Voyage of Traveler / Blog

July 17, 2009

Traveler Postcard From Trieste, Italy


We are cruising in the northernmost part of the Adriatic Sea, having just left Trieste this morning at dawn.  We have really been on the move the past ten days, island hopping up the Dalmatian coast, and really loving it.  This has been some of the best cruising in the world.

Kotor, Montenegro, July 4 and 5.  What a gorgeous walled city, situated at the end of a dramatic five-mile deep fjord with steep canyon cliffs.  Behind Kotor’s walls lies a charming car-less and carefree town, with a labyrinth of cobbled stone alleyways linking ancient churches, small squares and sidewalk cafes.  Montenegro has very high check in fees for cruising yachts, like around $400 for a boat our length (includes a cruising permit good for one year, which is mandatory even if you are in the country for just one day).  Since we planned to be here only one night, we “dined and dashed” without checking in with customs and immigration. It was the first time we party-crashed a country. We understand the rest of Montenegro, which is the world’s newest country (in 2006), is not much to see, but Kotor was splendid.

Croatia, July 5 through 12.  Wow! What a beautiful coastline, with spectacular and historic walled cities and gorgeous islands. We started out with Dubrovnik, where my daughter Kellie and her two friends, Amy and Priscilla, joined us.  Then we cruised to the nearby island of Lopud (quiet, beautiful and great for kayaking at sunrise), then to Mjlet (another gorgeous island and a national park), then to Korcula (a spectacular walled city and home of Marco Polo), then Hvar (another great island) and Split, where Amy returned home, as planned.  We loved Split, especially Diocletian’s Palace, home of the last Roman Emperor, who retired here.  We also enjoyed rafting down the gorgeous Cetina River, just a few miles south of Split. We then cruised up to Pula and saw the ruins of the Roman amphitheater, much like a smaller version of the Coliseum in Rome, and now serves as a venue for summer concerts–Elton John performed there two nights before we arrived and Michael Bolton was doing his rehearsal as we left.  Our final stop in Croatia was at Rovinj, which is so charming we actually thought about staying for a year or so.  But then reality sank in, we pulled up anchor and sailed north to our next country, keeping in theme with our boat’s name.

Piran, Slovenia, July 12 and 13.  Slovenia is the smallest country in the EU, both in land (only 20,000 sq km) and people (only two million), and has the shortest coastline (only 28 miles.)  But picturesque Piran is a real jewel with its narrow, meandering cobblestone streets lined with houses of astounding colors, with laundry hung to dry and flying overhead.  Slovenia was our 26th country visited in the 24 months we have been on this voyage around the world.

Trieste, Italy, July 13 and 14. We stayed here just one night at the prestigious Adriaco Yacht Club thanks to our former crew members Filippo and Emma, who were with us from Tanna Island to Australia. They also arranged reservations for us in Venice at the San Giorgio Yacht Club, directly across the canal from San Marcos Piazza.  Mille grazie, Filippo and Emma! In Trieste we rode bikes around the grand piazza where we had Compari cocktails at Harry’s Bar and Grill and watched the roadies setting up the stage for Carlos Santana’s outdoor concert. We then biked to the ruins of another Roman amphitheater, and then to a sidewalk cafe where we enjoyed a great dinner at another piazza overlooking a fountain and yet another ancient church.

Back at the boat, we watched the DVD “Dangerous Beauty” to get us ready for our next stop: Venice.  For every sailor who dreams of sailing to exotic ports around the world, sailing into Venice has to be near the top of the list.  Remember the ending of the James Bond film Casino Real, when Bond texted in his resignation as he and his girlfriend sailed into Venice? That will be Barbara and me, along with Kellie and Priscilla, later this afternoon.  Now we are really…

Livin’ the Dream,
Michael and Barbara

July 5, 2009

Traveler Postcard From Albania

July 3, 2009
40 42 N, 019 10E

Hi, Everyone,
We are cruising north just off the Albanian coast, having left Sarande, Albania this morning, on an overnight passage headed for Montenegro. As Barbara and I were finishing our dinner of fresh mussels with pasta in the cockpit and enjoying the sunset over the Adriatic Sea, it dawned on me that this is likely to be our last overnight passage together, with just the two of us.  Barbara must go back to work in just 40 days from now, and we will be doing short daytime passages, and will have family and friends on board with us as we cruise Croatia and around Italy during that time.

We liked Sarande, Albania, but really loved cruising in the Ionic Greek islands over the past two weeks.  Our itinerary included the charming, laid back island of Aegina; then the amazing 3.5 mile Corinth Canal, with its steep high walls; Fathi and Frikes harbors on Ithaca; the lovely Sivota Bay on Levkas; we anchored for the night off Skorpios, the private island owned by the Onassis family where Jackie and Ari fell in love and played; the Levkas Canal (rather boring after the Corinth); picturesque Gaios, Paxos; and finally the impressive fortresses and interesting old town of Corfu.  Barbara’s friend, Teresa, was with us this leg of the trip, and we enjoyed her company. This was easily some of the best cruising of our voyage.  We loved these gorgeous islands of Greece.

Albania, just six miles north of Corfu, was a communist country with closed borders and heavy censorship from after WWII up until 1991.  All foreigners were considered the enemy.  Now, tourism is driving their economy, and we were welcomed warmly.  We stayed only two days and one night in the southern Albanian town of Sarande.  The highlight here was the nearby ancient Roman and Greek ruins of Butrint, first settled in the 6th century BC, then flourished under the Romans.  It was only recently excavated by Italian archaeologists and is now a World Heritage Site, a National Park, and a source of great pride for Albanians.

The winds are light and on the bow, so we are motoring at 6.6 knots, probably the whole way to our next stop, up Europe’s deepest fjord to the walled city of Kotor, Montenegro.

Livin’ the Dream,
Michael and Barbara

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