November 15, 2018

Portoferraio, Elba, Italy. October, 2012

Do you remember those vocabulary tests from elementary school that used to present you with a list of terms and ask, “Which item doesn’t belong?” I thought of that question one recent afternoon as I passed the Bar Lo Spuntino near the docks of Portoferraio on Napoleon’s island of Elba.

November 14, 2018

Cannes, France. November, 2012

One of the major attractions in this sunny Côte d’Azur seaside city is the Palais des Festivals, the auditorium that hosts the Cannes Film Festival each year. And surrounding it, embedded in the sidewalk, Cannes’s own version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. My goal? To find Pedro Almodóvar’s imprint. And here it is. Just look at that grip! Among the other international luminaries who’ve left their marks: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Paul Belmondo, Sophia Loren, Vanessa Redgrave, Jean Louis Trintignant, Charlotte Rampling, Claude Lelouch, Michelangelo Antonioni. (My only question: What is Cameron Diaz doing here?)

November 13, 2018

Leaving Venice. October, 2012

Part of the thrill of each cruise we take is the “sail away” from the initial port. In 2011, Istanbul’s departure down the Bosphorus and into the Sea of Marmara seemed hard to beat. And then in 2012...leaving Venice from the Giudecca canal into the Venetian lagoon, passing the Piazza San Marco, the Lido and here behind me, Palladio’s Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore, built as a votive church in the 16th century to thank G_d for sparing the city from a major outbreak of the plague. It’s difficult not to get emotional in the face of such majesty and beauty, in spite of the somewhat mawkish, brass-heavy musical selection played at full tilt over the ship’s sound system. As you can see from the sign, I decided to take refuge on the Star Deck. It seemed appropriate.

November 12, 2018

Pula, Croatia. October, 2012

Sure Pula has some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the world, a remarkable amphitheater that rivals the Coliseum, a Temple of Augustus that inspires awe. But our first stop in this fabled city? The fish market. Housed in a spanking new building that adjoins its fruit and vegetable counterpart, it features some two dozen vendors offering the freshest of the daily catch, including those octopi over on the right. I guess this vendor has seen it all before, so he can be excused for texting or whatever it is he’s doing. But these abundant markets are still thrilling for us, and we generally make them our first stop in every port we hit.

November 11, 2018

Kotor, Montenegro. October, 2012

Market day in Kotor, and all of the vendors carrying their produce from local farms and gardens into town to sell. On this beautiful crisp autumn morning, olives and mushrooms were in greatest abundance. Unripe, uncured olives, as seen here, still not freed of their bitter unappetizing juices. And huge mushrooms, fist-sized, most already sliced and primed for drying, readying them for storage and use during the winter. Farmhouse cheeses, homemade breads and brandies, and the last of the October harvest’s fruits and vegetables. For us, a wonderfully different experience these markets. For the Montenegrans, a way of life.

November 10, 2018

Between St. Tropez and Barcelona. November, 2012

Having breakfast each morning on the upper deck of our Windstar ship as we approach the day’s new port, a great treat. For me, sometimes Greek yogurt with pecans, raisins, bananas and pineapple. Sometimes more. For Jay, always smoked salmon with tomato slices and pesto. (Another great treat: being gently awakened each a.m. by coffee brought to our stateroom.) I’m generally uncomfortable with, well, comfort. But for these cruises, I bent the rules.

November 9, 2018

Giudecca, Venice. November, 2012

There are lots of advantages to staying on the island of Giudecca when visiting Venice. It’s only a two-minute vaporetto hop to the main part of town. You don’t run into thousands of tourists as you walk to the market or to the bar for your morning coffee. The restaurants are frequented mostly by residents of the neighborhood, so the food is good (prompting revisits) and simple, the prices are lower, and the conversation is lively and in Italian (or Venetian.) Also, you get to sit outside on the quay as you dine, looking across the channel at this beautiful vista of the magical city. When you stroll leisurely back to your lodgings afterwards, you’re likely to be either alone in your wanderings or in the company of, at most, two or three Giudecca locals. And when you go to sleep at night, it’s blessedly quiet.