Posts filed under ‘CenturyClub’
We just got back from the trip of a lifetime Monday evening. Here’s my brief overview:
The preamble: None of our usual travel companions joined us (we almost always travel with friends). This trip ended up costing a lot more than we planned due to the volcano issue (new plane tickets booked last minute, hotel, cab, food). The Celebrity Xpedition desk people were really rude to us and misinformed. We missed the pre-cruise city tour in Quito. We got sick with colds. My husband got seasick. On the last excursion, I slid on loose gravel, scraping my leg and breaking my camera (Nikon D90; don’t worry – I have insurance for it). This was by far the worst luck we’ve ever had on a trip, including our trip to Mexico that got canceled last year due to swine flu.
The verdict : It was the most amazing thing we’ve ever done, and I have serious doubts that any other trip for the rest of our lives will come close to competing with it.
- I got stepped on by a baby sea lion when getting off the panga (small boat used to tender between the ship and shore) for the first excursion.
- A penguin bumped into my leg repeatedly.
- A snake curled around the edge of my husband”s shoe. (Thank goodness I missed this particular moment – I shrieked when I came upon the snake a couple minutes later.)
- We saw blue footed boobies dancing and nesting – they even showed us their eggs.
- We saw waved albatrosses flying (amazing – 7.5 foot wingspan), landing (hilarious), and nesting (saw eggs).
- We saw a giant dude tortoise humping a chick tortoise and groaning. haha
- We snorkeled with sea lions, sea turtles, penguins, sharks, rays, and loads of fish.
- We saw a huge number of swimming iguanas (these are the only marine iguanas in the world, and they only take to the water at certain times of day).
- We made new friends, who I miss already.
It was the trip of a lifetime, well worth every penny and bit of hassle. Sure, I wish it would’ve been cheaper and easier, but the point is that it was hugely expensive, we had a lot of problems, and it was STILL amazing. If you have ever considered visiting these islands but hesitated due to cost or whatever, quit hesitating – book now!
Pictures and more info to come.
Sorry it’s been a while. Our final deposit for the Galapagos cruise is coming up, and I’m afraid we’re going to have to cancel since I still don’t have a job. I’ve been really bummed about canceling a trip that I’ve been dreaming about for 10+ years and even more bummed with the thought that, once I cancel that, we’ll have no trips for me to plan and look forward to. Fortunately, my wonderful husband has agreed that a super cheap vacay might not cripple us after all, so we’re going to cross our fingers until the payment is due and then, if we have to cancel, we’ll figure out something else. Anyway, on to the point of the post. Back in December, I shared the details of the first three stops on our Baltic cruise in September – Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki. Since I’m going in order, I now have to address the crown jewel of the trip , St. Petersburg.
First of all, let me gush. St. Petersburg is now officially one of my fave cities I’ve ever been to. It has the beauty of Paris and Prague, palaces that kick Versailles’ butt, and a museum that makes the Louvre look like a snooze fest (okay, this is totally coming from an Impressionist lover, so keep in mind that my feelings on museums are *very* biased; also remember that the Hermitage has 3 mil+ works of art and the Louvre has less than 40k). Plus the food is better than Germany and the people are fascinating. Be warned though – this place is pricey to visit if you want to see a lot in a short amount of time and actually understand what you’re seeing. Translation: You’ll want a private guide.
We stopped in Helsinki on a Sunday. I wish we’d had a few more hours and/or visited on any day other than Saturday. We had time to hit the high points in town, but the shops were closed and I would’ve liked to have visited Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. That said, I think a stop on a cruise ship was a good way to visit Helsinki. The rest of Finland has a lot more to offer, but we got to see enough of Helsinki that I’m satisfied for now.
We all really enjoyed our time in Stockholm on our cruise – other than the transportation issues. I’ll tell you more about that under the “tips” section. Anyway, here’s how we spent our day as well as some other ideas about what you might see while you’re there.
Split was, like Corfu, a pleasant surprise. The beach wasn’t too nice, but the city was adorable and amazing. They even have a huge statue of Merlin!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Corfu. I hadn’t heard of it before we researched the trip, so I had no idea why we were visiting the place. Turns out that it’s a beautiful Greek island – but very different from, say, Mykonos or Santorini. Although the towns on Corfu aren’t as charming, the people are nice, there’s plenty to do, the food is good, and the scenery is outstanding.
Mykonos was, hands down, my favorite port we visited on our cruise last year. Thank goodness! My desire to visit the island, and it’s little sister, Delos, were what prompted the whole cruise in the first place. See, back in the early 1990s, I was a huge Christopher Pike fan, and the setting of The Immortal really spoke to me. Since Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas was one of a relatively small number ships stopping in Mykonos, that’s how “we” came to choose that itinerary. Now on to pictures and potentially useful information!
Like Athens, I think of Olympia as another one of those must-see places in Greece. I was thrilled that our itinerary included a stop at nearby Katakolon.
Athens is the gateway to Greece. Although it’s not the best of Greece in my opinion, it’s still a must-see. I agree with Rick Steves – see the main sites here and get out. We had what amounted to just half a day in Athens on our cruise, so I’ll share with you what I learned from that perspective.
Venice was a dream. Have you been? If not, put it on your list and start working towards it. If so, are you longing to go back? Although it was rainy and chilly for our visit, I loved it. It was just beautiful. The water looked as fake as I expected.