29 train ride

 

29 the train ride to Rome

 
Stops a few spots, people get off and new passengers get on car 7. Second stop is Padova and I see  McDonalds through a break in the buildings.  The train car is almost full now, again.  Interesting …  Glad I do not have to change to another train except in Rome.  Not much time for getting stuff off train and moving on to next train.  
 
People still taking their seats and already we are moving.  No one has checked my ticket yet.  I wonder how many people just get on without tickets?  The honor system. 
 
A very well dressed classy two mature women who once sat quietly in their gold jewels and black dress suits are now looking uncomfortable as the seats all around them are full with moms and children on laps, coloring and reaching.  Silk scarves and hair perfectly coiffed sitting stiffly and trying to read, I can almost imagine their thoughts.  
 
I enjoy the memories and mind pictures of birthdays when my daughters were young.  I miss my little girls and remember some moments with a smile on this day. 
 
I enjoy the greenery of the fast landscape around me.  So beautiful and scenic through Italy. The gal across from me finally finishes her call and is joined by someone in the next seat.  She texts. The universal electronic language!  
They both are now.  Hmmmmmm, probably not to each other.  We will be stopping in Bologna at some point.  I don’t remember where that is on the map or in the country but I think it is a major center.  
 
Pictures are blurry, but I will continue to try to capture the journey with the iPad.  Ferrara is a station of beauty.  
 
Very large estates can be seen out my window and then small towns with little industry near the tracks.
 
The conductor was just by, a few hours in to the ride to check tickets.  I guess I am on the right train!  I smile in gratitude.
 
The countryside is dotted with red tiled roofs and large green flat plots of land used for agriculture of various kinds.  
 
Small farms, large estates, sparse trees, wooded areas, electrical lines connecting them all.  
 
Firenze, I have been here before, last year by train with Marilyn, Liz and the other gals who travelled with us.  I pour from my shot glass each morning when I am home, memories of Florence.  It is beautiful blue sky and sunny here.  Many moves, people leaving the train and more coming on I believe as we head to Roma termini.  There I will stretch and change trains to Civitavecchia.
 
Ciao for now, my friends and family, 
 
With love 
Pam
Xoxox

28 on train

 

28. Just made it on train.

 
Fast train to Rome, number 9413′ lane 3′ car 7′ seat 12 a window.  It is the back of the train and takes me a while to walk it.  Last car.  Almost back of train last car.  A man helps me lift luggage on train.  His woman friend watches as she has her last cigarette.  Lots of people here smoke I find.  Anyway, as I find my seat, she is seated across from me and talking on her phone.  
 
There are announcements I cannot hear over her talking in Italian.  People are still getting on.  It looks like a beautiful and comfy seat.  Overhead I place my red suitcase, umbrella, green pillow, and lift my grey hard suitcase.  I have my lulu lemon purse carry on with iPad and documents on my lap.  A table is in front of me for ease of typing.
 
We have not left yet and I am hopeful I am on the right train.   I loved the last minute chat with the ladies from Cunard cruise and the time zipped on past.  I look forward to the sights I will see today and the excitement building as I get closer to Steve and the next cruise adventure.  We are moving.  Ahhhhhhhhh ….. Ohhhhhhhhh ……  Here I go!
 
I can see the Cunard ship out the window and say a silent fond goodbye, ciao.
 
Love Pam
 
Wish you were here ….
 
Xoxox

27 travel day

 

27 Travel day to Rome 

 
Up at 6 am to wake up call feature that we discovered last evening.  We had not needed it on any of our days till now.  Our electronic devices fully charged for the day.  Toothbrushes and last minute personal items left out in easy to access spaces, suitcases lined up at the foot of the beds, we are ready.  Our last minute bill arrives under the door.  We get ready and head up for the last omelet on the ship and are greeted by the young and positive Chidra.
 
  It was lovely and eaten quickly and mostly in silence.  Penny enjoys a cup of coffee, I have my Xtra and Meta greens, a travel pack of AloeGold and a glass of water.  This will last me until it get on the next ship this afternoon in Civitavecchia aboard the Royal Caribbean ship, Navigator of the Seas.  I hope all the travel plans have gone smoothly for Steve and others.  I am sad for the end and departing from dear Penny and excited to see my sweetie and the family and dear friends for the next adventure.
 
Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday.  I wake up with the memory of that special day and I will carry the special moment with me all my travel day.  I hope she has a wonderful day as she is now in Ontario for the first time in her life and so far from me.  I look forward to finding Internet to send her a message.
 
