Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dubronik, Croatia...a new place for both of us! Day 7

Dubrovnik, Croatia we had heard lots of good things about before we left, and it was definitely one of the most intriguing ports of call. With all the cruise websites and excursion sites, I came up with minimal things to learn and figure out what to do. We decided we'd play it as it went...take the bus into downtown towards the city walls...and just have a good time. Instead of it just being us, Bob and Lisa joined us to walk the walls and more!

What a beautiful country Croatia is...the water was pristine, the countryside was gorgeous, and the walls were historic. But right as we were making it to the walls we saw a fight! It was a dove and a cat...guess who won? The dove actually...some alert tourist kicked the cat off the dove who was injured but walked away from the fight...not sure why this is information to share in our honeymoon blogging, but it just came to mind. Going for details here! ;-)

When we made it about halfway through the walls we stopped for some local beer...Karlavacko. It was light and tasty, perfect for the stop. We traded in the cans from the first round for more, then more! Who knows how long we'd been up there, just talking, sharing stories, enjoying the trip...we met some of our fellow passengers. Lisa was just saying she got stung by a dead bee when this little boy pops out from behind me (like a jack in the box) and says "how do you get stung by a dead bee?" Lisa's response, "I stepped on it while walking on the beach." Kid says "why weren't you wearing shoes?" Lisa, "it was the beach." Kid, "they make shoes for the beach." It just kept going and going, more kids kept coming and coming...soon enough it was a ball! Funniest part, which is becoming a classic line...someone asked the kid how old they thought I was...he goes..."late....(pause).....forties!" OYE!!

Anyways, I was called grandpa by the father and the story lingered throughout the trip!

Eventually we made it off the wall and through the streets...beautiful.

To lunch! We made it to a local restaurant down some stairs and we all had unbelievable food! Deb had the best pizza here...yes, in Croatia! Bob and I toasted some Grappa. Deb had tried in on previous Italian trips, but I had to go for it. I even convinced Bob (not that it took convincing to go for it with me!). It was awesome!

Back onboard for more spa, food, and honeymoon!

A day at sea then to the Italian Island of Sicily!

Day 6...Last Day in Venice

Our second day in Venice started off with me being...well, me. Like I said in my previous post, we bought 2-day vaporetto passes and I lost mine! We were walking off the ship and Debbie says "do you have your pass?" My thought was "come on Deb, I don't lose everything!" Well.......I did.....and I guess I do! :-)

After waiting in line for the second day, we got moving towards St Marks Square, the Bascillica, Doge's Palace, etc etc etc. It was awesome. We got moving into the church first. The lines grow all day long and we wanted to ensure we got in and didn't spend the day waiting in line! We watched the water slowly rise in the square and even in the church! It was an amazing church.

The water rising is definitely a sad reality for the city...

Next up was lunch on the canal...we had more pizza and followed it up with more gelato! We even bought an original painting by a local artist...he signed the back for us!

Then our walk through the alleys commenced again and we made it back for more shopping at the Rialto Bridge. Deb got her Venetian mask for the nights festivities...

The way out of Venice we watched us sail through the canal from the whirlpools on Deck 15. They were quickly deemed not nearly good enough to the spa and we hustled indoors for some luxury treatment!

That night we did the Venetian sailaway party with our friends...Bob & Lisa, Horas and Tricee, and Derek and Kate. Most nights we spent time at the piano bar, but on this night we headed to the back of the ship to the nightclub.

Two awesome days in Venice went quickly...we were off towards Croatia...

Gondola, Murano, & Running!!! Venice, Italy - Day 5

One of the major reasons we picked the Carnival Dream was it's itinerary, especially that it spent two days in Venice. Of all the cities we were to visit on our trip, I was most excited about Venice. Debbie and so many others have been there in the past...rave reviews from all!

We arrived early in Venice thanks to one of our fellow passengers falling ill. His peril was our bonus. The ship arrives through the canal systems, and I was perched out front with camera and camcorder in hand to catch it all. Debbie eventually met me out front before we started seeing the beautiful views of the city. The ship moved very slowly through the canals and into Venice's Grand Canal where we pulled alongside Doge's Palace, St Marks Square, the Bascillica and the Bell Tower. In addition all the hundreds of canals, gondolas, and excited tourists!

First thing we did was get a Vaporetto pass, which is most like a subway pass. We bought the two day pass so that we could use it both days. Next stop, Murano. Debbie and I planned ahead, bought a Venice popout map, and were all set to take the "DM" boat "direct to Murano Island." So we got on and even had two other passengers that Debbie got acquainted with follow us. Yup...we got lost. See our map was a year old and the routes were changed. Two things then happened...we had to figure out what to do next and get on another boat...and said goodbye to those friendly Dream passengers who said in so many words "we'll get lost on our own!"

We arrived in Murano and it was gorgeous. We ate lunch there, shopped, and enjoyed the beautiful historic glass-blowing city. No big purchases here as the island was quite expensive! I got a pair of Murano glass cufflinks and we got a Christmas ornament for our tree.

Back to Venice we arrived at the Rialto Bridge. A historic bridge with shops lining the topside. Shopping commenced! We both got Venetian masks for the sailaway party back onboard the following day, Debbie got those Cameo earrings (beautiful roses!), and more shot glasses!

We navigated through the alleys to a little restaurant for dinner. I wanted tortellini, so when we finally found the place that had it...we went in! In Italy they seat people next to each other that are complete strangers. One mystery was this was our worst meal of the entire trip. This was better than nearly every Italian restaurant we've ever eaten in (aside from Little Italy and the Hill in St Louis)... The other mystery was our neighbor tablemates. I said no, Debbie said yes. She's prepared the evidence and I have since agreed...yes, they were 60+ year old lesbians. Oye. Feeding each other, holding hands, she was right...I was probably just loopy on some good Italian wine!

