Sailing the Open Seas and the Stops Along The Way

Hi There!

Sorry I haven’t updated you in awhile.  It’s been a very busy month or so and I want to fill you in on the cruise I took on the Oceania Cruises Marina recently.  The 7 day Ancient Glory itinerary started in Venice and had stops in Ravenna, Italy-Dubrovniki, Croatia-Kotor, Montenegro-Corfu, Greece-Messina, Sicily-Naples, Italy and ended in Rome, Italy.  The Marina is a beautiful ship and has all the bells and whistles one could want on a oceanliner.  She’s nicely decorated, has a very attentive staff.  All our staterooms were good sizes.  Specialty restaurants were high quality with delicious.  Some in our group said that Polo Grill had the best steak they’ve every eaten.

I had a group that consisted of 5 staterooms with 10 people total in the group.  We all flew into Venice on different airlines, at different times and from different gateways.  The people that joined me on the cruise were from different places in US…specifically California and Illinois.  Part of the perks received from Oceania was free airfare and what’s not to love about that!

Venice, Italy

The day most of us arrived in Venice, we wandered around taking in the sights….St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica and meandered around the tiny walkways of Venice.  Somehow we all met in a piazza at a cafe and proceeded to celebrate our good luck and lives by drinking, what else, wine!  After awhile, we decided to meander through Venice a bit more to find a place to eat and ended up at the fantastic and highly recommended, Al Gazzenttino da MargheRidha.  It’s a small family run restaurant with amazing service and food….good grappa too!

We stayed at the Hilton Molino Stuck in Giudecca across the canal from St. Mark’s Square.  The hotel has it’s own complimentary water taxi that takes it’s guests to and from Venice and it’s crowds.  The rooms are very nice with ample space and very nice amenities.  There is a rooftop pool and a bar with one of the best views of Venice.

Ravenna, Italy

Ravenna was the next stop.  Our last sunny day on the cruise.  It is a lovely town easily walkable to many piazzas, shops and cafes.  That evening the rains kicked in and it was angry seas at night for the rest of the cruise.  Think dramimine, lots of dramimine.  We were told before we left Ravenna that our itinerary was changed due to the weather and we would not be stopping in Zadar, Croatia but Dubrovnik instead.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Our arrival in Dubrovnik was greeted with cloudy skies and that would eventually end in rain.  However, that did stop us from paying th minimal fee to walk the Dubrovnik city walls…approximately 2 miles long with many uneven steps that go up and down and surround the “old town”.  The wall was completed in the 16th century.  It takes about 2 hours to walk the wall but it’s well worth it for the views and stops along the way.  A torrential downpour came as we were finished with our walk so we headed back to the ship.  We had an extended stay in Dubrovnik so that evening, a few of us headed to the Dubrovnik Brewing Company, (a short walk from the ship), for some very good Croatian craft beers and mingled with the locals.

Kotor, Montenegro

Another overcast, rainy day but a lovely town on the Adriatic Coast .  We participated on a walking tour of Montenegro as one of our two free shore excursions from Oceania.  We listened to the guide explain the historical significance of Montegnegro and its city wall that enclosed the tiny meandering walkways with many small shops and cafes.  We stopped for lunch at a small pub before heading back to the ship.

Corfu, Greece

Loved Corfu even with the rain.  It’s a busy city with old world charm.  We climbed yet another city wall and almost got blown into the sea on the way up to the top.  We had gale force winds and rain but being the troopers we are, we wandered around the city.  Some of us shopped and bought, others just followed.  We all met up at a tavena for lunch.  It was so much fun and the food was great.  Fresh seafood that was probably caught that morning.  Sardines and octopus were specialties of the house and the waiters encouraged those of us that were going to partake in those delicacies to go into the kitchen and pick out the fish that we would eat.

Messina, Italy

This was the worst weather day of the trip, as in, torrential downpours.  We headed over to the Piazza Duomo to watch and listen the clock/bell tower strike the hour then hopped on a sightseeing trolley that would take us up and down the Messina coast.  Not the smartest of our decisions since the trolley was open air and it was raining but whatever.  We had a lot of laughs and have a story or two to tell.  I could see how the coastal/beach area of Messina could be a real looker on a good weather day.  Lots of seaside restaurants and places to stay.  It would have been nice to walk around the town a bit to really get a feel, so I guess I’ll just have to go back there someday.

Naples, Italy

Naples was all about Pompeii.  This was our second of two free shore excursions provided by Oceania.  Think ancient with mosiacs and frescoes, statues.  It was amazing to see many examples of these still intact.  Our tour guides said they continue to find artifacts when excavating sites.  Pompeii used to be on the coast but is now miles away…..and true fact,p eople in Pompeii didn’t die from Mt. Vesuvius’ lava flow.  They died from the volcanic ash and gas.

Rome, Italy

Last but certainly, not least…..Roma!  I loved everything about Rome.  The sights, the people, the food, the wine.  It was all wonderful.  We stayed at the Parco dei Principe Grand Hotel located very near the Borghese Gardens and very walkable to Piazza Popolo.  Popolo is a good starting point for walking to see some of the major sights in Rome….Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon.  Trust me, you will be walking and meandering everywhere.  Even though we were in Rome in early November, it was still crowded with tourists, not Summer crowded but still crowded.  I can’t imagine what it’s like in the heat of Summer….Mamma Mia!  The streets that feed off of Popolo to the sights are filled with shops-lots of shops filled with leather, salami, cheese.  You name it, it’s probably there.  Also many cafes and restaurants line the streets.  You won’t go hungry.  The Colesseum and Forum at dusk is visually amazing and the perfect lighting for photo ops.  We did visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel while in Rome.  There is so much to see.  You could spend days in the Vatican and still not see it all.  While there the Pope said a mass for deceased Cardinals, so yes, I did get to see the Pope while in Rome.  I loved everything about Rome and I bet you do or will too!

​​Pictures don’t do Italy justice.  You have to experiece it for yourself.  We definitely did not spend enough time in Rome or Italy, for that matter.  I plan to go back sooner than later to explore the land of my grandparents and feel their presence around every corner.

I have a few things planned for 2019, so stay tuned for updates on my travels.

Ciao for now!

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