Sea days

Hello again. I have been home over a week and realized I did not post the last few stories on the blog.

“Sea day, just prior to disembarkation

We will have one more port of call, today is a sea day 21 November 2019. We are sailing toward port of Palma de Mallorca Spain. We will disembark at Barcelona 23 November and head toward home, flying into Vancouver airport.

Sea days include time spent with family and travel buddies, last minute shopping at ship boutique stores, reminiscing of the last ports of call, starting to process going home, thinking about packing, deepening relationships, trying to stay present…… practice.

Trying to resist resistance, relax into the waves of energy …. Feeling the sensations, hours on rolling seas, slow steady arising of home sickness alternating with relaxation, growing to-do lists, counting up the costs and reviewing our ship-board account, selecting enrichment activities, pondering why I travel at all. What would I do differently? What were the highlights of the adventure?

Time to take in afternoon tea.

Safe travels “

Delphi revisited 18 November 2019

Delphi 18 November 2019

I booked a tour with many of my travelling group, friends and family. I was in Delphi a few short months ago with GAdventures land tour.

There are 3000 islands of Greece, 200 are inhabited. Population of Greece is 11 million, 5 Million in Athens which is located on plains of Attica. It is 210 Kms from Piraeus to Delphi, today we took the bus :).

Tourism is largest industry, second is agriculture – olives, olive oil, grapes, fruits, veggies. Today we drove through agricultural lands growing cotton, wheat, potatoes, veggies and fruit. Miles of olive trees as far as can be seen, even in mountains. We drove through ski hill resort town also.

For Delphi, the guide (Penny) from my last time here was fabulous. I will read back on that blogpost for the description that will stay with me.

Onward for sea day as we sail to Malta.

Pamela

Santorini,

Stunning Santorini on Sunday 17 Nov 2019

Kalimara… good day from Greece. Santorini to be specific today.

Santorini is the island, an active volcano… dormant at this time. Last eruption activity in 1950’s. Soft eruptions happen and increase the size of islands in the caldera. This is the biggest caldera in the world filled with sea water. Uniquely the villages of Santorini are constructed on the rim. The last major eruption was in 1613 BC… it lasted 4 days.

As our bus climbs ever higher, we stop at Santorini’s first ever stoplight. Created 2 months ago to assist with traffic where the road is under construction. Apparently Santorinians often don’t stop…. just ignoring it.

The cliff is about 400 meters high. 15 villages on the island, with total off season population of 22,000. In summer season, population doubles with workers greeting tourism as the main economy. Last year 2.5 million tourists came to visit.

Santorini is actually an Italian word … not Greek. Thira is a Greek name, the capital city of Santorini. Over 500 churches and chapels on the island, only 5 are not Greek Orthodox. Some of the chapels are private and owned by unique separate families.

Fishers, farmers and sailors were the professions prior to tourism since 1960. There is agriculture land between the towns. 90% of the jobs are in tourism. Vineyards growing grapes close to the ground to protect fruit from harsh wind and sun. The main farm crop is grapes for white wine. Wine grapes have been growing here for more than 2000 years. 80% is for white wine. Assytriko is the dry white wine. VinSanto is the sweet ice wine also from this region.

Also fig trees, bee hives, prickly pear, capers,herbs. No rain at all in summer, very high humidity.

Beaches are mostly black volcanic rock,some red and some grey volcanic pumice stone,which covers the island. Rich with minerals and great absorbency for the moisture from the air.

This is a major wedding destination and many people come here for the photography.

Amalfi coast 15 Nov 2019

Amalfi coast drive 15 Nov 2019

Arriving in port of Naples, our group of 18 travellers were met by three vans and expert drivers by 715 am. An early start to the day and change of itinerary from our original booking plan. Due to weather and other complications the Oceania peeps notified us of change of port of call ( was Sorrento, now Naples) and moved it by a day. I was able to change the plans I had made for private tour and visit to Lemon Farm….. thanks to Francesco.

First stop Pompeii for coffee, pastries, and catching glimpse of the town and ruins. One of our drivers was local to Pompeii so suggested a quality stop where the locals eat and drink specialty coffee and “cookies” made famous in Pompeii region and area of Naples.

Onward, refreshed we drive, we stop at variety of viewpoints, each one more spectacular than the last. The rocky steep coast and brilliant turquoise blue water, glistening in the sunshine. Switchbacks, tight corners. Breathtaking views. Olive trees, fruit trees, beautiful buildings adorned with ceramic mosaics, terra cotta rooftops. Brilliant flower gardens and bushes, contrasting against stone terraces, vineyards.

