Saturday 15 September 2018

The Premier Inn Bath Road is less than a ten minute bus ride from Heathrow airport so is a convenient stop-over hotel. Throughout this trip we have seen the advances in technology in relation to travel - scanned passports, scanned boarding passes, face recognition, it is all a bit confusing for some but is fast and accurate. The Premier Inn has electronic check in where we just typed in our booking number, inserted one passport and one credit card and out came two door key cards. Great when you don't want to talk to people or queue up (there were six check in points.)

Our late check out cost us extra money but allowed us to stay until 6 pm. We were able to use the internet to get up to date with things, Kel enjoyed this huge coffee, we walked along Bath Road for some exercise and had a light lunch sitting in the sun outside the hotel.

And so our flight planned almost twelve months earlier turned into a regular London-Singapore-Melbourne flight with a three hour stop-over. I hate long stop-overs. Singapore airport does have nice floral decorations though.

A bit of luck and a lot of stress and we just managed to get our train ticket changed and on to the 7.38 am train home. Two weary and becoming unwell travellers slept most of the trip. Why do germs like ships and aeroplanes?

There are always dramas when travelling for long periods of time but these are soon forgotten. What will not be forgotten is the fabulous time we had. This was a more adventurous trip than we have done for a few years and we are pleased that we withstood the pace and loved every minute (apart from all the many aeroplane changes!)

Thanks for travelling with us. Next year's adventure is in the planning already.

Sunrise in Venice and sunset in London

Saturday already and our cruise was coming to an end. Potentially a stressful day with another flight change causing a shorter than desired time to make the segue from cruise ship to aeroplane.

A very early breakfast meant that I saw the sun rise again. I must say it created wonderful colours over Venice.

 Two interesting things in this photos - the size of the cruise ship in the background, and the Conad truck delivering groceries. Note that the truck is on a barge and the deliveries are being unloaded from the barge.

I have previously said that the worst thing I have ever seen was cruise ships in Venice. I still think they look terrible in that setting but I must say that they barely cause a ripple as they slowly glide up the canal. They appear to cause less water damage than the many small boats speeding up and down.

We had an early disembarkation, a smooth walk to the People Mover, our pre-paid airport transfer bus was waiting at Piazalle Roma and we were at San Marco Airport in no time. Seamless! What a relief.

Interesting views over the lagoon as we flew out of Venice.

How they contrast with flying over England.

We landed at Gatwick airport where there were two interesting art works celebrating Elizabeth II, the People's Queen. Interestingly, the pictures were made up of tiny photos of ordinary people.

After a lengthy and expensive transfer coach ride from Gatwick to Heathrow and a Hotel Hoppa bus to our hotel we thought our potentially stressful day had gone really well.

Wrong! A message from Qantas saying our flight had been cancelled was just what we didn't want to hear. We were eagerly looking forward to flying on the new Dreamliner non-stop flight from London to Perth in 17 hours. Thanks to a disruptive passenger the day before causing the plane to have to return to Perth, our flight had been cancelled.

Getting a new flight organised, cancelling a hotel booking in Melbourne, cancelling a lunch date with our daughter, worrying about our pre-paid train ticket from Melbourne to home and trying to get a late check-out from our hotel in London certainly raised the stress levels.

Eventually we got to the restaurant at the hotel where we knew they did great curries and eased the tension with food!

Strolling around Ancona in the Marche region of Italy

The 'Sinfonia' arrived in the early morning into Ancona but we didn't go off until 11 am. There were big views of the city from the deck, an excellent cruise ship terminal with Info Centre (and maps) and we could walk from the ship across the road and we were in the old town.

Immediately we knew we were back in Italy. The variety and vibrancy of the wall colours, the churches, the art, the palazzi - in fact, I can smell Italy!

The Basilica of San Ciriaco of Ancona is built on a prominent position high above the town. In the walk up we had a great view of the harbour, our ship and the ferries.

Like many churches in Italy, the Cathedral has many layers. We saw evidence of a 3rd century BC temple and the 6th century CE Paleao-Christian church. A new church was built in 995 and extended in 1017 with the latest part being built in the 13th century. Restorations have been necessary, especially after damage from two world wars and the 1872 earthquake. A fascinating building.

Giovanni Paolo II

Ancona has Roman ruins -an amphitheatre from the 1st. century and some beautiful tile work.

Leaving the old town we had lunch and tapped into the internet to confirm our flight for tomorrow. We were in Corso Garibaldi and could see a statue in the distance. Despite the black clouds forming we decided to go and look at the statue, which turned out not to be Garibaldi but Cavour, the 1st President of the United Italy.

Cruise ship captains certainly do an amazing job getting their ships into the berths. In a busy shipping port like Ancona where there are freight ships, cruise ships and ferries all trying to keep to a timetable it is necessary to be guided by the harbour master and his tugs and pilots.

Friday 14 September 2018

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik was our reason for coming on this cruise and we planned to 'do our own thing', however this morning there was a message under our door saying our tour to Jesi in Italy tomorrow had been cancelled. We decided to exchange that for a Deluxe Dubrovnik tour.

We arrived at the Dubrovnik cruise port at 2 pm, having sailed past some very pretty landscape. Here we saw the amazing job the Captain does in getting the ship into its berth. He sailed into the mouth of the river, swung the ship around and backed into the port next to another cruise ship.

We left the ship at 2.45 pm and went by coach to the cable car station at the foot of Sjrd Mountain. Our tour guide was top class today. She gave us a great deal of information about Croatia and Dubrovnik, from ancient history to modern times. 

After cool drinks and time to take photos we descended in the cable car and began our walking tour of the Old Town. From above, the old town looks like a perfect Lego village with its intact defensive walls.

An earthquake in 1676 and the local war in the 1990s caused immense damage but the town has been rebuilt to its former appearance as it is an UNESCO World Heritage town.

The buildings and the streets are made from local limestone and have polished to a high sheen with wear. 

The main street, from gate to gate, is only 280 metres long so the old town of Dubrovnik is not large. There are a couple of smaller streets running parallel on either side.

The fortified walls around Dubrovnik are intact and are approximately two kilometres long. We walked about half the distance, the views into the town were wonderful and the landscape around spectacular.

Back down off the wall at the opposite end on the town we had free time. The Big Onofrio's Fountain is a cistern built about 1440 to hold water that ran from the mountains via aqueduct to the town. It is a sixteen sided structure with a cupola top which once had a dragon on it. Small Onofrio's Fountain is at the other end of town.

The town has three monasteries, several other churches and now a popular restaurant area. They also have an excellent gelati shop! There is no advertising, no graffiti, no rubbish, just a very pleasing town.

Dubrovnik was all I hoped it would be and more. The history of Croatia and the pride of the Croatians in their small country were well displayed by our excellent young guide. We had a special day, and joined with our day in Split, we have gained a better understanding and appreciation of the Dalmatian coast.

We sailed at 8.30 pm, the twinkling lights concluding our day in Dubrovnik.