Obviously, since we live on the Prairie, taking a cruise always means flying somewhere to join the ship. On Wednesday May 16th we ( My Lovely Teena & I ) flew from Calgary to Toronto . We overnighted there and met our other 4 travel companions at Toronto Airport. Then on Thursday , May 17 we flew from Toronto to Venice , landing at Marco Polo Airport. After just over an hour ride on the water bus, we arrived at San Marco, where our hotel was located.
Our cruise was a 7 day cruise from Venice with stops in Croatia, Greece and Italy. We sailed on MSC Sinfonia which was built in 2002 at a cost of $245 million. Our captain was Roberto Leotta. Sinfonia has 13 decks, and carries 721 crew and 2,679 passengers. That's enough of the technical details , now it's on with the show, sorry the cruise.
We departed Venice at 4:30 PM , Saturday 19 May and sailed 218 nautical miles to Split, Croatia, arriving at 7:00 AM on May 20th. Split is the second-largest city of Croatia. It lies on the Dalmation coast, on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. We opted for a walking tour of the old city, visiting the historical quarter of Split. One of the highlights of Split is of course the limestone and marble Diocletian's Palace, built at the turn of the 4th century . It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
My first card shows Diocletian's Palace and the Cathedral Of Saint Domnius.
The stamp - But first I should point out that I previously purchased stamps for the different countries before I left home. You never know if you'll get to a post office or if it will even be open when you are there. Even doing this I did have a hic-up or two, which I'll eventually get to. The stamp on this card was issued in 2017 for the 50th Anniversary of the Golden Spin of Zagreb.
As she always does , My Lovely Teena also picked up a card and prepared it for me. Hers show a number of scenes along the beautiful Dalmation Coast.
Teena used a 2016 Say No To Hate stamp.
I didn't make it to a post office in Split but managed to get back to the ship in time to hand my cards in at the ship's customer service . I was assured they would go out with the ship's mail to their agent MSC Krstarenja doo for posting. Look's like it worked.
We departed Split at 5:00 PM , heading for Santorini, Greece, 670 nautical miles away.
Monday May 21st was a sea day so we just enjoyed the sun and the ship.
At 7:00 AM on Tuesday May 22nd we arrived in Santorini. It looked as beautiful as the postcards show it. We took a bus through Santorini to Oia, a typical Greek village with narrow streets, and white churches with blue domes. Oia is famous for its view over the Gulf of Santorini and it certainly lived up to it. Rather than take the bus back down, we opted for the cable car in the small village of Fira and that gave up a different perspective going back down.
Captain Leotta sailed the Sinfonia from Santorini at 3:00 PM
The postcards of Santorini look like the postcards of Santorini we have all seen. Lots of white and blue. This first one , from My Lovely Teena is typical - blue seas with white building and blue domes. Teena wrote that maybe we could return for a week - sounds like a good plan to me.
Teena's stamp is from 2016 - 1 of 4 in a set commemorating 2016 as the Year of Greece in Russia.
Here's a few other cards from Santorini.
Blue doors were quite common also. The top one on this card looks like it leads to Nowhere or certainly a big drop down.
The stamp is from 2017 and highlights the Sanctuary of Amartnthia Artemis.
This next card shows the docking area where we tendered in . You can see it in the lower right corner. We then took a bus up those zig-zag roads you can see there. Santorini and Oia are both located high above the sea.
The stamps used here are from a set of 5 issued in 2016. They feature Greek Personalities Living Abroad. But who is the lady on this stamp ?
Here's the last card from Santorini or Oia. An aerial view- close quarters for sure. And people here think we live close together!
The stamp - from a set of 4 issued in 2014. They showcase ecological transportation - Bicycles.
I didn't have a lot of time here , so what to do about mailing cards ?
Well let's just say I did it my way . Sounding a little like Old Blue Eyes himself. Let's just say the cards from Santorini, Mykonos and Dubrovnik all returned with me back to Canada. They were then mailed backed to the appropriate post office and dispersed out to you all.
Captain Leotta sailed the Sinfonia from Santorini at 3:00 PM Tuesday afternoon enroute to Mykonos , 71 nautical miles away, hoping to arrive at 8:00 PM.
