THE WIDE WORLD OF PORTS
Trip Start May 02, 2011
14Trip End Jul 15, 2011
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When we arrived in Israel, we had the stereotypical reaction. We both felt that we were, once again, home. It’s a feeling that combines pride of identity, excitement, anticipation, and comfort. Our plan was to spend the day with Bonnie’s cousin Nurit and her boyfriend Udi. We were warmly greeted at the port and it was so nice to see familiar faces and to once again to see Israel from Israeli eyes. We toured around Ashdod and their beautiful futuristic multi-discipline arts centre, and its moving not-to-be-missed memorial to fallen Israel soldiers. Mostly, we sat and yakked, catching up on people and pictures. Bonnie was in her glory, as she always is when connecting with family. The day whizzed by and before we knew it, it was time to return to the ship. Nurit is a warm, accomplished, exceptional woman, and Udi is your classic Israeli-- a strong, self-confident, good-natured stoic type, and we so enjoyed the day spent with them.
The next day, in Haifa, we treated ourselves to a day at a magnificent beach near the city
That night, the ship was abuzz with personal reactions and reflections on Israel and Israelis. While it seemed clear that many of our fellow cruisemates had had expectations going in, they came away with a very different view of the realities of the country. Still, the consensus appeared to be the desire to return. My own opinion is that you can’t fully appreciate just how fantastic the country is by simply spending a day or two in a tour bus. You’ve got to walk the streets, meet the people, and spend some real time there
Our last port was Crete, a Greek island and one of the largest in the Mediterranean. We found it to be quite laidback relative to other ports on this cruise, or maybe it was our attitudes that were laidback. The city, Chania, is built up the side of a mountain and the newer buildings are built amongst the readily visible and common foundations dating back a thousand years. We basically strolled the city with our old and new-found friends, encountering the gems that this port, Chania, had to offer. The market is laden with imposing piles of the catches of the day, fresh colourful fruits and veggies, household goods, and souvenirs galore. The harbour glistened in the day’s sun, and it felt so relaxing to take it all in in such a leisurely manner, a sharp contrast to the hardcore sightseeing up to this point. It was all about the ambiance, and we soaked it all in. Not that there was any shortage of vendors offering dreck of all sorts. The streets were lined with shops all designed to separate the many tourists from their euros, dollars, yen or what have you
Alas, the cruise was soon coming to an end, and Bonnie and I were starting to mentally and physically prepare for the next phase of our adventure, the unplanned portion. We have arranged a flight to Athens from Rome, but after our Athens stay, we have made no firm plans. We are thinking about some options, however, including visits to several of the Greek Isles, as well as inland visits to some highly-recommended sites like Delphi and Olympia. Stay tuned.
We feel truly blessed to be able to take this trip and equally blessed that we have people like you who are interested in sharing it with us. Thank you so much, and a special thanks for your news, gossip, comments and emails. We love getting them!!!
David and Bonnie
P.S. We were recently sitting in a little street cafe sipping some nice Italian wine, when Bonnie said: "I love you." I asked her: “Is that you talking, or the wine talking?” Bonnie answered: “It was me talking to the wine.” OK, so it didn’t happen, but I just had to share the joke with you.