Our trip included 4 stages:
- A week in Paris
- Two weeks working our way across Italy
- Almost two weeks on a cruise, and
- Finally, a week in Rome
The timing of the whole trip was based on the dates of the cruise, which changed continually from the first time we planned it, right up until the day we walked off the boat. Here is the sequence:
We booked the trip in 2019, and chose it primarily because it went to Istanbul. It was scheduled for spring, 2020. Then:
- The entire cruise industry went on COVID hiatus, and our sailing was canceled.
- Optimistic, we booked the trip again for the fall.
- It was canceled again, so we moved the trip to spring 2021.
- When that was canceled, we moved the trip to early fall 2021.
- As the pandemic raged on, we began to realize the date was iffy, so we moved it again, to late fall.
- The ship changed to a smaller one.
- The ports changed multiple times, dropping Istanbul, Kotor, and Mykonos, and adding Rhodes, Korcula, and Koper. Sequence of stops changed.
- It changed to a fully vaccinated cruise.
- The capacity was reduced by over half.
- Venice, upon restart, decided not to allow passengers to dock at the normal (beautiful) harbor and move to the industrial (ugly) harbor.
- In addition to vaccination, a COVID test at embarkation was added. And since Italy now required a test to enter the country, a second test was added at disembarkation.
- On the first day of the cruise, weather caused the ship to stop short of Venice, meaning we had to bus to Trieste.
- On the second day, more weather caused us to cancel the first stop, in Olympia.
- Finally, on the last day of the cruise, weather again caused us to anchor at Trieste again, adding another bus ride to Venice.
With all of that, was it worth it? Absolutely. Tests, masks, port changes were minor inconveniences. And in some ways the trip was better. Sailing at about 40% capacity, but with 100% crew, the service was excellent, and there were no lines our big crowds anywhere on board. And the pictures prove that there was plenty to see.
This was our second time to visit Athens, so we focused on two new things that we did not see the first time: the Acropolis Museum and the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. The museum is remarkable. If you go there, don’t miss it. I’m not sure the history behind the unusual uniforms or the bizarre choreography of the changing of the guard, but it is definitely, um, interesting. I also took a short video of the ceremony, which I will post at a later date.
For more Athens pictures from our first trip, click here.
We spent 2 days at Rhodes, a Greek island about 25 miles from Turkey and site of the ancient Colossus of Rhodes, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. Within the town of Rhodes is one of the oldest inhabited walled cities from the middle ages. We also took a tour the nearby town of Lindos, which has its own ancient acropolis.
This was also our second trip to the harbor town of Chania, on the island of Crete. It was stormy, which made the sunrise pretty at arrival (above). And we got wet and didn’t stay long. But I managed to capture these pictures of the restaurant-lined harbor and the carriage, right at the moment the horse decided he was tired of waiting and set out on his own.
For more pictures from our first trip to Chania, click here.