We arrived a little after 9 PM so that sort of cut down on our excursion time here in Mykonos - A Night Out In Mykonos , experiencing Greek hospitality, Greek food and Greek music and entertainment, some great Ouzo. Ater all that, even though it was dark, we had a guided tour of Mykonos town. We got to see the whitewashed houses, the narrow lanes and the area often called
" Little Venice " .
Considering the late hour I didn't think I would find any postcards in Mykonos. Luckily just before returning to the bus around 12:30 AM I found a small shop just closing up. The owner agreed to let me buy some cards and here are 2 of them. This first one shows the area called Little Venice.
The stamp used on this card was issued in 2015 to showcase the ESPO Conference in Piraeus , Greece. ESPO is the European Sea Ports Conference.
The second Mykonos card is one from My Lovely Teena. It shows the harbour area, the white buildings and three of the windmills on the ridge. The windmills can be seen from every point of the village of Mykonos. Most of the windmills were built by the Venetians in the 16th century. There are currently 16 windmills on the island of which 7 are on the ridge overlooking the village.
Teena used another of the Year of Greece in Russia set issued in 2016.
We sailed out of Mykonos at 3:00 AM on Wednesday May 23rd. So all day Wednesday it was another sea day, until we arrived in Dubrovnik at 1:00 PM Thursday, May 24th, having sailed 601 nautical miles. I was certainly excited about Dubrovnik, having heard it was a beautiful city, lots of history, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We toured the famous city walls with its towers, bastions and fortifications surrounding the entire city. Built in the 12th century and then modified in the 13th and 14th centuries , Dubrovnik's 1,940m of walls are some of the most beautiful and best preserved in Europe. We also took the cable car up Srd Mountain, behind the city. Atop the hill is Fort Imperijal at 412m, it was built from 1806-1816. Walking around the city on the walls was amazing and then walking around inside this medieval walled city was something else.
I have 2 cards showing this wonderful and beautiful city. The first one is a look at the old city harbour.
Teena used 1 of the 4 Cat stamps of 2018. It was a set entitled Children's world of Cats.
The second card shows Dubrovnik's fortifications at night.
Another of the Cat stamps on this one.
I have a question for anyone in the know out there. All of the Dubrovnik cards arrived with that large black letter T on them . Anyone know what it means ? Leave a comment if so.
The last card from Dubrovnik gives us a look at The Church of St.
Blasius. It was built in 1715.
Here's a stamp from 2017 celebrating The 100th Anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine.
The Sinfonia left Dubrovnik at 8:00 PM enroute to the Italian city of Ancona, a distance of 218 nautical miles, arriving at 10:00 AM on Friday , May 25th. Ancona is both a city and a seaport on the Adriatic Sea in central Italy.
We walked around Ancona , sightseeing some of the many sights available. The following will attest to some of what we saw.
My first card shows the Lazzaretto, built in 1732. It's a pentagonal building covering some 20,000 sq meters.
Before I get to the stamps on this card, I have a story to tell . As I mentioned earlier, I purchased stamps prior to leaving Canada. When I researched the postage rate, I was told the rate from Italy to Canada was 0.85e and the rate to Europe was 0.65e. Just before I left Canada I was advised by by 2 postcard buddies, one in France and one in Italy, that Italian Post had raised their rates for postcards to 2.20e. Disconcerting to say the least. I knew I still had enough stamps , but would need some make-up value stamps. I hoped to use 2 x 0.95e and purchase the make-up stamps as required. All sounds good in theory.
So I stuck 2 x 0.95e stamps on all my cards from Ancona . Off I went to the nearest post office in Ancona ---- closed ! Don't say I didn't say it all. I figured out the Main Post Office was just a nice walk away, so off I went.
I went in , explained to the nice lady that I wanted to purchase stamps to make up the correct rate. She thought for a while and went in back to see if she could find the correct stamps. When she returned she said there were no make up stamps available , she could only print out stick on labels and attach them to the cards. Unfortunately they just about covered the entire back of the postcard. I expressed my displeasure with that , so she then said, " well you can post them as they are with the 2 x 0.95e stamps and hope for the best" . That sounded good to me. I asked her to hand cancel each card , which she did. Looks like all the cards got thru with just the 2 stamps.
