Med Cruise with Greece and Turkey July 2013 - We Are Disney Sheep - updated 4/3/14

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by Scraptographer, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    About the picture frames, I was hoping someone would ask :). I will do my best to take and post photos of them in the near future, however tonight I am in the 'Disboard photo doghouse' it would seem as I apparently have posted too many photos today (25 appears to be a limit of some sort).

    Thank you so much for commenting.
     
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  3. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much for commenting and for reading along. I am so sad for you that you had to miss this cruise, hopefully you will get to enjoy a Med cruise in the near future. And if I am reading your signature line right, you have a cruise to Alaska in the works? I hope that you love it!
     
  4. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Thanks so much for commenting. I am happy that you are enjoying our trip report and I am happy to share :)
     
  5. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Many thanks for your kind comments, and thanks for reading along.
     
  6. fireworks fan

    fireworks fan Mouseketeer

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    Oooh, gluten free pasta in Rome. Where's the "I'm hungry too" smiley face:lmao: We were on the Dream in June, and I had two really good pasta dishes on the ship. They were great with gluten free for me, and I am very sensitive to cross contamination. Looking forward to the rest of the trip...
     
  7. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    I have realized that there are a few points that I have not addressed in my TR so far that may help with your perspective as you read this report:

    Security of Money - during periods of travel or when off the ship on excursions, I carry an across the body (Roots) triangular shaped camera bag that can be worn either in front or in back. Often my camera was actually out of the bag and around my neck, and I used the bag to carry other stuff, like souvenirs after we bought them, or water bottles. DH and I both wore shorts during the trip when on excursions, and this made it easy for each of us to wear a cotton money belt (we purchased ours at Bentleys).

    We only carried as much cash on us as we felt we needed for each particular day, leaving the rest in our room safe, however we each carried a credit card in case one didn't work for some reason. (In hindsight, if the card didn't work it was because of the machine, not the card). We had purchased a package of 'sleeves' to cover our credit cards individually to avoid them being electronically 'picked'. Did we honestly think that we needed the 'sleeves'? Maybe not, but we had cheap peace of mind, and we bought them at Bentley along with my money belt for less than the cost of buying the heavier money belt that did the same thing that the sleeves do (and I would not have liked wearing the heavier belt). At no time did we have any issues with pick pockets, however I was glad for the peace of mind the money belts gave us in several highly crowded areas where we were being bumped up against a lot.

    Whisper systems on excursions - Out of 7 Disney port excursions, we received 'whisper systems' on 5 of them. Essentially a whisper system is a small square radio receiver on some type of string that you can wear around your neck. The ear phones we received on the Med cruise only had one ear bud (unlike during our Baltic cruise). In general they worked very well, except in Delos where the stone walls seemed to block the sound waves. As we did Athens on our own, the guide just briefed us on the bus. In Malta again, our guide used the bus sound system to brief us.

    Dining Rotations - Our dining rotation this trip was APL, which meant that we were in Parrot Cay on Formal night and I think in Lumieres onPirate night. During a conversation I had with Cedomir our head waiter, Cedomir mentioned that how you are assigned to dining rooms is based on the type of reservation that you have, as in Family, Adult etc. I don't remember all of the details (including what the etc was, but there was another category` DH thinks maybe size of party?), but it was clear to me that if I wanted to be in a specific restaurant on a specific night then I needed to actually make that request before the cruise started. It also explained why we have never been in the 'fancier' restaurant on Formal night as they schedule the dining rotation so that Adult groups get that option.

    Weather/Temperatures - The weather on our cruise was basically sunny every day, and the basic temperature during our cruise was hot! Ok, not really, the temperatures were actually about the same as we had been experiencing at home before we left, but at home we don't wander around outside for extended periods of time during the hot summer, unless we are heading towards a body of water for recreational purposes!

    The average temperature on the more westerly ports was officially around 81F, while the official temperatures for the eastern ports (Greece and Turkey) was roughly 89F. The reality was that the days started out really warm in the mornings and by lunchtime you probably had sweat rolling down your back, no matter how light the breathable fabric of your Lululemon t-shirt and your equally lightweight breathable Travex shorts was! Ok, that was pretty specific, but you get the picture, it was often in the 90s by lunchtime. In general our tour guides all handled this well and kept us in the shade as much as possible, and they all provided us with a bottle of water.

    There were usually water fountains available (one of the reasons why the Greek and Roman empires lasted so long in my estimation!), however we often chose to purchase coke/diet coke (which fluctuated around 1.5 - 3 Euros per can in general).

    In Mykonos/Delos, it did not feel as hot as it was simply because there was a very strong wing blowing constantly. It was not a knock you off your feet kind of wind, but just constant wind, which had the effect of cooling down the islands. Apparently this happens every July according to our tour guides. One of the sea days also felt a little cooler than 80 degrees, but it was still warm/hot overall. And Malta was having a heatwave according to our tour guide, so yes, we were melting in Malta!

    Med related souvenirs on the Magic - I always hit the Treasure Ketch on board the ship just after it opens on Embarkation day. Realistically that is when the store has the best variety, both of souvenirs and of sizes and styles as they haven't sold out yet. In general though, we don't usually shop a lot, my main souvenir (aside from my collection of cheesy picture frames) is usually the photo cd.

    Based on a conversation with a Treasure Ketch CM, their Med merchandise this year is just not selling well. We did end up buying some pins, one for Greece and one for the Med (which is all that they had specific to this trip), a Greek Mickey vinylmation (they also had a gondolier styled one too I think), a post card,
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    a scrapbook kit (paper and a sheet of stickers I think) and a Med themed photo album (to hold 200 4 x 6 photos).
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    When I added on a t-shirt for each of us,
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    my total came to roughly $200 (no VAT on this trip). As a result of spending more than $175 at one time, I got a coupon for 20% off a purchase from the store of my choosing - there were some restrictions on it, but I don't remember what they were. I do know that you could not combine this with any other discount, such as the Gold/Platinum Castaway perk of 10% off. I actually had trouble using it, since we are not shoppers and since it wasn't valid at Shutters :).

    Photo CD/Shutters photos - The cost of the photo CD on this 12 night cruise was $399, coincidentally, that was the same price it was on the Baltic in 2010. On this cruise you could also add in all of the hard copies of photos for another $75. Since we like to purchase the photo cd, we usually take advantage of most of the family photo ops available either on the ship or on excursions if we are lucky.

