Dear family and friends,
You’ll hear about an assortment of people from this trip so here’s a reference guide to the cast of characters:
We planned this trip for more than a year and dreamed about it for several. We’re travel addicts and parents of the best pup in the world, Truffle. Known to be seen with a guidebook surreptitiously stowed away to be consulted as subtly as possible. Love to eat, meet people, eat more and take large quantities of photos.
Travel co-planner and sharer of giddy phone calls before the trip and giddy giggles during. May be found on a marble slab in a Turkish bath, playing with puppies in a mountain village or bargaining at a lamp store in Istanbul. Fond of a little ice cream with her sprinkles and shows great skill as a navigator in far flung cities.
Husband to Holly and dance companion for those of us with non-dancing husbands. Can often be found in the front seat of taxis or shuttles chatting with the driver, or making new friends in every locale. Font of information on boat and construction matters – helpful to have along on a water based and ruins-centered trip!
Hailing from Australia, this couple is house-sitting their way around the world. They’re actually a couple of angels, don’t be fooled by their human appearance. They took perfect care of our house, showered Truffle with affection, and made our home a haven to return to after an exhausting travel day. Two of the kindest souls I’ll ever know.
We met this charming couple on CruiseCritic.com and shared a hair-rising shuttle ride from Rome to the port with them and their lovely daughter. We were fortunate to run into them several times more on the ship and out and about, and really enjoyed their company. We’d love to see them again.
Dan the man, bartender <no photo>
We met Dan at the martini tasting our first night one board. Impressively, he remembered all our names through the rest of the trip, though partway through he slipped and thought Brian’s name was Barry. I answered to Mrs. Barry the rest of the trip. Like the rest of the staff on board, Dan provided impeccable and good-natured service.
This couple from England made us laugh every night — Christina’s love of shopping especially made for funny stories. Brian and Michael found much political common ground so I didn’t converse much with my husband at dinner.
This sweet couple from Massachusetts provided great fun company every night too. Both couples found us adventurous because we visited the “ports” on our own — we enjoying swapping travel tales every night.
Our waiter provided flawless service every night as well as a continual source of behind-the-menu giggles for Holly and me who found his polished manner and Latin American accent irresistible. He also met all our meal requests no matter how persnickety with a good-humored “of course!” Luckily our husbands were good-humored as well about our silly behavior.
Our quadlingual guide Yusuf picked us up from our hotel in Istanbul and led us through the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Unfortunately he took us to a ceramic shop too — not part of my plan for our limited time in Istanbul. He was very knowledgeable though, and shared a lot of information with us and was most patient with our many questions about the Muslim faith.
(I should have written down her name in Turkish but in English it’s Jade). She and a driver took us to visit the ancient ruins of Ephesus, St John’s Basilica, and the mountain village of Sirince. Jade, like Yusuf, had a wealth of information to share about the area and its history. She took us to a lovely outdoor restaurant for lunch where we feasted on plate after plate of mezes and had bottled water and wine all for U.S. $10 each. We couldn’t have possibly done all we did that day without her.
Holly read about this spooncrafter in the mountains of Turkey and very much wanted to see him on this trip. Fortunately our guide Jade knew where to take us. Up in the distant village of Sirince this happy artisan crafts spoons from olive and cedar and was thrilled to share the art with us. He’s 65 but his weathered face looks 20 years older. His luminous eyes are the blue of the Mediterranean sea and speak of a love of life. That’s why I was moved almost to tears when he told our guide he thought my eyes looked like his. What do you think – is there a resemblance?
We spent the afternoon of our wedding anniversary in the most perfect possible way — cruising around the Isle of Capri with our gregarious captain Luigi in his prized boat. He took great pride in pointing out the (many!) beautiful and interesting locales around the island and very skillfully guided the boat up to a number of the incredible grottoes. His sons also pilot boats around the island.
We met this fun and incredibly kind couple our first night in Jonquière while having dinner in the village’s only restaurant. We chatted during the meal and accompanied them at their invitation for pastis afterwards at Chez Michel. We so enjoyed visiting with them and hearing tales of their life’s adventures (they’ve been married longer than we’ve been around). We spent several evenings with them and had lunch at their gracious invitation in their beautiful home. A four hour Provencal lunch outdoors with entertaining and generous hosts is an experience not to be forgotten. We hope to see them again one day.
Despite the formidable language barrier (my French is limited and elementary at best and Michel spoke no English) we went home with a new friend in Provence. Fond of pouring pastis with a whopping punch, Michel is très gentile (very kind) and, along with Pat and Tom, made our stay in the village feel like home.
Tina is Michel’s dog, and keeps a watch out the door all day. She’s fond of playing ball and likes to stand with her paws on the bar. When I missed Truffle Tina provided canine companionship.