Embarkment was at Bari – a city that will certainly have a claim to fame, but having been spoilt so far with the places visited, we put Bari into the run down, tied and not a necessary stop while in Italy category. The ship is huge; it has three levels, 5, 6 and 7, for shopping, eating, drinking, lounges, and entertainment. Levels 8, 9, 10, 11 and parts of 12 and 13 are for sleeping cabins. Levels 15 and 16 have swimming pools, bars, spa pools, tennis court, mini golf, beauty spa, gym, kids club, disco and an often frequented gelato spot, which serves the biggest tubs we have seen yet.
Chris and Robyn are in a balcony suite on level eight and enjoy sitting watching the different landscapes as they change along the route
. Ryan, Mitch and Olivia have a sea view cabin on the same level; well they would see the sea if not obstructed by a massive lifeboat. They spend most of their time in R and C's cabin anyway so benefit from that view. The boys have found the games rooms thus disappear frequently. They have charmed a crew member at the bursar’s office and get far more chips in exchange for money than they should. Chris has found the gym hence leaving Robyn and Olivia play copious card games together. We seem to be in the dining room all the time and the food is fabulous. Chris helped himself to the bottle of water on the table, the first night at dinner, only to find later that it is priced like gold and had been purchased by the guests we shared the table with. They must have thought us real plebs.
Our first stop was Corfu and the weather, fabulous and warm. Walked away the day looking at the old forts, the unique streets and of course shopping. Olivia has a pair of Dior (????????) sunglasses now for the mere price of $14NZ, so many terrible take offs here.
Next day - Santorini. Opened the cabins curtains to see a sheer cliff with a town perched at the top. The only way to get up was a zig zagging path or a cable car. We were ferried by boats to shore and Chris started making noises about walking up
. Robyn headed straight for the cable car queue. The compromise (after Robyn found out the cable car queue was an hour’s wait) was a donkey ride up the zig zag path. Robyn only just got on her donkey before it took off at full speed. Olivia was on next and much to Mitchell’s disgust the guy lifted him straight off his feet and planted him behind her as a pillion passenger. Next was Chris’s ride with Ryan planted in front of him. Their donkey promptly stumbled onto his knees and nearly projected them headfirst onto the brick path. It then proceeded to veer towards every tourist who was walking, attempting to crush them against the rock wall. Much arm waving and untranslatable obscenities did nothing to deter this donkey from his mission. Between tourists he would attempt to wipe Ryan and Chris from his back by rubbing against every telephone pole. From several zig zags up the hill all Robyn could hear was Ryan’s laughter. Robyn’s donkey would wait for Olivia and Mitchell’s to catch up and then promptly take off, never allowing them to get in front. When stopping twice to wait for them, it relieved itself of a very smelly load, once nearly getting Olivia on her knee. The shrieking was deafening. It was wonderful entertainment and we all laughed until it hurt. Bundled into taxi (4 of us squashed in the back with no seat belts does not seem to worry the police in Italy, Greece, New York or in fact any where except NZ) to drive to the stunning village of Oia, a Greek village characterized by narrow streets and white house and churches with blue domes (learned that the blue domes are Greek Orthodox Churches and the white domes are Catholic ones) – it offers breath taking views over the Gulf of Santorini
. As we approached the village the taxi driver stopped in the middle of the road to hail a woman who had just crossed with a lunch in her hands, he persuaded her to give it to him and we lurched off down the road with him holding a steaming bowl of potato stew in one hand and a large bun in another. In the interests of road safety Chris offered to nurse the stew – phew!!!! It was hot in Oia and the scenery spectacular, better than all the paintings and post cards depicting it. Even saw an Asian couple having their wedding photos taken, glad it wasn’t that hot on Peter and Vicki’s day.
Athens was a most interesting city. We bargained our way into a taxi to take us to all the sights around the city for four hours (having already walked for 30 minutes with no success looking for a self service laundry, because we baulked at paying the ship laundry prices). We got a great driver. Told him we wanted him to take us to a laundry first and then spend the time sight seeing and pick up the clean clothes on the way home – the laundry he took us to was closed so it looked like we would smell until the end of the cruise. He dropped us at the Acropolis - it was very hot, crowded and commercialised. However a nostalgic moment happened for Chris as he remembered sitting on the steps of the Pantheon when he was five years old, hence was disappointed that it was all now roped off and so much of it was covered in scaffolding
. He thinks he has weathered better over the last 40+ years. Got back to our driver and found our laundry bags missing, he had taken it upon himself to find another laundry – such a nice man with initiative. Then set off to see the first Olympic marble stadium, more temples, and more ruins. The highlight was the President’s Palace where we saw the changing of the guards. When the change occurred, their movements were something else, it looked like they were kung fu kicking in slow motion and they walked like this for nearly half a block. Our thighs ached on their behalf.
Olympia next stop and we enjoyed sitting on the water’s edge at a café enjoying the scenery and atmosphere of the quaint seaside town.
Story continued on next blog, as either Robyn the official blog writer is writing too much or Chris the official blog photographer is taking too many pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!
We are on the MSC Musica at present cruising the Mediterranean. The blog is being written on the 13th floor of the ship with unobstructed views through floor to ceiling glass for as far as the eye can see.