More Than A Trip on a Ship

 

 

Greetings,

Let me get right to it:  On September 11, 2011, I boarded a Delta airlines flight from San Francisco to New York to Barcelona, Spain!!!  Now for those of you reading this who are world travelers, this may not seem like much.  However, for me it was HUGE!!!!  This was my first “out of the country” travel – my goal now is to wear out my passport!   The Ruby Princess (which hosted 3100 passengers and over a 1,000 crew members for 12 glorious days) was waiting for me in Barcelona, Spain.

With 2 days in Spain before we embarked, I set the intention to remain present in each moment.  To help me with that, I kept a daily journal….

09/12/11 Thoughts as I arrived in Barcelona:

Black feels different here.  No one seems to notice or mind.  Until I speak, I wonder if they even know I’m not one of their own.  I see more people who look like me here than when I travel the streets of San Leandro.  I’m also acutely aware of the loss of language as my ears take in the tongues of a shared and native language as we pass through customs.  I watch their comfort with each other and the way their tongues caress each word.  I realize my tongue only tells of those who oppressed.

As I watched the GPS flight map as we crossed the Atlantic Ocean, that once hundreds of years ago an ancestor who’s name I’ll never know crossed these same waters going in the opposite direction in the hold of a slave ship.  As the anticipation of the great adventure I’d have grew, I wondered what fears he/she felt?

Me in Barcelona, Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a self-guided walking tour around the area near our hotel, we retreated to our fabulous hotel room (think Jetsons) to rest and prepare to board the Ruby Princess…..was I in for a surprise!

This cruise was an amazing 50th birthday gift from Ernest, who’d told me about the room we’d have, the ports of call, etc.  Well, when our Stateroom Steward, Rolando, opened the door to our room, all I saw was water.  A suite with a living room and balcony!!!  Felt like I was getting a peak at heaven!

09/13/11  Setting Sail For Monaco

I’ve dreamed of this trip, long before I knew where to find The Mediterranean on a map.  The suite with living room and balcony are as they say, “to die for.”  After an evacuation drill at our Muster Station (information, I’m praying I never have to use) a complimentary buffet and booking our shore excursions, we returned to the room to unpack.  Right now I’m looking at a full golden moon, set high in a dark blue sky as we float gently across ink black waters.  The sound of the water reminds me of the vastness of this place I’ve been blessed to inhabit; makes me want to treat the world a little better.  I am overwhelmed with the blessing of this moment.

My home aboard the Ruby Princess /Dolphin Deck (14)

 

 

 

 

 

There is something completely relaxing about having a staff who’s main objective daily is to make sure that you enjoy every moment. My experience aboard ship felt as if my ever desire had been anticipated with loving detail. Believe me when I tell you, that it was completely effortless to get used to living like this LOL.  I felt open and receptive to all experiences.  I got an entirely new understanding of “living in the moment” as I awoke each day in gratitude and wonder.  I wrote the next entry after my first morning on board:

09/14/11  At One With Creation

Walked the Promenade Deck (Deck 7) as the sun rose on the Mediterranean.  Wish my thought could’ve been recorded but I’m sure they were heard by God….here’s what I remember thinking:

…..the moon stayed in the sky as if challenging the rising sun for space…..saw a pink that reminded me of a knit Easter suite my sister wore when she was about 4 or 5,  as the rising sun teasingly exposed a new day…as the sun turned the deep, dark, black velvet of the sea a warm and welcoming teal, I wondered how many journeys it had witnessed; what stories it could tell….

Sunrise over The Mediterranean

Okay, so we reach Monaco, our first Port of Call.  All I can think about are the movies I’ve seen here and Princess Grace.  The weather is beautiful; the sky seems bluer here than at home and the air fresher.  The French Riviera!

Playground of the Rich and Richer

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 15th found us in Livorna, Italy.  Did some shopping and reveled in the easy, slow pace of things.  Forgot the camera, but just imagine a shopping area, similar to SF or NY with one exception:  almost every store is closed from 1pm – 4pm so that folks can go home and have a meal with their families.  We saw uniformed, school aged children of all ages, walking home to eat with their families.  I’m now totally convinced that the U. S. has it all wrong with its 30minute lunch breaks!  The food here is fabulous, and I’m enjoying it all!   After our time in Livorna, we had a great dinner on board with couples from New Zealand, Canada, London and a sisters from Ghana.  We shared about our lives “back home”, our time in Livorna and our excitement about Rome.  Being surrounded by folks intent on having a good time does something amazing for the spirit!

