Category Archives: Travel Essay

Misadventure to Our Epic Journey

Sister’s Travel Adventure Series

Epic Cruise Adventure 2016

British Airways Flight 632 London to Athens, Cancelled.

We wake on the morning of our Epic Cruise Adventure to find out that our connecting flight to Athens is cancelled! All flights in and out of Greece have been cancelled.

The air traffic controllers of Greece have threatened to go on strike. We knew that they were threatening. We called British Airways yesterday to see if we should fly out early and they told us there was nothing to worry about.

Now they have cancelled our flight to Athens! Several more calls to the airlines and to Carnival Cruise lines. Our goal is to get to Piraeus in time for the ship but our backup plan is if we can’t get into Greece in time that we will fly to Malta and get the ship there.

Still hopeful we can get to Athens in time, we go to Logan for our flight for London and see what arrangements can be made when we check-in.

Standing at the British Airways flight desk we explain our dilemma to the customer service agents. One agent begins to check us in for our flight to London while another wonderful agent is looking for new flights that are being added to Greece. The two wonderful women are doing their best to help us get to Athens.

After several searches she pulls up a flight that leaves London 12 hours after we arrive. It is the first new scheduled flight out. Excitedly jumping up and down we thank the understanding and helpful British Airways customer service agents. We don’t even care about spending a day in the Heathrow airport.

Change of planes, change of plans. As we wait for our flight to London we cancel all our Athens reservations. We are not going to arrive in time to stay in Athens or take the tour of Athens we had booked. Knowing we will still arrive the day before our ship we book a hotel at the port for that Monday night before the ship leaves on Tuesday. Sitting in Logan airport waiting for our flight to London the beginning of our Epic Journey is revamped and rebooked.

Our flight to London is on time. We are on our way. Exhausted we arrive in London at 9 AM on Sunday morning. I tried to sleep on the flight but to no avail. It will be a miracle if either of us can get any sleep at the airport. The anxiety of not knowing if we would make it to the ship and now the time changes have me tired but awake unable to sleep.

The day is inching along moment by moment, hour by hour. Our flight isn’t even on the flight board yet. We walk around Heathrow to see the available food options. I need tea and food. We choose a restaurant and have breakfast.

We are in London and stuck inside this terminal. Susan is disappointed that we are stuck inside the airport and not able to at least go out and explore London. London is one of the places on her bucket list. If only we could go out and sightsee! All we are seeing of London is the airport.

Hours tick by….we close our eyes at times jolting awake just as we begin to nod off.  We take turns sitting with the carry-ons and walking around the terminal. A few more hours tick by. We are constantly looking at the flight board for our flight to show up. We notice that the flights on the board do not list a gate but a time when the gate will be shown. Gates are shown when the boarding begins. We do not like this. We would like to at least be sitting around the gate or area where our gate for our flight will be.

Our flight is on the flight board! Still hours away but now at least we know that it is still scheduled. Rest my eyes, take a walk, look at the flight board, rest my eyes, take a walk, check the flight board, Rest my eyes, take a walk, have something to drink, check the flight board. Rest my eyes, take a walk, and get something to eat, check the flight board. Close my eyes, check the flight board, sit and look around, check the flight board. Hours crawl by. Check the flight board. Check the flight board again.

There are two ladies sitting nearby they too are waiting for the same flight we are. Time inches by minute by minute. It seems to be slowing down as we inch closer and closer to the time our flight gate is to be announce. All four of us now are annoyed. We have waited all day why are they not telling us what gate our flight is leaving from.

Then it flips over and says please wait. Please Wait! We have been waiting all day!! One of the other ladies goes and asks a customer service representative, Gate A1. We head in that direction. And finally it is announced, Gate A1.

The gate area is filling up quickly. We are told the flight is slightly delayed. Several other people are heading for the same cruise we are. Some people like the two ladies we have been talking to are heading home to Greece after being stuck in London for a couple of extra days.

And finally our flight boards. It is now after 10 PM London time. Sleeping is impossible. Everyone is restlessly awaiting arrival in Athens. Touch down is at 3 AM Monday morning. The airport is essentially deserted except for the airline employees, immigration and custom agents waiting our arrival. The immigration agent just takes our passport and stamps them. They do not question what we are doing in Greece, where we are going or how long we are staying. They just want to get us out of here as fast as possible.

