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.


Thérèse said...

"These are the things I saw: most people wearing black or dark clothes" c'est l'une des choses qui me choquait toujours dans le métro parisien lorsque je venais en France l'été et depuis que nous sommes rentrés définitivement c'est ce qui me frappe le plus. Parfois nous nous amusons même, lorsqu'on attend quelque part à deviner si la prochaine personne qui va rentrer sera habillée de noir où non! :-) Beaucoup plus vrai au sud de la Loire qu'au nord il est vrai.
A Paris c'est probablement à cause des taches qui se voient moins.
Tous mes voeux de rétablissement à ta moitié maintenant. Quel voyage bien organisé! Croisons les doigts pour demain...

GaynorB said...

There's a lot of black in the UK too. About one third of the clothes in my wardrobe are black or navy, but then I still have 'work clothes'.

Your trip sounds fantastic and probably much needed after the operations and treatments. I hope your husband's health is improving.

Very best wishes

bayou said...

Je pense à vous deux, Vagabonde. Odessa and Yalta is definitely to long for as is Menton. Did you visit some of the gardens there? I shall follow with interest and look forward to your pictures.

Diane said...

So glad that you managed to go on holiday and I hope that your husband is on the mend. Sounds like you had a good time, looking forward to seeing your photos. Take care Diane

DJan said...

I received two postcards from you while you were on your trip. I will cherish them in my special drawer of memories. I'm glad you are safely home and can rest. And I'm hoping that all goes well with your husband's illness. Take care of those knees! :-)

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Your trip sounds like it was very very special...So many interesting places, my dear.
I dearly hope your sweet husband is feeling good and that all of his Health issues are resolved very soon. It's GREAT that you could take your trip and I look forward to seeing all your pictures...!

Frances said...

Welcome back to you, Vagabonde!

I loved reading this first report of your marvelous trip and am looking forward to seeing your own photographs, too.

It's grand that you all were able to have this grand trip, and I compliment you on your wonderful planning.

How good also to see the beauty that greeted you back at home. xo

Fennie said...

Wow! Vagabonde you have been busy. First, best wishes to your husband for a speedy recovery but then I am looking forward to your future posts for, to be sure, you could stock a blogging shop with all the material you will surely have brought back with you. You sure know how to travel and perhaps you might write a guide to teach people like me how to travel and appreciate the destinations. You certainly capture the romance of these places you visit.

Down by the sea said...

I'm so glad you managed to go away on holiday and visit such lovely places. I shall look forward to hearing more about it when you have downloaded your photos.
I hope everything goes OK for your husband with his further treatment.
Sarah x

Rosemary said...

What an amazing trip you have both enjoyed Vagabonde, and how wonderful that your husband was well enough to make it - 6 days is certainly a close call.
It was good that you were both able to get away and see and do so many interesting things and take your minds off the problems from the summer.
Wishing your husband well with his further treatment.

Jeanne said...

What a great post this is! and am so glad that you were able to go on this trip in spite of problems. Hope that things go very smoothly with your husband, and know that is a rather scary thing to have happen. I will keep you in my prayers! Will look forward to photos from your trip!

Rosaria Williams said...

I'm looking forward to more details of this fabulous trip you were able to take.

Amanda said...

So glad you had a good time in Europe. I thought about you yesterday as I was shooting in Long Beach on the Queen Mary. Can't wait to see photos of your trip. Hope you husband is doing really well and the worst is over.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm so pleased for your both that you were able to go on a trip and your husband is doing better. You certainly found a great deal for the trip as well as while you were there. The studio in Nice sounds ideal.

When we were in France last I only saw small cars, nothing like we have here, but their gas prices are sky high compared to ours. Fuel economy is important there.

Your autumn leaves are so pretty. Welcome home.

Ann said...

thoughts and prayers for your husband.
such a wonderful trip!! i loved the fabulous that you were able to make the trip.
i have never cruised,never left the US!! ,of course,i so enjoy your travels!! i can pretend i am there!!!
my list of places to visit has just gotten longer!! day...God willing...!!!

joared said...

Glad you and husband were able to take this trip. Sounds like it was most enjoyable. Will look forward to further accounts and photos.

Appreciated your observations on the people, clothes, transportation, also sharing European views of our elections. The information you provide about your travel arrangements is especially interesting.

Elaine said...

I'm happy to hear that your trip went well. It sounds like you had a lovely time, and a cruise really does seem like a good way to recuperate from surgery. Hopefully your husband is responding well to his treatments. Too bad about your computer, but it's good it happened before you downloaded all your photos. While the postcards are lovely, I look forward to seeing all the places you visited from your perspective!

Pat said...

Hats off for your courage in going on hoiday under such circumstances and I am delighted all was well.
It sounds a wonderful trip. Greece and Venice are favourites with us and I'm so glad you didn't have problems there.

Jojo said...

That is such an inspiring story about your husband and nothing like a good trip to help you recover!! Can't wait to hear more about your trip.

DJan said...

VB, I was going to look at this post again and discovered that Blogger seems to think you haven't posted it! You showed up in my blog list at the very bottom! However, it looks simply GREAT now!

Perpetua said...

That sounds like the most wonderful trip, Vagabonde, and I'm so glad your husband was well enough to travel. The postcards are lovely, but I know your photos will be even better.

I like the new look, but then I would, as it's the one I chose for my blog when I did a revamp. It shows off pictures very well, I think.

Cheryl Cato said...

Vagabond, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your European trip. I appreciate your visit to my blog and hope we can visit one another again. Do you live in Georgia? I am from Georgia, but have not lived there since 1975 although I visit my brother & his wife several times a year. I have lived in Texas since I was about 30 years old.

My husband & I have traveled by river boats in Europe on two occasions & enjoyed it immensely. It is such an easy way to enjoy a country or countries.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, I missed your postings while you were gone, but enjoyed the one your daughter did for you.

And I so look forward to future postings about the many places that you saw on this cruise. I visited several places in Greece in 1993 and so I was familiar with Athens and Olympia and I'll especially enjoy learning about what you did and saw there. Also, your photographs will be so welcomed.

Good to have you home. Peace.

Ginnie said...

I loved knowing a lot of the places you visited, Vagabonde: Venice, Burano, Dubrovnik, and Monaco. I'll never forget them. What a great trip...that I'm so glad was able to happen, after all you two have been through!

Emm in London said...

Wow, wow, wow! You got to go on your trip and the places you went to look incredible!!!! I'm finally going to Croatia next year and I'm thrilled!

I think you can travel reasonably. We eat a lot of local food, buying at delis and such. But I've seen how it can get out of hand too when you're finding it expensive and it just gets more so. Nice of you to pass on some reasonable cost saving tips!

David said...

Hi, I hope that all is well for you and your husband. I would have chickened out on this trip...and would have missed a great time! Very interesting itinerary with nifty ports. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Arti said...

What a wonderful cruise that must have been. Glad you two could go on it despite the little health scare. Hope your husband is on the mend now. All the best to him. I look forward to your Odessa post. These photos are all so wonderful. And oh... with your info on the Civil War in the other post, just wondering if you'd go see the Spielberg film Lincoln? It's quite a huge production and likely an Oscar contender for 2013.

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