Monday, 5 November 2012
Cruise to Africa
"Cruise to Africa" The 11 day cruise to Africa on the NCL Jade went by in a flash for me. Lori found the two sea days to get there and come back a little boring. I might have to sedate her on the 15 day Atlantic crossing. We decided together to only do two ship excursions for the big events like Jerusalem in Israel and the Pyramids in Egypt and explore on our own on the other 4 ports of call. This was a wise balance of our time, shekels,Egyptian pounds, Euros, and the good old American greenback. (always carry the Euro and USA $ for back up) Our first port of call was Alanya, Turkey. We hiked to the Alanya Castle on the hilltop over looking the city and Harbour in the morning. We had rain in the afternoon which hampered our walk about but Lori scored a haircut. Our second port was Limassol, Cyprus. I had an anxiety attack about missing out on something and jumped on an excursion at the last minute to see a castle, monastery and wine museum with tasting. Lori walked on her own and we both had a good day. I brought some bottled treats back for sharing the better tastes of the day. Our third port was Haifa, Israel and we made an excellent full day of self tour together. We jumped on a local bus to Nazareth. We were planning on jumping onto a second bus so we could make it to the Sea of Galilee for a swim but decided we would not have enough time. We saw the church of Enunciation and a historic old village of Nazareth that was very interesting. Once back in Haifa we walked to the Bahai Gardens and then to the Church built on top of Elijah's Cave. It was a long hike back to our ship and we sprinted the whole way so we could make happy hour. Our fourth port was Ashdod, Israel. On this day we took a ship's excursion to Jerusalem which included a look out stop from the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane and a walking tour inside the original walled city of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall. Our tour guide was a young Jewish woman who did a remarkable job of Israeli and biblical history. The tour took a lot of patience as everywhere we went there were traffic jams and the sites were very crowded with tourists. We both were happy that at least the weather was comfortable; to be in such crowded conditions on a hot summer day would be unbearable. Our fifth port was Port Said, in Egypt. We again did a ship's excursion to see the Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza. This was a long day as we needed to travel 2 1/2 hours by bus each way to get there. We also went to the oldest pyramid at Saqqara and saw the tomb. We had an opportunity to go down inside a pyramid to the tomb. Lori and I gave it a go but I came running back after three paces into the dark , low tunnel. Lori made it all the way with a handful of other brave souls. She has guts for garters. We also visited the buried city of Memphis with some remarkable statues of Ramses 11. On the trip to and from Giza our buses went in a convoy with military escort front and back. We again had a very nice and knowledgable Muslim lady as our guide. On our sixth and last port of Alexandria we walked on our own again. We reluctantly accepted an offer of horse and buggy ride which did not turn out well at all. Lesson learned. We did have a nice walk along the East Harbor and a visit to their magnificent library/ museum. The walk back to the ship was done with some nervousness at a fast pace. The people were polite to us but we caused a bit of a scene which made you feel a little vulnerable. There are not many tourists in the streets yet and because the Muslims were enjoying a major religious holiday the streets were very busy with people. There was a feeling of wild west lawless at times with cars and people going in all directions in the streets and horses pulling carts and buggies, sometimes with kids driving them, neck and neck with taxi cabs. We were happy to make it back to the ship before dark. Our two days of sailing back to Civitevecia, was more of the usual, lots of exercise activities to off set the over eating. We figure by the time we make it across the Atlantic we will be line dancing pros. We arrived back to the port of Civitavecchia in the rain and as I write this we are on the train heading to Genoa. It looks like we might get a few sunny days to walk Cinque Terra. Next chapter to come; "Italia Part 2".