Final Port

Our final port-of-call was Messina, Sicily.  Paul, a “Godfather” movie junkie, decided he’d do Holland America’s Godfather tour and persuaded me to join him. Meanwhile, after reading about several different touring options, the kids took a cab to the seaside town of Taormina.  Though the cab ride wasn’t cheap, I was glad the kids didn’t drive the roads of Sicily.  The cab driver stayed and waited for them.  As it turned out, renting a car was more …

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Santorini, Greece

When you think of the Greek Isles, Santorini is what you envision.  It’s a place of brochure covers and picture postcards.  Bright white homes, small hotels and outdoor cafes hang on the edge of the steep cliffside that runs down to the blue Aegean.  White church domes and the much photographed blue dome of the Anastasis church dome complete the magnificent landscape.  If you’re lucky as we were you’ll see it set against a beautiful blue sky. …

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Kusadasi (Ephesus) Turkey

Even before we started our cruise we had heard how incredible Ephesus is.  An ancient Greek city, later it was a major Roman city.   Knowing we would want to see everything and have a guide, we booked a tour online.  Our guide (Banu Akin banu@ottitravel.com) was excellent.  She had gone to college to be a tour guide and was an expert on archeology.  On the road to Ephesus, she ran down what we’d see.  For many visitors …

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Athens- The Highlights

Parthenon atop the Acropolis There are two pieces of advice I’d give anyone going to Athens. First, start your day as early as possible. The highlight of Athens is the Acropolis and it gets jammed with tourists. But if you get there at the beginning of the day, it is possible to be ahead of the masses. And second, since there is so much to see in a short amount of time, arrange a tour. We decided …

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Dubrovnik, Croatia

While everyone had said that you could easily make arrangements once you arrived in Dubrovnik, as the Noordam docked, I had a moment of panic.  Though the kids were pretty sure they wanted to go kayaking, we didn’t make prior arrangements, wanting to see if the water was calm.  Luckily, everyone was right.  When the bus (which Holland America provided for a fee) left us off at the walled city, we easily found someone with information on …

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Exploring the Ship

We welcomed our first day at sea.  It was time to explore the ship.  Our verandah staterooms were on the seventh deck.  With the pool, fitness center, spa and buffet on deck nine it was perfect, letting us take the stairs instead of the elevators to where most of the action takes place. During the ten day trip we never ate breakfast or lunch in the dining room.  The buffet breakfast (French toast, omelets and eggs to …

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A History Lesson In Rome

Day One – Rome With just a few hours in Rome we wanted to pack in as much as possible.  Rudy, our tour/driver, arrived at our hotel at 7:30 am.  Starting early is the way to beat the crowds.  Top sites included the Pantheon, Coliseum, Forum, Vatican square, Jewish Quarter, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Roman baths, aqueducts and yes, 65 Gelato places.  (We enjoyed a large scoop at Bar Gelateria adjacent to the Trevi Fountain.) And …

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A 10-day Mediterranean cruise aboard Holland America’s Noordam

We just returned from a 10 day Mediterranean cruise aboard Holland America’s Noordam with our adult children Scott (28) and Amanda (26) and her significant other Matt (26). I’m happy to report it was perfect.  A cruise is the way for a family to travel. With five people, it was absolutely essential to do some excursion planning well before we set sail or end up spending more money than necessary. After checking several websites, we found Trip …

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