Positano was our last Italian port before we reached Venice. This cliff-side village south of the Bay of Naples on the Amalif Coast is a well-known holiday destination for European travelers and others with its pebble beachfront, steep rocky hills in the back ground, and narrow winding streets lined with expensive boutique shops and cafes. We opted to stay on board ship for another day at the spa and lunch in our open cabana. There are more than a few famous chefs in Positano and several Roman ruins.
We made plans with our butler to have a small party that evening as we passed through the Straits of Messina on our way around the boot of Italy to the Dalmatian coast and Dubrovnik. We had purchased several bottles of wine in Athens and added a couple of bottles of Champagne from the ships supply. Our butler had arranged complimentary hors d’oeuvres, finger sandwiches and chips and dips for the party.
We invited six couples we had met during the first part of the cruise. The butler delivered our invitation to each of their cabins and suites while the ship was docked in Positano. All six couples attended and everyone seemed to have a great time watching the sunset from our back decks as we passed through the Straits of Messina once again. I forgot to charge my camera battery so I didn’t get any photos that night.
We dined with three of the couples at dinner in the Tuscany restaurant on board. The social director made an announcement that there would be dancing on the pool deck after dinner and we were forced to go along with the group. John and two of the husbands didn’t dance so I was kept pretty busy with the ladies. They announced there would be a twist contest and one of my partners begged me to join in the contest with her. I did… and out of the final three couples left on the dance floor, we were the winners by unanimous applause. We each got a bottle of Champagne as our grand prize. My tired feet were crying for rest so we said good night and trudged off to dreamland.
By the time breakfast was finished the following morning we had arrived along the coast of Croatia. Six ships were already ahead of us at the docks in Dubrovnik, so the captain cruised further up the shore to a small town that I forget the name of. It was not on our itinerary, but they had buses there to transport the passengers down the road to Dubrovnik. John and I decided to explore the smaller town where the ship was anchored and miss the thousands of tourist from the six other ships.
It was apparent that the town was fortified in earlier times. There was a tall stone wall climbing the hillside that surrounded the village. (It may be difficult to see in this photo.) The buildings were made of stone and there was an old fort sitting on the hill.
The Wall taken from the ship.
Fishing boats and small yachts
Narrow streets were lined with tall buildings, and the main square near the church was small.
High doorways with steps indicated rising sea waters
There was a storm blowing from south to north into the Adriatic Sea so the captain didn’t make a stop in Split that evening except to take on some supplies and head off to Venice.
The following morning as we sat on our back deck having coffee and pastries we could see the storm approaching and watched as a huge water spout formed about five miles in the distance and began to follow the ship. The captain revved up the engines “full speed ahead” to out run the spout. It was all very exciting and everyone was talking about it a breakfast and lunch that day.
Arrival in Venice
Morning line-up of gondolas near famous Harry’s Bar
On arrival in Venice we had out run the worst of the storm. There was a light drizzle as we disembarked and wheel our luggage onto one of the large canal boats called a vaporetto. Soon we were crossing the Famous Rialto Bridge trying to find our boutique hotel. Finally I stood under an awning with the luggage while John searched the narrow streets for the hotel he had booked only to find out we were a day ahead of schedule (due to the storm).
Somehow we missed the Captain’s announcement that guests were welcome to remain on board until the following day. However, the manager / owner of the hotel was able to find a room at another small hotel close by for the one night stay, We left most of our luggage at the hotel we had reserved and checked into the small but adequate hotel close by.
A Vaporetto boat with the Rialto Bridge in the background taken from our terrace.
The following day we checked into the hotel near the Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal from the main fish market. We had a room with a terrace right on the Grand Canal. Gondolas, vaporettos and other small delivery boats cruised past our windows daily. We could hear the songs of the Gondoliers as they glided silently on the canals. Narrow streets for walking, bridges crossing over small canals, discovering another palazzo around the next corner and having lunch at a sidewalk café, this is what living in Venice is all about.
We have been to Venice three times and will always remember the little Hotel Fenice de Artistes and hearing a Vivaldi concert in a small chapel of St. Marc’s Cathedral – or running through the hundreds of pigeons gathered in St. Marc’s Square at six in the morning while listening to Gregorian chants echoing from the Cathedral. As the sunlight begins to break through the misty morning fog, we sit at a small café sipping strong hot coffee waiting for the next vaporetto to carry us off to the airport and the final leg of our journey back to France and on to America.