Monday, 13 August 2012

Cruising the Mediterranean

Well, it’s back to reality now that our fabulous 12-day Mediterranean cruise has come to an end. What a journey through several countries, all aboard an excellent vessel that provided all we could imagine - and more.

We began in my favourite Venice and the overnight docking allowed us to see it in daylight and atmospheric evening glow – a wonderful introduction to our travels. Daughter Vikki and I were delighted to hear we were having a Venetian Masked Ball onboard and of course we bought a hand decorated mask each in Venice! Since my next book is called Midwinter Masquerade, I convinced hubby it was essential.

That was the beginning of a wonderful itinerary that took us to fascinating Dubrovnik where we walked round the city walls. Then we were off to the beautiful Greek islands of Corfu, then Kefalonia (setting of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin), where we saw turtles eating the fishermen’s excess catch of the day, and Santorini where we took the cable car up to the white-washed village on the ancient volcanic mountain top. On the sail between Greece and Italy, we watched flying fish leap from the sea as we ate a sumptuous dinner - many of us thought at first they were young dolphin.

On to Italy and our first stop was Catania, a busy port where we took a taxi driven by a colourful Italian Columbo-like driver to the beautiful hill-top village of Taormina with its ancient Greek theatre from where Mount Etna is sometime visible on a clear day. We melted in the heat and thought the taxi had no air conditioning until he suddenly switched it on about ten minutes before we returned to the ship, after noticing me trying to fan myself!

Next stop was Naples and we went straight for a hydrofoil to Capri. Island of the rich, famous and beautiful people, it was a hive of tourists and we took the funicular railway to the higher town where we enjoyed much needed drinks overlooking one of the most gorgeous views. I was delighted when a little lizard came to observe us on the nearby garden edge.

We knew the next day would be one of the busiest so had an early breakfast as we docked in Civitavecchia. This is the port for Rome and most passengers (if coming from far away) take the ship tours. We usually do our own thing, so we walked the 10 minutes along the attractive waterfront to the railway station and took the regional train right into Rome. To say it was hot and busy is an understatement! Walking until we dropped, we saw the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and various other fountains and ancient buildings. And we decided the only way to see it properly is to return off season.

Our last full day ashore was at Livorno. Many passengers chose to take tours to Florence or Pisa but we were relieved to stay in the attractive port town itself and just wander around the wide, slightly cooler streets. We found the Venetian Quarter which was much quieter and prettier, then marvelled at the wonderful indoor food market that made us wish we had even a tenth of their glorious fresh produce. An outdoor market provided plenty of touristy browsing.

We welcomed our final day at sea, as we were exhausted with the heat and walking by then, but the ship more than made up for it providing lots of cool public rooms, a deck pool, and copious drinks. We even went to the cinema to watch a film in the afternoon – and they provided popcorn!

We’ve cruised a lot and, overall, it was a great experience, enhanced by having the company of our daughter. No doubt some of the venues might feature in future stories, once I assimilate all the sights and sounds. It’s going to take a week to catch up on emails, all online activity and the washing!

On the writing front, I had an email to inform me my children’s story, Jeremy Jones and the Jungle is now published online by Knowonder (I had already been paid for it) and I believe it’s also available as an App. If anyone is kind enough to read and rate it, I’d be very grateful.

Hope everyone has been having a good summer!



Paula Martin said...

Welcome home! Sounds (and looks) a fantastic trip! I'm soooo envious!!

Frances Garrood said...

Sounds wonderful, Rosemay. Which company did you cruise with?

Jean Bull said...

Sounds like a fantastic holiday, Rosemary. I hope you threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain to make sure that you return. It actually worked for us!

Teresa Ashby said...

What a lovely post - it's great to have you back, Rosemary and I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time x

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for the kind welcomes! It's good to be back - in some ways.

It was fabulous, Paula, especially visiting some beautiful new (to us) islands.

It was Holland America, Frances. Our first time with them, although we've been on many other lines. A very good standard, friendly and no over-the-top pretensions.

I didn't get that close to the fountain, Jean, but I'm not sure if Vikki managed a coin.

Thanks, Teresa! I'll live on the lovely memories for a while.

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

I love your pictures. I've been to some of those places and I plan to go back. What a wonderful summer

Mary Smith said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful time, Rosemary, and have almost convinced me a cruise would be good. Look forward to hearing more about your super holiday. Welcome back!

Erin OQuinn said...

Welcome home, Romy! I missed you. Your words about Greece reminded me of my all-too-brief stay there, in a seaside town called Arkitsa. What I remember even more than the Parthenon are all the cats. The Greeks feed them, and they are everywhere. Loved it! Loved them too.

Thanks for sharing your photos and observations. xxErin

PS...Left a tongue-in-cheek "critique" of your short story...tried to give a 5 rating but it wouldn't let me for some reason :-( Really loved it! If I had grandkids, or knew kids that age, I'll get it for sure.

Joanna said...

Welcome home, Rosemary. Your cruise sounds idyllic. I love Cefalonia and would really like to see Santorini. You must be very inspired by all you've seen.
Congratulations on your story success. I'm going to have a look at it right now.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting P&I - some of the islands are really beautiful. Hope you get that return visit!

Thanks, Mary - lots of people are converted to cruising once they try it!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Erin - thanks again for your great support. Yes, the Greeks seem to have loads of cats! Thanks so much for leaving a comment on Knowonder - I think their system means every rate counts and gradually moves it up!

Hi Joanna - Kefalonia was one of my favourites and the turtles just made my day! So many images and observations that it will take me a while to make something of them. Thanks for looking at the story!

Joan Fleming said...

It sounds a wonderful trip, Rosemary. Such interesting ports of call.
I really enjoyed your little children's story - and I rated it.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Joan - that was kind of you!

Suzanne Jones said...

Gorgeous photos. Looks like you had a wonderful time.


Anita Chapman said...

Hi Rosemary, sounds like you had a great trip! I love Venice and I went on holiday as a child to a place near Livorno (Cecina) many times. Livorno is a lovely town and we used to get the ferry to Elba from there. Congrats on your children's story being published.