3 September 2006
Despite Dubrovnik being one of the most beautiful places Ie ever visited, I couldn resist sleeping in until late. That was also a result of my throbbing foot and waking up feeling like I had suffered a stroke. It seems like the whole ship is suffering from some sort of cold or virus. I couldn think about anything apart from going back to the sea so this time, armed with my goggles, I went back and swam continuously until the boarding deadline. I got back to the ship and slept during the departure ceremony because I knew that if tempted, I would probably try to jump off the ship rather than leave Dubrovnik.
2 September 2006
Croatia declared its independence in June 1991. Civil war broke out in July and for four years ethnic Serbs, backed by the federal Yugoslav People Army, battled with ethnic Croats for territory. By January 1998, when all areas had reverted to Croatian control, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs had fled the country while corresponding numbers of ethnic Croats had immigrated from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Waking up in Dubrovnik, Croatia was like a dream. I went to the top deck and saw gorgeous mountains, red tiled roofs and greenery everywhere.
I got off the ship with Luna, Basil, Ilyil, Ayse and Kya. We went to the shops to get some wine, cheeses and bread. After taking a bus to the old town, we walked down the most beautiful cobbled streets that the tourists have indeed discovered. A macchiato later, we walked along the old wall and found a gorgeous spot on the rocks. I spent the entire day swimming in the Adriatic Sea. It was the first time Ie been swimming in the sea since I got on the ship. It was an incredible wine drinking day of gluttony swimming close enough to the passing cruise ships to be able to see all the passengers and hearing them wave good-bye as they headed to their next port.
Unfortunately as I jumped off a rock, I landed right on the back of a sea urchin who defensively spiked my food with his nasty needles. I didn let that ruin my day as I kept swimming but that night my food started to throb. I went back to the ship but the nurse told me no doctor would see me at that time and gave some silly bandage.
At night I went out with a group at night to the most magical spot I have ever visited. Just about half a kilometre from where we swam, there was a bar on the cliffs using each level of rock for a table and chairs. We sat right out on the sea watching a sky lit by the moon and stars in an environment that has never been matched in my lifetime. After that I discreetly headed back to the ship by foot which was silly as I could barely walk by the time I arrived.
1 September 2006
1 September 2006
Today was one of those fast fix ports. We arrived in Greece at about 8am but I didn even get out of bed until 9. Ayse and I got off the ship and headed into Athens. Breakfast was nice on a quaint street in Monastiraki. Like many things in Greece, reek coffee?tasted a lot like Turkish coffee. I think that nationalism stretches strong on food products between the two.
We took the metro to the Acropolis and could feel our arrival on the Mediterranean. It was my first time to visit Athens and I was surprised at what a small city it was. We could easily get around on foot or metro. It was a gorgeous day. We walked around the wonder of Western civilisation and then headed into Syntagma Square. We had some wine, cheese and all the foods that I am usually deprived of in Asia. We bought a lot to take back on the ship. At night we watched the most gorgeous sunset over the Greek islands and then ate more feta and wine on the top deck.
28 August 2006
Today we learned that some terrorist bombing hit Turkey. Since we live on a ship with virtually no access to our own news sources, we have to trust what we are told. Of course it was a big ship-wide drama and resembled an NHK (Japanese national network) report. Ayse was not too happy to learn that her country was being portrayed as a major conflict centre but once Japanese passengers start panicking, there is no end.
In the evening we were told that we would not be allowed to sleep in a hotel but rather we have to return to the ship. Yeah right, I will feel much safer to sleep in the left-wing radical NGO known as Peace Boat! Whatever, we have plans to sleep in a hotel tomorrow and they better worry more about disgruntled foreigners on the boat having a retaliatory attack here!
29 August 2006
Today Kyoko, Mindy and I got off the ship and discovered the port city of Istanbul. It is everything and even more than I expected. It is such a mysterious mix of Europe and the Middle East. We spent the day searching for a hotel. At one point, Mindy and I stumbled into a small alley and sat down for Turkish coffee and smoked a sheesha. It was one of those random escapes from reality.
We finally found a gorgeous hotel in the old area and connected to wireless internet. Such a connection has become like Christmas. I spent three hours on line in the posh hotel giving me another escape from reality. After I met Ayse and others in Taksim Square. We had a fantastic dinner and I saw that Istanbul has a lot to offer at night as well.
30 August 2006
This morning we woke up and had the best breakfast I have had in months; Turkish cheeses, proper croissants and jams and fruits that don involve cans or plastic. We sat with the most amazing view of Istanbul and spent a good two hours before we left our newfound paradise.
Mindy and I headed out to a Hamam (Turkish bath) where we were scrubbed, beaten in the form of a massage and I got a shave. During my shave I was suddenly the object of a fire show. The man lit some cotton doused in gas and bounced it on my ears. I tried to stay cool like this was a normal occurrence but I was definitely shocked. He told me he was removing the tiny hair on my ears. I don really notice a difference but I won question Turkish beauty.
We took a public ferry to the Asian side but didn find anything too interesting. We went back to Taksim and found a salon so I got my hair and eyebrow threading done. It was definitely a revitalising trip. Next stop, Turkey arch rival?Greece.