Monday, October 31, 2011

KENSINGTON–LONDON – Bus, plane, train, cab.

Spent the whole day travelling with the usual chaos of airports.

We caught the Gatwick Express into London, (not to be confused with the Hogwarts express).

We are a bit tired.

My tiredness is not helped by having to put our clocks back an hour after Greece as we changed time zones.

Then we had to put it back another hour before Dubrovnik as their daylight savings ended.

Then we had to put it back yet another hour when we arrived in London due to change in time zones again!

What time is it? We keep waking up at 4am.

No Photos today, but looking forward to a last few days in London.

We are staying at the Mecure Hotel Kensington, which has only just been opened following a refit,

(Opened the 25th Oct) and still smells of paint.

Until next time, Red heartRed heartRed heart Kim

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MARCO POLO AIRPORT–VENICE–ITALY – We need a nice cup of tea

Here are the last photos from the cruise, taken yesterday.

I have been able to cross another thing off my list ..

I have always wanted to see the sunset over the ocean.

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However there is a story behind this sunset.

We were sailing along about a couple of hours after leaving Dubrovnik when the boat suddenly braked.

(Well, it went judder, judder, judder, as it went into reverse gear to stop quickly).

Then we drifted around for the next couple of hours.

(I was bust trying to repack my suitcase, so we weren’t paying too much attention).

Our neighbours told us they thought it was a lifeboat drill.

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We floated into the perfect position to take these  pics of the sunset.

We found out later that we had stopped as the crew had spotted a mans body in the sea and were waiting for the water police!

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Above: These are the people that have shared our table for the last 10 days, David and Marie from Florida.

Photo taken by our waiter, Edhi, from Indonesia.

We disembarked the ship this morning at Venice.

It was up to the usual standards of Italian organisation.

Total chaos…..

We enjoyed the cruise but we were disappointed at the food on board which was bland and boring.

This was the general consensus amongst all the guest we spoke to.

For example, the Italians cannot cook bacon.

They scramble the eggs and they scramble the bacon.

They must put it in a frypan and cook it as you do a stir-fry because it is shredded and burnt on the edges and uncooked in the middle.

On the ship it also congealed into big lumps the size of a fist,,, yucky.

Also Italians do not have very hot water for their coffee.

Therefore they cannot understand the concept of boiling water for a cup of tea.

So the tea doesn’t draw in tepid water and is horrible…

We are staying at a nice place near the airport and fly back to London tomorrow.

We are pleased that Qantas has sorted out their mess.

Until next time, Red heartRed heartRed heart Kim

Saturday, October 29, 2011

MSC OPERA – Last day of the vacation at sea.

What is Qantas doing! They are on strike!!!!

We should be ‘in flight’ this time next week, but Qantas seems to have stopped working.

We Leave London on Friday and arrive in Sydney Saturday evening.

Then we fly to Brisbane on Sunday to collect car and doggies.

(will the doggies remember us?)

Anyway we have been lucky so far, we missed the London and Rome riots, and the Greek Strikes.

And mostly missed the bad weather so lets hope the luck holds for another week.

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Anyway, today was the last day sailing before we disembark in Venice tomorrow.

We visited the medieval city of Dubrovnik in Croatia.

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‘Those who look for a paradise or want the garden

of Eden on Earth must come to Dubrovnik’

George Bernard Shore

We have seen so many other cruise boats, there were four in port again today.

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Above: This is our sister ship the MCS Musica, who left port at Dubrovnik just before us.

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Must go and start packing, we spend one night at a hotel near Venice airport then have an Easy jet flight

back to London Gatwick on Monday.

We have booked our last four nights at the newly refurbished Kensington Mecure Hotel.

Can’t wait to be amongst English speakers again.

Until next time, Red heartRed heartRed heart Kim

Friday, October 28, 2011

MSC OPERA – Ancient Olympia

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This morning we berthed in Katakolon which is a port looking over Ionian sea.

It is also the gateway to Olympia, where the ancient Greeks used to flock every four years, for more than a thousand years, to celebrate the sacred games dedicated to Zeus.

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Above: The Corinthian columns that collapse during an earthquake a long time ago.. (I can’t remember! 1000 years maybe)

 

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Our tour was Ancient Olympia and shopping – which was good, as we haven’t had much free time during all

these tours to buy souvenirs.

The tour was total chaos (English and Spanish all in together)– but as Marisa use to say the Italians are Lovers not Organisers.

But we had a laugh in a tourist shop where the salesperson was spruiking her wares in the loudest Greek/Australian accent.

We correctly guessed she was from Melbourne.

