Malta, I Heard About This Place, But… – Day 0.1

At 5:30 a.m. a full ship alarm went off and the captains voice blasted us in our room, “All personal, code Alpha Charlie on the starboard side.”Vista (jpeg) That was it. About a half hour later, he came on again and said everything was fine. We’ll never know what that meant, but we were up and ready for the day.

Someone told Pat to be sure and watch as we enter Malta by sea. Sure. I get it. Cool port and such, BUT! It was more than I ever expected.Malta Port (jpeg) As we got within a mile of the mouth of the port, I noticed that I’d better get out the camera. I was glad I did. What an amazing sight. Words can’t explaine it, so I’ll just post a couple of photos. I’ve seen some pretty cool ports coming in by boat, but I really never knew the feeling of “Breath Taking” until we came into Malta.

All the limestone walls, buildings and towers really did take my breath away. In fact, my daughter Nadine shot me a note on WhatsApp as we were experiencing this and as everyone knows, our relationship has grown amazingly in the last few months. If I get a note, I answer. If I get a call, I pick it up. I would never hesitate to get right back to her, but I found myself texting back saying, “Just coming into Malta. I’ll get back to you soon.” But ended up sending her photos of what I was seeing and then called her on the spot just to say WOW!

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I knew that today was going to be something special. Magic was happening. So up to the Lido Deck to grab a bit of breakfast and then off the ship with Pat, Pete and Iva. We had a driver waiting for us to show us around her homeland. We looked for the sign for Patricia West and there it was. A nice car, guide and driver ready to take us around the Island of Malta.

After introducing ourselves and getting loaded in, we headed away from the port and kicked back listened as we learned about the history of Malta and details about all the great things we were seeing. Always more information than we could ever digest, but like watching a documentary unfolding right before our eyes. What a wealth of information.

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We pulled over at the fishing village. Lots of very cool boats. Fisherman were coming and going and working on their stuff. Pretty much like any marina in the world. Boats love to be worked on. It was Saturday. It was explained to us that most people work Monday through Friday and then spend Saturday and Sunday with the family. Going to the beaches and parks, playing together and connecting with real family time. On Saturday they may open businesses for short hours, but almost all businesses are closed on Sundays. I like the sound of that.

We enjoyed the fishing village, bought some real fig cookies and other treats and a couple of trinkets. They were just setting up a bizarre with booths that had a lot of hand crafts and bake goods. Jackpot! We fount a Costa Coffee Shop. We found these guys in London and fell in love with their coffee. So another treat was here too.

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After we left there, we headed to the inside of yet another walled city. We were taken for a walk and were shown the buildings and VERY small streets with houses and window gardens. Beautiful views of the bays and marinas as well as stairs, angled sidewalks shops and churches. We were told that they have 400 Roman Catholic Churhes on this island. One for each day of the year the guide said.

Once back on the road, we were off to the Blue Grotto. This was over on the coast that was a rock formation with beautiful caves and blue water. We had planned to take a boat ride to the caves, but weather conditions (wind direction and strength) were not on our side, so we shot some photos from the cliffs and trail and we’ll have to come back to do the boat adventure.

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Now off to an area of historical beauty. Like we haven’t seen any of that so far. The time of day was getting to the point we were catching up with tour busses, so traffic was getting pretty crazy. They drive British style here. On the wrong side of the road than us in America. So when the driver pulled out, my butt tightened up much more than it has in a very long time. I’ll have sore mussels in the morning. But he was a great driver and hit nothing all day long. I’m not sure how he missed stuff, but he missed it all.

He dropped us off, with our guide, and we walked the complex of shops, hotels, private homes, an amazing church, and historical buildings along side of modern ones. Of course the modern ones were 50 to 75 years old. In America, we would have blown them up and built something else, but they call it the modern buildings and they are built just like the ancient ones, so they will be here for hundreds or even thousands of years. What a concept.

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At this point, it was time to head back to where we started. Our 4.5 hour tour was coming to an end. Time to head to the ship. Once aboard, we had a bite to eat and headed to the room to relax and get ready for the evening. We had a cocktail party to go to at 5 to 6:30 then Pat and I had some sushi, walked the decks, listened to some music and checked out some places aboard that we haven’t seen yet then back to the room. What a day.

Tomorrow, we are going to be in Italy. We’re moving fast at this point of the cruise.

capt paul (jpeg)
Capt. Paul

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Oh, Oh… I Took a Real Day Off – Day 0

Today was a sea day. We left Rhodes Greece last evening and have been scooting across the Mediterranean Sea for 30 plus hours now heading to Malta. We’ll be in tomorrow morning.

