A Travellerspoint blog

Honeymoon: Let's just forget what day it is - Malta

Okay, I'm ready to go home.

overcast 60 °F
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I had the worst night's sleep. We docked in Malta at about 12:30 PM and didn't make it off the ship until 2ish.

We took a taxi to the top of the hill and walked to the Co-Cathedral of St. John. It was breathtaking. Carravaggio or Preti painted saints, monks and nuns in the corners of the ceiling arches and painted their shadows onto the guilded crown molding. It was so lifelike and 3D that I thought they were painted sculptures at first, hanging around the ceiling of the cathedral. They were the first thing I noticed when we walked in.

The second thing that blew my mind was the floor! It is covered in memorial or headstones carved with skeletons, skulls, angels and animals. I took as many pictures as I could, though the light was low and my lens is too small to capture nice details in that light, even by changing the aperture.

We had a Cisk (local brew) at a local cafe and then it was time to head back to the ship. It was a short stop, probably nicer in the summer.

I was still cranky.

Posted by je55ica 00:06 Archived in Malta Tagged cruises

Honeymoon: Day Something... At Sea

storm

We had another formal night. I have discovered the key to an enjoyable dinner with our table is a martini beforehand. We had a few more and had our portraits taken, gambled and visited Casino Royale for a few minutes.

The storm finally caught up to us and as if heels arent already difficult to walk in... the ship pitched up and down. So much so that the horizon disappeared and we could only see water... from the 6th deck. Plates and cups at the midnight buffet began falling over with the larger waves, which were 30 meters. My stomach began to turn from the anxiety of rogue waves, maelstroms and kraacken. The ship creaked and jumped through the night, rolling me around the bed. I didnt sleep and arose in Malta the next morning very cranky.

Posted by je55ica 23:57 Archived in Egypt Tagged cruises

Honeymoon: Day #? - Egypt

Humbled.

sunny 80 °F
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Not sure what day it is anymore. I think Monday, January something, how many days we've been traveling has been up in the air.

Egypt was warm and dusty. We boarded a coach and drove through Alexandria to the highway for Cairo. The people of Alexandria (on the route we took) live in deplorable conditions. Many of them do not have running water, although some do, and they wash laundry and dishes in the street. The streets and buildings are so dusty and dirty that I can't imagine washing laundry does much more than to take off a layer of dust. Clothes hang from almost every window and balcony of the crowded, crumbling buildings.

The streets are crowded with those funny little 3-wheel taxi jobbers, vegetable carts pulled by pathetic looking mules, pickup trucks, vans and buses. Instead of a Starbucks on every corner, there are Coca Cola and Orange Crush signs heralding people to convenient stores in Arabic, just little open-air rooms with shelves of supplies. Everything is broken and dusty, so when there is a spot of color in the Crush or Coke signs, or in the colorful homes, it's a stunning and beautiful contrast.

The ladies wear black if they are married. They are not allowed to wear bright colors because it could attract the unwanted attention of a man other than their husband. Their robes (I forgot the name and it's not "burka") seem like they would be hot, being black and in the sun, but our guide explained that they wear white underneath, which reflects the sun and heat back out.

The men... well, they were my biggest fans. I was probably one of the youngest women on our bus and had a window seat. Since the windows are large and not tinted, people stared at us just as much as we did at them. Some children waved and ran along side the bus, happy to see Westerners, others stuck their tongues out and gave us the hand. It was a 50/50 split. Lots of men, smiled at me, winked, raised their eyebrows, waved. Even the soldiers.

Along the highway, there are plenty of half-built homes and housing developments, long abandoned from lack of money and loss of interest. Pickup trucks crowded with 15 or so people in the back ran along side the bus, waving and shouting to us. We even saw pickup trucks carrying horses and goats standing in the back... open air, unsecured, moving quickly along the highway. As we neared Cairo, we saw successful farms and grand estates, children on bicycles, more vegetable carts (farm stands) and more peace than in Alexandria.

The main attractions in Cairo were the pyramids and Sphinx, of course. (Side: We met a lovely Jewish woman, Erica, in the hot tub the other day, who said she couldn't wait to see the Sphinx. "After all," she said, "my people built it. And it should be called the Schvinx." Awesome.) Each site, especially the pyramids, were crowded with tourists and aggressive panhandlers. People are so poor in Egypt that they are desperate to make some money and can be pushy at these sites. Some will come and place an item on your person and charge you, or drop an item so you will pick it up for them and then they charge you.

We fell for that once, but it didn't work out well for the guy. He was trying to give us something "for free" because Craig "look like Arab" with his beard and he then asked for a tip, which we were warned about. We genuinely didn't want 3 headscarves, didn't bring money and kept trying to refuse politely. He opened one of the bags and put a headscarve on Craig's head. Craig finally had to be very firm with him and neither was happy... but that's unfortunately what it came down to with us and many of our traveling companions. Some weren't so firm, coming back fleeced out of money with loads of trinkets they didn't want. I think that's fine... it's a symptom of desperation, sadly, and our companions won't be hurting for the few euros they passed.

Lunch was served at a grand hotel at the base of the pyramids. It was clean and the food was very good. As we walked up the steps, a band of horns and drums greeted us on each side of the stairs like we were royalty. I have video of it, but that will come later. It was the best lunch welcome I've ever been given. Outside, security guards stood in groups with machine guns.

