Jewels of the Aegean

Do you know why the Aegean sea is named as such? You know the translation into Chinese is 爱琴海. Though the middle character is actually a word for a musical instrument (the zither), when pronounced it sould like the ‘sea of love’ in mandarin. Heheh… hey, we probably aren’t the only ones playing around with words and pronounciation on the web.

Depending on who you ask, you might get different views on how the sea got its name. Never matter, for the common thing all would agree is that the islands that dot it are exceedingly beautiful.

For the feature image of the post we were troubled. Should we use one of Santorini? Which probably have been posted and shared by others millions² of times. How about the Mykonos windmills or Pelican mascot? Hah. Anyway the default came back to Santorini where we spent so little time that we were peeled away from the island by other cruisers from our boat ship. Reluctantly we must add.

But of course not every thing is about that beautiful island with beautiful domes of blue and beautiful views of the caldera plus beautiful food matched with beautiful weather. Stop it. Ok.

We only touched 5 islands during the weeklong cruise (read here about it). There are many we had read about from the posts of other bloggers. They are all wonderful and with 2000+ of them, might take a lifetime to explore them all. How many of them have you touched so far?

Around the world in 245 days!

Heheh… not in 80 days but 3 times as long. Can you even start to imagine the amount of laundry you’d have to do to keep from smelling like the durian fruit? Happy New Year!

Can you stomach being aboard a cruise ship for almost a year? Well, if you have say £67,000 to spare (and that is per person), then this one’s surely one to put on your list… 113 ports in 59 countries. Now if you were looking for some way to increase your ‘how many countries I’ve travelled to’ count, surely this will bump up the score.

If this article (here) pricks your interest, well start saving or borrowing and make your booking. You still have some time…

It has been more than 13 years since we last set foot on a cruise ship – and the small yachts that we’ve been do not count. Eight months is a very long time. Might not be a cruise a single traveller will consider we think, but who knows? Well the comment at the start of the post about laundry wasn’t really a joke. Because the logistics of rotating clothing will be but one of the challenges. Unless one intends to buy and keep changing the OOTD, every day!

But hey!

We’re talking about a grand adventure where more than 50 countries will be touched. Sure is cost a small fortune, but it’s YOLO ain’t it?

PS: alternatively one can seek a job aboard the cruise… perhaps one cannot get off at all ports, but at least a stab at half of them?

Would you take a cruise again?

After reading and looking at the pictures in this article anyway. For those who have read the old man and the sea, the story tells of the tribulations of an aging fisherman’s struggle to bring an 18 feet long Marlin back to shore. It inspires in us thoughts about humankind’s relentless attempts to overcome the oceans to no avail.

But today our post is not about that.

We want to dive into the subject of cruising as opposed to journeying on land. And this came up because one of Mel’s colleagues recently went on a cruise around Japan instead of getting around it (on land of course). You see, it went like this :

“Hey Mel you travel in Japan a lot right?”

“Yeah, we love it! We normally take a train out and pick up a car”

“Wow that’s a lot of work to drive around to see a few places”

“True. But you know the feel of the open road”

“Cruising could be a better option. Don’t change hotels everyday”

“Yeah. Getting to the places is often the journey in itself”

“Nah. We’ll stick with a cruise. It’s easier”

Obviously there were more to that conversation – such as the cost of rent & drive, food & lodgings etc. Navigating the roads and getting there, wherever ‘there’ means. It is definitely true that the cruise would take a swipe at solving most of these considerations. We accept that. BUT.

It means for us that the choice of a cruise will mean folks enjoy the coast of Japan more than the country itself. If the intent was to see and know a little more of the country, then this would defeat that purpose. Otherwise, why not?

Have you experience rough seas while out there in the oceans? Will you choose a cruise around Japan over a drive within it?

Thundering into Hungary

The reason we used the world ‘thundering’ is because the country’s name would suggest a connection to the Huns. Now you might not be a fan of history, but let us tell you that these folks (the Huns) were known as ferocious horse pack warriors that literally struck deep into Europe during the end of the Roman era in the 5th century.

Their arrival signed the collapse of the Roman empire in western Europe and heralded in an age of “darkness” (hence the dark ages) when there was little or no political stability let alone social and personal safety.

But today the lands that are called Hungary is inhabited by the descendent of the Magyar tribes. Some try to link them to the Finns and Estonians, but apparently the languages are not mutually intelligible. And it became part of one of the largest European empire : Austro-Hungarian empire of the Habsburgs.

We “thundered” into Budapest in a quieter fashion, making a cue for the medieval constructs in Buda before taking a cruise on the Danube and settling in Pest. For the river divides both sides of the city today, when just about 140 years ago they were two. Enjoy the café culture of the city, and let the cool vibe of the city sink in. That’s what we did. Read all about it here. So much has changed since the time we were there.

Did you enjoy your time in Budapest? And if you had still been, would you be tempted to do so?

A bohemian experience

Heheh… what would be a bohemian experience? To be a bohemian means to be living an unconventional lifestyle. Usually this is associated with the arts (literary or not) or spiritual. So are we referring to this today?

Well no.

Simply because that would be a topic too complex for us un-bohemian folks. For we do not subscribe to a lifestyle that defies standard definitions. Oh boring us… heheh. For this describes our journey to the Czech republic, specifically to the historical Bohemia part of it that Prague is located. It is such a beautiful city and we can only exhort you to take a look at the grainy pictures we have in this little essay here.

Did you read the article?

Well to pique your interest further, let us tell you that part of the story of Bohemia is intertwined with the story of another family aside from the Habsburgs. Did you read our piece on micro states of Europe? One of them mentioned Liechtenstein. And in Bohemia will one find connections that link the modern day princely family back to medieval times.

Have you been to the Czech republic or Prague? We did not rub the statue of St John on Charles bridge. Ironically, it could be what we did not do that takes us back to the city! Have you rubbed the statue? Do you think it will ensure you return to the city?

Cruising the polar regions

Well climate change is probably here. Set aside the arguments for a while. The ice is melting faster and earlier in the polar regions. And nowhere is that more evident than the arctic where more shipping activity has been taking place of late.

If the article here is to be taken as a reference, it would appear that the waters of the arctic is likely to see regular cruising by tourists and transport of cargo within the next few years. You know, there had already been container ships making that journey to test out how much time is saved to transport goods between Asia and Europe.

It is known that arctic ice reaches its minimum every September. And using that as a benchmark measurements have concluded that the amount of ice remaining has declined by 13% over a period of 30 years measured from 1980. And it seems to be a trend too. Might not be too far into the future that low lying regions of the world start to see the effects of the sea swamping over them. Coastlines will change and some places will be lost forever. Seafront real estate owners beware! Heheh.

We know this will cause concerns and heartaches to some. And it pains us too. Unfortunately climate change is here to stay it appears. Whether the activities of humankind is the main cause is no longer the debate to us. Because instead of pointing fingers it is time to do something. Climate change may open up a new travel routes, but it comes with a price.

What will you do about it?