Well, I don’t like to admit failure, but, as far as my intentions were concerned, my first ever cruise (November 5-17, 2016) was a total FAIL. You see, I had planned to enjoy twelve days of silence and solitude. After two months in Italy—with people constantly, I was starving for some time and space to myself. I had challenged myself to speak to no one and keep to myself. (Those of you who know me know what a major challenge that would be. ; ) I had packed two blank journals, 4 books to read, and a new coloring book with brightly colored pencils and markers. I was set to enjoy twelve days of blissful peace at sea!
Day 1, I set some papers and a sweater on a table in the top deck dining room to reserve my table, then went to select my breakfast. I returned to find another woman sitting at the table. I introduced myself, but it was clear she did not wish to visit. We ate in silence. Fine by me. At lunch, the same thing happened, only I returned to my table to find an elderly couple from the Isle of Man. In contrast to my earlier table mate, these two were warm and friendly and eager to exchange stories. We sat together for over two hours. So much for not talking to anyone. Before we parted, they mentioned that their daughter (my age) was traveling with them and they were trying to talk her into attending the Solo Travelers meeting that evening. I’d not heard about it, but found myself wondering later that afternoon, if I might miss out on important information by not attending. So, I went, reminding myself that this journey is all about remaining open.
I don’t recall who said it, but one of my favorite quotes has always been “There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met yet.” While I went to the meeting intending only to gather information, I left, of course, with a handful of new friends. Some were from Canada, the U.S., Germany, and Brazil, but the ones I ended up bonding most deeply with over the following week were from South Africa and Wales. I expect we’ll all be friends for life. Such beautiful souls! I will create an album of pictures of some of our adventures.
I did explore Dubrovnik, Croatia and Kotor, Montenegro, Athens, and Mykonos, Greece on my own, but, after those ports, our gang was inseparable. We took the train from Naples to Pompeii together, then hired drivers to zip us around in Rome, and from Livorno to Florence and Pisa. In Toulon, France, we all just wandered, meeting up for our last night on the ship together, unable to believe the time had passed so quickly.
Dubrovnik is where “Game of Thrones” was filmed. Like Kotor, it is a quaint and well fortified village, transporting one—with a little imagination—back hundreds of years to what life was like lifetimes ago. It is shocking to be reminded that those two countries were at war with one another as recently as the 1980s! That seems unfathomable. We must take care to strive for peace in our own country and worldwide going forward by being Love and peace at home and using those as our methods of protest and standing for justice for all people everywhere!
The cruise was on the Norwegian Spirit, which departed from Venice, Italy. I highly recommend it, whether you are a seasoned cruiser, or a novice, like me. The cruise ended in Barcelona, Spain. I am glad I stayed there for 3 days post disembarkation to explore the city. It is truly remarkable! I do recommend having a local guide, if you don’t speak Spanish, as people there do not tend to speak English. I was very fortunate to have an old friend from Omaha who has returned home to Spain meet me there and act as translator through Barcelona, Madrid, and Elche. Thanks, Pedro!
It would take more time than you likely have to tell you all about each stop on the journey in detail, but I’ll be happy to tell you personally, if you’d like to know any specifics. My images will transport you when you have time to lose yourself in them.
In closing, I just have to add that I didn’t choose this cruise. I simply asked my travel service to find me something at or under $100/day, which is almost unrealistic in the cruise world. This was my Xmas gift to myself, since I couldn’t talk either of my kids into visiting me over here. One of my new friends actually tried to book the reverse route, from Barcelona to Venice. Had either of us ended up on other cruises, we might never have met, yet it seems the Universe conspired on our behalf—a reminder that when friendships and soul connections are divinely ordered, they will find a way. It’s not up to us.
Be blessed. Be Love. Be peace…wherever you are.