I am learning–painfully–to exist in a world of intermittent internet, and to seek out hot spots and internet cafes when possible (i.e., when in port.) In Dubrovnik, we found a small cafe in what would have been an alley at home, but in this city of small warrens perched precariously on hills, was a thriving commercial way.
The price for an hour’s connectivity was 20 kuna (seems high until you realize that converts to around 3 dollars), and the young man in charge could not have been more helpful. That made me feel even worse when I threw up in the only bathroom–I evidently caught a bug, and that episode began a rather embarrassing series of times I proceeded to “decorate” the Aegean coast.
I was still feeling uneasy when we boarded our boat,The Atlantia. We settled into our cabin (approximately the size of our bedroom’s walk-in closet) and were sitting on the back deck getting acquainted with the other passengers, when the boat took off in what I was to learn was a (thankfully) unusually rough sea. Let me just say I did NOT make it to my tiny en-suite bathroom.
The crew could not have been nicer or more helpful, and later that day, I would discover that one of our fellow passengers is a doctor. Thanks to her tube of magic pills and a much calmer sea (and the evident passage of whatever it was I’d caught), things on that front improved dramatically.
Every trip has its surprises; in this case, it has been the boat and crew of the Atlantia, and the surprises have all been wonderful.
If the crew of three has a motto, it is “no problem.” Whatever we need, whatever we ask, is “no problem.” Moreover, they are all amicable, personable, and just plain nice. Dom, the captain, and Ivan (who may be his brother, we aren’t sure) are handsome young men who seem to speak a number of languages, as does Tom, the cook.
Tom is older, and the biggest surprise. To call him a cook is an insult; even calling him a chef doesn’t do him justice. We found out that this trip isn’t his day job–off-season, he and his son run a large catering operation out of Zagreb. The ship provides breakfast and lunch, and the quality of the meals has been absolutely superb; local seafood, homemade pastas, wonderful fresh breads….we think they are missing a potential market by failing to advertise this as a gourmet cruise!
Another pleasant surprise has been the other passengers. As I noted in my last post, there are 11 of us: five French, four Australians, and us. The French include Natalie (the miracle doctor), her husband Bruno and son Paul, and two single women friends, Isabel and Michelle. Bruno and the other women are all in pharmaceuticals and evidently worked together for many years at Pfizer. The women look just like we all think French women look like–not just slender, but svelte, with great figures. If they weren’t all so nice, I’d hate them. Paul, Bruno and Natalie’s 14 year old, is one of the most pleasant children I’ve been around–sunny and polite. All the French speak halting English–much better than the rest of us speak French.
One Australian couple is young–both engineers. The other is a couple a bit younger than Bob and I. Neil is a retired engineer, and against all odds, Barbara is a retired professor of public administration! We have had a great time comparing governmental structures and public policies.
(Speaking of policy, discussions with our fellow passengers–as well as the student I mentioned in my last post-have all included questions about US gun laws, which all other people seem to find absolutely mystifying. It is hard to explain the concerns of the NRA to civilized people .)
Our daily routine is as follows: we have breakfast at 8, then most of us lie sunning on the white mattresses on the ship’s bow. Others read or kibbutz. Most take swims in the sea, which is crystal-clear (Paul dives right off the bow). Yesterday, Ivan lost his cell-phone overboard, and they all dived for it. They could see it clearly on the bottom, although it was too deep to reach.
We then have lunch, and sail to our next scheduled port. We go into the island (so far, they are magnificent–old, old cities, flowers everywhere, shops and restaurants), returning to the boat at our leisure, since it stays moored until the next day, when we do it all again.
Umm…remind me why I am coming home?