Saturday 13 October, 2012

The ‘Midlife Madness’ label is responsible for lots of laughs on the part of our ship’s crew and tour guides – and more than a little confusion. In the past we’ve been mistaken for the ‘Midnight Madness’ group … the ‘Midlife Crazies’ … and (by the Hungarian Cruise Director we had a couple of years ago on the Rhine and Danube) the ‘Midlife Crisis’ group. But yesterday, our lovely Greek guide misread the sign on our coach as ‘MIDWIFE Madness’, and assumed (I kid you not) that she was about to take a group of childbirth-experts sightseeing!

Imagine her relief when we fun-loving Kiwis turned up instead, responding to her question: “Is everybody happy?” with a thunderous “You bet your life we are!”

You’ll recall we started this grand adventure in Greece – right? Well, we’ve been back in Greece these past two days, catching up on stuff we missed the first time around. Yesterday, for example, while the rising sun turned the sky orange-red, they parked the Prinsendam in the small Greek fishing village of Katakolon (pronounced ‘kaTAKolon’) … and drove us 40km to mystical Olympia, ancient site of the very first Olympic Games. We wandered the vast ruins, picturing the temples, porticoes and statues as they were 2700 years ago … the area crowded with athletes, orators, merchants and philosophers surrounding the Temple of Zeus (with its 12-metre-high statue of the god). We could almost hear the roar of 40,000 spectators as (naked) athletes took their marks on the marble starting blocks … we stood on the very spot where, every four years, the modern-day Olympic flame is lit … and we even got to do a lap or two (jogging, walking or hobbling!) in the famous excavated stadium!

Somewhat exhausted after such strenuous exercise, we dropped in on the magnificent Mercouri Estate Vineyard (owned and operated by the same family for five generations)to taste its famous, locally-produced wines. Sounds good? Yep, it sure was … and a short-but-drenching downpour only added to the fun.

Then overnight, while we snored in our beds, the Prinsendam sailed north into the Adriatic Sea and the beautiful Ionian Islands. Corfu was where we docked, and dramatic seascapes surrounded us on our scenic drive through the Old Town, past a fortress, a palace, and lots of elegant arcade buildings. We then drove out of town to the 100-year-old Achillion Palace, built by Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) of Austria, and adorned with fabulous statues and mementos.

Later, to quieten our rumbling tummies, we rendezvoused at a beautifully renovated private villa – where warm hospitality and a traditional Greek luncheon (with ouzo, wine, and more food than you could shake a stick at) awaited us. Oh, plus some live Greek music and costumed-dancing … followed up by a stand-out rendition of Pokarekare Ana by our Mad Midlife Kiwi Choir.


Another quacky yellow duck has been hung around another Mad Midlife neck:

  • On quite a number of shore excursions, we’ve all been kitted out with ‘whisper’ headsets to make it easier to hear the guides. But, after visiting the loo during sightseeing the other day, Brian ‘lost’ his ear-piece, eventually discovering it tucked down into his undies along with his shirt … and earning himself our ‘Down-Under Hard-Of-Hearing Award’.


Leaving Greece in our wake we cruise further north through the blue-green Adriatic to Croatia and the sun-drenched island of Korcula (one-time home of Marco Polo). The show’s not over yet, not by a long shot, so don’t go away …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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