Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our Amazing Vacation

Oh my GOSH!!! That was wonderful! We had such an amazing time I don't even know where to start, so I guess the beginning will have to do. Don't worry pictures will be included when we get a chance to sort through them.

San Antonio
We flew down to Texas to drop Jason off and do some last minute shopping before our cruise. Jason was so great on the flights! I was so worried and there was nothing to fear. We were lucky enough to get an extra seat next to us on all 3 flights and everyone was very accommodating. When we got there everyone was so happy to see us. Jason was a little wary of family he had not seen for four months, but eventually got used to them. We got Jeff all suited up with 2 new suits and a sports jacket (they were running a deal.) Before we knew it Rachel and Jeff had to say goodbye! According to all the experts it is best to make sure the child knows you are leaving and will be coming back so we didn't sneak out, but instead gave hugs and kisses and said our goodbyes. I was a little teary-eyed at this point, but held it together. Jason apparently played the rest of the afternoon without a problem.


24 hours later we were in Rome! We had a bit of difficulties getting from the train station to the bed and breakfast (which side is the "right" side of the train station?) but we made it before it got too dark. The next day was whirlwind! We started with the Vatican museum. For anyone going I highly suggest making reservations online before going as we easily saved ourselves 2 hours of waiting in line. There were so many amazing things to see in there, but my favorite was the tapestries. Something I hadn't realized was that the marble statues were mostly painted when they were new. With time the paint has worn away, but they were very colorful when they were new. After the Sistine Chapel we visited St. Peter's Basilica and it was huge! We took the metro to the Coliseum and the Forum then got lost trying to find the Circus Maximus. By that time it was getting to be evening and we had dinner at an outside cafe and walked to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps before taking the metro back to our hotel. What a full day!

Crystal Serenity
The next morning we got on a train to go to the port city of Civitavecchia. We like to do things the hard way so instead of taking the free shuttle to the ship we decided to walk the whole way. We were welcomed by a Champaign lunch (yippy!) During the whole cruise the service and food were phenomenal! Every meal was excellent and the staff was so happy to help you! When we take another cruise it will be with Crystal! Ok enough sounding like an advertisement.

Sorrento, Italy

On our first day we took a shore excursion to Pompeii. It was amazing how much of this city was preserved. We saw their equivalent of a McDonalds's where the people would get fast food. There were houses with frescos and mosaics. We saw a bath house and even a brothel with a menu. One of the amusing moments on our tour was when the guide was telling us about the body casts we would see in the next area. She said something like the first one is a pregnant lady covering her mouth, then there was a boy, and last you would see a dog. The lady and boy got passed up, but when she talked about a dog the whole group erupted in a sympathetic "awww!" After Pompeii we had a bit of time to stroll around the streets before it was time to go back on the ship.

Sicily, Italy
Our shore excursion here was to go to Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. I was starting to feel like we were on a volcano themed cruise. After a bus ride to one of the lower areas of Mt. Etna we got out to walk around and into the crater that had once been active. Knowing how much our son loves rocks we brought home a rock formed from the lava. Again we had a little bit of time to walk around and see the town before we hiked down tons of stairs to get to the ship.

Sea Day
We had a day at sea that we tried to fill with activities. At least that was our plan...we slept half of the morning away because we had been up early the past couple of days to catch our shore excursions. When we finally did get up I took a French class while Jeff won a ping pong tournament. We had a wonderful lunch and then I took a "piano class" that was more playing around on the keyboard than class and Jeff listened to a lecturer that he agree with until he was blue in the face. I watched Jeff play paddle tennis and we had some ice cream then we took a tour of the kitchens and started to get ready for our formal night dinner.

Crete, Greece
In Crete we saw the Minoan Palace of Knossos which is known for legends about Labyrinths and the Minotaur. We were disappointed in our guide who skipped much of the palace to avoid the crowds, but luckily Jeff and I noticed and went back to see what we had missed. We saw a huge pot that was thought to have been used for honey storage and we knew Pooh bear would be proud. We saw the original Throne Room with frescos of a Griffin. Before long it was time to head back to the city and our ship.

Kusadasi, Turkey
Besides Rome, Kusadasi was my favorite city. I was shocked at how well the excavations or Ephesus were done. You could really see what made up the city and I really loved seeing the library that was partially reconstructed. There was an amazing theater there that some of our fellow cruisers got to enjoy a concert in. After Ephesus we had lunch at a carpet weaving school. It was nice to sample some of the local cuisine and see the demonstration of how carpets were made, but we could have skipped the sales pitch. This is where looking young and like we didn't have any money helped us out. After that we saw the supposed last house of Mary. After reading information it is only thought to be that because some woman had a vision of this house and described the location very well. We weren't buying it, but it was kind of interesting to say the least. We finished up our excursion in town and were strongly encouraged to go into a shop to buy some jewelry, but Jeff and I slipped out before anyone missed us. We wandered around a bit and made some donations to the local economy. I will say one thing: if you are ever opening a shop you should get some of these people to be your sales associates!

Mykonos, Greece
Finally we had enough history and volcanoes so we spent the morning laying out on the beach. And what a beach it was! Beautiful blue water, warm sand, it was just gorgeous...and cold. We happened to go on a very windy day so sadly Jeff didn't get to splash around in the waves, but we enjoyed the time and even went walking along the water's edge. After we got back to town we wandered around a bit and found ourselves at some windmills. The Minoan Palace may have been called a Labyrinth, but it has nothing on the streets of Mykonos. Jeff wasn't much in the mood for shopping so we headed back to the ship.

Athens, Greece
Before we knew it the cruise was over and we had to go back to the real world where we hailed a taxi and everything wasn't included. We dropped our luggage off at our hotel and then headed off to see the Acropolis. We got a little lost and walked up the hill a couple of times before finding the entrance, but eventually got in. The Parthenon was amazing, huge and in the process of being rebuilt. Maybe we will go back as a family when it is complete. We wandered around the Ancient Agora, which had been the center of town in ancient Greece. When we finished we hiked across town to get to the National Archaeological museum. There was so much to see there and even though we walked through each room eventually we were just skimming because there are only so many statues you can see in one day. When we finished we grabbed a bite to eat and collapsed in our bed.

San Antonio...again
We spent most of the next day flying, but because of the time change we got back to San Antonio around 5pm. I had been pretty good about not breaking down about missing Jason, but the whole flight home I was imagining holding him in my arms and hugging him tight. When we got there he didn't want to let go of Grandma and I broke down at that point. He re-remembered who I was on the car ride home and was happy to spend time with Jeff and I after that. We had a long trip home after missing the flight for Toronto for stupid reasons, but we did make it back safe and sound.

1 comment:

  1. We have good friends in ALexandria that went on a very similiar cruise last month, and now you all did it too! Our dream vacation :(

    Well we're glad you had such a great time and that Jason finally remembered his Mama :)

    PS Jeff should never wear that Safari hat again.