September 11, 2008
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Updates
Hello again. I know we shouldn’t gloat, but we have been enjoying a stunning summer here in the Mediterranean, in fact apart from a quick shower when we visited Livorno two weeks ago, I think it was back in the Baltic in July when we last saw rain. Although it’s very hot (again something those of you in Britain may not want to hear), everyone is enjoying this incredible itinerary and I know our guests have appreciated the calm seas which again (not wishing to tempt fate) we have enjoyed all season. Mind you we British aren’t too good with extreme temperatures; I had to laugh when speaking to one of our guests the other day, who had been looking forward to the voyage for a considerable amount of time, remarked “It’s lovely but this is a bit hot for me”. I suppose we are a nation who likes the weather to behave itself and stay in the 60’s and 70’s (that’s 15 – 25 degrees Celsius). That’s another thing that always fascinated me; why, when the temperatures are low do we say Celsius, and when they are high we say Fahrenheit – dramatic effect perhaps! Mind you thank goodness for modern luxury air-conditioned buses, I can only imagine what touring these areas would have been like before this modern marvel.
Talking of travel modes, Queen Victoria made her maiden call to Santorini on the 9th of September, and those of you who are familiar with this beautiful island will be aware, donkeys (although most were in fact mules) are one of the transport methods on offer. Approaching the island by ship is stunning and a short tender ride will take you to the bottom of what looks to be a sheer cliff. Then it’s decision time, you can choose the easy option and take the very modern gondola cable car to the top, or for the adventurous you can try a ride on one of what appeared to be about a hundred donkeys, or for the fit you could try the walk. Walking was the cheapest option and of course helped justify having a welcoming cold beer at the top, but no one warns you about the effects all those donkeys’ digestions has on the state of the track, not to mention the nasal passages. It certainly adds a whole new meaning to taking in all that lovely fresh Mediterranean air, not a sensation I had been anticipating. However being a farmer’s son and country boy, this wasn’t as much of a shock to the system as it was to the flip flop wearing group, who spent their time concentrating on where they walked, for fear of stepping in something they would rather not. Yes, sensible footwear is the order of the day and once you have started walking up, it’s a bit late to realize that may be your chic high heeled shoes aren’t the best things for such occasions. But odours and what had been deposited on the track aside, every time you turned another corner on that, (what seemed to go on forever), path you were rewarded by another amazing view and an opportunity to compare ships as you overlooked their top decks. Once at the top you could hear the gasps of delight, from those who had now forgotten their need for oxygen half way up, as they admired the views whilst being overheard saying to others “Oh didn’t you walk up – it was only a bit of a stroll you know!” If that all seems too much like hard work for a holiday, don’t worry you can splash out 4 Euros (each way) on the cable car, or for the same money but more daring, a ride either way on donkeys, who actually looked reasonably content to have tourists of varying sizes plonked on their backs! Either way Santorini is a perfect place to visit for the day with lots of bars, restaurants and shops to visit, as well as the historical part that shows you the archeological sites discovered last century that had been covered by volcanic ash nearly 3,500 years before.
Well my time is up already but I’ll be back next week, with more news from the Cunard world, and I’ll be chatting to Melvyn Bragg (those of you from the UK will know him from Radio 4 and ITV’s “The Southbank Show”), who is sailing on Queen Victoria this voyage, but in the meantime, thanks for logging on. Please do write in, because it would be great to receive your questions, news, views and ideas, after all as I mentioned last week, this is our blog and We Are Cunard!
Cheers – Alastair