Outside the terminal, in the dark we get a taxi to take us out to the hotel at the port and hope they will have someplace where we can sleep. We are way beyond exhausted now.

On our way our taxi driver points out the Acropolis light up in the night sky. That is about all of Athens we will see. We arrive at the Dream Hotel in Piraeus, Greece at about 5 AM Monday morning.

The hotel receptionist realizes that we are fatigued and tries to find us a room where we can sleep until our room is ready. She provides us with a room key and says they will call us when our room is ready. Grateful we head up in the tiny elevator to a small room and fall into bed and asleep.

At 12:30 pm the phone rings in our room. The front desk lets us know our room is ready for us to move into. We are beginning to come alive. We may not be in Athens but we are in Greece so we will venture out and see what we can see of this port city, Piraeus.

We are just happy to be in Greece in time to make the ship tomorrow. Today we step into our Epic Journey after having another misadventure to our adventure! It just wouldn’t be one of our Sister Travel Adventures without some kind of misadventure in getting to our starting destination. This time it was not just me who had the misadventure! It was both of us together.

Our misadventure to Greece was easy compared to some of our fellow cruise passengers. Some passengers had more difficulties and complicated journeys to get to Piraeus. Some passengers had to use the backup plan and catch the ship in Malta. Still others gave up and cancelled their voyage.

 

 

Restlessness in Homeport

I am about to embark on an Epic Journey of a lifetime. My sister planned this trip while I was enjoying our last cruise. A year always seems so far away when you plan something special. You wonder if it will ever arrive.

Life goes on day by day. My everyday life is sometimes crazy busy filled with work and social obligations and other times somewhat like a vacation itself. I live in a beach community that fills with tourists during the summer season. The islands life and economy revolve around this time of year.

Some of the locals get very caught up in daily life and never enjoy the island or the beach. I try not to let that happen. I spend as much time on the beach as possible. I have a social circle of friends that get together regularly. I intermingle work, beach and fun weaving a life that many would envy. Tourists ask about my life and many do envy it.

I love my life. I wish I made more money. I wish I could find a way to earn money and do the things I love. I putter at it often trying to make it happen but nothing has manifested. I keep focused on enjoying life the best I can.

People always ask me what I do on vacation or even why I go on vacation. The answer is simple. I love to travel. I love spending time with my sister. I love cruises. I love the ocean and the seas. I love discovering new places, meeting new people, discovering new things about myself.

I have wanderlust. I have always had wanderlust. When I could find a way to jump from cruise ship to cruise ship, beach to beach, amazing place to amazing place all around the world and earn a living I am there! I guess you could say that is my dream.

In the meantime I fill my life with small adventures. It is nice to have an amazing base to come in and out, homeport I call it. Homeport is safe and wonderful. Still I get restless easily and am always ready for the next adventure.

The anticipation and the planning is what gets my sister high. I fill that time with beach and island life in my homeport. And then suddenly the days are counting down to the time to head out to sea. It arrives suddenly sneaking up on me. Time flies. A year has passed and it is time to head out again on another new adventure.

This year our adventure is Epic for us. It is a trip we never really imagined planning but we did. Now it is getting close to embarkation day. I can’t even imagine what this trip will be like. I have no expectations or vision of any kind. I haven’t really been able to wrap my mind around it. My imagination has even been stumped.

What I am sure of is being on the ship. Ship life is something I know and am comfortable with. I love ship life. I am so ready to return to sea. I do not have any idea what the ports of call will be like. What will the ports look like? What experiences will I have? What activities and places will I see? What new discoveries will I make? How will what I see and do change my view of life and of myself? What new aspect of myself will I discover? Will I be up to the challenges of being in places I have never been before?

Travel and experiences always reach deep into me. In discovering new places, cultures and meeting new people I find new aspects of myself. What I am capable of or not capable of? What brings up excitement or fear? I find new activities and food I love or hate. I hear and see new points of view on life and living.

Each day I become me. I become more of who I am. Sometimes I choose aspects of who I am becoming sometimes I stumble upon aspects of myself. Everyday life, moment by moment I am becoming who I am.

Traveling not only enriches who I am and who I am becoming it is who I am. I am every place I go, everyone I meet, every experience I have. It is why after being in homeport for a while I am anxious to set sail and set out to sea again.

