That Time Again

Roasted1 Roasted2Thanksgiving is almost here!  I spent a good while in my kitchen today roasting vegetables.  Tomorrow I’m making pies, assembling the stuffing and brining the turkey.  Tomorrow’s dinner is pizza.   🙂

Just One More

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There was nothing better to grab at breakfast than some of the incredible fresh Mediterranean fruits and a slice of salty cured meat.

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A small section of the seafood buffet.

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Local cheeses purchased by our chef while in port, accompanied by dried fruit.

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Surf and turf from the ‘reservations only but no additional charge’ specialty restaurant on board. We ate there three times.

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Caviar and champagne delivered to our suite as an appetizer before dinner.

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These two coconut desserts we found on the buffet were the best I’ve had in a very long time.

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Chateaubriand with bernaise sauce so tender you didn’t even need a knife to cut it. Best I’ve ever had.

Room Service

Yep, we ordered this from room service. Kettle chips and champagne for movie night in our cabin.

One last post from our vacation.  Now that we’re home and watching what we eat it’s nice to recall what all we got to eat on our big adventure.  We can’t wait to go back!

An Ancient Place

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We visited Ephesus, Turkey on an excursion. It’s an ancient city built in the 10th century BC and was the home of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Ephesus was the honeymoon location of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.

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There were kitties roaming throughout the ruins. Just charming.

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Only an estimated 15% of the site has been excavated. This is a stone carving of the goddess Nike.

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The day was just gorgeous. Our guide said she’d never seen the site as uncrowded as the day we visited.

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The pubic men’s toilets. The women’s room hasn’t yet been found.

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The Ephesus Terrace Houses were the ‘do not miss’ of our entire trip. An active excavation of (so far) six houses of the rich dating back to 1 BC. The entire site is protected within a fiberglass building and features frescoes, beautiful mosaic floors, marble walls and a heating system.

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It’s an active archaeological dig.

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Our tour of Ephesus ended in the great theater, which could hold 25,000 spectators.

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Our ship bused us all back to Ephesus after dinner that evening to enjoy a chamber music concert in front of the great theater.

Mykonos

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We spent Brian’s birthday in Mykonos, which seemed to us to be the port that most matched our expectation of Greece the most. Just charming.

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We spent the day wandering the town, winding through the streets until we reached the windmills which were built by the Venetians in the 16th century and were primarily used to mill wheat.

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The island’s mascot is Petros the pelican. I took about a million photos of him.

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And look! He had a kitty friend!

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For dinner that evening, I asked the chef to prepare Brian’s favorite dishes of the cruise so far and he kindly obliged. This was waiting in the cabin for us after dinner. It was a very good day.

Corsica

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We visited Calvi Corsica, the supposed birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Actually, one of four supposed birthplaces of Christopher Columbus.  This is a view from our suite’s balcony from where we were anchored.

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A view from the port. Most every place we visited looked very similar. Yachts, sailboats and fishing boats galore. For the most part, the largest yachts were found in Monte Carlo. Most of them had jacuzzis and a few even had helicopters(!)

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I just love this photo. We ran into lots of free roaming pets on this trip. This pup was visiting a seaside bistro at the time.

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While walking around the port towns, we occasionally stopped for free WiFi and a cappuccino. This little bistro in Corsica is typical of those stops. Just charming.

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As we were leaving the ship to explore Calvi a fellow guest asked if we were knife shopping.  He told us the locals use knives to kill each other, which we thought was a strange statement. Sure enough, there were knives everywhere. I can’t imagine trying to take one back to the ship. Our shopping with the chef excursion was delayed about 10 minutes because one of the shops gave us each a cheese knife to take home. Security had to figure out if they wanted all those 1.5 inch blades on board. We of course were allowed to keep them, as long as they went directly into our suitcases.

Our Best Day

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Symi, Greece was delightful. Once again we docked just off of the harbor and took the lifeboats to shore. We opted out of the offered excursion and just strolled around the gorgeous little town instead.

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The weather was perfection for late October. It was 76 degrees with clear skies.

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So tempting…

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Tiny fish hung near the yachts anchored there. The sea was crystal clear.

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Back on board for a lunch buffet of Greek delicacies. We heard some commotion in the water at the back of the ship and realized we had missed the announcement that our captain decided to open the marina on the back of our ship and offer us water sports that afternoon.

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There were sailboats, paddleboats and all sorts of fun things to do. We opted for an inflatable couch pulled behind a speedboat. They took us a few times around the ship, I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. 🙂

 

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The afternoon ended with a cocktail tasting arranged by the ship’s Bar Manager just for the two of us. We each now have new favorite cocktails, and know exactly how to make them at home. 

