11:17 AM Mallory Nicole 1 Comments

Warning: This post will seriously lack in thought out photography. You will experience only phone photos. And it's long, because I wanted to convey the delight of cruising.

Cruising...didn't know what I'd think about it honestly. I'm a girl who loves to stay in one place for a while and experience the culture. In this case, a cruise was the answer. I would have probably never seen Croatia otherwise, or even Ephesus.

We sailed with Norwegian Cruise Lines and they are all about "Freestyle Cruising." What does this mean? You eat when you want (as long as the restaurants are open), and you sit where you want (not necessarily common among cruise lines). There are several restaurants that are included in your cruise package...2 buffet, 2 sit down, and all VERY nice with lots of options. There is no shortage of food. There are also restaurants that require you to pay $20 like a Brazilian Steakhouse, a Sushi Bar, a Steak Place...all very nice, and there is no way you would get away paying $20 pp normally.

The nice thing about Norwegian is the night before they give you a schedule of events that are happening and you can choose what you want to do: table tennis tournament, pool party, shuffleboard tournament, lectures teaching you about something that is common to the area, bingo, musical performances, dance lessons, and much much more. On Thursday, there was a chocolate buffet in the evening with all kinds of chocolate sculptures to marvel at, as well as, a wide variety of chocolatey things to stuff yourself with.


A 7 day cruise in the Mediterranean with 4 ports (besides Venice).
Saturday - Board ship. You take your luggage to a warehouse looking place where tags with your room number are put on them, then you walk to check-in and go through security. There is one restaurant open to enjoy some lunch, and they announce when your room is available where you find your luggage waiting.
Sunday - Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Monday - Sea Day. It sounds boring, but it's nice to relax and get to know the ship.
Tuesday - Athens,  Greece
Wednesday - Ephesus, Turkey
Thursday - Sea Day
Friday - Split Croatia
Saturday - Back in Venice. The night before you pack your bags (with a small bag for toiletries that night) and leave them outside of your room. You should have already selected which time you'd like to leave the boat. That morning there is time for breakfast and looking out the windows at Venice. You then exit the ship and pick up your bags.

Turns out we are QUITE the shuffleboard champs. Daniel and I beat a couple in their 60s from Scotland. And later that week my dad and Daniel beat a bunch of guys in a tournament. At the end of the week I had "shuffleboard shoulder."

Our cruise director was AWESOME! His name is Gary. He made announcements every morning and evening in 5 languages with a perfect accent: English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish...he also knows Greek, but apparently didn't need it. His vocabulary is out of a movie and all you want to do is listen to him...he could probably sell poop. His history is SO interesting, and any place Gary was speaking, Daniel and I were there, along with a bunch of older women who probably had crushes on him, as well. He has a book about his showbiz days, cruise directing days, and his animal shelter...we haven't bought it...yet. We probably miss him the most.

Our room was smaller than a hotel, but we really only slept in there, or watched movies on the various stations. We often switched between the English and German station (the Muppets in German are great!).

Out of all the shows, the husband/wife acrobat duo was AMAZING (they use to perform with Cirque Du Soleil)! I had a little crush on them, too. One day I was getting tea and standing right next to them...that guy had arm muscles the size of my waist (pre-pregnancy), while managing to be 6 inches shorter than me.

The whole cruise was awesome, love Norwegian Cruise Lines and hope to go to the Baltics and Alaska with them some day!


Venice, Italy

1:09 PM Mallory Nicole 0 Comments

Venice is a beautiful city tourist attraction. Yes. I would not really call the island a city, because
there is not a feel for local life, just for tourism. You may be fine with that, you may not. I am glad we were able to visit, though we generally life to get a feel for the culture.  

                                                 Gondolas                                                                                                                                    St Mark's Square

We managed to see what we wanted of St. Mark's the morning before we got on the cruise ship (our cruise began and ended in Venice), though we never walked inside any of the attractions. Lines are long, and the place was crowded. Throughout our time on the island we saw a lot of St Marks, as we often found ourselves passing through it to get to different sections.

