FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16TH – FINLAND TO SWEDEN TO VENICE:
Happy Birthday to David!!!
Talk about a “strange” night. We all had “wake-up” calls at 5:30 am and met at the bus at 6:00 am. Of course, it is 7 am in Finland. We drove off the Cinderella and onto the Rosella. Everyone got off and some of us had breakfast. The Rosella gave us “cabins” but there were no beds in them. There were two long couches and two pull down beds but no sheets or blankets or pillows. It was FREEZING in the cabin. Since we only had an hour left after breakfast, I wrapped up in bath towels and worked until time to get back on the bus.
It was an hour drive from the ship to the airport. We got checked in and for the first time, got “nailed” on excess. The tickets did not allow the Bellamys to check even on bag free of charge. I was allowed to check 3 bags up to 70 pounds because of my status. But that left 17 bags that they had to pay excess charges on. After checking in, I walked into the terminal where the Radisson Hotel is located and purchased some of the amazing candy that is only available there. Then I cleared security and went to the Lounge. Was able to get Howard into the Lounge but David decided to stay at the gate area. It was a great Lounge!
Flight departed on time and landed in Frankfurt a couple of hours later. I think we all slept all the way. We had about a two hour layover in Frankfurt and Howard and I went to that Lounge. Our flight to Venice was oversold and they were asking for volunteers to get off. Once we boarded, the pilot came on and said there was a “problem” and they were going to try and get it fixed quickly. They were able to fix it…but not quickly. We sat at the gate hour for about an hour with no air conditioning. Again, I think most of us slept.
All the wives/girlfriends had landed in Venice and got checked into the hotel. But, it was pouring rain so no one got to do any sightseeing.
All our baggage and equipment arrived with us and our escorts were waiting for us — all of them such great folks. It’s going to be a wonderful tour!
It was still raining when we landed. I got the 3 of us checked in and got all the “instructions” for tomorrow. When I walked into my room, I had to take in my big suitcase and then go back for my small rolling bag. It took a few minutes to get in the door. I was standing by the bed when all the lights went out. I had forgotten to put the keycard in the slot to turn on the power. It was pitch black in my room and I couldn’t see anything. I “felt” my way back over to the door thinking I would open the door and have some light from the hallway until I could find my key. The door wouldn’t open! I literally crawled across the floor feeling for my purse to locate the key. Finally found it and got the power back on.
As I was coming up in the elevator, there was another lady on there. We started talking and she asked where I was from. When I told her Nashville, TN, she said “So am I”! Talk about a small world.
Our escorts tonight said it took one of them 3 hours to get from the downtown tourist area back to the hotel today because of all the tourists. I encouraged the guys to get up and go EARLY and allow plenty of time to get back to the hotel to check out at 1:30 pm. I’ve been to Venice many times, so I probably won’t try to make the sightseeing trip tomorrow.
I am running on “fumes” after a very long day! Goodnight.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17TH – VENICE TO SPLIT, CROTIA:
In defense of the Rosella Cruise ship, since we were only on the ship for 2 hours, we had told them we didn’t need cabins. They were just kind enough to give us cabins that had not been rented. So, I was not complaining about the “lack of bedding”. Was happy to have the cabin. J
Got up at 7:30 am and had breakfast at about 8:30 am. Went to the fitness room at the hotel and it was a really good one for an airport hotel. Really liked this hotel. It isn’t convenient to anything – except the airport. But, it had everything a business traveler needs – great WiFi, really good food in the restaurant, nice breakfast bar, vending machine with lots of “essentials”, English speaking TV channels, air conditioning, etc., etc.
As I said, most of the guys/girls went into Venice today to do some very quick sightseeing. I’ve been to Venice many times and opted to not “rush” in and try to see anything this visit. Just had too many things to take care of business-wise before we get on the cruise ship where the WiFi may or may not work! They all had a great time and I’ve stolen their photos and posted on Facebook! J
We all met in the lobby at 1:30 pm and our “hosts” (Schampu, Michele, Alexandra, and Mischa) met us and assisted in getting us through VIP check-in. It was a little confusing at times but much better organized than the cruise we took in Australia! By the time we finished all the “check points”, our luggage was being delivered to our rooms. I was in my room by 3:15 pm but had a 4:00 meeting scheduled with Mischa. Nick joined us for a few minutes and then we had to bring in an “internet” expert to figure out how to use our WiFi package. A life jacket “drill” was scheduled for 4:15 pm, so I had taken my laptop and life jacket with me to the meeting. I went to the assigned station at 4:15 pm but I was the only one from our group who was there. I waited until about 4:30 pm and then went looking for everyone. Some of them were confused by the message over the loud speaker system and thought they were waiting until they heard 7 short blasts. Gathered everyone up and when we finally got started, it only took about 15 minutes.
