous building. I'm not religious, but we took the audio tour and appreciate the inspiration. We then took a lift to the top of one of the spires and made our way back down via narrow spiral stairs, stopping at open air overlooks and bridges. My knees were shaking and all of my legs muscles were going to give out on me because I am afraid of heights... and we were far above the ground. It took us a half an hour to walk down, me singing my "happy place" song all the while. It was breathtaking and perfect. And my leg muscles still hurt.

We slept all evening and all night. We were still pretty jet lagged and getting ready to embark the next day.

I wish I could upload my photos. My words do Barcelona no justice.

And they have an energy drink called, "JESS!"

Posted by je55ica 22:56 Archived in Spain

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