After dinner we strolled through St Marks Square and found ourselves a gondolier. See, it was COLD that night, probably 40s or so. We were the only ones at 930 that were up for a gondola! It was great, it was romantic, it was scenic, and very memorable. What great times!

The hike back to the ship was made more funny and dramatic (to me at least) when my new wife says while on the Vaporetto, "I have to use the bathroom." Simple task anywhere else, but not in Venice. Oye. It was midnight and we were still a mile from the ship when we got off the boat. No bathrooms in sight. The walk back to the ship turned to a brisk walk, to a power walk, to a slow jog, a jog, than a slow run! It was me chasing Debbie! As she got to the security checkpoint she pushes past some slow people and I am chasing after her. She runs past and gets back onto the ship as the security people are looking at me like some crazy man chasing her! It was quite humorous and I hope she doesn't kill me for telling the story!!

Sleep time, then another day in Venice!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Water Slide!!! Day 4, Day at Sea...

The weather was cold throughout the honeymoon for the first week...but the best chance we had to ride the water slide, the longest at sea, was today! It was in the 60s (maybe 50s, but likely 60s) and windy, very very windy!

So...Debbie and I were in the spa much of the morning that day. It was mid-day when Bob and Lisa (our friends we met on the cruise joined us in the Thalassotherapy Pool. (It was awesome! We were in in nearly every day! It was the biggest reason we signed up for Spa membership access for the length of the cruise...) Anyways, we got to talking that the racer slides were open. These were two slides that ran parallel that you could race down. Bob and I both started claiming we would be faster, which led to the four of us heading to Deck 15 for the race(s)! The big slide wasn't open just we figured lets bring some demand and perhaps they'd let it open...

There was some cheating in the races...I jumped early, then was awesome. We had a crowd watching (no joke) wondering what lunatics were going down the freezing cold water slides! The wives were watching in support from a nearby deck... Eventually, they opened the big slides! The platform to the slides is so high up, you are far above the top deck and nearly looking straight at the mast and smokestack. This was when we were going around the boot of Italy so the views were amazing!

The two slides were great, a drainpipe which you fly into a big bowl where you loop around till you stop. The other is a 500 ft slide (I think) that twists and a ton of fun. The people continued to watch and a few even joined in. It was an awesome afternoon!

Later in the day it was formal night...the Captains Gala too. Free drinks! When drinks are upwards of $8 and $10 each, we absolutely took advantage...

Fun up, TWO days in Venice!!!

Day 3...Naples, Italy...Mt Vesuvius, Pompeii, PIZZA!!!

So, Deb got a great start to our, I'm going to try and continue it!

Civitavecchia (pronounced chv-tä-vkyä) - yeah, it's not as easy as it looks! Even with the pronunciation, we screwed it up!

Favorite part of Day 1/2, was the fake euros. It is pretty funny looking back on, but in that moment, not so funny. I couldn't believe we got rid of it. I didn't want Debbie to pawn it off on someone else, but I'm sure there were more people like us, in some dreamy other world, that would unknowlingly accept it!

Day 3 - Naples...

In the months leading up to the honeymoon, I did quite a bit of reading. Considering we booked it 14 months ahead of time (and probably got the best deal imaginable), we had tons of time to figure things out. Naples is known for thieves, pickpockets, and danger to tourists. With Debbie and I already being ripped off with fake euros, I'm glad we opted to do a shore excursion through the cruise line.

First stop was a Cameo factory. These expert craftsmen use special tools to carve into coral and other materials, such as shells. They were quite pricey and very very busy that day! Debbie looked but didn't find anything she wanted there...(later, perhaps).

Then we were off to Mount Vesuvius. When we booked our shore excursion we had to decide between doing Vesuvius or the Amalfi Coast. I wanted Vesuvius, Debbie wanted the coast. Debbie compromised...and on the next trip to Naples we'll do the scenic drive down the coast... Back on track, we took the switchbacks up towards the peak of the volcano. About 1 km down from the summit, we are unloaded off the buses and told..."walk." In a more polite way, of course. It was awesome! The view of the crater, down the mountain, Pompeii, Herculaneum, the bay, and Naples...WOW!

After Vesuvius we headed to Pompeii. What a crazy they were able to excavate with such precision and restore to such condition. Looking up to Vesuvius from Pompeii was eerie considering it destroyed the city so long ago. The entombed bodies were a little creepy to look at, but the history in the city was amazing.

Next up, hitting up the Lemoncello factory! A couple of bottles down, we were off and back to Naples! (We were able to bring all the liquor back on board...with a 12 day cruise, the bottle of Creme de Limone was no problem!)
Oh man, the pizza in Naples was to die for!! The fresh mozzarella, the sauce, the crust, was perfect! I want to say I had better later in the two weeks, but I'd be lying. The whole thing was amazing. My only regret, not eating more!

And the scallop shaped pastry we heard about beforehand... Sfogliatelle. Go ahead and try to pronounce! We just called it yummy!!

Naples was a great stop all together, we enjoyed it. It's definitely on our list for next time...there was much we wanted to do but didn't get a chance to...

Next up, Day at Sea...then Venice!

Putting an end to the Blog hiatus!

So it's been nearly two months off from posting blogs...which can be attributed to various reasons. My goal now is to end this hiatus and finish blogging our honeymoon, for one. Then Thanksgiving, Christmas, the upcoming New Year, etc etc etc... Lets see if I can live up to my word and actually get this done! :-)

Now...back to the blog!