    On this trip we saw Shutters photographers at Villefranche/Monaco, Pisa and Rome. We did not end up with a photographer on any of our excursions however. In Athens, although the photographers tried to set up on the Acropolis, they were quickly shut down by the Acropolis officials (Pillar police as we like to call them - those would be the people who see people touching or sitting on the pillars or columns and make them stop, often blowing a whistle). We did not see any out and about in either Ephesus or in Mykonos/Delos. At Malta, the photographers were apparently wandering around on deck 4 during the day using the port buildings as a backdrop.

    I highly recommend that you start on Day 1 and collect your photos from the racks each time you see them and then get the Shutters staff to start a file for you behind their counter. By the last couple of days, the majority of photos from the first few days have been removed from the walls and placed in bins on tables. On the last sea day (we really should have done it the night before, as in the Malta night, but hindsight is 20/20), we compared our hardcopy photos to the digital files and were able to get the Shutters staff to add photos to our digital file for our cd, and conversely, to print some photos that we could not find in hardcopy.

    The morning of the last sea day was complete and utter madness at Shutters and getting a photo kiosk on deck 4 was almost impossible! Luckily DH headed for the kiosks on deck 3 where it was slightly less
    congested. One lady that we saw was at a kiosk before we started our review of our hard copy prints, and was still at the kiosk after we left a neighbouring kiosk having completed a review of our digital file.

    One of the Shutters staff informed DH that after dry dock the Magic should be outfitted with photo folders on shelves, similar to the system on the Fantasy and the Dream, and they can hardly wait!
     
  8. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    You know what they say about the road to heck being paved with good intentions right? Well, we had intended to sleep in, especially as we had lost an hour due to a time change, but sleeping in did not happen. I woke up way too early, and then convinced my DH to get up and go for a walk with me on deck 4 to get our 5km in for the day nice and early. We left the kids sleeping. Upon returning to our cabin we got cleaned up, and we got the kids up to head to breakfast at Lumieres together since they were serving a sit down service brunch.

    Next we headed out to attend the Castaway Club Gold and Platinum function. Goofy was there in his Spanish costume for pictures, and cookies and fruit were being served as well as drinks.
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    After Captain John welcomed us, Peter, our Cruise Director took over to brief us on the upcoming changes to the Magic after dry dock. The majority of the changes have already been discussed in previous threads on the Disboards, except that he also mentioned that one of the original Iron Man suits will be on display in one of the kid's clubs, Oceaneer's Lab? What my DH and I found amusing was Peter commenting something to the effect of - you probably want to know about the the 2015 itineraries <pause for effect>, well, we don't know what they are yet. But you could always check the Disboards... They seem to know everything first!

    At the end of the gathering, we picked up our rice crispy Mickey head cookies - DD brings them home to friends as souvenirs since we can't eat them due to the malt in the rice crispies i.e. gluten. The kids headed to the Vibe and/or the pool/hot tub, while DH decided to tackle the laundry. It seems that 2 washers and 1 dryer were not functioning, but everyone was playing nice in the laundry room, and DH had fun socializing with others in the same boat, discussing the trip so far, and speculating on what would actually change for the Magic after dry dock . I visited DH in the laundry room, bringing him pop and munches from deck 9.

    I spent part of the afternoon up on deck, and although I noticed that we sailed between Sicily and the toe of Italy, it did not really excite me, realistically I may have been too engrossed in my book.
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    Eventually we all headed back to the room to shower and change and get ready for formal night. Both DH and DS cleaned up very nicely in their suits, while DD and I pulled out our fancier dresses. We scored photo ops with the Mariner Mickey statue in the Atrium lobby as well as with Chip and Dale and Minnie in formal attire.
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    The evenings entertainment was Twice Charmed, or as I like to call it, Twisted Sisters :). This production was very well done, and ended up tied with Once Upon a Song as my favourite of the Disney-ish shows of the trip. They definitely had some great performers on this cruise.
     
  9. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Ah yes, a second sea day in a row, and all of the travelling we had done was finally catching up with us at this point. Instead of sleeping in, we got up early to go to the character breakfast. Urgh! What were we thinking?

    Honestly when we got that wake up call from Mickey, we probably would have just rolled over and gone back to sleep since we were so tired, however Cedomir had promised gluten free waffles and pancakes for breakfast, so we parental units headed for Parrot Cay, leaving the teenagers to roll out of bed on their own and join us eventually, which of course they did, because we were talking waffles and pancakes here. And yes, we knew they would not be the made from scratch type, or even the Mickey head waffles everyone else can order, but Cedomir was so happy that he could order them for us that we said yes to the character breakfast.
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    And it was indeed a typical character breakfast, with napkin hats and visits from the Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale in their tropical style attire.
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    After breakfast, since we were up so early anyway, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to go see Iron Man 3 playing in the Buena Vista theatre. There is often discussion on the Disboards as to why you would go see movies while on a cruise. For our family the response would be why not? And as a further benefit, we find that after a cruise when we see the movies again, they bring back warm memories. Whenever I watch either How to Train Your Dragon or The Sorcerer's Apprentice, I am usually immediately reminded of our Baltic cruise.

    Following the movie we headed to Lumieres for brunch, however the menu was exactly the same as the day before, so although we ate, we were feeling a little uninspired.

    At that point DD headed off to hang out at the Vibe while DH and I headed for deck 4 to get our 5 km walk in for the day. DS set himself up in a lounge chair on deck 4 to play on his Gameboy and count our laps :). Yeah right, he was way too engrossed in his game and paid us very little attention at all.

    By 1:30 pm we headed to the Walt Disney theatre to watch The Lone Ranger, because it was just that kind of day. We had not yet seen The Lone Ranger, and happily we enjoyed it a lot however it was not over until 4:30 pm. DD in the meantime had spent the afternoon hanging out at Vibe, except for attending a couple of animation classes. Luckily we had wave phones to keep in contact.

    We headed back to the cabin (via the tea station on deck 9 :) and got cleaned up for dinner. Dinner at Lumiere's was the show dinner with Belle and the Beast and other friends showing up along with dessert.
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    After supper we queued up for white screen photos, and yes, we normally try to get family photos every night. The logic process is that we are normally dressed fairly nicely anyway, the process usually takes very little time and we have a better chance of getting the best family photo with the more photo ops we get. And each cruise it usually works. Tonight however the line up seemed to take forever as it felt like everyone on the ship wanted to get their pictures taken! In the end these photos were definitely worth the wait, but at the time our kids were grumbling a little about missing the evening show. It was ok, they survived :). We also chose to get a picture with Mickey and Minnie together in Spanish attire as our 'character interaction' of the day. Although we already had the individual characters in their Spanish attire, this was more for the opportunity to get a picture with them both at the same time.