Restlessness has set in even with a major move this summer to a new homeport that is closer to the sea and to my being. Seeing her everyday has given me solace. Yet I have sat looking out over the Atlantic Ocean every morning sipping tea and dreaming of being out there upon her charting new courses and discovering new ports of call.

I may be embarking on an Epic adventure but I am returning to who I am to my core being within, to expand who I am and to continue being and becoming.

The time is almost here. I am preparing for a new adventure, new challenges, and new experiences, to be inspired and in awe, to be at sea for twenty-three days. It will be the longest journey yet. It will bring me to ports I never imagined going. I have no idea what I will learn.

I am an archeologist of self and life embarking on an expedition to unearth who I am, who I am becoming, to uncover new corners of the world yet uncharted (by me), and stumble upon new views and beliefs, retrieve long lost loves, to stretch myself beyond my current beliefs about myself and life, acquire new passions, make new friends and spend the best time of my life with my sister.

 

Misadventure to Our Epic Journey

British Airways Flight 632 London to Athens, Cancelled.

We wake on the morning of our Epic Cruise Adventure to find out that our connecting flight to Athens is cancelled! All flights in and out of Greece have been cancelled.

The air traffic controllers of Greece have threatened to go on strike. We knew that they were threatening. We called British Airways yesterday to see if we should fly out early and they told us there was nothing to worry about.

Now they have cancelled our flight to Athens! Several more calls to the airlines and to Carnival Cruise lines. Our goal is to get to Piraeus in time for the ship but our backup plan is if we can’t get into Greece in time that we will fly to Malta and get the ship there.

Still hopeful we can get to Athens in time, we go to Logan for our flight for London and see what arrangements can be made when we check-in.

Standing at the British Airways flight desk we explain our dilemma to the customer service agents. One agent begins to check us in for our flight to London while another wonderful agent is looking for new flights that are being added to Greece. The two wonderful women are doing their best to help us get to Athens.

After several searches she pulls up a flight that leaves London 12 hours after we arrive. It is the first new scheduled flight out. Excitedly jumping up and down we thank the understanding and helpful British Airways customer service agents. We don’t even care about spending a day in the Heathrow airport.

Change of planes, change of plans. As we wait for our flight to London we cancel all our Athens reservations. We are not going to arrive in time to stay in Athens or take the tour of Athens we had booked. Knowing we will still arrive the day before our ship we book a hotel at the port for that Monday night before the ship leaves on Tuesday. Sitting in Logan airport waiting for our flight to London the beginning of our Epic Journey is revamped and rebooked.

Our flight to London is on time. We are on our way. Exhausted we arrive in London at 9 AM on Sunday morning. I tried to sleep on the flight but to no avail. It will be a miracle if either of us can get any sleep at the airport. The anxiety of not knowing if we would make it to the ship and now the time changes have me tired but awake unable to sleep.

The day is inching along moment by moment, hour by hour. Our flight isn’t even on the flight board yet. We walk around Heathrow to see the available food options. I need tea and food. We choose a restaurant and have breakfast.

We are in London and stuck inside this terminal. Susan is disappointed that we are stuck inside the airport and not able to at least go out and explore London. London is one of the places on her bucket list. If only we could go out and sightsee! All we are seeing of London is the airport.

Hours tick by….we close our eyes at times jolting awake just as we begin to nod off.  We take turns sitting with the carry-ons and walking around the terminal. A few more hours tick by. We are constantly looking at the flight board for our flight to show up. We notice that the flights on the board do not list a gate but a time when the gate will be shown. Gates are shown when the boarding begins. We do not like this. We would like to at least be sitting around the gate or area where our gate for our flight will be.

Our flight is on the flight board! Still hours away but now at least we know that it is still scheduled. Rest my eyes, take a walk, look at the flight board, rest my eyes, take a walk, check the flight board, Rest my eyes, take a walk, have something to drink, check the flight board. Rest my eyes, take a walk, and get something to eat, check the flight board. Close my eyes, check the flight board, sit and look around, check the flight board. Hours crawl by. Check the flight board. Check the flight board again.

