Home again

I’m home! As you may have gathered, internet access was not great during the cruise. The ship apparently had WiFi, but (a) it was expensive and (b) I couldn’t really get it to work very well anyway. I was only able to connect easily when in Barcelona.

So thank you all for visiting and commenting while I was out of touch! I appreciate it and I hope you found the scheduled posts entertaining. I scanned through the comments briefly once I had access, and I will now read them more carefully.

Regular posting will resume shortly.

Also, I am beginning to sort through the many pictures I took during the trip, so you can expect to see some of those in the near future. I was more interested in getting a general feel of the towns and cities than photos of the spectacular buildings, or I though I was, but I sure took a lot of pictures of spectacular buildings too. A few general comments:

1) Really, why not ditch modern architectural styles and go back to classical Hellenistic styles? It’s pretty sad we have such marvelous examples of beautiful buildings and yet continue to built soulless cubes and rectangles all over the place.

2) My, Medieval cities were crowded. Beautiful, but crowded. Tiny narrow streets, multi-story buildings that mostly share walls … I knew that, but I know it better now.

3) Gosh, the Mediterranean climate is dry. I knew that, but again, I know it better now. It’s quite remarkable, seeing all those beautiful white towns of Santorini spilling across and down the tops of basically desert islands. They must have had quite a system for cisterns and water collection before they had desalinators.

4) Wow, is there ever a lot of oleander used in the landscaping. I hope parents in those regions have quick reflexes if their tots try to eat a flower or something.

My favorites, roughly:

Rome. We had an amazing tour of the Vatican.
Venice. We had an amazing tour of the doge’s palace.
Croatia, Diocletian’s palace. Not quite as amazing as the doge’s palace, but that’s setting a high bar. It was amazing enough.
Lucca. Surprisingly, the town of Lucca stood out as a delightful and somewhat less touristy place to visit.
Pompeii. I wish I could have taken the whole day just to wander through the ruins and think about what life was like in that city all those years ago.
Santorini. Again, I would have liked to have a much longer time to wander through the less touristy areas. Super crowded, the bit we explored.

And, of course, in general, the amazing architecture.

Still, though the trip was great, I’m very glad to be home. No huge disasters while I was gone, but Pippa does have an appointment for my vet to look at her eye — she has been squinting for a couple of days, though my mother started her on the eye drops I keep on hand for this problem.

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5 thoughts on “Home again”

  1. Welcome home!
    We grew up with oleander as a common landscape shrub and AFAIK none of us ever tried to eat it. Certainly I never heard of kids being rushed off to the doctor for it.

    I loved watching the neighbor’s oleander hedge (lined the driveway) blow in the wind. It looked so soft and colorful and pillowy.

  2. Sounds like a great trip! How was the cruise itself? Think you can write a murder mystery on a cruise ship now? ;)

    I’m surprised about the climate though. Desert islands? I thought the north Mediterranean was wetter/cooler, or at least greener. And I would expect it to be humid, I guess, now that I think about it. I wonder where I got that impression? But it’s also a large region, so I’m sure it varies.

  3. Elaine — well, the oleander is certainly beautiful. I remember being warned away from yew berries as a child, but hopefully children aren’t as likely to bite a leaf or flower as a berry. I wouldn’t want to have oleander in a house with cats or dogs, though … just in case!

    Mona, I kept thinking about different plots set on a cruise ship. I don’t think I could write one without finding out a whole lot more about ship operations, but the ideas are fun — starting with yes, a serial killer, and then going on to: You wake up on the third morning of your cruise and you’re all alone. Everyone else vanished from the ship overnight…

    The cruise was good! I don’t think I’d want to do a cruise that was all about the cruise and less about the tours ashore. I am not into drinking or dancing or parties in general, and eventually I would get tired of lying in a recliner reading while the ocean rolls out in all directions. The two on-ship days we had were welcome, though, because shore excursions do get tiring!

    We went to several performances by the Spanish quartet The Four Stations, who were amazing, and to various other performances that were also good. We both enjoyed the performances, but if I were designing the idea cruise, I’d just as soon have more in-depth lectures about history and architecture and daily life in Roman times and so on, and fewer high-octane entertainments.

    The food in the restaurants was not quite as wonderful as comments about cruise food led me to expect, but — to both of our surprise — the buffet was truly excellent. Among other things, they offered excellent Indian food every day in the vegetarian section, but the dishes that rotated through the buffet were mostly top notch. I am going to miss that buffet …

    The north Med was definitely greener than the south, but even Zadar in Croatia looked really dry. Lots of lavender cotton and other dry-climate plants in the landscaping. It’s all karst terrain there, I believe, so water just runs out of the soil. Barcelona and Venice looked a good deal greener and more lush than the other towns, but NOTHING like as lush and green as Missouri, let me tell you. We practically have a jungle outside compared to anything I saw on the cruise.

  4. I think I saw something in which people vanish from a cruise ship or something like it… but I can’t recall it now.

    “… eventually I would get tired of lying in a recliner reading while the ocean rolls out in all directions.” Yes, that might happen eventually.

    A lecture series— I like that. I bet there’s not as much interest though. Sigh. I wonder if there are any conferences that take place on cruise ships. That could be perfect for, say, something on archaeology, with lectures on the one hand and site visits on the other.

    I had to look up karst terrain, but now I’ve got a good mental image. Amazing what a difference the type of land / soil can make. And so many combinations. Earth is really such a beautiful place.

  5. Mona, if the thing with people vanishing from a cruise ship comes to you, let me know.

    Right now I’m reading Eric Flint’s book where a cruise ship goes back to the period right after Alexander the Great died. That’s a fine, fine premise but unfortunately there’s an awful lot about the machinations of the people native to that time as they respond to the ship, but relatively little actually about the ship and its people. Not quite what I wanted.

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