    By the time we finished with our photo ops, it was too late for the kids to go to the show, so we headed up to deck 9 for our evening cup of tea. When we found Hercules playing on on Funnel Vision we knew that the evening had panned out in the best way possible for us and we all pulled up a lounge chair and settled in to enjoy the rest of the evening, watching Hercules out on the dimly lit open deck before visiting Athens :).
     
  10. solgent

    solgent DIS Veteran

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    I don't know how much you paid but I bought tickets to climb the tower online from home (18 Euros each) and we took the train to Pisa on our own (10 Euros each). We enjoyed this day very much.
     
  11. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    First, thank you for reading along and for commenting, I really do appreciate it.

    Second - Arrrrrrgh!!! See, the logical, financially responsible part of me really did not want to know how much ... Or should I say how little ... Doing this on your own cost. Which is exactly why I barely researched the DIY option at all once I realized that I could not be sure what time I could get to Pisa etc. And based on our sheeplike tendencies, I knew if we got 'stuck' debating stuff, I would not have gotten to climb the tower.

    Based on the difference between the Disney 'look at the tower' vice 'climb the tower' excursions, Disney charges roughly $80 to $90 per person for this option, vice your cost of 18 € or roughly $28 to $30 per person depending on the exchange rate.

    So yes, the price that Disney charges for their 'Disney magic' for excursions is a whole 'nother thread!!

    From our perspective, and based on our comfort zone now that we have 'been there and done that', if we are lucky enough to do another Med cruise, we will probably stray away from the herd next time and visit more sites on our own.
     
  12. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    We were very excited to visit Athens. DH and I had both visited before, albeit briefly, and we wanted to share this adventure with our kids.
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    Our kids are big Percy Jackson/Rick Riordan fans, so they were happy to visit sites that were relevant to the book series.
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    On this trip we chose to do the Athens on your own excursion through Disney. I need to clarify up front that in preparation for our trip we had purchased/ downloaded a video course by Dr John Hale from The Great Courses company about travelling through Greece and Turkey. NOTE: do NOT pay full price for this course if you check it out, they put their courses on sale every couple of weeks. The lectures were an excellent source of research. We also copied the relevant episodes related to Athens, Mykonos and Ephesus to my iPad for reference, though we were pretty much too busy to watch them during the trip.

    When we checked out the Disney excursions available they did not have an excursion that covered all of the sites that we wanted to see. Based on the two 30 minute videos on Athens by Prof Hale, we felt very comfortable checking out the sites in Athens that we wanted to see on our own.

    It was another early morning start and we had to meet in the Walt Disney Theatre at 8:15 am. We were herded to the bus very efficiently, and perhaps even ahead of time as everyone was there nice and early. The tour company provided a guide for the relatively short bus ride, and he provided us with maps, water bottles and a running commentary on our surroundings. The bus dropped us off at the Arch of Hadrian in Athens shortly after 9:00 am, and we had to return there by 2 pm. We quickly walked the short distance to the Acropolis and bought our tickets to get in. Tickets for adults cost 12¬ each, and tickets for kids cost 6¬ each, but we had to show their student IDs, not just the kids, in order to get the reduced price! These tickets then gave you access to the majority of the sites around the 'rock'.

    The queue for tickets was long but moved fast (and was a separate line to the left of the entrance queue). We also chose to divide and conquer, and while DH and DS bought the tickets, DD and I lined up in the entrance queue. And the entrance queue was a massive choke point of people, mostly tour groups at this hour, as Rick Steves describes in his guidebook.
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    We amused ourselves while we waited by watching stray dogs that seem to be everywhere in Athens.
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    We managed to actually make it through the line up and through the main entrance gate by 10 am (roughly) and then we viewed (when I say viewed I usually mean took pictures of) the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on our way up the hill.
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    Once finally through the Propylaea (another choke point), the view you get of the Parthenon is actually the back of it, and right now it is under heavy scaffolding and re-construction, the 'postcard' view that you probably want is around the other side, near the base on the left as you look at it (which is probably where Mickey was standing in Disney's Greece publicity photos).
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    After viewing the Parthenon from the entry, we headed left towards the temple of Athena, i.e. the small building with the Erectheion and the Porch of the Caryatids.
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    We wandered around the buildings and checked out the view of Athens, including the long distance views of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Arch of Hadrian and the Temple of Hephaestus from high above,
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    from near the huge flag of Greece,
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    we took our postcard family pictures of the Parthenon and then headed back down off the 'rock'.
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    Two things to note, first, up on the Acropolis it is extremely windy and dusty, and second, leaving the Acropolis takes about as long as climbing up, again due to the choke point at the Propylaea.
     
  13. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Once we broke free of the crowds, we turned right at the bottom of the hill and headed for the Agora. Our tickets from the Acropolis also got us in here as well as at the rest of the sites I will mention. Our main goal was the Temple of Hephaestus, but we also saw the rebuilt Stoa of Attalos
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    and the remaining statues that are all that is left of the Odeum of Agrippa.
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    Note, at the entrance to the Agora there is a water fountain where you can refill your water bottles that you probably drank at the Acropolis, so don't throw the bottles away. Also, when you are required to show your tickets to gain entrance at the sites, pick up a brochure, because although the brochures look alike from a distance, they are each site specific.

    Most of the rest of the Agora is pretty much rubble, very ancient rubble that the 'pillar police' will yell at you if you sit on etc (we saw a couple of girls who were using the broken columns for a seat get informed that the columns were history, not props for a photo shoot :). View of the Acropolis from the Agora.
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    Next it was on to the Roman Forum to view the Temple of the Winds, a very cool structure with a water clock in it.
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    And yes, when I said I wanted to go to the Roman Forum, my DS took the opportunity to tell me that I was the wrong country for the Roman Forum. Wiener, those conquering Romans built forums where ever they went and stayed for a while, not just in Rome! At that point we took a pass on the Kerameikos and the Acropolis museum as we headed through the Plaka along Adrianous, a street that headed us diagonally toward the monument of Lysicrates.

    We really enjoyed the Plaka, and the shop keepers were friendly and helpful. A couple even showed me other stores to shop at when they didn't have a 'cheesy' enough 'touristic' picture frame for me to buy :).
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    Once we hit the end of that long street (and the Lysicrates monument) we headed for the nearby Theatre of Dyonisos, where we could actually climb around and sit on the seats etc.
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    Next we headed to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus to see it from a closer vantage point, although if you are short on time you can skip this as you can't actually get in to the odeon as it is still a working theatre.

