Cruising though the Mediterranean

It’s been years since Ive taken a cruise and I’ve finally decided to go on vacation with my parents! I live with them so I really don’t need to take time off to spend it with them but anyhow told them that I’d go on a cruise with them if they decide to go around the Mediterranean. Surprisingly, she agreed mainly because we had way too many miles to burn. We picked a boat based on the itinerary and ship’s reputation (this was before the Costa incident earlier this year). I knew Santorini had to be a destination because it’s probably the most spoked about destination. After some research, we came across the Costa Fascinosa which is supposed to make its debut in May 2012. Brand new ship, great itinerary, different sites, okay I’m in! Amy suggested to upgrade to a balcony but the price difference between interior and balcony was $400 pp which wasn’t worth it since we wouldn’t be on the boat for long (we’ll be on land for the most part). Maybe if I were to take an around the world trip, I’d upgrade to a balcony room. Retirement gift ?

Our itinerary as follows:
1 Venice – spent a few extra days here bc dad and Kevin have never been but not much to see
2 Bari – a very not so exciting city that can be explored in an hour by foot
3 Olympia / katakolon – first Olympic torch was lit.. Not many remains of the ruins are left
4 Santorini – breathtaking !!
5 at sea – Italian independence day
6 Dubrovnik – stunning views “Adriatic pearl”

I couldn’t have asked for a better itinerary. We spent a majority of the time on land so I didn’t feel bored at all. The food was absolutely delicious. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t recognize me after the huge weight gain!! On a typical night, I’d order 2 appetizers, soup, salad, pasta, main course, ice cream and 2 desserts. Mom has been on 13 cruises and she says Costa has the best food by far. I thought maybe its because the Italians really value their meals so it’s important the chefs place a heavy emphasis on the quality of the food. The service was impeccable. Only thing we were missing were our friends. It wouldve been really fun had our friends been there with us because we partied at night! What’s awesome are the many night clubs that we got to choose from. What’s funny is that Kevin and I started jumping to techno/house music to “no hablo americano” the one song that we knew and everyone was doing their side to side swings. Anyway, we left after a few songs. The next night, some lady came up to Kevin and said hey why didn’t you stay at the club? You’re one of the few that actually knew how to dance! Lmao….

After this experience, I’d definitely go on a cruise again. It’s really headache free. No need to think about meals, agendas, programmes, or activities! Next time, we’ll need to bring more people! Oh maybe we’ll learn some Italian too. The most painful part of this ship was that everyone spoke Italian so we had to wait for the English translation. The loud speaker would broadcast the announcement in Italian, French, German, Spanish, then English! We joked a few times that we’d be the last to evacuate during an emergency because we have no idea what they’re saying.

Photos will be on Facebook shortly…!

Roaming in Rome

After missing our first flight from New York, I vouch to never show up “late” to the airport even if that means getting there two hours in advance.
 
We made it Rome! Arrived early and met my parents at their hotel. We spent the day exploring the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps. It was a long hot restless day especially since we only got two hours of sleep on the airplane. The sites were pretty amazing but I’m not sure I loved it. Kevin enjoyed the sites but would have preferred an extra day to slowly appreciate all the sites.
 
Lunch was at a restaurant close by the colosseum which was pretty decent. Even with the favorable exchange rate (€1 to $1.25), lunch ended up to be €60 when we only ordered a few plates of pasta! A few summers ago when I was here in Europe, I was getting €1 to $1.60! Oh man, hope things will start to recover for the European Union. Guess more shopping for me.
 
 
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one of my favorite photos b/c mom reminds me of the leaning tower of pisa! lol Image
 
Pretty pumped about the cruise tomorrow. I’m so glad we made it to Venice!
 
good night all.

Taksim

The next two nights we stayed in a different neighborhood, one next to sultanahmet – taksim. It’s supposed to be trendy and more local. In fact, the area was very similar to a fifth avenue with all the high end shops. It certainly was pleasant to be surrounded by locals rather than crowded tour groups and haggling shop owners. We really took it easy and just ate the next two days.  We had dinner with a high school friend who was also in Istanbul at that time. Most of the meals consisted of kebabs, doners, kofte (turkish meatballs), kokorec, and lots of sweets. The best dessert I’ve ever had is Kunefe in Jordan at a dessert shop called Habibi.  It’s basically a tray of really hot melted white cheese topped with flakes soaked in honey. I can remember tasting every bite of the dessert when it came out of the oven. Turkey had its own version but it wasn’t as delicious. I was really looking forward to having it again but it was nice to try something similar. Will try to find a dessert spot in New York that has it!

Kunefe