"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

HAL Nieuw Amsterdam on Cozumel Island

So our cruise is all set, and we are psyched. We are going on a transatlantic cruise on Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam. My husband and our niece are going too, with stops in Horta, Portugal, Gibraltar and Motril, Alicante and Palma de Mallorca, Spain ... before arriving at Barcelona! 

So to my utter surprise and delight, what sat docked in Cozumel when we went to lunch at Chi downtown today, but our ship ... the Nieuw Amsterdam. I love Holland America, and one of the main reasons is the awesome crew. Hailing mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines, the crew are just amazing ... warm and well-trained, always with a smile and a kind word.

I introduced myself to a few of the guys off the Nieuw Amsterdam shown above. Can't wait to see them again in April! Thanks for being so awesome even off-duty. You should be proud, Holland America!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bye Bye Norway

Bergen, Norway
I have spent a better part of the last six months looking forward to my solitary cruise, just like I have done the last three years. I pick a wonderful place in Europe to get on a cruise and then go to other wonderful places. This year I picked Norway. It was all set up. The airlines tickets were booked. The cruise was paid for. Then I happened to notice a major reduction in the fare for a Transatlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona. The only problem was I would get back home and have to leave again eight days later. Not only would it be exhausting, it would be way too expensive.

Seven Sisters waterfall

So I did something totally unexpected. I began the process of canceling my Norway cruise, so I can travel with my husband and our 19 year old niece on a Transatlantic cruise. I am so psyched. Canceling and moving the money for the cruise was fairly painless. There was only a small amount of money that needs credited back to us. But the airlines tickets were not easy. Being that I booked in Mexico on American, it will take about 6 weeks for me to get the taxes back.

Old Bergen

So Norway, I will miss you this time. We must meet at a later date. More to follow on our upcoming Transatlantic cruise!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Santorini Revisted

Typical architecture of Santorini
My niece and I were in Santorini on a cruise from Rome to Rome, doing the Eastern Med itinerary. I had already heard it was Heavenly from a friend who worked on the cruise ships for ten years. It was her favorite place on earth, she told me, and it has also become mine. (I commented on this in an earlier post.) Digging out my photos, I realized that my niece, Sarah, had taken some great photos of Santorini, so here I am revisiting Santorini.

View from up top
 We took a great tour from the ship that went to Oia and a winery. We then did lunch on our own after that was amazing. The food is as awesome as the view. After lunch, my niece talked me in to going to the black sand beach - which was really more like a black rock beach. Boy did those rocks hurt the feet.

Black sand beach, or is it black rock beach?
 I can not put in to words how wonderful Santorini is. First of all, the people are so warm and friendly. I will never forget the marvelous conversation my niece and I had with the kid who worked on the tender taking us back to the ship. He told us his whole life story in the 20 minute ride. I thought people from Naples wore their heart on their sleeve, but this kid was just the same way. I could tell he was smitten with my niece, but he seemed to like speaking to me (the old lady) just as much. 

Cruise ships below

Donkeys from Fira

Great food, architecture made in Heaven and sea and mountain views that go on and on.  When we finished soaking up some rays, we were tired and decided to try our hand at a taxi going back. Haggling was necessary as we were low on euros and the taxi driver did not want to accept dollars. In the end, he took a combination of both but was not very happy about it. We jumped in a taxi with some strangers. We were all shoved in the back seat and my niece took a photo of us. Splendid!

Taxi ride, me in the hat on the right.