We arrived yesterday and it was warm, today not so. As we left the hotel it started to spit a little but this soon became quite strong rain and we all ended up going back for umbrellas and warmer tops.
The past four weeks have been interesting if not very educational. As usual, you learn lots about yourself as you travel but most importantly you learn about others. One of the women - the one who wanted to sit a lot in Paris, is really quite painful to travel with. To give her some credit this is her first major journey overseas besides Bali and she is extremely set in her ways. I am frustrated with her continually comparing, out loud, the city, service, food, whatever to that in Melbourne. Yes, I realize that I live in an amazing city BUT we are traveling and things will be done differently. It's like comparing apples and oranges. I cringe each time I hear her open her mouth in regards to the situation we are in.
What frustrates me mainly is that she orders from the menu without asking any questions then complains when what is delivered doesn't meet her expectations. The classic line today might explain things far more clearly....."the Italians could learn a lot from the ones in Melbourne." This line I couldn't let go as it was so patronizing......I pointed out that the italians in Melbourne have adapted to Australian expectations and what we get is one aspect of Italian lifestyle. She had a few more patronizing statements to make but I let them go.
Of my own opinions regarding the food - I have only really had one bad meal. This was in Barcelona on our last night before getting on the cruise ship. It started raining and we dived into the first place and ordered a few things. One of my companions looked at a few 'specials' on a poster on the wall and was told "no madam, they are decoration only." I decided that a local meal would be good....no. When in Barcelona do not get sausage and beans. That's what you get...nothing more nothing less. It was disgusting. Everything else I have ordered has been an adventure but always tasty.
I was expecting to enjoy the cruise but have now realized that life is not for me. Don't get me wrong, I haven't minded having someone do make my bed everyday, cooking for me and waiting on me. That has been a joy but when I travel I like to spend everyday looking at things. In the thirteen days of the cruise we had six days of "at sea". This frustrated me. My traveling companions seemed to like the down time but I really wanted to explore the places a bit more by land...not scoot on by on water.....Then there was the on board entertainment.....it felt like they were trying to set up a three ring circus for the entertainment of the guests.
Some of the things were really good but I was a mostly nonplussed by the rest. The night shows in the big theatre were thoroughly entertaining. The onboard musicians were amazing and extremely hard working but I don't do the nightclub thing at home and found the night time discos a bit too blech.
The friend I went with loved everything that they offered. She has done a cruise before and knew what to expect and was trying hard to get me interested in things. I did do a few things and did enjoy the hotel aspect of it, and for a day found the resort life great but cruising is not for me...at least not for the next 25 years.
I loved Greece and Italy. I'm not certain about Turkey. There were amazing things that I saw but I found that I was exhausted at the end of each and every day from having to concentrate on person to person dealings. The crush of people in Istanbul was suffocating as was the lack of women in prominent positions in tourist places. I learnt that if a man approaches you in the street to assist you, he wants to sell you something. This made for a few interesting encounters on our first day in Istanbul until we worked out the lay of the land.
My bartering on the second day there was getting quite good, although I still have a lot to learn. At least I can say that I paid no more than half price for anything...I think on a few things I might have been to cut the price further but when you calculate from one currency to another, then we paid nothing for what we got.
My favorite line in the Grand Bazaar was from a handbag salesman "let me sell you something you don't need". At least he was honest.
I've also had this bizarre experience of collecting phone numbers of men in nearly every city. It has been unusual but has done my ego a great deal of good.
There are things I will change about myself when I get home....I am planning on being out a little more than what I am. I am also going to ensure I speak more than one language. I have done well with my high school French and musicians Italian, but it is not enough.
I also want to make sure that I buy a house when I get home....numb one priority.
I have loved my travels but I am ready to go home now.