Well…

Day 7 Mykonos, Greece

The summer edition of “Mykonos Summertime” magazine has this to say about Mykonos:

“Here in Mykonos you may have to stoop down to enter a home or a chapel, yet your soul feels light. Here you can walk around and experience the impact that humble architecture has on you, built at Man’s height, by free people who do not crawl to meet their Master, but who dare to look their God in the eyes.

This feeling can penetrate and ease one’s soul at the deepest level possible and can produce the utmost relaxing effect that one can experience.”

I can personally attest to this feeling of relaxation as Joel told me this afternoon upon returning to the ship after several hours of our leisurely stroll, within 3 minutes of my head touching the pillow I was asleep.

Not that the winding streets and hidden alleyways are that leisurely as one needs to be ever vigilant and aware of small cars and motorcycles, this slight inconvenience is nothing as in stepping aside to avoid a mishap you may discover a gem of a shop with that perfect shawl you need to wear on the chilly ship.

Or a gorgeous sapphire and diamond ring which you graciously try on to humor the persuasive sales lady. Perhaps the smile and friendly greetings of the many shop owners are enough to entice you into spending some time in their stores to peruse the lovely souvenirs.

We did not mind exploring winding alleyways of the cobbled streets where we discovered men in overalls painstakingly painting walls with the whitest paint known to man, and child sized urns being restored back to a vivid azure blue to mimic the surrounding ocean.

My favorite was the presence of domestic cats seen at every turn. You name it tabbies, turquoise shells and a sweet all white cat matching the picturesque white hotel perched high on the hill who allowed us to take her picture as she greeted us with a meow.

Istanbul, Turkey

“Who do you know that has been to both Europe and Asia on the same day?”

Donna P. cruise passenger from Vancouver, Canada

Donna and her husband Jerry enjoyed Istanbul from the luxury accommodation of a private yacht tour complete with belly dancer as they sailed the Mediterranean both the European and Asiatic side of Turkey.

She originally hails from Xenia, Ohio and after meeting Jerry on a Las Vegas vacation, married and moved to Vancouver where they have happily lived for 10 years.

4 years ago they sailed the Norwegian Jade and said “it was the best cruise of their lives.” What enticed them to sail NCL Spirit were the destinations and their expectations NCL would live up to their reputation of excellence and value.

On this particular cruise their expectations were met however, not without a few reservations. They felt the excursions were very expensive and the customer service reps reluctant to share information that did not benefit the pockets of NCL sponsored excursions.

The evening entertainment was not up to par as compared to the Jade, but despite these inconsistencies they would sail on NCL again.

Donna shared advice for cruising couples, “on sea days SEPARATE, let that be your personal day to unwind and enjoy personal time, at the end of the day come together refreshed and ready to share. Bring an extra can of compromise and a bigger can of patience.”

Some of their dream destinations are Australia, Costa Rica and all of South America.

For Joel and I this massive, cosmopolitan city was best viewed from our perch at the front of the ship which overlooks the bay chock full of ferries loaded down with passengers and with efficiency unloading and loading every 20 minutes.

The city is ringed with the distinctive domes of the mosques and every available piece of land appears to be occupied by an apartment, office or restaurant.

As far as the eye can see there is evidence of activity, throngs of people, cars, tourist buses, trains and the ever present hop on/hop off buses.

Day 9 – Izmir, Turkey

Turkey’s third largest city known as the “Pearl of Aegean” a busy commercial and industry center and the second most important port.

We were not prepared for the entourage of taxi drivers and perfume salesmen hawking their wares and had to good naturally rebuff their sale tactics of offering the cheapest fare possible for a city tour.

After a couple hours of walking the sea side pedestrian area of the circular bar it was a nice way to spend the sunniest day we have experienced on our travels thus far.

DAY 10 – Athens, Greece

A Megatropolis to feast your eyes upon, a short walk from the pier where high rises and businesses gave no clue to what was in store for our adventure on the open air bus.

With a 45 minute wait I enjoyed a conversation with the charming ticket seller Evita.

She was a kindred spirit and we had in common a love for Italy. It was a refreshing conversation in which she shared her love for Greece, family and friends.

The questions I posed to her revealed that we are all more alike than different. From the complexities of familial bonds to securing strength in a stable relationship, we all want the same things.

In Greece as it is quite often found in European cultures parents rarely encourage their adult children to move out, thus it can be an act of rebellion even when one is no longer a teenager to move out of the nest.

With her university degree in hand, gainful employment as a teacher and part time tour guide Evita is soon taking the next step to move in with her boyfriend of three years after purchasing their own home.

Joel and I were in the key position riding in the very front seats of the tour bus where the vista of the expansive city spread out in front, to the back and surrounded on all sides by the commerce of Piraeus and Athens beyond.

We spent several hours touring the city with a bird’s eye view of the ancient coliseums, statues, modern day traffic, tourists and the like.

The day was sweltering and we were excited for the street merchant enterprisingly gestured with a cold bottle of water as the bus stopped at a traffic light.

In one swift motion he threw Joel the water in exchange for the best 1 euro ever spent, with a thumbs up he waved goodbye as the bus drove away.

Back to the ship we came, several shades darker and ready for a refreshing shower.

Day 11- At Sea

A full day at sea and the ship is abuzz with afternoon games, a massive Barbie, bingo extravaganza, raffles, children’s entertainment and all out frenzy to enjoy the next to last day of the cruise.

We will be docked overnight in Venice and we will bid adieu to those we have met on this journey. People like Felicia and Kristle, two very lovely 39 year young professional world travelers from the Los Angeles are, they are no strangers to the world of cruising and between the two of them have over 10 cruises accumulated.

This was their first NCL cruise and unfortunately are of the same opinion that this cruise line “leaves much to desired, on a scale of 1to 10 – Felicia rates a 5 and Kristle a generous 6.

They commended the friendliness of the staff, the attentiveness of their cabin steward and the smiling casino staff.

The level of concern in regards to hygiene pleased them as well, the suggestion of “washy washy” from the hand sanitizers posted at the entrance to the dining room was simplistic but still provided a great sense of security.”

In the future they both hope to retire to their favorite country of Barbados. Kristal would love to buy property and run a bed and breakfast. Felicia plans to establish an amusement park to help enrich the joyful spirit of the Barbadian people.

These two very gorgeous ladies were just as lovely on the inside as their exterior. Every conversation I had with them I was impressed with their intelligence.

I asked if there was a life motto they cared to share and again we are in agreement “do unto others as you have it done unto you and put G-D first and everything else will fall into place.”

 

On their continued adventures I wish them well and who knows maybe one day we will share a Banks Beer or limey with a rum shot and a slice of macaroni pie if we should find ourselves visiting Barbados.

As we prepare for the second leg of this back to back cruise, we only pray that we can find enjoyment that has yet to be experienced.

So far we give “this” ship two thumbs down and a walk on the gangplank.

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