Vieux Port

Vieux Port
Mediterranean Sunset

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marseille France

This was the starting point of our holiday, which we had to start 3 days early because the French went on strike and our original flight was cancelled.
Our hotel was in Vieux Port the marina area which is a good base to see most points on interest on foot. There are a lot of good restaurants in the area which line the marina and in the various backstreets close by. Most restaurants do an all inclusive meal for a special price. This includes a starter, main course, sweet and coffee for an inclusive price of between 15 and 18 euros.

Vieux Port

Cathederal La Major

This a friendly city but full of many undesirable people so keep your wits about you. We did until the last day when we paid the penalty and was robbed by 2 snatch and run thiefs who ran faster than me and in different directions.

On the final day we took a taxi to the port which took about twenty minutes and cost €25. Here we were efficiently boarded onto the ship the Orient Queen.

Marseille, quite a port

Monday, November 1, 2010

Orient Queen

She is quite small by modern standards but has all the basics. It was built 50 years ago, has the capacity to carry 882 passengers and 350 crew. There are 2 restaurants, 4 bars, a duty free shop, casino and show lounge. A couple of pools and a gymnasium are also aboard.

Swimming Pool

 We were in a junior suite which consisted of a double bed, sofa, arm chair and table. It also had a bathroom with bath and shower. It was very spacious but could have benefitted from more storage space and somewhere to put stuff in the bathroom. The 2 guys looking after our room were very efficient and did everything they could to make our stay as comfortable as possible.

Orient Queen Berthed

The food in the restaurants was excellent. Breakfast was either cooked or continental. Lunch was usually a buffet of both hot and cold food, afternoon tea consisted of tea, coffee cakes and pastries. Dinner was a la carte served to us very efficiently by a happy team of waiters.

Always smiling.........

........and eager to please!

The food was of high quality, hot and always varied. My wife is vegetarian and always found something of interest. Tea and coffee was included at all meal times. A table was allocated to us at the beginning of the cruise and the group we were placed with were very nice and friendly.

Messina Italy

This was the first port of call on our itinerary. We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning and was docked right along side the main road of the town. Some of the passengers opted to go on excursions to Mount Etna but the majority took the short walk to the town centre and most of the attractions. These consisted of a cathedral with the worlds largest astronomical clock, a fountain and a few other nice buildings but really not an awful lot going on.

It's nice to stroll around the shops and take in the local sights. Also as we had been on board for 30 hours or so, it was nice just to go for a stroll.

Back on board and off to the next destination.........

Kotor Montenegro

The visit to Kotor actually starts about one and a half hours before you get there. You enter the bay of Kotor and sail down in between an expanse of mountains with various buildings dotted around.

Into the bay of Kotor

As you become nearer the town, the buildings become more dense and ornate churches cling to the hillsides. Then you swing into the bay which is a beautiful site, with the fortified walls running up, across and back down the mountain as a back drop, absolutely stunning. For the fitter people you can walk along the fortification.
At the base is a medieval city which is entered through one of three gates. Inside is a maze of buildings. squares, palaces, cathederal, clock tower and fountain. Cafe's are in abundance as well as various other shops.
Kotor Centre
A little walk from there is a road winding down the bay and into the marina.
We left under the cover of darkness, the fortification was lit up in a large arc and the bay was lined in lights.
Kotor by night

You can see why unesco list Kotor as one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

Split Croatia

The ship moored up right next to the railway and bus station and five minutes to town. Here similar to Kotor they have a walled city which is full of twists and turns. The main attractions being the Diocletian Palace and St. Dujes  Cathederal.

The Cathederal

Inside the walled city

 From there you can amble down Riva the city promenade past the coffee bars and toward the marina. Off one of the side streets is a host of modern shops and this leads througj to the fish and finally fruit and vegetable markets.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Venice Italy

Docked at Stazzione Maritima pier 107, we had two options outside the port. The first was to get the water taxi and be taken down the main channel into Pizza San Marco which is about a quick 10 minute dash. We decided to walk to the people mover just outside the port. This is an automated monorail which runs back and forth to Piazalle Roma, it takes about 3 minutes and costs 1 euro. From here we jumped on the vaporetto number 1 and paid €6.50 where it wound it's way to the main square of San Marco. This trip also showed us a lot more of Venice.
In the square we entered the Doges Palace, St Marks Basilica, St Marks clock tower and the Procuratie Vecchi.
The Porta Magna at the Venetian Arsenal.

Doges Palace

From here we wandered off down narrow streets over little bridges and came upon various other treasures such as the bridge of Sighs and Rialto bridge.

Bridge of Sighs

We made our way back to the port and on departure the ship was towed by tug down the grand canal past most of the areas we had visited during the day which is another great photographic opportunity.

Dubrovnik Croatia

Today we went back to Croatia to visit the city of Dubrovnik.We docked in the port of Gruz and due to it being a 45 minute walk into town we took a taxi which were conveniently lined up next to the ship. There was a standard charge of 10 euros for the ten minute trip to the walled city.
We walked over the drawbridge and through the main archway known as the Pile Gate, as you walk don the pedestrian promenade you are met with the view of the clock tower at the end of the city. The main arteries house several interesting buildings and monuments such as the Onofrio Fountain, Fransiscan Monastery housing the pharmacy, Sponza Palace, St. Blazes church and Rectors Palace.
Clock Tower
 We spent about an hour and a half wandering around but noticed that entrance to just about everywhere was chargeable, they are certainly trying to capalatize on the tourists.There are lots of cafes and restaurants available within the walls or the Atlas Club Nautika just outside that has views over the water and the gate entrance.
Marina at the rear of the City

The city walls can be walked and extend for 2 kilometers giving wonderful views over the city and the sea.
It is apparent that rebuilding works are still carrying on after the war in 1991 but a fantastic job has been completed so far on many of the buildings.

Corfu Greece

We arrived early and the sun had hardly risen. We found the ship was berthed quite a long way from the port gates. However a free shuttle bus ferried us to the entrance and from there it was about a twenty minute walk along the harbor and into the centre of Corfu.
We passed  by the new fortress perched high on top of the hill and entered the town through the arch of St. George.
Arch of St. George
This leads on to the esplanade which is lined with coffee bars and restaurants. At the northern end is the palace of St.Michael and St. George which houses the colection of Asian porcelains and bronzes along with mosaics and icons. To the east side is the staue of count Schulenberg and then over the canal into the old fortress which now houses the Ionian University.
There are a few other interesting buildings but to be honest I think Corfu is better known for it's beaches rather than historical buildings.
New Fort

Lipari Italy

Another early start and this time we were taken from the ship at anchor in the Marina Lunga harbor to port by tender.We were met by a really picturesque little town.
 From the harbor we climbed the Salita Melingunes and reached the Piazza Mazzini an area that houses the council building and church of Sant Antonio. At the south end of the square, steps lead up to the Acropolis, a castle which also houses the cathederal of San Bartolomeo.
San Bartolomeo
There is a silver statue of San Bartlomeo on the altar and also beautifully painted ceilings. Outside we roamed around the castle walls and photographed the whole of Lipari from the elevated position, showing the  harbor far below and across the rooftops into the mountains in the distance.
Marina and entrance

We meandered back down through the Venetian type streets to the coffee bars below. Here we enjoyed a cappuccino and watched the world go by.