Penny and I share a land taxi to the bus station and the bridge to the train station. 20 euros is shared and we hug, and part.  She is taking a bus to the airport and I will walk over the bridge pulling and carrying my bags.  I am 90 minutes early for my train when I arrive.  714, 718′ am. The time ticks slowly.  I take some pictures of the station in Venice.  I notice the sun rise glow over the city on this Sunday morning and am delighted to be here.  Some Mosquitos to contend with as I settle in on a bench chair just inside the front doors at the top of the stairs of the train station, Santa Lucia.  It is now 755 am and the church bells ring not too far away.  The station comes alive with people pulling bags coming and going.  Trains announced, foreign languages spoken around me. 
 
I take a picture of my tired self with the reverse feature of my camera.  As it nears 8 am I think I will go again to check the times and gates for my scheduled departure to Rome termini and then to Civitavecchia.
 
Train 9413 seems to be on time.  801 and still no gate number announced.  I would love to walk around and search souvenir shops but also wanting to sit and enjoy people watching here in the main doorway.  Once I get up I am sure I will lose my seat so I will hold out for a bit.  I can see the clock from here and the departure gates.  804.
 
Many of the tourists arriving might be heading to the cruise terminal?  All but ours departed the pier in Venice last evening so if they are embarking, it will be with Cunard.  The lucky guests.  Many of the tourists may also be staying in hotels or some other form of accommodation.  Is it their first time to Venice?  You can take more luggage on the train than you can on the smaller EasyJet or Ryanair options.  Perhaps Penny will come back to Venice by train with her luggage for her flight home in a week.  She has two Turkish carpets and a few other souvenirs in her large red suitcase.  
 
809.  810.  Grey and gloomy outside in Venice, it seems from here.  A maintenance man is mopping all around me.  The station is alive now with people talking, walking, checking, purchasing, reading, watching.  Some with bags, some traveling light and I wonder if they are going to spend a day with family or friends.  Maybe some are returning home after a short weekend in Venice?  Water taxis go by and the highways of the city are filled with floating vessels of adventure.   Tour boats, water buses, gondolas and pedestrians going to and from.  Over bridges and loading on to water buses.
 
Tom women arrive and head over to check departure times, speaking English and I wonder if they are heading to my cruise ship or taking off for home from the Cunard cruise or neither.  Off they go on a mission, perhaps a different adventure awaits them.  815.  Still no gate announced for me.  
 
I feel fortunate indeed that I had found a way to travel lighter for this trip and I look forward to this becoming a new habit for me.  One small suitcase and one small carryon is all I need.  It is really all I can manage on my own on the stairs and bridges of Venice and loading on and off trains.  Lesson learned.  818.
 
Here comes many more people in a group, with late luggage as if heading for a cruise ship.  Colored tags.  
 
Two women  I recognized from the ship came and sat beside me.  We talked travel and they are traveling to all the main rivers in the world.  It was a great chat and they are heading to Rome for a few days.  I gave them my card and hope we get in touch.  I had been in a watercolor paint class with one of them.  They talked about a friend Dick who sat with us at Katakolon excursion to the winery and how it was a highlight.
 
Got to run to get on train …..
 

26 departure from Cunard

 

26 departure from Cunard 

 
We make it a bit late for dinner, getting stopped in customs in the metal detector.  I have accumulated much change and wearing my large silver heart around my neck.  Then the metal detector machine stalled and took time until a frustrated custom attendant took my metal items through another machine for verification.  
 
No time to get changed, we both realize it is 605 pm and we have neither eaten or used facilities since breakfast this morning.  We arrive greeted by the maitre d, and he welcomes us as if we are dressed for formal night, instead of how we must have looked, disheveled from the day in the rain and crowds.  We are carrying our travel bags, iPads, umbrellas and light jackets.  I am still putting my clothes together from the encounter with the customs fella.
 
Our dinner guests have decreased somewhat, Julieann and Stuart having left last night for their trip back to Dallas.  Stan and Kath look fabulous and spent a lovely day in Venice on their own personal tour.  They visited the old jail, they said, and that was interesting and very sad.  Mary and Peter then joined us with their tales of the day.  All our dinner partners are funny and light, and very enjoyable.  We all agree we have been so fortunate to have enjoyed each other so much and spent so much quality free time together exploring the ship, dancing, eating, drinking and the ports of call.  
 
Penny and I head back to our room to discuss how the morning will be and I discover that the people mover does not start till 830 am on Sundays so that is too late for us both.  Another option will have to be discovered, we settle on taking a taxi from the pier to the bus terminal where Penny has a ticket to the airport.  She will take all her luggage because to store it at the train station as she planned, will only keep a maximum of 5 days and she will be gone 6 or 7.  
 
Plans made, alarms set, and last minute laughs and stories before a short sleep.  6 am will come early and the day will be adventurous.  I think about Steve and my other traveling companions and imagine where they all must be at this time.  Drifting off with lists of things to remember, the day in Venice, and my first Cunard cruise come to a peaceful and satisfactory end.
 

