A few weeks ago I went on an amazing trip, cruising along the Med, visiting interesting ports in Italy, Croatia and Greece.
I've been thinking about what I could write about the trip to try and capture the experience, so I've come up with a snapshot summary of what has stuck in my head at each port (and on the ship), below::
Venice: Like walking into a film, across ornate bridges, gondolas sweeping past, creepy trees climbing across a midnight blue sky, 'chewing gum' boards strung across fences keeping the streets clean, narrow streets with echoes of ghosts round every corner dressed in capes and masquerade masks, violins playing a haunting melody, luring you deeper into the town where you could easily lose yourself and never return.
Dubrovnik: Like stepping back in time, walking along a wall overlooking rows and rows of houses, a blazing sun piercing blue waters, an overheard conversation reminding me of home (an American girl complaining about the effect Glasgow is having on her sinuses), seeing what looked like Hells Angels bikers sitting in a row on a wall outside an ancient church in the square - like some kind of ironic joke.
Corfu: Blistering heat on walk into town, battered cars lining the street with visors taped to windscreens, small beaches offering an escape to the cool sea, shaded cafe overlooking the sea, a park with an old fashioned bandstand, a modern looking town with crazy looking, laughing mannequins, female beggars pressing their foreheads against pavements in some kind of tortured prayer
Argostoli: Local shops selling oils, wine and spices, fishermen tending their nets, turtles ducking under the boats to eat the small fish, palm trees blowing along the zig zag patterened promenade, a small white church with a staircase winding up to the roof- inside ornate chandeliers, gold and red patterns on the walls and old ladies holding up their hands to their God, swaying and lighting candles, in celebration or in grief?
Santorini: Dazzling white buildings topped with blue, creeping up the steep hillside in a 'cable car', watching poor donkeys carrying fat tourists up break-neck heights, narrow lanes with rows of white clothes and jewellery, a shop keeper enticing me in to taste local fruity wine, sitting in a dazzling white washed cafe overlooking the sea, Greek music playing
Taormina: An hour long drive in a taxi with no air conditioning, driven by a non English speaking, smiley and messy Columbo type - arm permanently hanging out the window who overtakes on the motorway by nearly ramming into the backs of cars; Beautiful little town, art creeping around every corner, paintings and sculptures lining sweeping staircases, hanging flowers, chequered main square, ancient outdoor theatre with breathtaking views over the sea, The Clock tower chimes as we navigate narrow streets and romantic music plays from a shop as we pass a statue of Juliet peering over her baclony
Naples - Capri: Litter and graffiti line the town, escape on a high speed boat to the rich island of Capri, A crowded Fenicular train transports us to the top of the island to winding streets, pretty shops selling local perfume, sit in a shaded cafe where a lizard creeps slowly along the wall
Rome: Crazy busy and hot, beautiful ruins contrast with the modern choas, pizza cooked to perfection, , chased down the street by a man trying to sell me a parasol, another man thrusts a rose in my hand at the spanish steps, crazy beggar at the station trying to direct us to the wrong train
Livorno: Like a poor imitation of Venice, canals flowing through the town centre, an old woman dressed all in white with a painted white face begs for money - touching her tummy trying to fool us into thinking she is 'with child' (miraculous conception), outdoor markets lining the streets with abundant fresh fruit and vegetables (fresher and greener than you'll ever find here), crazy devil-like statue
The ship: late afternoons spent lying on the promenade deck listening to music and reading,running up on deck after dinner to watch the sun set over the sea, peeking out my cabin window at night watching the white froth of the waves crash into the black sea, sampling the best food I've ever tasted, sitting listening to a string quartet play in one of the bars, watching a scuplture of the New York skyline flash pink, green, yellow, purple and red as the song 'New York, New York' played in a bar; sitting in the show room listening to an award winning pianist make his piano 'sing' (his description and I've never heard a piano sound so good). Tempted to stow away (in the dessert cabinet) and never return home...