Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some of our more memorable moments

Here are some of our more memorable moments that we would like to share:

Finally those with "partners" had the opportunity to have a "girls" night out. Men appear NOT to appreciate shops, in fact, they take the lead and march you down the street on the opposite side.
Five of us eventually had a chance to "SHOP". How wonderful!
For most of us, our interest was in jewellery- good stuff- bargaining and the opinions of others. Bonding of the sisterhood.
We tried to stay together but it was hard, some of us indecisive regarding choice. How did we stay together?
Our mainstay- Colleen, who was tired of shopping decided to have a break while the rest of us continues to flitter among the shops. Eventually, we wondered where Colleen had gotten to. We found her sitting on the side of the street chatting to a lovely Jordanian shopkeeper sipping a cup of tea he had offered her.
We all fell in love with his beautiful jewellery. He trusted Colleen so completely that he left his jewellery cabinets unlocked and wide opened in her care as we oohed at his collection. Perhaps it was a strategic rouse by this shopkeeper in the end. As we had fun and bought some wonderful "investment" pieces and certainly supported their economy.

From Angela

Funny Chaos

In Athens,took a cab to the Plaka, only to stop suddenly in the middle of the road among the traffic to be ushered into another cab to continue on my way- no explanation!

Real Delight

My idea of heaven...tasting real Turkish delight again!

Eating dinner at an outdoor restaurant by the sea at Paros. A lovely host and great company.

Anne Grant

From Auckland to Perth...
With 40 degrees heat to Singapore with its markets and Phuket's "James Bond Island" Wow is this really happening?
Onto Sri Lanka with its traffic and elephants, to Oman with its desert then it's Jordan-Petra, what an experience!
Through Pirate alley with a military escort into the Suez Canal, quite different.
Onto Egypt with the pyramids. am I really standing beside one?
Onto Cyprus with its quaint villages and lace makers. Then onto Malta with its spectacular entrance.
Next stop Rome and the Vatican and Coliseum. Cruising into Nice and visiting Monaco. How great!
Final port on the Athena before disembarkation at Portsmouth we call into Lisbon, with its vintage horse cart museum and picked up 210 English passengers stranded because of the ash fallout. What an amazing time!
Next leg Amsterdam with Dam square and red light district. Then we board the Costa Luminosa cruising to Denmark where the weather was appalling. Onto Sweden with its beautiful islands and Finland's old town.
St Petersburg with the beautiful Catherine's Palace and Estonia with tree lined streets.
What a wonderful tour... Thank you Ewan and Monique for making it possible.


My first memorable moment was watching the sun rise as we sailed from Phuket. There have been many more since and even a few kodak moments, which has required a tight bond with my camera if you were to capture them. I often laughed at camera toting tourists, and now I have become one.
I have experienced many things on my travels, and the more I see of the world the smaller it seems to become. This was highlighted by a number of familiar faces and voices I recognised in the most obscure places.
My whole trip has been memorable and while we may express ourselves in different ways, we are all the same at heart.


The highlight of our trip has really been seeing Gallippoli and the wonderful treasures in St Petersburg. Each step along the way has given us fresh insight as well.
Jenny and Warren Harding

Turkey was certainly a highlight, the wonderful little shops the amazing variety and the business of it all. The way the young men called me mama and the respect that went with it. The apple tea, so delicious and needless to say the Turkish delight.

The Greek Islands were everything I imagined and more. So clean, I loved the close proximity they live in.
It was difficult to accept that we were on the ocean as all the way it was like a very big lagoon.
Seeing "Swan Lake" in Russia.
The ship was an absolute dream, meeting the different people, from other countries and being able to converse with each other with many jesters and facial expressions.

Getting off the ship, needing a quick loo, spotted a portaloo, opening the door to find a very large room, lovely loo, great handbasin and a heater. What else does one need. I'd like to take a sample home.
Margie Pearless.

Well coming to the end of a fabulous 80days in my life, thanks to Ewan and Monique. It is full of my memories. The greatest were being able to walk the ancient road at Petra in Jordan, celebrating my 70th birthday with new friends in Santorini, following a pamper morning in Ios. Mighty stuff!!
My disappointment that my failing knees meant that I was tail end charlie most of the time, especially on the stone stairs but a rear guard of sorts.
Also a second trip to Cairo doesn't put Egypt in my future travels.
I am thrilled to have seen so many countries blossoming into spring, this was a perfect time for travel, but I am very glad to call NZ home and appreciate that many people like the cruise ship workers may be travelling the world but don't see the foreign countries like the opportunity I have had to make new friends, visit ancient cities and return to family in the greatest little country on earth.
Safe travel, Good health, God bless Colleen

Just some of the memories

Sunday, May 23, 2010

From the Baltic

From the Baltic Sea

We have had the most amazing cruise in the Baltic Sea.