Amalfi Coast is 45 kms long, starting Sorrento and goes to Amalfi town. We drove as far as Positano, with spectacular views of this famous coastal town. Beaches, homes, pedestrian switchback walkways … picturesque in every way. The sun shines bright, the beach, the mountainside. The surf.

Along the drive islands of Ischia and Capri can be seen, and smaller islands, once believed to be home of sirens, lady fish, mermaids. Bewitching the sailors, rocky outcrops with waves gently splashing.

Fruit bearing trees, olive, lemon, orange, grape vines, cherries all cohabitating in small garden plots along the road. Climbing on the bridges and buildings, purple morning glories. Steep rocky coast meets beautiful turquoise sea and white frothy waves.

Arriving at Luigi’s home, a warm embrace, recognition of our times meeting before. Family lived in this house since 1300, in mid 1650 started cultivate lemons as it was believed medicinal properties, to help with disease. Situated on Bay of Naples, Microclimate unique in this area. Luigi gives us walking tour.

First lemon seeds were not actually from Italy, but from India. Lemon tree is delicate. Must be protected from wind and frost, storms. All parts of the lemon are used, seasonally. Luigi describes the various uses, the primary reason for the lemon of this region is production of lemoncello.

Out of financial necessity and lack of labour workers, Luigi’s father and uncle decided to work the farm. Agritourismo concept helps income to keep living here.

Have one cow, have few pigs. Chickens. 10,000 meters square.
Uses solar panel for heat, electricity and hot water. Other self sustaining products on the farm include Olive oil. Mozzarella cheese prepared from milk of their one cow. Vegetable garden. Rental rooms for tourists to stay on farm in beautiful stone building.

In this area of Italy there are 4 restaurants with Michelin stars. The soil for growing produce is volcanic and unique for support of exceptional taste and heartiness, as well as producing the very best quality of lemons.

Luigi described how the trees are planted and grafted by moon .. 3 to 4 weeks per year window for maximum production. Ancient knowledge that still is used today. For the past 25 years this farm has been completely organic, no use of pesticides. The farmhouse and buildings provide 9 rooms for rent.

I would like to come back here, maybe to work for a week or two. This is the home of beautiful Italian family and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share with my family and travel buddies.

Ti amo,

Onward,

Pamela

Ps. Next day is sea day of rest, time in Canyon Ranch Spa on board ship, steam room, hot tub, dining, time in library, cooking demonstration, coffee, food, wine, cocktail party with my precious family, friends and travel buddies.

Pss. Coming up, Santorini

Rome 14 Nov 2019

14 November 2019: la bella Roma!

We started out the day with breakfast on the ship. We had a prearranged and pre-paid train transfer to Roma from Civitavecchia. Train dropped us at St Peters’ rail stop. The sun was out, blue sky for most of the day, we were prepared for rain.

Consulting the map provided, we calculated the ‘must see’ and roughly plotted the route. First priority was Spanish Steps. Not too many people in town, although two large cruise ships in port on either side of our 1200 passenger Oceania Marina. The view is spectacular as we climbed ever up, to the top. We purchased some artwork, contributing to the lifestyle of an artist.

I seldom ( never) get to spend quality time with my cousin, Tony. He contributed his Rome day to spending time with me. What a gift. He is considerate, kind, and fit. He and I walked for more than six hours covering some of my favourite Rome sights. Piazzas, cobblestone streets and alleys, seemingly leading nowhere, and then around the corner another spectacular sight.

Colosseum and forum, dodging all manner of Entrepeneurial men trying to get our attention and sell some idea or another … selfie stick, jewellery, roses, fast pass entrance tickets. We were polite and uninterested, even a bit annoyed at times with the extra attention garnered upon our blissful day.

We found some shops of unique interest, one selling pens and paper … particularly piqued my interest. I had a consult with a lovely shop woman who explained the type of fountain pen produced in Italy in my price range. Pink gold accent on flat black; classy and perfect. My search is over.

Swarovski bling store and Ray Ban sunglasses draw us in, no purchases there. At top of Spanish Steps we meet an artist that offers watercolor paint on top of prints with content of this fabulous city, giving magical accent to architectural basics.

We threw coins into the busy Trevi Fountain. We wandered through Pantheon, Piazza Navona and leisure walk along the River Tiber. Tree lined walkway.