Malta

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A visit to Malta marked the halfway point of our cruise. This photo was taken from our favorite table at the collonnade restaurant as we sailed by. Is it any surprise why we loved it there so much?

 

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Troy Our most uncomfortable excursion was in Gozo. We took a 5 hour 4×4 tour of the island. Sounds fun, right? We sat in the back of these open aired vehicles with absolutely no suspension. It was freezing that day. There was no step to help you get into the back so you had to crawl in and out. The woman who rode in the back with us had just turned 80 years old. I called it our prison jeep.  It took us to one of the locations where the movie Troy was filmed.

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Prison jeep also took us to the Azure Window, which was gorgeous. This tour was our second choice. The boat trip to the Blue Lagoon was cancelled due to heavy seas, dang it.

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We ended the tour in a very interesting location, the salt pans. It was difficult to get to, we had to ‘mind the branches’ as we drove the narrow dirt road being pelted by local vegetation in the back of prison jeep. In salt pans, the sea water is unable to drain into the ground so it evaporates, leaving behind sea salt. We brought some home with us.

Italian Idyll

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Our very first stop was Santa Marguerita Ligure. A lovely small port in northern Italy. Because of the size of our ship, we were able to visit lots of beautiful smaller ports. We just parked off-shore and rode the lifeboats into the harbor.

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We took a shore excursion, which was on a ferry to a few gorgeous locations. This is the small Italian fishing village Camogli

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A 10th century seaside monestary called the Abbey of San Fruttuoso

Portofino

We found Portofino to be crowded, touristy and expensive. Not at all what we expected.

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In Sicily, we took an excursion to Pupillo Winery which was originally a hunting retreat built in the Middle Ages. The current owners have been producing wine on the estate for four generations.

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The estate’s garden was magical.

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Wisteria over 100 years old. I would love to see it in bloom!

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Our tour ended with wine tasting paired with some local delicacies served under that massive wisteria.

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We loved Italy and would definitely like to return some day.

Shopping With The Chef

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At least once every cruise, the chef takes a group of about 20 guests with him shopping in one of his favorite markets.  Our chef, Pascal de Portemont, chose Livorno, Italy and Syracuse, Italy.  We got to spend the morning with him in Livorno while he shopped for our meals.

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Our first stop was a cheese and sausage shop. They provided samples for us all of everything he purchased. We brought several kinds of cheese back with us. Also fresh sausage that was used in a pasta dish for lunch the next day, some truffled salami, several kinds of pesto and his favorite salt. We bought some, too.

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The shop smelled wonderful!

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He bought every branzino this guy had.

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We didn’t bring back any of this, I just thought it was pretty.

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I had no idea mortadella was so delicious.

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This giant wheel of gorgonzola was the creamiest, best tasting I’ve ever had. We brought back two of them.

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I’ve never seen porcini this huge. I think they were included in a dish the evening of a German-themed dinner.

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He bought octopus. Lots of it.

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We brought back every single clementine this guy had. We found them in our cabin the next morning as the fruit of the day. They were also peeled and included in the breakfast fruit buffet.

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He wanted to bring back 10 cases of persimmons but the cart we brought with us was too loaded!

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Our lunch the next day included a buffet of some of the things we had picked up at the market. This was so much fun, really a highlight of our trip!

Our Mediterranean Sojourn

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Here’s the beautiful ship we spent two weeks in the Mediterranean on – the Seabourn Sojourn. It’s all-inclusive and has only 225 suites. Our itinerary started in Monte Carlo and ended in Athens, with stops in Italy, Sicily, Crete, Malta and Greece in between.

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Despite it being late October we literally spent a few hours every afternoon in the pool and hot tubs, which were just steps from our suite.

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We had every breakfast, lunch and most dinners in the outdoor Colonnade restaurant, which was situated at the very rear of the ship. It offered gorgeous views of the sea as it slipped by and the ports as we approached. There were infrared lamps in the ceiling for cool evenings and the staff also provided warm wool blankets if needed.

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Like our cruise on the Queen Mary 2, tea was served every afternoon. We only went once. There was just so much food! The scones and clotted cream were to die for.

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The Queen Mary 2 only provides a bridge tour to the first 20 people (out of 2600 on board) who sign up. Everyone who was interested in seeing the bridge on the Sojourn got to go. We spent about an hour getting the full tour. We also had a very interesting tour of the ship’s galley with the chef, and went shopping with him in port the next day. I’ll share those photos when I get them sorted out, as well as some port highlights.

 

 

 

 

 

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