I went to each person’s cabin and walked them through the internet connection. We all got on line but it is ridiculously slow! And we have to “share” a package which makes it even more difficult! I can sign onto AOL through my browser but not through my desktop. I will be jumping overboard if I don’t get that corrected soon.
We got some great photos as we were leaving port. I went up to the buffet and grabbed a quick salad and some fruit as I never had lunch today. Then we had a “musicians” meeting at 6:30 pm to go over details. LOTS of entertainers on board and even more getting on in Athens. The meeting was over at around 7 pm and then I went to dinner with David and Susan. There are LOTS of the Bellamys Swiss fans on board and we saw Markus and Bridget and Heidi. Also Florian Ast (Swiss performer) is on board and he is one of the artists on the Universal Switzerland project that the Bellamys did a few years ago.
Several of us had dinner in the restaurant on the 5th floor and it wasn’t very good food. I got back in my cabin at around 9:30 pm and had not even unpacked! Have been trying to sign onto AOL for hours and no luck. This is NOT good. We can get on Facebook and all the other sites but not AOL.
Guess I will try to post this on Facebook since I can’t get online to send out on AOL!
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18TH – SPLIT, CROATIA ON CRUISE SHIP:
What a day. You may want to have a drink before reading this as it does not have a “happy” ending!
Got up and went to the breakfast buffet. Cruise ships sometimes have great food and sometimes they have what we call “cruise food”. This ship has “cruise food”. Of course, maybe it’s just the fact that the things I “can” eat are so bad. Maybe if I ate cereal or pastries or pancakes, the food might be better.
I got some great shots of the coastline as we were sailing into Croatia. The ship docked at 9 am. Someone from the “IT” department was supposed to come to my room to see if they could help with the internet at 9 am. When 9:15 am came and no one arrived, I called Guest Services. They told me that it would be about 20 more minutes. Then they called back and said I had to come downstairs to see him! I waited 20 minutes as they asked and walked downstairs. I was told he was “busy” and it would be about 20 minutes more before he could see me. So, I waited and ultimately it was a waste of time. The fact is, the internet is just too slow to do anything, including sign on to AOL desktop (or much of anything else). Everyone I have talked to is very frustrated, not just our group.
It had started raining before we left but stopped when David, Susan and I got off the ship to walk to Old Town. We wandered around, taking photos, and heading towards a restaurant that the internet advised was the “best” in Split. It started pouring rain again and even with an umbrella, we got soaked. We finally found the restaurant and David and I had a great meal of Monk Fish with truffle sauce and grilled vegetables. Susan and the same except she doesn’t eat fish and had beef instead. It was really good and a welcome break from the “cruise food”.
After we ate, we wandered down some more streets and I bought a “hat”. I was looking for t-shirts to buy Zac and Zoe and having a hard time finding them. David and Susan decided to get a taxi back to the hotel and I told them I’d just walk back and look for the shirts. I finally found them, paid for them and started walking back. Up until that time, I had been very careful to keep my purse clutched in front of me. I let it slip to my side while I was looking at the t-shirts in the bag and when I looked back down, all the zippers were open and my wallet was gone! Talk about depressing…I had everything in it….5 business and 2 personal credit cards, my driver’s license and about $1,000 in Euros, Croatian and U.S. dollars. It’s my fault. I should not have taken all that with me and should have paid more attention to my surroundings. Doesn’t change anything now and, of course, it was too late to call the police because the cruise ship was leaving. I spent hours on the phone calling credit card companies and even had to get Lindsey to call one of them for me. For more than a year now, I have been extra cautious with my purse because I kept having a recurring dream that my purse was stolen. Guess my “dream came true”!