25 Venice

 

25 Venice 

 
Ahhhhhhh Venice!  How exquisite to wake to the shore line of such a unique and beautiful city as Venice.  Many many pictures taken from our balcony. Enforce we even were out of our robes!  This was such a treat.  We noticed immediately the cooler temperature and dampness in the air.  Cunard has a special speaker doing commentary from the bridge starting at 7 am.  We could not hear it well in our stateroom balcony, but loved the sights and sounds of Venice.
 
We followed a cruise ship in to port, it took a few hours it seemed.  It turned out to be 5 ships in port this day.  Crystal Serenity, Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas, NCLJade, and an MSC ship and ours.  The Queen Elizabeth seems the grandest to us.  The red stack, black hull and very imposing sight of grandeur.  We are proud indeed.
 
I pay my Cunard cruise bill and exchange some of my USD for euros.  We get a map of Venice and ask a few questions about how to get around in this city of water.
 
Our plan today is to do a trial run to find the train station for me and how to get Penny to the airport.  Venice has unique transportation issues and we are unsure how to navigate it all.  Today is Saturday, tomorrow is Sunday and less services available, later schedules are also going to be hard to work with.  We found out that we could walk from the ship to the People Mover monorail and did so with little difficulty.  Penny is good at navigating and has a great sense of direction and no fear of getting lost.  She learns quickly from experience and I know I am in good hands with her.  I have total confidence.
 
When we arrive at the train station in Venice we notice a few things, there is a cost to use the WC, and there is a line up (queue for my English friends) for most everything.  I get in line to confirm my train ticket I bought on line in Canada and find out it is of no use to me here.  I have to purchase a new train ticket for tomorrow.  The pleasant man helping me hopes I can get a refund when I get home.  The benefits of having all inclusive trip insurance, I will be sure to call in a claim when I get home.  Although I also think this is a small price to pay for the learning to travel independently.
 
I also notice that locals have no problem with butting in the queue in front and pushing their way to get service first.  What is that?  Is it a behaviour common in this country or location?  Or just some people feel more entitled to be first?  Anyway, off I go with my new ticket and a bit lighter in my wallet.  
 
We also purchase a bus ticket to the airport for Penny and we check the schedule for the earliest bus.  Then we do some walking and purchase a 12 hour water bus pass for each of us for exploring.  We take a few false starts and get overwhelmed easy with the crowds.  We find some bridges to walk over, take many pictures and stop in the occasional shop, purchasing nothing.  We want to explore and yet find the crowds challenging.  I have heard that Murano is beautiful so we find a spot to take the vaparetto to the island of glass.  It was almost deserted and sidewalks sparse with people.  We enjoyed the shops and had lots of time and space to enjoy.  What a beautiful area and surely it was once a very busy and successful artisan Mecca.  I find it very odd that on a Saturday it is virtually deserted and profits must be slim indeed, if at all.
 
We each buy Murano glass rings as a momento we can wear and travel with.  So many beautiful things, and the shops very interesting and different.  We watched a demonstration open to tourists.
 
Also interesting to us is the doorways to waterways.  The parking lots full only of small water craft, and an absence of motor cycles or scooters.  
 
With plans to return after dinner, we take the vaparetto back to main Venice, and find our way surprisingly easily to the people mover and back to the ship.  Not before buying Penny a pair of socks to wear home in her boots, an Italian flag for grandsons (maybe the only one I saw all day in my search) and a few stickers for my suitcase indicating Venezia and Italia.  
 

24 Dubrovnik

 

24 entry of the Great Greek Awdventure

 
Dubrovnik was a very large shopping mall located within very high fortress walls and the shops are found down twisty alley ways.  Interesting day!
 
We took a complimentary Cunard shuttle to the old city and wandered for a few hours through the old city.  The first little shop we encountered that attracted our interest was a silver smith.  A shop packed full of little bobbles made of 925 silver.  Some oval, some round, some solid and some more decorative.  We spoke to the owner, a nice elderly man that took the time to try to speak English and explain the significance of these buttons from traditional dress.  Made into earrings and pendants a variety of large and small.  We considered the information and thanked him for his time.  We walked out.
 
We visited a few other shops along the sidewalk, and noticed that the other shops did not seem as quaint or organized so decided to return to chat with him about price.  In Croatia the currency was not written in euros but Kronos and had to be calculated in euros for tourists.  We selected some we liked and he weighed out the silver and the did the calculations and took off several euros to the price quoted.  The more we asked, the more he reduced the price.  Penny made a purchase for herself and generously also purchased a pendant for me.  So lovely and a great momento for our time on this vacation. 
 
