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Ciao Italy!

A day of comparisons

sunny 34 °C

Well, it has been a busy few days with little chance to write. It is now 5 AM on Sunday and we are happily on board Cunard's Queen Victoria. More on this lovely ship later.

Rather than a minute by minute, blow by blow description of our summer vacation I think this blog will rather be a series of observations and comparisons to others trips. This is our first time sailing on Cunard, we will be returning to Dubrovnik and hoping to enjoy the city minus 5 other cruise ships. We will be visiting different Greek islands in a country that is dealing with a debt crisis and I will be returning to Turkey for a long awaited second time. I hope you enjenjoy ramblings.

Comparison number one - air travel. Oh my, where to start. As we boarded our Air Canada flight last week there were lots of similarities to other recent trips. The flight was jammed packed with travellers. Had we not had other things to do we might have accepted the overbooking offer of $800.00 per person to travel via London. The airlines are now doing a much better job of managing inventory. Not an extra seat on the plane, helped out by the Westwinds Concert Band and choirs travelling to Eastern Europe for a tour. I even ran into one of my students on the flight. International air travel has changed. I am reminded of a spectacular Lufthansa flight once, bar service, outstanding meals, snacks ever time they came around with water. The flight service of today is basic. Yes, let's go with basic. It is Air Canada's basic service. No bar service to start, just the meal, chicken or pasta, would you like a drink ma'am, how about some water. Don't get me wrong, the flight was fine, just basic. Plus I have been on Air Canada so much lately I had seen all the movies. The upside was I read an entire book in the nine hours.

It is still, after all of these years of travelling, simply amazing that in 9 hours a giant metal tube can transport travellers across the far north of Canada, across the frozen lands of Greenland, above Iceland, Scotland, England and land in the middle of Europe with such ease.

We skirted Venice and took a very hot, un-air conditioned two hour train trip and arrived in a little visited city of Trieste, Italy. It seems that this was one of the most strategic centres when is was ruled by the Austrian Empire. It seems the Hapsburg rulers liked life in Trieste. In walking around yesterday we could deduce that the province of Trieste wants to be "free", something like the Catalans of Spain. Trieste is situated east of Venice, very close to the Slovenian border. I sensed that they were less Italian than most cities based purely on the lack of gelato stores. They do, however, still smoke just as much as most others in Italy. The good news is that Italian wine is abundant. We stocked up at the local Co-op and are good to go. Three bottles of wine for about $18.00. What is not to like about Italians and their wine.

I just realized that we stayed at the Victoria Hotel and we are sailing on the Queen Victoria. Coincidence? Perhaps. The hotel was outstanding a nice way to start off the trip. It would be a shame to start a holiday with a bad hotel. One might never hear the end of it!!!
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Next comparison - other cruise ships vs. Cunard's Queen Mary. Now we have been, in the past, loyal Holland America customers. This cruise had us jumping ship, so to speak to try out the competition. I guess they really aren't competition because both cruise lines are owned by the same company.
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There are lots of things the same, the Lido Deck is a great place to have the first beer. Cunard could adopt Holland America's bucket of beer sail away special which has become a tradition over the years of cruising. The cabins are very similar and the verandah (a must for us) is a great place to watch the sunrise when jet lag has you awake at 4:30 AM. We are having a bit of a heat wave so the ocean breeze is still warm already in the early morning.
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The Queen Victoria is regal and stately, just like her name implies. This is a very British cruise line in many aspects. The crew seems to be very International and are not quite as 'in your face' as HAL. We have yet to meet our room steward which is very different from other cruises where they seem to work hard to get to know you. The public rooms on the ship are beautiful, from the Queen's Room where there is nightly dancing to the theater which might have you think you were in London's West End.
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Our first dinner was delicious. We have a nice table for two tucked away in a corner, suiting us just fine. Here on Cunard gentlemen are asked to wear a dinner jacket to dinner. If you don't want to dress for dinner there is always food on the Lido Deck. The pub on board is very British, broadcasting cricket instead of the British Open golf. Go figure!

Safety is always a crucial part of the first day on a cruise ship. However, here on Cunard the emergency drill is somewhat more civilized. Holland America has you go to your assigned life boat, line up for your instructions, be checked off the list and then sent back to your cabin. On Cunard you are sent to a muster point. In our case we were welcomed to the Queen's room, sat down, welcomed by the captain, shown how to put on our life jackets and sent back to our cabins. A slightly more civilized experience than in the past!!!!

And like all other outstanding days on a holiday the sunrise is spectacular. Another start to a fabulous two days in Croatia. Today's port call is the Maiden stop in Zadar. I hope they have a nice welcome for us. Off to explore a new place. This should be fun!

Posted by jonaway 17:00 Archived in Italy

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