Adíos to the Serenade of the Seas

Hello from the B Hotel in Barcelona,
I have said it before, and I will say it again, I love cruises and traveling, but I hate to see it all end.
I want to thank you all for following us throughout our trip. I will try to post from Barcelona again later this afternoon since we have just finished a city tour and were all starving!

Here is the view from our Balcony from this Morning (not as luxurious as in past days)

20120728-133255.jpg
Disembarkation in Full Swing

I hope you have all enjoyed!
Spencer

Advertisements

Our Final Port Day, Yesterday in Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast

Good afternoon from the beautiful Serenade of the Seas, we are currently traveling at 16.8 Knots back towards Barcelona, Spain. It is about 77 degrees Fahrenheit or about 25 degrees Celsius. It is very humid though, and it feels more like the upper 80s in the full sun. We are sailing in some of the smoothest seas that I’ve ever seen, and with a slight haze, it makes for a beautiful day on the Med!

Yesterday, we were picked up by our tour guide in Salerno, Italy at about 8:00 in the Morning, and our first stop was a place where I have always dreamed of going, Pompeii. If someone was to ask me what the best representation of a Roman City was, I would say Pompeii, not Rome! This is because Pompeii was buried under volcanic ash and preserved during the Time of the Roman Empire.

It was 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius blanketed the city in 20 feet of ash and killed practically everyone within the City Walls. In Rome, on the other hand, there are many artifacts and buildings from the ancient Empire, but the city as been lived in by other people since the Empire fell. Overall, there is more history throughout the years in Rome, but Pompeii paints a better picture of the ancient Roman City.

To save some time on our onboard Internet package, I am going to number the photos and caption them ahead of time.

In Pompeii, we visited the Forum (1), An Original Pompeian Street,(2) an ancient Roman Pub/Bar(3), some of the original preserved skeletons found on the site, with a plaster cast put over the top to create the correct body shape (4)(5). These people knew they were going to die and there was no escaping it.

20120727-191332.jpg

20120727-191338.jpg

20120727-191351.jpg

20120727-191401.jpg

20120727-191409.jpg

After Pompeii, we began our drive along the Amalfi Coast. Here is a great photo looking down over Positano on the Coast.

20120727-191547.jpg

We drove even further up above Positano for lunch, which was incredibly fresh, all organic, and there were incredible views!

Here are the views from the Restaurant, and some photos of our fresh Italian lunch:

20120727-191632.jpg

20120727-191642.jpg

Well, yesterday was another incredible day in what I have now decided is the best place I have ever visited, Italy.

Look for a brief ship tour blog post later on today.

I hope all of the photos are in the right order!

Ciao for now!

Spencer

A Double Blog, Athens, Greece and Kusadasi, Turkey

Hello from the Serenade of the Seas, we are underway towards Santorini, Greece at a speed of 14.7 knots.
I am going to give you all a double blog tonight, Athens from yesterday and Kusadasi, Turkey today.
Lets Start with Yesterday morning. We left the ship nice and early to head into the European Capitol of Knowledge, Athens, Greece. It was once of those days that was brutally hot, but just what I wanted it to be!

We were on a private tour, and our guide, Dimitris, made sure that we made it up to the Acropolis just ahead of the ship tours for our ship, and both Holland America ships in port.
The Acropolis was home to incredible feats of architecture before the Roman Empire even existed, and to know that people can still admire the Parthenon and other temples up there is great! Just as I said about Rome, you can’t really describe it, but it is all just so incredible!

We enjoyed the Temple to Athena (The Parthenon) along with the Olive Tree planted in honor of the tree that the goddess Athena supposedly gave to the city long ago.

Later on, we visited the 16 pillars left of the Temple of Zeus, which contained over 100 originally. The only negative part of the day was the heat. It was about 100 degrees (Fahrenheit).The Changing of the Guards in front of the Parliament building was also entertaining. The ceremony has been carried out every hour of every day for over 150 years, with no exceptions. There is a major ceremony that is only once a week, Sundays at 11am. That is the one we saw. What precision in the way they march and move!

I got just what I wanted for Lunch, a Gyro! A traditional Greek sandwich with either Chicken or Pork, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onions, and Tatziki Yogurt Sauce.
We strolled around on the Plaça, the marketplace of Athens, and then headed back to the port of Piraeus with our driver.
We had a great day in Athens, Greece yesterday!

Here are some photos from the day:

20120723-231256.jpg

20120723-231304.jpg

20120723-231311.jpg

20120723-231322.jpg
The Changing of the Guards

20120723-231405.jpg
A Family Photo. I’m on the Right!

