NILE BLOG 10

Monday 15 October, 2012

For some strange reason we continue to be plagued by good weather. We’ve had thunder-&-lightning at night, some of it quite spectacular, and we’ve heard reports of stormy weather, high winds and rain in places we’ve just left. But sunshiny days and pleasant temperatures seem to bless the roads (and seas) ahead of us.

Yesterday, for example, we pushed northwards into the Adriatic to red-roofed, sun-drenched Korcula. Hometown until 1271 of the famous explorer, Marco Polo, this large island off the coast of Croatia is graced with indented coves, rolling hills, fishing villages, and a walled Old Town that’s tucked out on a small hilly peninsula behind round, defensive towers.

By way of something different, we Kiwis went ashore in the ship’s tenders (lifeboats) and spent the morning on a motor-launch … exploring the Archipelago, going ashore on the mainland at Orebic (a holiday-favourite with the locals), and visiting the small town of Lumbarda (on the northeast side of Korcula) where some of us strolled through the vineyards while others of us swam in clear refreshing water off a white sandy beach.

Korcula’s lovely, we all agreed, and we could’ve stayed there for a week. (In fact, we nearly did – our motor-launch broke down, and we enjoyed some extra time on the island while they sent for a replacement.)

Overnight, with our lovely long Prinsendam cruise nearing its end, we turned south and approached the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’, tying up this morning in Brindisi – a city rich in historical treasures, castles and stunning harbour views. Centuries ago, this marked the end of the ancient Roman road, the Via Appia, down whose weary length trudged legionnaires and pilgrims, crusaders and traders all heading to Greece and the Near East. But, these days, Brindisi’s pilgrims are sun-seekers rather than soul-seekers.

Set in the heart of Southern Italy’s Salento region, it attracts visitors with its legendary Roman columns … its Baroque art … its amphitheatre (which dates back to the 2nd century AD, and once held 20,000 spectators) … and its abundance of churches, piazzas and palaces.

But our destination today was an hour’s drive out of town, through rich agricultural landscapes sprouting vineyards forever and olive trees in their millions. The smallish town of Alberobello (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is “nothing less than a fairytale village” (according to the travel-guides) “which will bewitch you with its peculiar cone-shaped houses, called trulli, featuring whitewashed walls and stone roofs, all built without mortar.”

That’s no exaggeration! And we Kiwis spent a very pleasant hour or two, wandering the uphill/downhill lanes, inspecting these weird cones (inside and out), and shop-shop-shopping in the countless touristy stores which lined our route.

Several of our ladies bought ‘topsy-turvy’ dolls (the local toy-specialty) for their grand-daughters. (Ask them about it when they get home …)

PEOPLE NEWS:

One more yellow duck has found a new home since I last reported on the subject:

  • We’re having to change clocks and watches very second day on this trip (putting them forward or back as required) … and Dellas got her times muddled up the other morning, arriving at our pre-sightseeing meeting-place aboard ship one whole hour early. She panicked, thinking we’d all disappeared into thin air or been abducted ­– and thus won herself the ‘Mad Midlife Rapture Award’

TOMORROW:

It’s our last leisurely, cruisey day on the Med. So, while the Prinsendam makes its graceful way along the western coastline of Italy (towards the Port of Civitavecchia), you can expect to find us bringing our travel-diaries up-to-date … writing some more postcards … checking our email inboxes … finishing those good books … or just sprawling out on deck beside the pool, eating, again, still.

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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