Now the 2 stamps on that last card. On the left is a 2016 stamp, 1 of 2 in a set issued for Italian Artistic and Cultural Heritage. Shown is Italian Film Actress Anna Magnani. The stamp on the right , from 2015 commemorates the 100th Anniversary of Salvatore Ferragamo, Italian Shoe Designer.
This next card shows the Arch of Trajan. It's Roman in style and was erected in 116 AD.
Teena used 2 stamps again, both issued in 2016. On the left a stamp commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Canonization of Frances Xavier Cabrini. On the right, Pandas - Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the WWF.
Here's the last card from Ancona. It's a look at the Cathedral of San Ciriaco, which opened in 1017.
And the stamps, both of which were issued in 2017. On the left a stamp celebrating Italian Cultural Heritage and 60 years of Carosello - the Italian TV Show. The right stamp commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.
We sailed out of Ancona at 6:00 PM , heading for Venice, just 138 nautical miles away, arriving there at 7:30 AM on Saturday May 26th. Looking forward to spending 3 days and nights there.
My Venice cards - let's start with this gorgeous shot of the Rialto Bridge across The Grand Canal. The stone-arch bridge is the oldest of four bridges crossing the Grand Canal , dating from 1588.
This is another card prepared for me by My Lovely Teena.
Teena's card has a nice selection of stamps. On the left is a 2002 stamp showcasing The Military School of Venice. The top right stamp was issued in 2017, marking the 150th Anniversary of the La Stampa Newspaper. The final stamp , issued in 2016 shows Red Coral of Alghero. Nice " Horses of San Marco " postmark.
You know, with me there's always a story, and here's the story behind the Horse postmark. I had all my Venice postcards prepared with 2 x 0.95e stamps, hoping to get to the post office and perhaps find some make-up rate stamps. In the afternoon we visited St. Mark's Campanile and after our descent I noticed in one corner at ground level, a small presence of Italian Post. Two post agents were set up selling stamps, postcards and other souvenirs. And here they are.
I explained what I needed and they could only come up with a 0.41e stamp. That's why the Venice military school stamp is on all the cards I sent from Venice. It was a little more costly than I needed but so be it. But I happened to get the Horses of San Marco postmark , so all worked out good. I handed in all my postcards and the guys saw to them. Good work guys.
I picked up a couple of very old Venice cards and here's one of them. Again the Grand Canal from days gone by.
The 2 larger stamps on this card - Both were issued in 2015. The middle stamp is 1 of 3 issued for Stamp Day and the right stamp celebrates the 10th Symposia on the Conservation of the Mediterranean
One more old card, this one showing The Bridge of Sighs.
Two large stamps again. The middle one was issued in 2016, 1 of 6 Artistic and Cultural Heritage. On the right , from 2017, it commemorates the 15th FAI Paragliding World Championship.
Here's what the Bridge of Sighs looked like when I was there.
The arch bridge is covered and made of limestone , it was built between 1600 and 1603 and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace.
Finally the last card from Venice , it's the Campanile or Belltower in St Mark Square. This is where the Italian Post guys were hanging out. It dates from the 9th century, but it's present shape dates from the 16th century. It collapsed in 1902 and was rebuilt in its present form in 1912. It is 98.6 metres tall.
Here's the info on the 2 large stamps. Both were issued in 2017.
The left stamp shows Ceramics from Montelupo Fiorentino. The other stamp shows 2 Mafia Victims - and marks the 35th Anniversary of the Deaths of Pio La Torre and Rosario Di Salvo, in 1982.
That' s it for postcards. We certainly enjoyed ourselves in Venice.
Here we are on our gondola ride.
Now to finish off this long blog update, here are a few pictures from this great holiday.
The local way to get around.
In front of St Marks Cathedral
A gondola parking lot
And finally another gondola on the water.
We flew out of Venice to Toronto on Monday May 28 and then on to Calgary that evening. That was 9.5 hours to Toronto and then another 4 to Calgary.
Thanks for reading , hope I didn't lose anyone with the length of the update. I don't like to break up these Cruise reports.
See you next time.