    Heading back toward the main pedestrian street we bought a few bags of nuts that the street vendors sell
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    and then headed to check out the Arch of Hadrian
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    and the Temple of Olympian Zeus up close and personal.
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    The nuts by the way always get special mention from our kids when we ask what they liked about Athens, something about the peanuts with sesame seeds and honey must have really appealed to them, even more than the spicy nuts we sampled :). The kids also enjoyed the freedom to roam around , and yes to goof around a little, more than on an official excursion.

    Overall, we did not spend anytime inside museums because we were having too much fun just feasting our eyes on everything there was to see and experience on our 'walk around the rock'. And this worked very well for us because my DH and I had watched the John Hale videos a couple of times. As well, with my kids being big Percy Jackson/Rick Riordan fans, they had a point of reference for most of the Greek gods related to the sites we saw. And although Athens around the Acropolis was very easy to navigate, my DH does have an amazing sense of direction :), unlike his DW :rotfl2:.

    Another family we spoke to on this excursion had done only the Acropolis and the Plaka, including a relaxing lunch in Athens, but they also really enjoyed themselves. Overall, everyone made their timings and the bus did not have to wait for anyone.

    Something else to consider is purchasing a flip book, sold at most souvenir shops in Athens, for around 10¬ (I think). The book we bought at the end of our day is called, Athens The Monuments with Reconstructions, and includes pictures of the major sites as they are today with transparencies that flip over top of the pictures and show how the site looked 'back in the day', as well as a brief history/description of that site. It would have been neat to have with us at the sites, but we probably would not have had time to read it on the go.
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    By mid-afternoon we were happily back on the ship and cooling off in the pools, the Goofy pool for the kids while we enjoyed the adult pool. Athens had been an amazing experience, but it had also been really dusty and getting to relax back on the Magic was just the icing on the cake.
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    Eventually we got cleaned up for supper, and collected a photo with Greek Mickey. Disappointingly, none of the other characters had special Greek costumes, so Mickey had numerous photo ops that evening, and on Mykonos night.
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    The kids went to the Walt Disney the Dream Goes On show, and returned raving about the show and in particular the dancers. Apparently near the end there is a dance set to I Can Go The Distance from Hercules, and one of the male dancers in particular was spectacular. I was definitely sorry that I had missed it.

    Last Thoughts on Explore Athens On Your Own excursion - we loved Athens and we were extremely happy that we had chosen to explore it the way we did. Although we could probably have just caught a taxi both ways on our own (and managed to arrive at the Acropolis earlier than the numerous tour groups), and, that option would have allowed us to stay longer, we don't regret anything about our day... Except maybe not buying more nuts to take back to the ship - they were that good. We felt that we left at just the right time, before our 'fun meter ' got pegged, and that if we had stayed longer we would have just gotten too hot and too tired. This was DH's favourite excursion, and a close second for the DS. DD and I had this one at a tie with Rome and Pisa :).

    If we visit Athens again, we will probably consider an excursion that includes the Acropolis (because it is there, it is iconic, and really, it makes a trip to Athens from our point of view) combined with a beach excursion, since it would be hard to duplicate the enjoyment of this trip.
     
  14. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Day 10 - Kusadasi (Ephesus, Turkey)

    Our excursion today was Ephesus and Aquapark and required an 8 am start in the Promenade Lounge. Since this was Day 10 of our trip and Day 8 of our cruise on a port intensive trip, we decided that although we wanted to visit Ephesus ( bring on those ancient Roman ruins-yeah), we wanted to take this opportunity to give our kids a break at a water park.

    After picking up towels provided by Disney cast members and following the Mickey paddle off the ship, we were herded aboard our bus.
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    In each seat there was a bottle of water and a paper bag that contained a small clay/ceramic circle with 'theatrical masks' on it and a 'business card' that explained this was a souvenir for us, a reproduction of a 'tablet ticket' that would have allowed spectators in ancient times to enter the grand theatre. There was also a string that could be strung through the clay circle to use it as a necklace. As well, there was also a tiny safety pin with a dangling 'protective eye'.
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    At that point we met our tour guide. She introduced herself as Chi... and then some other letters. Chi was very knowledgeable and professional, but she was almost too concentrated on making sure she passed on her extensive knowledge. Afterwards we commented that she reminded us of the main character in the movie My Life in Ruins, before that character found her 'Kefi'.

    The drive to Ephesus seemed to be a fairly short 30 minutes as Chi told us about Kusadasi, and the first thing we noted was that she pronounced it as Cush - a - doe -c, much different than I imagined. As we drove up to the site Chi told us how this had once been a port city, that the area we were driving through had once been a great port filled with ships, but that the harbour had silted up and eventually turned into a marsh, and that the city itself had simply been abandoned. DH spent his time trying to determine where the water level had originally been and tried to imagine the port that used to be there.
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    We had to line up at the gate to receive tickets in order to enter. There were souvenir stands in this area, but we were discouraged from visiting them. Once inside the gates we moved over near the first really recognizable structure, an Odeon. We briefly paused under a few shade trees ( probably the only shade trees on the site) and Chi lectured us about the Agora and the Odeon.
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    The Odeon was quite impressive and lots of people were visiting it (climbing all over it), but Chi rapidly moved us along.
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    As a matter of fact, Chi rapidly moved us past most of the sites, all while describing them in reasonable detail, giving us maybe a few moments to take pictures, and then she kept us moving.

    The ancient city itself looked absolutely amazing and had so many possibilities. Unfortunately we had two or three major issues. First, it was crowded that day. How crowded was it? Well, we were one of at least three cruise ships in port and it felt like everyone was at Ephesus! Honestly, on the half mile of main road, which is where the major ancient structures were, the crowd level was similar to a Disney park during high season. Really.
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    And this lead to the second problem, although our guide definitely showed us the highlights, it was difficult to actually see what she was pointing out sometimes due to the mass of people milling and meandering everywhere. Sites we passed included the Odeon, the Prytaneion (columns where city hall used to be), the Temple of Domitian,
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    the pharmacy,
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    the Fountain of Trajan,
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    the Temple of Hadrian (him, again? Really, he had been everywhere back in his day and left his mark),
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    all leading to the impressive Library of Celsus.
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    And yes, we also got to see the ancient communal latrines :).
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    Our third problem was that our guide's agenda was to get us through to see all of these amazing sites despite the crowds, which meant that we didn't really get to actually enjoy Ephesus until after the Library. That meant we got to enjoy the Grand Theatre which is pretty much all that was left. But that was ok because once we broke free of the crowds, we took the opportunity to enjoy ourselves. After climbing all over and exploring, DD was at the bottom of the Grand Theatre, testing out the acoustics by giving us direction which we looked pretty goofy following high up in the seats :), but we could hear her just fine.
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    As we continued along we saw the end of a dramatization put on by the tour company, of Antony and Cleopatra arriving on the sacred way. It was more than a little hokey, but short and neat in a way.
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    As a side note, once again there were stray cats all over Ephesus, and for a lot of people they were a highlight of the excursion.
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    As we approached the lower gate, there was a line up of souvenir stores, and our tour guide directed us to use specific shops. Which of course we didn't. The local shopkeepers were definitely a little aggressive. In one store as I was looking for my cheesy touristic ceramic picture frame, DD and I both immediately started to leave when a lady quoted us a price of 20¬, and she followed us out of the store calling Hey Lady, Hey Lady how much you want to pay!
     
