These next few entries into the blog will have to be entered later than we would prefer. As I mentioned, the internet on the boat is spotty, and we were allotted a limited amount of data usage. By Tuesday, both John & I had gone over the limit and it would cost a bundle to add more. We have not been doing anything extreme like watching movies, but John attributes the problem to the photo work that he has been doing to transfer some pictures from our phones. That way they can be resized and then transferred into the My Trip Journal website. It’s not a big deal; we have spent lots of days without Internet on some previous trips. It does mean that we do not have access to email.
This boat is not as comfortable as most others we have been on. The public spaces are too small for the number of passengers, and the furniture is too big for the limited areas. It is also a bit worn out. Some of the chairs in the dining room require you to put a pillow underneath your butt so you aren’t resting your chin on the table. We liked the Croatia boat more, since the dining room was a lot bigger (and the group was smaller). This boat has a separate living room and bar area, with chairs that are simply too large for the space. After each meal, the crew sets up the dining room for the next meal, so we really can’t hang out there. The only location with regular height tables is on the back deck, and it’s pretty windy back there. The top deck is quite small, so there’s not much hanging out space there either. In the dining room, there’s not enough space to move between tables, and they set up a buffet for breakfast and lunches (and twice for dinner). It takes a long time for everyone to squeeze through the line, and you really can’t tell what’s there until you are standing right in front of it. It’s so crowded that it’s more trouble than it’s worth to return to the food table. It’s not really a problem; I am eating far too much anyway! A scramble system would be a lot better, but there simply isn’t space. On the other hand, our cabin is quite nice and all the crew members are extremely personable and couldn’t be more helpful.
Another thing that is different about this cruise is that the weather has forced a variety of changes in the itinerary. At least the captain is staying informed and we have managed to escape some nasty weather that is hitting other parts of Greece. Athena takes it all in stride – she has to handle changes in buses, lunches away from the boat, and general sightseeing plans. Those of you who know me will understand when I say that such a situation would drive me nuts. When I make plans, I like to keep them! It’s part of her job, and she is obviously used to it. Another thing that she handles with grace is the fact that some members of the group do not pay attention when she is talking to us. Sometimes it happens when she is telling us educational information, and sometimes when she’s simply informing us about the next day’s schedule. I could never do this job!
By Tuesday morning we were docked at the town of Monemvasia, and we remained there most of the day. It’s a fishing and tourist town on the southeast corner of the Peloponnese. Our morning activity involved a long bus ride across the peninsula to visit two towns: Areopolis and Gythion. In the former we walked around looking at some old houses, but it didn’t seem worth the drive (except for the fresh bread that Athena bought at the local bakery). The latter was a cute seaside fishing village, but we were able to walk around for only about 20 minutes. I checked out the local hardware store, just because it wasn’t touristy. I also struck up a conversation with a 17 year old boy who was just leaving his school (along with lots of other kids). It was noon, and school was over for the day. I was surprised that it ended so early. As we chatted, his mother came by on a motor scooter to pick him up, and I told her that his English was very good. I’m not sure she understood me, but she seemed pleased. Our group was then transported back by bus to the ship for lunch.
Our afternoon activity was much more to my liking, since we had more time to be outdoors, and I could get a bit more exercise. The group on this tour is generally not as peppy as those we’ve met on other Road Scholar trips, although there is one woman who has kayaked through the Grand Canyon four times. Generally they act older, and don’t seem to be as energetic as I am. We took a city bus about 1 KM to visit the medieval fortress of Monemvasia. I walked back later. It’s built on a rocky islet that’s connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge, and has been called the Gibraltar of the Eastern Mediterranean. The settlement began in the 6th century AD, but it wasn’t until the 15th century that the Venetians constructed the giant fortress. The streets are built with rocks and are reserved for only pedestrians. Apparently they bring in supplies using carts and donkeys. It was very quaint, clean and quite empty, which was so refreshing. I walked out to see the lighthouse, which was only about ten minutes from the square, but only two others in our group wanted to explore that far.
We are heading northeast towards the town of Nafplion.