 View from the Bridge of Sighs

The sites are definitely beautiful, and there is no lack of souvenirs to be found. We stayed and extra two nights in Venice, thinking that we paid to fly over there, we might as well get the best of it. This brings me to my tips for Venice:

1. Yes, you should visit if it's your heart's desire, but I would recommend visiting while on a tour of Italy, maybe just a one night stay. We were seriously twiddling our thumbs by the evening we got off of the Cruise ship. Maybe we would have wanted to see more, if we had not spent a week traveling around the Mediterranean just before that. On our second day off the ship our mission was to find the McDonalds (we saw an advertisement for it on a trash can near the Rialto bridge).

2. Dress nicely. Jeans, no tshirts, well fitted clothing. Europeans dress remarkably well...all the time. We saw men with fitted jeans (not skinny, they just weren't baggy), button up shirts tucked in with sleeves rolled up and casual shoes (not chucks, or tennis shoes). Women were often wearing skinny jeans with little to no fading, flat shoes, and a nice blouse or shirt. You would also see dresses and skirts, all of the clothing fitting well.

3. Be prepared for a weather change. The day we got off of the boat, we were all sweating in our shorts and short-sleeved shirts...I was even wearing a sleeveless shirt. The next day, temps dropped, and it was cloudy. Daniel and I had to run around trying to find a warm jacket to wear that wasn't expensive. Yes, there are plenty of stores there like Burberry, Mui Mui, Versaci, and other various high priced stores. Finding a place that was right on our price tag...more tricky.

4. This wasn't really a shock to us, but I think I should mention it: Americans tend to add more fat and flavor to their meals...Mexican food in Mexico is more bland and less cheesy than Tex-Mex, and Italian food in Italy is less creamy and cheesy than say...Olive Garden. It still tastes great, but some people may want to be warned.

5. Pack tightly. Please. You will regret having to pull more than one small suitcase onto water buses and over cobblestone streets with a lot of steps (there aren't ramps). Daniel and I each brought a suitcase the size of a carry on, with all of our clothes rolled tightly. Others in our travels packed a large suitcase that a human body could fit in, plus an extra carry on sized suitcase. Out of those people, one had some leg troubles, and one has had back troubles in the past that I was worried about flaring up. SO the pregnant girl and the strapping young lad tried to take as much of the luggage of their hands as possible. After many...subtle...comments about packing tendencies, they agreed that they would pack more tightly and lightly next time, and pay for a laundry service is needed.

Water buses are packed and busy; you do not want to be even more overwhelmed than you already are.

6. I've heard Europe is pricey, especially with the Euro to Dollar exchange rate, but Venice probably got away with even higher prices, since their sole income is tourism. Just be prepared. If you are a wine drinker, it will be cheaper than bottled water and soda, so I'd say go for it. Tap water is drinkable, so drink it, and don't waste $4 on a 20oz bottle of water if you don't have to. AND as with most of Europe a public Water Closet (toilet, restroom) will cost you 1 Euro with minimal places to find one.

View from the Rialto bridge of the Grand Canal

It was all worth admiring a city built out of the water, older than our country. And I'm happy to be able to say that I went there, so in 20 years (I may be exaggerating) when it has been taken over by water, I can say I have been there.


Split, Croatia

12:34 PM Mallory Nicole 3 Comments

Split was one of those ports I was glad to visit at the end. It was easy, and more about experiencing the Croatian culture than being a tourist. Unlike Dubrovnik, Athens and Ephesus, Split had a real life perspective. It seemed like there was a University near by the students we saw all over, as well as some stores we recognized.

From the cruise ship we had to take a tender to port, but once at the dock, you were in the city; for all of the other ports you needed some sort of transportation to get to the sites. The photo above is from the dock, and it was a spectacular view. There is quite an area to explore by foot where no cars can drive. There were so many locals at cafes in alleys enjoying wine or espresso.

There was also a HUGE farmer's market. We walked through the market where fruit was sold, and thought that was huge, then we saw it continued in another square, THEN we saw that the vegetable market was in another square. This was obviously how locals shopped, their way of wasn't something people trying to be green, organic, or hip were doing. A much different perspective!

The photos above show the older part of the city, including a wall, that you can tour. It is definitely the most "touristy" spot you can visit.

What I didn't see until we were taking the tender back to the ship, but there was a beautiful beach tucked away behind cliffs. If I ever went back, I'd take a bus there!

Tips for Split:
Relax, enjoy, observe and eat gelato!

Only one more city to go...Venice. There are tons of photos to choose from for that post...we'll see if I can keep them down!