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Cruise Review: Oceania Riviera – Part 4

Saturday 11th May 2013 – Monemvasia, Greece

Well another stunning morning has greeted me outside with a stunning view of Monemvasia, which is a small peninsula off the coast of the Peloponnese. Non the wiser? Nor me, but I will be taking a look shortly.

I left lizy sleeping and I went for an early morning stroll around the top decks. Maybe I should pick up my pace and walk off a few martinis oceania pooldeckand a lot of great food, but there is effort involved in that. I decided to have my breakfast at Waves Grill as I hadn’t tried that for breakfast. There was a selection of cooked breakfast, omelettes to order, pastries, yogurts, fruits etc. I opted to have a plate of melon, kiwi, pineapple, some orange juice and a pot of English breakfast tea. It was lovely sat out in the fresh air with hardly anyone around.

Time to wake lizy, but in the end I didn’t need to because the Cruise Directors early morning announcement is pretty loud, so that saved me a job. Although she did take a little prising out of her bed, and seems to be able to fall back to sleep at the drop of a hat. By the time lizy was up and dressed there was no queuing for tenders and we were straight onboard the tender and ashore within about 10 mins of leaving the stateroom. I had no sooner stepped off the tender and I was on lizard watch. I need to know if they inhibit the same places I visit. I was so busy looking around that I was attacked by a twig between my feet which I instantly thought to be a lizard on the attack, and I did a bit of a screaming dance around a dusty carpark. Lizys thought it hilarious as I danced around yelling!

monemevasiaI have to say first impressions of Monemvasia didn’t set me alight. The town was to the left and it was a bit of a typical Greek fishing port, not a lot to see or places to go. A few bars, couple of souvenir shops and that seemed about it. As per usual for me, I hadn’t done a lot of research into the ports, and I know as much as I read when I get back to the cabin late at night after a few Martinis, and I read the freshly delivered port guide before drifting off to sleep. We decided to walk across the causeway to the right and walk up the hill to the old walled town. It was a fair old treck up a gently inclining long road that wrapped around the side of the big hill. But as we entered the walled village oh Wow!! mon town2What can I say? It was so pretty, it’s pretty indescribable! Tiny cobbled walkways, more than 40 churches and the most amazing views. Lots of little bars and cafes to sit at and take in the views, and you could go even higher, upto the top village, but it was just too hot for us. It was a long walk up a hill, in the heat of the mon townmidmorning sun but you have to do it if you have the energy. I think there was a bus that went up there and I’m sure the taxis wouldn’t turn business away but there wasn’t much passing traffic, and it was mainly walkers on the road. I timed the walk back down and it took about 20 mins at a good pace. We had to walk fast as lizy was frying in the sun, and we didn’t have hats and cover ups with us.

Back in the main town area we found a nice little taverna on the waters edge, in the shade and just perfect. The waiter was a typical Shirley Valentine stereotype, so much so that he tells me he once fell in love with a girl from Coventy! Wasn’t me lol. octopusI don’t quite know how he did it, but he decided that I would like a nice glass of cold beer. Anything cold right now sounded good, so I went along with it, but I don’t actually like beer. It was very good, nice and sweet and a bit too easy to drink at 8.5%! I ended up having two of them. Lizy had her Greek snacks and I just indulged in a bit of bread. We sat there for a couple of hours watching the Greek world go by and using the internet and skypeing, as you do when not paying for internet! Pavros, the Greek waiter, or whatever his name was, made several attempts to sell me a nice fresh plate of octopus. Oh, no thank you!

Monemvasia barThe tender service is very fast and efficient, never yet queued for one and we were soon back onboard. Lizy decided she needed some duvet time with a DVD. I went for a latte and a nice turkey roll in Baristas. meanwhile she went in search of a DVD. There was plenty of choice with a library of 9000 DVDs. But the DVD player wasn’t reading the disk. She had no sooner reported it than an electrical engineer was at the door with a brand new DVD player under his arm. Impressive!!! It could take days on certain other cruise lines!! Certainly not within the same day, so yet again I was impressed with the service. He set it all up for her, showed her how to work the controls and she was under her duvet watching Toy Story 3 with a can of coke. She was tempted to test things further and call room service for a box of popcorn – bet it would have come as well, but she didn’t request any.

