Vision of a Great Time!: Vision of the Seas Cruise Review by Sparky_MN
Overall Member Rating
Vision of a Great Time!
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Athens (Piraeus)
Was everything perfect? No. Dinner was disorganized the first night; the Cruise Director's awful jokes predictably fell flat; the band seemed to only know three songs; the juggler kept dropping things. But the staff was friendly and attentive, and I had the time of my life! I have already booked another cruise with them and am excited to embark next week. Less
Port and Shore Excursions
Driving in Greece is actually pretty easy. The lines on the highway are more of a suggestion, as opposed to the rule. Slower traffic will hug the shoulder and allow you to pass them in the same lane while oncoming traffic is present. Probably not legal, but courteous.
Olympia is a whole lot of ruins. That’s about it, really. The Statue of Zeus, another one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is at Olympia. Or rather, it was at Olympia. Like the Colossus of Rhodes, it’s no longer standing.
The Blue Grotto was natural beauty at its finest. It’s a series of rock caverns and arches on clear blue water. We took a small motor boat around it, ducking in and out of the caves and staring down through the water at the clearly visible sea floor. After the boat ride we went for a swim by the boat docks. I try impressing the group with my signature back flip into the water. I’m so cool.
Marsaxlokk was once a tiny fishing village, but has grown in recent years. It’s harbor is filled with small wooden fishing boats, all brightly painted in the same blue, yellow, and red color scheme. The front of each boat is dotted with a pair of wooden eyes, a tradition which dates back to Phoenician times. The water line is only a couple feet below the street, making it appear as if the town is floating.
When we made it back to Valletta, most of the group decided to head back to the ship. I was still hurting from the previous evening, but I wasn’t done with Malta yet. I teamed up with some other cruisers and we set out to explore the walled city. The people of Malta are very friendly and being a member of the Commonwealth, they all speak English. The city itself was breathtaking, and better represented through pictures rather than words.
As the ship pulled from port, we watched the sun set behind the skyline. I left Malta with a sense of pride in that part of my heritage. I will definitely be back for a longer stay some day, and would recommend it be placed on anyone’s list of places to travel to.
I have long been a believer that driving in Europe should be left to the Europeans. Before we got to the main highway, we would have to navigate the winding streets of Rhodes, filled with nutter Euro drivers. I left this task to my travel companion. The Jimny was woefully underpowered, as most European cars are, and it braked with all the grace and mechanical precision of a washing machine in spin cycle with an unbalanced load of laundry. But it got us there, and Lindos was perfect. We joked that it was just like Santorini, but not tarnished by excessive tourism. It was the Santorini for those seasoned travelers who knew where the real Greece was to be found. Neither of us has ever been to Santorini.
It was magnificent! We wandered the streets and climbed to the top of the Acropolis. We found out that acropolis basically means the high point of a city, and is not specific to Athens. From the view above the city, we spotted a beautiful beach and a cave along the rock wall a couple hundred meters out in the water. We also spotted what looked like an old lighthouse and another ancient structure on the next peninsula. We were going to have to check this stuff out. We made our way down, passing three large tour groups from the ship that had paid twice what we had to get out here. Tourists!
We made our way to the beach and went for a swim. We were of course the only ones swimming, as this is apparently not something people do there in November. I swam out to the cave - Black Bart's Cave as I called it - and then swam back in. We dried off and began our trek out to the second peninsula. It was about a mile along a path to get out to the lighthouse. We passed a few goats and quite a few heavily matted sheep on the way. When we finally made it to the lighthouse, we went inside and found it wasn't a lighthouse at all. It was an old windmill. We climbed up the spiral stairs, and found the large mill stone and a series of wooden gears. After taking a few photos we climbed back down and made our way to the second structure atop the hill at the end of the peninsula. This building was round and made of stone. It was about eight feet tall and about 15 feet in diameter. We went inside and, with our extensive archeological skills, determined it was some sort of sacrificial altar from medieval times.
When we left Lindos, we both felt that the rest of the trip could be horrible, but because of this stop it would still have been a great trip. We got back into Rhodes and walked around the old streets for about a half hour, and made our way back to the ship.
Sidi Bou Said was probably the biggest surprise of the trip. I’m not sure what I expected Africa to be like, but I certainly didn’t expect a picturesque village of sugar-cube houses with bright blue windows and doors. Again, we have never been to Santorini, but Sidi Bou Said looked like I imagine Santorini would.
Our last stop was the medina in Tunis. Now this is what I was expecting. A series a dark, narrow alleyways bustling with merchants and pickpockets. The air was filled with a haze of smoke from a vender who was grilling fish. It reminded me of that scene in movie "Bloodsport" when Jean Claude Van Damme was making his way to the Kumite. You know what I’m talking about. Anyway, you must try the mint tea here. I had two. The tea alone was worth getting off the ship for.
A Majestic Princess indeed!
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