I'm back from the most wonderful holiday. Meeting up with my husband was the highlight & what a back drop for our reunion - Rome & Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Athens & Katakolon (Greece) - sailing on a luxury cruise ship!! Yes TOTALLY spoilt. I had seen my husband for 18 days this year, this trip just added another 15 to the total!! Our children had a great time with Grandpa in Sydney & their aunties hung out with cousins to keep them busy in the school holidays & boy were they happy with their gifts!! This was the first & only time we'll ever holiday without them. Now for some highlights & very limited images, or you'd get all 800 photos i took on the trip.
First stop was Rome, lots of kisses, tears & hugs at the airport, after my Canberra-Sydney-Hong Kong-Munich-Rome 30 hour travel epic. Handsome soldier had a short trip from the Middle East (this was his 2 week war leave) for a 2nd honeymoon after 13 years of marriage. Hotel was fantastic . .. . room, food, location, price . . . visited the Coloseum, Via Nazionale, Palatino. Termini.
Onto Venice, by train & a hotel just off Piazza San Marco. I do love Venice . . . designer stores, food, souvenirs, stationery, ferries, gelato, jewellery, Rialto. I found a fabric shop (of course) which makes soft furnishings for royal families around the world - fabrics start at 500E (about $aud750) per metre & clever me found a remnant bin. Handsome soldier bought me 3 pieces, OMG, love him!! He did draw the line at me buying tassels & was embarrassed when i took photos in the shop (after permission). Lots of stores say "NO FOTO" but in my quest to get shots of chandeliers, i did some walk by photography . . . hoping for the best. There was a ferry strike on the day we were going to visit the beach at Lido & glass factories at Murano, so we couldn't add to the glass we bought on our 1st honeymoon!!
From Venice we boarded the cruise ship & had the most fantastic relaxing holiday. Wow, where do i start in my excitement on our first cruise - the state room, balcony, food, cabin boy, sunshine . . . i wanted to kidnap our evening waiter Jose, from Chile. Of course everyone has a story in this world . . . gorgeous Jose joined this cruise ship to learn English so he could return & teach his village (barely anyone in Chile speaks English) & get a better job in his home city of Santiago. After 5 years on ships this was his last cruise, his English was impeccable. He also teaches children to ride/ care/ camp with horses - i offered to post him our 4 horse loving children (& me)!!
After hours of gazing at the mountainous Albanian Coastline, where the water is deep purple, we docked at Dubrovnik in Croatia. There are lots of Croatians in Australia so to see their homeland was incredible. A population of only 4.5M & crystal clear aqua waters, it's clean, inexpensive, friendly, uncrowded, spring water, interesting history & sites to see. I really enjoyed the old city, surrounded by walls to keep the pesky Persians out, we went all over the Duke's Palace, heard the bells ring & ate delicious creamy ice cream. They will be the last country to join the European Union.
Sailing on to Athens, a very busy & crowded industrial city centre with apartment buildings. Again, Australia has a huge Greek population so their food & customs are familiar. We chose a walking tour of Athens which included everything from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier & Parliament House to the Plaka & Parthenon at the Acryopolos. Hmmm . . . would loved to have walked up to it, alas, a strike had it ALL closed!! Did you know their flag is blue & white to represent the seas/ sky & clouds/ crashing waves?? Greeks also live for today, they smoke & don't want to know about cancer?? Taking an owl from Athens will give you wisdom (i took a few!!)
Final port on the cruise was Katakolon, near the birthplace of the Olympics. They have an Olympia museum & even the original marble start line for the ancient races!! We took a bus to the Olympic Village Resort (don't think it was the Ancient athletes' accommodation) where we relaxed on sun lounges & swam in the sea. We had lunch of freshly caught octopus & the most juicy lamb souvlaki ever + taramasalata (caviar) dip, yummy. They have amazing handmade cotton & olive products in Greece.
Back to Venice where my husband had to drag me off the ship to semi reality, like filing a police report for my mobile phone, coin purse, cash, driver's licence & Visa card, which all went 'missing' between checking in luggage at the port & our state room, argh!! The police sergeant rolled his eyes at me & in tune with most customer service in Italy - serving customers is simply annoying!! Such a contrast to the many Italians in Australia who are so friendly.
We finished up the trip with 4 more nights in Rome, staying at the boutique 400 year old hotel next to the Pantheon that we stayed in on our honeymoon. More shopping, food, sites & ruins to see . . . i love the touristy part of Rome, the fountains & the history, so easy to do on foot. My best friend from preschool (she still hasn't escaped me) is Italian & i grew up with her family's cooking, restaurant & customs. If i wanted the real taste of Italy, i'd plan a joint holiday with her family.
My big tip would be to take a cruise, what a glorious way to visit different countries, travelling by sea & sight seeing when you reach each port, brilliant!! My parents are on their 3rd Queen Mary 2 cruise this year & i can see why, i think cruising could become quite addictive. We dined with a fantastic English/ American family & got involved in lots of activities like rock climbing, eating, mini golf, eating, tours, eating, shows, eating, shoping, eating . . . you get the drift!! We've even looked into a Pacific Cruise with the children out of Sydney in 2012, THEY would love it - the sport, activities, food & be at great ages too.
Thanks for all your pre-holiday well wishes, i really appreciate your interest in my blog, life, work & family. In a few months my husband will be home with us & we'll sort out what is happening next year - are we moving to Brisbane or staying in Canberra, big decisions to make for 2011 - including choosing a high school. For now, the reality of 4 school children to parent solo, a business to run & a husband to love long distance + my work with Handmade will keep me busy & distracted. I'm still recovering from my 40 hour trip back, i couldn't sleep either!! Now i miss my husband more than ever too. Love Posie PS next post will be travel tips & Euro fashion!!