It's been a week now since I've been back from my Greek Isles cruise. It's interesting that you really need some distance and recovery time after your vacation is over in order to really sit back and gain some perspective on everything you experienced. When you're on vacation everything just seems to whiz by; the hours fly by, next thing you know an entire week has passed you by. At that time, it's really hard to gain an understanding and comprehension of everything you've seen, witnessed, felt, smelled, tasted, and experienced. But with some time and distance once you're back home, you can really sit down and relive all your memories, but really organize them and form some real opinions on everything that happened.
17 days. That's the number of days I was away from home. It's the longest vacation I think I've ever taken. We did 1 day pre-cruise in Milan/Verona, and then 2 days post-cruise in Rome. This is the first one-way cruise I've ever taken. Though I've taken other 12 day cruises before, they've always been round trip sailings. The one-way cruises certainly allow for a more broad and complete itinerary. This is the only 12 day cruise I've ever taken that only had 1 port of call, and after 12 days of non-stop sightseeing, I could have used another sea day. It's definitely tiring.
Ruby Princess. That's her name. The largest cruise ship I've ever sailed on. On our specific sailing there were 3,399 passengers from 46 different countries around the world. Princess bills this newest member of the fleet as "The Love Boat." I have both positive and negative emotions towards the ship itself and the cruise line in general.
10 cities (including one overnight stay) in 4 countries. That was our itinerary. Italy, Croatia, Turkey and Greece. It was a whirlwind of sites; everything from the historical icons such as the Colosseum in Rome or the Parthenon in Athens, to all sorts of colors from the pastels of the buildings on the island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon, to the whitewashed houses with blue domed roofs of Santorini, to the incredibly turquoise-green crystal clear waters of Mykonos. It was a bombardment to the sense. There was food; everything from the rich and creamy gelato of Italy, Croatia and Greece, to the classic gyros made at sidewalk stands in Greece. There was miles and miles and more miles of coastline. The shores of Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, Santorini. And there were parties. But then again, some would say that just being on vacation is a party.
And it all ended with a bang. A trip to visit Pope Benedict and attend his traditional Sunday blessing. Not at the Vatican, but at his summer residence in the small mountain top community of Castel Gandolfo. To be that close to the most powerful religious leader in the world, that was an experience.
But through 17 days of vacation, there may be 3 things that were always a constant: heat, humidity, and crowds. Oh boy was there heat and humidity. I can stand the heat, for the most part, but being from the West Coast of the US where we don't have humidity, the humidity was a killer. The combination of the 2 really just zaps your strength. And the crowds. Everywhere I went there were crowds. Sometimes wall to wall, other times not as bad, but they still existed. Would I do this trip all over again? In a heartbeat, but perhaps maybe during a time of year when the heat and humidity wasn't as brutal and when the crowds aren't as thick.