What a month!! I have been out of the blogosphere for the past few weeks. Now I am back home. Back to blogging. With both feet on the ground.
The vacation is over. And the cruise, too. Our last day on board made me wonder how I managed to work on a cruise ship back in the days.. No matter the strength of the wind. Maybe I was so busy working that I had no time to think about it too much..nor to get sick..
But despite the last pretty rocky day, walking around like drunk without drinking, rigorously with my sea-bands around my wrists (which didn’t help that much this time), while feeling like being inside of a washing machine during the spin cycle… And yes, despite all of this, it was an awesome trip! Crazy? Not at all. All the beauty we have seen and visited made it so worth it!
We decided to spend a few days on the Island of Mallorca before hopping on the cruise. May is a really good month to travel. Well, at least it is for the Mediterranean area. The weather is mild, and the big crowds of tourists haven’t reached the hotels and coasts yet. Perfect conditions to enjoy a nice stay!
This was my second time on the Island. I must be a big exception in Germany, given the fact that Mallorca is the no. 1 vacation spot for Germans. We booked our trip pretty last-minute (as usual..). So I didn’t really get a chance to plan everything ahead, incl. which places to visit, etc. But I’m glad that we still managed to see some really nice villages. Especially Cala Figuera, a stunning little fisherman’s village, that I will never forget!
A few days later it was time to drive back to Palma, where our boat was already waiting at the pier. We chose AIDA, a German cruise line. Simply because we liked the itinerary of this cruise. I recommend it though only for German speaking travelers, as the main language on board is German, including announcements, activities, daily programs, and much more.
Our goal was to avoid a cruise that stops at a different port every single day. That is another reason why we chose this itinerary. Besides Palma de Mallorca, being the departure and arrival port, we had four more stops and two days at sea. Should you ever consider going on a cruise and you are not familiar with it yet, I’d highly recommend choosing one that spends at least one day at sea. There is enough to do and sea on board, no matter which cruise line. It definitely won’t get boring! Hitting a different port every day can be quite exhausting. Imagine being out the whole day, no matter whether you booked a tour or you are going by yourself, trying to see as much as possible..
Talking about excursions.. We did everything on our own. First of all because I enjoy it to be flexible. I want to be able to decide where to stop, what to see, to take a break whenever I feel like it, and I’d like to shop where I want to. It might not always be the case, but my experience is that during these organized tours by the cruise lines, they take the passengers to certain stores, where they get encouraged to shop. I never liked that. Not even when I was part of the crew.
However, it depends on the countries. In certain places, where public transportation might be a hassle or non existent, an organized tour could be the only and best option to go for.
Our first stop was in Southern France, in the cute little village of Villefranche-sur-mère. The port is way too small for the large boats. So we tendered instead of docking. It is very easy to get out of there by train, thanks to the short distances. We took the train to Monaco (Monte-Carlo) first, which is only a 15 minutes train ride away. Assuming there is no strike and the trains run, which happens quite frequently in France. We got lucky. The strike was scheduled for the very next day!
I like Monaco. Even people watching can be interesting and amusing at times, being the hot spot for the rich and richer out there. But that’s not the reason why I enjoy visiting. It’s mostly the coastline with its stunning views that I love. However, had I remembered that only two weeks later the Formula 1 was going to take place right there, I’d have probably picked a different place to visit. Most views were obstracted. Fences, tribunes, tires and sponsor signs everywhere. I bet Formula 1 fans would have enjoyed that view..
A few hours later we were back on the train. Before we reached Villefranche, we stopped in Èze. A local bus took us from the train station to the wonderful small medieval village in the mountains. We explored the narrow streets and steps going up and down with the tiny little craft shops, and even more the stunning views over the coast.
While one of the biggest advantages of a cruise is that you get to see so many different places and countries within a few days, it automatically comes with the disadvantage of lacking time. We would have loved to spend more time in Èze, to see the wonderful garden with the breathtaking views and to visit the perfume factory’s stores. But we had to make it back to the ship.
What I experienced a few years ago, while I was cruising with a friend of mine, taught me a lesson. For good. We enjoyed our trip (two hours away from the port!) so much, that we ran out of time. Which resulted in a little unexpected ‘fame’ on board, on our very first day. The cruise personnel called us on our cellphones, wondering where we were, as they were ready to leave. I still remember running like crazy along the huge port. Everybody was looking out of their balconies. They had to pull out again the gangway. How embarrassing! And once on board the captain announced that the two last stranded passengers where finally there.. Oh boy. Long story short: We got really lucky! Therefore, keep checking the time, and plan ahead (train schedules, etc.) if you’re considering visiting anything on your own. And don’t underestimate the distances!
OK, that’s it for today! Stay tuned! More Mediterranean cruise stories coming up soon.. :)