20120723-231448.jpg
The Parthenon
___________________________

Now today in Kusadasi, Turkey we took our one and only ship tour of the trip, “The Tastes of Turkey”. We started by going into a small village by the name of Sirince, with a population of 600. This was definitely off the beaten path. We had a freshly prepared traditional lunch in a small Turkish restaurant… Pictures below.

One of the most interesting parts of the day was going into a Turkish Carpet shop where they weaved their own silk, wool, and cotton carpets, and allowed us to try some strong Turkish Coffee.
Today definitely helped open my eyes to the genuine old world culture, and knock off name brands that make up what we call Turkey!

Now, here are some Photos of our day in Turkey:

20120723-231608.jpg

20120723-231617.jpg
Part of my Lunch

20120723-231649.jpg
The Restaurant

20120723-231720.jpg
The Carpet Weaving

Enjoy!
Spencer

Dinner, Spanish Nighttime and other Oddities of Spain

Well, ¡Buenos Dias!
It’s comfortable temperature wise, In the lower 70s right now at 9:00am-Barcelona Time.
Last Night, we had an authentic Tapas (or Tapes, as they say in this part of Spain) Dinner at Taller de Tapas, translated roughly as Workshop of Tapas. Here are some Pictures:

20120716-085653.jpg

20120716-085707.jpg

20120716-085736.jpg
We Made Pigs of ourselves and ate the rest of him. Just Kidding!

On our walk back to the Hotel Colon, we spotted some ominous looking colored clouds above the cathedral whose bells are ringing as I type this.

20120716-090108.jpg

There is one more odd photo that I need to share. This on on the menu at our Hotel’s restaurant:

20120716-090640.jpg
Philadelphia Cheese– wrong translation. That would be… Cream Cheese. I understand though since the Philadelphia Cream Cheese container says Philadelphia larger than Cream Cheese.

We are going to be getting on the Serenade of the Seas in just a few hours. Here is our itinerary with webcams for each port I could find them in. Click Here to view the itinerary
If you find a better webcam for any port listed, or a webcam for a port where I haven’t found one, please leave a comment here to share it.

Have a Good Day and I will try to update the blog as soon as I can!
Spencer

¡Bienvenidos a España!

After a 7 and 1/2 hour flight, we are here, in Barcelona Spain!

Before any more talk about our first day, I want to thank all of the O-G-G’s who followed us through Alaska last year, and have come back for more, just in time for our Mediterranean Adventure!

Now, back to today… We were pleasantly surprised to land almost an hour early, and dropped our bags at our hotel to walk on “Las Ramblas”.

20120715-165224.jpg
What a Crowd!

At noon on Sundays outside the cathedral, across from our Hotel, the local churchgoers perform traditional Spanish Music, and Dance in the Cathedral Square.

20120715-165857.jpg

20120715-165848.jpg

Here is the Cathedral itself;

20120715-165957.jpg

We are having a hard time getting used to the time change, but I did one thing right, I did what
the locals do, took a well needed “siesta” this afternoon! Wow, I can’t believe it’s 5pm here. It feels like 11am in my mind… Oh wait, it’s 11am in New York!

I will be taking advantage of the free wi-fi here at El Hotel Colon, and sharing more with you all in the morning.

¡Hasta Luego!
Spencer

Travel Blog: What’s next for Costa Cruises?

Within the past 2 Months, Costa Crocieres, a European Cruise Line owned by Carnival Corporation has been through a lot! On January 13, The Costa Concordia collided into the rocks off of the island of Giglio, Italy, killing 25 and leaving 7 still missing and presumed dead. Just a few days ago, The Costa Allegra, a smaller and older ship, had a fire in its Engine room. This event left passengers stranded without power, or running water for days. Luckily, all of the Allegra’s passengers and crew are safely back on land in Victoria, Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

I understand that in the next year or so, many travelers will be more cautious, and book on another line, but eventually I hope that Costa will make a comeback as “Europe’s Number One Cruise Line”. A comeback in the industry for Costa may require a bailout from Carnival Corp. in Miami. Unfortunately, even though cruise bookings have not decreased that rapidly yet, I would give it some time, and there will be a drop. Costa Crocieres is in big trouble and has a reputation that is getting worse by the minute.

Here is the link to an article on the topic: Click Here!

Image

The Costa Concordia off the island of Giglio, Italy

Image

The Costa Allegra arriving in the Capital of Seychelles after an engine room fire this past week

Photo Credits to articles at www.guardian.co.uk and thesun.co.uk