  15. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Back on board the bus it was a short ride back towards the port to the Aquapark.
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    At the gate we were each handed a plastic entry card and a wristband to wear and then given one locker key (on an elastic band) per family, along with direction to be back at the front gate in 4 hours. First though, since cash and credit cards would not be accepted within the park, we used our credit card at the front cash to place a credit on one of the plastic cards we were issued for entry, we were able to use it to buy food etc in the park and then any unspent credit was returned when we left.

    After that we were directed towards the change rooms where we got into our bathing suits before placing all of our stuff and valuables into our locker and heading off to find some lounge chairs. This was probably the point where we missed the direction about Disney guests having their own separate section of chairs off in one area of the park. All four of us headed to the lazy river, picking up inner tubes along the way. The water did not appear to be heated, but was ok temperature wise, especially on such a hot day.
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    DH and I headed for the lounge chairs, and our teenagers headed straight for the slides. Eventually we did a walk around to scope out what our options were for food and found that there was a food court of sorts . We noted that the prices were in Turkish lire, so we had to figure out what the exchange rate was relative to Euros. This was also the point where we saw the sign saying Disney guests this way. Although we were relatively comfortable where we were, a few people were smoking in this area but not close to us, however we had to wait for the kids to find us again before we could even consider moving. And wait we did, the kids came back after about two hours, having completely lost track of the time because they were having so much fun on the slides.
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    We did choose to move at that point since a rather large Serbian contingent were having a really really good time over by the main pool/bar area and the Disney section was quieter :). Seriously, although the party was not in our area and did not bother us, the DJ was way too excited to announce that the Serbians had returned and the party was on! And then he asked the ladies to come forward for the sexy dance contest! Since we weren't in the bar area, we did not see any of this, but we did hear some of the DJs announcements :). The DJ was actually pretty amazing and fluently slipped between about 5 languages.

    Anyway, we moved 'back to the herd' of Disney. The music was also lower over in the Disney area, and no smokers either. Searching out food, DH, DD and I chose to snack on fries and pops. DS decided on a chicken breast platter. And then the kids headed back to the slides to enjoy their last hour in the park. We really should have made a better plan for meeting up though since the kids were cutting it way too close for our liking, and we just lucked in to catching them before they tried for 'just one more slide'!
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    Arranging to get our 'credit' refunded was simple. We were also required to return all four of the plastic entry cards we had been issued, as they had to be swiped as we left the park. Back on the bus it was perhaps a 15 to 20 minute ride back to the port. We stopped very near the port terminal at a carpet store. We chose to walk away immediately, which was one of the options suggested by our tour guide. The short walk back to the port gave us the opportunity to find a cheesy picture frame, it was actually the same one we walked away from before, but this time when we asked the price we were informed that it was '8 euros, but I make you a good deal of 7 euros'. It was still over priced given the quality, but hey our options were non-existent pretty much at this point, and I wasn't interested in bargaining.

    Back on the ship we followed our normal pattern of cooling off through a dip in the pool, followed by ice cream, fresh fruit, tea and diet coke, and relaxing on loungers. Dinner after we cleaned up was at Animators Palate where they had the show dinner with Sorcerer Mickey.
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    The evening show was Mysteries of Anatolia, a production put on by a local group based on dances and music reflective of different areas of Turkey. Although the concept was interesting and had potential, the performance was closer to off off off Broadway than the Broadway stylized shows that are normally performed as a Disney evening show. And realistically, we had no point of reference with respect to whether this truly reflected the culture of the local area. The two numbers that we really enjoyed both involved humour and the concept did not need to be based on Turkish culture to work, i.e. the dance involving a camel, and the 'belly dancing' inspired 'love story' :).

    Last thoughts on Ephesus and Aquapark excursion - overall we enjoyed our day. The Ephesus excursion would have been so much better if the crowd level had been more reasonable and we could have explored a little more freely, like we did in the Grand Theatre. As for the water park our kids had a really great time on the slides and swimming. As a matter of fact, they have both declared they would like to go back if the opportunity arises :). Next time however, I would take a book with me since although I enjoyed the lazy river, I just wasn't into the slides and reading or journaling would have been a good thing.
     
  16. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    For today's Delos Island excursion we had to be at the theatre at 7:45 am. In almost no time we were stickered, organized, and following the Mickey paddle off the ship, across the dock and onto a smaller ferry boat. Note: although there were other ships at Mykonos, we were lucky to be the ship that got to dock, the other ships had to tender in. The boat itself was actually reasonably large and had outdoor seating on an upper deck as well as indoor seating in an area similar to a bar or cafeteria, i.e. with tables and benches and a bar at one end.
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    We had been warned that the Mykonos area was windy and those reports were accurate, the wind was wild. We spent most of the 30 minute boat trip trying to tame DD's long curly hair into a French braid. Tying it off took some 'engineering' on DH's part as we only had one bobby pin with us and no elastics etc.
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    Our guide was again named Angela. She was very knowledgeable and reasonably efficient, however she reminded us of a history professor who was teaching a subject they weren't all that excited about. Arriving on the island we were lead up to an entry building where we all had to wait while tickets were obtained. Our kids were asked how old they were and their tickets indicated their entry cost was different. We were also told that the only toilets available would be at the museum at the end of the tour. And that is when a man took his little boy to the side of the ocean and well, nature happened. Ok, moving on.