There are two ladies sitting nearby they too are waiting for the same flight we are. Time inches by minute by minute. It seems to be slowing down as we inch closer and closer to the time our flight gate is to be announce. All four of us now are annoyed. We have waited all day why are they not telling us what gate our flight is leaving from.

Then it flips over and says please wait. Please Wait! We have been waiting all day!! One of the other ladies goes and asks a customer service representative, Gate A1. We head in that direction. And finally it is announced, Gate A1.

The gate area is filling up quickly. We are told the flight is slightly delayed. Several other people are heading for the same cruise we are. Some people like the two ladies we have been talking to are heading home to Greece after being stuck in London for a couple of extra days.

And finally our flight boards. It is now after 10 PM London time. Sleeping is impossible. Everyone is restlessly awaiting arrival in Athens. Touch down is at 3 AM Monday morning. The airport is essentially deserted except for the airline employees, immigration and custom agents waiting our arrival. The immigration agent just takes our passport and stamps them. They do not question what we are doing in Greece, where we are going or how long we are staying. They just want to get us out of here as fast as possible.

Outside the terminal, in the dark we get a taxi to take us out to the hotel at the port and hope they will have someplace where we can sleep. We are way beyond exhausted now.

On our way our taxi driver points out the Acropolis light up in the night sky. That is about all of Athens we will see. We arrive at the Dream Hotel in Piraeus, Greece at about 5 AM Monday morning.

The hotel receptionist realizes that we are fatigued and tries to find us a room where we can sleep until our room is ready. She provides us with a room key and says they will call us when our room is ready. Grateful we head up in the tiny elevator to a small room and fall into bed and asleep.

At 12:30 pm the phone rings in our room. The front desk lets us know our room is ready for us to move into. We are beginning to come alive. We may not be in Athens but we are in Greece so we will venture out and see what we can see of this port city, Piraeus.

We are just happy to be in Greece in time to make the ship tomorrow. Today we step into our Epic Journey after having another misadventure to our adventure! It just wouldn’t be one of our Sister Travel Adventures without some kind of misadventure in getting to our starting destination. This time it was not just me who had the misadventure! It was both of us together.

Our misadventure to Greece was easy compared to some of our fellow cruise passengers. Some passengers had more difficulties and complicated journeys to get to Piraeus. Some passengers had to use the backup plan and catch the ship in Malta. Still others gave up and cancelled their voyage.

 

Our First Cruise: Cruising in a Hurricane

Before I get into our current Sisters Adventures, I thought I would do a little reminiscing on how we came to love cruising the ocean blue. Ships and far off places were introduced to me by my dad, Jack. He was a custom broker in Boston. He often was going to the port to pick up paperwork from a container ship or going with custom inspectors to inspect incoming cargo. It was here that I first fell in love with ships. They were container ships and I learned about the process of importing rugs, furniture, lace, fabric and other items into the United States. I was fascinated about where these items came from and the countries and the customs and people of these far off places. He talked about taking me on one of these freighter ships on a trip.

And then Carnival Cruise Lines brought its first ships into the port of Boston. He saw these wonderful ocean liners and decided we were going on them. Our introduction to the ocean cruise ship was on a trip on the Carnival Mardi Gras from Boston to Bermuda. Bermuda was someplace we were familiar with because it was where we would go for a short vacation when our parents could afford it.Dad thought that this was a wonderful opportunity and he convinced mom to agree to this trip.We excitedly anticipated our very first cruise.

I had two friends and my sister had a friend who wanted to go and so we booked a quad cabin that was a small room with two sets of bunks. My parents booked a cabin for themselves and my sister.  All five of us girls actually stayed in our quad cabin with a cot in the middle between the bunks.

CAM01523 (800x600)

We set sail in September from Boston. The memories that are strong are just pieces of the time we spent on the ship. The feeling of being on the ocean and my connection to it as well as to the friends I was with and the people we met are what has remained strongly imbedded in my being.

We left Boston on slightly rough seas. As the night progressed the seas got more turbulent. By morning I knew we were in for a wild ride. The ships staff were battening down the hatches. Decks were cleared. Doors were locked. We were informed by the Captain that we were in for rough seas as a hurricane had developed in the Atlantic Ocean. The ship was lunging and lurching. Walking down the halls straight was impossible.