I was so hot and sweaty that I grabbed a quick shower before going back downstairs to meet with the “head IT guy” for the cruise. He was very nice but very insistent that it was not his fault that we were having problems with the internet. He had all types of excuses, none of which helped solve the problem. After the day I had, I simply gave up and just said “never mind”. While I was sitting there, I felt something on my foot. I looked down and it was my bright blue panties that I had taken off before my shower! I guess they were caught up in the legs of my jeans and just “fell out”. Nice time for that to happen when I was in the room with 3 men. I just picked them up and stuffed them in my purse. Just another item to add to a crappy day. I guess I had been walking around the cruise ship with them hanging out of my pants leg!
I got on live chat with AOL who did everything they could to “fix” my internet and ultimately said the internet connection is too low to sign on!
We went to dinner and since everyone agreed that the food in the two restaurants was “bad”, we decided to check out the buffet. It was even worse. I couldn’t even eat the food that I had ordered. And, we figured out that both restaurants serve exactly the same food and that’s also what is available at the buffet. Tomorrow is a full day of sea so guess we will have to eat bad food all day long.
I went back to my room to work and realized that my icon for my desktop was missing. I got in touch with my computer tech and he remoted in and got it back for me.
I did remember that when I travel to foreign countries, I always keep some of the local currency so I can take it with me when I go back. I had two little “baggies” with Swedish and Norwegian Kroner in them. I took them downstairs and was able to change the Kroner to Euros and now I have a whopping 200 Euros for the remainder of the time I’m overseas – another 7 days. L Of course, Susan is trying to give me one of her credit cards and David has offered me cash. I may have to take advantage of their generosity out of necessity!
It’s supposed to rain again tomorrow. While our show in inside, there are several bands scheduled to perform outside. We have been “warned” that our show time might change to “later”. It’s not until 11 pm as it is scheduled now, so hope it doesn’t move to later. Tuesday is our only time in Athens and we have to get off the ship at 9 am to take advantage of the 5 ½ hours we will have there.
Last night when I went to bed, there was this “pulsating” banging like noise. I thought it was the Disco over my room but when I went out on the balcony, there wasn’t any noise. I could not figure out what it was or where it was coming from. I had Susan come listen tonight and she heard it, too. We got one of the cleaners to come in my room. He heard it but doesn’t know what it is or how to make it stop! My guess is I’ll have a hard time sleeping again tonight.
I am going to bed before anything else happens. As depressed as I was and as much as I have beat myself up for being such a dumb-ass, I remind myself that I have friends who are facing much worse circumstances. A couple are literally fighting for their lives. Credit cards are being replaced and no charges can be made to them. I’ll get a new driver’s license when I get back and I’ll just have to work harder to replace the $1,000. But I am still blessed – great, healthy family – good friends – good health. Just have to put everything into perspective and move on!
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19TH – FIRST PERFORMANCE ON CRUISE:
Yep, the noise kept me awake most of the night. I grabbed a cup of coffee and then found the walking track so I could jog. There were lots of people sitting around up there but I was the only jogger and no walkers at all. I did gather a cheering section since it takes 7 laps to make one mile and I ran around it 21 times for a total of 3 miles. Bridget and Marcus were up there and cheered me on, too.
The text messages started pouring in when I got back to my room. We had the wrong show time in our itinerary. We thought it was at 11 pm and it’s actually at 8:45 pm….AND the time changed to an hour ahead. So basically we had no idea what time the performance was scheduled. I was very happy to find out it is at 8:45 pm because it means everyone will finish earlier and we have to be off the boat at 9 am tomorrow morning. Mischa was very helpful in helping us sort all this out.
I had not eaten anything all day and with the loss of one hour, it was already 3 pm. The buffet did not look good at all so I got a burger and threw away the bread and some fruit.
We hit some pretty strong waves today and the ship was rockin’ and rollin’ all afternoon and into the evening. Was really hard to walk!