    Our guide lead us towards the right side of the site, towards a series of square and rectangular stone foundations that indicate where the houses of the town used to be.
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    The number of foundations is quite extensive, but essentially they resemble basements of houses, made of rocks stacked like bricks. There are a couple of bigger 'houses' with a lot more of the structure remaining or recreated, such as the house of Dionysos and the house of the trident that have columns and mosaics on the floor.
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    It is truly amazing that the mosaics have stood up against time and the elements as well as they have.
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    Not to give anything away about today's excursion, but to paraphrase an expression, one man's amazing ancient ruins are another man's rubble heap - and today for my DH this was leaning towards the rubble heap :). As DH put it when I called him on not really being into the tour, his imagination just wasn't working. And this site needs a lot of imagination to make it come alive. On the positive side, DH was impressed by the ancient city planning, describing the layout of the town as very systematic.

    I also realized pretty quickly that we were all being polite tourists, and attempting to follow the tour guide in a single line. In those narrow confines, we seemed to be getting no where fast. Eventually people, including my kids and I started to spread out a little and look around in places that were not roped off, but we were not necessarily in follow the leader (guide) mode. This however lead us to discover that the whisper audio system did not work very well if there was a wall of any kind between you and the guide.

    We did enjoy the theatre, at least what was left of it, as my kids and I climbed to the top of the hill and got great views of the surrounding area.
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    My DS commented that all of the plants were very prickly and very dry, and similar to stinger nettles as plants go. Angela had pointed out numerous cisterns or stone wells everywhere to collect the rain water as the island has no natural source of water.
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    Moving next to the 'religious sanctuary' side of the site, we found essentially more of the same. There were numerous bits and pieces of columns and stones that used to be part of 'something' everywhere. Angela pointed out lots of areas or chunks of stone and told us what they used to be. The agora, the synagogue, the base of the statue of Apollo.
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    There were two really large boulders that are parts of a really large statue of Apollo. Apparently some ancient entrepreneurs (pirates?) had cut the statue up into pieces in an attempt to steal it, but had left these pieces by the waters edge. Apollo's hand is apparently located in the museum.
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    Near the end of our tour we reached the statues of the Naxos lions, or rather the copies of the Naxos lions, as the real ones that are left have been placed in the museum. One of the lions was taken by the Venetians for their arsenal in Venice a long time ago. Apparently they liked to collect things, as we heard in several places that things went missing in ancient times after the Venetians had visited! Such are the spoils of war and invasion.
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    After viewing the lions, our guide gave us free time and a timing to meet back at the boat dock. Most people headed straight to the museum, along a path that looked like it went through the 'sacred lake' . The sacred lake was the spot where Leto is said to have given birth to Artemis and then Apollo. The lake no longer exists, but the archeologists have outlined an area with a low stone wall, and planted a tree in the middle to represent the tree that Leto held onto while giving birth to Apollo.

    DH beat a hasty path around the far side of the 'lake' towards the museum. As we followed DS and DD felt the need to bring the fun factor back and started to goof around and give each other piggy back rides and simply get silly. At this point we were on a small cart path, and not near any ruins etc.
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    We gave the museum a pass and instead enjoyed cokes at the small store and then headed with haste towards the boat as we saw it come in.
     
  17. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Back at Mykonos, the boat let us off downtown rather than back near the ship. The guides pointed out where the shuttle bus back to the ship was located and how to get there, and at that point we headed in completely the opposite direction :). We had two main objectives, first we wanted to see the island's windmills, and second I wanted to purchase a cheesy ceramic picture frame :).

    We first saw that often photographed small white church with its bright blue roof right by the waters edge.
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    Next we spotted the island's just as famous church that combines 5 church annexes into one. After that we had to wander a little more to make our way to the windmills, but they were not hard to find and our goal was simply to get some photos with them.
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    We then made our way back through the maze of cobblestone streets, taking photos and checking out souvenir shops along the way.
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    It did not take long before I found not one but two picture frames with the right amount of cheese, and then I noticed some cute little ceramic figures of pigs and frogs and turtles, that were salt and pepper shakers. Upon looking a little closer I realized that they were x-rated salt and pepper shakers! Colour me pink, but I giggled and continued on my way.

    Everywhere in Mykonos as we wandered we spotted stray cats. All of the cats seemed very well cared for, very domesticated and used to people, they just did not seem to be anyone's pets. Outside of one shop we watched as a fairly young cat decided to play with a statue that had a fish statue by its feet. The cat just kept swatting at that fish. It was very amusing and we watched it for a while.
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    Rounding another corner we came upon a pelican wandering through the streets. We had heard that there was a tame pelican in Mykonos, but we had also been warned that it was unlikely that we would actually see it. Apparently the pelican had decided to honour us with its presence.
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    By this time we decided to head back to the ship via a gelato shop on the waterfront (near the church with the blue roof), and then we headed to the really small beachfront sandwiched on a busy corner of the harbour where many people were swimming. Our kids were happy to take the opportunity to wade in the Mediterranean and I was happy to use the opportunity to take pictures.
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    After a couple of shots I asked the kids to move back a step so I could get the town in the background. And that's when it happened. The sand gave way underneath DS's feet and in less than a second he face planted in the Med! :lmao:
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    Luckily DD managed to escape a soaking :). We dried DS off to the best of our ability and headed straight to the shuttle bus and were back on the Magic in very short order.

    As usual three of us headed directly for deck 9 in search of ice cream, diet coke, tea and food! DS headed straight for the shower :). And then after a quick change into our swim suits, DH and I headed to the Quiet Cove pool to cool off and the kids headed to the Goofy pool and to the hot tub.

    Dinner that night was in Parrot Cay and it was the show dinner. Along with dessert , Minnie in her flamenco dress and with two other flamenco dancers, showed up to entertain us.
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    Mickey Mouse was also available for photo ops in his Greek attire, but the real entertainment that evening was the Disney show, Once Upon a Song. In some ways this production is very understated, with only 5 singers performing classic Disney songs, but they all brought it this evening. I can honestly say that this performance was one of my favourite shows.

    Last thoughts Delos Island excursion - although we loved the town of Mykonos and just wandering around on our own, and the logistics of the excursion to Delos were organized fairly well, the actual site of Delos just did not hold our interest. We did appreciate however that it was a very systematically ordered rock grouping :). If we go back, we will consider an excursion to a beach, but we will definitely make time to spend in the town of Mykonos.
     
  18. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Photos now added to Kusadasi and Mykonos
     
  19. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    The thing about waking up pretty much every day of our vacation early for excursions and other fun stuff, meant that even on a day when we could have and/or should have slept in, we didn't manage to sleep in. Once again, we were up really early and DH and I headed out for a 5 km walk on deck 4. It was nice to walk at this hour of the day since it meant that there were fewer people to have to pass, and conversely, there were fewer runners out to pass us.

