Cruise part 6 – Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia was hands down my favorite stop on our cruise. It wasn’t overly touristy, it was beautiful, it was historical, it was friendly and it was cheap (comparatively). It also had the upside of being where King’s Landing is filmed in Game of Thrones so I was totally nerding out. I even went for a boat ride (I drove the boat for most of the time!!) around the island of Lokrum, where some of Qarth’s scenes are. But enough of Game of Thrones (are you watching it? because you should be), Lokrum is cool enough to have been cursed as well as having Richard the Lionheart wash up after a shipwreck.

The city is amazing. Centuries old walls completely circle the city so you can (and I did) walk completely around them. They are 2 km/1.25 miles around. Being a history nerd, I was really suprised to know that Dubrovnik is actually the medieval of Ragusa.. And while it’s hard to tell now, it was seriously shelled in 1991 when Croatia split (see what I did there?) from Yugoslavia.

The architecture was simply amazing, it was like going back in time. The best part was when I met my sister and grandma at some tiny bar that was perched right on the rocks, outside the walls, to get a beer. Fabulous.

The water is so gorgeously clear.

I can’t imagine building the walls so close to the cliff edges!

Totally Game of Thrones! Minus the CGI towers, of course…

You can tell which buildings were shelled by looking at the roofs. If the terra cotta tiles are new, that means they were rebuilt, therefore they were shelled.

I can’t wait to go back to Croatia and the Adriatic region, this time with Gavin – it is so beautiful!

These are both views from my cabin. It was seriously amazing. I can’t wait to go back, I’m already planning it!

Cruise part 5 – Venice, Italy

Ahh.. Venezia! I was looking forward to Venice more than anywhere else in Italy. It’s just so beautiful! I had been here before so I knew what to expect and I wasn’t as gung-ho as other people on our cruise to see every.little.detail. Our timing for Venice was a little weird and unlike the other ports – we arrived into Venice at 4 in the afternoon and left the next day at 4, so we didn’t actually get a full day like we did at other places. It was fine though. We had a great time.

Coming up the canal might have been my favorite part – is that weird? It was just such a novel view of Venice that I knew I wasn’t going to see again. I just sat on my balcony and snapped away! You can get a sense of how big the ship is by seeing how high I am compared to the buildings.. And there were another 3 floors above me!

I told myself that I wasn’t going to take “that photo” again, but I did…

The gold mosaics in San Marco (Saint Marks) makes this my favorite cathedral. I really am a magpie..

I loved finding this little place where they build/repair the iconic gondolas!

And this is a rare photo of my family (minus my brother) all together! We decided that we needed to get a bottle of bubbles (or two…) along the Grand Canal. I think it was an exceptionally good idea!

Next up: Dubrovnik, Croatia!

Cruise part 4 – Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro was the first stop that everyone raved about. A medieval walled city: quaint, stunning scenery and all small enough to see in a day. Apparently it is one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic. And it showed! What more could we want in a destination? When I opened our curtains, I involuntarily exclaimed, “holy sh*t!” because this was the view from our room:

Seriously amazing. It was like the Alps, but on the Adriatic.

We had to tender in, and the view was just stunning.

We climbed this.. way high up!

The old walls and the river.

The buildings are all pretty Venetian looking as they were part of the Venetian Republic for centuries. They built the walls and most of the buildings.

The Kotor cathedral of St. Tryphon was completed just as ground was broken for Notre Dame in Paris. The two towers are different because a tower had to be rebuilt after an earthquake in 1667.

Kotor had tons of cats running around everywhere. It’s kinda crazy, but so stinking cute!

The climb up to the hill fortress was pretty tough. There were 1,350 steps to get to the top… It was also thundering and you could see lighting just across the bay..

The hike up was totally worth it though. This photo does some justice to a.) how big our ship is, b.) how high we climbed, and c.) the incredible sense of vertigo we got because we basically climbed straight up!

We loved Kotor. I can’t wait to be able to take a trip there for a week, rent a car and cruise the coast. There is so much more to see there. Beautiful.

Next up: Venice!

