Thursday 18 October, 2012

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This Mad Midlife adventure on the Med & Nile is not for the faint-hearted. Talk about non-stop go-go-go! Right now, we’re sitting drinking coffee in Rome’s International Airport (Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci di Fiumicino), waiting for our Egypt Air flight to Cairo – and I’m trying to remember what we’ve done over the past few days. (Gasp!)

We spent Tuesday sailing around the ‘toe’ of Italy’s ‘boot’ and up its skinny western coast … pausing briefly alongside a rumbling, steaming volcanic island (Stromboli), and arriving in the busy Port of Civitavecchia before breakfast time yesterday (Wednesday). Around 8:30am we bade a sad goodbye to our floating hotel, the ms Prinsendam, and ‘walked the plank’ for one last time. Hard to believe that 16 days could pass so quickly – and even harder to believe how many stopovers we’ve enjoyed en route: Piraeus/Athens (Greece) … Alexandria (Egypt) … Port Said (Egypt) … Ashdod/Jerusalem (Israel) … Haifa/Galilee (Israel) … Antalya (Turkey) … Marmaris (Turkey) … Kusadasi/Ephesus (Turkey) … Katakolon/Olympia (Greece) … Kerkira (Greece) … Korcula (Croatia) … Brindisi (Italy) … and Civitavecchia/Rome (Italy).

For those of you who like stats, the Prinsendam (with us onboard) travelled 3174 nautical miles … at speeds ranging from 8.5 to 17 knots … burning an average of 60,000 litres of fuel per day … and consuming 350,000 litres of drinkable water per day.

For those of you who like food, the ship’s galley prepared 7000 meals per day. And the dinner menu on our final night included the following mouth-watering options:

Appetisers: Latin-America-Style Gravlax … or Vietnamese Spring Roll with Chicken … or Mediterranean Mezze Plate … or Brie in Crispy Filo with Apple-Cranberry Chutney.

Soup/Entree: Argentinian Guiso … or Shiitake Salad with Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette … or Scandinavian-Style Seafood & Potato Chowder … or Chilled Pumpkin Soup.

Main Dish: Bourbon Glazed Beef with Grilled Portabella Mushrooms … or Poblano Stuffed ‘Pechuga de Pollo’ … or Wattleseed Roasted Duck with Apricots … or Tofu & Vegetable Korma … or Lebanese Lamb Shank … or Asparagus & Fontina Cheese Risotto with Sauteed Cod … or Sauteed Shrimp Provencal … or Orecchiette with Italian Sausage & Escarole.

Dessert: The ‘Big Apple’ Cheesecake … or Kiwi & Passionfruit Pavlova … or Mohr Im Hemd (Chocolate Nut Sponge) … or Baked Alaska.

It was like this every night – decisions, decisions, decisions. And, if we were still feeling peckish at the end, there was always supper after the show, up in the Lido Restaurant!)

Needless to say, it was hard saying “Arrivederci!” to all this pampering from the Prinsendam’s so-friendly crew – but we managed it (just), and boarded yet another coach for a 90-minute drive to the Eternal City.

Trevi Fountain

Few other destinations compare with Rome. It may no longer be caput mundi (capital of the world), but it’s still utterly unique: 2500 years’ worth of ancient art and architecture all jammed in alongside modern office blocks, aromatic pizzerias, crowded streets and roaring traffic jams.

We headed out onto those same streets with a zillion other tourists (there were nine cruise ships in that day) to tick-off a few sightseeing ‘must-sees’: the bloody Colosseum (that most cruel of ancient Roman landmarks) … the Trevi Fountain (where our coins joined thousands of others) … the Roman Forum and Palatine (from where the Emperors ruled the planet) … and lavish St Peters Basilica (with its precious works of art, like Michelangelo’s stunning Pieta).

Finally, we parked ourselves in the centrally-located Starhotels Metropole for the night, dreaming of emperors, chariot races, lions and gladiator fights …


We’re in Cairo – but not for long. At some unearthly hour in the morning, we’ve gotta get ourselves back to the airport, because the next chapter of this wild adventure is set in Southern Egypt. Stay tuned, and don’t change channels!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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