    Since our teenagers were still sleeping when we finished our walk, we decided to enjoy breakfast for two outside on deck at Topsiders :). Again, very few people were up and about so it was a relatively peaceful breakfast. At that point we figured that the best way to wake up the kids was to tempt them with food, so we picked up breakfast for the kids, including omelettes and brought the kids back breakfast in bed. They were definitely surprised, but as we expected, the tempting scent of food woke them up quickly enough :).

    A little later after getting cleaned up and changed etc, since DD had not yet seen the Lone Ranger, all four of us headed to the theatre to watch the movie again. It was so cold in the theatre that I ran back to the cabin and got a blanket to bring back to the theatre for us to cuddle under. DD definitely enjoyed it, Hi Ho Silver Away!!
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    After the movie the kids decided to desert us to hang out by the pool and/or at the Vibe. DH and I used the opportunity to walk around deck 4 a little more, before settling in on the comfy loungers on the shady side of the ship to read on our Kobos. Occasionally DH or I would forage for tea, ice cream, fruit or pop (or all of the above :) from deck 9. And deck 9 was looney toons since it was a sea day, so the peace and quiet of deck 4 was greatly appreciated.

    At some point during the day the kids went to a couple of animation classes together, and DH and I also headed to Shutters to purchase the CD as well as all of the photos. Although we knew from the beginning that we would probably purchase a CD and therefore took advantage of as many family portrait opportunities as we could as well as a few opportunities in port that presented themselves and character shots when the characters wore special clothing representative of the countries we visited, we held off on actually purchasing the cd until we knew that our price per photo ratio was reasonable. In the end we had a CD with 232 photos.

    Dinner menu tonight was the Pirates in the Caribbean menu, which really did not excite us.
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    And as for dressing up, we only brought bandanas/Goofy and Mickey ears, but we did get into the spirit of the evening, especially when we got a picture with Pirate Stitch. In the old days when DS was shorter than Stitch, he took every opportunity to see him, and Stitch would always misbehave, and cover DS 's eyes etc. Now Stitch can't even reach DS 's eyes, but he manages to find other ways to misbehave instead.
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    After dinner the kids went to see the performance by Junk in the theatre and they really enjoyed it. DH and I wandered the ship, checking out the tea (drink) station and the stores.

    We actually managed to stay up to watch the fireworks on this trip, which is probably a record for us, i.e. for all of us to watch them at the same time :). DS and I even stopped by the late night buffet since supper had not been great for us.
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  20. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Day 13 - Malta
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    We had finally reached the last port of our trip, and a busy port intensive trip at that. Happily we caught a break today in two ways, as first, we 'found' the hour that we had lost near the beginning of the cruise thanks to the time change overnight, and second, our excursion did not start until 8:45. Our Malta excursion was a Blue Grotto Boat Trip and Fishing Village visit.

    In some ways we felt like we almost had too much time in the morning since we were used to rushing to make our timings. And then, because I finally had the opportunity to sleep in a little, I took it and did not get up to head out on deck to watch our arrival into port. Instead, DH and I were slugs and simply turned the TV on to the front of the ship camera, which was definitely not the same thing. This is the one port for me that I really wished that I had a verandah. I think though that I should have just followed my normal routine and gotten up early and done my walk around deck 4. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.
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    We did try to get a couple of photos from deck 4 after breakfast as we headed to the Walt Disney Theatre, but when we took pictures with us in them with the port buildings as a backdrop, the contrast between the brightness of the light on the 'sand castle' buildings, and us on the deck was just too much for the cameras automatic settings or for my brain to overcome at that hour of the day. DH got a couple of quick shots of just the buildings with our small Nikon, but we decided to try again later.

    We were once again efficiently processed and stickered by the bright and perky Disney Port Adventure shepherds. Once we were herded off the ship and onto the tour bus, we met our tour guide for the day, Daz. Daz was a transplanted (sort of) native, as his family had moved to Canada for awhile and then moved back to Malta when they could no longer handle the cold winters :).

    As we headed the short distance to the Blue Grotto, Daz gave us a brief history of the area, including the facts about Malta being the most bombed island during WWII, which earned the island the distinction of being awarded the King George cross. Not to be confused with the much older Maltese cross associated with the Knights Hospitallier or the Knights of Malta. And, we learned among other things that the Maltese native language is similar in some ways to Lebanese thanks to some of the earliest conquerers. Daz kept us occupied with many more interesting facts and figures and the trip to the Blue Grotto seemed very short. Well, it probably really was short since the island is so small :). Daz explained that geographically Malta is the world's 11th smallest country.
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    When we stopped at the Blue Grotto overlook, we got off the bus and wandered down a stone pathway to get a better view. On the walkway I noticed that there was a Maltese cross on one of the stone panels.
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    Although it is easy enough to get a photo of the arch from the path, it is really difficult to get a family postcard style photo with the arch, although DH did his best to take a selfie for us using his superior height :). Although Daz did not rush us, he did suggest at one point that if we were ready to go now, we could be the first Disney bus to reach the Grotto boats and therefore avoid a long queue. We were all back on board our bus very efficiently.

    We parked at the top of a hill in a parking lot surrounded by small shops, and then we walked down over a fairly steep narrow road, past other shops, to the boat launch.
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    There seemed to be a line up of boats ready for us, so in almost no time at all, we were loaded into a boat with another family of four and skimming over the waves out to the caves at the base of the cliffs.
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    The boat captain in charge of our boat headed us out towards the 6 (7?) caves worn into the cliffs by time and tide that form the Blue Grotto. Clearly a local, our captain was very energetic and knowledgeable, pointing out specific things to look for in the caves such as the bright colour of the coral,
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    the shape of the openings,
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    where the water was the most startling shade of blue,
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    where the stalagmites were, when to look for specific shapes in the domes of the caves etc. As well, he had a name for each cave, such as the window cave or the domed cave etc.
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    Realistically though, we only had a short time in each area as the boat was pretty much continually moving, so from a photography perspective you had to shoot fast. And there wasn't really any ideal opportunity fora 'postcard 'family photo. I did manage to snap a photo for the other family, and they returned the favour, but we didn't really get anything spectacular in the background. If that is important to you, you should probably talk to your boat captain on the way out to the caves as there will be practically no time once he starts through the caves.

