Big Al asked me to elaborate on the cruise I am contemplating for David and me in the fall. I will turn 70 this year and we will be married for 30 years and I graduate in May. So, we should celebrate..right?
Anyone who has noticed the number of Cretan pots I have purchased over the years or who knows me well, knows I am obsessed with the history of the Mediterranean. I saw the Mediterranean when I visited my son and his wife in Spain and we drove along the Straits of Trafalgar and spent some time at Gibraltar, but I want to see more. I am haunted by “the sea in our midst” (Literal Latin translation of the name). For many years, David traveled extensively in Europe and lived there both as a child and an adult, but he never saw some of the places visited by this ship.
A cruise of interest to me is entitled, “The Great Mediterranean, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain and takes place on a specially chartered ship (boat, yacht?) sailing from Istanbul to Barcelona with stops in between at historical sites. Elderhostel is sponsoring the cruise as part of its Road Scholar program. The trip takes place from Nov. 3-17. Travelers listen to lectures and learn at sea and then have opportunities to visit sites along the way (below from the cruise description):
Voyage deep into the history of the Mediterranean. From Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, to the Greek isle of Mykonos, to Sicily and Italy (Naples (Pompeii, Herculaneum), Rome and Florence) and finally culturally rich Barcelona, learn about the great civilizations that rose along the shores of this sea and find the stunning treasures they’ve left behind.
• Discover Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Spice Bazaar and Grand Covered Bazaar with a local expert.
• Experience on your own or through shore excursions of your choice.
• A special Road Scholar field trip introduces you to the beautiful landmarks of Barcelona including the splendid architecture of Antoni Gaudí.
Programs with Crystal Cruises are designed for the independent traveler. These programs offer a lower activity level and the ability to choose your own shore excursion based on your preferences and physical ability. Road Scholar will provide one exclusive shore excursion and private onboard lectures with our own Group Leader and lecturer.
Must be able to handle your own luggage, get on and off a motorcoach, walk a few blocks and climb a few stairs.
My concerns are these:
1/ Money – that’s a lot of $$ for pensioners like David and me. However, I always think of the episode of Waiting for God when Tom and Diana are debating how to pay for a trip on the Orient Express. Tom volunteers he has some money in a ‘special’ account and Diana says, “Tom you were saving that for your old age.” Then Tom says, “But this is my old age.”
2/ Time away from home (arrangements of care for animals). This is an issue, but I can make arrangements for animal care.
3/ Health issues.The shore excursions are of concern. David is having much difficulty from various problems. He may face surgery sometime this summer or fall. The activity level is “Easy” but it requires some exertion. I may find myself making the shore excursions on my own some days, although I know he would drag himself to Pompei.
We have taken a few Elderhostel trips locally, and one or the other of us has always almost collapsed from standing. Both of us have handicap placards, me for shortness of breath and heart issues, him for joint problems (He will be 83 when and if we make the trip). Generally, in museums and other historic places much standing is involved as you walk around with a tour guide. I can walk with my arthritis, but I have problems standing for more than a minute or two on hard surfaces. To the extent we can move around on our own and/or use a scooter to propel us, this trip might be feasible.
I appreciate all the support, but we must be pragmatic so I don’t know yet what we will do. This cruise is only one consideration among many.