Category Archives: Italy

Corfu, Greece and Bari, Italy May 25, 2023

Leaving Istanbul, we had gone as far north as planned and now turned south and headed back towards Greece. The next day was a sea day. After three busy port days in a row, we really enjoyed a restful day at sea. We were invited to a Captain’s Reception in the late morning with complimentary champagne and snacks. We were entertained by two of the ship’s dancers doing the tango. We also enjoyed playing Yahtzee with our new dinner friends.

Our next stop was the Greek island of Corfu. There are about 200 inhabited islands in Greece. The island of Corfu, pop. 32,000, is located in the Ionian Sea.

We did not have an excursion booked here and planned to explore on our own. We caught a shuttle which took us to the end of the long pier where we then caught a local city bus into the town center. With roots going back to the 8th century B.C. and after spending years under French and British rule, it became part of Greece in 1864.  It is flanked by two fortresses which did defended the city’s maritime interests against the Ottoman Empire. The Old Fortress was built in the 15th -16th century and the New Fortress in the 16th century.

We took these pictures inside the Holy Church of Saint Spyridon a Greek Orthodox Church.

We enjoyed walking around the city, crowded with cruise passengers, and even found a geocache. 

Our final port of this cruise was Bari, Italy. Unfortunately I was ill and unable to go ashore. Bill took a local bus into town to get me some medicine at the local pharmacy. It was difficult due to a language barrier, but he managed. He snapped a few pictures while he was in town.

Sunset from our Balcony

Next up: Disembarkation day and flight to England 

Spoiler alert! I am feeling better. 

Trieste, Italy May 16, 2023

The rainy weather continued so we took a taxi to catch the train to Trieste, Italy. The lady at the hotel reception desk called the taxi for us and said it shouldn’t cost more than five euros for the short ride to the station. Sure enough when we got to the station the taxi driver said the fare was four euros. We gave him a tip and we were all happy. 

Unlike the train stations in Vienna and Graz, this station was old and run down. The elevator wasn’t working when we arrived three days ago and still wasn’t working. With no escalators we had to haul our luggage down the steps into the station tunnel. Three days ago we had to haul our luggage up the steps. Even worse. They did have an interesting conveyor belt to move your luggage up or down the next set of steps to the train platform. You place your luggage on the conveyor belt and walk up or down the steps beside it. Too bad they don’t have the conveyor belt for all the steps. 

Unlike the trains from Vienna and Graz, this train was crowded. Once again we were in a compartment with six seats, but every seat was taken. Even worse, Bill had to hoist the luggage into the luggage racks overhead. With rain on the windows and since we did not have window seats, we didn’t get any pictures from the train on the three hour ride. Eventually one person left and then another, and it was just us and one other couple. They were from Brazil and were shy to try to speak any English. Eventually the ice broke and we had a great time talking with them. Since we know zero Portuguese, we were impressed with their English skills. They love to travel and their dream is to  live in Portugal. 

The last hour flew by and we arrived in Trieste, Italy (pop 204,000). Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy on the Adriatic Sea. Trieste is one of the largest and most important harbors on the Adriatic Sea. We had booked an apartment here for two nights and it was close enough to walk to even though it was drizzling rain. We had raincoats and an umbrella. No big deal. It was a great place with a sitting area, kitchen with microwave and mini fridge, large bedroom, and best of all a washing machine. No dryer but a fold up drying rack was sufficient as things dried quickly. We spent most of one day washing clothes and getting a few groceries for breakfast and snacks. They had an Aldi grocery store in Trieste. In Austria and Slovenia they had Hofer grocery stores which is another name for Aldi. They all looked just like the Aldi store I shop at in Florida.

Trieste’s popularity and growth is due to its recent focus as a cruise ship port. In the past, most cruise ships in the region sailed out of Venice. In 2021, Venice closed its doors to berthing many large cruise ships due to rising water levels around the city. The ancient streets were at risk of crumbling and congestion from port traffic was increasing. The answer lay in the deep water port of Trieste.

Trieste is a mix of Mediterranean and central European heritage. The Unity of Italy Square is the main square in Trieste with the most spectacular architecture in the city that is a mix of Austria and Italy influence. 

Sigmund Freud and author James Joyce lived in Trieste. There is a statue of James Joyce located in one of the town squares near the “canal”.

Canal Grande is a beautiful building located near the plaza. It dates back to the mid 18th century.

All along the plaza and canal areas are churches, palaces and other buildings dating to the first half of the 19th century.

Trieste has a beautiful waterfront area where people enjoy strolling throughout the day and evenings.

There are many more things to see than we had time for in our two days there. Our reason for traveling to Trieste was to catch a cruise ship for a Mediterranean cruise to Greece and Turkey (which as of June, 2022 is now spelled “Turkiye”). So on May 18th we boarded the MSC Splendida for a nine day cruise.

Its time to leave when you see the pilot boat

The first full day was a sea day. The next day we were supposed to stop at the port of Katakolon, Greece where we had booked an excursion to the archeological site of Olympia where the ancient Olympic games were held every four years from 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.  We were actually all ready to go and waiting for our bus to be called when the captain came on the loudspeaker to announce the port had to be aborted. Strong winds, which were going to increase later in the day, would make  it unsafe for the shop to get out of the port. It was a big disappointment and caught us all by surprise. Instead we had another day at sea. 

Next up: A much anticipated visit to Athens, the Acropolis and the Parthenon. 


Fiumicino, Italy & Vienna, Austria May 8, 2023

On Monday, May 8th our transatlantic cruise came to an end. It was disembarkation day! We took a shuttle from the port of Civitavecchia to the Rome airport, a one and a half hour bus ride. We were staying the night in Fiumicino, a small town on the outskirts of Rome. We had chosen this hotel because they provided free transportation to and from the airport. We were only staying one night before our early flight to Vienna the next day. The owner of the hotel spoke very little English and we speak no Italian other than ciao (hello) grazie (thank you) and arrivederci (goodbye). So we all used Google translate to communicate. By the way, unlike the United States, any kind of hotel shuttle to and from the airport is hard to find, and free transportation is unheard of. 

The hotel was small but our room was clean and pleasant and we were pleased with our choice. 

We walked three blocks down to the beach overlooking the Mediterranean Sea but it was spitting rain so we didn’t stay long.

On the way back we stopped by a supermarket a block from our hotel for some snacks and drinks for lunch. The checkout girl was chatting away until she looked up and saw our blank expressions. She said, “Oh!” but between the three of us we communicated enough to check out.

After a relaxing afternoon we walked a few blocks to a little family run restaurant for pizza. Again very limited English. The pizza was not the best but we were hungry and made the best of it. We found one TV station in our room that had English translation with some older CBS shows like “The Rookie” and “CSI Los Angeles”.  There were many tv stations but only one that had English language as a choice. 

The  next morning we were up bright and early at 5:00 AM. When we opened our patio door we could hear birds chirping away. I don’t know that we have ever heard so many birds singing so loudly. At 5:45 as promised our host was there to drive us back to the airport.

We had breakfast at the airport before our flight on Austrian Airlines to Vienna. Bill and I slept during most of the 90 minute flight. Our transportation to the hotel was waiting for us. We were very pleased with our hotel in Vienna called Hotel Caroline. Even though it was before noon, they let us in our room early. The room was large with a sitting area, mini-fridge and large safe. The bathroom was also a nice size. 

After unpacking a few items we walked to lunch and stopped by a supermarket for some drinks and snacks. There was a cold breeze blowing and we were glad to have jackets! After walking to dinner later that evening we had logged seven miles for the day. 

Next up: A full day of sightseeing in Vienna with lots of pictures.