Looking back at our time in Greece there is no doubt that the Greek islands are beautiful. As mentioned before, we loved Paros and Mykonos, but Santorini was a disappointment. Although it is beautiful it is overrun with tourist, which included us. There are the white houses with blue roofs overlooking the ocean, but then that is Greece and you can see the same of other islands without the hordes of tourists. If you are visiting the islands, one day in Santorini is enough with more days on Mykonos and Paros would be ideal.

We celebrated Colleen’s 70th birthday on Santorini. It was a quiet affair in a wonderful setting with the sun setting on the Mediterranean. It was an honour to be there to celebrate it with her.

We survived the Greek ferries. Just!
As I may have mentioned they are really not designed for people with luggage. We had to struggle with our bags, lugging them up and down stairs, as well as just trying to get them on and off the boat. Thank goodness for Dennis and Ewan who helped everyone out. Thank you so very very much Dennis.


Yes, we did visit the Red Light district. I’m sure Angela won’t mind me telling you that she was so amazed by the girls in the windows, she had to get a better look and stared into one of the windows, only to have the girl tap on the window giving her a fright. We all laughed afterwards, including Angela, who then decided we should go into a sex shop. I won’t go into details but that was also very entertaining and educational.

The Costa Luminosa.

Boarding took a bit of time but when we finally got onboard we all went off to discover our new home for the next 12days. The Luminosa is a big ship with 2,826 passengers who all speak a different languages. We have calculated at least 7 main languages. Italian, French, Dutch and then English. So you have to listen to announcements in Italian, French and Dutch before hearing the message in English. It is part of the experience and makes us appreciate when we find someone who speaks English.

I think we all appreciated our 1st day at Sea, just to get familiar with the ship and relax. We discovered that poor Jenny has been walking on a fractured ankle all this time. The doctor on board who is apparently a lovely Italian lady who told Jenny to stay off her leg and has started her on a blood thinner to make sure she is not at risk for any DVT’s. The insurance company did not feel the needed for her come back home immediately. Jenny and Warren are making the most of the cruise and are plodding on. I know they are very happy they could stay on.

Our first day of rain. Can you believe it?
For those of us who have travelled from Perth it was our first day of rain in over 60 days. It was such a pity as it was our day in Copenhagen. Having been to Copenhagen before we were very disappointed for everyone as it is a fairy tale city, with enchanting canals and elegant buildings.

The hop on and hop off bus was a saviour. Although we could not wander about we were able to get a glimpse of the home of Hans Christian Anderson.

We had a day of fog the day after Copenhagen. It was kind of eerie to hear the fog horn and to not be able to see anything.


Stockholm did not let us down. The sail into Stockholm is breath-taking, there are no other words for it. The Luminosa sailed in so quietly we felt like we were gliding between granite islands covered with evergreens and birch trees When we eventually spotted Stockholm we were greeted by impressive spires and laced homes. The city stretches from Maleran Lake to the Baltic Sea, built on an archipelago of 14 islands connected by at least 40 bridges.

Stockholm is a walking city. The highlight being Gamla Stan, the old town. Many took the hop on hop off bus with the harbour cruise. It was maybe a bit on the expensive side but from all accounts well worth it. I think most of us got to see the changing of the guards. This happens every 2 hours with the main ceremony at midday. The guards are much more relaxed than their British counter parts. One of the guards was clearly enjoying the attention from some young tourists, lovely young girls of course. In saying that there is clearly a no go zone around them, so no cuddles.

The highlight, at least for Ann, Yvonne, Janice, Ewan and myself was the visit to the Vasa Museum, which houses the ship Vasa. The Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in the bay of Stockholm in 1628. It was discovered in the 1960’s and was refloated fully intact. It is a work of art. A definite most see if you are in Stockholm.

As Robin kept saying the sail out of Stckholm is something he will always remember.


In Helsinki Les, Cheryl, Robin, Lorna, Colleen and Elaine explored the countryside of Finland, visiting the picturesque village of Porvoo.
Helsinki however is a non-event really. The only attraction is the Rock Church. A church carved out of granite rock. It is an easy city to get around and is tourist friendly. The is an inexpensive Tram which does a wonderful circuit around the city, stopping at all the tourist sights.

St Petersburg.