I was excited! This was a wonderful opportunity to actually experience a hurricane. The Captain, officers and staff were on high alert. Yet I knew that none of them were afraid or worried. They went on about their duties with diligence. Safety of the ship and passengers was their high priority. Their confidence that all would be fine and that the ship would ride out the storm assured me that I had nothing to fear. So I went on enjoying myself, the cruise ship and even the storm.

I can’t day the same for many of the other passengers. The officers and staff encouraged the passengers to stay in the main larger areas of the ship, maintain food in their stomachs at all times and to only drink enough water to stay hydrated and not to drink too much otherwise. Many passengers didn’t follow the advice. They went to their cabins and were sick and unhappy. Many complained about not being able to enjoy the cruise.

I don’t remember anyone in our group having any difficulties or being sick. We enjoyed ourselves. One of my favorite things to do was to go out into the glassed in Promenade and watch the waves going up over the ship and feel the ship going down under and then back up again and lurching side to side. I also would go up to the room where the navigator was where they were tracking the storm and steering course and ask questions and watched the storm’s path and listen to the officers deciding the ship’s direction. It was here, either going in or coming out, that I would cross paths with my father. Another of our common interests.

 

We had five teenage girls in our cabin. Our cabin was situated aft off a small corridor off the main port side hallway. There was one other cabin at the end of the corridor. One evening as we were getting ready for dinner, my friend Rose said, “We have to find out who is in the cabin so we can find out if we are disturbing them.” So she opened the cabin door and left it open.

We heard someone coming down the hall. Rose jumped out of the room, and startled the women. Rose introduced herself and told her we were sorry if we had been making too much noise or bothering her. She said she didn’t know if anyone was in that cabin because she hadn’t seen or heard anything. She looked inside the cabin and exclaimed. “You aren’t all staying in this little cabin?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, my!” she said, “You are welcome to use my bathroom it must be hard for all of you to get ready in here.”

Her name was Hilda and we became fast friends. Not only did we stay in touch with her, we would visit her at her spending many weekends at her house. Rose and I even went on another cruise with her and my great Aunt Dot.

As much as the ship’s captain and officers did their best to avoid the hurricane it was impossible. The hurricane zigged and we zagged and the hurricane zagged and we zigged. It was a game of sorts but a serious one. As we approached Bermuda we were out of the circulation of the storm but it was still meandering about. We were finally allowed out on to the decks. The ship was being guided by helicopters, a navy ship and even a submarine!

Mardi Gras submarine (800x600) (800x600)

The ship did not pull into port but laid anchor in the harbor. The ship offered the option of returning back to Boston by air. Many of those who were sick or were unhappy did. The captain informed us that if we chose to leave the ship to explore Bermuda we risked getting left behind. If the hurricane turned again and headed towards Bermuda he would immediately pull up anchor and head back out into open seas. If he did there would be a representative from the cruise line at the port to help make arrangements to fly back to Boston.

We had friends staying in Bermuda, at the hotel we always stayed at and so we took the risk. We tendered off the ship and went to the Sonesta Hotel to spend the day. We spent the day sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling having a wonderful day with our friends. Every once in a while my mom would say go see if the ship is still out there. So us kids would climb the nearby cliff and walk out to the point and look. Each time the Mardi Gras was still sitting there in the harbor.

At the end of the day, we returned to the ship. The seas on the way home were not the seas of the hurricane but were still rough. The ship was no longer full of passengers. Those of us who remained had the trip of a lifetime. The shows were spectacular! The food was amazing from breakfast to the mid-night buffet. The music and dancing the night away.

 

The Captain provide us with a map that detailed both the path of the hurricane and our path as a souvenir. Many of the passengers never wanted to take another cruise again. Instead it excited us and ignited a passion for the ocean and cruise liners in us that endures strong today. And so after a hiatus of raising children, Susan and I have returned to the sea and to the Cruising Adventures we have held in our hearts for all these years.

It is not only a love for each of us individually but it is our connection to each other and our family. And for me especially it is where I carry my dad’s love for me in my heart and soul. The ocean is home and family and me.

Susan and I began our cruise adventures on the very first Carnival Ship, the Mardi Gras and then cruised on the Carnival Ship itself. Several years later we sailed on our first maiden voyage of the Carnival Festival. Later this year we will be cruising on the newest Carnival Cruise Ship the Carnival Vista.

More Sisters Travel Adventures