1. We learned that it is more fun to go see it for ourselves than seeing it in someone else's photos.
2. Going with friends makes the whole experience extraordinary.
3. You will never be sorry for ordering pasta.
4. Sometimes you have to encourage a round song on a gondola ride because those gondoliers have not seen the movies where they always sing.
5. If you want to get a picture of an empty alleyway you have to get up before everyone else.
(taken right outside our hotel Rosa Salva)
6. While the buildings might be ancient, the stores are all modern and the high-end shops of Vancouver all now have a birthplace in my mind.
7. It is perfectly acceptable to photobomb as long as it doesn't interfere with the said victim's selfie!
8. Sometimes you can even get two tries while they get two tries.
9. Venice doesn't have the same building codes as British Columbia. Apparently, its good to be able to hug your neighbour through the window.
10. Maps mean nothing in Venice.
11. Even though you think you will be able to control the selfie impulse, you will be thwarted by the opportunities that prove irresistible.
12. You can walk by an empty courtyard once and then ten minutes later retrace your steps and find they are setting up to serve.
13. People might offer to take a group photo but it is much more fun to gather the troops together for a selfie stickless.... selfie.
14. At home, a contractor would be consulted to fix a crumbling facade but in Venice, it just looks more beautiful with time.
15. Venice is made up of islands that are connected by waterways, bridges and accessed by boats.
16. Burano is famous for its lace making and coloured houses.
17. What is beautiful in Burano might not go over well at home.
18. The Rosa Salva Hotel in Venice is a good place to stay and though building facades are original, inside can be completely modern.
19. You might have to walk for a bit until you find a spot to eat dinner at the water's edge but the walk will be worth it every time.
20. Sometimes the restaurant propierter is so happy to have served you that he will come at the end of the meal with a wee digestif!
21. There is coffee and then there is coffee. Always rather go for the second option.
22. When you are ready to board the vessel for your cruise in Venice, a water taxi is your mode of transportation.
23. When you spot your cruise ship docked and ready to receive you, you might pinch your neighbour to see if it is really all true.
24. The selfie of embarkation is a more joyous occasion the disembarkation.
25. There is a time to be thrifty and a time to open the perfume bottle. When choosing a stateroom for a Greek Island cruise, go for the room with a balcony.
26. If you need further encouragement to go for the balcony, a room with a balcony becomes a place to read and chat and relax while waiting for anything to happen.
27. If you have a stateroom with a balcony, you can see the world go by when you leave port
.... without moving an inch.
28. Dubrovnik Croatia was a place we didn't know we wanted to go but was a place we heartily recommend visiting.
29. It is a place that will help you understand that people in our generation have lived through a war and have lost people they love.
30. Skip the onboard excursions and find a local taxi driver that will drive those narrow roads and get you back to the ship in plenty of time.
31. The Old Town is listed as one of the Worlds Heritage Sites.
32. A good taxi driver will insist on taking a photo with every phone in the group.
33. Back in the stateroom, another reason to have a balcony to enjoy the view while getting ready for dinner.
34. Cherries Jubilee are delicious for dessert!
35. While this might look like a dark alley to choose for lunch, you are guaranteed a seat in the shade.
36. Sometimes you just have to let the cultural lessons go for a morning and accept the call to the sea.
37. Not taking the walk on the wall of the Old Town with the others ensures a reasonable reason to see this beautiful place again.
38. Swim dresses and hats are so underrated. A swimsuit change is not necessary when a beach is found and when the temperatures are nearing 40 C, a towel is also unnecessary since the drip-drying back to town with dripping hair under the hat is as welcome as a summer rain in the middle of a dessert.
39. Dressing up a little bit for dinner is never a bad idea.
40. XOXO .... my guy! 40 years of marriage is a reason to celebrate.
41. There is no need to fear that there might be a lack of romance when travelling with friends. It was beautiful to see the love and warmth between the couples.
42. Another benefit of having a balcony stateroom is the first view of the port of the day while still in bed.
43. In Crete, they hang their shirts in stores color coded by their shirt sleeves.
44. After walking down through the shops, there is the harbour with an edging of restaurants hoping we will choose them.
45. You eventually will succumb and choose one based on their spiel and what you see their customers enjoying.
46. A little plate of assorted packets to spread on a massive croissant will likely call my heart.
47. We learned that when you agree as a group to meet back at the ship later in the day, you might take the "every 15 minutes" bus back at your convenience and find your peeps already seated.
48. The Parker Brothers who invented the Rook game knew how to have a good time.
49. Even if all you do is sit and read, it is still worth it to find those you want to sit next to. By unspoken agreement, we always found each other and sat in companionable silence, and it was good.
50. There is a beautiful sunset every night on the Adriatic sea.
51. Group time plus couple time makes for the best time.
52. Early rising and a jaunt down the stairs to the 5th floor and a window seat at Cafe al Bacio every morning with Americano's and a biscotti was a great way to start our day.
53. When visiting Mykonos it is a good idea to get off the ship and into port as early as possible. Every alley is a new photo op and those photos are so much better if only locals are in them.
54. White painted roads are going to need mopping every morning.
55. Random beautiful artwork will make you thankful for the beautiful gift of painting and those you know who have that gift.
56. Local people are so beautiful.
57. Neighbours might not set out to have a community garden but when it happens naturally it is inspiring and makes me smile.
58. Deliveries have to happen.
59. They are polite in their vehicles, no horn honking or yelling or finger salutes. They know that everything will get there eventually.