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As for this Day 0, it’s been a real kick back day. We got up late. Took our time pulling it together and the only thing on our schedule was a lunch party with the captain and crew. They do a special lunch for people that have a Diamond card. Pat has one and she checked and could take me along…

So off to lunch at noon and spent a couple of hours mingling and enjoying a very special lunch of pumpkin soup, grilled Main lobster and other specialty goodies that I can’t pronounce. It was a great date with my wife. Yep, that’s Pat with the other guy, the captain of the Vista. I hope he’s not the one that blasted the marina a few weeks ago. 

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After lunch, she went to the casino and I went to the room to get our laundry together for pick up. I played my ukulele and took a couple of naps. Pat came home and joined me. She surfed the web and took care of business and I napped off and on.

After one of them I noticed it was getting dark, so I got ready for dinner and after dinner, came home and thought I’d blog my day. This is it.

Tomorrow is Malta. We have an early tour at 9:00 a.m. for a pick up and then we’re off for a 4.5 hour tour around the city and the beachs, caves and blue water. I’m excited.

capt paul (jpeg)
Capt. Paul

Love Abounds in Rhodes Greece – Day 0.1

Man-o-man, did I get a great nights sleep last night. The seas were calm and the winds were comfy, so the waves were small which means the ship was just slipping along a beautiful sea.Rhodes dock (jpeg) When I awoke this morning, the ship was in port, tied up and disembarking. How cool was that. Well, I thought it was great, and it was all up from there.

Rhodes… I opened up the curtains in our cabin and Pat was on the balcony sippin’ coffee. I went out and the weather was like a great day in April back home. Warm, a touch of humidity and puffy white clouds. Just out side the ship was the end of one of the walls of the city. This is the Walled City of Rhodes Greece. We could see the wall across the bay and in side was the bustle of the old city with ancient towers, sculptures and arches.

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wall (jpeg)So after breakfast, we headed out to find a cab to take us around a bit. We found one that had an hour tour and then drop us off at the top of the city and we could walk back to the ship through the city. Perfect. If you ever get here, look up Nikos Platis with or call 0030 6932231480. You’ll like the guy and he is loaded with all the historic facts you’ll need to know to get you around this beautiful place.

The water is beautiful. It really makes me wonder how all these other countries that we visit keep their coastlines so pristine. Maybe they they don’t work that hard at it.Med Sea (jpeg) Maybe they let nature be nature and take care of itself and then maybe, just maybe, they just don’t fight the laws of nature and don’t throw a bunch of crap in it and try to change how nature works. What an interesting concept. Just do nothing to change the way the Earth works, work with it, enjoy it and it will protect itself. What a great idea. Just don’t do anything and make it better. Of course that means, “Don’t do anything.” That includes putting poison or any contamination in the water, no waste, nothing. Just let it do what it has done so well since the beginning of time. Don’t change the way water flows. Don’t dredge and change the bottom contours. If you don’t have a natural place that has depth for boats, that translates into: “If you don’t have a natural place that has depth for boats, work with what nature gives you. Period… (Okay, I get it. I’ll step off my milk crate and put it away. But seeing the beautiful waters around the world, just makes me wonder why… Okay. I’ll stop, for now.)

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So we piled into the cab and off we went, learning as we rode. We stopped at a beautiful church at the edge of the port. Around the island, along the coast and past the beachs. It was an enlightening ride. We were taken to the top of the hill to get a good pano of the area and then dropped off at the ruins and the ancient theater.

After that walk, we were taken to an entrance to the Walled City. We left our new friend Niko and began the walk through he city. But, we had to pee. After walking for a bit through the wall, we found some restrooms. We had to put coins in to open the doors. We had no change. Dang. So we walked to the first restaurant and decided to sit for a bit and buy a drink and use their free restroom. (Family Taverna – Mama Mika) That was the plan. So we used the restroom and had a great lunch too. I mean a great lunch. I didnt’ order anything but a cold coffee, but I had bites from everyone else. Iva was the winner. We all ate well and Iva took a bag back too… She knows how to order.

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After walking a mile or so of the street, loaded with shops, we came to the exit to the port and just a quarter mile more to the ship. An incredible day in port. We sat on the the sea wall for a while just watching the water, boats coming and going and swimmers in the sea. I could have sat there for a long, long time.

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Back on the ship, we kicked back on our balcony. I nodded out a few times in the sun and then gave up and went to lay down and watch the tv. Nope, I napped for a bit.

We headed out to sea again a t 7:00 p.m. and are heading to Malta. But it will take us two days to get there. Tomorrow a glorious day at sea. So guess what, that’s right, it will be Day 0 tomorrow. Now you’re catching on. (Ref: Earlier blog, The Partly Brothers Calendar.)

Laundry day tomorrow…

capt. paul (jpeg)
Capt. Paul

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A Quiet Day at Sea… Ahhhhhh – Day 0.1

capt. paul (jpeg)It was a great, relaxing, uneventful day at sea. Smooth water four to six footers with a 20kt wind from the SW, so it felt like a 10kt breeze. No rain, so the weather was great. No worries out here today.