Along the way we found a Lego shop. Fantastic creations with little plastic pieces. A whole wall of art, the Trevi fountain created with tiny LEGO pieces.

Campo de Fiori with food and flea market stalls, colorful and fun.

Back to Vatican City to meet our group, we stop for a beverage and enjoyed sharing a bottle of cold sparkling prosecco.

On the train now heading back to the ship. We will meet our peeps for dinner and early bed.

Tomorrow a day on private tour to lemon farm on beautiful Amalfi coast town of Sorrento. Our port stop is Naples so we will be in the vehicle for few hours, in anticipation on the way and satisfaction on the way back.

Ciao ciao,

Wish you were here,

Pamela

Cinque Terre13 Nov 2019

Cinque Terre 13 Nov 2019

Bus number 1 and a few of our group meet at 745 this morning in Marina Lounge. Weather prediction is scattered showers.

Others in our travelling group have opted for Florence (Firenze), Pisa, Tuscany wine tasting. Livorno is our destination and then to a couple of Cinque Terre villages by small coach.

15 century much of the area remains. Old stone structures, fences, terraced vineyards. We drive through the beautiful Italian countryside.

Carrera town we passed. Large export area for Marble. High mountain view quarries and massive export business.
Olive trees and lovely farmlands in the valley.

Foggy for first hours on the bus en route to Cinque Terre. We pass through region of Pisa and can barely make out the leaning tower as part of the cathedral. She explains the famous mistake of the leaning tower.

Small bus of this region. 20 passenger. So we can navigate the narrow roads near cinque terre. The sun has poked out and the sharp contrasting red tile roofs with green vegetation, high beautiful umbrella trees, low green shrubs, weeping willows, cactus, aloe. Beautiful mountain top towns. Rail connector.

Rio Maggiori. It has been a few years since I have been here, last time I was cruising to Italy. Not the busy season, peaceful, cool, sunshine, blue skies. The sound of the surf, friendly, aggressively crashing toward the shore. Beautiful colored waves, likely cold for a dip. Pale green, purple tones reflecting the sun above and sea stones below. Lucky for the sunshine today. Fresh, scenic, warmed by the rays. White shore birds resting and riding the waves.

Shorebirds dancing in the coastal breeze. I stop and listen, feel the gentle breeze on my face and hands.

Local fare, pastas, focaccia breads. Local folks with a fishing rod out, a bucket of collected catch. Coffee wine scents and visuals. Building with Terre cotta roof tiles, pale pink, gold, dark orange, lite reds, stucco covers the building sides, shutters on window.

Rosemarie and Greg are on the bus, sharing the day together. Marvelous memories.

Veranazza is the second town. Sunshine brilliantly with crashing waves. Local white wine bottle, frizzante. Deliciousness. Wow! Having a caprese salad with olives and capers.

Wish you were here. Travelling with friends and family (21 total guests). LOVING OCEANIA. thanks for the service and memories.

Love Pamela

20 September 2019. Loutro to Heraklion to Santorini

Thursday 19 September 2019, It’s time to say good bye to Loutro. A few days of relaxing, swimming, enjoying decaf coffee in our room and on balcony. Sunrises and sunsets stunning and breath-stopping. Large clean room in this hotel, very simple. We have a fridge and kettle so it was perfect.

Wednesday about 2 pm we were picked up by small motor boat and taken to the local living place,where many participated in a local cooking class to prepare moussaka. I spent few hours on the stony pebble beach with pristine clear water, with lounge chair. GAdventures covered our dinner, Greek salad for me and some vegetable dishes without gluten. It was nice to have a special prepared meal.

“So everyone is safe back in the hotel after a day full of adventure! And we have even seen the bioluminiscent plancton, the milky way, we have prepared moussaka with heart and spirit, met one great family, did sunbathing, kayaking, some even hiking”. Our tour leader sent this summary of last evening.

Moving Thursday to Iraklion, aka Heraklion …

Staying at Olympic Hotel in Heraklion. Drivers were from http://www.Alpine.gr. Travel agency, nice vehicles. Twisty turns again. Up up. Down down and instead of Chania, today Heraklion. We drive past beautiful beaches, lovely countryside, uniquely Greek coastal culture, olive trees, vineyards, agricultural farmlands, goats roaming.