We had to go to sound check at 6:30 pm but there was another band on the stage and they didn’t get off until almost 7 pm. Mischa got security to show me how to bring the Bellamy Brothers down without walking through the audience. I ran up to the buffet to eat a little “bad” dinner before the show. Got the Bellamys down at around 8:35 pm and they went on stage at 8:45 pm. Theatre was packed with people sitting and standing all the way to the back doors. It was a great show. The buyer said they are the “best country music band in the world”…..and he booked us on his “Rock and Blues” Cruise. LOL Finished up at around 10:30 pm and walked up to the buffet to see if there was anything “healthy” to eat. There wasn’t. We ate the topping of off pizza. Then some of the guys told us that we could eat in the section marked for “technicians” only but I passed on anything else.
Have to get off the ship at 9 am for our tour of Athens tomorrow. Going to try to post the photos I took today on Facebook and “go to bed” early – It’s only 1:10 am. J
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20TH – ATHENS, GREECE:
I went to bed at 1:30 am. At 3:30 am, the ship’s crew started cleaning up the “buffet” area right above our cabins. For an hour, they evidently picked up chairs and placed them on top of the tables so they could mop the floor. Then at 5:30 am, they began taking the chairs off the table and slamming them down on the floor. I had my alarm set for 6:30 am but gave up and got up since it was too noisy to sleep.
I showered, dressed, and grabbed a cup of coffee and some yogurt before heading down to Deck 5 to stand in line for departure. I was going to save Susan, David and Howard a place in line but there really wasn’t much of a line. We exited the cruise ship and as soon as I stepped onto the gang plank, my new hat blew off and headed for the water. Amazingly enough, it blew right into the open gangway one deck below and a worked grabbed it for me! That’s about the first good luck I’ve had this entire cruise. We walked into the terminal and our limo (actually a Mercedes van) and the musician’s van were waiting for us. Our driver was Dennis and he is the son of “George the Taxi Driver” that I found online. I am sooooo glad I found this company as they were excellent!
Dennis told us some history about Athens as we drove to the Acropolis. I was very surprised to learn that the Museum is no longer at the top of the Acropolis. I had the only country music festival with Nikos Garavelas for 5 years in Athens. It ended when the economy “tanked” in 2010 – the year the Museum moved to the base of the Acropolis. Because of traffic, it took us an hour to drive from the ship to the base of the Acropolis.
We purchased our tickets and I waited at the entrance for one of my dear friends – Maria – to come by and say “hello”. I was also waiting for Magda (another dear friend and the one how helped me so much with information for this visit). Maria and I were communicating via Facebook messenger and were able to connect but I never found Magda. Maria looks so awesome. She could only stay a few minutes as this is a work day for her. It was so nice of her to come see me. I heard from Magda once I was back on the ship and able to check email. She was there but was waiting at the entrance to the Museum. If I had realized the Museum had moved I would have been able to tell her to meet me at the entrance to the Acropolis. So sad that I didn’t get to see her or any of my other “Greek friends”!
We walked around the Acropolis and everyone was “properly impressed” (which is an understatement). There is so much history there and to think that it dates back to BC is mind boggling. I remember my many visits there when we came over for the country festival and it is still just as amazing as the first time. I had warned everyone to wear shoes with rubber soles and definitely not any leather soles. Everything is “marble” as far as walkways and it is very slick. Lots of our group took a nice “slide” even with the correct shoes.
We walked down the Acropolis and met Dennis at 11:15 am. He drove us to the area where the Museum is located and suggested we eat at “God’s Restaurant” for some great home-made Greek food. Boy was he right!!! Susan and I had stuffed grape leaves and Mousaka and Howard and David had grilled Octopus and lamb. It was unbelievably good. We were trying to figure out a way to get our dinner “to go” to take to the cruise ship! Our host at the restaurant was great to us as well.
Next was a visit to the Museum which was across the street from the restaurant. There’s way too much to see there in just a few hours but we covered a lot of ground in an hour and a half.
We met Dennis at 1:45 pm and drove back to the cruise ship. I was able to use my cell phone as a HotSpot with my cellular service and downloaded all my emails. That helped a little but it’s still very frustrating not to be able to just sign on to my AOL account. I was working away when at 6:00 pm, the internet connection died. I called Guest Services and they said we were in a “dark zone” and to try again in 15 minutes. About an hour later, it came back up for a few seconds.
I went to the buffet with Howard, David and Susan but seriously, the food is just too bad to eat! There’s not one thing being served that is “good”. You’d think that an Italian cruise ship would have better food.
