My family and I do not tend to take big trips across the planet, we typically stick to the Pacific Northwest for most of our traveling.  Camping is our favorite in the summer; we have a small camping trailer. But occasionally, we try something new. So here are some pictures of a trip earlier this month.

We had a cruise through the Mediterranean Sea with Princess Cruises scheduled for March 2020, in fact late that month.  But we all know what happened that month! It, and everything else, was cancelled.  The good news is, during the early days of the pandemic, they offered either cash back or double the credit if we did a future cruise. I took a chance that cruise lines would not go under (risky) and booked this cruise for April 2022.  Athens (Greece) to Barcelona (Spain)

It is a long way to Athens.  We went PDX > Dallas > London > Athens.  I think it was about 21 hours.  BUT, by chance I had a bunch of miles gathered from credit card bonuses, so Sheila and I flew business class!  I would NEVER pay for something like this, so it was quite an upgrade. Most likely that will never happen again. Ma Sheila was happy

The first day in Athens we were groggy since time was 10 hours ahead of Oregon.  We basically woke up at 9pm Pacific time and went to bed about Noon Pacific time.  But we were awake enough to visit the Acropolis!  Cool, sunny, and quiet at 9am with little kitty cats all over as well.

Soon the cruise was underway and the next morning we woke up to this view.  Santorini, a Greek island. Part of a string of islands around a volcanic caldera.  Imagine a bunch of towns located around the rim of Crater Lake, except much closer to sea level.  And much warmer.  This day was windy and chilly, only around 60 degrees.

My son and I took a 6-mile hike from one small town to another on this very windy day.  That was after climbing up about 1,000’ along a little zig-zag road full of donkeys + tourists. Felt like hiking in the eastern Gorge in April!

We had one sea day, then the 3rd day was Kotor, Montenegro. Older folks like me will remember this is part of the old Yugoslavia; a terrible civil war followed the breakup in the 1990s (remember Sarajevo?).  Much better now.  It is located in a beautiful fjord (technically a ria).  The old city (red roofs) is a UNESCO heritage site and seems like Venice but without the water, a maze of narrow brick alleys amid tall buildings.

Some very old fortress walls climb up the steep mountain behind the city.  My son and I climbed the hundreds of steps up to the top.  See the steps/path far below in this pic

This old stuff (buildings, walls, ruins) is from 1200-1500 A.D.  You do not see that in the Pacific Northwest!

View from the top

It is a bit hard to see in the next pic, but that is Mt. Etna, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet.  This was the next day on the way to Sicily.  You can see just a little smoke/ash blowing off the summit

I do not have any good pics from Messina (Sicily) since we were not off the ship for long.  Next day and last port stop was Naples (Italy).  We chose to take a ferry to the island of Capri. Not very expensive, maybe $20 each.  This was the retreat of Roman emperors and a very busy place nowadays.  Fast and narrow roads with cars zipping past each other; only inches to spare.  The taxi ride down that road in the distance (line on right side of mountain) was something to remember

From the top (via a chairlift), you can see the mainland of Italy

This day was warm, sunny & calm, with birds singing.  Some folks were working on their spring gardens below the funny single-person chairlift…heaven.  I was thinking that 2,000+ years ago people were working the same ground. 

We had one final day on the ship and landed in Barcelona the next morning.  We only saw the parts of Spain between the cruise port and airport.  Not exactly a thorough tour of the Iberian Peninsula?  23 hours later we were home.  A quick 8-day tour of the Mediterranean.  One day at home after, then back to work this past Monday.

A couple thoughts:

  1. The airfare and hotel were very cheap (almost free); points/miles from credit card churning the past 10 years.  That isn't from my employment or salary.  Anyone can sign up for credit cards and get the bonuses.
  2. The big advantage to a cruise is that your hotel and food is taken care of.  Each evening you return to the same room and the next morning you wake up in a new place.  It is not for everyone but worked well enough for us.  We might do it again someday.  That said, I will be just as happy waking up in a small camper up at a quiet Cascade lake this summer.