Saturday, April 27, 2019

Day 8 – Sun, April 14, 2019 – Corfu, Greece – Crystal Serenity – Monte Carlo to Venice

Well, we are now on the home stretch. Another 4 days and 4 more ports. It will likely be grueling but of course amazing and fun at the same time.

Today we visited Corfu, Greece on the island of the same name Corfu Island and is about 226 sq. miles and is located northeast of Greece mainland in the Ionian Sea.

We did not have an organized tour, so decided to take it easy, get up, have breakfast and then get off when we were all ready. The city is a typical medieval city with narrow streets, squares, and churches. What is unique is that it has the Old Fortress and New Fortress, both which are huge and imposing on opposite sides of the city. The Venetians ruled much of the area for over 400 years and these fortresses reflect their style and architecture.

Old Fort on left, New Fort on Right, City Between

Esplanade circled on right, Old Fort to Right, New Fort on Left, City between
Our ship was docked at the north pier, a fairly long, L-shaped pier. So, the port authority had a shuttle that would take you out to the gate (we learned later that we could walk - which we did on the way back). It was raining again (maybe the storm from Sorrento had made it here), so we took the port shuttle. At the gate, we boarded another shuttle to take us into town (only two kilometers from the port). The drop off point was the Esplanade Square in the old town. The drop off spot was right next to the Old Fortress.

We decided to pay our 6 Euros each and go in and check out the Old Fortress. It was first constructed in the 6th century. BTW - the New Fortress was built between 1572 and 1645. So, "New" is very relative. The Old Fort as it is now was rebuilt by the Venetians in the early 1500's. We first visited the Church of St. George on the south side of the fortress. It was locked, but it had quite a temple like look to it, very cool.

Outside Entrance


Church of St. George
We then headed up to the top of the fortress for some incredible views.

Funny Perspective, Not Really Leaning

We aren't sure what this sign means, but Alex figured it was DON'T STEP ON THE ALLIGATORS.

New Fort

After wandering around for an hour or so, we went to the little coffee shop in the Fortress and some of us had some coffee. Supposedly they had wifi in there, but alas we couldn't get it to work. Oh well.... (We don't use our international data plans when traveling unless we have to - we just try to get onto wifi any chance that we get.)

One thing that we learned while wandering the Old Fortress and it's small museum was that there was a Temple of Artemis somewhere near here. According to the Wikipedia article on the Greek goddess Artemis:

"Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the patron and protector of young girls, and was believed to bring disease upon women and relieve them of it. Artemis was worshipped as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth and midwifery along with Eileithyia. Much like Athena and Hestia, Artemis preferred to remain a maiden and is sworn never to marry."

Brenda mentioned that Artemis was her favorite Greek goddess and she'd LOVE to go and see the temple. We discovered that the Archelogical Museum of Corfu (just a short walk from the Old Fortress) had a lot of pieces of the temple and other ancient artifacts from the area (the temple no longer stands). So, our next stop was the Museum.

This Was In the Esplanade
The Museum
We could not take pictures inside of the Museum, but probably the most impressive piece was the huge western pediment from the temple with Medusa on it. Here is an image of it from the Wikipedia Article on the temple:

It was spectacular and well worth the price of admission.

After that, we decided to pass on going to the New Fortress. I mean it was just New...  Anyway, we decided to walk back through the main part of the city and its curvy streets and head to the shuttle stop to get back to the ship around 2pm. This was a big, huge mistake. In our wanderings, we came by a store that sold all things made out of olive wood. Incredibly beautiful stuff, but pretty pricey. We rarely buy souvenirs on our travels (don't need more "stuff"), Julie mentioned that before we left she had considered an olive wood salad bowl and utensils as something we could truly use and remember the trip. Well, over 130 Euros lately, we had several impressive items made of olive wood.

We wandered around town, made it back to the Esplanade, boarded the shuttle and headed back.

On the ship, we grabbed a quick "snack/lunch/thing" and hung out until it was time to get ready for dinner (with the pre-dinner drinks again in the Avenue).