Minoan culture. Palace of Knossos. I have been to Heraklion but never seen the ancient sites there. Now it is included in my tour and I will enjoy the visit. Our guide name Styla for the ancient site, very Greek accent, with lovely stories. Palace of Knossos. Minoan culture. 4000 BC to 1100 BC. Oldest in Europe. Minus, son of Zeus who fell in love with princess Europa. Earthquake and fire covered the site. Before fairly recent excavation no one knew this palace was here. In ancient times, this area was popular for Agriculture export. Import copper gold for weapons and tools.

In 1878 first excavation here. Palace is massive, 20,000 sq meters. No one believed the founder that it was the site of this historic site. Another fellow, in 1900-1903 financed excavation. Found and uncovered the pieces of this massive palace, including colorful frescoes. In total 1500 rooms, varying between 1 to 3 to 5 stories high. 500 lived in palace. No fortification walls, no warring happened here. Elaborate Ceremonies celebrated change of seasons. Flush toilets existed then! Large clay bathtubs, storage vases, sky lights for air circulation, protection from rain, allowing light to enter, no windows. Elaborate drainage system. Built for stability and flexibility in earthquake lands on island of Crete. Oldest road and small theatre in Europe.

We are finished our tour. It was sunny and hot, however we were able to find shade and places of cool breeze. Taxi back to hotel to freshen up, finish a bottle of rose we got a few days previous, then joined two other gals from Victoria, Janie and Jan. Out for lovely dinner in recommended restaurant located behind the Starbucks.

Apres dinner, decaf coffee at Starbucks, a walk around for the gals to make some purchases for souvenirs.

Up early Friday 20 September 2019 for quick breakfast at 630 a.m. and taxi to Blue Star ferry from Heraklion port to Santorini. It’s a 4 hour ride and our last stop. Tonight is our last sleep on the tour before we begin our flight home.

Loutro, island of Crete, Best of Greece 18 September 2019

D7D7CF0A-F700-4041-BF6E-546C86A14606.jpegWitness to the sunsets and sunrises in Greece was one of my intentions for this trip. Last night I captured the scene as darkness filled in and the colours of the sky giving up the light. This morning, getting up with the natural rhythm of a sleep-filled night on a peaceful island, I enjoyed the colorful sky again, as the sun was welcomed back and the new day dawns.

We arrived to Loutro by small ferry yesterday after a swim, packing and hauling our bags. Please know that this classic style GAdventures tour requires some heavy lifting. No elevators or lifts in these small out of the way island stops. Up up we go on narrow steps many without railings.

We get our room assigned and have free time in Loutro. We have a fun local lunch, purchase supplies for coffee preparation in our lovely spacious, although very plain room. Crisp white sheets and towels that have been laundered and hung on the line in the hot sun, no loofah required. Ha ha

Later in the afternoon we have a lovely cooling swim in the sea, pebble beaches. Bring water shoes, and a cover up. There are lounge chairs and umbrellas to rent, we don’t. The sea is salty, cooling my body down. Socializing and chatting while trying to keep balance from the wave motion, as we sit on large rocks. Clear, pristine water is delightful to all the senses.

We dine with some of our group in Pavolos restaurant at the bottom of the steps. Sea view. Local food prepared, same waiter as per lunch. Highly recommended for us. We enjoy. Apres dinner we join the rest of the group at Christina’s lounge for beverages, sitting along side the sea. In the dark, with lights reflecting we can see far into the sea. Incredible how clear the water is. How black the sky with fantastic star gazing. We identify some constellations, the moon is reducing in its circumference as the full moon was a few days ago. Sweet sleep. The hoot of an owl is enjoyable, last evening and now in the morning still.

Sitting out on the balcony with sea view, this morning with our instant Starbucks coffee packages, and cream / milk we purchased yesterday. Feelings of decadence, peace, kindness, appreciation, lost and found in the moments as they gently pass one after another.

Today another swim. In the afternoon we head to a local place for cooking class, swimming, several hours of local living experience in remote Crete, Greece.

Tomorrow we will head to Iraklion and then on to Santorini for our last night stay before our flight home.

Stefi is our guide, a strong feminist woman with great social skills and five year experience and commitment to GAdventures brand and being a CEO (chief experience officer). We tell her last night how brilliant and inspiring she is. Hugs and appreciation given and received. We try to tell her every day. She receives it well and honors what we describe as how we see of how she shows up in our world. Thank you, Stefi. Love spending these two weeks with you and watching, “I can see you from here”

Stay tuned from truly yours,”traveling consultant” and Best of Greece.

Pamela