After a bit of work at my laptop I decided I might like to just relax on a sun lounger for an hour so got changed and went up on deck. No trouble at all finding vacant sun loungers, there were plenty by the pool and on the decks above. I opted to go one deck above the pool and just lay quietly admiring the view as we slowly swung on the anchor. The waiter dropped by with a nice frozen Miami Vice which is non alcoholic I will have you know, and included in the fare. So that cooled me down and refreshed me. It was oh so very, very hot. Not only was the sun hot but the humidity was hot too. I studied next years Oceania Cruises brochure from the shade of lizys sun hat. Extra savings, free onboard credit if I rebooked whilst onboard, free airfares and some very tempting itineraries. I have cruised all my life but these itineraries are very different and if half the ports of call are anywhere near as pretty and interesting as these have been I think I may have sorted next years cruise! Need to get to see the Future Cruise person at some point and see what’s what!

I wondered if lizy had remembered her art class today but it turns out she was feeling a bit too lazy to attend, plus her film was only just ending. There was an announcement to say that as we sailed we would be sailing past the old fort and walled town for a photo opportunity but it was to be on the opposite side of the ship so lizy was despatched with camera while I had a shower.

room seviceWe have decided on a very alternative dining option this evening and I have agreed that we will have room service. Not because we aren’t enjoying the food in the restaurants, it’s all amazing, but mainly because we haven’t tried it yet, plus we are tired and there is a film lizy wants to watch on TV. So call it research! It didn’t stop us going out for our Martini O’clock time though. We still dressed for the occasion and sat and enjoyed our two Martinis each. I was back to a Flirtini and my favourite Manhattan tonight. We had the full range of snacks too, nothing is too much trouble for the waiting staff.

Lizys film started at 9.00pm so we made sure we were back at the room in plenty of time to place an order, not that anything takes very long on here. Lizy had a cheeseburger and fries whilst I had toasted club sandwhich, and you guessed it – as he came to take the tray away later he delivered a pot of hot chocolate. We snuggled down under the duvet and Les Miserables started. It was good but a bit hard work for me, and I think lizy was getting fed up explaining what was what, and who was who, plus I was having a fight with my eyelids and eventually they won!

Sunday 12th May 2013 – Kusadasi

terrace grillI woke just after 7.00am and I had to venture all the way to the balcony to catch a glimpse of land. It was quite a way off yet, but it soon appeared as I sat writing at my laptop. It’s going to be another hot day again today I can tell. And indeed I was correct.

Lizy decided to accompany me to breakfast this morning so we headed to the Terrace cafe, found a nice table at the rails, under the shade of a parasol, and were served tea and juice at the table. We both had salmon bagel and I followed with a plate of strawberries and mango just to stay healthy. We were off the ship relatively early. There were little pedal carts taking passengers along to the bazaars, how much it cost I know not. The shopping centre within the port area was filled with anything from leather goods to souvenirs. But oh my goodness, I had forgotten quite what it was like to have blonde hair in a Turkish country. Lizy very nearly sold me a thousand times! Hey lady in the blue dress! That’s all I heard repeated all morning. They were all very polite and we must have said good morning a zillion trillion times. Lizy advises me that if you ignore them they can be a bit gruff so best to stay on the right side of kusadasi (2)them. But oh it gets a bit much after a while, and I was glad I didn’t have a hangover as I wouldn’t have been able to cope. I admit I would have loved to have spent some time browsing, but if you did you had handbags thrust in your face, shoes on your feet and a carpet rolled up on your shoulder before you had chance to blink. Some of them were fine, mainly the souvenir shops, you could go in, have a browse and look around in peace. But bags and shoes, I will go so far as to say that I am sick of the sight of them today! A few purchases were made, mainly items for my summer house in the garden, a pashmina and a silk scarf. And just what is with all the shops being in darkness. I started to giggle when having a browse of a gift shop and the man gives me a miners inspection type lamp to fix around my head on a head band so that I could see his wares. Have they not heard of lights and electricity here? Their shops might look a little more inviting and it does help if you can see what you are buying. Lizy was oh so close to buying some UGG trainer type booties but decided they were not worth it. Don’t think Mr shop keeper was too impressed despite our apologies. Lizy also wanted some Christian Louboutin shoes, she would like the real ones more, but would have made do with a genuine fake! She spotted her desired pair in a shop window and “come with me” says the man! He took us two doors away to an open door to his private shop, and closed the door behind him as we entered. I was not happy about that and told him to open the door, but he refused. I felt very uneasy but after a quick closer inspection of the shoes we were out of there. It was a very posh shop, very light and airy for a change, so might have liked a look around, but as Mr C was not present I decided we needed to get out of there. All in all we had fun, it was a very pleasant couple of hours looking at the same old stuff and smiling at the shop keepers. We walked back to the port area and had a drink at the waters edge just to take advantage of the free wifi. There was a pleasant breeze but it was so hot. Just when we thought our shopping excursion was over we decided to go back to the bazaar for a second look, just incase we missed something. Are we crazy? No, just mad Brits abroad. Maybe lizy was hoping to do a deal for her mum with the blonde hair. Kusadasi is just a mad crazy place that makes your head spin. Of course we could have gone off to see Ephesus for the day, but I dont do monuments and culture very well. Think I saw to many on my travels as a child.

