If you've made it this far in the blog, congratulations, it was a real marathon. I normally write the wrap-up and reflections for our trip as soon as I get home, but for this trip, here I am doing it on February 1st, almost two months since we returned home. This was not really by design, but more from circumstance. I came home sick, my computer failed and it was two weeks before Christmas so I put almost everything about the trip on hold until the beginning of the new year. I decided to publish the whole blog before I wrote my wrap-up and finally, the blog is done!! It is the longest one I have done, and there were a lot of photos to go through, but it did allow me to relive our trip and gain a little more appreciation and perspective of what we saw.
Before I get to my reflections, a little sidebar here. When we got home I was watching TV one night and there was a car commercial on that was about a young couple with a new car throwing darts at a map to see where they would go. The commercial was kind of stupid, but at the end they said something that struck me as being pretty profound. I don’t know exactly how it was worded, but essentially it said, “it’s not the destination that makes the journey, but who you make the journey with”, and that is so true. There is something wonderful about traveling and seeing new things, but even more wonderful is having someone to share it with and there is no else I would rather share it with than Val. Thank you Val.
Since we have gotten home, several people have asked me what was my favorite place on the trip was and my answer always seems to end up a lengthy response. One memory leads to another and almost every place we visited had something special to offer. We got a taste of the tradition and culture of some places, and were amazed at other places as we realized that we were looking back at thousands of years of history. Since I can’t really pick out any favorite place, I will talk about the places I enjoyed the most (standing in pouring rain in Athens will not rate as one of most enjoyable moments).
Visiting the Azores was very special as we had no idea how green and lush they were. We didn’t have the best of weather so it would be nice to return with a bit of sunshine, but the Azores were still a great way to kick off the trip. Our time in Lisbon was also wonderful and spending the day with Greg and Isabel was one of the best times on the trip. Barcelona was a big surprise, we had heard and read so many negative things about the pick-pockets, petty theft and crowds, but Barcelona is a great place. It is a beautiful and vibrant city with friendly people who seem for the most part, to be tolerant of tourists and that can’t be said of everywhere we visited.
Another place that really surprised us was Pompeii, I never realized what a large city it was. Reading about the city is one thing, but seeing it and the artifacts made you think of the people living there and how their lives were so quickly changed. Seeing the original ancient site of the Olympics in Greece was also an eye opener, I had no idea it was such an elaborate and large compound.
One of my favorite places was Dubrovnik in Croatia. We saw many medieval walled cities on the cruise, but Dubrovnik was by far the best. Val and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit there and would like to go back again someday.
I think our best stretch of ports were the islands of Rhodes, Crete and Malta. The day we spent visiting Lindos on Rhodes, and Chania on Crete were two of the highlights of the trip. I think though, if I had to pick my favorite place we visited it would probably be Malta. We spent two days there and had a wonderful time. Both days we had private tours with excellent guides and they made it even more special.
Visiting the island of Sardinia in Italy also stood out as we were able to spend part of a day experiencing the traditional hospitality, culture and food with an extended family at their villa. That was a Thanksgiving we will always remember. Lastly there’s the Portuguese island of Madeira. We didn’t really get to see much of it because Val was sick, but it was such a nice day and the island was so inviting, we would love to revisit it and see a lot more.
I have fond memories of everywhere we visited (maybe with the exception of Athens 😎), but these were the memories that stood out for me. This was a long cruise with lots of time changes and a pretty intensive port schedule, but Val and I both agree that we would do it again as there is so much more to see and do.
Our next trip is another cruise, this time a short 14 day Alaska cruise out of Seattle in June. We decided to take a breather this year and not travel so much so it is the only thing we have planned so far. We always do our “geezer” trip in the fall, but we aren’t even doing that this year due to unforeseen circumstances, but hopefully we will restart that in 2019. We will do some short trips and probably do a road trip or two, but otherwise things are going to be pretty quiet in travel wise in 2018. That’s it for now and we’ll see you on down the road.