We wandered around in awe, shopped for souvenirs for grandsons, including a flag and sticker for my suitcase.  I noticed the small country dolls dressed in traditional garb just like from when I was young and living in Germany and collecting dolls from Holland.  I told Penny the story.
 
We stumbled on an outdoor market with fresh fruits and veggies and Penny sampled the Grappa, bought none.
 
We stopped and had a beverage and signed on to free wifi.  We took many pictures of the quaint high buildings, marveled at the laundry hanging from windows.  We did not walk the wall, but did check out the large central square area and I noticed the date, 6 December 1991 when the destruction had taken place of the old city.  December 6 is a memorable date in Canada for the memorial of the Montreal Massacre, and annual day of remembrance of violence against women.  I had just told Penny about how influential that event and date had had on my life –  just a day or two ago.  How very strange for the date to be the same!  Goose bumps on my arms and. Funny tingling feeling on the back of my neck as I noticed and took a picture of the date.  I wonder …
 
After some more exploring of the fortress, we found our way back through the maze of alley ways to the entrance of the fort and encountered a troubadour.  He was playing enchanting music and seemed very talented and musical.  Penny made a purchase of his CDs.  It seemed the day was unseasonably warm still and we got to enjoy the heat of the day once more.  I have so enjoyed the Mediterranean sun this trip.   We seem to be getting some tans!
 
Feeling quite satisfied and complete with Croatia, we walked along the outside of the wall until we found our Cunard shuttle and returned to the ship.  As the time had changed, we found ourselves back on board early for our wine tasting so tried to nap.  Resting for about an hour and then we began packing suitcases and sorting papers.  Talking of highlights and throwing away anything unnecessary that would add weight to our suitcases.
 
Wine tasting was superb.  Three Chardonnay wines, beginning with the lightest to the heavier and fruitier variety, we moved about from one sommelier to the next.  Then two red wines and accompanied with cheeses and fruit to cleans the palate.  There was an orange colored blue cheese variety that was probably the best blue cheese I have ever had.  Unexpected delight.  The red wines were outstanding and very enjoyable.  This all took about an hour or so and we learned a bit.
 
Back to our room, taking more pictures, we gathered our iPads and headed out to photograph the ship.  Early embarkation and we showered and prepared for the last formal night of the cruise.  We also have a date to meet the captain at 745 after dinner.  So we celebrated with the last of our wine from Katakolon.  Finishing off the last white and part bottle of red before bed time.  All in all a lovely day and evening.  We have really enjoyed our dinner mates and exchanged emails and stories of the day.
 
Wish you were here, 
 
Love from Queen Elizabeth ship …
 
Pam
Xoxox

Entry 23 Dubrovnik

 

entry 2 3 Dubrovnik, Croatia 
 
Well, the end of the cruise is fast approaching.  Today is the last day for duty free, sales and shopping on board.  I will also want to use my Internet minutes later today.  I have been invited to a wine tasting this afternoon at 230 pm (we had a time change last night and thankfully an extra hour of sleep).  Also tonight is a formal evening with invitation to the Commodore Club with the ships officials.  Music and dancing after that as we prepare to say good bye to our new friends.
 
Dubrovnik – made of stone and light.  Beautiful. Dalmatian coastline of Adriatic sea.  Southern most point in Croatia.
Only port city to rival Venice in the ancient times.  Old city small, unesco world heritage site.  Damaged in 1990 following breakup of Yugoslavia.  Lots of history.  
 
Beautiful red tile roofs and stone buildings line the coast as we pull in to the center of town.  Palm trees, greenery contrasts in such a visually pleasing way.  We entered under a huge bridge, more like a river cruise docking.  
 
Croatia is about same size of province of nova scotia , pop 4 and 3/4 million, about the same as Scotland.  Old city is about 2 miles from Cunard pier.  Dubrovnik is the extreme south of Croatia.  There is a walled city with marbled streets and palaces.  
 
We are getting ready to head out now, brushing teeth, and gathering our belongings for the day.  It is much cooler and there is even a light cloud in the sky ….. We have not seen anything but blue skies and hot sun since Istanbul!  In fact in Corfu one of the shop ladies said that this is usually a rainy season for them so very exceptional that we had such hot and clear skies.  It was definitely humid though!
 
More later tonight or tomorrow, stay tuned to more on the grand adventure.  Much love to my family and friends following this blog, photos to follow when I get home and can figure out how to add them to the blog entries.  I could use some technical assistance!  
 
Love the iPad, love the cruise, and I have had many moments that took my breath away.  So many laughs and beautiful pictures in my head to remember.  I am so incredibly grateful. 
 
Love and wishing you were here, Pam.