60. Fresh Pasta can be viewed without a barrier. The only sign said not to touch the fresh eggs. ;)
61. We never found out how many coats of white paint is on these buildings. We should go back to find out.
62. Someone loves to play basketball in Mykonos.
63. When the boat taking you back to the ship leaves every 15 minutes, you might be the only ones on board.
64. A leisurely, relaxed, lengthy dinner is best scheduled for six PM to optimize timing to allow for a card game in the library before the evening show.
65. Athens will make you pull out your online Bible and search for those passages about Paul preaching there.
66. Ancient engineers knew something modern engineers don't know. Among other things, how to make things last.
67. Not something new I learned but something I didn't mind being reminded of.
68. The palace guards need primping every now and and then so someone comes to do it for them.
69. When the street is void of traffic, it is an opportunity not to be missed for a group selfie. (such a sense of trust for them to not look behind them)
70. If you think you are seeing snow covered mountains, go get your eyes checked. You are seeing Santorini.
71. You can smell them before you see them. Take my word for it.
72. An important hint here. When you arrive at the dock you will have three choices. a) gondola b) donkey c) speedboat to the other end of the island and take the bus back and take a boo before taking the gondola down.
73. If your group chooses a) you will think you are smart but you are only smart if you take the bus option back from the other end of the island, the way you came.
74. Window shopping is designed to prompt, induce, motivate, influence and encourage shopping.
75. You can't go to Santorini without finding your way to the other end of the island to Oia. It is where the rooftops are blue and the walls are all white. When you get there, make sure you find a place to whet your whistle.
76. Donkeys have the right of way.
77. When you get to the far end and you will believe you have the option to go back to the bus or go down the 600 stairs to take a boat, choose the bus.
78. Common sense will tell you that if the speedboat dropped people off there, then surely the speedboat would take you back to the tender boat to get back to the ship. You are wrong.
79. There is no return boats from the bottom of Oia. These are diving boats.
80. You will notice sweat and the idea of climbing back up those stairs might make even a person who has never sweated... start to sweat.
81. Given enough reason, I will sweat just before I combust. (note the drop on my arm)
82. It is a gift from above when a taxi driver can be convinced to come to claim us at the bottom even if he does need to take a run several times up the mountain to hoist us to the top. I came close to one of those rare moments in life when money is not worth clinging to.
83. Katakolon was a lovely day at port with a quick walk into the pier village. We could not be convinced even for the sake of those we know who love the Olympics to take a long bus ride to visit the home of the first Olympic games.
84. When waiters come around with trays of fruit on skewers you feel like a princess being waited on hand and foot.
85. Judy looks amazing in blue!
86. The ship's horn is extremely loud and can cause a terrible fright, so it is imperative that everyone is awake from their deck nap to ensure preparedness when we wave goodbye.
87. Coming back into Venice at daybreak is reason enough to have a balcony stateroom if you are not already convinced.
88. The St. Lucia train station has a wonderful McDonalds to play card games until our train leaves.
89. The scorepad and the scorekeeper can become a source of frustration for repeated losers.
90. At the St. Lucia train station, know how to read your train ticket. Find your boarding ramp and figure out which way your train will come so you know whether you will need to run for the back of the train or the front of the train when it arrives.
91. Rome has beautiful little stores with their shelves loaded with all imaginable things.
92. When looking for a hotel in Rome choose one with a rooftop view.
93. The croissants I dreamed of consuming every day didn't disappoint.
94. Hotel front doors might be found in alleyways. Our room at the Hotel Colosseum was a few blocks away from the Colosseum and right across from a military building.
95. Sometimes a selfie will capture who we really are and what we really felt at that moment, smiling eyes and all.
96. New group selfie techniques can be perfected and taught with no small amount of yakking from the photographer and her helper.
97. He found his Instagram niche in taking selfies. I've always admired his sense of humour but now he had a small following who were captivated by his photos and hastags.
98. Things growing where a person couldn't normally grow anything intentionally is always amazing to me.
99. A splash of colour in a wardrobe is a good thing.
100. We live in a broken world.
101. The Vatican held indescribable art made by man and yet .... and I told myself.. someday all these will pass away and the best is yet to come.
102. The only way to have a "seen only here" photo of one of the most magnificent fountains in the world is to take a picture of your friend's photo of the Trevi Fountain and make her laugh while you are in the process.
103. The Colosseum is best seen first thing in the morning with a tour guidebook in hand.
104. Construction of the Colosseum began 72 years A.D.
105. A place now peaceful was once a juxtaposition of the defeat of death and the rewards of survival and both found to be entertaining.
106. Rome boasts one of the largest equestrian statues ever made. The moustache on that rider is 5 feet wide and a man could sit on the hoof.
107. We walked more than we imagined we would. 136 kilometres and roughly 403 flights of stairs. Birkenstocks are amazing!
108. I would be remiss to not mention my support group. Ginger, Ginger, Ginger and last but not least Ginger. Taking a cruise? Don't forget your Ginger. Start indulging a week before you go and take it in one form or another during the day and seasickness and rides in the van with race car drivers is not going to be a problem.
109. These friends, Herb and Anneliese and Elmer and Judy are amazing to travel with .... but I was never worried one moment about that.
110. The best welcome home is a sign on the refrigerator... made with love.
111. It might never be enlarged into a poster but this photo will make me smile for years to come because it reflects, fun, friendship, adventure and a trip of a lifetime!
Now if you really want to have a proper tour of our vacation I'll refer you to Anneliese's and Judy's blog posts that fill in all the educational gaps found in your recent read!
It truly was a trip to remember always with love....