It’s been nearly a month and a half since my last meaningful post and I am once again faced with the monumental task of getting caught back up. I’m not sure how or why I allowed myself to get so far behind, but I do know that I have left myself a lot of work. The wine, cheese and salami will just have to wait (well, I suppose it can’t hurt to have a little wine while I write). I would like to apologize to my readers for this delay and I would like to acknowledge one loyal reader in particular; Helen actually reached out to me through our Contact Us page and basically said, “what the hell, Greg – where’ve you been?!” Helen and everyone – even though it can’t excuse the lack of content, we just got back from a two-week trip to the States where, in my capacity as Best Man, I roasted my good buddy Josh and toasted his beautiful bride, Abby (read about Josh and Abby’s trip to visit us here and here).
While we were home, I rediscovered some magical things – burritos, quality customer service and Netflix. We haven’t watched as much TV over the past year as we did over the past two weeks. I became obsessed with the Netflix original series, House of Cards – an amazing drama starring, Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a cagey and politically ambitious congressman who is constantly scheming and conniving to reach the next rung of the political ladder. If Frank Underwood can work through all hours of the night and stay ten moves ahead of his opposition, surely I can bang out a few extra blog posts in the next couple weeks.
We still have tons of travel left to do together – I’ve only written about the very first part of our cruise late last year and so much has happened since. So put on your boating shoes and let’s get going…
When I last left you, we had already visited Rome (here and here) before hitting the Mediterranean Sea for Florence. We spent the next day at sea (which means there is no port and therefore no disembarking the ship), which can often be my favorite time onboard a cruise ship. We tend to pick our cruises based on the ports of call, but I always like to be sure there are two or three sea days allotted in the itinerary. It may sound crazy – but it’s nice to have a day to relax in the middle of it all. Carrying a toddler, stroller, backpack (and sometimes even a wife) across miles and miles of city streets, on and off tour buses and in and out of museums [while rewarding] is a lot of work. To have a day where you cannot do anything other than enjoy your ship’s amenities is a pretty sweet prospect. That, and I like to gamble – sea day’s are the only time you can sit in the casino all day (or as long as your wife can tolerate being left alone with your child).
The first sea day was also the first “formal night” and so we all three enjoyed an opportunity to get dressed up and go to dinner. I was up a little after a hard day playing blackjack and so I was in high spirits. The delicious prime rib they served helped to keep me and my tummy happy (they even brought it out “bloody and still mooing with a mountain of horseradish”, just like I asked) . After dinner, we took in a very enjoyable show and went to bed content with a day of doing… well, not much of anything.
The next day we woke up at port in Corfu, Greece. It was drizzling and we had a long day at port in a relatively small city, so we decided we would try to wait out the rain on the ship. We spent the morning participating in some of the cheesy activities organized by the ship’s Cruise Director (imagine a business team building activity). It would have been an uneventful morning if it had not been for a strengthening bond between two little girls who would quickly be known as the fastest of friends onboard Celebrity’s Silhouette. Ava had met Julia in one of the cafe’s the day before and she didn’t hesitate to chat her up on either occasion. She was likely craving companionship of someone close to her own age (Ava is about a year older). The two instantly clicked and after the game, they spent some time dancing, playing and “conversing” (if you can consider each girl stating her independent and random observations a conversation).
As the girls played, we spent some time getting to know Ava’s parents, Catherine and Jim without realizing that we were making fast friends of our own. After just a few minutes talking with Cat and Jim, we learned that they have a close-knit family too – they were cruising with Jim’s brother, “Uncle” Mike and his wife, Feng as well as the boy’s parents – Bob and Dorothy. The entire family was very pleasant and even though we didn’t realize it at the time, we were forming a relationship with a big family we would “adopt” as our own for the remainder of the cruise. Eventually, the rain let up and we took our leave for Corfu.
Corfu is a Greek Island dating back to 1300 BC when it was first inhabited by the Phaeacians. The history of the island is a story penned by bloody battles and conquests. This is evidenced by the two fortresses that enclose the capital city; two formidable structures standing as pillars of protection against would-be invaders from the sea . Jen and I decided that we were up for a walk and so we strolled from the ship, past the “New” Fortress (Νέο Φρούριο) and into the downtown area. We meandered past ancient churches and charming shops and restaurants when heard a tiny, little voice scream, “Juila”! It was her new friend Ava, who came barreling up and generously gave Julia a big hug and a piece of her bread. We kept hiking past the outskirts of town and into the Old Fortress (Παλαιό Φρούριο) – a citadel that offers the most magnificent panoramic of the ancient city, justifiably deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After a pleasant and rewarding day, we concluded our self-guided tour when we missed the last bus back to the ship, thereby closing the loop on our long walk by hustling back to the ship on foot. We were just moments away from getting back on a course of exploration throughout eastern Europe, just as I am back on track blogging. For any other HOC (House of Cards) fans out there, imagine me concluding this post with two quick raps of my class ring on the desk. Frank Underwood would be proud!