The weather has warmed up and the sea and sky are blue and calm again.

We lay in the lovely sun on the deck and got warm, then hot, then too hot.

I’ve been indulging in the types of drinks that have a paper umbrella stuck in them,

Grahams been indulging in lots of alcohol free beer.

Until next time, Red heartRed heartRed heart Kim

Thursday, October 27, 2011

MSC OPERA– Experiencing turbulence

Another day at sea as we travel back towards Greece on the return leg of the journey.

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The weather has turned choppy, although this ship must have good stabilisers as it doesn’t feels too rough.

But, we know when its rough at night by the light in the wardrobe.

Its on a sensor so it turns on automatically when you open the wardrobe door,

But when the ship rolls toward port it flicks on and off when it rolls back to starboard!

*click… click*

The ship had a few problems this morning, when ALL the toilets stopped working!

But they fixed the problem within the hour.

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I wonder what signal Graham is trying to send here?

(S.O.S. = soak our smalls)

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There was a great show tonight.

They have shows every night, some good, some ordinary.

Tonight they had an act, which I guess would be described as quick change artists.

The girl could change a complete dress in less than 3 seconds!

They’d dance around he’d pull up a screen, she'd go ‘wiggle wiggle’, and hey presto new sparkly gown!

I’m sure this involved a lot of Velcro and other tricks. 

Until next time, Red heartRed heartRed heart Kim

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

MSC OPERA–Where Europe and Asia meet

We docked back in Istanbul and today we had a whole day excursion of the city.

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We started the day at the Blue Mosque which is above.

It is called blue because of the colour of the tiles.

It was packed with thousands of people all with their shoes off, so you had to watch your tootsies.

All the chandeliers are low as the used to have candles and this made it easier to light them.

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Then we went to St Sophia which was a mosque, but is now a museum.

(I’m very pleased with this pic – sorry Mum, I know, more postcard photos!)

Lunch was included, which was lovely tasty Turkish goodies.

Which was great as we are really bored with the bland and salty Italian type dishes they serve on this ship.

Then we had free time at the Grand Bazaar.

We didn’t buy anything as I was too nervous to haggle.

And they knew we were tourists as soon as they looked at us.

We also went to the Topkapi Palace, where the Sultan used to live.

We saw the Royal jewels, including some spectacular diamonds.

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There are four cruise ships in port today.

The Opera is the little one in the middle!

Can you imagine the swell in the population, we have about 2300 passengers, but the big boats must have double that number.

Out of the 2300 passengers, 50 are American, 6 are Australian and there are a handful of English.

The other 2230 are mainly German, Italian or Russian.

Can you imagine 3 more noisier languages? It makes my head spin.

Until next time, Red heartRed heartRed heart Kim

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MSC OPERA– City tour of Odessa

Its freezing…

Its feels like the cold is coming straight from Siberia…

Ha, ha, ha………… it is.

Thank goodness I’ve been lugging that coat around for weeks!

Its the sort of cold that goes straight into your bones.. eeek

No one told me to pack a wooly hat and gloves for this trip, I would have liked some today.

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Anyway, today we spent the morning in Siberia, whoops, I meant Odessa.

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Odessa is a large city and really the morning was not long enough for a proper look.

It has very wide boulevards and some very nice buildings, although many are crumbling.

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My goodness we are sick of Italian food, its sometimes so salty.

Send me a curry!

Until next time, Red heartRed heartRed heart Kim

Monday, October 24, 2011

MSC OPERA – The Romanovs and the Crimea

This morning we berthed at Yalta in the Ukraine with is on the Crimean Peninsula and on the edge of the Black Sea.

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The black sea is more of a green colour, although apparently it  was called ‘black’ by the invading Turks for two reasons.

First that it was evil and the second was that the Turkish use colours for directions and black equals north. (and red is south I think).

Anyway today we took a bus tour around Yalta to see the town and visit two of the old palaces.

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We visited the Palace of Alexander III, Tsar of Russia, although he never stayed there as he died before it was finished.

It is now home to 30 happy and friendly stray cats, although they are not all inside.

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Then we visited Livadia Palace also known as  the White Palace.

This was used by the last Tsar, Nicolas,  and his family for holidays.

Nicolas was the one who was murdered with his family, the youngest child being Anastasia.

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The White Palace is also famous for being the place of the Yalta Conference during WW2.

Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill (and others) met here to decide how Europe would be managed when the war ended.

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I bought a babushka doll, much cheaper than the ones I was tempted by in Prague.

Until next time, Red heartRed heartRed heart Kim