09/16/11  Rome, Italy

The cost of these shore excursions were incredibly high, so we did a little prioritizing.  Since Ernest JUST HAS TO SEE The Colisseum and I MUST go to Athens and Venice, we decided he’d go ashore  on an organized tour without me and I’d either stay on board or shuttle in on my own.  You’ll see some of his amazing shots below.  I decided to stay on board and what a time I had…there is something to do every minute.  I saw a movie, took a Zumba Class, and came in 3rd in a Jeopardy-like Trivia game!  Read on deck while eating the most delicious gelato I’ve ever head and read one of the many books loaded on my Kindle for moments just like this.  LOVING This Time!!!

The Colisseum

 

The Colisseum

 

 

 

 

 

There is a different feel in the air when you walk streets where things are thousands of years old.  The sense of history is EVERYWHERE even when you’re passing by a McDonald’s.  Ernest had the time of his life and I sat with wide eyes as he told me about his time in Rome and shared the pictures!

09/17/11 Our Day In Naples, Italy

Up early today for a day in Naples, touring and some time in the streets on our own…OMG!!!! A magnificent day in Napoli.  Ernest and I took off on our own around the downtown area in the morning and took a City Drive Tour in the afternoon.  GREAT Photos and ice cream that had to have been made by the gods.

One of the many castles along we saw in Naples

The beauty of Napoli

09/18/11  A Day At Sea 

Headed to Mykonos, Greece!  Took advantage of the soothing motion of the sea and slept late.  got some writing done (yes, the novel went with me on my fantastic voyage), spent some time in the ship’s library.  The sun is hot and bright, the waters are easy and blue.  You can’t ask for more.

Okay, I have to tell you all something magical about this trip to Greece.  Years, and years and years ago, I saw a picture of some square, bleached white houses with these amazing blue roofs.  From the moment I saw this picture I was drawn to it in some way I couldn’t really explain.  Over the years, I learned the picture was from an island in Greece and began to say that one day I’d go there! And here I was on a cruise ship, headed to Greece.  I’ve always been a believer of dreams, because I’ve had so many of them come true.  This trip is just another example.  Keep dreamin’, y’all!!

09/19/11  Mykonos, Greece:  My Soul Has A Home

Glorious!!!  The teal to aqua to navy blue waters alone is enough to take your breath away.  Ernest got AMAZING photos.  I had a Greek Salad while watching the crystal clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea splash against ancient rocks.  The baklava is DIVINE and the areas famous almond cookies were unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.

2pm we set sail for Istanbul, Turkey.  My time in Greece was too short….guess I’ll have to return.  How GREAT is our God?

My Soul's Home

The Blue Roofs of My Dream

I have never felt so “at home” and “at peace” than I did during my short time in Mykonos.  I now know that while I “live” in San Leandro, my soul’s “home” is in Mykonos.  Can’t wait to get back home!!!

09/20/11  Istanbul, Turkey

An entirely different vibe here and after the magic of watching the sun rise over the majestic Blue Mosque (named after the hundreds of thousands of blue tiles inside the Mosque), Istanbul was a city of noise and traffic. Ernest slept in, missing the early departure of the tour, so I was off on my own! I visited the Palace and Harem of The Sultan and saw a rug weaving demonstration while drinking their traditional apple tea..yum, yum.  I was totally overwhelmed with the shopping madness of the Grand Bazaar.  Think MEGA indoor mall/flea market that is the size of a small town.  Over 4,000 vendors….kept my Euros to myself.

Entry to The Palace

 

The Blue Mosque

 09/21/11  Next Stop:  Kudasi, Turkey

Now this is the place to be in Turkey.  Small, quaint, people so friendly you’d think that you must have met them before and THE ABSOLUTE BEST FOOD I HAVE EVER EATEN!  I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 16 years and that has been a challenge. I now realize why; I should’ve moved to The Mediterranean.  Meat is second thought here and the vegetarian choices when you go into a restaurant are unbelievable.  Everything is fresh and flavorful, and the combinations are amazing.  Today for lunch I ate a hot flatbread, a bellpepper stuffed with nuts, cheeses, spinach, grains, tomatoes, etc.  and of course, my favorite travel dessert:  gelato!