We made it back to the ship in one piece after stopping by the duty free area for a couple more purchases. After depositing the goodies to the stateroom we freshened up and headed to the Terrace cafe for some lunch. We both opted for a Mexican wrap with all the trimmings and poolwashed it down with a bottle of Proscecco. A strange combination but we liked it. We didn’t finish our bottle of bubbles so it was taken down to Waves Bar for us to enjoy pool side. Time to hit the sunbeds and we had the choice of 95% of any bed on the main pool deck. Our bottle of prosecco followed us down to the pool and was kept cool behind the bar. I even took a dip in the pool too! It was so hot I felt I had to, or I might melt. It was 5ft 11” deep though which makes me uncomfortable when I can’t touch the bottom with my toes. Lizy kept watch over me to make sure I didn’t drown. Our glasses were kept topped up and I did drink lots of iced water in between to keep me hydrated. It was so peaceful I even enjoyed a little snooze. But I was very rudely awoken by the dam Thomson ship that had been following us around for the last few days. She was berthed alongside, and decided she would blast her horn and deposit her soot all over our pristine clean ship. I had been looking at her earlier. The sun decks were packed, and they were playing party type games which were very noisy. Not my cup of tea at all. I was not impressed to find soot on me, and I dare say the Oceania deckies were even less impressed as they had to change sun lounger coverings and the deck was a bit of a mess. We came off the deck just before 5.00pm but not before I had been to Baristas for my latte coffee.

Pre dinner Martinis in Martini. Where else! In honour of our Martini o’clock the steward has now even created a “Jane Martini”. Go in, you should try one. People kept dropping by to chat to us this evening which was nice. We do find that people do like to chat to us but then we often spend the next 5 minutes trying to recall how we first met them. Lizy tucked into her huge tray of nibbles and whilst I pick I don’t think my waistline can take much more.

I don’t think I have told you about the discreet cleaner man that appears from nowhere every time someone leaves a table in the lounges. He just appears out of the woodwork, no tools of the trade, just a pocket full of cloths and wipes. He starts with the seat cushions, plumps them twice and turns them. Straightens chairs with millimetre precision, wipes and polishes the table, and if he sees so much as a crumb on the carpet he fetches his manual little carpet brusher device and makes the carpet immaculate again. Never seen that on a ship before and it usually waits until a bar closes, but he is so discreet that you have to be looking out for him to see him.

Red GingerWe are dining in Red Ginger tonight and after all our guests dropping by our table for a little chat we were about 10 mins late but excused ourselves and the restaurant manager was very welcoming and admitted we had actually done her a favour. I don’t really know how to even begin to describe the Red Ginger dining experience. It was just amazing! First we were shown the tea menu, then the food menu and then asked to select our choice of chop sticks. Red Ginger 2Never seen so many menus for different things., good job we don’t need the wine menu as we have a bottle somewhere which is quickly located. The menu was very extensive and we decided not to skip any courses so that at least we could say we had tried it. Well we did that alright, because on top of that the waiter said we should also try some of his recommendations. The food was just beyond outstanding. If Red Ginger 3the photos don’t show you just how good it was I’m afraid you are going to have to go there and try it for yourself, because it was just amazing. We were also advised to take sips of the infused tea that arrived at the beginning of the meal, which I did, because I was told to, but did giggle a lot that it tasted like some posh spa treatment. The chef came round to introduce himself which is always a nice touch. We were among the last to leave. So much food, but wonderful food.

We had a plan this evening. First we planned to have a $10 challenge in the casino, its a Chadwick tradition, but you needed a $10 bill to play the machines and as the cashier wasn’t going to sell us one we were scuppered. No $10 challenge for us this cruise. Next we headed out on deck for some fresh air and then upto Horizon lounge to see what was what. It was karaoke tonight and I’m sure the singers thought they were amazing but one song and we were out of there. Mission number three was to be a chocolate martini night cap in Martini Bar, but the belly was just to full, and there is always tomorrow!

oceania facilitiesAnd finally, I promised you a photograph of the spectcular Oceania Ladies facilities. Well, here they are, the Ladies Powder room to be polite! Like I say, everywhere is just stunning!

And so, to bed. The hot chocolate was on its way, by the time we were ready for bed it was here. I sat outside watching the lights of Greece and nearby boats and then the big soft duvet wrapped itself around me and so to sleep.