After arriving at the airport I gathered my bags and began looking for the fastest way to get to my hotel to meet Tess. I was excited to see her, and I was excited to take a shower after being awake and flying for so long. I saw signs for busses, taxies, and water taxies, but I had not idea what I should take into the city. I asked information and he responded, “It is very easy, just take the water bus to Saint Zachary and get off. It is a strait walk.” Being very naive to the realities of Venice I trusted these simple instructions and began running to catch the next waterbus that was due to board in 5 minutes. The walk to the waterbus is not a short one, and I was stuck behind a very slow couple. I was nervous that I would miss it and have to wait an hour and would be late to meet Tess. Deciding it was not a good idea to walk behind the slow couple, I ventured into the street and moved quickly ahead. I make the water bus and was pulling out of the dock when the couple I was following approached to buy their ticket – smart move to run into the street. Once on the boat I took a seat and realized two things. First, it was really really cold!!!!!! Many around me were wearing fur and heavy coats – but I had packed for fall, not winter. Second. Everyone had a map in hand and were charting their course once they got off the boat. I got slightly nervous, but they guy said it was a strait walk, so I did not get too bothered.
At my stop I gathered my bags from the front and began pulling my large bag (really big – I pack way too much) and my carry-on up the pier. When fully planted on shore I realized there was no “straight” option. I started to pick a route, but thought better and bought a map. The “straight” route ended up involving several turns and several foot bridges. I really did not plan for Venice. If I had known the only way to get everything to the hotel was to carry it over several bridges, I would have worn the same outfit everyday. Eventually I found the hotel and went to check in. I anxiously asked if a young woman was waiting and was told no. I was going to wait in the lobby, but the desk manager suggested I go get showered and wait in the room – I must have looked a mess. As soon as I got out of the shower I got a call from the front desk saying Tess has arrived!!!!!
That night and the next morning we explored Venice and had fun walking around. Tess was funny because she really loves being “Italian,” Sure was have some Italian blood in us, but not enough to really claim it. Despite that Tess really felt she was from Florence and should stay her whole life in Italy. She spoke in Italian and did a great job of showing me around. After lunch on Saturday we made our way with all the luggage to the cruise ship. Tess carried my large bag up an down every bridge. I did not ask her too and kept trying to get it myself, Buy I eventually gave up – what is the point of having a little sister if you can’t make them do your work.
Once our board we settled in and explored the ship. We had a great room with plenty of space and a large window. Our room on the ship was better than our room in the hotel. We spent that first few hours doing things indoors as it was freezing outside. We made plans to buy coats the next day so we could survive the cold trip. Thankfully Venice was the coldest port and while on land we tended to do ok. At sea with the wind, it was still advisable to stay inside.
Our first stop was Dubrovnik. It is a beautiful city with an amazing wall that surrounds the old city. We walked the wall and explored the old city. For lunch we grabbed a pizza and ended up meeting an Irish guy who was traveling the Europe with his girlfriend. He offered to give us a ride on his motorbike. I was not a big fan, but Tess was excited to have another dream fulfilled---kind of. Tess really wanted to ride a Vespa in Florence with an Italian. She settled for a Peugeot, in Dubrovnik with an Irishman. In the end it is all the same, right? Also in Dubrovnik we purchased a neck tie for our dad. Did you know neck ties were invented in Dubrovnik? Fun fact of the day just for you.
Our next day brought us to Corfu… not exactly what I pictured a “Greek” town to be, but it was nice. We walked around and visited the old fort. I officially lost my privilege of giving directions everywhere, and Tess became the trip navigator. Overall the day was good. We saw some interesting things and has a relaxing day.
Our third day brought us to Athens. Megan (One of Tess’s business partners and one of the young women who lives at home with Tess and my dad) was in Athens visiting her boyfriend. Tess and I were able to meet up with her and grab coffee (diet coke for me) and baklava in a cute café in the shopping area just under the acropolis. After a fun start to the day we visited the acropolis!!!!!! I finally got to visit a place I have been studying about for years! Even though I am partial to Roman history over Greek history, it was amazing to be able to visit the site and see the buildings and statues in person. We attempted to visit a few other sites, but were surprised to learn they close early – no worries we saw what was important. Thankfully the museum was still open and we were able to really enjoy the artifacts from the area. If you get the chance, visit the museum right next to the acropolis. It is built over the ancient town and it has glass floors so you can look down into it. It kind of cool to walk above a street that was used so long ago. They did a really great job of setting up the museum to make the most of he site and the content.
After leaving Athens we traveled to Kusidasi, Turkey. I loved this city. It was a low key town with an old fort on an island and a lot of street vendors and shopping. To save money we spend this day just in the port town and explored. In one shop we found this interesting jewelry made out of a shell and silver. It was different than other things I had seen, and it was very simple. Needless to say we bought one for each of us (and one for Sarah!). While this might not have been the best way to “save” money, it was so worth it!
Our last port was Crete. We arrived in the city and were immediately marked as tourists who would pay too much. We spent 35 Euro on a taxi to the Palace on Knonosos, when a bus would have cost 3. We should have done our homework ahead of time. I am not sure what Tess thought, but I loved it. I think when you have a classical studies degree just about anything old and in ruins is exciting. After exploring the palace we went back and explored the town. Greece is not what I expected, and I honestly do not feel and urge to go back. If I do go back I will plan in through a travel agent and say “I want to go to a city that looks like the movies.”
Each of our stops was unique in a different way and a lot of fun. The boat was a a lot of fun also. Tess and I had a great time playing Hand and Foot and attending some of the shows. We also had a great table for dinner. There were four couples that entertained us each night. One was a great couple in their mid thirties who love traveling and have gone (or will go) everywhere. Another couple was on their honeymoon and were a lot of fun. The third couple were and interesting pair that complemented each other well. The husband was crazy and a lot of fun, the wife was rational and did all the planning. The last couple brought humor to the table without trying. They are both research scientists in their late twenties and were on their 10th cruise together. Each night we were the last, or close to the last table to leave.
This vacation was wonderful!!!!!! It was a good break from work and a great chances to see Tess. Now less than an month until I see the rest of my family and meet Augie for the first time!