Cruise part 3 – Naples and Herculaneum

Whew! At this point in the cruise, I was starting to get sightseeing overload. I knew that I didn’t need to see Naples or Pompeii because Gavin and I went there last year for his birthday. It would have been my third time to Pompeii, and while it’s amazing, it’s maybe not 3 times amazing. Instead, my Grandma and my roommate decided to take it easy and go see Herculaneum, which is a smaller and better preserved Pompeii. It’s pretty cool to say the least. It took about 2 hours to tour the site and when we were done, my Grandma and I just went back to the ship for lunch and some pool lounging. Hard life, right?

This house/temple/room was the most impressive and best preserved. The black beams are actually the original Roman wooden beams, burned by the hot ash surges. Impressive to say the least.

Climbing Vesuvius was one of the things that Gavin and I did last year and we loved it. The views were incredible!

Naples was a great city – while I didn’t go into town this time, Gavin and I had a great time in the “beautiful sh*thole” as we called it. Narrow streets, beautiful architecture and amazing sights around every corner.

Next up: Kotor, Montenegro. It was insanely beautiful and there are truckload of pictures. You have been warned…

Cruise part 2 – Rome & Vatican City

Rome. The eternal city. Or, the city of a million tourists.


Don’t ever try to do Rome and the Vatican in a day. It will suck your soul. Especially trying to battle the 18 billion Asian tourists in the Vatican who don’t quite grasp the concept of “right of way” or “personal space”. It’s a shame really, because the Vatican is pretty impressive, regardless of what you think of the Catholic Church. I found myself just wanting to get out. I couldn’t appreciate the Sistine Chapel, what with the guards yelling “QUIET!!” every few minutes, and people taking fresco-ruining-flash-photos of the newly restored ceiling. I was so stressed out I even missed the dead popes. Seriously, that would have been my favorite.

Since Rome is obviously not on the coast, we had to take a train (packed, naturally) there, which took about an hour. We did a cheapo tour which was fine. Until we learned that my mom and sister got a private, driven tour..

The coliseum is pretty great. There is a reason it’s so famous. We didn’t go in this time, but I had done that already a few years back. We also didn’t do Palatine Hill, which was kind of a shame because I’m a little bit obsessed with the Romans… Oh well, next time.

The Pantheon is beautiful and shows how bright and colorful Roman buildings were. Preserved because it was converted into a church.

Trevi Fountain. Too busy to throw a coin in, guess I’m not going back!

Spanish Steps

I just kept thinking, if these walls could talk…

The sheer scale.. still can’t believe I missed the dead popes.

Apparently, there are over 5 million visitors per year to the Vatican. That comes down to around 14,000 per day. They are open from 9-4, so that’s 2,000 people per hour. And it feels like it..

Next up: Naples and Herculaneum.

Updates and Cruise part 1

Hello friends!

I’m alive and well and while it appears I may have dropped off the face of the earth, I promise it was only off the face of the interwebs! Turns out, our internet at the cottage was really slow and to be honest, it was too beautiful of a summer to be spending it inside on the computer!

Summer was amazing, from May when I left for a Mediterranean cruise with my family, through the 3 months I spent lounging lakeside in Georgian Bay. Heaven, basically.

But now I’m back and I’m getting back into the swing of things. Like cars, and TV and having a bottle glass of wine with lunch frowned upon..

Anyways.. the cruise. We left from Barcelona; went to Villefranche-sur-Mer, between Nice and Monaco; to Livorno, the port for Florence or Pisa; Civitavecchia, the port for Rome; to Naples; to Kotor, Montenegro; to Venice; to Dubrovnik, Montenegro; and back to Barcelona, where we stayed an extra 4 or 5 days. To say it was great would be an understatement. I’ve never cruised before, but if I did, I would definitely pay the extra money to upgrade to whatever “first class” is called on the cruise line. For us on Celebrity, it was “Aqua Class” and it was amazing.

So, away we go with the photos!

The view from our room’s balcony while leaving the industrial port of Barcelona.

Villefranche was much more scenic than Barcelona and we had to tender in – this was a theme, if there was a tender, it was a pretty city. Our timing here, however, was not ideal. We were there during the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix so there were no taxis available and the train drivers were on strike (of course they were) so we couldn’t really leave the town. So we wandered, took pictures, ate overpriced mediocre food and got back on the ship. It was a beautiful, if not slightly disappointing town.

Up next: Roma baby!