Pete and Iva met us for a brunch and then we walked and went our separate ways. We decided to meet at he iMax theater at 4:00 p.m. to catch the movie Sully. It was a good movie too in a great theater. Really kind of weird watching it in an iMax theater on a boat, but a very cool experience.

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After the movie, we walked a bit again and then caught up on some phone calls and emails in the room.

Dinner at 8:15 and back in the room for a good nights sleep. So relax was the key word for the day.

Tomorrow we will collect ourselves and head into Rhodos Greece, the walled city. I’ll let you know what we find.

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Hey, thanks everyone for the emails and notes to let us know you are following and enjoying this trip too. If you have any questions for us, or just want to comment, use the comments section below. Also subscribe to this blog to get notified about any updates that come up. You can do that at the bottom of the page.

Until then, love is all there is…

capt. paul (jpeg)
Capt. Paul

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Let’s Take a Boat Ride – Day 0

Today is a day of getting off earth and planting our feet firmly on the sea. Today we board the Carnival Vista to sail from Athens to Rodes Greece.pat ship (jpeg)It will take us a couple of days to get there. In cruise ship time, we have to travel at about 9kts to stay on schedule. So tomorrow will be a relaxing day at sea.

So today goes, up in the morning, coffee, clean up, pack the bags, move to the lobby, check out, get a cab and off to the cruise port. All part of the cruising ritual on a boarding day. Once there, it’s one step at a time. Get in line, go through security, get in line, get pictures taken for ID, go sit for a while, get in line then walk the plank to the ship. Once aboard, we head to the room, dump off our luggage and then head to the Atrium Bar for a sip of something to celebrate the boarding process and talk about our plans for the trip.

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After that tradition, we walk to the Lido Deck to have lunch. We caught up with Pete and Iva there and had a good lunch, since we missed breakfast. It’s a wonderful thing to be traveling with these guys. Their laid back comfort is a pleasure to be around and well, Iva, along with Eva and Ava are always in rare form. (Eva and Ava are Iva’s alternate personalities.) We love them all.

So, after lunch, back to the cabin to unpack and get settled, nap and balcony time. Then time for 8:15 dinner. We have a table of eight new people to join us on a ten top round table. Good people, new company, new stories and friendships kindle. We also had a chance to visit shortly with Ken. We’ve sailed with him a few times before and we are looking forward to his singing and the wonderful way he runs his restaurant.

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After dinner, Pat headed to the casino to pick up some money and I headed to the room to kick back on the balcony and watch the water pass by with a nice half moon shining down and turning the surface of the sea into diamonds and I knoded in and out in a dream. All was right.

Tomorrow is a day at sea. Sully is playing at the iMax theater, so I think we’ll take a trip to the movies. That’s a first for us, but I’ve wanted to see that movie, so since it’s available here on the ship, it will be an experience to be enjoyed.

I’ve also got a book that I’ve wanted to re-read, Cellini’s Dreamers Highway. Cellini is the street performers, street performer. He passed away a few years ago and is missed by many of us magicians. He was gentle, loving, strong and a classic street performer, taking control of his piece of sidewalk, sharing the magic with respect to himself and his audiences, and laying his hat down for support, which is the way he lived, graciously. So the read will make me smile, again and fill my heart with magic.

Sea day tomorrow…

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The Bus Tour of Athens – Day 2

You know what? I like breakfast. Sure, I like to eat fruit and peanut butter, eggs, turkey bacon, toast and garlic, but when I travel, I like to check out what breakfast is for others around the world. Well I’m not sure if this is the norm since we are in a hotel, but breakfast was a feast. Fresh Greek Yougart – not like we get in America, I mean real Greek Yougart. It was great. A lot of fresh fruit and a hard boiled egg and of course coffee, and that was the tip of the iceberg.

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Now that breakfast was out of the way, it was time to go to the lobby and meet the group of us that had a bus trip booked to see Piraeus and Athens. A full day was ahead of us, that’s for sure. The plan is to board the bus, cruise the cruise ship docks then off to the yacht harbor to pick up the road to Athens. Stop at the 1896 Olympic Stadium, the first modern competive Olympics in the world. Then a cruise around the city with all the cool sites a stop to watch the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Greek Soldier. It was a very cool thing to watch. Then off to the Parthenon to hike to the top. After that lunch and home. I like the plan.

So Pat, Pete, Iva and I found comfortable seats and we were off for a day of exploring new sites.