The afternoon held more pyramids, men trying to barter camels for me (5,000 was the highest, I think, which might not be good), more sand and dust. I was emotionally drained, having seen families dig through dumps, seeing pulluted canals and yards, after being harangued by panhandlers and pervert men, hearing the annoying remarks of some of our coach mates ("This is worse than Mexico" was a gem), watching soldiers and bodyguards with rifles and machine guns in awe, smelling camels and seeing the sad state animals and children are in. I was feeling somewhat introspective about my own life and angry that people are living this way in the world I'd naively thought to be progressive and abundant with "stuff."

For me, it comes down to that the Egyptian government should be ashamed for the way its people have to live. They tout a 5,000 B.C. civilization, but lack accountability and responsibility for healthcare, roadways, hygiene and human rights. Much of that trickles down to the people themselves, I know... but within that system, how can they possibly mobilize for a cultural shift in a short period of time? Sure, they have experienced improvements that I am unaware of, but there needs to be more opportunity and empowerment. I sense a deep corruption of human values in the government there, without knowing anything about it. I only know that I have been living on the sweet side of life and that it should be that way for anyone who wants it.

I now look at myself and how I live my life. I've been one of those people that Ben Folds referred to when he sang, "These people don't give a f*ck." I've been that person... so ignorant and sheltered from the reality of the world. I'm very lucky and despite the disagreements we have in our nation about politicians and their administrations, we've had a very good government system throughout history, really supporting us. I suppose it's because it's sort of run by the people, but there's more to it than that. There's a constant eye on the brass ring, freedom and empowerment. Our government is organized and has a full body of people to answer to when things get sideways.

I sit here on this ship, now, feeling different. I feel like my eyes are open... just a little bit. And that I've been so indulged and walking through life blindly. I understand a lot more than I did and it's not nearly as much as I should understand. I'm trying to get there. I'm humbled.

Posted by je55ica 22:55 Archived in Egypt Tagged cruises

Honeymoon: Day 11

Needles... filled with hate juice.

sunny 73 °F
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DAY 11

YAY! A sunny day! A warm, sunny day! We woke around 8 am and ate our usual breakfast, then headed for the hottub. WOO HOO! We took over a hot tub, more Americans joined us and we started with some frozen drinks when the bar opened. We haven't really drank on the trip very much. We went to the disco last night, probably the first night we had more than one or two.

The drink of the day was The Stormy Weather. It's a little crew humor because we were supposed to be in Limassol, Cyprus today. Instead, they had to cancel that island because The Perfect Storm is apparently hot on our aft. (Get it? AFT!) We needed to get into the port at Alexandria asap.

So we had our drinks, soaked up the sun and then I went off for an acupuncture treatment. I'd always wondered and I do have some awesome spa certificates at home, but just haven't had the chance. She (Lauren, the acupuncturist) had me stick out my tongue and she did a lot of ahems and I-sees while she made notes about colors.

"You have a lot of things going on with you."

Hmmm....

"You're stressed and when a person is stressed for long periods of time, their energy becomes damp. So, you are in a damp condition. It affects your liver and heart."

True, I'm damp.

"I can start you on some cups and needles to get some of the hate and damp out of you."

She started me out with some funky glassed on my back... one on each shoulder, 3 on my spine and 2 on my mid-lower back. They sucked at my flesh and left bruises, which she warned me about. It would help clear my heart and lungs. Then, she flipped me over and put needles in my feet, ankles, knees, inner-lower thighs and thumb webbing (not sure what the medical term is. "Thumb webbing" is pretty good, I think). She left me for another 15 minutes. I looked down at my needles and was totally freaked. I closed my eyes and just listened to the lounge version of The Pink Panther and then a big band version of The Hokey Pokie.

When I was done, she gave me a list of herbs to pick up in Chinatown. She said I would feel amazing tomorrow.

I'll let you know how that turns out... the hate and the damp and all that.

We've docked in Alexandria, Egypt and had a lovely dinner onboard at the fancy restaurant. We've got to be up by 5 am to go on our Cairo excursion to the tombs and pyramids, so we're headed off to bed. I just wanted to finally get online again (spotty internet) and let everyone know I am safe in Egypt.

Posted by je55ica 10:25 Archived in Egypt Tagged cruises

Honeymoon: Day 9

"Rhodes? Where we're going, we don't need Rhodes."

overcast 60 °F
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DAY 9

We LOVE Rhodes. Rhodes Rhodes Rhodes. We want to move to Rhodes. What a lovely island! We didn't venture past Old Town, which is the walled, medievel portion of the city, cobbled streets, ancient homes (700 years old!) and very kind residents.

We pretty much just shopped, walked about, took pictures and went to the Archeological Museum. The artifacts were... more ruins pretty much, but I was very taken with the building. It was the old Knights Hospital so many of the rooms were old hospital rooms. And I don't mean "old" as in 1970 avocado green tile. I mean "old" as in hundred of years old, stone arches, tombs, fireplaces you could park a Smart Car in. It was old gothic and I was enraptured by it.

We had lunch at Sarris, which took forever because it's their off-season and they were ill-equipped to deal with a ship of 3,000 people (not that they all went there). Craig and I split some Ouzo (I'd had it before, it was new for him) and I have a great video of the face he made when he drank it. Good times.

We shopped some more and headed back for the ship. That's when we happened upon an elderly man in a very picturesque alley, who showed us his home, a knight's home with the coat of arms on the side in marble. He opened his basement and showed us the arched architecture. (Sounds grand, I know, but his basement is full of junk, too!) He explained that it was 700 years old.

We seriously could move to Rhodos. Maybe when we retire. People like people there. And they have kittens.

Posted by je55ica 10:16 Archived in Greece Tagged cruises

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