On March 22nd, I awoke to devastating news about the terrible bombings in Brussels. It was horrible to watch as the events unfolded and we learned about the loss of lives and so many injuries. When I arrived at work, I received a notice that my final payment for my Mediterranean cruise was due. I had a big decision to make: do I stay or do I go?
I made a reservation to take my mother on the beautiful Celebrity Equinox for an 11-night cruise starting in Barcelona and ending in Athens. It was a special mother-daughter trip that we had been looking forward to as I was finally an “empty nester” and could get away for a few weeks. My mother is a retired history teacher and it was the trip of a lifetime for her. The last thing I wanted to do was cancel this trip because of fear. When I called to talk to her about it, we both agreed that we were not going to let the terrorists win and scare us from traveling to some of the most scenic and historic places in the world. I took the advice that I have given to so many and decided to continue with our plans.
I returned from this incredible cruise late Monday night and it was everything I expected and more. We started our journey in Madrid, Spain where we spent a few nights and then continued on the train to Barcelona for a night before boarding our ship. Even though I only had a taste of Spain, I can’t wait to go back again. From the vibrant Flamenco dancers in Madrid, to our wine and tapas walking tour in Barcelona, I thoroughly enjoyed the architecture, people, and of course, the food. I don’t think ham or Sangria will ever taste the same again.
My best description of this cruise would be an international smorgasbord buffet. We had a little taste of France in Nice; a sample of Italy in Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast; a serving of Turkey with a stop in Kusadasi; and a nice course of Greece with ports of call in Mykonos, Santorini, and Athens. This Mediterranean cruise offered the convenience of seeing many countries and historical sites and only unpacking once. Of course, I felt there was never enough time in the ports of call to see everything, but we were able to see the famous Piazza del Duomo and Ponte Vechhio Bridge in Florence; Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Vatican in Rome; Pompeii and a stunning boat ride along the Amalfi Coast; Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary in Turkey; the striking blue and white churches and homes in Santorini; and of course the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, and the Olympic Stadium in Athens. Just like any delicious buffet, I left each port wanting to go back for more. I loved touring the sites with my mother and listening to her talk about her teaching experiences. She said that she thought she would never get to visit all of the places she taught her students about for so many years and she couldn’t believe she was “finally here”.
Now that we are home, the question has been asked many times if we felt safe. Not for one moment in any of the countries did we feel unsafe I am so happy that we did not let cowardly terrorist acts affect our travel plans. This was one of the best trips I’ve experienced and the memories I created with my mother are priceless treasures. 2016 is the year to visit Europe and as we sadly learned upon landing in our own country on Monday, tragic events can happen anywhere.
Travel Specials: Azamara Club Cruises is offering rates as low as $1299 on 2016 Mediterranean, British Isles, and Norwegian Fjords sailings. 2016 River cruises are offering free air and up to $3000 savings. Call for details.