The sail into St Petersburg is un-impressive. A reminder of the cold war era with military outposts and forts throughout the bay. It is a big industrial city with industry all along the bay as well. In saying all this, the wealth of Russia is showing itself with construction everywhere. There are 4 new passenger terminals in the port with plans for several more to accommodate 16 ships per day Imagine 16 ships with even just 1000 people, that’s 16 000 people in one day! They will have to so something about their roads ASAP if they want to accommodate that many people.

Traffic was an issue for every tour, but once at our destinations we were all in awe. I think the best tour all around was the tour of the city, the Neva River canals and the Hermitage. It was along day but amazing. Margie even had the chance to go to the ballet.

The famous Hermitage is one of the best art museums in the world, rivalling the Louvre.

The Peter the Great’s Summer Palace is an attempt to copy the Louvre. It does not quiet achieve it but the gardens and fountains certainly surpass the grandeur of Versailles’s and are really breathtaking.

Catherine’s Palace is also impressive, particularly the Amber Room. A room completely covered with Amber. The story goes that during WW2 the staff of the Palace hide the amber as the German’s were coming. Unfortunately some of the Amber was lost (stolen) before they were able to restore the room.

The one thing that is most evident is that St Petersburg’s is recovering from the Soviet era. With increased funding the wonderful palaces and buildings are slowing being restored.

Estonia- Tallinn

I think everyone loved Tallinn. Having gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Tallinn has embraced it’s medieval history, clearly understanding the value of it’s medieval ramparts and winding streets. Meander the old town you encountered people dressed in period customs selling their wares as you would imagine they did so in the 14th century. It was a magical day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Magic Greece

We are sitting here in Mykonos, looking from our hotel over the Aegean sea and the whitewashed houses drinking coffee, the sun is shining and the temperature is just right.

Greece is just like the postcards that you see.
Samos was lovely but so far Padros was the most impressive. Our hotel was on the waterfront with a typical windmill just across the road. Each room had a view of the sea and the windmill. Our hosts were delightful, Maria and Cornelius. We were all invited to join them for Ouzo and nibbles as the sun set.
What can be better than ouzo, olives, tzatiki and bread overlooking a magical setting?

The villages on the island are exactly as you expect of a Greek Island. Most of us explored the village of Lefkes. A quiet little village overlooking the island, with white washed streets and with beautiful healthy cats as the only ones wandering the streets. We stopped under a tree only to be warmly greeted by a lovely greek lady who served us local white wine, which was delicious and then the most amazing greek salad. Needless to say the food is fresh and the most delicious food we have tasted.

Unfortunately, a few of us have come down with a 24hour stomach bug, but everyone is right now.

I'm sorry for not posting any more pictures. Internet access is difficult. However as soon as I can I will get some more pictures up.
Today is Ios and tomorrow Santorini.

We are wathcing the volcanic activity and trusting in our good luck so far that it will not interrupt any of our travel plans.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A moving day- Anzac Cove

The drive to Anzac Cove takes you through some beautiful and rugged land.

We visited the humble museum of Anzac Cove first. We were all moved by the story of the father and son who faught side by side.
It is hard to imagine the horror that was the Gallipoli campaign when you see the crystal blue water lapping peaceful on the shores of Anzac Cove and hear the birds singing and yet it is still palpable.
Margy brought poppies for all of us to leave at the Anzac Cove Monument. We drove to Lone Pine and to Chunuk Bair and gave thanks to our Kiwi boys who lay down their lives.

"having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons..." Atuturk clearly reflects how the people of Turkey feel. This is evident everywhere we have been, particularly by the young people we have met.

Turkey Greece and Baltic Tour

We have started on another adventure.
After a week touring a bit of France we headed back for Amsterdam and met up with Angela, Cherryl, Les and Robin and Lorna. We spent a lovely evening dining on pizza that we ordered in.
The next day we were all excited to meet Yvonne, Anne, Margy, Warren and Jenny at Amsterdam Airport on our way to Istanbul.

Istanbul greeted us with sunshine and perfect touring weather. We got the important things out of the way...1st stop the Grand Bazaar.
You really can't explain the Grand Bazaar. 4000 shops and 1000 different alley ways, lovely Turkish men trying to sell you their wares, just some many beautiful things.
We could trust Angela to be a shopping warrior, coming back with 3 bags after only 1 1/2 hours. We are so very proud of her!

The following day, touring the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and to Palace was magic. The weather was perfect and the shear wonder of the fights and history had everyone mesmorised.
We finished the day witha visit at the spice market and then the tradtional stop for a beer under the Galata Bridge.
Our hotel was well located so we were able stroll along a beautiful promenade which was originally built druing the 1800's with French and Italian influence. Good food and good entertainment.