We seem to not be moving at all or at a very slow speed. I cannot figure out why they would only give us 5 ½ hours to see Athens, then cruise at “turtle” speed all night long and dock in Mykonos at 1 pm. Then we stay in Mykonos until midnight. Really, really bad itinerary. And, it’s only a short distance between Athens and Mykonos because I took an “island tour” from Athens to 3 outlying islands years ago and we visited all of them in one day!
So, the internet is back up – for now – and I’m working late again. Will post my photos on Facebook and try to send this road report out tomorrow when we are in port!
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST – MYKONOS, GREECE:
Got in a good workout at the Fitness Room on the ship this morning before showering and meeting everyone to get off the ship in Mykonos. I was here a long time ago but just for about an hour as part of an island cruise. We had to take a tender off the ship and then walked into “Little Venice”. It is amazingly clean and beautiful. The buildings are all white stucco and most with bright blue shutters. We wandered around the shops for hours and then stopped at a restaurant for lunch. The food was excellent. Howard even found an “organic” restaurant where he could eat gluten free food! They also had sugar-free, gluten free, lactose free ice cream made with olive oil. Howard and David loved it. I took one bite and hated it!
I know everyone enjoyed the day and especially enjoyed not having to eat the food on the cruise ship! But, like I said, we would much rather have had more time in Athens and less time in Mykonos.
We took the tender back to the ship at about 9 pm and I’ve been pounding away on emails. I have my mobile phone hooked up to my laptop and using it as a “personal hot spot” to sign onto AOL until the ship departs at 1 am. T-Mobile allows me to do that free of charge with my plan.
Tomorrow is a day at sea or as we all think of it – a day where we will have to eat terrible food all our meals. L Bellamys have an autograph session and performance early afternoon by the pool. Hopefully the weather will be good.
Hard to believe the 3 weeks is almost over. Tomorrow is also our last “full” day aboard the ship! If you get a chance, check out the photos of Facebook later tonight.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22ND – 2ND DAY AT SEA ON MSC SINFONIA:
Got in another good workout today in the Fitness Room. Decided against jogging since it is really boring to run around the upper deck 21 times! I did learn a valuable lesson in the “gym” today. It is NOT wise to try to do lunges on a moving ship. Thankfully, no one was in the little area where I attempted that and didn’t see me fall over!
The time changed somewhere between Greece and Croatia “waters”. When we were cruising over, my iPhone changed automatically. Not so this time. I got up an hour earlier than I needed too.
Went to the lunch buffet and again everything was not edible. I tried to eat the chicken that was for chicken fajitas and some pork and both were so dry and hard that I couldn’t even cut them.
First thing on the official agenda today was a 2 hour and 15 minute autograph session at 2:45 pm. Tables were set up around the pool deck and “all” the entertainers on the ship signed autographs. Afterwards, the Bellamys went up to the VIP deck to cut a “congratulatory message” to Schampu and Michele who got married on the ship today. But, it was so windy, that we had to move downstairs.
The show started at 5:30 and the deck and upper deck were packed. The Bellamys and musicians and of course the sound tech had another fantastic performer. Our promoter and all his staff were very happy. I got some great photos and at one point, a man told me to go to the upper deck and take a shot. I did but almost blew off into the water! Didn’t get my shot because it was all I could to do hold on and get back down!
Everyone went to dinner after the show and we decided to give the restaurant “one more try” instead of the awful buffet. Most of us ordered an appetizer of egg plant with mozzarella and tomato and were really, really surprised that it turned out to be the best thing on the ship! We all order a lot of food because you never know what is going to be editable and the portions are very small. I had a Caesar salad that was just “okay” and some asparagus soup that was also just “okay”. It took the staff almost 45 minutes to bring everyone their entrée! I had a crepe stuffed with vegetables and mozzarella and it would have probably been good when it was first cooked. I guess they put it under a light to keep it warm for quite some time and it was hard and dry.
We are going to try to get off at 10:30 am tomorrow and have lunch in Dubrovnik before disembarking and flying to Munich for a 2-3 hour drive to Bad Fussing, Germany for our final performance on Saturday. The wives/girlfriends will stay on board and disembark in Venice on Saturday.