Before dinner, we went to the Magic Castle Magic show. For a number of years, Crystal has partnered with the Magic Castle in Los Angeles so every cruise segment has a different magician that comes on the ship to do close up magic shows. Our show this cruise was tonight at 5:30. The magician was Richard Bloch. What is interesting is that he is the person that thought up and created the whole Magic Castle at Sea with Crystal. It was kinda funny in the beginning where they play a video introducing the magician and he introduced himself. The magic was most excellent. It is supposed to be a 25 minute show, but it lasted until almost our 6:30 dinner reservation time.

Before the show, we stopped by the Avenue Saloon to get some wine for the show. Our friends Keith and Anne Marie were in there. We said hi and then rushed into the show. Keith and Anne Marie were on a nearly 6 month cruise that included several segments before the world cruise, the world cruise and then several segments after. They just had their 100th milestone. They do an EXCELLENT blog and are wealth of information about Crystal.

Tonight dinner was in the Umi Uma, a Nobu Speciality restaurant. Ever since Corrinne taught Bob how to eat sushi (although he's hasn't quite gotten up for sashimi), Umi Umi has become one of our favorite restaurants. Tonight was no exception. We ordered a whole bunch of different foods, sharing some, and eating individual portions for others. We had to careful because Brenda has a shellfish allergy, but we navigated the menu just fine. We sincerely appreciate the attention that Crystal pays to allergies and making sure that there are no adverse events.  One huge hit was the anticucho sauce. We need to figure out how to make it because it was incredible.

After dinner, we decided to hit a show. It was James Fox from Liverpool who does a Billy Joel imitation show with the Crystal Dancers. It was an excellent show and he played and sang all of Billy Joel's greatest.

Today we walked:
Steps: 13,278 Miles: 5.7

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Day 7 – Sat, April 13, 2019 – At Sea – Crystal Serenity – Monte Carlo to Venice

Finally. A day at sea. Oh my. Oh my. I can't believe that we finally get a day off from touring this amazing world to get a day at relax and enjoy the amazing ship. We got up and walked a TON around the promenade deck (over an hour).

Cool Double Rainbow Off Stern
We skipped breakfast (we were getting a little excellent fooded and amazing wined out and went to the two talks) instead. The first one was the destination lecturer Marcus Sherwood on "Ports of Antiquity: Corfu and Kotor". Marcus gave a wonderful talk, and as a Brit, had an indredibly dry sense of humor. He kept injecting little funnies that if you weren't paying attention you'd ignore. He gave a great talk covering the two upcoming ports, both from a historical perspective and modern sites perspective. Both ports sound exciting.

At the beginning of his talk he mentioned going through the straights of Messina. This is the narrow portion of water between Sicily and the toe of the boot of Italy (kinda like Italy is kicking a football - err soccer ball). The currents, winds, and water can be a bit tricky, but for us it was no problem. The bad weather from the previous day had left us, so it was beautiful weather. At the narrowest point it is only 1.9 miles wide.

Image from Markcus' Talk

Cool Bridge on Shore.

The narrowest part of the Straight.

The second talk was by award winning White House Reporter for US News and World Report - Ken Walsh on "The Consequential Presidency of Donald Trump." He did an excellent job of being unbiased and tried to discuss the disruptor in chief that our president is attempting to be.

We then met Alex and Brenda for lunch in the dining room. Julie had the most interesting lunch, a deconstructed steak salad.

After lunch, we relaxed and eventually went to the Mozart tea up in the Palm court. It was typical and excellent. Live chamber music, wonderful snacks, and great tea.

Tonight was formal night and a new thing that they've added recently is the Stardust Supper Club. They have a restricted menu from the Waterside dinner and with the venue being in the Stardust Lounge and live music performance by the Crystal Band and several singers and dancers. It was wonderful. It is very intimate and was perfect for us since the tables are all for 4 and the event was fully subscribed at 100 people.

Carpaccio of Celeriac

Forest Mushroom Soup

Cold Water Lobster 
Roast Beef Tenderloin

Chocolate Delice
Today we walked:
Steps: 13,004 Distance: 6.69 Miles