09/22/11  Athens, Greece

It’s official:  Greece is the place for me!  LOVED Athens.  The vibe is warm and inviting, the people are kind and the food makes me glad to be vegetarian (NEVER felt like that before LOL.)  Saw the mountain from which St. Paul began his Christian Ministry.  Did you hear me?  I looked upon the mountain where Paul gave one of his earliest sermons.  WOW!  The Acropolis – which means High City – is phenomenal.  Pictures in front of the Parthenon and climbed the Steps of the Propylea (the gateway to The Acropolis.)  The visit to the National Archeological Museum of Athens was wonderful.  I could have stayed there all day.  In the Plaka, their shopping center, we walked on glass sidewalks which displayed the neighborhood of an ancient city.  The journey down the streets was liking walking in 2 worlds – cars, modern condos and hotels stand side by side with the ancient structures.  We saw the Old Olympic Stadium, the site of the 1st Olympic Games in 1896.  As I looked into the place that held the 69,000 spectators, I wondered what Jesse Owens felt during his historic time here in 1936….

Fortunately for us, the streets of Athens were free of demonstrations today as we passed the scene of last month’s demonstrations – The Constitution Hall.  As our tour guide, Crista, told us of Athens problems – 16% unemployment, young adults out of college unable to find work, 1 million state employees being fired, it sounded like our troubles in the U. S. and reminded me that ALL people just want the opportunity to BE WELL and have their children do better than they did.

Temple of Zeus

View from The Acropolis

….So many moments here feel like worship.  My soul is well and the simple acts – feeling the sun on my feet as I sit on my deck watching the waves of the Aegean Sea takes “blessed” to another level.  God’s presence is in each blink of my eye and beat of my heart and I feel it until my eyes water.

…..Set sail for Venice.  The large fluffy clouds block the sunset tonight, a yellow glow between them that reminds me of the warmth of a Christmas morning blaze in the fireplace.  Despite the warm, moist air, the blues of the sky and sea are icy-looking making me think of Christmas cards with silver foil and glitter that mimics frost.

09/23/11  Day At Sea

Our last day at sea – for this cruise anyway, LOL – began with a sun that seemed brighter and a sea that seemed bluer than any other day as if in celebration of our grand journey.  Heading to Venice, Italy with it’s streets of water.  

On Board

 

Poolside on The Ruby Princess

 09/24/11 Venice Italy

No words here.  I’ll let you take a look at some of the amazing sites we shared in this wondrous city of canals and waterways…..

Venice, Italy

The beauty of Venice

Venice's Amazing Canals

 

 

 

 

 

09/25/11  The End of A Grand Adventure

Disembarked in Venice, Italy from my beloved and enchanted Ruby Princess at 9:15am.  Making this entry from the Hotel Biasutti in Venice after a water taxi ride (quite an experience for a non-swimmer) and a pizza lunch that was YUMMY!  Realized I do like pizza, but only in Italy!  The Hotel Biasutti has an old world feel.  The room is quaint and European and makes for a gentle re-entry after the pampered luxury of the ship.  What a grand adventure.  

Epilogue

Completed this journey with a visit with Raymar in New York before returning to San Leandro, CA.  It just doesn’t get any better!!! It literally took me 3 or 4 days to feel back as the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Mediterranean lingered (took months before the food here tasted like anything.)

As this year draws to a close, make sure to rest in the simplicity of each moment and prepare to meet 2012 anticipating the JOY of every minute.  Blessings for a wonderful 2012…….here are some more pictures of one of the best times in my life.  ENJOY~

The French Riviera

 

Rome

Naples

Mykonos, Greece

The Harem in Istanbul

 

 

Sunrise on the Ruby Princess

 

 

 

 

 

Morning on The Aegean Sea

From the museum in Athens

 

 

 

 

 

Athens

Venice, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

Venice

Mykonos, Greece


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One Response to “More Than A Trip on a Ship”

  1. Equaan dia Says:

    What a wonderful journey you had. Thank you for sharing your experience. As I’ve been to Rone, Venice and Taken a much shorter cruise before- reading your words brought new understanding of each. When is your next return to Greece?

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