Monday, November 5, 2012
Our last trip - in extremis
The Latin expression in extremis is used widely in France. I am not sure if it is so well known here. The definition is: to do something barely, narrowly, under the wire or at the very last moment. Our recent trip was in extremis because we were not sure whether we would go until 6 days before the departure date. In early April 2012 I had received an email from the MSC cruise line offering a special 2-day sale - pay for an Inside stateroom on any of their ships and get an Ocean view stateroom. We had already been on two cruises with the Italian line MSC and enjoyed them. I found an 11-day cruise from Venice, Italy going on a Black Sea voyage. The price was under $100 per day each and considering that it included room, all meals, transportation and everything else it was certainly a bargain. In addition since we had so many frequent flyer miles with Delta we could get our round-trip flights from Atlanta to Europe free. So we booked the cruise at that time on the MSC Opera (shown below.)
Usually I wait for a month or so before departure to make all the plans but I did book a room in Venice in a small Bed and Breakfast hotel so we could stay and visit the city for five days before boarding the ship. I also rented a small studio in Nice, France for five days for after the cruise. However, in July, during a regular check-up at the doctor, tests showed that my husband had several malignant tumors in his bladder. After many tests the urologist decided that surgery was necessary and the trip would probably have to be cancelled but, he added "maybe you may still be able to go... we will have to wait and see." So we did. After two surgeries, the last one only 6 days prior to our departure, the urologist told us that we could go. I had less than a week to prepare everything and it was a bit hectic, but we both were looking forward to visiting some new towns and countries. Below is the map showing our itinerary on the cruise.
We returned last week - a bit exhausted. The next day my husband had to go back to the urologist for further treatment. I have many pictures from our trip but I have not downloaded them yet. My laptop computer which I use for my blog would not start. I took it for repair but was told that it was "fried" and useless and that I needed a new laptop - so now I'm going to look for a new one. I did buy many postcards while on our trip and will use them for now instead of my photos. We had great weather for the 3 1/2 weeks that we were gone. I had brought a wind breaker jacket with me, but never wore it. It was quite warm in all the various countries - between the low 70s to mid 80s (21 to 29 C.) Venice, which I did not know, was a revelation. I'll have a post on it later and on each town we visited, too.
While in Venice,we took a "vaporetto" (a boat/bus) to the Island of Burano famous for lace making.
In Bari, Italy, it was very sunny but there was a brief shower just before we returned to the ship - lasting about 30 minutes or so.
On television I had seen that there were political demonstrations in Athens, Greece, but we did not see any during our stay there.
Yalta in the Ukraine was lovely. No wonder that the tzars had a palace there.
Odessa, Ukraine, had many grand buildings - we visited one of them (that will be in a future post.)
On the way back we stopped in Istanbul after going under the big bridge shown in the postcard below.
Katakolon, Greece, is a very little town close to Olympia where the Olympic Games were born. Again it was very warm that day.
Dubrovnik in Croatia is called the Pearl of the Adriatic and it is well deserved. There it was in the mid to high 80s in the shade.
Then it was back to Venice and to Nice in France after a short flight.
While in Nice we took the train to go to Monaco - it only takes 15 minutes by train.
We also decided to visit Menton, the French town which is the closest to Italy. We really enjoyed visiting it and I took many pictures. It was about 29 minutes from Nice by train.You can see a group of trees in the top right corner of the postcard below. They are in an old cemetery. We walked up there and I took many pictures.
This all may sound like some very expensive travel but, when planned carefully, it is not. For example our studio in Nice (rented through a French agency) came a lot cheaper per night than in a hotel and we could eat there too. Our train ride to Monaco, round-trip senior rate was about 9 Euros for the two of us (about $14.) While in Monaco we took the local bus and ate a delicious pizza in a brasserie - it did not break our bank but then, we did not go inside the casino... We hardly watched any television but I bought a French magazine which was talking about the US presidential campaign. The cover said "Voyage a travers l'Amerique qu'on aime et celle qui nous fair peur" which translates as "Travels across the America we love and the one which scares us."
In the magazine it stated that everyone follows the US elections because what this country does can affect the rest of the world. They said that President Obama had been too much of a centrist but they were afraid of Mitt Romney who they called an "extremist" on the Right. The article stated that it was not easy to find out what Mitt Romney stood for as he had changed his position many times but that most of his policies were the same as the Bush Administration and they remarked that he is controlled by the extreme Right (using the same advisers, advocating higher military spending, tax cut for the rich, no environmental program and climate change denier.) Climate change is a high priority in Europe. But it was nice during our trip not to have to listen to all the political talks like we hear here. These are the things I saw: most people wearing black or dark clothes, even though it was quite warm. I saw many models of cars that we do not have in the US - small station wagons looking like miniature SUVs but hardly any standard SUVs - I think I only saw ten or less in 3 1/2 weeks (I saw that many driving within 2 miles of my house upon my return!) I saw many people walking - and some ladies on very high heels. I saw both men and women in tight jeans and trousers. Even teenagers did not wear "baggy" jeans as they do here (the few I saw were American tourists.) There were many flavors of ice cream in the "gelati" shops, even in Ukraine and Turkey. I hardly saw any golden leaves in trees - they were still green. When we arrived home it was like coming into another season - autumn.
The trees in our yard had glorious colors.
We have a skylight in our kitchen. I can just look up and see the change of colors while I'm drinking coffee.
My daughter Celine helped me with a new template for my blog so I hope this will help with my spacing problem. It was fun reading her guest post - I enjoyed it. Now I have to get busy downloading the pictures from this trip and reading all the missed posts from my bloggy friends.