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All I could think about was Krysta Palmer. Brother Dan’s niece that fought for her place in the 2016 Olympics Woman’s Diving Competiton, as I stood in awe looking at the stadium that housed the 1st Olympic Modern Competition in 1896. What a treat it was to visualize the events that have taken place here. Krysta didn’t make the cut for 2016, but she is on track for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. You are in such amazing company Krysta. Stand tall and strong. You’ve truly got this.
We stopped for a few to watch the changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Greek Soldier. What a formal piece of ritual this was. I do have some video of it and I will load it up on Facebook as WiFi affords me to do so. What a site to see. Our timing was great, because it happens every hour on the hour and our driver pulled up five minutes before the ceremony.

1st Olympic Stadium.

All went as planned. Our tour guide was remarkable. She spoke with passion and color. She put history to life and made sure that you could feel the magic of the history. Step by step we moved through 4,000 years of Greek tradition and history. I only got lost once, when I lost our group, but I found a new trail that was not heavely used and made it to the bus at 1:15 p.m. This is the exact time that the guide told us that the bus would leave, so all was good. We did have to wait for the guide to come back to the bus because she was out looking for me, but I was there on time. I’m good with that.

The Parthenon was remarkable. The energy was very high. Magic was in my soul. I have never experienced the wonder that I experienced there. I will never forget it either.  To touch a hand carved slab of marble that 4,000 years earlier a man was carving to be placed in a perfect spot to make this monument of art was a moment of celestial connection. For a moment, I was linked with the history of this place, the people, the time. I could only capture it with a picture as I left it behind as time itself has done also.

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We left the Parthenon to go to lunch. It was a great shopping mall area of Athens with restaurant after restaurant and shop after shop. All beautiful, with strolling music and people all working for your money. It was great. I love that kind of atmosphere and gardens.

Lunch was a real treat too. Very traditional and tasty. We couldn’t have asked for more that’s for sure. The bus was on time and my souvenir from here was a new tube of toothpaste. I’ll need a Greek interpreter to tell me what’s in it, but I’m sure it will be fine. I had to replace the one that the English Customs took from me when heading to Greece. Which was weird to me because Greece didn’t check what I brought in, but England wouldn’t let me take it with me. I’m sure there is a reason for that, but I’ll never know, I guess.

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We arrived back at the hotel and took a couple hour break and then had to meet a group of people that we are sailing with us tomorrow on the Carnival Vista for a 10 day Mediterranean Cruise. Yep. Tomorrow we move onto the ship and start our cruising adventures. We are looking forward to it. So up early and get organized. Anytime I’m in a hotel for a couple of days, I’ve moved in. It’s just me, sorry Pat.

P.S I want to work this stage. How cool would that be.

Tommrow is another day…

capt paul (jpeg)
Capt. Paul

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From What We Awoke To We’re Stoked – Day 1

This is our laid back day. A day of, sort of, rest. Waking up and realizing that we are in Greece is a very strange feeling for me. I really never thought of being here. I mean, I thought about it, but I never really even did much research as to where I really was going to be. How cool is this feeling of being. A feeling of just being here, or there. It didn’t matter, I was just… Here…

We woke up around 10:00 a.m. Pete and I got some coffee going, I slipped on a spiral marble stair case, hung by my bad arm on a pipe and grabbed Pete’s bad shoulder to save my fall that I’m sure would have put me up in the hospital, showered in the smallest shower I can remember and met up with Pete again, and Iva, to go for a walk. The city is so different than I imagined it would be. Being one day in London, then flying and arriving in the dark, then walking out the door of a place I had no concept of… Whew, I loved it.

Small skinny streets, fast moving traffic, strong but gentle people and incredible sights. We headed in the direction of the marina. The town of Piraeus seems to have two bays or ports. One for commercial ship traffic and one for pleasure vessels and the fishing fleet.

We found a place to eat a brunch and walked the waterfront and found a place to kickback and spend a few hours sipping water and a capachino. We engaged in great conversation and Pete did a walk for a couple of miles to bring us back more conversation. It was truly a blessed time. A day we really needed and enjoyed.

We headed back to the hotel, finding an amazing chocolate shop, more views of the city and some cool bars and stores. Truly a wonderful city to explore.

Once back at the hotel, we relaxed for a while, collected emails, caught up on some news from home and then went to dinner at the roof top restaurant again. What a great place to eat with great prices. Our waiter George is wonderful. He takes pretty good care of us and is teaching us about the way of things here in Piraeus.

So off to the room to settle in and write up today’s doings. The internet is a bit slow tonight, so I’m in hopes the pictures get uploaded too. I don’t think I’ll sit up and wait. I’ll check on them in the morning.

Tomorrow morning, we take a tour to Athens to see the Parthenon, one of the great wonders of the world. Tour the city and then back to Piraeus for a “Ship Get-Together” to meet some of the people that Pat has met online. Where at you ask? Yep. The roof top restaurant here at the hotel…

Capt. Paul (jpet)
Capt. Paul

Today’s Photos… (I had a glitch, but these are the ones that I could get to post.)