|DANUBE SWABIAN MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE
As reported by Mike and Betty Wendl
Fifty-seven people from Chicago, Florida, Cleveland, Los Angeles and St. Louis toured the Mediterranean aboard the
Royal Caribbean's "Brilliance of the Seas" for a 12 day cruise boarding the Ship in Barcelona, Spain.
Tuesday,July 13 was check-in day at the Port. First days are usually spent exploring the Ship. Dinner that evening was
delightful. Everyone was seated in the same area.
Wednesday, July 14. The tour started with a ride aboard a tender to Ville Franche and then our tour took us to
Monaco. The first stop was the Cathedral where the Prince Rainier III of Monaco married Grace Kelly. Behind the
Altar inside the Church are the graves of the deceased members of the ruling Grimaldi Family, including Princess Grace.
Prince Rainier was in residence as the Grimaldi Flag was raised. We also witnessed the changing of the Guard. The
Palace plaza overlooks the Seaport. Our last stop for the day was the Grand Casino where some of our group tried their
Thursday, July 15, the ship arrived in the Port of Livorno, Italy, the hometown of the author of Pinocchio. There was a
30-minute bus ride to the drop off point and then a half-mile walk to the Piazza dei Miracoli to view the Cathedral, the
Baptistry and the famous "Leaning Tower of Pisa". Begun in 1173 by the architect Bonanno, the Tower only reached
the third storey when the leaning began due to soft soil. The work was resumed a century later by Giovanni di Simone
who tried to rectify the Tower's lean and raised it to the sixth storey. In the mid-14th century, Tommaso completed the
Tower with the addition of the bell tower containing seven bells tuned to the seven notes of the musical scale. Back at
the Ship, and after dinner, the entertainment was provided by Bobby Arvon who is famous for singing the theme on the
TV show "Happy Days" and performed imitations of Tony Bennett, Tom Jones and Barry Manilow.
Friday, July 16. Today's tour is 10 hours long. We docked in the port of Civitavecchia. The bus trip is a 1-1/2 hour
ride to Rome and Vatican City. The Guide tells us that roughly 8 to 10 thousand people come thru in one day. Our
guide took us thru the Vatican Museum (hundreds of paintings, frescoes, and tapestries); the Sistine Chapel; St. Peters
Basilica; and St. PeterÂ’s Square. Following lunch was a visit to the Colosseum. The Colosseum shows how the
mighty Romans of old ruled, lived and built massive structures that are still standing to this day. You could see the
basement level where the animals (lions brought from Africa) were caged, the rooms where the gladiators trained before
a contest against the lions, and the perimeter of the upper level where the gladiators raced their chariots. When
Christianity became more institutionalized, the governments of Rome began dismantling stones from the Colosseum to
build churches and other buildings around Rome.
Saturday, July 17 is a day at sea. The Ship is sailing toward Greece. It is a day to rest, swim, read and sun bathe.
After a Formal-attire dinner, we viewed the folkloric show Los Paraguayos. Excellent musicians and dancers
performed for our evenings entertainment.
Sunday, July 18. Today we are docked at Mykonos, Greece. Many in the group had signed on to tour the island of
"Delos", but the winds were blowing equivalent to 50 mph and the water was choppy. Tourists were given the option to
cancel their tour, as you would have to board a "tender" and navigate in the choppy waters to get there. As the ship was
docked directly in port, passengers could disembark and do a little shopping in town. After dinner and the show, Trio
Greco played Greek music accompanied by the bouzouki in the "Centrum" (foyer of the Ship). Enchantingly beautiful
Greek music thrilled and delighted all.
Monday, July 19. Santorini Island, Greece. We boarded a "tender" for a ride to shore, and then boarded a bus, which
took us over very narrow roads to the top of the mountain and the highest point on Santorini. After a photo stop, we
headed to Pyrgos Village for an uphill walking tour and then lunch at a restaurant with Mezes (local dishes-tomato
fritters, fava puree, cheese pies, meatballs, cheese) and wine. Next stop was Fyra Town. The bus dropped us off and
you walk up a steep hill to "Golden Street" which is the old part of town that was not destroyed by the earthquake of
1926. The bottom of the town has all been rebuilt. "Golden Street" must be six or seven blocks long and featured
jewelry store after jewelry store (maybe 20 or 30). At the end of the street were 2 ways to descend the mountain:
walking down 600 steps alongside donkeys carrying people up and down or take the cable car. Some took the steps; the
rest went by cable car.
Tuesday, July 20. Today's tour will take us to the ancient city of Athens, Greece. We land at the port of Piraeus and by
bus tour Athens. Our first stop is the pedestrian zone where you can walk around and take photos of the Acropolis with
the Parthenon, you can walk to the top of the mountain or take photos from the walkway. These ruins are over 2,000
years old and the modern city of Athens was built around the Acropolis. Highway work, and train work were still going
on for the opening of the 2004 Olympics. After an hour stop here the bus took us to the Plaka for a 40 minute shopping
Wednesday, July 21 is a day at sea. Mike Wendl has scheduled a morning meeting and invited Robert Filippi, Vice
President of the Danube Swabian Association to inform the whole group of his travels to Hungary, Croatia and Serbia on
behalf of the Association. Robert gave a comprehensive review of his travels especially his participation at the Serbian
dedication of monuments marking the genocide of the Danube Swabians during WWII.
The afternoon was our scheduled Donauschwaben Party in the Odyssey Lounge. Cocktails and appetizers were served.
Dance music was provided by recorded CD's played over the lounge's built-in stereo system. A group photo was also
taken by a Ship's photographer. All had a great time.
Thursday, July 22. The ship docked in the Port of Messina on the west coast of Sicily. We boarded buses that drove
us thru the mountainous countryside and thru many tunnels to the town of Taormina situated high on a mountain. Built
in the 5th Century B.C., the city was completely renovated by the Romans. The huge amphitheater was originally built
by the Greeks. Renown for its unique acoustics, it is still used for open air concerts. The New York Symphony
Orchestra had a scheduled visit and performance in late summer at the amphitheater.
Friday, July 23. Naples Italy, the home of the ancient city of Pompeii that was destroyed by the eruption of Mt.
Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D. It was covered in 30 ft. of ash and pumice. Its population was smothered and
asphyxiated from the sulphuric acid fumes. Pompeii was a large town; blocks and blocks long. There were mansions
and small homes, taverns, bathhouses and pipes that carried water. Around the year 1700, excavation began to uncover
the city. It was quite a site to behold and unbelievably well preserved. Dinner was excellent as usual. At midnight the
Grand Buffet was offered.
Saturday, July 24 was our last day of sailing. It was a day of relaxation, swimming and packing. A time for goodbyes
to friends old and new. A time to get ready to go back to the real world.
The Danube Swabian Cruise thru the Mediterranean was organized by the Danube Swabian Foundation as a fundraiser
with benefits annually distributed to the Ortsgruppen of the Landesverband der Donauschwaben in the USA.
The Danube Swabian Foundation thanks all who participated in the trip. We hope everyone enjoyed this fabulous
cruise, a once-in-a-lifetime journey for many of us. Thanks to Ingrid Dorr and Professional Travel for all their work and
thoughtfulness to all onboard who made the trip.
DSFoundationUSA - CRUISE
|The Danube Swabian Foundation of the U.S.A., Inc.
Die Donauschwaebische Stiftung der USA, Inc.