    We really really enjoyed our boat ride and wished it was longer. Was it stunning or awe inspiring? Maybe not exactly, but we would happily do it again as it was just such a neat experience. As we got out of the boat we once again noticed people swimming near the boat dock. Daz commented later that some of our group had also taken the opportunity to swim as well. Our boat captain had suggested that we feel the water during our tour, so we knew that the water was warm and the kids and I were definitely a little sad that we had not brought swim suits etc in order to take advantage of the opportunity. Granted as DH pointed out to us, I am not sure where we could have changed into dry clothes afterwards, but I would have been willing to manage something.

    As we climbed back up the hill towards the parking area, we had free time to explore the local stores. As always, I was focused on finding my cheesy touristic picture frame which I did in the first store. Woo hoo, I had now managed at least one picture frame in each port, cheesy though they may have been :). As I looked around at other souvenirs, I noticed an upright bottle opener that looked kind of like a person with a Superman insignia on his shirt. When I commented hey, look at that 'church key', they must like Superman here in Malta, my DH made a sort of strangled sound as he shook his head and headed out of the store. I was then schooled by my teenaged DS to: Just walk away Mom. Really, how do I not notice that these things are x-rated?

    When we reached the parking lot, the tour company had arranged refreshments for us at a local restaurant. DH tasted a few of the items from the plate of food they handed him, but the kids and I stuck with pop. DS did however try the Kinnie, which is a local drink that they refer to as an acquired taste. Afterwards we still had a little time before we left the area, so we bought some gelato which was very yummy.
     
  21. Scraptographer

    Scraptographer Mouseketeer

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    Back on the bus, it was a relatively short drive to a local fishing village of Marsaxlokk. We were given lots of free time to wander and look around, but realistically there was the waterfront with the boats and then a local open air market or bazaar, mostly under awnings, along the waterfront to explore. Most of the wares were tablecloths and knick knacks, but I did end up finding a straw hat that I purchased that was made in Malta according to its label.
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    We enjoyed wandering the waterfront to take pictures of the colourful boats, but by this time of the day (which was still very early) it was starting to get really really hot. Apparently Malta was having a heat wave when we visited, so we tried to stay in shade the best we could. Heading back to Valetta, Daz informed us that the bus driver would stop near the centre of town to let those who wanted to visit the city proper off before taking everyone else back to the ship. We chose to check out Valetta and got off at the first stop.
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    It was interesting to walk around the touristy shopping district in the city centre as well as to check out the former palace, now the President' s office and seat of Parliament and see the cathedral, but it was so hot that we did not last very long before we all started to droop. The walk down over the hill to the ship was not difficult, and the buildings across from the ship (the buildings with the colourful windows etc) are now mostly stores. We explored a couple and bought DS a can of coke to complete his collection :), and then headed for the ship via the underground passageway that is the only way to cross the street in that area.

    Just before we boarded the ship we were able to walk to the back of the Magic and take a picture of the four of us with the Goofy figure visible, as in the end of the ship, and The End of our cruise (sort of).
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    It is a tradition of ours from all of our cruises, and given how hot, sweaty and tired we all were at this point, I knew that my family were being really kind to me to agree to this, even if it only took a few minutes. It was that hot at that point.

    Happily back on the Magic, we followed our usual pattern of a quick change into swimsuits, followed by a refreshing dip into the pools on deck 9, followed by fruit, tea, pop, and ice cream! It was glorious. We then settled in for a relaxing afternoon on deck 9. And this is where I made a minor strategic error, since I found out later that the Disney photographers had been out on deck 4 taking pictures for people using the port buildings as a backdrop, by staying on deck 9, we missed them. Oh well, or so I thought.

    Since it was semi formal night and I wanted to get photos with the port buildings as a background, we all headed back to the cabin to change just a little earlier than usual. DH and I managed to get down on deck 4 with a little time to spare and we took a couple of photos while waiting for the kiddos to show up. I could tell that we were still have some problems with the contrast, so I adjusted my settings. And it was sweltering hot out on the deck, so we stepped inside to wait, and texted the kids to hurry up.

    Inside we ran in to Donald and Daisy and they were enjoying an evening stroll on deck 4. It was very casual and a lot of fun, especially as they were in no hurry. Donald was 'explaining' to me how much he loved Daisy and showed me a bracelet that he had given her. The mischievous side of me could not resist, and I told him that as Beyonce said, if you like it then you should have put a ring on it! Well, apparently that is a sore subject with these two, and as Daisy vehemently agreed with me, Donald started to hit his head against the wall in dismay. And yes, all of this time I was taking photos of these two having fun. Interactions with the characters on this cruise were great.
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    Just after D&D left, our kids finally showed up and we rushed out onto the deck as the Magic started to sail way from Malta at only 5:30 pm. We were now out of time and we rushed to snap a few family pictures with the port as a background rapidly slipping away. And that was strategic error number two. I had shifted my settings once too often and did not check my photos, and well my pictures ended up all blown out. Yes, I was disappointed. However as we like to say, life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react. So I think this just means that we need to go back to Malta to try again.

    Coincidentally just after dinner, as DH and I walked along deck 4, the cruise re-booking desk just happened to not have a line up, and we took it as a sign and booked the 14 July 14 Med cruise :). Realistically, we may end up rebooking and moving this cruise after we see the 2015 itineraries, but for now I can dream big.
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    The show this night was by Paul Bogaev. When Peter introduced him, he promised that Paul was not only extremely talented as a musician, director and composer, but funny and entertaining as well. In my opinion Peter had understated how good Paul was! As an example Paul managed to get the entire audience singing 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight' in two parts, and we sounded pretty good, even with someone like me participating!

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    I was enthralled pretty much for the whole show. Afterwards though the first thing my son said to me was: I was kind of disappointed tonight... And I knew what he was about to say :). On the screen they had shown several of the movie/album covers related to songs/music that Paul has been involved with. One of the CDs was for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat... And Paul did not sing or play anything from that soundtrack. DS could tell how much i enjoyed the show, heck, how much we all enjoyed the show, and knew that I would have loved to hear the Joseph soundtrack music. But I really couldn't complain, as the show had been awesome.

    Last thoughts on Malta and our Blue Grotto and Fishing Village excursion. We definitely enjoyed both the boat ride at the Blue Grotto and our time at the fishing village. It was not exactly exciting, but I would be happy to go back to the Blue Grotto, simply because it was over too fast. If there is a do over, I would want to try to get a swim in there somehow.

    Hopefully if we go back some time, Malta would not be so meltingly hot, and ideally next time we could explore the Haggar Qim temple, and maybe more of the city of Valletta.
     

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