Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Athena to the rescue!

It was hard to believe that our time on the Athena was coming to an end. We were all very much enjoying having the ship to ourselves when 80 guests disembarked in Nice. The 260 remaining guests thought it was wonderful having our own luxury yacht (OK maybe not luxury, but nice just the same). Being the good sorts that we are, we saved 200 English refugees in Lisbon. The poor people had been stranded for a couple of days. They were shellshocked and bedraggled from their experience, but we made them feel at home. Although there was some talk about creating refugee free zones- this was pasticularly relevant for those who regularly participated in the triva games as everyone had "THEIR" seats.

Many if not most found the whole experience of having their travel plans disrupted terrible but seemed to be further upset by the fact that it was due to the volcanic activity. The fear factor of not being in control, that mother nature could reek such havoc and the uncertainty of not knowing when travel would resume was almost too much for some. In saying that they all had a wonderful few days on the ship and there is no doubt that many would cruise again.

Lisbon is always a beautiful city and you can detect some of its former glory when you visit the Belem Tower and Monument and the San Geromino Monastry. We had a wonderful day there and enoyed the traditional custard pastries... not only in Lisbon but that night...some had more that 3 servings but I can't name names. They know who they are, and I'm sure some of you can figure out who they might be.

Sailing into Portsmouth was bitter sweet in many ways. We were all ready to get off the ship but it was also sad to say goodbye to our fabulous waiters and cabin attendants as well as the friends we made on bord.
What was impressive as we sailed in was the amount of naval ships were there. The boys were very excited!

It was time to say goodbye to Clive,Joan,Dorothy and Norm. They were off to visit Dorothy's family and to explore more of Britain.

Robin and Lorna stayed in Portsmouth for the day and visited the naval museum, while the rest of us made our way to London.

Our hotel was lovely, great rooms and wonderful location. We dined at the little english pub across the road. It was good value at 9.90pounds for a 2 course meal. Exceptional value for London.

Janice set off early Saturday morning on her Cosmos tour of the UK.
Berwyn and Elaine set off on Sunday for their Trafalgar Tour fo Europe and Angela set off on her Trafalgar Tour of the UK too.

Colleen, Adrienne and Dennis followed us to Amsterdam and then onto France.

I must warn you that I am biased. France is beautiful, full of history, good food and great wine and a je ne sais quoi.
We spent some time in the north in Le Qesnoy, which is the sister city of Cambridge. This walled city was liberated by Kiwis in WW1.The city was and is still so thankful that the Kiwis can and liberated them from the German occupation but more importantly while doing so did not destroy the city, saving their treasured walls.
Visiting walled cities in Europe is a big tourism industry.
Le Qesnoy and Beaudignies (another small village close by) celebrate ANZAC day every year. We unfortunately arrived a day late.

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